Autonomous Autos?

Are self-driving cars in our future?

Photo: Steve Jurvetson. Source: Wikipedia

I sure seems like it. Self-driving cars have been in the news. Honda, Toyota, and Nissan all recently announced that they plan to sell cars with automated highway driving functions by the year 2020–the year of the Tokyo Olympics. Traditional automakers are trying to get ahead of tech firms like Google, which has been testing a prototype. There are also reports that Apple is studying the technology.

Inventors have been experimenting with autonomous vehicles since the 1920s—when radio controls and servo-motors allowed a remote operator to direct a car through the thick of New York City traffic, up and down Fifth Avenue. In the 1990s an Italian Lancia traveled over 1,000 miles in northern Italy in fully autonomous mode. Now there are dozens of projects around the world, with governments, universities, and corporations holding competitions and offering prize money.

Photo: Steve Jurvetson. Source: Wikipedia

The potential benefits are huge: increased energy-efficiency, fewer accidents, less demand for parking, increased car-sharing—even reduced law-enforcement, since the cars would naturally be programmed to follow all traffic regulations. Of course, a lot of other issues would need to be worked out: liability, privacy concerns, and software security. Hacking could be a serious problem. On the other hand, hot-wiring will be pretty hard. Passwords and cryptography will become even more important.

Still, for all these concerns, self-driving cars seem inevitable. Transportation is a basic human need. And once we build a machine, we want it to go somewhere. We just need to be sure it goes where it’s told.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:23+00:00 October 21st, 2015|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. –
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