With all of the news of autonomous vehicles possibly changing the urban transportation landscape in some European metropolitan areas, we have to wonder what other disruptive events will take place as self-driving vehicles enter the market. Some obvious applications are commercial and military, in which the benefits of lower driver error and the ability to have closer (and safer) vehicle proximity improve efficiency and reduce human loss of life. Law enforcement, as well, will gain special advantages as fewer DUIs, blown stop signs and high-speed pursuits allow for officers to concentrate more on criminal activity.
Whereas these and other applications of self-driving vehicles in commercial and municipal arenas are becoming self-evident, consumer adaptation of self-driving vehicles has been a concern. “Safety, security and convenience will help to mitigate the expected slow growth curve of consumer acceptance,” said John Absmeier, Director of Delphi Labs @ Silicon Valley, Delphi Automotive. “However, the concept of full automation, where the driver is fully out-of-the-loop, is years out from being a production application. In the near-future, though, there will be limited-use cases such as low-speed traffic jams or expressway driving at highway speeds. So it will be important to develop technology that will help transition control back to the driver and make sure that the driver takes control of the vehicle.”
The issue of how vehicle autonomy impacts the driving experience is part of the argument over how consumers will ultimately accept removing themselves from controlling their cars. Google set the automotive and tech industries abuzz when it introduced its self-driving prototype earlier this year, only to be criticized by the traditional automakers as undermining the culture of driving. We should, however, understand that there are scores of individuals who would not only appreciate the car driving itself but would have it no other way.
“The realities of life just take mobility away from people as they get older,” said Brad Templeton, a consultant to Google and university professor in Silicon Valley. “A solution to that problem is going to be highly welcomed.” Independent seniors who would otherwise need to relocate to urban areas or assisted living facilities could remain in their suburban homes through the use of autonomous vehicles. “If [a self-driving car] lets you keep your house rather than having to move, I think you’ll see people who aren’t necessarily early adopters go for it,” Templeton added.
The same could be said of the disabled, who have no other option than to be driven by someone else. The value of such new mobility to the disabled and their families could be incalculable. “The fact that there isn’t a person driving it eventually will be the least important thing about it,” said Mr. Templeton.
We believe that genuine innovation will find its correct markets and customer adaptation, wherever it exists, will follow closely behind. Unintended or peripheral adaptation of technology only extends its potential for legitimacy and trust among consumers.
Source: Why Self-Driving Cars Will Change Retirement – The Wall Street Journal