Notwithstanding the ethical debate that I alluded to earlier this week, it is worth highlighting that not all of the tech investment in the automotive industry is focusing on autonomy...
Google maintain their position that humans are the biggest danger on the road (and as a former motorcyclist I find it hard to argue), but perhaps part of the disconnect some groups have with autonomous vehicles stems from a love of driving. With major manufacturers (like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, VW, Audi, Citroen, GM, Mercedes, Ford, Hyundai, Mazda - to name but a few), investing in technology to aid drivers rather than replace them, the reality of roads populated only with autonomous vehicles is likely a long way off.
Insurers continue to have an important role to play in the development of safer vehicles, and the knowledge and data they are able to share will likely remain a major catalyst for technological advancement in the automotive sector.
I personally hope we still be able to get the thrill of applying pressure to the accelerator pedal of a powerful vehicle for years to come.
There is no consensus within the automotive industry about the ultimate role of human drivers in the face of rapid progress in artificial intelligence technologies. There is also uncertainty within the industry about whether the technology is advancing quickly enough that it will soon drive a car more safely than humans. Much of the industry has committed to developing autonomous technologies that assist drivers. Last year, Toyota announced a $1 billion research effort adjacent to Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology intended to focus on artificial intelligence that helps human drivers, rather than autonomous vehicles. The industry has begun to deploy a variety of automation systems as safety features, like lane keeping and so-called traffic jam assist.