Autonomous vehicles were once synonymous with science fiction. Now, companies like Google, Apple, Tesla, Ford, BMW and GM to name a few, are making strides toward a world of transportation that is reminiscent of "The Jetsons". As autonomous cars - vehicles capable of sensing their environment and navigating without human effort - continue being developed and tested, it's certain the future of transportation will change radically.
Undoubtedly, autonomous vehicles will affect driver safety tools, insurance and tiers of transport.
Driver Safety Tools
Programs that help drivers avoid collisions with obstacles, like EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and Mobileye, are already being utilized. Driver technology, including automatic braking and lane monitoring must and will continue to evolve as autonomous cars become available for use. Eventually, connected vehicle data will be used by vehicle-to-vehicle systems and shared within a vehicle-to-infrastructure environment to help predict and avoid accidents in real time. This will probably take government intervention to develop industry standards.
As autonomous vehicles are developed rapidly, the insurance industry will face many difficulties while trying to gage appropriate coverage and liability. Such as: If an autonomous vehicle gets into an accident, who is responsible? How much damage, to both the passengers and equipment, should be covered? How high is the risk of getting into an autonomous vehicle? It's evident to me that this part of the implementation process will take longer than the actual technology itself.
Tiers of Transport
With the advent of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, transportation will move toward systems that include tiers of transport instead of individuals owning automotive assets. Over time, autonomous vehicles will be tested in "milk route" zones, i.e. travel routes that form patterns like bus routes on universities. Eventually assets that are owned today, will be provided as mobility services similar to the Software as a Service model.
Would you trust a self-driving car? Tell me in the comments below.