It’s very difficult for me to imagine beginning my life as a young adult without my 1969 Chevy Camaro. It had a 350 and a four-speed Hurst on the floor. I was in love with the beast and it literally shaped my youth on the long straight highways and dirt roads of the rural Texas Panhandle.
If all the hype about autonomous cars is to be believed, then my beloved muscle car along with all its brethren are destined for the museum or a private collection that can afford such novelties.
It’s not coming today or tomorrow but it is coming. To what degree and when is up to debate. Not the fact that autonomous automobiles are here, that is already a given, but the fact that autonomous automobiles are going to challenge our concepts of car ownership as we know it today.
If predictions are true we might be summoning our next ride from an app where the nearest available car is dispatched to your location at a time of your choosing. With a point of sale collection system, all it will take is a prepaid, debit or credit card to set the autonomous car on its way with you inside.
Or autonomous car companies could flood cities with cars much like is Bird and others are doing with bikes and scooters.
The rides may one day be tailor-made for us. A small traveling office for the business person, a practice room for a musician. A sleeper car for those long trips and of course, an RV/tiny home with kitchen and other amenities that will allow its occupants to live on the road when in use.
This is not the rantings or ravings of an old farmer that sat out in the sun too long. This is a real concept being debated in some circles today. Particularly the autonomous automobile circles where the science is real, and the code is getting more solid every day.
According to a story in The Verge, It’s 2018, Where are the Self Driving Cars?, they will be geo-fenced or corralled into specific locations instead of the free-ranging concept a lot of us have. This makes sense when you realize another point the same articles makes about these cars having to turn a profit before it becomes viable for a company to really get behind them.
Finally, they make the argument that free-ranging requires massive amounts of data and that data takes time to collect. Hard to argue those facts.
Bloomberg’s Who’s Winning the Self Driving Car Race proclaims “Without drivers, operating margins could be ... more than twice what carmakers generate right now”. Certainly, an incentive to look at shifting the car ownership concept.
The New York Times’ The Self Driving Car Industry’s Biggest Turning Point Yet points out Waymos “audacious vision that goes far beyond even the most optimistic plans of its rivals” for its Jaguar Land Rover powered autonomous car service. These companies certainly don’t want car ownership to stay the same. It doesn’t appear to be in their business model.
AI is driving a lot of innovation right now, particularly AI with deep learning. Just like the deep fakes I wrote about earlier, AI is changing the world in ways we are just now beginning to comprehend. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess, but autonomous cars and trucks are just the tip of the iceberg.
AI is a disrupter technology that can potentially change the current concept of automobile ownership to the point of us not being able to completely grasp where it may be headed.
Besides… any way you look at it… from now on we are just along for the ride.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.