Autonomous cars promise to be the biggest revolution in personal transportation since the automobile itself. Autonomous vehicles are the logical conclusion of so many aspects of cars’ form and function, as well as society’s trajectory as a whole. In their original form, automobiles offered individuals a lot of freedom and power. No longer were individuals tied to a radius from their home to the end of which they could travel by foot or horse. Cars made our lives a little bigger, and a little more centered around personal identity. This second aspect is starting to become a secondary priority, as cost and public safety take priority in our increasingly expensive and crowded world.
One of the biggest headline series this past couple of years has been health care spending. As the Affordable Care Act has facilitated the extension of health care benefits to millions of uninsured Americans, many people are spending more money on health care than ever before. This extra money is essentially subsidizing the care of less fortunate individuals in America’s lower or working classes. It’s an investment in a social floor beneath which no citizen can fall, but the sticker shock is still a big concern for lots of people.
This is one reason why self-driving car are starting to take over. For all the personal freedom and autonomy they offer the people who can afford them, cars are expensive from a public health perspective. Cars and their human drivers cause a lot of accidents, health care costs, and insurance claims. Taking human drivers out of the equation will have a big role in cutting down on individual health care premiums, and the elimination of personal liability for accidents will surely cut down on personal auto insurance costs.
In years past, the best way to cut down these costs was to incrementally improve existing technologies. Gilnahirk Tyres are an example of an improved tire that improves stopping ability and reduced collisions. But the people directing these tires are still human drivers, and until that variable is erased or improved, the costs associated with this model will be locked in. Because human drivers can only be improved so much, through training and ticketing, for costs to be eliminated, they’re really the ones who have to go.
A future of fully autonomous roadways has yet to establish itself. When and if it comes, who will be paying for liability insurance. At present, this is the bulk of the consumer car insurance bill. It’s what we pay just in case we run into someone else or their property. Many people forego insurance for their own vehicle, but everybody is required to pay for coverage just in case they hurt someone else. There has been some speculation about where liability will go. Perhaps the care manufacturer will pay it. Perhaps the creator of the algorithms that direct vehicles will foot the bill. Maybe collisions will be linked to specific deficient technologies that go on to cause accidents, death, and property damage. Whatever the case, it’s likely that these changes will cut down on individual consumer bills, both for insurance and health care. National payments for these systems are also likely to become much more affordable and efficient.