Self-driving vehicles a priority for automakers

Billions are being invested into making autonomous cars in the near future and several traditional and upcoming car companies demonstrated them at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

By Frank Tobe, The Robot Report March 5, 2016

Perhaps the biggest upcoming robotics-driven economic and social change will be the arrival of fully autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. Imagine a world full of self-driving cars, planes and boats. The benefits range from life-saving and cost reduction to greater mobility options for people of all ages.

Billions are being invested into making autonomous cars and planes a reality in the near future. Traditional car companies such as BMW, General Motors and Toyota and new entrants such as Tesla, Google and Apple are vying to be the among the first to introduce fully autonomous vehicles to the roads.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), most of the car companies and their major suppliers from around the world either had booths or meeting rooms to show off their concepts for the future and projects and products from now until then. This Mercedes concept sedan, which drove autonomously around the Las Vegas Strip and on the CES stage, was the hit of the show.

There are several potential benefits for self-driving vehicles including:

  • More than 160,000 lives could be saved each year
  • 500,000 injuries could be prevented each year
  • Over $1 trillion in insurance, legal and accident costs could be saved each year
  • More than 250 billion gallons of gas and oil could be saved each year
  • Over 10% of urban land devoted to parking could be put to new use.

Even with these developments, many new issues will become important: Whether vehicle ownership is viable or not; will AI emergency driving choices be ethically correct; will there still be a need for vehicle insurance; etc. Robo-ethicists have already begun to bring these items up for discussion.

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as computer direct marketing and materials and consulting to the Democratic National Committee and major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. This article originally appeared on The Robot Report. The Robot Report is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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