Self-driving cars promise many benefits to society, but the fact that one of their primary benefits is to help prevent drunk driving may wreak havoc on the breathalyzer market. Devices designed to prevent drunk driving and help police test drivers for intoxication during traffic stops form a lucrative market for the time being, but the self-driving car market looms heavy over the scene, promising to lower or remove the need for breathalyzers. Right now, self-driving systems are still working on getting on-level with a human driver for all tasks, on a consistent basis. Investors and players in that market are already reacting, even with self-driving cars not available to the general public just yet.
One example of the breathalyzer market already beginning to see shockwaves thanks to the self-driving car is the fact that investors are largely uninterested in buying LMG Holdings, the largest breathalyzer manufacturer in the US. The company makes all sorts of breathalyzers, with a speciality in units that are permanently grafted to a car’s ignition and won’t allow it to start without the driver blowing an all clear. This firm has enjoyed a large measure of success in recent years, but has nonetheless felt the effects of the self-driving car market beginning to materialize.
Autonomous vehicles are often cited as an integral part of a far safer future for travelers, with many estimates saying that the number of road fatalities could drop close to zero, if self-driving cars are rolled out smoothly and drive as skillfully as they’re supposed to. The artificial intelligence driving the vehicles is getting better by the day, but as with any nascent industry, there have been hangups. Uber’s self-driving cars, for example, have been cited as the worst fully autonomous vehicles out there, needing a human to take the wheel more often than the onboard computer. Tesla’s semi-autonomous vehicles equipped with the Autopilot function have been in the news lately over a fatal crash. Waymo, currently considered a field leader, is locked in a bitter court battle with Uber over stolen trade secrets. The market for self-driving cars, which has yet to even involve consumers, is already in a state of fragmentation, with players like Apple, Xiaomi, Waymo, and even Facebook all involved in different capacities and no unified standard in sight. Finally, regulatory hurdles are still tangling up early efforts to get autonomous vehicles onto public roads.