HomeBiz TechCES 2017 Provides a Glimpse of Our Self-Driving Future

CES 2017 Provides a Glimpse of Our Self-Driving Future

At CES 2017, self-driving cars were a hot topic. Faraday Future revealed its Tesla challenger, the FF91, while Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan all had anonymous vehicle announcements.

CES 2017 BugBut the big question is, when will truly self-driving cars be in use or available to purchase? That’s what I asked Ford executives before CES kicked off.

Ford is actively developing its own self-driving car, and has what I believe to be the most realistic timeline for delivering its own autonomous vehicle. Although Tesla has rolled out Autopilot and Google, Uber, and others are testing self-driving cars on the roads now, we are still a few years away from truly driverless cars motoring around public streets.

As one can guess, the real road block to getting self-driving cars on the road in this decade will be regulators. Ford said it and others in the industry have been lobbying lawmakers for rules that will allow self-driving vehicles to be on the road safely. But nothing moves fast in Congress; Ford’s best guess is that we could have rules that would allow for the launch a set of fleet vehicles by 2021 or 2022.

Interestingly, Ford believes that the first wave of self-driving cars will be dispatched on-demand before it and others start selling autonomous vehicles directly to customers, which will provide it with a great deal of data.

Ford’s rivals appear to have a similar outlook, hence GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft—which sees an end to private car ownership by 2025—Uber’s partnership with Volvo, and Apple’s $1 billion investment in China’s Didi Chuxing.

This rollout strategy is interesting and important, as it lays the groundwork for a completely new approach to our driving options and needs. The idea of having a fleet of vehicles at anyone’s disposal makes the issue of owning a vehicle a real question.

In my case, it would be a cost of ownership versus the cost of using an autonomous driving vehicle for all of my personal transportation needs. Right now, I lease my car for about $4,500 a year plus gas, and I drive about 13,000 miles a year. For this to work for me, the car would have to get to me quickly.

While you may hear more aggressive timetables than what Ford is suggesting, I suspect its forecast is pretty accurate. I would really like to have either a fleet of vehicles at my disposal or even own one myself, but I don’t see that happening until the beginning of the next decade.

(via PCMag)

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