Slow and Not So Steady
Autonomous vehicles are going to be widely available either soon or in an extremely long time, depending on who you ask. Waymo LLC is the leading autonomous car company. Last month it released a robo taxi service. However, that service is only available to 400 families in a small suburb. Even then, every vehicle operating within that area has a human behind the wheel. Not only is that for the chance of an error occurring, but also for the passengers to feel more at ease. The service might be the future, but at the present, it doesn’t have that much faith. However, believers are anything but few and far between. Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett believes that the market for autonomous vehicles has the potential to reach $10 trillion. That’s half the United States’ GDP!
That potential market is the largest reason behind this rush for autonomy. General Motor Co. has a service/product called Cruise Automation. It’s planned to debut its automated ride-hailing business in an unnamed US city this year.
Later on, in 2021, Ford also plans to release an autonomous vehicle service that will be used to transport people and packages. Additionally, Uber is back at it again. They temporarily ceased all their autonomous vehicle testing after an accident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian. They resumed testing just nine months after the incident. Almost every major auto company has a stake in the autonomous vehicle movement. However, it’s not all one leap forward after another. If anything, the problems that arise with testing are more numerous than the successes.
Professional services company Deloitte surveyed 25,000 people on how they felt about autonomous vehicles. Half of the surveyed people said they didn’t feel as if autonomous vehicles were safe, up fro 47% last year. Only 39% trusted auto makers to safely implement autonomous vehicles. This shows a huge lack of trust.
Additionally, this lack of trust could prove to be the biggest detractor of the autonomous vehicle movement. Companies might see it as a venture that wouldn’t prove profitable enough to pursue. The fear that people will meet their untimely ends in a driverless car is large enough to consider. What will it take for people to no longer harbor these feelings? That’s the purpose behind all these tests companies are performing.
Slowly, very slowly, many companies are spreading their projects left and right. Although, the profit potential isn’t quite there yet. We’re still years away from autonomous vehicles being the norm. In fact, as long as human safety drivers exist for those dark situations where the AI messes up then profits will be almost nonexistent. However, as previously mentioned the profit potential is too high. Companies, quite literally, can’t ignore this. There’s too much to be lost if they ignore this movement. People just need to be conscious of the speed this rollout is going to take. It’s not a fast process. It will take years for these tests to become normal. But, it is highly likely to widely exist in the not so near future.
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