Advantages and Disadvantages of Driverless Cars

Updated on January 24, 2019
GoodBrains2 profile image

Since graduating from university, Paul has worked as a librarian, bookseller, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

A Toyota Prius that has been modified by Google to operate as a driverless car.  This type of advanced robotic vehicle functions by sensing its environment and constantly updating its map.  It is intended to operate without human input.
A Toyota Prius that has been modified by Google to operate as a driverless car. This type of advanced robotic vehicle functions by sensing its environment and constantly updating its map. It is intended to operate without human input. | Source

Also sometimes called autonomous cars, robotic cars, and self-driving cars, truly driverless cars were essentially the stuff of science-fiction books and movies until relatively recently (although there were some notable early attempts: see a brief history later in this article).

Definitions vary, but autonomous cars are typically defined as versions of our current vehicles that are capable of taking over from the driver under certain circumstances, whereas driverless cars are the next stage on in development and usually have no steering wheel or pedals.

The involvement of Google in developing the necessary software for the operation of these vehicles has increased public interest in the technology and practicality issues, as well as increasing investment.

Below, I give the advantages and disadvantages of driverless cars, presented in the form of a pros and cons list.

How Do Driverless Cars Work?

Driverless cars sense their surroundings using technology such as lidar, radar, GPS, and computer vision.

The sensory information is then processed to navigate appropriate pathways for the vehicle to take, avoiding any obstacles and also obeying the road signs.

The car uses a digital map, which can be constantly updated according to sensory input. This allows the vehicle to adapt to changing situations, as well as travel through previously unknown territories.

Junior, photographed in October 2009.  The vehicle is a self-driving Volkswagen Passat, developed at Stanford University.  On the roof are spinning LIDAR and cameras to gather the necessary environmental information.
Junior, photographed in October 2009. The vehicle is a self-driving Volkswagen Passat, developed at Stanford University. On the roof are spinning LIDAR and cameras to gather the necessary environmental information. | Source

Classifying Automated Vehicles

A formal classification system for automated cars has been proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Level 0: Driver has complete control of vehicle at all times.

Level 1: Some vehicle controls are automated, e.g. automatic braking.

Level 2: Two or more controls can be automated at the same time, e.g. cruise control and lane keeping.

Level 3: The driver can cede control in certain circumstances.

Level 4: Driver not expected to play any part in the driving process at all.

Advantages of Driverless Cars

  • Without the need for a driver, cars could become mini-leisure rooms. There would be more space and no need for everyone to face forwards. Entertainment technology, such as video screens, could be used to lighten long journeys without the concern of distracting the driver.
  • Over 80% of car crashes in the USA are caused by driver error. There would be no bad drivers and less mistakes on the roads, if all vehicles became driverless. Drunk and drugged drivers would also be a thing of the past.
  • Travelers would be able to journey overnight and sleep for the duration.
  • Traffic could be coordinated more easily in urban areas to prevent long tailbacks at busy times. Commute times could be reduced drastically.
  • Reduced or non-existent fatigue from driving, plus arguments over directions and navigation would be a thing of the past.
  • Sensory technology could potentially perceive the environment better than human senses, seeing farther ahead, better in poor visibility, detecting smaller and more subtle obstacles, more reasons for less traffic accidents.
  • Speed limits could be increased to reflect the safer driving, shortening journey times.
  • Parking the vehicle and difficult maneuvering would be less stressful and require no special skills. The car could even just drop you off and then go and park itself.
  • People who historically have difficulties with driving, such as disabled people and older citizens, as well as the very young, would be able to experience the freedom of car travel. There would be no need for drivers' licenses or driving tests.
  • Autonomous vehicles could bring about a massive reduction in insurance premiums for car owners.
  • Efficient travel also means fuel savings, cutting costs.
  • Reduced need for safety gaps means that road capacities for vehicles would be significantly increased.
  • Passengers should experience a smoother riding experience.
  • Self-aware cars would lead to a reduction in car theft.

Brief History of Self-Driving Vehicles

The origins of automated cars go back to the 1920s. The technology significantly advanced in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1980s with the introduction of computers that truly autonomous vehicles began to become a possibility. Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Bosch, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, the University of Parma, Oxford University and Google have all developed prototype vehicles since then.

A 1960 Citroen DS19 that has been modified to be automatically controlled, photographed at the Science Museum, London.  The origins of autonomous vehicles go back to the 1920s.  There were significant leaps in associated technology in the 1950s.
A 1960 Citroen DS19 that has been modified to be automatically controlled, photographed at the Science Museum, London. The origins of autonomous vehicles go back to the 1920s. There were significant leaps in associated technology in the 1950s. | Source

