And if autonomy makes crashes a thing of the past, then the need for highly engineered body structures and passive safety features such as airbags is eliminated. Vehicles then become simple mechanical devices that can be built by just about anyone. The only important parts are the electronics and sensors, and these all could be made by Google and its suppliers. So Google takes over the auto industry, outsources the greasy parts to whomever and the old-fashioned auto industry turns to dust.
To those of us immersed in automotive, it sounds like an Orwellian nightmare, but Silberg says it is a long-term business plan, not a fantasy on the West Coast.
That last line speaks volumes about why coverage of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles is massively lacking. The major buff books and auto sites are catering to an enthusiast audience, and for good reason – fast, fun cars are exciting. But that doesn’t mean that the advancement of active safety systems aren’t becoming part of the larger automotive landscape.
As for the assertion that Google and maybe even DIYers will be able to slap together their own rides using a combination of open-source software and off-the-shelf parts, that’s an intriguing vision. And likely a complete pipe dream.