Startup Offering $10,000 Self-Driving Car Conversion, But is it For Real?
The autonomous car is coming. With advances being made by automakers and tech companies, as well as legislation going through in several states, the era of the self driving car is only a matter of time. But if you cannot wait the estimated 5-10 years that some are predicting, one tech company has your autonomous driving solution now.
Cruise is making a self-driving retrofit for 2012 or newer Audi A4 and S4 models, but according to Gizmodo, it may or may not be the real deal. For $10,000, you get a series of sensors, cameras and computers, as evidenced by the aftermarket array on the roof above the driver. Those sensors are connected to actuators in the car that operate the steering, brakes and throttle. Interestingly enough, this is already what Mercedes-Benz has on the S-Class, but does not require the pod on the roof.
But it’s not all rosy. For starters, the system will only be on those aforementioned Audi models, but it will only work on roads in the Bay Area of California, which kind of makes sense to cater this to the Silicon Valley crowd. It is only available in those areas because it requires detailed maps, and will not work at night, in rain or in fog.
Google’s self-driving car is said to cost between $75,000 and $100,000 per car. This retrofit is much cheaper, but doesn’t have the backing of a big company. Is a startup really going to saddle such hefty liability if something goes wrong?
At a recent event featuring New England automotive writers and representatives from the auto industry and MIT, all parties discussed the future of autonomous cars. When the issue of liability came up, you could visibly see some of the members of the auto industry squirm at the predicament this leaves. So this $10,000 might be great for a very small set of early adopters, but is not the answer for everyone just yet.