A recent prediction from Cisco’s technology trend watchers indicates that the driverless car is quickly approaching the point of no return for consumers. According to the report, in five to seven years it will be more expensive to manually drive a car than to have one drive itself. Google, over the years, and more consistently in the past year, has been showcasing the prowess of the technology’s responsiveness, mapping, and sensing. So development for the intelligent vehicles is well underway, but how will owning a driverless car be cheaper than owning a traditional motor vehicle?
Jordan Perch, an analyst and writer for DMV.com, answered that question by illustrating that Google is not the only major company investing in the technology. Such automakers as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan and Tesla are also developing cars that are capable of navigating themselves. According to Perch, advanced automotive-driving vehicles could become mainstream in 10 to 15 years. Google believes that they can launch a driverless car for public use by 2025, and Nissan is even more optimistic, or competitive, stating that they will be able to release one by 2020.
One of the major ways that the autonomous mechanisms will reduce the cost of ownership is in the reduction of accident costs and cost of operation. Because the vehicles are so optimal, and approximately 90 percent of car accidents are due to user error, estimates from observers state that using a driverless car makes an accident occurring a near impossibility. Taking into consideration all of the costs an accident engenders, such as repairs, insurance, medical bills etc., owning an autonomous vehicle is expected to save money compared with owning a manually operated vehicle, where the risk of an accident is exponentially greater.
In the United States alone, around $450 billion are spent in automotive accidents, a figure cited as an indicator that the driverless car’s point of no return is approaching quickly. The consultancy IHS estimates that by 2025, there will be 230,000 driverless automobiles on the roads, and by 2035, 12 million. According to the Cisco trend watchers, the cost of owning a driverless car will be 75 percent less than the cost of owning a traditional vehicle. They attribute this to the elimination of traffic jams (less gas being spent), reduction in car accidents, and the likelihood that these vehicles will utilize cheaper, renewable resources like electricity (solar and wind), and/or hydrogen.
Another factor that is contributing to the quickly approaching point of no return for the driverless car, is that the need for the ownership for any motorized vehicle will decrease immensely for people, especially those who reside in dense metropolitan areas. Independently controlled vehicles are poised to replace buses and taxis, thus making those services optimally efficient. With the possibility to call a driverless car to pick one up at a certain time and drop one off anywhere via a mobile app, it might be simpler to not own a vehicle. As a consequence the user would only need to pay for the cost of these services, which are estimated to be cheaper than present-day public transportation.
By Andres Loubriel