First world investment in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) continues at a staggering pace, with announcements made almost on a daily basis around new technology developments or deployment demonstrators. However, limited research has been undertaken to fully understand the impact of adopting CAVs in the developing world.
It is expected that Autonomous Vehicles will provide an array of benefits for the developing world - the most important benefit will be a significant reduction in the number of fatalities as a result of road accidents and air pollution. Research shows there are more than 700,000 road accident fatalities in Asia each year which represents approximately 60% of the entire world fatalities. AVs could significantly reduce the number of immature deaths by reducing the number of accidents on the road network and providing a healthier environment for the residents of these cities.
If Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) ran at an operator level where the user can hire/pay for services as they go, this could significantly increase the number of people who have access to a vehicle. According to the 2011 census in India, 90% of people in urban areas and 97% of people in rural areas do not have access to a vehicle. It is a well-known fact that the developing world cities suffer from grid locked roads which cost countries like Jakarta, an estimated US$2.8 billion. AVs have the potential to reduce these figures by operating more effectively which will relieve congestion on the network.
One of the largest challenges in the developing world is the public acceptance of CAVs. A recent report undertaken by Cisco (2013) which surveyed 10 countries, outlined that 60% of the respondents from the USA and 45% from the UK would travel in an AV compared to 95% in Brazil and 86% in India. This suggests that developing countries are more accepting of such technologies. This could be as a result of cultural reasons why the developing world appears to be more accepting of new technologies. The developing world encounters ‘fatalities’ on a regular basis, therefore making the public more accepting to proposed solutions.
Millions have been invested in the technology required for CAVs to operate in the developed world, however the infrastructure and networks in the developing world could be significantly different. As such, with auto manufacturers having a global reach, a benchmarking system will be required to ensure the technology meets the best practice of all road types in all road areas. This benchmarking system will need to be developed based on knowledge and experience of the networks and infrastructure in the developing world. It is important these countries act now to ensure they secure the funding and have the procedures in place to support and deliver VAV solutions on their road networks. This includes considering infrastructure implications, the insurance models and the required legislation needed to make this a reality.