I was reminded yesterday of how cars play a role in our identity, and separately how new auto safety regulations for electric and hybrid vehicles create an opportunity for auto manufacturers to be creative. I was picking up my 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid from a car stereo retailer in Austin, and while I waited, I glanced at the stacks of sub woofers waiting for owners. They ranged in price from $149 to over $1000. Admittedly, my family has installed high-end stereos with sub-woofers in cars ranging from a 1992 5.0 Mustang GT to a Toyota Sienna mini-van, however a low-rider in the showroom brought to mind low-decibel vibrations at intersections when, by chance, I was sitting at a red light alongside a low-rider. The car and the sub-woofer are an expression of the driver and their identity.
The automotive industry is working toward a revolutionary event, a truly autonomous vehicle—one in which a human driver is no longer required. To accomplish this, automotive companies have focused R&D teams, whose mission is evolving and growing onboard automated safety systems. Today onboard safety systems include features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. For autonomous driving to become a reality, more dynamic safety systems are needed, for example collision detection/avoidance, and smart cruise control with vehicle-controlled lane changing.
Self-driving cars offer a safe, efficient and cost-effective solution that will dramatically redefine the future of human mobility.