Technology is constantly progressing and it seems to be evolving at the speed of light. Cars, trucks, and buses that operate without a driver behind the steering wheel are coming sooner than we expected and will most definitely change our lives. Computers began as mainframes and a decade later can be worn on a wrist. Technology evolution is rapid and profound and it’s coming to vehicles.
According to the Department of Transportation, the current technological advancements have the potential to become the biggest transportation revolution since the invention of the personal automobile.
The economy of sharing is slowly replacing the culture of ownership. More and more people prefer to use public transportation or shared services like Uber or Lyft instead of buying a car. People and companies have been paying for services and software as a service for years. We pay for use, not ownership. Booking a seat in a car will become the norm, the same way we book a seat on an airplane. Here’s how autonomous vehicles will change the nature of transportation and what we need to do to keep pace.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Along with significant technology advancements in the last century, the transportation industry has been trying to adapt to ever-changing demands. Cities will need to make room for autonomous vehicles by offering an updated infrastructure that will be capable of accommodating the needs of self-driving vehicles. That translates into completely new and modernized infrastructure and street equipment, such as roads, street lighting, and parking spots equipped with sensors that will facilitate communication between the vehicles and the infrastructure.
Uncertainty, however, still runs high, as it is yet unknown how autonomous driving will develop in time, how fast it will evolve and when municipalities will need to start preparing for this utopic-like future.
Autonomous vehicles and ride sharing together will reduce congestion by reducing vehicle count. Further, AVs can drive very closely and “road train” or “platoon”. Imagine the efficiency of semi’s driving 5-10 feet apart and the resulting energy efficiency.
Personal mobility is probably one of the areas that will be affected the most by the emergence and evolution of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving vehicles will be a life-changer for people with disabilities or those who are unable to drive or acquire a car.
Technology advancements lead to fewer insurance claims, smaller claims and higher sense of personal accountability. But as we progress towards driverless cars, data analysis will be crucial for accident liability determination.
Fleet management will continue to be important as it will require offering both on-demand and fixed-route services. Instead of having a dedicated fleet, can your fleet call vehicles as needed? Energy management and smart routing will need to be integrated into a system that is compatible with the fleets’ needs. Fleet vehicle utilization in the future is much greater, and active fleet management will be paramount.
Another important consideration is that the driver’s role will significantly change. These changes will have serious implications for drivers. How are these people measured, managed, and what skills will be required? “Drivers” will be able to do billing, write reports, make calls, organize files while in the AV. Productivity soars but must be managed. It can be argued that GDP capacity for a nation increases with AV adoption. Laws, rules, and regulations will need to be passed with regards to traffic, vehicle registering, road safety as well as driver licensing. That will help prepare us to interact with autonomous vehicles and make the transition easier.