The first runner-up of the 2018 scholarship contest is a high school senior named Kathia Alvarado Mendieta. In her essay, she discusses the myriad of technologies which have not only made driving more convenient, but significantly safer in recent years. She also discusses some of the controversies and safety issues surrounding self-driving cars.

Q: The car industry has experienced a lot of changes in the last decade. Between ride-sharing apps like Uber and the rise of semi-autonomous vehicles, the world of cars is changing. Write an essay about the future of the auto industry. How will the way we drive cars change in the next 10-20 years?

The Evolving Auto Industry

The auto industry has faced many changes in the last decade. Ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, have offered people a more convenient way to travel, especially for people that do not have a car or live in a very populated area that prevents them from getting a car of their own. One of the biggest goals that has reached headlines is the advancement of semi-autonomous vehicles. The desire to ride in a car without having to drive it has increased greatly, especially as technology overall has advanced. The world of cars is changing, but just because the changes seem great does not mean there will not be any bumps along the road.

As people have come to be more cautious about the pollution cars emit, various replacements for the fuel have emerged. More and more people are turning to hybrid and electric cars, and with the increasing scare of pollution and its effect on climate change, the rate of these cars being used in the next twenty years is bound to increase even more. Because so many people are interested in such cars, automobile makers are more willing to debut more models of such cars versus cars that run on fossil fuels. If this trend continues, the amount of cars running on fossil fuels will diminish.

The desire to successfully create a semi-autonomous car has lead to various companies taking up the challenge in order to take the title. Companies such as Tesla and Uber have been test-driving and releasing autonomous cars, but just because they have been presented to the public does not mean they are completely safe. Both companies’ cars have been involved in accidents that proved fatal for the passengers. It is not always technology that is at fault when an accident occurs. Recently, a man in the UK rode in the passenger seat of his Tesla after turning on the autopilot. Although it may be believed that technology has advanced so far as to incorporate an autopilot feature on a car, it is irresponsible to take such an action when these features are so recent and still being scrutinized for safety. The man’s action may have led to a massive accident, posing a risk not only to him but to others around him. Although such accidents may lead some to put off releasing any more autonomous cars, people ultimately want their technology to advance. It is possible that the difficulties autonomous cars face now will be resolved within the next twenty years if companies like Tesla continue to experiment with such technology.

The safety of new cars has also evolved tremendously. Many of these cars feature rear back-up cameras and backing-up sensing systems, which allows for safer parking. The downside to this feature is that it can create a dependency to using it, leading to a lack of parking skills amongst a large percentage of drivers. Many cars also feature more airbags than in previous periods. This increased airbag count helps prevent major injuries in case of a car collision.

At one point in time, GPS systems were used in place of burdensome maps on long road trips and finding one’s way after getting lost. Today, navigation systems come standard on many newer car models. Instead of paying an extravagant amount of money for a GPS or investing in hordes of maps, people now rely on the navigation systems provided with their cars. With technology continuously changing, it is extremely likely that such a feature will continue to improve in regards to accuracy of directions and traffic reports.

All in all, the auto industry is one that constantly changes due to the rapid growth of technology. From the first automobile’s creation, cars face constant change and it is inevitable that they will continue to do so. The features in the cars of today are convenient and make people’s lives easier. With this in mind, new features will expand on this and new cars will use technology that is both available and being created in order to suit the lifestyles of the ever-evolving human species.