The Audi A6 comes with a lane assist feature that keeps it in lane, and an adaptive cruise control feature that can handle stop and go driving. With these features engaged, today’s drivers can safely fall asleep in freeway traffic – until they need to change lanes, anyway. With Google, VW and the State of Nevada progressing towards autonomous car technology, self-driving cars are just around the proverbial corner. But what will self-driving cars mean for our cars, for our commutes, and for our lives?
Remove the task of driving from the driver’s responsibilities, and it quickly becomes apparent that more cabin resources will be dedicated to non-driving tasks, such as working, playing, sleeping, or even shopping. The autonomous car breakthrough will put added pressure on manufacturers to devise the latest and greatest in creature comfort and mobile workstation technologies (think first class on Air Singapore or Emirates). Accordingly, features will be increasingly important in the race for market share, and drivers will benefit enormously.
Close your eyes and imagine: you plop into your car on a Thursday evening, ready for your one hour commute home. Maybe you feel like driving. Or, maybe you want to sleep, work, or play. In any case, you’re covered, because a simple voice command will transform your sports car into a bed, an office, or an entertainment center by adjusting driving style, lighting, music, seat configuration, and golly knows what else. In other words, commutes are going to get much, much better (and probably faster, if cars can navigate traffic algorithmically). And frankly, some mass transit commuters (with the financial means) might move back to the car. While self-driving cars suggest improved “commuting” through the powers of chauffeuring, they also spell safer highways.
In 2009, 36,000 people died in traffic accidents in the US, and 11,000 people died in drunk driving accidents in the US. If cars have the technology to avoid crashing into each other, then tens of thousands of lives will be saved every year in the US alone. Of all of the potential game changing ramifications of self-driving cars, increased safety is unquestionably the most important.
From ABS to GPS, recent technology has changed the driving experience substantially. Nonetheless, the road ahead is far more dynamic. Wherever car technology takes you, we’ll be here to help you get the most bang for your buck. So buckle your seat belt and be excited.