If I told you a couple of years ago that you will be able to get into your car, punch in a destination, and the car will drive itself with you there only as a backup, you would have thought I was watching way too much TV.
But that is now a reality. And it is getting even more automated to the point where cars are going to get to a point where they have no steering wheel as you aren’t driving anyways.
What about a Jetsons flying car you ask? Yip. We have those too. Kitty Hawk just showcased their flying car which Casey Neistat took out for a spin. While we are not going to see these parked in out heli-pad anytime soon, there are several companies who are actively working on providing an air-taxi making that commute to work a whole new experience.
With the rapid rate of change in the car space, lets take a quick snapshot of where we are today and where are heading to:
Where are we today?
Today’s vehicles have evolved dramatically over the past decades. Most new models come with an integrated navigator option, which has long replaced the traditional paper map book. (can you remember the last time you folded the map so you could “navigate” to block K2 and F5 ?)
Vehicle manufactures know that we are loaded with tech, so most cars have replaced the cigarette lighter, with USB ports to charge our phones and tablets. Some have integrated Spotify and Pandora into the car’s infotainment system. There are even options to download apps like Starbucks, so you can order your urgent non-fat-cappuccino at a touch of a button.
I am always amazed by how much change dealerships like Gillingham have been through as they have been following the market for three generations. With so much tech, you need to be an IT engineer first and a car mechanic second!
Where do we want to get?
It’s fair to say that we need our vehicles to be smarter as today they are faster, travel for longer distances, and the drivers are way too easily distracted.
The solution is a vehicle that can react, think and predict actions much faster than we can.
We are only at the beginning of the self-driving car using artificial intelligence journey which is being tested in various cities around the world. Lessons are constantly being learnt, the technology continues to evolve and become smarter and is learning to adapt.
Autonomous drivers are taking over
The car of the future will probably not need a person behind the wheel, meaning that even a “driving license” will become obsolete. No need to “drive” if you are just entering your destination and the vehicle takes control.
Not everyone is happy about this self-driving future. Long distance truck drivers are already concerned that their livelihood is on the line as the machines take over.
While we are way off handing the keys over to a machine, make no mistake – that day is coming. There are projects currently to even let machines steer cargo ships across the ocean. People will need to adapt and change in order not to be made redundant. The same change happened when the industrial revolution started, and machines took over manual labor. Every industry had to adapt to embrace the changed world.
The Ad-Model Driverless Future
As the saying goes: “if it’s free, YOU are the product” so it is conceivable, that in the future where commercial use of AI vehicles could be sponsored by retailers or realtors to drive people in and around town. However, in order to make use of these cars, part of the journey would be a mandatory drive-by a realtor’s latest For-Sale property or a retailer’s shop front.
If we think Facebook Ads are bad, it could be worse when YOU are the driven inside the ad. Literally.
So in summary
Just like most adults, I couldn’t wait for the day I could get my Drivers Licence. However, my kids are in no rush. “Why do I need a car when I can press a button and order an Uber?” says my daughter.
She is right.
So it seems that we are in the future already – we just don’t know it yet.