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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The global rise of semi-autonomous vehicles

Transportation is an industry that has been through its fair share of evolution throughout the years. And, like the rest of the modern world, transportation has been through quite the revolutionary transition in recent years. When digitalization and technological innovation first started to become mainstream global sensations, it was not certain how exactly these modern marvels would come to impact different aspects of life and different industries. However, from the onset the future of transportation seemed to be easier to pinpoint, because this is the industry that is solely responsible for the global movements of humanity from destination to destination. Whether locally or internationally, transportation has always been significantly important for its contributions to the convenience and efficiency of getting from point A to point B. Without the transportation industry, we would be far less interconnected. The power of transportation is that it essentially places the power of global travel in the hands of anyone who wants access to it.

It is no secret that transportation has evolved time and again. Whether it is remastering the systems that are responsible for chartering school buses or coach buses, or introducing the first electric vehicles from Tesla, transportation is seemingly always in the throes of ongoing transformation. Like the rest of the modern world, transportation has found itself in the interesting position of seemingly never being stagnant anymore. Every other day, there is another innovation making waves and propelling the industry into its next iteration. This is a positive thing; after all, this is the industry that literally gets us from point A to point B in convenient and efficient means of transport. Around the globe, people rely on transportation more than ever. Considering the global population continues to grow more and more, that reliance is only going to flourish and exceed more and more often. Transportation is going to go through many more evolutions in its time.

Now, technological advancement is transforming transportation once again. Specifically, in the field of automotive and their next iteration, the autonomous vehicle. The automotive manufacturer leading the charge towards autonomous vehicles is none other than Elon Musk’s company Tesla (named for the famous inventor extraordinaire). And while currently there are no vehicles on the roads that can literally drive themselves entirely and without exception or problem, that reality is well and truly on the horizon. Tesla first came out with the electric vehicle, which changed the game in terms of environmental impact and moral accountability of automotive ownership. Now, they are taking that ideal to the next level, introducing the first semi-autonomous vehicles to roads around the world. Aiming to take automotive transportation to the next level by introducing a life-changing shift in driver navigation (or, more specifically, the shift away from driver navigation and towards automated navigation), this is a transportation revolution not to be discounted.

Thus far, these revolutionary vehicles have not operated without incident, even being involved in several serious traffic incidents, including multiple fatalities. And while Tesla and the other automotive tech companies who are working towards autonomous vehicles insist it is a learning curve, there can be no arguing that this is perhaps the most brutal learning curve there is. The loss of life is not something to be taken lightly, and it has effectively shoved a spanner in the works as far as the movement towards further advancements in the automotive technology. While the movement towards such a feat has not definitively stopped altogether, it has been significantly impacted to the point that there has been less great strides and more small steps towards the realization of this particular goal. Nonetheless, progress is progress, and in this specific circumstance, it definitely pays to be safe rather than sorry. Semi-autonomous vehicles continue to rise to the occasion, and momentum continues to build. The best is definitely yet to come.

When digitalization and technological advancement first began to significantly impact the modern world and every aspect of life and industry that not only existed, but positively thrived within that modern world, it was unclear exactly how these modern marvels would come to impact the world as we knew it. The only certainty was that life was changing from the inside out, never to be the same again. In time, it became abundantly clear that transportation was one of the most significantly impacted industries in the light of technological advancement. Transportation was getting bolder and smarter all the time, and the waves of technological innovation certainly did their part to help the industry’s ongoing evolution. Now, the latest and greatest revolution in transportation is the rise of the autonomous vehicle. Powered forward by Tesla, this movement is the healthiest and smartest evolutionary phase to come out of the transportation industry in recent history – and the best is yet to come.

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