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Driverless Cars are Transforming the Automotive Industry

January 23, 2013
By Ashok Bindra, Software Licensing Contributor

Twenty years ago, when some people looked to the future they might have predicted that by now we’d all by flying ourselves to work. Movies only help expand imaginations, with iRobot featuring driverless cars and The Fifth Element featuring flying cars. Although we are not flying cars around yet, we are certainly closer to driverless vehicles.

In a blog post on Flexera Software’s Entitlement & Compliance blog, Bashyam Anant, Flexera’s product leader and general manager, highlights Google's driverless car, which was awarded a driving license in Nevada last May. According to Anant, it is a signal that technology is transforming the automobile industry.

With the emergence of the driverless car, Flexera’s executive is thinking about a new business model for the car industry, the Car-as-a-Service. A driverless car as a service can be bought for an annual subscription and can be renewed through a smartphone, wrote Anant.

In fact, as per the blog post, a racecar enthusiast on a weekend can upgrade the driverless feature from a "commuter style" to "race track style, allowing it to be driven at breakneck speeds on a racetrack.”

Image via Forbes

In other words, such a service can offer many possibilities to the consumer, according to Anant. Plus, he believes the forthcoming "Car-as-a-Service" model will create a new relationship between auto manufacturers and consumers with recurring revenue from sales of apps and services.

The blog post shows that Google's driverless features were retrofitted onto a Toyota Prius, enabled by a combination of hardware platform (e.g. laser radars), breakthrough software and Internet-enabled services, the essential ingredients of a "platform + apps + services" recipe driving the transformation of automotive manufacturers.

In essence, the model is being borrowed from the iPhone maker Apple. In Anant’s opinion, to succeed, automotive manufacturers can replicate Apple's formula of "platform  + apps  + services"  exemplified by the iPhone platform, iPhone apps and iTunes content.

Following Apple’s formula, Ford is already making progress on this front with its Ford Sync, a next-generation vehicle information and communications system – a connected, software-driven dashboard in simple terms. The blog post suggests that Ford offers Sync in four editions based on levels of features, bundled services and optional subscription plans.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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