The fact that vehicles without steering wheels, brake or gas pedals, or even human drivers themselves could be road ready in less than 10 years were among the topics the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association recently discussed at the Canon City Rotary Club’s regular meeting, reports Canon City News’ Sara Knuth.
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It was Colorado Automobile Dealers Association president and chief executive officer Tim Jackson who discussed the possibility during a presentation of the Colorado Car Convoy.
“I would say that it’s coming much faster than most people realize,” he said.
The Rotary Club’s members got a sneak peek into the future, along with an inside look at the past, of the car industry during the presentation on March 14. The program was one of several Jackson has presented in the weeks before the upcoming Denver Auto Show, which scheduled for April 4 through April 8 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
The future of self-driving vehicles could be a reality in the next three to five years, according to Jackson. He also said in that reality, people’s methods from getting to one place to another could be significantly different than it currently is.
“Vision-impaired citizens will gain mobility that they don’t currently have,” Jackson said. “Senior citizens at risk of losing their keys will gain mobility. Alcohol and drug-impaired drivers will have mobility. It’ll be safe sleepy drivers.”
Jackson also believes traffic fatalities could decrease by 87 percent as a result of the new technology. However the technology isn’t without risks, he said, including traffic and parking. More autonomous cars on the road could potentially make roads more congested than they are presently.
Companies like Uber and Google are already testing the self-driving car technology in major cities. Jackson told the club that 38 major businesses have permits in California alone to test autonomous vehicles.
Some companies, such as Google and Uber, already are testing the tech in major cities. In total, he said, 38 major corporations have permits in California alone to test autonomous cars. Jackson mentioned how car dealers have come a long way from the beginning of the car area when Henry Ford first envisioned assembly lines and franchise dealer networks. Today, the industry’s focus has shifted on innovations like electric vehicles, including hybrids and vehicles that completely run on electricity.
The Canon City Rotary wasn’t the only club that had the future of cars on its mind. The day before, the Palisade Rotary Club hosted a forum on automobile industry trends, according to Western Slope Now. During the forum, a discussion rose about the moral and ethical dilemmas a self-driving car could face—for example, if a self-driving vehicle is bound to hit a child, but changes course and hits a group of adults instead, what’s the best choice?
Self-driving car programmers are working on their algorithms to find the safest decision, but no programmers wants to make that kind of choice.
Non-profits also discussed solutions for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and how their involvement connects dealers to customers.
“The community is what drives our business and of course we give back to the community not necessarily with just cool fun cars to drive but the support if anybody needs assistance,” Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram General Manager Mike Nixon said.
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