Autonomous cars could have a huge impact on the future and be here quicker than you think. In fact, the more features manufacturers add the more apparent it becomes — other than actually steering — cars are basically autonomous already. Most experts seem to think fully autonomous cars could hit the road by the year 2020. Volvo has already planned a test fleet to hit the roads in 2017.
Cars equipped with certain features are already able to tell you and your customer’s things about a vehicle’s tire pressure and oil life. Semi- and fully- autonomous cars won’t replace humans but they will be more than an engine on wheels, they’ll be high tech computers on wheels.
With new inventions and innovations appearing almost every day it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the automotive industry is headed without a crystal ball but CAFE standards give us a good idea. Right now, CAFE standards are pointing towards fuel efficiency. This means not only are the standards for regular maintenance changing so are the ways vehicles are engineered. This is expected to only increase as cars become more self-reliant.
So what will shops that service autonomous cars look like? I highly doubt anyone will be flying up from the pit with a jet pack on but the onset of autonomous cars will surely bring a few major changes, along with a few hurdles, for the shops of the future.
Let’s start with the latter, more than likely, the first autonomous cars to hit the road only be semi-autonomous, such as GM’s 2017 Cadillac CTS which will be equipped with Super Cruise technology and will utilize features already available such as collision avoidance and blind-spot monitors as well as auto-braking and Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) technology. The primary goals of autonomous cars is to maximize road safety and minimize pollution, both of which are helped by taking humans almost completely out of the equation.
Even now, if there is a problem, more than likely the vehicle knows before anyone else. With OB2 readers now able to send codes directly to your shop and the codes themselves being so specific, there is hardly any trial and error left with replacing malfunctioning parts. That’s why focus in recent years has shifted from the mechanical to the technological side of things, for example, reading codes.
Of course, no one knows exactly what quick lubes of the future will look like but we do know they’ll feature more technology than ever before. There could be machines or technicians whose sole purposes are to fix the GPS add-on systems allowing cars to navigate themselves. Another job could be to correct the lane centering and blind spot sensors as well as the sensors measuring all around the vehicle. As far as what new problems will arise and what tools will be constructed to fix them, we’ll have to wait and see. The future of the automotive industry is exciting to think about. What do you see happening in the next 10 years?