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What’s happening with autonomous cars?

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What’s happening with autonomous cars?

 

We have spoken a couple of times about self-driving cars and
what they mean to the auto industry. So far, we're not convinced that consumers
are ready for them. We are certainly not convinced that our roads or traffic
systems are ready for them either. While we here at Car Nation Canada are
watching developments closely, we doubt any big changes will happen soon.

That said, automakers are investing heavily in autonomous
cars, with Google and Nissan both saying they should have a driverless model on
sale by 2020. Whether you're looking forward to this or not, it's going to
happen.

A week or so ago, Google published the news that of their 23
test cars, only 11 accidents have occurred in six years of operation. That's a
pretty good record for a test that has racked up over 1.7 million miles,
especially when all 11 were attributed to third party human drivers.

Nissan have also been spending serious cash to master the
autonomous car. CEO of Nissan Carlos Ghosn has just announced that the
automaker is on track to release their first consumer vehicle by 2020.

While they will have a car available, being able to buy and
use it may take a little longer. Currently lawmakers in both the U.S. and
Canada are way behind the curve when it comes to building the legal framework
that would enable these cars to be sold and roam freely on our roads. There is
a lot of work to do yet before we see them as regulars on our highways.

Meanwhile, a Barclays Bank analysis painted a dark picture
of auto sales if autonomous cars do catch on. Predictions of a 40% reduction in
auto sales may seem like scaremongering, but it's a future painted by this
report. While the logic used in the report is questionable, it does raise
questions about auto sales in the future.

With fewer collisions come fewer write-offs, which means
fewer sales. There will also be a lower requirement for parts and servicing as
a computer will always drive at optimum efficiency. More positively, as risk
lowers, so should our auto insurance premiums!

The report's assertion that second car ownership will drop
because a self-driving car can service an entire family is flawed though. All
it takes is two people starting work at the same time in different parts of
town to blow that theory out of the water. The same for the school run. We all
know everything happens at once in the mornings, so one car, however clever is
not going to be able to service everyone in an average family.

Autonomous cars are, for now, thankfully still in the realms
of science fiction. It is inevitably where the auto industry will be going, but
hopefully we will all have gotten more used to the idea by the time they arrive
in force.

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