Are Driverless Cars the Future of the Auto Industry?
November 13, 2012

by Casey Neeley,

Driverless cars may be the wave of the future according to a news report issued by Fortune Magazine. Tests of Google's driverless cars showed the vehicles can drive more than 300,000 miles without incident.

As futuristic as this technology may sound, it's not as distant of a reality as you may think. California recently legalized self-driving vehicles in September, following Nevada, which passed the law in June 2011, and Florida, which put autonomous driving laws into effect July 1, 2012. Current laws do, however, stipulate that a driver must sit in the driver's seat and be able to take over in the event of an emergency.

In addition to the Google prototype, Nissan unveiled its own autonomous prototype in October at the CEATEC show in Japan. Company officials anticipate releasing the vehicle as soon as 2015. Several other automotive manufacturers, including GM, Ford, Toyota and BMW, are also currently working to develop autonomous models for the market.

In October 2010, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study evaluating the overall increase in highway safety that would result from use of autonomous vehicles.

"It is assumed that AV [autonomous vehicle] systems could potentially address pedestrian, cyclist and animal crashes as well as loss of control, road departure and maneuver crashes in which speeding is a contributing factor," report officials for the NHTSA. Figures released in the report further project these autonomous systems, when installed in vehicles, can decrease car accidents by as much as 81 percent.

As convenient as an autonomous vehicle may be for some consumers, it could mean reduced sales for a variety of auto industries, including auto glass repair and replacement.

"There has, however, been little thought about how autonomous vehicles might impact business and alter industries ranging from car makers to auto insurers to transport companies to steel fabricators, and in the process leave a trail of winners and losers," says Brian Dumaine, senior editor-at-large for CNN Money in the Fortune report.

Additionally, autonomous vehicles may lead to significant changes in auto insurance.

"As accident rates fall and liability becomes shared with the manufacturer, drivers will see less need to carry so much insurance," continues Dumaine. "To maintain their revenue stream, auto insurers will have to shift to providing coverage to the car makers or software firms that write the [operational] code."

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
Subscribe to receive the free e-newsletter.