Autonomous Tech Will Make Future Cars Virtually Unrecognizable

When the first rumors about autonomous cars came out, most of the petrolheads simply nodded their heads and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. They (myself included) thought that it’s just another crazy fad that will eventually go away. Sure, most people would want one but nobody thought that they actually make it into production. Things have drastically changed.
I don’t know if it’s Google’s fault or the industry’s altogether but if the autonomous cars really end up doing what people expect them to, we might be in trouble. And by we, I mean all the people that actually enjoy driving their cars and revving a good old fashion engine (forced induction plants included).

The thing is, the changes to the industry will be on a much bigger scale than we currently imagine. Taking the driver out of the equation, with all its weaknesses and such, will transform the car completely and not just because the steering wheel might be gone.

Apart from the fact that most cars will probably use electricity or hydrogen in the fuel, things that in turn, will change the appearance of the autos we buy, they will also have different purposes that exclude some items never-before thought... excludable. Let me explain.

You take the driver out of the equation. First of all, you can change the layout of the car. Why couldn’t people sit sideways now? Most cars would probably be capable of offering 6 seats instead of four without changing their size too much. That might give some people car sickness but the seats would truly be modular.

Furthermore, the whole layout of the cabin would be changed because the dash would no longer be driver oriented or anything like that. As a matter of fact, the dash could disappear completely because you won’t need to check the rev counter or the speedometer anymore. The car will do it for you and it will definitely not go above the speed limit.

That’s yet another point that comes to mind: safety. Needless to say that when taking the human error factor out of the mix, the cars will be a lot safer. Basically, they’d have to be pretty much perfect to be allowed on the road. In turn, such a development would confirm what Elon Musk predicted the other day: human driving will be banned altogether.

When legislators will see that the introduction of self-driving machines will drop the death toll on public roads by a considerable amount, it will only be a matter of time before the government bans conventional driving altogether. I mean, you’d basically be driving a 2-ton death machine, risking everyone’s life. That’s definitely something that wouldn’t be allowed.

Safer cars that are basically impossible to crash will trigger yet another big change in the way they are built. If they can be proven as such there won’t be any need for a roll cage, protection elements and airbags, right? That means the weight of the things will be dropped considerably, leading to a bigger range, a problem every manufacturer today is struggling to fix today.

So that’s basically how I see the future of the auto industry. We’ll be having cars from huge IT giants that might as well replace the traditional auto makers that will have a completely different setup, with no airbags and a lot less weight, driving us around emissions free.

One thing that these new car makers will have to face though is ethics. Let’s say that you’re driving an autonomous car that notices a scary scenario. A car in front of you crashed on the highway and the one you’re in realizes there’s no time to swerve around it without risking other, innocent lives. The car will also know that in case it tries to save your life, it will have to claim the lives of other people in the vehicles nearby. What then?

Basically, because there’s a computer making the call, it will decide to kill you instead of the passengers in the other cars, determining that one life lost is better than two or three. That’s definitely something to think about, as the very thing you purchased to keep you safe with your own hard-earned money, will basically try to kill you.

However, if we’re to ignore this scenario, for some readers out there, it sounds like an ideal future. No more crashes, no more headaches, no more driving licenses and so on. For those of us that actually have gasoline running through our veins, it doesn’t seem that good. As a matter of fact, it looks absolutely horrendous.

We’ll probably be restricted to exercising our ‘crazy’ hobby on the track and probably with some 1.5-liter plants at most. Hopefully it won’t all go belly up before I kick the bucket. According to analysts, it will take the better part of this century for all of this to happen and by then, I’ll probably be either dead or too old to care.
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