The autonomous vehicle rollout: current state of play: Page 4 of 5

March 09, 2018 //By Bryce Johnstone
The autonomous vehicle rollout: current state of play
It might surprise some to learn that the autonomous vehicle first gained public exposure at the 1939 World’s Fair, on the General Motors Futurama exhibit. The car manufacturer envisioned, “abundant sunshine, fresh air and fine green parkways” upon which cars would drive themselves. Today, in 2018, 79 years later, the autonomous vehicle is a reality thanks to new sensor technology, advances in HD mapping, improvements in analytics, innovations in deep learning and much more.

Changes in consumer needs and wants

Part of the move to the robo-taxi, and eventually the move to fully automated vehicles, is to drive the cost per mile down to a point that it makes you question whether it is worth owning a car. 

Given millennials are now considering car ownership as less of a status symbol and not a necessity, there will be big changes in the car ownership landscape. Ultimately the winners will be the customers of such services, with the likes of Lyft, Uber, BlaBla, Didi and many others offering taxi services at such low price points that paying for a car to sit on the drive or in the company car park for the majority of the day will no longer be a sensible option.

Paying for Car as a Service (CaaS) rather than owning, means that things like insurance, annual testing and car tax, will no longer be the responsibility of the driver but whoever owns the deployed vehicle.  

The key attraction of CaaS is the removal of the cost to the driver. This can be up to 70% of the total cost of delivering the service. Remove that (and the inconsistent driving styles and abilities) and cost reduces massively, making the service highly attractive with costs slashed to less than $1-per-mile, giving you a transport that is cheaper than personal ownership.

A future scenario for autonomous driving is one that would call up a robo-taxi to your home.  Once you got to work, the OEM-owned or rideshare-owned car would be sent off on other journeys with other people travelling at different times during the day, dramatically increasing the utilisation rate of the car. Once work is over the passenger calls up a similar car and gets taken home or on errands. Similarly, rather than go on a school run you can pack the kids off into a secure robo-taxi who will inform you of the safe arrival at school of the group.

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