Driverless, autonomous cars are getting a lot of buzz and attention, but they may take much longer to make it to roads than originally thought. Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford thinks they’ll be a common sight parked in driveways by 2025. Google has put more than 300,000 miles on them in test rides without a problem, and thinks they’ll make it to roads within three to five years. Government agencies in Nevada, California, and other states, are testing them out for safety and performance. For Sheila Brennan, program manager for product lifecycle strategies at market research firm IDC, mainstream adoption will be more like 2040.
The research firm is conducting a study to gauge the potential timing and market forces for autonomous vehicles. Brennan thinks Ford and Google are both accurate in their prediction that autonomous, driverless cars will be street-ready within the next few years, but she sees there are too many barriers to go mainstream until about 25 or more years from now. The hurdles to climb over deal with privacy and security issues, she said. There are many regulatory agencies involved and lots of work to do to address objections and concerns. Interoperability between technologies also has to be addressed, Brennan said.
As automakers are testing out driverless cars, some have already established direct communication dealing with privacy and the use of data generated by these autonomous cars, Brennan said. One manufacturer asked a driver to sign a waiver giving the company permission to use the car’s data. They’re valuable sources of operating data – how fast the car was traveling, wear and tear on parts, efficiency of onboard systems, and other issues to look at. This “big data” process will be a big part of how automakers integrate autonomous cars into their strategic planning in years to come.