Complex Made Simple

‘In 20 years, we won’t even be allowed to drive ourselves’

Can you imagine yourself not owning a car 20 years from now?

Ideally, you would be able to save more space without having to worry about a garage for your car or pay for street parking.

You won’t have to worry about fixing your car either or paying your insurance premium.

But this doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly become destitute. It just means that you are in the future.


Read: Would you ride in a driverless car in Dubai?

Read: Air taxis will have ‘top safety and security standards’: RTA

Bye Bye, automobiles!

One of the biggest names in the auto industry says that no one will own a car in 20 years.

Business Insider quotes Bob Lutz, a former Marine who worked for Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and BMW, saying that “auto industry is on an accelerating change curve.”

“For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile,” he said. “Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile, because travel will be in standardized modules. The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command,” he said.

In 20 years, we won’t even be allowed to drive ourselves any longer, unless we’re rich and have access to private race tracks for our vintage Ferraris,” he added.

But what are the costs and savings of such a transformation?

Read: Autonomous cars: you win some, you lose some

Autonomous cabs

To start with, relying on an autonomous taxi ride will free people from incurring the extra cost of buying car.

Today, every household anywhere in the world owns no less than two or three cars.

More specifically, the number of passenger cars in use in the GCC region is expected to grow at five per cent annually from an estimated 10.3 million in 2015 to 13.2 million in 2020, according to Alpen Capital.

It added that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait collectively were expected to continue holding more than 75 per cent of the region’s passenger car fleet in 2020.

Households in these countries will be able to save the money paid for cars to use them elsewhere.

Moreover, people will be able to save the money paid for insurance.

According to the comparison website, the cost of car insurance in the UAE has surged by as much as 40 per cent on some models, as motorists are forced to look at cheaper third-party policies

Motor insurance has risen by an average of nearly 15 per cent since January 2017, says the comparison website.

It added that drivers were paying an average of 14.88 per cent more for their fully comprehensive car insurance in 2017 than last year, after the UAE Insurance Authority introduced minimum premiums.

But the adoption of autonomous cars does not come without a cost.

Who will pay the price?

Car manufacturers will be the first to feel the punch of high production costs.

Quartz, a news platform, reveals the cost for building an autonomous vehicle.

It quotes Oliver Cameron, who runs the self-driving car team at Udacity, the Silicon Valley technology training startup, as saying that building an autonomous car requires a variety of technologies among which is LIDAR, the highly sensitive laser sensor that is the core of almost all autonomous vehicles.

According to Cameron, it costs about $85,000.

Next, among other costs, he explains, are the four smaller LIDAR devices, the radar, plus a few cameras, a GPS, an inertial measurement unit, the PC, a hard drive, a graphics card and other hardware which make a total of $300,000.

However, manufacturers have started looking for solutions.

According to Reuters, automotive suppliers and automakers are expanding alliances to develop self-driving car technology, which will help them share the financial and technical burdens.

According to a recent report by Lux Research, by 2030, the self-driving car market is expected to reach a whopping $87 billion. “That helps explain why, in addition to the tech giants Google and Uber, just about every car manufacturer is working on the technology,” it said.

If riding services can afford to pay that much for autonomous cars, individuals will surely find it hard to pay that much to own such a technology, which will prompt them to use autonomous taxis instead.