Are Driverless Cars The Future?

Ford Motors was founded in 1903 and introduced the Model T Ford in 1908, the same year that General Motors opened for business. Uber was established in 2009, the same year Google began to explore self-driving cars. But now old-fashioned car manufacturing and new age technology are about to clash and reshape the face of driving.

Dreaming big

The idea of self-driving cars was a distant dream until recently as carmakers prompted by developments in new technology companies took an intense interest.

Many of the big car companies – Ford, GM, Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Nissan – are now focussed on developing driverless cars and intent on making them a reality.

The frenzy came to a climax recently when a number of traditional car manufacturers invested in new technology companies, epitomised by General Motors $500million investment in an Uber competitor called Lyft.

Without understanding the detail of how or when driverless cars will appear on the roads there is an acceptance that it will happen sooner rather than later.

There are, of course, concerns about safety, traffic, roads infrastructure and the impact of such exacting change on the jobs of millions of people.

There are also concerns about legislation, regulation, insurance, ownership and how these issues will be dealt with to satisfy buyers, sellers and legislators.

There are also concerns about continuing with the status quo as the death toll of road traffic accidents climbs each year.

Reality bites

The biggest change, of course, is to car manufacturers, as their hundred-year old model of making and selling cars is being disrupted to destruction.

Their answer, so far, has been to invest in the technology companies responsible for the attack on their business in an effort to profit from their own demise.

The great fear is that overall demand for cars will fall, as people no longer need to own a car when they can use an app on their smartphone to summon one at their leisure.

There is also a clash of cultures as traditional car manufacturers take a slow and gentle approach to change, whereas, technology companies take a more immediate and disruptive stance.

Reality lies somewhere in the middle as old and new merge to create a model that provides a combination of innovation and safety to satisfy everyone.

The challenge for car companies is to manage in an almost unmanageable situation, as competitive advantage shifts rapidly from manufacturing to technology.

Car manufacturers can fight the irreversible transfer to technology that is taking place or accept such savage change with an equally inventive response.

Success will come, however, from hybrid companies with the right design, technology and application configurations to create the driverless dream.

So, anxiety about driverless cars will persist but the blend of old manufacturing and new technology will combine to create a revolution on the roads.