And what does this mean for NT students?
Imagine going to greet your uber driver, then realizing that there’s no driver. Your Uber is actually a level 5 autonomous car, and you are just another passenger. To the students here that don’t subscribe to the news, this concept may still seem very fantastical, and far away from ever reaching production. However, this is not true in the cases of Tesla Motors and Waymo (formerly known as Google’s driverless car). These companies have been working away at new innovative softwares for longer than most of us have been aware of, making them closer and closer to full autonomy every day. Still, the questions remain: how long will it take? And how will it affect us?
Fully autonomous cars could be ready tomorrow, yet they won’t be road ready for a while. Presently, Ontario is the only province in Canada with laws allowing driverless cars on the road. The conditions for this law state that there has to be a licensed driver behind the wheel, and a $5M insurance on the car. Every other region has to wait until Transport Canada gives the go-ahead for fully-autonomous vehicles. With this in mind, Tesla released a statement saying that a level five autonomy car will be released by the end of early 2021. Excluding Tesla, other autonomous car companies are approximating 2024-2030 for the delivery of their models respectively. Knowing this, our driverless car fate may be much sooner than anticipated.
With this fate, NT students will be affected mostly through their wallets. Current taxi rates are around $0.40 per mile. In comparison, a fully-autonomous robo-taxi is projected to cost around $0.32 per mile, according to Inside EV’s. This lowered cost of travel with driverless cars will heavily drop expenses on our costs for transportation. In addition, robo-taxis will have much more space for ride-sharing as there is one less person needed in the car.
Realizing all this, autonomous cars will be in our very near future, regardless of whether it be in a few months or years. When these cars do become an actual product, and become robo-taxis, they will save everyone (not solely NT students) a fair amount of money in transportation.