Quite a lot has been said about driverless vehicles, with the advantages seemingly overweighing the disadvantages.
Some of the advantages so much spoken about are that driverless vehicles will save lives, reduce accidents, enhance the free flow of traffic, contribute to a friendly environment and curb energy consumption.
A careful analysis actually shows that the advantages listed above, all border on how driverless vehicles have indirectly been affecting and impacting nature. It won’t be wrong to say therefore that there is a positive side of the driverless vehicles as regards nature.
Other good aspects of the driverless vehicles include lower insurance premiums, lower costs of transportation and available time – a precious and scarce resource, to engage in other activities.
To the major companies and research organizations that are involved in the project, the all-important question is; “To what extent are the developing countries factored into this project?”
Companies and individuals don’t just sink resources into projects for fun. They do so for business profits.
Since virtually all the developing countries depend on imported vehicles for their transportation industries, they need to be carried along on any new innovation in the industry. The potent question now is, are they ready for this revolution? The answer is an obvious no.
How could they have been ready, when the roads in a lot of these countries are bad, full of potholes and poorly constructed? In other instances, the roads are majorly untarred and others are mere footpaths.
Is this the kind of situation where our sleek, elegant and fast-moving driverless vehicles are meant to ply? Where motorcycles and tricycles even manage to meander through.
If driverless vehicles are to be used in the developing countries, then, they must be of different varieties. The only other way out is to get the governments of the developing countries to build standard, clearly marked and painted out roads.
This may end up being a mere dream, since many of the countries are poor, finding it very difficult to feed the populace. And asking the companies to build roads may be a tall order, but clearly, good roads are needed for the project to be feasible in the developing countries.
Where driverless vehicles come to be a reality in the developing countries, another challenge that will rear its ugly head is unemployment. As it were, unemployment is a very serious issue in the developing countries, with governments at their wits’ end on how to manage the situation.
When the people who are currently employed as drivers are disengaged as a result of driverless vehicles, the upsurge in the labor market will be difficult to handle. Vices like rape, armed robbery, drug abuse, drug trafficking and kidnapping will be on the increase.
The western world is currently disturbed by issues of migrants, there should expectedly be an upsurge. This will create more tension and stress since the countries won’t be able to accommodate the influx.
These disadvantages as listed above impact nature heavily. There is no gainsaying the fact that in a case of unemployment, the attendant backlash which may include criminal acts and drug abuse will seriously impact nature negatively.
One other factor the proponents of driverless vehicles didn’t take into consideration in the developing world is the level of illiteracy. Supposedly, the companies will encounter tremendous internal resistance from the illiterate world, since they won’t be easily amenable to such profound and radical changes in their lives.
For even the educated masses, it may not be an easy task. Expectedly, the operators will need to understand how to operate the systems incorporated into the vehicles and for that reason, there may also be different skills required to be able to operate the vehicles.
One of the advantages of the driverless vehicles is the fact that it can curb energy consumption, which is very interesting. The reality, however, is that in most of the developing countries, energy is a very big problem. The ‘little’ energy that may be required may not even be available and in such an instance, what happens?
It won’t be out of place to picture scenes of serious accidents and gridlock as a result of power cuts and outages that are prevalent in the developing countries since it is expected that some form of energy will be needed to power the systems.
The effort here is not to paint a very bad picture but to actually highlight the reality on the ground.
It is on record that states like Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan, passed laws permitting autonomous cars as far back as 2013.
In as much as it will be a thing of joy to see the developing countries key into this astounding leap, the glaring truth is that they are not ready in terms of infrastructures on the ground, except if the companies can think up ways of overcoming the hurdles.
It will be a thing of great joy to see innovations especially those favorable to nature coming into effect because the activities of humans have had and are still having serious negative impacts on nature.
However, before embarking on any innovation, it won’t be out of place to consider the other side of the coin.