Google Driverless Car Case Study Example
Self-driving cars are an invention whose adoption will bring a significant impact to the transport industry. The current stakeholders include the automakers such as Google. The impact on the car manufacturers includes the opportunity to cut weight from cars and reduced production costs (Richard and Gary 9). It is acceptable for manufacturers to speed up development because they will not be required to use steel reinforcements and many safety devices because the cars will be crashless. The government is another current stakeholder in self-driving cars. The impact on the government includes a significant change in the transport industry including less congestion, adoption of smaller roads without shoulders and guardrails. It is acceptable to have an important reduction of the billions spent by the government on roads. Self-driving cars would also enable the government to eliminate some traffic and road lights.
Future stakeholders in the development and adoption of self-driving cars include the insurance companies. The impact on them is reduced the need for insurance because of reduced risk resulting from the crashless nature of driverless cars. The impact is unacceptable because it would eliminate the need for car insurance, and significantly change driver's insurance. Other future stakeholders include the customers who would expand to include the blind and young generations who can afford the less expensive self-driving cars. The impact on them includes the ability to own cars, share vehicles, pay for mobility services as the need arises instead of owning a vehicle. The impact is acceptable as it will increase savings for users because it will save time and money from reduced fuel consumption. Auto repairs are also future stakeholders who will be impacted by reduced business. Crashless cars will require less of their services. The impact is not acceptable as it would render many of them unemployed.
The automakers, the government, and the consumers might adopt a position that supports the development of the self-driving cars. The automakers will receive financial benefits from the adoption of the cars. Although the government might loose on the income generated from traffic fines and penalties, they will save on reduced investments in the transport industry. They can also get new ways of generating income such as infrastructure usage fees. The consumers will benefit from saving time that will increase their productivity and their free time to relax. The auto repairers and the insurance companies might not support the development and adoption of the driverless cars because they will lose business and money.
The ethical considerations for engineers designing and operating the driverless cars include moral decisions. The engineers have to develop algorithms that will determine whether the car should save its passengers or the pedestrians whenever such a situation arises (Brandon and Michael 10). It is not possible to design a driverless car that is 100% safe to other cars, pedestrians, cyclists and all other road users. This is because the transport industry is dynamic and varies considerably from situation to situation under different circumstances. It is impossible to predict and incorporate all the responses the car should take when presented with all these situations. Design considerations that would minimize the sociopolitical impact of driverless cars include letting the owners decide the moral setting of their cars. The car will respond just like the owners would in those particular situations holding them accountable for the outcome.
Driverless cars demonstrate a balance between economic and environmental factors by reducing fuel consumption. The driverless vehicles will also reduce congestion because they can drive fast and efficiently significantly eliminating emissions to the environment. Driverless cars are more economical that standard cars because they require fewer materials for production and maintenance they will conserve the environment (James et al. 24). Driverless cars will balance between economic and social factors by creating free time for people that they can use to increase productivity and increase incomes. They will also allow people to spend more time with families and friends, for example; they can drink alcohol and not worry how they will get home. Reduced costs of owning cars and maintenance as well as increased possibility of sharing cars are economic benefits that will have an impact on the social life of the consumers.
I would feel comfortable driving in Chicago where there is a driverless car in a city environment when there are regulations that ensure that only properly tested driverless cars are permitted on the roads. I would also be comfortable if there were laws that guide how the infrastructure is developed in the city to fit the driverless cars perfectly. These may include instruction and information provision the car needs such as road signs that the car can read. In a place such as Valparaiso, I would be comfortable because there are no driverless cars, and the regulations apply to all cars equally. I would feel comfortable driving in a car with no steering wheel or pedal especially because they are crashless. Although computers experience mechanical failures from time to time, they are more accurate than humans and would probably make better drivers.
Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak. A Survey of Public Opinion about Autonomous And Self-driving Vehicles in the U.S., The U.K., And Australia, Report UMTRI-2014-21, Transportation Research Institute, University of Michigan. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
James Anderson, Nidhi Kalra, Karlyn Stanley, Paul Sorensen, Constantine Samaras and Oluwatobi Oluwatola. Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policy Makers. RAND 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
Richard Wallace and Gary Silberg. Self-driving Cars: The next Revolution. KPMG.. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2015