Disadvantages of Driverless Cars

  • Driverless cars would likely be out of the price range of most ordinary people when generally introduced, likely costing over $100,000.
  • Truck drivers and taxi drivers will eventually lose their jobs, as autonomous vehicles take over.
  • A computer malfunction, even just a minor glitch, could cause worse crashes than anything that human error might bring about.
  • If the car crashes, without a driver, who's fault is it: Google/the software designer, or the owner of the vehicle?
  • The cars would rely on the collection of location and user information, creating major privacy concerns.
  • Hackers getting into the vehicle's software and controlling or affecting its operation would be a major security worry.
  • There are problems currently with autonomous vehicles operating in certain types of weather. Heavy rain interferes with roof-mounted laser sensors, and snow can interfere with its cameras.
  • Reading human road signs is challenging for a robot.
  • As drivers become more and more used to not driving, their proficiency and experience will diminish. Should they then need to drive under certain circumstances, there may be problems.
  • The road system and infrastructure would likely need major upgrades for driverless vehicles to operate on them. Traffic and street lights, for instance, would likely all need altering.
  • Self-driving cars would be great news for terrorists, as they could be loaded with explosives and used as moving bombs.
  • Ethical problems could arise which a machine might struggle to deal with. Faced with a choice between plowing into a group of schoolchildren or going off a bridge and killing all its passengers, what does the vehicle do? Should the vehicle always swerve to avoid animals in the road or always prioritize the safety and comfort of passengers?
  • Human behavior such as hand signals are difficult for a computer to understand.
  • How would the police interact with driverless vehicles, especially in the case of accidents or crimes?

Where Are Driverless Cars Legal in The USA?

In the USA, as of 2013, four states have allowed the testing of autonomous vehicles on their roads, they are:





In 2015, two more states are set to join the four above:

Washington D.C.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • Are driverless cars being developed for India?

    India may well get driverless cars much later than more developed countries, according to most industry experts. This is not because of the car technology, but rather the challenges of India's chaotic roads. As well as inadequate signage and badly maintained roads, drivers face a diversity of hazards, including auto-rickshaws, rickshaws, trucks, cycles, hard-carts, cows, elephants and camels. The Indian government may also desire to protect the jobs of worker drivers in the near future, rather than see them be made unemployed by driverless vehicles.

  • Are there only driverless cars at the moment, or are there trials for other vehicles as well?

    Currently, cars are the only road vehicles being trialed. Other types of vehicle will likely follow later.

© 2015 Paul Goodman


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Stacey Schaller 

      3 days ago

      Very interesting comments. Your article is very well done.

    • profile image

      gh mbnm 

      5 days ago

      Are self driving cars better for the environment?

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      What is your opinion on driverless cars?

    • profile image

      mrs dicaprio 

      4 months ago

      so helpful my whole class is on this page thanks

    • profile image

      Jason Bourne 

      4 months ago

      Thanks a lot.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Thanks very useful

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Thanks anna

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Quite useful!

    • profile image

      Bill Nye 

      12 months ago


    • profile image

      Random User who needed homework answers 

      12 months ago

      thanks for my homework answers

    • profile image

      Jocelyne (France) 

      13 months ago

      Very interesting article that makes us better think about this new possibility.

    • profile image

      chauhan rajesh 

      15 months ago

      Nice project for my subject

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      Such a useful article. It really helped me a lot and I learnt many new things about this time of AI. Thank you for all this help!

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 

      17 months ago from Mobile, AL

      I'm personally looking for to this. I've been waiting for the day when everyone drives them since I first saw this concept in a boyscout magazine when I was kid that depicted two people playing chess facing each other instead of driving.

    • profile image

      Du dam sun 

      17 months ago

      Dum dum doorknob eat some liver this was a very good article.

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      Very good article. Has the most on driverlless cars i could find.

    • profile image

      RaNdOm UsEr 

      17 months ago

      Good information for school

    • profile image


      18 months ago


    • profile image

      balaji j 

      19 months ago

      useful information.thanks.

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      This is a great idea best site :)

    • profile image


      22 months ago

      I think this car will be a good car imagine if you need to read something your boss told you to read and your late on your way you will be reading the book.

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      Very good website

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      This was pretty helpful considering that I am writing an essay/speech of going for driverless cars. So I basically tried to only understand the whole "advantages" point, but now I feel like I want to go against because of some of the disadvantages. Great job on this, I actually found things that weren't in ALL the other sites I've looked at.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      cars can be driven all over especially in the U.K

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Well, maybe our great-grandparents missed riding horse driven carraiges

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Very true. This article covers a lot of ground for the driverless cars debate; I personally don't trust these cars in the future as who knows what AI technology can understand and preform in emergencies.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      ok i think i will miss normal cars 50 years in the future

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      You covered this issue with driverless cars very thoroughly. Your lists of advantages and disadvantages provided a lot of issues to consider. And it is clear that this is not going to,happen any time soon. The entire infrastructure of roads will need to be changed, as you had mentioned.

      I can't imagine how autonomous vehicles will be able to maneuver through complicated areas with confusing signage. I would think that there has to be a new technology where roadsigns transmit information via radio signals, or maybe Wi-Fi. And this will then interface with autonomous vehicles.

      In any case, this technology is something I expect to happen in the next decade. Maybe not with completely self driving vehicles, but with vehicles that help existing drivers when necessary.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 

      3 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Very cool. I remember these boy scout magazines that I used to get way back in elementary school. I saved this particular one because it had a futuristic car on the cover that displayed people facing each other playing chess. It was suppose to be the car of the future and it was projected that we would have these cars in the YEAR 2000. I thought wow back in the 80s the year 2000 is going to be so awesome. Well the year 2000 came and went and I'm still driving. What happened?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      It is one thing to get in a train on a rail with no driver, but I just can't see getting into a car that drives itself. Just a control freak I guess.

      Interesting hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)