Self-Driving Vehicle: Imagine getting in your car and entering a location. Then, the vehicle will drive you to your destination, while you browse the internet, read, or take a nap. The self-driving vehicle, which has been the stuff of science fiction ever since the first roads were laid, is coming and it will radically alter how you get from A to B.
Google began the self-driving vehicle project in 2009 with the aim of driving autonomously on ten continuous 100-mile routes. Waymo, an autonomous driving tech company, was acquired by Alphabet in 2016. In 2016, Waymo became a subsidiary and Google’s self-driving program became Waymo.
Waymo invited the public to participate in the first public trial of autonomous cars operated by Waymo Driver. It also introduced the first fully autonomous vehicles operated on public roads by Waymo Driver without any human involvement.
The Key Takeaways
- Driverless cars have been gaining momentum over the last few years. Many large technology companies have embraced the idea.
- Google’s Waymo division was launched to create and market driverless cars that are consumer-ready around the world.
- Along with other companies in the auto and tech industries, the company is betting on driverless cars changing the way we move in major ways.
- There will be fewer fossil fuels and safer roads.
Basic technology already in use
Advanced driver assistance technology can include blind-spot detection and front-crash prevention, as well as lane departure prevention and rear crash prevention systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that systems with automatic braking and forward collision warning reduce rear-end collisions by half, while forward collision alert alone reduces them by 27%. Rear-end collisions involving injury are greatly reduced by the autobrake systems.
These systems were soon followed by technology that allowed cars to automatically park by finding a spot free of obstacles and steering into it. The driver can also hand over steering and speed control in certain situations, but still maintains overall control.
A Dramatic Change
Businesses that fail to adapt quickly enough to the future development in self-driving cars technology will face problems as a result. Futurists predict that automakers, suppliers, dealer, insurance companies, parking companies and other car-related businesses will lose hundreds of billions (if not trillions). Consider the loss of revenue to governments through licensing fees and taxes and tolls as well as personal injury lawyers.8
If accidents are rare, who needs a car made from heavier gauge steel and eight airbags? If your car can drive you to work, park itself miles away and pick you up later, why would you need a parking space? Why would you need to purchase a flight from Boston or Cleveland when you can travel in the evening and sleep most of the way to arrive in the morning?
As autonomous vehicle makers, you may see a surge in global new and used car sales of $600 billion annually. But, as technology becomes more mainstream, sales could plummet as sharing is popularized.
Steel, glass, interiors, drivetrains, and human interfaces are all necessary for cars. Even if it is just a connection to your smartphone. However, many things could change. Front-facing seats, for example, could be an option and not a requirement. Automakers who see these changes, such as how big profits are secured downstream by car servicers and insurers, are focusing more on services than on what and how they produce.
Transformation of Infrastructure
There are fewer cars in the United States, so parking lots and spaces covering roughly one-third of U.S. cities could be repurposed.15 This could cause temporary downward pressure on property values as more people move into them. If longer commutes are more appealing, it could mean greener urban areas or revitalized suburbs. If there are fewer cars on the roads, federal, state and local governments may be able redistribute a portion of the approximately $203 billion annually spent on highways and roads.16
Changes in Oil Demand
You could see your business changing as the use of your product changes if you are in the business o extracting, refining and marketing Hydrocarbons.
“These vehicles should practice very efficient Eco-driving practices which are typically about 20% better then the average driver,” stated Robin Chase. He is the founder and former CEO at Buzz car, a peer to peer car-sharing service. Also, he was the co-founder and former CEO at Zipcar. “The leading car-sharing network. People will use their car to do things they wouldn’t do if they were forced to. “If autonomous cars can be shared and people pay per trip, this will decrease demand and reduce vehicle miles traveled.
Dividend for Safety
Also, autonomous vehicles will be safer. Chase stated that autonomous vehicles won’t drive drunk, get high or take unnecessary risks – things people do all of the time.
According to Professor Robert W. Peterson of Santa Clara University School of Law, “Over 90% of all accidents today are caused driver error.” There is every reason for us to believe that self driving cars will decrease the severity and frequency of accidents. Insurance costs should therefore fall, possibly dramatically.
Michael Barry is vice president of media relations at Insurance Information Institute. He notes that cars can still be flooded, damaged or stolen. This technology will have a profound impact on underwriting. Many of the traditional underwriting criteria will be changed.”
Barry stated that it is too early to know how self-driving cars will impact rates. However, he added that injured persons in a collision involving self-driving cars may decide to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle or the software company responsible for the autonomous capability.
Get closer to home
The taxi and limousine industries could be significantly affected by self-driving cars, as well as new ones. Chase pointed out that they could be shared for specific trips as a form of small-scale, pay-as you-go public transportation. For example, taking several Manhattanites to the same Hamptons beach in one trip.
A 2018 study found that a fleet of 7,000 driverless taxis would cost $0.29-$0.63 per mile, compared to taxis charging at least $5 per mile.212223 New York Motor Insurance says there are over 13,000 taxi licenses in New York City.
There are risks and there are hazards
Self-driving cars are not yet widely available due to regulatory and legislative hurdles and privacy concerns. Who will have access the driving information these vehicles store? Security is also a concern. Hackers could theoretically gain control of these vehicles and they aren’t known for being restrained or civic-minded.
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