TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Since Google sparked public interest in autonomous vehicles, the auto industry has been looking seriously over its shoulders at high-tech companies as potential rivals.
At the Management Briefing Seminars here, Jacqui Dedo, Dana’s chief strategy officer and chairman of the Original Equipment Suppliers Assn., suggests auto makers must prepare for possible competition for autonomous vehicles from Google, Sony, Samsung or even Nintendo.
She predicts some companies will make future vehicles on skateboard bases, and interior suppliers could join the likes of Herman Miller or IKEA in chasing customers.
U.S. advisory firm KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research, in a consumer study to be published this fall, asked focus groups in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey what companies, including high-tech enterprises, would be the most trusted developers of autonomous vehicles.
A survey by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked the same question and, while traditional auto makers were the overall preferred developer, younger respondents chose high-tech companies.
A Bosch study this year finds just under 50% of respondents believe automated driving is a logical advancement of driver-assistance systems. But slightly more than 30% say they would never drive an automated vehicle, says Scott Winchip, regional president-chassis systems control.
A recent Harris Poll cited by Continental North America CEO Samir Salman finds while only 9% of consumers are familiar with autonomous vehicles, 16% would consider them.
Mitchell M. Rohde, CEO of Michigan-based software developer Quantum Signal, says he rarely has seen people “as shiny-eyed about anything automotive as when I talk to them about autonomous-car tech. Friends get it, parents get it, grandparents get it and my young daughters get it.”
But while fully robotic cars are his “killer app” that will “drive a burst of sales to unheard-of levels,” Rohde does not expect them to arrive for 25 years.
Autonomous driving is steadily emerging from the science-fiction realm to become “conventional wisdom,” says Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle. “We are going to go through connected (driving) first, then we are going all the way to automated.”