The Future of Self-Driving Vehicles and Their Marketing
Many revolutionary vehicle changes have been generated over the years and have continued to thrive with greater technology and minds. Many futuristic movies made in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s displayed the idea of flying cars. Unfortunately, the idea of everyday citizens getting to drive through the sky has yet to become a reality. What has changed is the fact that the technology of self-driving cars has erupted into reality. Many intelligent entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are working towards a future where your car can be your chauffeur. This technology is not only futuristic but could potentially change the world as we know it. This change could decrease the risks of vehicular accidents as well as decreasing the harmful hydrocarbon emissions that are polluting the earth. The marketing of this product has been very minimal over the years due to the technology being very expensive. As technology becomes more accessible prices are lower allowing the increase of autonomous cars across the globe. In the near future, self-driving cars may replace the modern car on the road today.
Most cars sold over the last several decades have not included any kind of self-controlling or automatic computer technology. In the early years of vehicle manufacturing cruise control was the only auto type technology that existed. This was a very small type of computer technology since it can only control speed but with a small variation depending on changes in elevation. Although this technology is useful it is not seen as a fully self-generating system. In more recent years, vehicle technology has evolved so that cars are able to assist with parking and braking. Personally, I think the assisting software is hard to get used to. While driving the car will make alarm type noises to alert you when you’re doing something wrong including getting too close to another car and crossing over lines. Sometimes it will tell you that you are doing something wrong when you aren’t, maybe you crossed over your lane to give the car pulled off the road more room, your car will now yell at you for that. At first, it is very startling and at times annoying. It becomes the constant interruption of conversation but on the plus side, it keeps you in check.
The idea of a self-driving car is not a new thing. This idea has been seen throughout the years going back to the 1920s. Cars were driven using a radio remote control. In 1925 an inventor named Francis Houdina was the first person to display such technology in front of locals. He used a remote control to drive a modern sized vehicle without anyone at the wheel. This event was publicized by the local news editor and was only heard about by the locals and close surrounding areas. Remote control cars became popular years later but at a toy-sized level. The rise of the RC car came in the mid-1960s and continued to grow. The ’70s and ’80s were the most popular decades for this toy although it continued to be popular. Even today many toy brands are still a part of the RC car making industry. The marketing for these toys has slightly diminished. These toys were very popular when I was a child and it was consistently entertaining. Commercials about RC cars were very popular on many of the channels I watched. Today not much advertising seems to be taking place since I had to research whether or not they were still sold in all stores, or just the hobby type stores. The RC car was the start of something so extraordinary that has evolved into futuristic technology with robots at the wheel.
In the 1950s John McCarthy and others founded artificial intelligence, changing the world of technology. In 1969 McCarthy mentioned the idea of an “automatic chauffeur” in an essay that he had written. He envisioned a system where you could input a destination into a computer within a vehicle that would tell the car where to take you. The car would be able to navigate itself while using cameras as its visual reference. He also believed that you would be able to make alterations in route using commands to stop or speed up the vehicle for personal or emergency purposes. At this time in history, such ideas were not as acceptable as they are today. Even though McCarthy wrote his thoughts down, the odds of him expressing those thoughts to others is low. Throughout history, many inventors and scientists were questioned or shutdown about their futuristic ideas and unnatural thoughts. Many people need visual truths to believe in someone else’s ideas.
Over 20 years later Dean Pomerleau and a fellow researcher took their self-driving technology to the highway. Their auto minivan made a journey from one coast to another spanning from Pennsylvania to California while the researchers controlled the speed and braking. They titled their successful journey as “No Hands Across America”. Since the researchers had to control the activity of the car during its journey it wasn’t seen as a fully autonomous vehicle.
In 2009 a secret Google project began for a self-driving car, later referred to as Waymo. After a few years of production, Google announced its successful autonomous car that had driven 300,000 miles without a single accident. They eventually revealed a prototype that was made without a steering wheel, or gas and brake pedals making it a truly autonomous vehicle. Due to the secret nature behind this information, it wasn’t just common knowledge. The people that surrounded the project and those that witnessed an autonomous car driving down the road were the only ones who knew about the Waymo project at the time.
