Delphi’s Autonomous Audi — Is the future within reach?


In this article by Car and Driver, Delphi, a car tech company that recently finished the first cross-country autonomous rode trip using a specialized Audi SQ5 is on display. The Audi, which was fitted with a variety of Delphi tech and a wild paint job, traveled over 3,400 miles and drove itself for 99% of the time, according to the company. That means that only approximately 35 miles out of an entire coast-to-coast road trip were controlled by a human. However, aside from the…unique…exterior color scheme, there were very few cues to tip anyone off that this is a self-driving car. This proof-of-concept Audi shows that driverless tech is, in my opinion, on the verge of mass deployment in the automotive industry. I think this tech will eventually disrupt existing insurance underwriting practices and government regulations the most. For insurance companies, a variety of parameters for how premiums are assessed (driver experience, age, etc.) will have to be reexamined in the wake of this new autonomous tech, potentially altering their bottom line. Do you think there are industries that will be disrupted in different ways?

3 Responses to Delphi’s Autonomous Audi — Is the future within reach?

  • I think the super obvious industry to be disrupted is the automotive industry. Manufacturers will have to alter the way they build cars to support this new autonomous concept. Also, I think that car services such as taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc. will feel the waves of this disruption, because if cars can drive themselves, then all of those drivers will be out of a job. This also has the potential to disrupt public transportation, as people may now find it more convenient to ride in an autonomous car which is private, but still allows them to multitask, since they aren’t actually driving the vehicle.

  • I find the most interesting industry that autonomous vehicles will disrupt is the emergency services industry (police, emt, firefighters). When and if autonomous vehicles reach a critical mass, emergency services will be able to communicate with the cars on the road to tell them to get out of the way in order for them to travel as quickly as possible to the emergency sites. This will result in faster response times to criminal activities and medical emergencies as vehicles will part before the emergency vehicles get into close enough proximity that they need to slow down.

  • There is no doubt that the arrival of autonomous vehicles will disrupt a wide array of industries, such as all of the ones mentioned so far. Another industry that comes to mind is the car maintenance (I can’t think of a better term for it) industry. For example, if your autonomous car breaks down or needs to be repaired, then who will fix it? Since these cars who a completely different build architecture and require different parts than regular cars, then car mechanics will not know how to work on these cars. There will need to be additional training for mechanics. Either that, or new companies will arise that focus on repairing autonomous cars. Additionally, if these cars will be like the Tesla Model S, then improvements and adjustments to autonomous cars can be done, well, autonomously. If cars can do this on their own rather than through the use of a mechanic, then that will further hurt the car maintenance industry.

    On a side note, I don’t see autonomous vehicles becoming mainstream for a long time. First, they will be far too expensive for most people to afford. Also, a most importantly, a lot of people truly enjoy driving and won’t want to give up driving for themselves. Autonomous vehicles will no doubt have some great uses for now (such as allowing disabled people to get around and, as Tom mentioned, possibly being used as emergency vehicles), but I think it will be a long time before they leave its small niche market and enter into the mainstream.

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