There’s some confusion out there between driver assist and self driving cars, and for good reason. As these vehicles become more sophisticated the differences have become less clear. When the dust settles, the impact on the auto industry promises to be tremendous. Let’s find out why.

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Similar Technologies – Different Endpoints For Now

With technology such as motion sensing and robotic control, the automobile is a natural place for implementing these gadgets. Who would have imagined vehicles parallel parking themselves much less driving themselves across the Golden Gate bridge? However, even though driver assist and self driving use similar tech, they are vastly different. Or, are they?

Driver Assist

Today, everyday production cars come off the line with a ton of sensors, cameras and devices that make driving easier and safer. Blind spot sensors can activate a system that prevents you from sideswiping a car in the adjacent lane. Automatic braking can save your life. In fact, PwC estimates that $230 billion is spent each year recovering losses due to distracted driving. Driver assist looks to put an end to that loss.

Here’s a partial list of what many cars can do for you today:

  • Lane change assist
  • Blind spot detection
  • Cross traffic alert
  • Collision avoidance
  • Lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Park assist
  • Side impact
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Electronic stability control

Self Driving Cars

Despite the marvelous technology associated with driver assist, self driving cars take the cake. Today, self driving cars, trucks and public transport exist in various stages of development. According to Business Insider, an estimated 10 million self driving cars will be on the roads by 2020.

These vehicles can go from point A to B without any driver in the vehicle at all. Plus, they’re much safer than human driven vehicles. In fact, KPMG predicts that “crashless’ self driving cars could save up to 30,000 lives per year in the not-too-distant future.

The reality is that both driver assist and self driving cars share much of the same technology, and some car models already offer both.

Revolutionary Implications

The convergence of these technologies promises to transform society. Some drivers may be hesitant at first, but when the technology becomes commonplace, who won’t want to put on the autopilot for the long commute home? Many, if not most, vehicles will eventually feature a self driving mode. The real drama will unfold in the regulation and adoption of these new machines.

The combination of ridesharing and self driving will likely make car ownership less enticing for some. Getting a ride will be extremely cheap when you don’t have to pay a driver anymore. And, auto insurance rates are likely to plunge with driverless car technology. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for automobiles. One thing is for sure – it promises to be amazing – and hands free.

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