cars will change millions of people’s lives for the better by
providing independence and mobility to those who can’t drive
because of physical limitations or age. The technology will allow
more people to live on their own terms and participate in what the
most of us consider everyday life.
promises better mobility and safety for more people at a lower
cost," Larry Burns, retired General Motors chief of R&D and
strategic planning, writes in the first issue of Autonomous Vehicle
Engineering, a new publication by the Society of Automotive
vehicles could also lead to greater demand for vehicles, as the
population of people who can use them expands from those of driving
age to virtually anybody who can use an app.
companies before the iPhone was introduced, automakers are living
through the last moments before their industry changes fundamentally
is arriving just in time, said Eric Noble, president of product
development consultant The Carlab in Orange, Calif.
is good for society. It will extend the time of driving and
independent living for the largest generation ever: the baby
boom," Noble said. "The technology aligns perfectly with
our demographic needs. Baby boomers had to take the keys when their
parents could no longer drive. Autonomy allows them to postpone that
moment in their own lives, and extends their working life."
say that totally autonomous vehicles won’t be widespread until
around 2030, but the technology’s early steps are already showing
what’s possible. General Motors’ Cadillac Super Cruise does
nearly all the driving on limited access highways, where there are
no intersections or traffic lights. Self-driving taxi service Voyage
operates autonomous Ford Fusions in the Villages, a retirement
community near San Jose, Calif. Real estate developer Bedrock has
tested autonomous employee shuttles employees in downtown Detroit.
to provide autonomy in limited areas like a gated community or
around a downtown office area, because there are fewer variables to
technology is ideal for areas that are digitally mapped in
detail," said Joe Phillippi, principal of Autotrends
Consulting. "It will take time for autonomy to penetrate into
the deep suburbs and countryside."
automakers sell and service vehicles will change, too. Ride-sharing,
in which people summon a vehicle when they need it, could keep
vehicles in service for more hours every day than single-owner
an opportunity for the number of vehicles on the road to stay the
same or increase as we open up the number of people who can use
them" IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said.
everybody from a 6-year-old being shuttled to Cub Scouts to my
94-year-old mother is a potential customer.
be used for more hours every day," Brinley said. "They’ll
wear out faster and need repairs and replacement more