Do You Have “The Right Stuff” for Autonomous Vehicles?

Fast forward 15 to 20 years down the road and where will the AGRR industry be? Will this so-called infusion of driverless vehicles expected to hit the road be more like the futuristic Mercedes-Benz F-015, which lacks much in the way of glass? Will they be they similar to what Google tests? These appear to be relatively normal-looking vehicles with the usual windows and more bells and whistles? Supply and demand go hand-in-hand, so if the customers want automotive glass to continue, the OEMs will keep producing it.

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., pilot of the Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) spaceflight, poses for a photo with the Mercury "Friendship 7" spacecraft during preflight activities. Source: NASA

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., pilot of the Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) spaceflight, poses for a photo with the Mercury “Friendship 7″ spacecraft during preflight activities. Source: NASA

The early Mercury astronauts insisted on windows. Why?

“Despite objections from the engineers who designed the spacecraft, the astronauts insisted on having a window, manual re-entry thruster controls and an escape hatch with explosive bolts—they wanted the ability to actively fly the spacecraft and, if necessary, escape from it. They were pilots, and the thought of merely riding in a totally automated spacecraft went against their nature,” according to http://science.howstuffworks.com/project-mercury1.htm.

Will consumers view autonomous vehicles with a similar nature? Will they demand the same “visual” control?

While Google reports its cars have now driven about 700,000 accident-free miles on freeways in “autonomous mode,” city driving is another story.

“Freeways are relatively simple for the cars—no blind corners, no cyclists and no pedestrians. City streets have all that and more, including intersections and complex interactions with other drivers, such as who goes first at a four-way stop sign,” according to a recent report.

And then, of course, you have the recent YouTube video featuring a Volvo “accelerate forward into a crowd during a ‘self-parking’ demonstration.” In this instance, the vehicle had windows and yet the car still did not stop. Is this a cautionary tale for our reliance on the capability of artificial intelligence? Several bystanders watching the accident-in-motion do not appear to do much, as if anticipating the vehicle’s systems will kick in at the last second and save the day.

So which direction will consumers go? Will they want to maintain the possibility to grab the controls … or put it all in the hands of the machine?

If the Mercedes-Benz concept car is to be viewed realistically, perhaps windows will simply become an accessory in the future? Unnecessary for driving, but pretty to look out. Where will AGRR businesses go?

If glass in vehicles were to disappear, would automotive glass shop owners diversify out of existence? Would they turn their attention to maintaining the cameras and radar that make these driverless vehicles possible? Would they focus instead on offering vehicle wraps and paint protection? Perhaps add-on supped-up stereos?

What do you think? If autonomous vehicles are coming en masse, as some automakers claim they are … what impact will this have on your business. Will AGRR companies have “The Right Stuff?” Email your thoughts to jreed@glass.com.

Happy April Fools’ Day

From Google reversing its logo and URL to Amazon going ‘retro’ with its site’s look, April Fools’ Day jokes are a tradition designed to spotlight the ridiculous. And this year is no different.

A personal favorite this year is from BMW. The automaker announced it will offer a new line of mouth guards for rugby players. The faux ad has the tagline that reads “Motor Mouth.”

Another favorite is CERN confirming the existence of “the Force.”

“Very impressive, this result is,” says a diminutive green spokesperson for the laboratory, according to CERN’s statement.

With the influx of selfie photos spreading over social media, one company reports it has found a solution to the somewhat cumbersome selfie-stick. Hey women, how about selfie shoes? Check out this video to see what I mean.

Do you travel for business? West Jet has revealed a “smart seat” that allows you to remain in your seat at the gate. The seat rolls right onto the plane. To check out this gimmick, click here.

What are some of your favorite April Fools’ Day jokes? Have your technicians pulled any good natured gags today? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at jreed@glass.com.

And for a general roundup of this year’s April Fools’ Day jokes, click here.