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The Future of Automotive Technology

January 2, 2018

Tesla is a revolutionary company headed by multi-enterprise entrepreneur Elon Musk. He has been known to look at life as a series of challenges to conquer. This is why he has founded companies such as; Hyperloop, a proposed means of travel involving a series of vacuum-sealed tubes with no air resistance, The

Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company, and one of his most mainstream enterprises, Tesla. The main problem Elon saw with the automotive industry was its unsustainability due to a lack of renewable resources. Once the idea hit paper, the company expanded into multiple sectors, one of which being driverless automobiles.

 

 

 

 

Photo: menofvalue.com

 

The idea of driverless cars appeals drivers of all ages, and the future generations of drivers as well. This is why multiple car companies, as well as some technology companies have invested heavily in the field. However, while we do live in an age where new advances are constantly arising, autonomous driving still faces great opposition. If Tesla’s driverless cars are successful, the impacts of its implementation could range from large investments in supply chain management and mechanization of the manufacturing process to the price changes in insurance and car prices. Wendell Wallach, author of A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond our Control, stated "Large groups of workers are going to recognize that their jobs are threatened. Today it may be the taxi driver. Tomorrow, it's all the truckers. Now that it's been expressed in [upstate New York], we'll see a lot of it." He theorized that the impact of driverless cars would be widespread job loss by taxi drivers, truck drivers, and chauffeurs. Roughly 4 million Americans are employed in the transportation industry with about 1.6 million of those jobs being held by professional truckers. However, with the addition of autonomous vehicles, an estimated 5.6 million jobs would become obsolete.  Considering the Great Recession of 2008 found 2.8 million Americans without jobs, one can only imagine what the impact of more than double that figure of jobs lost would do to the economy.

 

 

Here is a video of the Driverless Car technology in use. In order to meet current regulations, a driver is present, however is not touching the wheel.

 

 

Tesla currently has three large competitors, along with multiple up-and-coming competitors, not to mention Apple, whom is presumed to make an appearance in the industry in 2020 according to Elon Musk in a recent speech. Ironically the majority of these competitors’ companies are made up of former Tesla employees.  The biggest of the three, Waymo is the newest venture for the tech giant, Alphabet (known best for Google), and this sector of the company is currently valued at an astounding $70 billion. They are currently partners with Lyft and are hoping to make a huge run on the autonomous vehicle industry in the coming years. Elon Musk retorted to Waymo’s efforts by downplaying the new enterprise stating, "Google's done a great job at showing the potential of autonomous transport, but they're not a car company.” One of Alphabet’s main issues with the vehicle are costs. An estimated $150,000 goes into vehicle equipment, including $70,000 for their highly advanced LIDAR system. As far as research is concerned, however, Waymo is advancing by the day and now concept versions have been driven up to 170,000 miles autonomously with no major faults besides those involving human error. There are viable competitors to Tesla for the future, but in the current state Tesla is quite literally “miles ahead” of their competition.

 

 

 Photo: CARJAM TV

 

 

Recently, Mercedes-Benz, a luxury car brand, has begun introducing similar technology in their new E-Class line of vehicles. Using Drive Pilot, their take on autopilot, Mercedes has created a sense of semi-autonomous driving rather than full automation, which they still hope to implement across their product line by 2022. The system evades liabilities associated with the lack of a hands on driver by requiring the driver to prove they are paying attention through occasional inputs. An estimated 80 percent of driving processes can be managed with this Drive Pilot technology, making serious leaps towards full automation.

 

I believe the automotive industry is on the verge of a revolutionary trend towards autonomy, just not as quickly as people may think. The innovation in the space has been incredible over the last few years, from emergency braking to the addition of sensors offering blind spot alerts, however the legislation needed to implement the fully autonomous vehicle is years off of the technology car companies currently possess.  Elon Musk and his team of engineers are some of the world’s best and brightest, but they don’t quite grasp the concept of the impacts of their endeavors and how they could disrupt the market. Don’t get me wrong, Tesla and autonomous vehicles are the future, but the future is a relative concept so don’t hold your breath for the government’s seal of approval on the industry just yet.

 

 

 

 

References

“4 million Americans are employed in the transportation industry”

 

“5.6 million Jobs would become obsolete with the addition of autonomous vehicles”

 

“The Great Recession of 2008 found 2.8 million Americans without jobs”

 

“Apple, whom is presumed to make an appearance in the industry in 2020 according to Elon Musk in a recent speech”

 

”Google's done a great job at showing the potential of autonomous transport, but they're not a car company.”

 

“The biggest of the three, Waymo is the newest venture for the tech giant, Alphabet (known best for Google), and this sector of the company is currently valued at an astounding $70 billion.”

 

“An estimated $150,000 goes into vehicle equipment, including $70,000 for their highly advanced LIDAR system”

 

“Google’s LIDAR system involves multiple sensors that emit laser pulses in every direction to constantly map surroundings”

 

“Waymo is advancing by the day and now concept versions have been driven up to 170,000 miles autonomously with no major faults.”

 

“Mercedes has created a sense of semi-autonomous driving rather than full automation, which they still hope to implement across their product line by 2022.”

 

“An estimated 80 percent of driving processes can be managed with this Drive Pilot technology, making serious leaps towards full automation.”

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