Could the future of cars mean fewer cars on the road but just as many people using them to get around? According to industry leaders, recent auto sector developments may bring incremental changes that make this a reality in our lifetime. It’s possible that in the future, fewer of us will own cars but people will be more mobile than ever.
After pouring $500 million into an Uber investment this summer, Japanese auto giant Toyota has seemingly affirmed its confidence in a driverless future. Beyond standard ridesharing, the partnership will include integrating Uber’s driverless technology into the Toyota Sienna. If all goes according to plan, riders can hope to hail rides from these vehicles in the not-too-distant future. Around the time talks began in March, the program was already testing in Pittsburg, with researchers trying out LiDAR and laser scanning systems, algorithm mapping technology, and various cautionary measures to ensure compliance and safety on the road.
This is pretty astounding when you consider that just 110 years ago, the first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly lines. After decades of car ownership being a cornerstone of the American dream, is it possible that the future of cars could be fewer people driving and instead using on-demand driverless vehicles when and where they’re needed?
According to Spiffy CEO, Scot Wingo, these upcoming shifts are part of what he calls Vehicle 2.0 -- a series of innovations we can expect to witness over the next decade or so. The biggest of these shifts is autonomy, which will slowly creep into traditional vehicles via more driver-assisting features such as lane-change assist, night vision, and parking sensors.
While Toyota’s Uber deal is well underway, don’t expect to see too many self-driving cars in your neighborhood just yet. Toyota is concentrating on using AI to make cars safer rather than going straight for full automation. Researchers don’t entirely agree on whether or not self-driving cars will even be commonplace in our lifetime, but companies like Toyota are bringing it closer to reality by investing capital in innovation and exploring automated and on-demand car consumption. This practical approach means that Toyota and other international auto customers can expect more of these features to be ready as soon as 2020.
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