Lost in the ether of EVs from Porsche, Audi and BMW, at the Frankfurt Motor Show was the autonomous technology displayed by various companies, including Google and Apple. Technology and software companies are just as invested in autonomous driving as most of the automakers in the industry, maybe even more so.
Google has openly stated that it has no intentions of getting into the automotive manufacturing business, but Apple and even Uber seem quite serious about it. So how far could these companies really go with their respective autonomous technology?
Private taxi company, Uber, is looking into autonomous technology for its cab service. Autonomous technology for company like Uber could provide customers with a more efficient cab service that could possibly be easier. Using a navigation system, an autonomous Uber car could use the best possible route to its destination each and every time. There have been cases of Uber drivers taking the longest possible route, sometimes going far out of their way, just to collect the biggest fair possible. It could also make cabs constantly readily available in major cities where taxis can be near impossible to find. Also, by eliminating the driver, Uber doesn’t have to split the fair with anyone, therefore could charge less for it.
Such an autonomous Uber service could even help the elderly or people who can’t drive due to medical reasons. It would be easy to schedule regular vehicles, to pick up people who cannot or should not drive, for helping people get to work or to regular doctor appointments. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Apple also seems to be very serious about autonomous technology. Apple could be a big player in the autonomous driving game thanks to its popularity that is second to none. Apple most likely won’t get into the game of actually manufacturing cars, but it very well could create the technology and software for other companies. And thanks to Apple’s reach over the technological world, it has many connections to companies that could manufacture the hardware for it.
Even companies like Amazon could get into the autonomous driving business with one of these other companies. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has recently announced his vision of drone-delivered packages for same-day delivery. This seems a bit farfetched, but imagine a fleet of autonomous cars delivering packages straight from Amazon warehouses, as opposed to having UPS or the USPS deliver them, therefor cutting out the middle man.
The possibilities are endless, without even mentioning what autonomous driving capabilities could mean for customers and regular drivers. Being an automotive enthusiast, leaving my car to drive itself for me is not something I desire on any level. But for service purposes, such as taxis and deliveries,the autonomous car could provide a genuine benefit to society.