The Self-Driving Car in a Corona World


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

As systems around the world adapt to reality of life under COVID-19, things are changing quickly and drastically. The virus is already forcing hard lessons upon governments and businesses alike, lessons that will be carried into the post-corona future. One of those lessons is about the role self-driving cars can play in an epidemic.


In Popular Mechanics, Courtney Linder looks at the way self-driving cars have played a vital role in the COVID-19 crisis. Their ability to transport goods while allowing people to maintain social distance has been critical in countries like China.


"A Chinese self-driving delivery company called Neolix has been deploying fleets of its self-driving vans to transport medical supplies and food to areas of the country hit hardest by COVID-19, including the epidemic's epicenter in Wuhan. The small vans even have the capacity to disinfect the city streets - now empty due to quarantine measures."

The overall benefit of self-driving technology has been hotly contested, with many pointing to recent fatalities caused by self-driving vehicles as evidence that the technology can do more harm than good.


But in a corona world, and in the post-corona world to come, the benefits of being able to transport goods without the necessity of physical contact are strikingly clear. For those isolated in their homes, the ability to have essential supplies delivered without the risk of physical contact could make the difference between life and death.


In China, where self-driving technology has been mobilized quickly and effectively across the country in the wake of the outbreak, the role that the technology has played thus far has helped the ensure its continuation and wider adoption in the years to come. The Chinese government is actively incentivizing their use, offering reductions in the price of a self-driving vans for companies. The company Neolix, mentioned above, has seen orders skyrocket and will be releasing a great number more self-driving vehicles this year than originally projected.


What the future will hold is more uncertain than ever, but in a world where more care will hopefully be taken to limit the spread of germs, self-driving technology may just play a starring role.


For more, check out the original article by Courtney Linder in Popular Mechanics.

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