GOOGLE VERSUS MERCEDES
Google Versus Mercedes
Driverless Cars: Google Versus Mercedes and Toyota
Who Will Win?
Uh Oh! This is the second article on driverless cars I have felt compelled to write in a 3-month time period. Why? Because the topic keeps popping up in the news everywhere, which leads me to believe it is going to become a reality sooner rather than later. Why else? Because even though the idea is scary in a way, it is also fun - taking me to all those science fiction movies I have seen with sleek vehicles efficiently whizzing around, never a traffic jam...
The first article I wrote was about whether this will become a reality and how uncomfortable I feel thinking about it when my computer won’t even stay booted up consistently without every once in a while having an out-of-nowhere total freeze. Yes, I am uncomfortable thinking about my computer-driven car “freezing.” To read this previous article, click here.
Approach 1: Google, Alibaba, Baidu, and Other “Tech” companies.
For lack of a better term, these guys are the “thinking out of the box” guys. They are the guys who do not currently manufacture and sell cars. In fact, they are known for technology; internet, software, online advertising, etc.; not anything having to do with the automotive world. And the approach they are taking is to create and market a totally “driverless” car. That is, you will get in and do nothing. As a matter of fact, Google’s latest version doesn’t even have a steering wheel. And they claim they will be ready to deliver a driverless car with 5 years.
Most of the experts envision that this could indeed be the case, but that most likely the cars will not be sold initially to you and me, direct consumers. The thought is that instead, they will be sold and rolled out to start as taxis in urban/city areas. This does make a lot of sense to me. Taxi-type driverless vehicles in highly dense urban areas that will be driving at lower speeds, for shorter distances, and dodging obstacles automatically and pretty much continuously as is the case when downtown-driving seems pretty reasonable. And it also seems pretty wonderful to me. This use of driverless car makes me excited to see it come true.
The other advantage to this approach - rolling the vehicles out first for commercial use, gives all of us, the normal everyday guys, the opportunity to get used to them and take advantage of the technology without feeling the pressure and quandary about buying one ourselves. It also seems like this startup use will be wonderful at uncovering any hidden bugs.
Approach 2: Mercedes, Toyota, and Other Traditional Automotive Companies.
Contrary to approach 1 above, this approach comes from below. Rather than thrusting a total driverless car upon us all at once, this approach is to gradually evolve the vehicles we are now driving and buying; to add more and more features every year that your “ordinary” car does automatically without you even realizing what is happening - kind of like the frog in the pot of water that is slowly brought to a boil. I know - this is an ugly analogy; it’s so visual - but you get the idea anyway.
The plan with approach 2 is to gradually automate more functions of driving, taking a long slow approach, so that by the time 2025 rolls around none of us will even realize what happened. Traditional car makers like Mercedes, and Toyota already have cars that stay in their own lanes (or warn you when you are veering out of your
lane), brake automatically, park by themselves, or that feature we all have grown to love, keep the vehicle at a constant speed, also known as cruise control. And Tesla plans to roll out cars that offer hands-free highway driving this summer. Cadillac will offer it next year. In 2017, Audi will offer low-speed hands-free driving during a traffic jam. (Oh good! I can finally put on my makeup and read a book if I get caught in traffic!)
Many industry experts think that automakers have the distinct advantage. With years of experience, understanding what you and I want when we drive, years of collecting data on driver’s needs and habits, and just plain knowing how to build a car cost-efficiently, they will be the ones to come out on top. And, they have the equipment and capacity to make cars.. Duh!
Do I look Like an Idiot
One final worry for Approach 2. Many experts fear that drivers will get confused about what their cars do automatically and what they don’t. They fear that we will forget to take back control when we need to. I guess it’s because when theses so-called experts use their electric toothbrushes to automatically brush their teeth, they forget to rinse and spit themselves???
So, who do you think will win the race? Can’t wait to see your comments.
Tags: Driverless Cars, Google, Efficiency, New Car Features, Car News, Future Technology, Car Design