A driverless car sounded like a myth few decades ago. However, it all changed during 1980’s when Carnage Melon University took a project from Mercedes to develop a driverless car. Till then, different companies have been working on it and progress in expediting with every passing year.
The current scenario is pretty much on positive nod. The product development head of Ford Company recently claimed that their driverless car will enter in the market by 2020. The car will be of autonomous level 4 which will not need a driver, but it could not be driven without a driver everywhere. Toyota is also planning to launch first autonomous highway driving vehicle by 2020. Uber CEO in one of his tweet in 2015 claimed that their fleet of vehicles will be driverless by 2030. Google founder announced and is planning to announce driverless car by 2018.
All such announcements makes me think that by 2020, I will be sitting on my couch watching TV and my car would be outside running errands for me. However, hold on, do not go on the headlines. These cars are not perfect till now and no sooner they are going to become common. Many experts believe that driverless car has to do a lot of learning before superseding the conventional cars. According to one recent report, engineers and safety advocates claimed that such cars will be a threat rather than benefit for USA. The experts were referring specifically to Google, who are very ambitious to transform the auto sector. There are many unresolved issues in these cars that are not being properly addressed by car makers. A technology expert who got the experience of riding in one such car revealed in his experience that despite thousands of kilometer testing, Google driverless car is not ready for the roads. The car has got advantages on humans in number of situations; however, it lacks to deal with crisis situation. Such cars have not been good drivers on construction sites, and in extreme weather conditions.
Despite this negative scenario, the future of driverless cars in not vague. A recent report was launched by Business Intelligence group by looking at the present scenario of self-driving cars. It came to conclusion that many IT and auto giants are collaborating with each and are putting immense efforts to make this next big thing become reality. One such example is Google collaboration with Fiat and many other auto giants that is aimed at making this car immaculate.
However, the price of such cars will be the main determinant for its sales and growth. Driverless car incubate a very high end technology that makes it one of the costliest car. According to one expert, driverless car can initially cost around $150,000. This cost is way above the affordability of any common person. It decreases the potential buyers to nearly 1-2% of total auto market. As per research by National Automobile dealers association, an average Americans nearly spend $30,000 on a vehicle. That is far below than Google driverless car price. The main costing of driverless car is of LIDAR system and GPS array. LIDAR system cost around $70-80 thousand. GPS array can vary in its cost and can reach to $200 thousand. Hence, many companies driverless cars can become as costly as Ferrari.
Therefore, affordability of the car depends upon how the prices are expected to decline for this technology. We have seen in the past that prices start to decline with pace due to innovation and research & development in particular field. The companies do not plan to keep the prices of driverless car high. In order to get profit at increasing rate, they have to make this technology affordable to masses. Only in that case, they can reach to large scale production, which will help to decrease their cost of production further. Officers at these companies are also aware about the need for improving demand through cost effectiveness mechanism. Vice President at R&D of Fords is quoted to have said that they are planning to deliver the product in the most cost effective manner while keeping the user experience at the same level.
Many experts believe that by 2030, there will be large amount of driver less cars hitting the road. Assisted vehicles have already became as cheap as $34,000 on average. Tesla is planning to introduce driverless car in the market by 2017 at the base price of $72,000. By one decade, many believe that price is going to go down by half. Therefore, it is expected that in near future (i.e. 2026-30), the driverless car will become affordable to masses.
If you are a teenager, you are lucky to be born at the right time. If you are in the middle age, you still are lucky that you enjoyed the era that was less technological and more real.