Self-Driving Cars may launch revolution with larger effects than seen at first glance
Written for Start2Cloud.com.
The highlight of this year's Consumer Electronics Show CES 2013 in Las Vegas may become strangely products that we did not up till now include at all into the category of consumer electronics - self-driving cars. Cars of Toyota, and Audi presented at the currently ongoing CES 2013 are of course built on the latest technologies. Their foundation is a GPS location service that can very accurately determine the position of the car, and when combined with today's advanced car navigation services can in fact lead the car to any place of the civilized world. Navigation system is also combined with precise laser distance meter that continuously measures the position of the car from the surrounding objects, radars, position estimator and camera, and thanks to all this equipment the car is able to respond to the current traffic situation.
|Toyota self-driving car|
Cars at the Consumer Electronics Show are actually just the next logical step in the expansion of the IT industry. Recall that it was not so long ago, when even the major exhibits on today’s fair were not part of the IT. Being it smart phones, music players, or TVs - all these devices were part of completely different industries.
Like other digital consumer electronics, however, even self-driving cars cannot exist without online (cloud) services - only these services will breathe full functionality into these products. The cornerstone of such services for “smart cars” will be of course navigation. It will of course know the actual road closures and detours, current traffic, but also the state of weather and road conditions. The main difference to existing navigation services will be that this navigation will be two-way, interactive - navigation will not only pass on information about current traffic, but also will be able to actively manage and coordinate the traffic. When the automatic cars spread, it will be possible to prevent most today’s conflict situations in transport, such as congestions, and poor predictability, when in fact we get to our destination. At that moment, the roads will also be able to get rid of traffic lights and traffic signs. Second significant change will be in substantial increase of car sharing services, which will not only cause a revolution in taxis, but will be also essential in optimizing the number of cars that are actually needed. Do we have a parking problem at our house or office? No problem – let us send our car on, let it serve to other people. They will pay us the cost of gasoline and maintenance. Do we need our car only sporadically? Then we can become members of a number of schemes for car sharing. Car will be always available when we need it – and of course, on the spot where we need it.
|Audi TTS self-driving car|
These services will become highly attractive because they will allow to take advantage of the car at a significantly lower cost than today. No more we will need to cover the entire cost of car ownership, garaging and car maintenance for a car that is most of the day just standing. The automotive industry will then be able to optimize the number of cars with respect to the real transportation needs - scheme to be well known e.g. from aviation. This is of course contrary to the interest of automakers, but so be it. You cannot launch disruptive innovation, such as self-driving cars, and avoid its logical consequences.
So who knows? Maybe one day our cities will be free from cars that now line the edges of all sidewalks and are trying to squeeze in every place of our living space. And right now, we are witnessing the actual moment when this revolution begins.