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'Driverless cars will spur development of robots' says McKinsey

Margi Murphy | March 10, 2015
Along with ample parking spots, driverless cars will accelerate the production of robots - but they won't be passenger-ready until 2050, research firm McKinsey finds.

A side-effect of driverless cars will be the prevalence of robots, research firm McKinsey have found.

Self-driving cars will rely on artificial intelligence, image recognition, GPS and processors to manoeuvre safely - similarly to robots.

Interest shown by car manufacturers and tech firms like Google and Apple is accelerating the development of autonomous car technology and this in turn will lower the production costs for robots, which could use similar hardware benefitted by lower production costs, McKinsey said.

Self-driving cars could also help people grow accustomed to other machines, like robots, that can complete tasks without the need for human intervention.

Commonly used parts could allow auto mechanics to fix robots as well, said the report, released Thursday. Infrastructure like machine-to-machine communication networks could also be shared.

The report was published while MPs in the UK are debating over whether to appoint a minister to oversee the incoming driverless and electric car trends. Louise Ellman, the Labour chair of the transport select committee said the UK may miss out on the opportunities presented by new car technologies if the government did not do more to encourage the carmaking industry, as well as consumers.

Several car companies are working either independently or in a consortium to begin piloting driverless cars, and have said that the technology could be seen on public roads as soon as 2017.

However McKinsey stated that trucks will become the first vehicles that drive autonomously on public roads, over the next two decades, requiring changes in the insurance industry.

But autonomous passenger cars won't appear in critical mass on public roads until after 2040, the report forecast.

Fewer parking spaces will be necessary as driverless cars will be wired for precise three point turns. It estimated the technology could free up 5.7 billion square metres of parking space in the U.S. by 2050.


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