With the cost of solar, batteries, electric cars, and self-driving equipment steadily dropping, a future where cheap autonomous vehicles powered by renewable energy shuttle people around at a fraction of the cost of an internal combustion engine is inevitable. Already Uber is testing its self-driving vehicles, Google patents "pedestrian glue", and cities have begun to deregulate the taxi industry.
If you could pay 1/10th what you do now for a car, would you? If you could pay 1/10th what you pay – and never have to worry about parking, down payments or car insurance, traffic and speeding tickets – would you? Of course you would – and according to the numbers – 57% of global consumers are ready to get rid of their car and trade it in for an autonomous electric car service (like Uber will be by 2020). This is made possible because of leaps in the technology surrounding autonomous vehicles.
The first leap that needed to occur for autonomous cars is computing – and Moore’s Law above has shown us a few decades of microprocessors moving forward. A more recent evolution comes in the form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging). LIDAR is one of several technologies used to determine what things are surrounding the car – cats, people, other cars, etc. When Google first built their autonomous car in a Lexus (above image), the hardware on the roof – the LIDAR system – cost greater than $70,000. Obviously, a $70,000 add-on for an average person is not practical. Once again though – technological advancement has solved a problem as today that same hardware can be purchased for $250, and is expected to fall to $90 soon. A 99.8% price drop within six years.
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