The impact of technology on car culture
How do self driving cars work?
When will we have robo-taxis?
Will car ownership become less valuable?
What will the future of cars look like?
Robotaxis & Car Ownership
Next #1 Best Selling Car?
We have various forms of level 1 and 2 driving available in most cars nowadays. This includes things like adaptive cruise control on highways to automatic emergency braking.
Cars are basically computers on wheels nowadays. This is why chips shortages have been a bottleneck for car manufacturing. However, it is clear why digitization is the future of automotive. Both users and producers benefit from this shift through productivity, cost, and quality improvements.
So how does autonomous driving software work? It utilizes a deep learning model called computer vision. This type of model trains the computer to recognize and map visual environments. The technical workings of these models is incredibly complex and something I will elaborate on in the future!
Fine tuning autonomous driving technology is not a straight-forward problem, and it requires consideration of legal issues. Governments must accept that autonomous driving systems are satisfactory to safety standards. This may take some convincing and can end up being a political situation. Nevertheless, the economic benefits are immense for any nation.
Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” software has been available for additional purchase for quite some time now. I would put this at a level 3 autonomous driving, but we are seeing encouraging improvements in their recent beta updates.
Tesla definitely has the most advanced self driving software, and this is simply due to fleet size because the greater amount of data available to work with. In machine learning, and especially deep learning models, vast amounts of high quality data is key.
As you can see Tesla has a bad habit of announcing products far before their actual release, and even then it may take awhile for those products to reach full functionality. However, they have made significant improvements in their “autopilot” software, that comes standard with every Tesla car. I would put this software in the level 2 category, but it is constantly seeing trickle down upgrades from FSD.
Robotaxis & Car Ownership
In the future we may see all transportation and delivery services become autonomous. Once this system reaches a critical adoption rate, costs would massively decline. Even to the point where many people may question car ownership.
Imagine a future where the majority of the population does not own cars. This may be achieved through a blend of robotaxis, transit, and micro-mobility. Cities could be design to be less car-centric and designate dense urban areas as pedestrian zones with reduced car volume. This would in effect also free up more space because roads and parking lots often take up an immense amount of space. Cars themselves also take up a lot of space compared to something like a bus or bikes. Increased walkability for cities has been shown to increase the wellbeing of citizens.
There are additional benefits from the deployment of robotaxis such as higher safety for passengers, cheaper transportation costs for businesses, overall reduced traffic flow and noise, and likely ever-decreasing vehicles collisions from continuous software updates.
The Next #1 Best Selling Car?
Will likely take advantage of mega die-casting (metal molding) and other manufacturing innovations to dramatically reduce cost and increase pace of production.
It is clear the car of the future is a crossover and this makes sense given it’s unibody construction.
Stiffer body & structure → improved handling & safety
Less material → lighter weight & less cost
Non-modular design → locked into product
Less off-road capability
Micromobility grew by 5% of total US transportation between 2019 - 2022
Personal bicycle, ride hailing, taxis, car sharing, motorcycles, bike sharing & the dreaded e-scooter
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