Many car companies like Ford, Mercedes Bens, and BMW started getting into autonomous technology to create their own versions. Some companies have announced that they will launch self-driving cars in 2020. Since full autonomous cars are expensive many companies started adding smart car technology into their products that provide assistance with parking, avoiding accidents and staying in the lines. This is just a small amount of technology to show possible customers how smart a car can be. Its human nature to be wary of new and unknown technology changes to the automotive industry so they have to move the technology in smoothly so that it’s not overwhelming or too much at one time. The same type of industry progression has been seen in cellular phones and computers as well. Today there are many vehicles being sold with smart car technology and it will continue to grow due to the behind the scenes production that is taking place.
Although technology is far smarter and faster than humans, there will always be room for error. During a Tesla self-driving journey in Florida, a human occupant was killed after the car failed to stop in time when an 18-wheeler pulled out in front. Unfortunately, this sparked the ethical issues surrounding fully autonomous technology. There was another incident in Arizona where a self-driving car killed a woman crossing the street with her bike. This has also raised the question of the safety of such technology. Although these stories may have been a setback, car companies have not given up on the future of technological chauffeurs. There are going to be setbacks regardless of the industry but progression must still move forward.
The autonomous car industry has created its own set of levels that evaluate how much self-generating technology it includes. Right now there are five levels of autonomous cars ranging from 0 to 5. A level zero simply means that a car doesn’t have any auto technology and the driver has complete control. A level one vehicle suggests that there is limited driving assistance. Level two suggests that the vehicle can assist with both steering and speed at the same time. A level three vehicle can drive under some circumstances but may need a human to intervene when its limits have been reached. A level four vehicle can drive during most situations but a level five vehicle doesn’t need any human intervention and can handle any situation that comes its way.
Information about this technology has come a long way throughout history. The marketing for these vehicles has become more apparent and worldwide. Fully autonomous vehicles are no longer a secret and are said to become the vehicle of our time. Television ads aren’t very popular at this time for autonomous vehicles, but online and magazine advertising is another story. There is a magazine called “Autonomous Vehicle Technology” that includes information about the technology behind the industry and popular writings about autopilot cars. There are also many blogs that discuss the technology behind self-driving vehicles. Many social media sites have advertisements from companies like Tesla and Audi spread throughout their layout.
Even though there is some current marketing for Tesla and other car companies it’s minimal compared to the modern gas-guzzlers of today. When looking towards the future of fully autonomous cars, replacing the modern car will take a lot of time and money. Large car companies must convince their current customers that upgrading to a fully autonomous car is in their best interest. Once a customer is convinced they must actually make the change to buy a fully autonomous car. This will take a lot of convincing since many people like to hold on to cars for many years. Creating a world of autonomous cars will take great lengths, and a whole new marketing technique to be successful.
Traditional commercials focus on the freedom a car gives you and the places it will take you with the wind in your hair. They focus on the feeling of power at your fingertips when racing down the highway. These all play towards a person’s overall experience and freedom while driving a car. Self-driving cars have to make a much different approach in the marketing aspect since the experience is much different than a traditional vehicle. The freedom here is about getting to interact with others and getting work done during your commute. The marketing strategy simply needs to appeal to those looking for a way to make their life easier. To appease both worlds some car companies like Audi and BMW are producing cars with both capabilities. One car will be able to be driven and commanded to drive at the flick of the wrist.
In order to make it into the market place, self-driving cars will have to pass many grueling safety tests to ensure the highest safety and control. The most apparent hurdle seems to be making an autonomous car that can handle changes in weather. Many states would require a vehicle that could handle drastic weather changes including wind, rain, sleet, and snow. This type of technology has to be advanced to appropriately assess each and every situation. Personally, I’m not convinced on the idea of having a robot drive me through the snow but if this technology was the norm then my feelings may be different. I can say that when it does happen I will be very wary and slow to adopt this lifestyle. I enjoy driving though. I feel like with autonomous cars we will only get more caught up in ourselves and looking at our phones etc. I don’t believe these cars will give us more of a chance to notice things outside of the car because we will all be trying to complete another task. We will be looking at our phones or our emails, maybe playing on Instagram before we get to the office.
