Welcome to the future.
Courtesy of Wired:
The Tesla CEO said the electric car maker’s full self-driving feature will be completed by the end of 2019. And by the end of 2020, he added, it will be so capable, you’ll be able to snooze in the driver’s seat while it takes you from your parking lot to wherever you’re going.
“I think we will be ‘feature-complete’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year,” Musk said during a podcast interview with the money management firm ARK Invest, which is a Tesla investor. “I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”
Today, Tesla customers willing to plunk down an extra $5,000 at purchase can unlock their vehicles’ Enhanced Autopilot feature, which is far simpler than what Musk is promising. The technology “guides a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits,” according to the automaker’s driver’s manual.
But Tesla’s vehicles still definitely can’t drive themselves everywhere—not on service roads, not through parking lots, and not in cities. Musk has long said they would, one day.
I have long been fascinated with the idea of self-driving cars, and I am quite excited about this news.
Even my daughter, who has expressed significant doubts about this technology, is finally on board and said that she will be an early adopter once it becomes available in a price range that she can afford.
I would also be up for buying one of these, just as soon as I am confident they can handle the challenging Alaskan driving conditions.
Bloomberg recently posted an article about what this might mean for the auto insurance industry:
The transition points to a larger, existential crisis for the multibillion-dollar car insurance industry. If nobody’s driving, why do we need auto insurance? Premiums—and company revenue—are based on a driver’s likelihood of being in an accident, as well as actual crash rates. With more than 90 percent of accidents caused by human error, taking the driver out of the equation is going to mean big changes for insurers.
“This comes up in every strategic conversation,” said Michelle Krause, senior managing director in Accenture’s insurance client service group. The major carriers “are very focused on understanding the technology behind [automation] and what opportunities are available for them.”
Krause’s group, with research from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, published a report in 2017 forecasting trouble for insurers as automation becomes more widespread. Premiums could drop by 12.5 percent of the total market by 2035, the authors found, and while new insurance product lines centered on autonomous vehicles will offset some of the loss, declining premium revenue will eventually outpace gains.
So not only will driving become significantly safer, but we may also see a reduction in our insurance costs, and someday no need for insurance at all. At least not as we know it today.
Yeah, I think we can color me excited.