In tracking the driverless-vehicle trend for several years, one trend is apparent: Don’t trust what you hear from automakers and their tech affiliates about their progress.
And don’t be surprised when technology advances ahead of even the most ambitious, optimistic predictions.
The path to fully autonomous vehicles has many twists and turns. While investors need to be wary of some automakers’ overpromising and under-delivering, the estimates of when autonomous cars will flood the market get nearer and nearer.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predicts that driverless vehicles will make up 75 percent of cars on the road by 2040.
But in engineering labs at universities, projections for fully automated vehicles able to navigate complex metro-traffic patterns will become reality much sooner, perhaps within the next decade.
In the Orlando, Florida area, for example, state universities, transportation agencies and Kennedy Space Center have partnered with the city to begin testing driverless cars.
One of several sites sanctioned by the federal Department of Transportation, the effort includes construction of a small simulated city to test vehicles before they’re put to the real test: Driving autonomously on Interstate 4 or Florida’s Turnpike.
Behind each major advance toward autonomous vehicles are smaller technological advances from major universities and tiny tech companies all over the world.
Innovations in virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, deep learning, optics and ever-faster, smaller and more mobile and chip technology are emerging from all corners of the globe.
The market for self-driving vehicle technology is swelling, even beyond a year ago’s expectations that it would reach $100 billion by 2020. But as it expands worldwide, and beyond cars to a wide variety of vehicles on land and sea, the market grows exponentially.
With big tech players — Google, Qualcomm, Nvidia, etc. — partnering with automakers from Toyota to Ford, from Mercedes Benz to Volvo, and across the board, a variety of vehicle platforms with a different set of options and uses is being developed.
The market is, and will become even more, diversified in offering a range of consumer options. Live in a big city? Live on a farm? Want to reduce auto-related costs? Want to enhance the luxury and leisure of getting from home to work? Want to reduce pollution? Own a delivery business and want to reduce costs and maintain efficiency?
There will be a customized vehicle for your needs.