As Didi Chuxing prepares to launch its autonomous pick-ups services in Shanghai, and autonomous car makers look to throw away the traditional steering wheel, questions remain about the future of the auto industry. The worry is being doubled because of the unprecedented decline in this auto industry.
With a rising population of the young middle class, the Indian auto market looked ripe for sales of electric and autonomous vehicles. However, unless the future arrives, the concept of smart and driverless cars raises existential concerns for those working in the Indian auto industry.
While some see self-driving cars and autonomous cars as the future of the industry, others view it as an end of the auto industry that might render millions of drivers and technicians jobless.
However, for the end user the question is even larger. Can self-driving cars be truly safe in a world of variable driving conditions and human error? Corporate leaders in the industry have also expressed their opinions about the potential slowdown in the sales and dwindling profits as a consequence.
In a recent interview, Ford Autonomous Vehicles operations chief John Rich dismissed concerns that demand for automobiles will decline in the coming years because of these self-driving cars. He has suggested that autonomous cars are likely to have a life-span of only 4 years because of their more consistent use and a resulting increase in their abrasion. Ford is expected to launch its first self-driving car in 2021. Additionally, the company is also planning to establish a fleet of autonomous vehicles to be used by other companies for delivery services and to transport employees.
Self-Driving Cars – The Future of Auto Industry?
Many companies have launched their cars with largely autonomous features or driver-less robotaxi services in recent years. But these vehicles do require some sort of human intervention for now especially when encountered with surprise elements.
Moreover, due to enormously varied conditions in the practical world consumers are also apprehensive about the larger safety concerns that are yet to be addressed. But, on the positive side automation in the automobile sector promises potential environmental benefits as most of these cars are expected to run on batteries and thereby likely to reduce pollution.
Though many companies are in the process of testing their fully-automated vehicles on public roads, none has hit the roads so far as personal vehicles. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has hinted that the leading electric car manufacturing company is set to launch its Level 5 automated cars in 2020.
Car manufacturers are investing heavily in AI-driven car technology to stay in the business. Notably, smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Huawei are also venturing into the field with their acquisitions and collaborations while Alphabet’s Waymo has been a major leader in the market with its lidar technology.
Toyota has also signed an agreement with Chinese autonomous-driving start-up Pony.ai recently to collaborate for a pilot project on fully automated vehicles. Apple had acquired the self-driving shuttle start-up Drive.ai earlier in June this year.
There is little doubt that self-driving cars are the future of the auto industry but there are a number of concerns that need to address before they can become a commonplace. It is yet to be seen how the markets will respond to the autonomous cars but it seems unlikely that self-driving cars will be the end of the auto industry.