I'm a huge fan of the self-driving car concept. I've been following various companies who are paving the way and it is an amazing industry with so much potential. What I love about the companies building this technology, is that in most cases they are building electric cars.
Out of all the companies now entering the industry, Tesla have been one of the pioneers of this technology, and now we have a number of other companies looking to launch around 2020. Toyota, Uber & Volvo, Google, BMW, Nissan, Ford, GM, Daimler/Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Baidu, Honda, Hyundai, Bosch, PSA Groupe, start-up Faraday Future, and LeEco. Even Apple have been rumoured to be working on a driverless car, but they are yet to confirm.
Start-up company Otto, which Uber bought mid 2016, were the first company to make a delivery using a self-driving truck last October. An exciting initiative with the company looking to improve vehicle emissions and safety. With 400,000 trucking accidents in the USA last year and 4,000 deaths, autonomous freight delivery is a fantastic commercial application for this technology. No doubt driver-less Uber taxis will be on their road map.
But what about the everyday person? My pick is that this could take another 10 years before these cars reach a tipping point and become commonplace. The early adopters will pave the way and I'd love to be a part of that roll out. Tesla have an affordable Model 3 with the autopilot hardware available and the price estimation is around the $35,000 USD mark. ETA mid-2017.
I guess a concern will be, what happens when the inevitable first accident occurs? It more than likely won't be the autonomous car or trucks fault, however the autonomous vehicle / manufacturer will likely get the blame. There will be a court case, some money will change hands, and hopefully other manufactures won't slow down their progress or pull the plug on the concept. Time will tell, and I'm excited to see who else enters the market and who rolls out to mainstream market first.
Selfishly, my first thought when I heard about this concept was great, my car will be able to drive me home after a night out and I'll know I'm in 'safe hands'. No more taxis for me! Prior to this I've been waiting for my son (now 14) to get his license so he can pick me up when needed. Seeing as the estimations from many of the manufacturers are still a few years out, I may yet get a couple of years from my son taxiing me!