Autonomous Cars May Quickly Become a Reality


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The Tesla Model X possesses the ability to autopilot and drive itself.

Imagine you are driving to work but instead of focusing on the road, you can sip coffee, eat some food, or even scroll through your phone. Now, this idea has become a reality with Tesla releasing its fully autonomous driving feature in their electric vehicles. While this is certainly a futuristic technology that is the stuff of movies, students have mixed feelings about it.   

“I don’t trust self-driving cars that much,” said seventh grader Ishe Makoni. “If there is a malfunction, you could be in a lot of trouble, and I would not rely on technology so much like that,” he said. 

Some students feel autonomous driving is a technological breakthrough and can change the way they travel.

“I think it is a good idea for cars to be autonomous,” said seventh grader Han Tang. “I trust autonomous driving, the technology is impressive, and [it] can be perfected,” he said.  

This new technology, also known as Highly Automated Technologies (HAV), comes with many possibilities according to the Coalition for Future Mobility, such as improving road safety, helping the environment, and increasing personal productivity. For example, imagine one’s HAV driving her to work, and then sending it out on the town as an Uber or Lyft vehicle to make money for her while she focuses on her job. 

Still, some students are skeptical.

“I feel that the people that are making this technology are amazing, and it’s great how this world has evolved so much, but possibly risking your life for fully autonomous driving may not be worth it,” said Makoni. 

“[Autonomous driving] is a nice idea in general, but it can be dangerous in many obvious ways, one being malfunctioning which results maybe in an accident,” said seventh grader Matti Simonet. 

Elon Musk, the 49-year-old founder of Tesla – the electric vehicle and clean energy company created in 2003 – plans to make the company’s HAVs available for an extra $10,000. The Tesla cars currently range from $33,690 to $148,990. Soon, Tesla vehicles may be able to drive without the need for any human interaction with the vehicle. However, other companies such as NIO, based in Asia, and Waymo, a manufacturer owned by Alphabet Inc. (the same company that owns Google) are eager to join the electric vehicle (EV) party. As a result, driving, like the horse and buggy, may become a thing of the past.