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Autonomous Technology Will Make Cars Have a Short Lifespan

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【Summary】New technology will make cars follow the same trends as electronic devices, leaving them obsolete when automakers release a new update or make the slightest change.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jul 28, 2017 9:00 AM PT
Autonomous Technology Will Make Cars Have a Short Lifespan

Modern technology becomes obsolete in record time. Take smartphones for instance. The second a new version comes out, the old phone takes a massive cut in price, as technology buffs and trendsetters look to become the first to adopt the new tech. Even if the changes are incremental, new technology swiftly makes anything that's old redundant, and now, with the introduction of autonomous technology, the same trend will make its way to cars. 

New Now, Ancient Tomorrow

The Verge, who attended the launch of the new Audi A8, the first vehicle on the road with Level 3 autonomous capability, took a moment to ask one of the automaker's executives what would happen when the company launches an even more capable vehicle. Alejandro Vukotich, head of Audi's autonomous driving program, told the outlet that the A8's smart systems would benefit from software updates, but wouldn't receive hardware upgrades. 

Hardware components relate to concrete items that are actually fitted to cars, like cameras, sensors, and more, while software pertains to the inner workings of the vehicle. While Audi's decision to update the software, but not the hardware on its upcoming cars makes sense, as it would be extremely difficult to make hardware upgrades at a reasonable price, it will make older cars pointless. 

While there's no concrete timeline as to when the first autonomous cars, like the new A8 will become old, The Verge points towards other automakers and their need to always be ahead of the pack to, as the ones in charge of making other vehicles obsolete. 

How Does Buying A New Car Every 7 Years Sound?

Pointing out Honda's goals of having a Level 4 autonomous car by 2025, The Verge claims that the $100,000 A8 would be pushed aside in seven years, or even sooner.  As the outlet points out, the average age of light vehicles on the road is now at 11.6 years, which, if the A8 were to go out of business after seven years, would only be two-thirds of a normal car's lifespan. 

The situation wouldn't be that big of a deal if cars were more affordable. Smartphones, for instance, hover below $1,000, or thereabout, but the price of a new car has rise to $33,000. And cars with autonomous technology, especially ones that push the boundaries for what's possible today, are much more expensive. Spending $100,000 on a vehicle that will be superseded within the next seven years will be a tough pill for the majority of drivers to swallow. 

While automakers and tech companies are in a race to be first, the majority of them have overlooked the simple fact that the cars will become obsolete when the next company brings out the next best thing. The cost for autonomous cars is going to be much larger than drivers realize, especially for those that always want to be ahead of the curve and have the latest tech. 

There are numerous upsides to an autonomous future, but the high costs of the vehicles and the fact that the technology will become outdated quickly are two of the largest downsides to the vehicles. Want an autonomous car? Get ready to pay for it. 

via: The Verge

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