By 2025, the partially autonomous vehicle market will be worth $36 billion, while fully autonomous vehicles will total $6 billion. Artificially intelligent (AI) cars, which can drive more efficiently and safely than humans, are coming and it could mean bad news for traditional car manufacturers. The most successful cars will be those with the most intelligent and advanced software. Getting the technology right is a tough job, which is why this has been a long time coming. However, Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Apple are on the brink of producing their own mass market cars. What does this mean for the automobile industry?
The Growing Importance of AI Vehicles
2017 was the year that AI in cars started to go mainstream. Nearly all new cars are equipped with cameras and sensors, which help the driver to become aware of things they couldn’t otherwise see. 2018 through to 2021 is expected to see even more intelligent software added to vehicles until cars reach the point where they no longer require human input.
GPS, weather updates and traffic tracking are all features that are built into modern cars. This potentially allows a vehicle to navigate freely. Silicon Valley will continue to develop this technology at an exponential rate. There is no reason in theory that a vehicle can’t drive itself and, if it turns out to be a safer option, there will be a moral duty to advocate this method of driving. This leaves traditional car manufacturers at a massive disadvantage.
Apple, Google and Tesla
Online entrepreneurs have used this demand for AI to enter the car market. The inventors of search engines, smartphones and PayPal have now turned their attention to vehicle production. They essentially view it as building a robot, taking them back to the hardware focused attitude that they had in the 1980s.
Google has its Waymo fleet, which have driven six million miles on public roads. Google is permitted to test 51 Waymos in California, while Apple has permits for 55. The ever ambitious Elon Musk has stated that his Tesla Autopilot will be ready to drive itself coast to coast by summer 2018.
Hurdles to Overcome
While California based tech companies have the edge when it comes to building the AI technology, they face several obstacles. One is the question of acquiring a loan to build cars, when they aren’t in the business of building physical objects. As online companies, tech giants such as Google and Apple don’t yet have the infrastructure to mass produce and distribute large products. This is where traditional car manufacturers like Ford and Volkswagen have an advantage.
Technology will feature in cars like never before in the coming years, with an ultimate goal of building fully autonomous vehicles. This is being led by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but they can’t do it alone. Without the infrastructure to distribute these vehicles, they may have to team up with traditional car companies to achieve their aims.
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