Robot cars, autonomous cars, self driving cars, driverless cars or work of the devil. No matter what you call them, make no mistake they are coming soon.
Tesla’s autopilot mode is a stroke of genius and it works fantastically well but it is by no means the only show in town. For close to a decade major manufactures at the upper echelon of the haute meter have been helping you make sure your car stays in line by providing beeps, vibrating the steering wheel, flashing lights at you or even applying the brakes/gas at your behest. In the past 5 years this technology has trickled down from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat, as most technology and innovations do. You can now get many of these features on economy cars as part of the higher trim models.Things are now changing at a more rapid pace.
Thanks to major research and development investments from GM, Toyota, Ford and others, autonomous cars will be allegedly hitting the showroom floors in masses as early as 2020. The implications that a driverless car has are even gaining the interest of the major tech players too. Google has already been driving there self-driving cars with lots of success for several years now mapping out our world and providing the easiest way to creep your neighbours… Thanks google maps!! Apple the tech giant even stretched there automotive muscle by creating a joint partnership with Chrysler. What does all this mean for you?
The governments have not really had to deal with this yet, so legislation is somewhat sketchy. Now they have to figure out how to control the flow of cars that may not even have a driver in them. Insurance companies will follow suit, figuring out how to adjust premiums to reflect HAL from 2001 a Space Odyssey driving your car. If your machine hits my machine in a parking lot and there are no witnesses, who is liable? Seriously, I want to know how this will play out.
Make no mistake, this could be the most revolutionary change the car industry has ever seen. Its implications will be far reaching. Off the bat, delivery vehicles, taxis and limos could make the switch to driverless. Imagine getting in a car (at that point would it be called a pod?) with no driver and communicating via cell phone to tell the car where to take you. Trucking could be completely revamped with trucks being loaded up and then sent off with GPS coordinates and real time traffic information to minimize delays and clogging up highways.
Further down the line it starts effecting you. Want to stay home and catch up on some work or whatever show you are currently binge watching on Netflix? Send your driverless car to pick up your kid from school. Need a pint of strawberries for a cake your making but you need to keep an eye on the oven? Send your car to the grocery store and have the carryout kid put them in the trunk after you have paid online. Turn your car into your assistant! The possibilities are endless and far reaching. The abilities of this technology and what they mean to society are both amazing and terrifying (I want to get my own berries).
I will be living in a cave at that time, tinkering with old rusty cars that have carburetors, manual transmissions and no emissions control equipment at that point, thinking of the good old days when I told cars where to go, not the other way around.