“Advanced vehicle technologies may well prove to be the silver bullet in saving lives on our roadways.” — Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
From connected cars and semi-autonomous functionality to expectations of commercially-available, self-driving vehicles and electrification, high-tech innovations, such as the Internet of Things, have taken the automotive sector by storm.
Connected cars account for an increasing percentage of the vehicles on our roads. According to Mckinsey’s eight key perspectives on the “2030 automotive revolution,” once technological and regulatory issues have been resolved, up to 15 percent of new cars sold in 2030 could be fully autonomous. The report also states that driven by shared mobility, connectivity services, and feature upgrades, new business models could expand automotive revenue pools by 30 percent, adding up to USD 1.5 trillion. This number is expected to grow as consumer interest in this technology continues to grow rapidly. From adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance for a vehicle from the car in front it, to lane departure warning systems that beep or vibrate when a driver leaves a lane, connected car technologies promise to increase safety by reducing the number of accidents on our roads. And safety is a growing concern. Almost 40,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2016 in the U.S. alone, making it the deadliest year on American roads since 2007, while an additional 4.6 million people were seriously injured last year. Clearly something needs to change. With the advance of connected cars, leading to fully self-driving vehicles, serious accidents are expected to radically decrease moving forward.
Although some people may think that self-driving cars are still relegated to science fiction movies, the fact is they may be closer than you think. One of the leaders in autonomous vehicle testing, Google, has a fleet of self-driving cars that have already driven over 3 million miles on public roads over the course of eight years. And owners of vehicles sold by technological innovators Tesla have driven over 100 million miles using the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot feature, which can operate on highways and change lanes without any input from the human occupants. At the same time, Tesla drivers are instructed to always keep their hands on the steering wheel in case any problems arise while using Autopilot, so it is not considered a fully autonomous system, and Google’s cars have only been used by the company’s employees at this point.
However, many auto industry experts predict that fully self-driving vehicles will become commercially available as soon as 2020. And although there are many obstacles to overcome before autonomous cars can become an everyday reality on our roads. Once we work out some complex questions surrounding insurance and liability, and how to make self-driving vehicles and traditional ones co-exist safely, we will quickly be on the cusp of a world where we can sit in the back seat and work or sleep while our car carefully drives us without requiring any input other than the address of our destination.
Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Time to sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!
Written by Igor Ilunin, head of IoT at DataArt.