The Reality of a Self-Driving Car

5/2/2012


We know consumers are interested in the connected car, but what about taking it a few steps further? What about the autonomous car? This isn’t science fiction, as real projects involving self-driving cars are currently in the works. But would buyers be interested?

New research from J.D. Power and Associates, www.jdpower.com, suggests at least some consumers would indeed be interested. The research firm asked people whether or not they would buy a vehicle with autonomous driving mode, described as “a feature that allows the vehicle to take control of acceleration, braking, and steering, without any human interaction.”

Among vehicle owners, 20% said they “definitely would” or “probably would” purchase it in their next vehicle if it were available, after hearing an estimated market price of $3,000. Before people learned of a possible price, 37% indicated they were interested.


The study also determined what types of drivers are most fascinated by autonomous driving, with interesting results. The top three categories are males (25%), those between the ages of 18 and 37 (30%), and those living in urban areas (30%).

Perhaps autonomous driving will someday be an option just like power seats or a sunroof. Automakers are already working to capitalize on this trend, and Google has also gone public with its efforts at creating self-driving cars.

Recently Cadillac, www.cadillac.com, announced it is road testing a semi-autonomous technology called “Super Cruise.” The technology is able to automatically steer, brake, and center the vehicle in the lane under what Cadillac calls “certain optimal conditions.” The automaker says this system should be ready for production vehicles by mid-decade.

GM says the Super Cruise feature is designed with safety in mind, and it can ease a driver’s workload on the freeway, in heavy traffic, and on long trips. The technology works by implementing radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras, and GPS data. GM says in the future, autonomous driving systems and other advanced safety systems could help to eliminate crashes by detecting them before they occur and taking evasive action.

Will drivers ever be comfortable with a truly autonomous vehicle? That remains to be seen, but connectivity is allowing cars to become ever more automatic.





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