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Automakers, like other successful enterprises, set goals for themselves. Looking at two recently stated goals in tandem shows a pretty radical change in what automakers will be offering consumers in just 5 years.

Self-Driving Vehicles

I wrote a bit about how Lexus is planning on offering autonomous driving on vehicles by 2020. This first foray into autonomous driving will be limited to the highway, but one has to expect that it will become viable on city streets in the next few years after the highway version goes on sale. So, beginning in 2020 and then becoming fully implemented in the years after that, cars will be driving themselves and you'll be playing iPhone games while it takes you to work.

Goodbye Gasoline Powertrains

Toyota, Lexus' parent company, has recently announced that it has set a goal of reducing emissions in its vehicles lineup by 90% by the year 2050. Journalists and analysts point out that this would require Toyota to basically eliminate any purely gas-powered vehicle from its lineup. In their place would be vehicles powered by hybrid-electric, or purely electric powertrains. The electricity would be coming from either hydrogen fuel cells or batteries.

And It's Not Just Toyota/Lexus

This trend can be seen in the behaviour of many other automakers as well. BMW is trying to have an electric version of each of its vehicles on the market in the next 10 years. VW has (for no other reason than it is the right thing to do) decided to focus its energies on electric vehicle research and development with the next-generation Phaeton being offered as a fully-electric vehicle.The Phaeton will then compete against the Tesla Model S. There are numerous other examples of this shift in other automakers too.

We all knew that this was what the future holds, but now there are some pretty specific dates being talked about. 2050 may be a while off, but 2020 is in just 5 years. So if you go to trade-in your current NX in 5 years or so, and are looking at the 2020 Lexus NX, assuming Toyota and Lexus reach their goals when they have aimed to, you will be looking at a vehicle that runs on hydrogen fuel cells and can drive itself (on the highway).
 

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It would be helpful to have a self driving car when it's just a long stretch of boring highway but they'll still have to talk this out with the insurance companies and laws will need to be changed to accommodate the new tech. 2050 seems more feasible and by that time I'll be old and too lazy to drive.
 

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One thing that concerns me is how these system will react to a deer jumping across the road, hopefully they can have systems in place that see these animals with some sort of radar to give us and the vehicle that much more of an advantage to react. Those situations can be deadly and maybe the only time where a good driver can prove better than the system.
 

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One thing that concerns me is how these system will react to a deer jumping across the road, hopefully they can have systems in place that see these animals with some sort of radar to give us and the vehicle that much more of an advantage to react. Those situations can be deadly and maybe the only time where a good driver can prove better than the system.
I'm sure the vehicle would recognize it. The question is how would it react. Slamming the brakes could cause you to get rearended. Countless other options could exist and how does it decide which would be best? What if it could avoid an accident by driving onto a sidewalk but it might hit someone? How can it evaluate what is the best case scenario in the event of a choice of many negative options.
 

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Would be quite complex for it think through all those options, something I can't see happening any time soon but a day will come when that does indeed happen. For now, all I would care for is that it brakes with good reaction time.
 
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