A number of published forecasts about when autonomous cars will hit the streets of our cities are completely contradictory. Some believe that in 2030 these cars will cost no more than 20 thousand zlotys, others that we will not see them until the 2040s. What will the future of motoring look like?
The reason for the huge differences between these forecasts is the very definition of what the word “autonomous” really means. We consider self-driving cars to be those vehicles that will take us to a designated location regardless of the distance or duration of the trip. However, many predictions are based on a much more restrictive approach to the problem. For example, a delivery truck that will operate on a small number of variables in relation to the route it has to take, or a car equipped with advanced cruise control that will need assistance behind the wheel to take us to the indicated address.
Most autonomous cars in production today use lidar, a laser-based terrain mapping technology. This is an extremely expensive device. However, experts predict that by the end of this decade we will pay about 10 thousand zloty for it. Moreover, technological breakthroughs may reduce the price of lidar by thousands more. Either way, there is still the question of the cost of constructing and manufacturing the rest of the car
The average cost of a new car is over 120 thousand zloty. This price has been rising steadily over the last two decades. So there is no point in deluding ourselves that this will change in the near future. So it can be said with certainty that a mid-range autonomous car will have a similar price
On the other hand, Tesla Motors Inc. and other autonomous companies are developing much cheaper software that will not use lidar. This is quite controversial – hardware and software costs will have to be added to the price of the car.
Some experts predict another way to reduce the price of autonomous cars. It will be a leap from full-size vehicles to Smart cars, which will be used mainly in cities. There is no denying that this would require a significant change in terms of driving culture in most countries. Smart cars cannot be said to be popular
It all depends on your definition. Surprisingly, in Europe there are already legal regulations and the possibility to use autonomous transport with coaches on designated roads. What’s more, by 2024 it will be possible to use this type of service on a larger scale, and with 2030 we will be able to use this solution inside cities, subject to conditions of course
Unfortunately, beyond that, it’s hard to say when exactly autonomous cars will be released to the consumer market. Major automotive players are silent on the matter and do not give any specific information. However, experts say that we will be able to get our hands on a self-driving car no earlier than 2030
Although the predictions focus solely on technology and cost, other obstacles – legislative problems, liability for damages or safety – must also be taken into account. Sooner or later we will find a solution as a society, but it will not be easy. Because, after all, who will answer for causing death by robotics? I point out that this is just the beginning of the iceberg.