Driverless cars are a hot topic nowadays. Everybody is giving you pieces of information about what is happening. 31december2099 is here to tell you what happens next.
In designing this scenario, we rely on two basic guidelines. First, the diffusion of a technology happens gradually. Sometimes it’s a slow process, sometimes is fast, but rarely is out of the blue. Second, every innovation is surrounded by other technologies. Some are enablers, some might slow down or even replace a new idea before it sees the light.
We are going to surprise you with an unexpected statement. Driverless cars are not intelligent at all. They adopt a combination of maps, some pre-uploaded and some generated by a laser system which scans the surroundings. Pre-uploaded maps must be 100% accurate, so need frequent updates. The laser system might cost more than the rest of the vehicle.
Pre-uploaded maps store information of the streets, speed limits, fixed obstacles etc… All items that need maintenance. The good news is that maps will be soon replaced. There are two innovations helping to get rid of this obsolete and static technology. The first is connection between vehicles; cars will exchange updated information, talk each other. The second is satellites with accuracy measured in inches. IoT and satellites are mature to give an help.
About the laser system, the issue about cost is a bit more relevant. Because it’s not the only piece of expensive equipment. Radars, video control system, position estimators etc… are adding costs to the shopping cart. For sure, the more driverless cars spread, the more the cost will go down.
So, what is going to happen? We believe driverless vehicles won’t be cars but buses, trucks and shuttles, at least in phase 1. Each time a vehicle has to run a fixed predetermined route, it’s likely it will be driverless. From flight terminals to parking lots. From train stations to business centers. From one area to another in the same construction site. Into private properties.
In a second phase, countries, regions and towns will rule about driverless cars. And allow them to circulate. It will become clear who has the responsibility with insurances. It will be the car manufacturer for unmanned vehicles and the owner for normal cars. At this stage, it’s likely that the driver could take the lead if necessary, with brakes and wheel. The system will a mix between human and computer. If the cost of equipment is still too high, only premium cars will be driverless.
For a long time there will be the coexistence of autonomous vehicles and manned cars. Some car manufacturers will make opposition to this new technology. Jaguar recently stated that people are not a cargo and they will never build driverless cars. It’s correct, some people will continue to find pleasure in driving, especially sport cars. But they will become a minority.
The automotive commercial model at this stage will crumble. I don’t see a single valid reason to remain a car owner. As long as I will be able to book and have a driverless car at my place in a short time.
Revenues will come from renting the vehicle and from the entertainment inside of it. Today our cars are relatively advertising free. When you drive, you are subject to billboards or radio communication, but your main focus is still the road.
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Tomorrow, inside the car, you will have to to find ways to spend time. Conversation and everything you can do on your device will be free of charge. Any other entertainment or service will have a price. Good news, the possibilities will be infinite: music, gaming, news, movies, books, magazines etc…
Can we imagine a clean and neat urban environment with less traffic and pollution? Yes, when driverless cars will meet witricity. In the long term we foresee a scenario where the road pavement will supply electricity to vehicles. A car will charge when parked, but potentially also in motion and for sure when stop in front of a traffic light. That is the last phase. Then we can expect manned vehicles to slowly disappear, until somebody will decide to ban them.
Resources on driverless cars
How Driverless Cars Will Radically Change Every Aspect of Our Lives
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion
Newsletter: because we have much more than driverless cars here!
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