Many positive changes will occur around the world with the success of autonomous cars. A self-driving car is like a computer with set commands. It won’t speed or be distracted and has the ability to react faster than a human. Certain sensors allow the car to be aware of its surroundings and it can calculate the speed and size of other objects to avoid collisions. It will change the speed in these situations as necessary but won’t exceed the legal limits. Software programs within the self-driving cars are able to make real-time decisions and react accordingly. A human, on the other hand, may make a situation worse due to increased heart rate and stress. These are simply things humans can’t control but a computer will simply follow its embedded instructions. Another benefit to this smart technology is the ability of the disabled to travel when needed. Many elderly, blind, and handicap people have to deal with many struggles when it comes to traveling. Having a vehicle that will simply take them to their destination can change their way of life and possibly increase their longevity. The use of autonomous vehicles over time will lower the number of accidents substantially when compared to today’s numbers. Overall, self-driving cars are a better and safer choice for the majority of the world’s population.
The amount of pollution that cars emit on a daily basis is slowly destroying the world’s protective layers and each and every person’s lungs slowly. Many cities today have polluted air quality that doesn’t abide by federal standards. Increased cases of asthma, bronchitis, and life-threatening cancers have been seen over the last several decades and its believed to be linked to the increased pollution. The emissions from cars are a major contributor to overall pollution around the world. Changing over to a more computerized car that runs on a battery and releases little to no emissions can change our environment over time. Eventually, unwinding the damage we have done. It will take time for the industry to switch over to the new technology but once most companies are on board the market will be undeniable.
Using marketing techniques directed towards the changes that can come from autonomous vehicles will help enlighten potential customers and allow them to see how they can play their part in helping the planet. Since it may take a lot of convincing for someone to actually purchase such a futuristic car allowing people to experience this technology with a small fee may be more appealing. Google has been one of the leaders in autonomous public transportation by starting this revolution in 2009. Within Google’s campus and surrounding areas, self-driving cars are being used as a public service to transport people from one location to another for a fee. Other companies like Uber have started getting involved in this type of public transit in select cities. Over the years with bumps along the way these companies have fallen and risen but still refuse to give up. To keep things on the rise the successful autonomous vehicle creators need to not only advertise to the public but to transportation companies as well such as Transit, Lyft, and Cabify. If they can convince people that it’s safer to be a passenger in a completely automatic car then people may be more likely to invest in their own. If the automotive industries can replace human drivers with computer technology for these companies then they may make more money in the long run.
Marketing directed toward transportation companies will look much different than advertisements towards the general population. They will have to convince companies that even though the technology is expensive it will pay off over time. In this situation, appealing to the buyer’s experience within the vehicle is not as important since most companies main focus is money. They have to be convinced that the change will be productive and successful. The main marketing for such companies would include personal emails and reach outs. Other marketing strategies would be emailing customers and asking them to leave a review describing their experience and whether they enjoyed it or not. If over time the reviews show customer satisfaction then many other companies will want to join in on the cause. These reviews can also increase popularity and curiosity. If I had the opportunity to ride in a self-driving taxi through a busy town for a small fee I would be willing to try it.
An increase in marketing for autonomous cars has been seen throughout the years. The evolutionary self-driving system will continue to raise interest throughout the world generating an increase in the marketing demand. This demand may take many years but companies are trying to make prices more comparable to today’s car prices to make the transition easier. Right now the market for this technology is people close to the industry and those with enough money to take the plunge. The overall market will take many years to build but it is estimated that the market for partially autonomous vehicles will be up to 36 billion dollars by 2025. Fully autonomous vehicles will take more time for people to become comfortable with the technology.
Since the Internet has become such a large part of advertising and marketing campaigns, the autonomous automotive industry should make most of its connections through online resources. More videos and content needs to be available so that the public becomes more aware of the technology behind the self-driving vehicles as well as why they are good for the planet. Increasing autonomous transportation in cities all over the globe would also give more people an opportunity to actually experience an autonomous journey. This will make people become more comfortable with the product so that they can purchase one in the future.
Autonomous cars used to be an unimaginable idea but now it’s in the process of changing the world. Through strong marketing techniques and never giving up, this automotive industry will continue to thrive for years to come. The complete transformation will take many years and partially autonomous cars to fill in the gap. Over time everyone will become more accustomed to the idea of letting technology be the chauffeur. As frightening as it may seem now I truly can imagine a world like the sci-fi movies describe where all the vehicles are autonomous and hydrocarbon emitting, gas-guzzlers are a thing of the past.