Self Driving Car-1

Nest CEO: “Autonomous Cars Have Caught Up With Consumers”

November 4, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

Self-Driving cars may still seem like something out of a futuristic Sci-Fi movie, but autonomous vehicles which don’t have a need for someone behind the wheel are a very real thing these days. They’re not near production just yet, but they’re being tested by the likes of companies like Google. Even companies like Uber have shown interest in beginning to research and develop in the self-driving car market. During a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Nest CEO Tony Fadell gave some insight on what he thinks of self-driving vehicles, stating that during his time with Apple years ago, he and then CEO of the company Steve Jobs had already discussed the possibility of looking into an autonomous car.

Fadell also notes that we’ll eventually see some “dramatic changes” in the way self-driving vehicles are seen and thought about in regards to the cost and availability of the vehicles. Although these cars are already being tested on public roads in certain cities, it’s likely to be around seven to ten years  he says before there is a major shift for autonomous vehicles in those areas. While many wouldn’t think of self-driving cars as a smartphones scaled up to a size for transporting individuals, complete with seats and safety measures, Fadell draws attention to the comparisons between an iPhone and a vehicle when asked what he thinks Apple could do for the car market.

Although it’s certainly more complex than his comparison, Fadell notes that, like cars, an iPhone has many of the same components like mechanical structure, a computer, batteries, and even a motor. In this regard there is potential in looking at those components and being able to think about them in the sense of making a connected, self-driving vehicle, although Fadell places emphasis on the fact that connectivity and automation are the areas that have the most difficulty for a technology company, mentioning that it’s “all software and services” that play a major role. It’s directly relating to this particular detail in which he points out that Google’s self-driving car project as well as the “alleged” project that Apple is researching, that software is the most important component in making things work.

In relation to Google’s current progress, he compares his own personal experiences with riding around in one of the vehicles as being driven by a “professional driver,” which should speak volumes about how on point Google’s software engineering on the car project is. That experience for Fadell he says is unlike riding with people behind the wheel of a taxi, Uber, or Lyft vehicle as “most people don’t know how to drive, they’re not professional at it.” Ending things, he states that Google has already caught up with what consumers have available to them with things like Uber and Lyft, as these are essentially self-driving cars for those riding, they just happen to have a human being behind the wheel instead of a computer.