A Toyota Prius with auto-drive
Already a number of cars offer safety features that not only warn drivers of dangers, they actually take control of the vehicle to help prevent potential crashes.
Today, we call cars with two power sources hybrid cars, but in the very near future most cars will also have two drivers: a computer and the actual driver.
That's not just a hybrid hybrid, it's a game-changer.
In fact, even full auto-pilot might be available sooner than expected. Already the technology has been proven in artificial environments and track courses, and viability in the real world cannot be far off.
Continental Automotive Group's ‘Vision Zero' suggests that quite soon all cars, regardless of weight and size, will be equally safe as new technologies enable cars – similar to some super chess program - to analyze and to foresee potential dangers well before drivers and react independently of the driver.
Additionally, automakers are also quickly getting in the hybrid driver game. Just this week GM announced future Cadillac technologies could include “in-vehicle Doppler radar to spot obstructions or traffic jams ahead,” and eventually result in “autonomous vehicles that can communicate with each other, traffic signals and buildings, pointing to a world where cars may actually drive themselves.”
But this is about more than just safety as one can easily imagine entirely new business models for personal transportation. Nonetheless, being able to make smaller and lighter cars, thanks to auto-drive safety features, could significantly increase fuel economy and extend EV range while increasing safety. Obviously, that alone offers game-changing potential, but auto-drive also changes everything about car expectations and ownership.
Cars could become simple time-shared transportation pods, for instance. Why care about horsepower or size when your transporation pod picks you up at your desired time, drives you to work along the safest and fastest route as you begin your work day, check Facebook, play games, or just take a nap – all for a fraction of the cost ownership.
Parking? Insurance? Maintenance? All included in the subscription. Suddenly, cars aren't some ridiculously expensive ego-extension, instead, they are reduced to their basic purpose: transportation.
Besides, cars just don't express today's ego the way they did in the past. Today it's all about social networks, and auto-drive transportation pods will offer a far better social networking experience than will self-driving everywhere – that's soooo last century.