There is frantic development in developing autonomous vehicles. Everyone from technology companies to ride share providers to auto manufacturers are pouring in billions of dollars to develop cars that will drive themselves. A number of technologies that go into building these vehicles have been discussed in other posts. But advent of autonomous vehicles would change the industry forever.
Car ownership will dwindle as AVs will make Transportation-As-A-Service more prevalent than it already is due to the likes of Uber. AVs can make an automobile far more efficient to use and can theoretically operate 24 hours a day, removing to need to have as many cars on the roads as we have today.
These robotized vehicles provide an extremely personal transportation opportunity for large masses, without the need to own or maintain a vehicle. Those not willing to lock up capital in buying a car or bothering with hassles of parking and driving in traffic would readily summon a vehicle of choice and be driven around, freeing their time to do other things – work, relax, entertain or shop.
Robotics combined with AVs will create 100s of new use casese.g. self-driving grocery stores (startups like RoboMarts are already testing these) and other retail stores. Can robotics + AVs have applications in medical emergencies? Can a garment/shoe store on an AV come home for me to try and buy? A lot of new applications and business models would emerge.
Highly-Accurate Perception Software(Software that analyzes sensor data to determine what and where things are and how they are moving) will be critical to winning the autonomy game.
But, move to autonomy poses its own challenges. There have been some instances of accidents being reported. Who do we hold responsible for such mishaps? Can they be target of miscreants? Who will ensure they are clean and well serviced. A number of regulations may need to be altered to accommodate these vehicles.
And, if car ownership dwindles, what will be the new business model for car manufacturers? They will need to build services based revenue streams based on customer relationships and engagement. A whole new ball game.
But, like in life, autonomy is always appreciated and this is a development here to stay.
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