With the upturn in vehicle sales during the last five years, and with gas prices remaining relatively low, the future seems bright for automakers. New technological advances abound, and there are those who say that the fully autonomous car will become a reality in another five to ten years. With this advance, it is believed that private vehicle owners and fleets will be queuing up to get the new autonomous vehicles, further stimulating the market. But all is not roses. The fatal Tesla crash may indicate that perfecting the technology for autonomous cars will take much longer than expected. Meanwhile, there are many challenges to be faced.
Autonomous cars may not be the wisest focus-area at present
Many automakers are pouring investment into the realization of the vision conjured by the autonomous car, but if the necessary technology takes decades to develop, rather than just a few more years, investment in more immediate areas of concern may prove to be the wiser course. Some analysts are predicting that the entire structure of the auto industry may change before the autonomous vehicle (AV) is widely adopted.
Issues such as affordability, the ability of AVs to interact with cars driven by humans, liability, insurance, moral issues, and interactivity between different navigation and communications technologies will need to be tackled before AVs are truly road-ready. This makes predictions that AVs will enjoy widespread use within the next 10 years over-optimistic, and some experts believe that resolving all these issues may even take decades, with more time needed for general adoption of AVs by consumers.
Should the auto industry be pouring so much investment and energy into autonomous cars to the detriment of solving more present needs and challenges? Does its romance with the AV serve as a dangerous distraction for the industry?
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