Is the world coming close to becoming a driver-less car society?

If one is to judge the latest car models which debuted at the Press Day launch of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, the likely answer would be a resounding “Yes!”.

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Will car makers still manufacture traditional cars that require drivers or will they be making only autonomous cars?

The Future Cars: A Glimpse At The 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show
The latest models previewed during the 2-day Press Days of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show which runs from November 21 to November 30 at the Los Angeles Convention Center provide a picture of what’s brewing in the automobile industry. The Auto Show is an annual international exhibition sanctioned by OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles) translated in English as International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, and endorsed by the New Car Dealers Association of the Greater Los Angeles. The show runs for ten days attracting hundreds of thousands of car enthusiasts and industry players all over the world.

Transformation Of Personal Transportation
It seems that personal transportation is on the verge of its greatest transformation since the arrival of the internal combustion engine. The transformation, influenced by the increase in ride-sharing, environmental regulation, traffic congestion, and self-riding vehicles may signal the beginning of a new era of no longer having the need to own or drive your own car in the future.

Technological Advancements Of The Latest Cars
Car manufacturers have tried to outbest each other with the different technology-based advancements hidden under the hood and dashboards, including:

  • Sensors that allow autonomous driving
  • Intelligent chips that allow cars to park themselves
  • Auto-braking to avoid crashes and adjust steering automatically to keep the vehicle in the center of the lane
The latest models of cars on display at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show feature incredible technology-based advancements hidden under the hood or dashboard.

Emerging Trend: Self-Driving Cars
The rising development of self-driving cars may be an indication of what the future holds for the auto industry. In the future, passengers may just view cars or vehicles as just another form of public transportation that one can subscribe to on a per trip basis. People may no longer feel or see the need to own one. Stretching your imagination a little may let you see auto-pilot cars parked in public stalls, waiting for human passengers to swipe a card to gain access to the vehicle that will bring them to their destination without the need for a driver or without the passenger driving it. Such scenario had been flashed in the big screen in several sci-fi movies that left the audience in awe.

And it would hardly surprise the car-loving world if in the very near future, California, for instance may dedicate lanes exclusively for autonomous vehicles. Digital advancements seem to have penetrated the car-making industry. A fleet of experimental self-driving cars is already being developed by search engine giant, Google. Soon, other tech and digital companies may join the bandwagon.

Cars Not Driven
In the future, people may no longer buy fast cars for garages but may be accumulating seat-miles in appliance-like, robot-piloted pods parked in public stalls. Car dealers, auto manufacturers and taxi companies may have to compete with companies such as Uber and Rent-A-Car. Instead of selling to individual drivers, car makers may have to deal with companies offering services of self-driving cars.

New Design And Style
The possibility of such a transformation will make way for a change in the design and style of cars, such as:

  • Cars can seat two passengers facing each other
  • Cars may be powered by hydrogen or rechargeable batteries or both in lieu of gasoline

People’s Love For Mechanical Objects
But despite the promising predictions on futuristic car technology, some people remain skeptical as they believe that the automobile is among the “few mechanical objects” that people love to tinker with – from the engine, to the spring steel washers, bolts and screws, to the exterior body and other components.

There will always be car-loving people who would not give up on owning a car and driving it, even if they are likely to opt for the auto-pilot feature when in traffic or other driving conditions. People will still love to feel the road when they drive. And in case the future car turns out to be all autonomous and self-driving, those who love cars may have the need to use the futuristic cars but may not end up buying them.

Needs Only Mechanical Or Traditional Cars Can Fulfill
There are certain needs that autonomous cars may not be able to fulfill, including:

  • Traveling long distances daily for people who live in the rural area and whose work is in the city
  • Big family to drop off and pick up in several places
  • People who own a business that requires transporting and delivering supplies

Needs like these are not likely to fulfilled by a car that only sits two people facing each other. Long distance traveling may be constrained by the car’s battery life. Hence, the need for the traditional car though diminished, still remains.

Car experts tend to predict that autonomous or self-driving cars will co-exist with traditional cars, with automation serving as co-pilot rather than the “chauffeur”. In the future, cars may have dual functionality – that of a traditional car that needs a driver, with a special feature of auto-pilot just like in aircraft, when road conditions call for it.
Would you rather have an autonomous car?

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2 thoughts on “Car Trend Of The Future: Person-Driven Or Auto-Pilot?”

  1. This subject fascinates me. I am excited about the coming of this transformation. I don’t invest in cars anymore. I have been using ride sharing services to commute for years now and I just don’t see the sense in paying for a car – at least in my case, since I don’t commute that often – only to pay monthly for the car and insurance while the car sits in my drive way most of each week. Also, driverless cars are the perfect solution for those persons who have a DUI on their record and would otherwise have to pay elevated insurance costs.

  2. From what I know, the Google driverless cars already have hundreds of miles of test drives without any accidents. That is impressive. It would be ironic or murphy law’ like if one of the first times a human sits in one of these vehicles for a drive, they wind up becoming a statistic – a very significant statistic, as in the first human to have an accident in a driverless car. I don’t wish this to happen since I hope driverless cars become mainstream; I’m just saying that it would be a major setback in terms of attaining mass market acceptance.

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