Analysts, experts and other industry observers, not to mention all the companies involved in the process, are all signaling the age of the driverless car is upon us and in just a matter of a few years it would radically impact the course of our lives.
Just a few days ago, green automaker Tesla Motors, which is being treated by many as a technology company rather than a regular automaker, has introduced through an over the air software update the autopilot feature for its Model S (and a few Model X) autos that delivers both hands and feet-free driving under certain conditions, such as highway cruising or stop-and-go traffic. Tesla also said it would deliver the first fully autonomous car in around three years and the update today is not delivering such functionality not because it’s not yet capable on the technical level, but because of regulatory and insurance issues.
Technology giants Apple and Google, the most valuable companies in their sector, are also rapidly advancing with their projects for autonomous vehicles – Google out in the open and Apple under the cover of mystery, as it has used us to. And while traditional automakers from GM to Daimler are also furiously working on their own driverless cars, its these technology behemoths that are most likely to disrupt traditional auto industry hierarchies. Just consider this: Google is worth five times as much as any automotive company – and Apple is worth a whopping eight times. And both have proven records of the ability to transform industries. And we should also consider the fact that a premiere automaker such as VW has decided to give innovation a death grip – instead of spending $4 billion to address the research and development problem to its emissions control issue it decided to cheat. Now the failure to innovate will bring losses of up to $40 billion – a 10 to one ratio of loss.