Driverless cars - Send your car home
One of the most spectacular news of the last time was the message about the self-driving (driverless) cars that have been developed by Google (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car). Here a car will be equipped with a dedicated laser sensor on top and radar sensors all around. Furthermore based on a very detailed card material and the exact car position the car will drive within real traffic without human interaction. The approach combines the possibilities of the data provided by the Google Street View project with some advanced techniques based on Artificial Intelligence. Beside the technical problem there is the legal issue of driverless cars. Here as an example the States of Nevada, Florida and Carliformia have passed lows authorizing driverless cars in 2011/2012 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2012/09/26/with-driverless-cars-once-again-it-is-california-leading-the-way).
Beside the really innovative technological achievement the successful deployment of this new technology will change our all life dramatically:
Imagine you own such a driverless car and you will use it to go to work every day. After the car has provided you to your working location it could drive back or could leave to bring your wife to work. Furthermore the car could drive autonomously to technical inspections or fuel refill. Beside the aspects of comfort for the passengers this approach could solve the upcoming problems for the necessary parking space in urban cities because the car could search for an appropriate parking position outside the city center. If you look at eCars (electric car) the whole discussion about establishing an area-wide charging infrastructure could become obsolete because the eCars would drive to central charging stations during the time we do not use them.
If you go even one step further there will be less need to own a private car. You would order the transportation service just for the situations you need it. So this technology would push the Carsharing concepts – even with the improvement that the car could return to the Carsharing station autonomously just after you have reached your destination. Later the car would come back to bring you home again after you have finished your work.
So if it comes to the impact on IT we could see mainly the following consequences. First the underlying technology creates an enormous need for IT infrastructure because the cars have to be connected in real-time with an advanced back office system. Secondly there will be the need for value added services for drivers/passengers to do some reservations of such self-driving cars or to plan your trips. The new infrastructure that has to be established must be robust with a high performance and availability. Furthermore it has to fulfil some general requirements like privacy and security.
Summarizing it can be stated that the development of this new technology for driverless vehicles opens a door to a completely new world of transportation and brings huge advantages for both traditional cars and eCars.