Today’s cars and SUVs are full of unbelievable technology. From vehicles that park themselves to cruise control features that detect the speed of the cars around you, driver-assist technologies make us safer and our vehicles easier to use.
But the next step forward for in-car technology figures to be a quantum leap. "My guess is that in probably 10 years it will be very unusual for cars to be built that are not fully autonomous,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the 2017 World Government Summit.
Autonomous driving, complete with cutting-edge technology from smart RADAR and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) systems to incredible computing, has the power to completely change our everyday actions. And according to a recent survey released by AAA, six in 10 Americans want some form of autonomous feature in their next vehicle. Like any technological revolution, as self-driving vehicles become more prevalent, drivers will need to adopt the technology or risk being left behind. And just as you might covet your neighbor’s shiny new Porsche, you’ll soon be eyeing its autonomous wheels. Preparing today can ensure you’re part of tomorrow’s seamless leap.
Putting safety first
As smart vehicles develop and improve, it isn’t just the menial task of driving they’ll revolutionize; it’s the way our vehicles interact on the road that stands to change. Autonomous vehicles have the power to cross the next frontiers of safety as they gain the capability to not only observe the environment around them, but interact with it as well. For busy professionals, time currently spent fighting congestion and sitting at red lights is time that can be reclaimed—repurposed for work or play in a way they value.
Kyle Landry, lead analyst for the Autonomous Systems 2.0 team at Boston-based strategic advisory firm Lux Research Technologies, suggests that drivers will become more interested in autonomous vehicles when safety aspects are emphasized over automation, especially for drivers transporting their familes.
“Start calling [autonomous features] safety features and you can actually explain to people what they do. You get way more of their time that way,” Landry says. These safety advantages will come more quickly as automakers collaborate to bring them to market.
“Automatic emergency braking is a good example of outside pressure from regulatory bodies (such as NTSA and the IIHS) and government that can drive innovation. Because it’s a safety feature that companies want to have, there’s a consortium of 20 different automakers to make sure everybody has [automatic emergency braking] on their vehicles.”
There are no shortcuts when it comes to turning control of your vehicle over to smart machines. Landry notes that the conversation has recently shifted from working toward “pure” autonomy to realizing the full power of all this tech. “What is the benefit of the mixture of autonomous and electric and connected vehicles? Automakers are looking at the full benefit of all this technology working together,” he says.
More computing power and more high-end tech in your vehicle comes at an advanced price—the MSRP of vehicles featuring this future tech is sure to dwarf the available features found in today’s cars and trucks. Already, the latest safety technology—semi-autonomous features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping system—can add thousands to the cost of your vehicle. Where does full autonomy fit in?
With an expected increase in costs between $7,000 and $10,000 (you’re paying for access to new technology) on top of the regular MSRP of your next vehicle, it may be time to reevaluate the way you save for big purchases. Expect fully autonomous capability to appear in luxury vehicles first, before making their way through the rest of the lineup.
While a cost of thousands of dollars may seem daunting, autonomous driving may give consumers relief when it comes to insurance, at least according to Warren Buffet. "If they're safer, there's less in the way of insurance costs, [and] that brings down premium buy significantly," Buffet said.
IHS Automotive predicts that we will see 76 million vehicles with a degree of autonomy on the road over the next 20 years, with sales of these cars eclipsing traditional vehicles by 2050. While we wait for this technology to hit the mass car market, smart drivers will begin laying the financial foundation to ensure they’re on the ground floor of this autonomous revolution.
Putting some money aside in a high interest savings account or a savings account that features a promotional rate are great ways to help ensure you have the buying power to make a smart investment as these self-driving cars hit the market. Generally, your funds can grow while you research the best autonomous vehicles in which to invest.