How do driverless cars affect transportation?

Autonomous driving - opportunities and challenges

Driverless driving in terms of level 5 automation enables numerous opportunities and at the same time has to master various challenges. This guest article by Friedemann Kallmeyer offers an overview of the opportunities and challenges of autonomous driving in terms of ethics, society, infrastructure, economy, ecology, psychology, law, safety, technology and traffic.

This is a guest article by Friedemann Kallmeyer. If you are also interested in publishing a guest article here, please write to me.

1 Introduction

Increasingly, headlines about automated vehicles are getting into the media. Serious accidents involving technical systems when driving a vehicle, success reports and achievements from various manufacturers are discussed.

The consideration of the public debate on the automation of vehicles shows a certain vagueness in the terminology used. First of all, a clear definition of the term “autonomous driving” is required. The defined degrees of automation serve to classify the term (see Chapter Automation levels in Automation of long-distance road haulage).

This thesis only considers the opportunities and challenges of driverless driving in terms of level 5 automation. The terms "driverless driving" and "autonomous driving" are used synonymously. The comparison is the “conventional vehicle”, which requires a driver, i.e. at most has automation level 3 and is congruent with the image of a current passenger car in road traffic.

Autonomous road vehicles have the greatest potential and problems. That is why they form the focus of consideration.

It should be noted that the opportunities and challenges of autonomous driving cannot be exhaustive. Since the technology is not yet fully available, the effects cannot yet be foreseen and therefore cannot be named. The scope of this work is also limited, so that a selection is mandatory.

1.1 Categorization

The opportunities and challenges of autonomous driving are assigned to the following categories according to their primary effects: ethics, society, infrastructure, economy, ecology, psychology, law, safety, technology and traffic.

In addition, these also have an impact on the second and third categories (secondary, tertiary effect). These effects must also be taken into account, but they have no influence on the structure. For example, developing a vehicle guidance system is primarily a technical challenge. However, depending on how reliably the system performs the driving task, this also has an impact on road safety (secondary effect: safety category).

In Chapter 2, building on each other, first social advantages, then positive effects on the economy and ecology, traffic and the safety of the technology are shown.

With increasing severity, Chapter 3 deals with the challenges of autonomous driving from technology, the challenges of traffic, infrastructure and safety to problems of psychology, economy and ecology to ethical and social issues.

2. The opportunities of autonomous driving

The chances of autonomous driving can essentially be derived from the property that no driver is required to move the vehicle and that the occupant can now be compared to the role of a passive train passenger, for example.

Related to this is the so-called valet parking1: The vehicle does not have to be parked by the user, as it can independently move to a suitable parking position and park there.