Driverless cars appear to have recently moved out of science fiction territory into reality, but are they genuinely expected to be the car of the future? And how will they affect the automotive engineering industry?
Who’s leading the way?
For those who may not have heard, Google is currently investing heavily in driverless car research projects and has rapidly advanced its research and development. Previously, they had been developing their own software and hardware adaptations in cars already existing within the market. However, Google has now released 100 prototype versions of their own custom-designed cars and it is expected this will move the development progress forward. California, Nevada and Florida are leading the way in America in terms of relaxing road legality legislation for driverless cars. Meanwhile, three cities in the UK have been selected to test driverless cars on the road, starting in January 2015
. Milton Keynes is currently one step ahead of the rest of the UK with specific areas for testing driverless cars.
What’s the vision?
Driverless cars remain an interesting, but ultimately unlikely, concept for the majority of us. However, it’s no surprise that Google expects driverless cars to play a major role in our lives in the near future. The immediate investment for the search engine giant is going to be taxis. Google Ventures—the venture capital investment arm of Google—has been investing in the new taxi app Uber
since September 2013. Uber has taken off in Europe, Asia and America, raising suspicion that Google are looking to create a worldwide driverless taxi service. It’s an exciting, if distant, possibility that could have a real influence on city infrastructure in many ways, such as changing the way we use our roads and creating new policing requirements.
What does this mean for the future of the automotive industry?
We are pleased to see that in Google’s project so far, engineers from the automotive industry are being used and consulted throughout the process. There is no sense in disregarding the thousands of cumulative years’ experience automotive engineers have acquired in their lifetimes. Driverless cars are still cars—they require a chassis, four wheels, a shell, electrical components and some form of engine. Wheels need to turn, brakes need to function and ultimately someone will still need to wield a wrench when the driverless car breaks down. There will be an increase in demand for certain types of engineers—namely electrical engineers, software engineers and even security engineers as the concept of remotely controlled car control will undoubtedly become a cause for concern. All disciplines have become increasingly important already in the automotive industry as on-board electrics become progressively sophisticated over time.
There could also be a period of intriguing change for engineers as they become a part of world-changing technological developments. From an engineering standpoint the development of driverless cars is not a cause for alarm for those in the industry, but an incentive to stay in it.
Although it may be the vision for Google it’s unlikely that this will replace individual day to day car usage for a number of reasons, including independence, love of driving and affordability. However, it looks like it could work seamlessly with mass transit forms including taxis and buses or long haul lorries – significantly reducing the risk of human error.
How can we help?
Our expertise in the automotive industry means that we’re ideally placed to recognise changes that may affect our clients and candidates and proactively offer the perfect job solutions. We have offices strategically located across the country to best align ourselves as the industry leaders in providing recruitment solutions for automotive leaders; our Solihull office in particular has excellent relationships with the famous West Midlands automotive engineering industry.
You can take a look at the automotive roles that we currently have available here