Autonomous cars are no longer the stuff of science-fiction stories. Companies like Tesla and Google have been investing extensive time and resources into bringing their own self-driving cars to the market, though they are still some way away from hitting our roads.
Being able to get into a car, have it drive you to work or to the store, without having to deal with traffic yourself is incredibly exciting. To starters, we will gain so much more time to watch movies, read, or simply relax while behind the wheel with the car’s on-board computer taking the reins. On top of this, it’s expected that autonomous cars will reduce the number of accidents and contribute to generally safer roads.
However, the rise of driverless cars will make an impact on numerous industries, for better or worse. One area sure to experience a significant side-effect is the towing industry — but how serious will this be?
Autonomous cars will be able to drive us to our destinations safely, adhering to speed limits and following diversions, even identifying potential system faults. As a result, they will be able to self-drive themselves to a garage for inspection or repairs.
However, autonomous cars will not be perfect: just like any other machine, they will experience breakdowns, performance issues, or system failures on occasion. For example, their sensors may become faulty and make its self-driving unsafe for yourself and other drivers on the road.
When this happens, towing firms will still be required to remove cars from the road and take them to a garage or workshop. The end-result will likely be different, with more technological work performed than mechanical, but the tow-truck driver’s role will remain as crucial as ever.
Experts predict that driverless cars could save close to 300,000 lives per year, but accidents will not disappear entirely.
Drivers will still collide with each other. Vehicles’ sensors may play up, leaving them unable to detect approaching cars on either side. Roadside structures may collapse or fall apart, causing damage to numerous cars passing by without warning.
In any of these, and other, cases, driverless cars may be unable to continue as needed — and even if they can, it may be unsafe to do so.
Towing firms will still need to arrive on the scene and remove vehicles as they have for decades now. Also, tow-truck drivers will provide the same compassion, reassurance, and support in such cases, helping to lift drivers’ moods at challenging times. Will the on-board computers be able to do that?
The Problem of Adoption
One factor that will determine the impact driverless cars make on the towing industry is the rate of adoption.
At present, it’s unlikely that most people on average incomes will be able to afford autonomous cars, especially in the early days. The cutting-edge technology required to keep them running and operating as needed adds thousands of dollars to the vehicle’s market price. Only those with more disposable funds will be able to invest in the first driverless cars, though prices will become more competitive decades from now.
What does this mean? For the foreseeable future, our roads will still be home to millions upon millions of cars depending on drivers, and getting behind the wheel will be business as usual. These drivers will still experience the kind of engine or mechanical difficulties we are all familiar with, while they may well become involved in accidents and collisions from time to time.
There are drivers who love to have control over their cars, and will choose to avoid self-driving vehicles for as long as they can.
Towing companies will always be an emergency service for drivers without autonomous cars, helping them to get off the road in a safe, secure way. Until the vast majority of drivers rely on autonomous cars, towing businesses will be as essential as ever, but even beyond that, self-driving vehicles will still need a little professional attention from time to time.
Clearway Towing will be happy to serve Calgary’s drivers 24/7 — for as long as you need us!