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CAV predictions for 2016

John McCarthy | 04 Feb 2016 | Comments

Connected and Autonomous vehicles are rushing to become an ever more real part of our lives.

Google cars are after covering millions of miles, the UK Government has announced a second round of winners in their £20m competition, test sites are springing up around the world (M-City, ZAVI, Bristol, etc), platooning and connected trucks and cars are being tested on real roads in real conditions (euplatooning.com). The world of fantasy is now real and it’s worth looking at some of the positives and negatives that this throws up. 

Google car has been involved in over twice the amount of accidents than normal cars, but in an alarming examination of the facts, it can be seen that the accidents are caused by car’s rear ending it as it looks to obey the rules of the road. Rules and the human interpretation of them, such as when to cross a white line, or the ‘aggression index’ as others call it, has not been mapped to the car’s behaviour. In fact, caution is the operating principle. Isn’t it surprising that by following the rules, being cautious and looking to make safety the prime focus, even more accidents are caused by humans, you and I, looking for the Google car to move in a more imaginative and potentially dangerous way…. 

Insurance is another aspect of this world, with announcements from Volvo that it would cover all accidents involving autonomous vehicles. That cannot be underestimated. A car company is now looking to be an insurance provider. The business models are changing and the ‘new world’ of data and information forces car manufacturers to adopt a different approach to client creation. Recent announcements highlight the fact that local authorities are examining the value in having a central white line. This has an impact on all vehicles but what might it mean for autonomous vehicles, both in terms of the technology used to guide their systems, but also the calculation of insurance? Decisions taken today have an impact on the rate, the scale and the investment needed around this new sector.   

Opening up the impact and the ecosystem around autonomous vehicles, the use of shared services in autonomous mode is becoming increasingly more prevalent in discussions. Take the recent investment ($500m) by GM in the car sharing provider Lyft. This shows that the landscape and the delivery channel to the customer is going to be completely different. The autonomous car, and its close cousin the connected vehicle, are part of that Mobility as a Service solution and transport jigsaw. Mention of the connected vehicle throws up an interesting and a very pressing question. What should road authorities do now in order to take advantage of the future? The answer is that cities and authorities must start now to understand the business case around infrastructure deployments to take advantage of the vast realms of data that will be travelling in and around the vehicles. 

And what about the very near future, what will it entail? My prediction for 2016 is twofold: firstly, I firmly believe that people will become increasingly interested in the ‘converging marketplace’, where connected and autonomous and Internet of Things look to create a digital ecosystem and service layer. The second, and this is vital for the network operators, is that cities and Government will create harmonised policies and long term strategies around connected and autonomous vehicles and the value chains that they enable. 


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