By Swamini Kulkarni
The last few years have been favorable for the autonomous vehicle technology. Developing a driverless car has been a shared dream for Google, Apple, Tesla, Uber, and Lyft.
For Uber and Lyft, autonomous cars are one of the means of cutting costs. However, saving big bucks are not the only benefits of autonomous cars.
Factors such as lowering fuel consumption, reduce CO2 emission, and reduction in congestion are some of the major benefits of autonomous vehicles.
According to a report called Autonomous Vehicle Outlook, by Allied Market Research, the global autonomous vehicle market is projected to reach $556.67 billion by 2026 with annual growth of 39.4 percent from 2019 to 2026.
Growth of connected infrastructure, shift from ownership to mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), and supportive government regulations would be the major drivers.
According to a survey, around 94 percent of the accidents result due to human error in the US.
Major companies are considering autonomous vehicles as a solution to reduce road accidents and fatalities.
However, they are still far away from developing a fully autonomous and driverless vehicle. The true success of developing a fully functional autonomous vehicle is not dependent on launching innovative technology; it lies with the perception of autonomous vehicles in people’s mind.
Many prefer humans behind the wheels of a car than some software. However, with the development of reliable and innovative technologies, significant progress has made toward zero-accident future over the last few years.
In addition, the advent of 5G is the most crucial development for autonomous vehicles. The technology allows car owners to effectively communicate with other cars on the road, creating an unprecedented level of collaboration, which is impossible for human drivers.
In fact, autonomous vehicles would adhere to traffic rules, never get sleepy or tired, which would lead people to a zero-incident future.
Furthermore, if we combine autonomous vehicles with carpooling or sharing, the burning issue of road congestion would be solved.
There would be more parking space available and the advent of dining cars would create competition for restaurants and hotels. There is no doubt that autonomous vehicles would secure their place at the headline of newspaper for the next few years. Here are some of the major trends to eye out for.
Launch of novel self-driving cars
One of the biggest news stories in 2019 has been newly launched self-driving shuttle service in New York City. The NYC citizens are thrilled to know that there would be self-driving cars roaming their streets.
NYC has been a bit distant from autonomous vehicles due to its ambivalent laws and regulations. However, since August 2019, the city would witness autonomous shuttle service for the public of Brooklyn. The shuttle service is run by Optimus Ride, a leading autonomous vehicle technology company.
Similar to other autonomous vehicles and shuttle service, the self-driving shuttle launched in NYC would be slow and restricted to a single route, which is 1.1 miles from the entrance of Navy Yard to the NYC Ferry dock on the East River.
In addition, the service would run continuously between 7 am to 10.30 pm on weekdays. Every car would have two safety drivers. One of them would control the vehicle remotely from a laptop and another driver would sit behind the wheel.
Moreover, the engineers at Optimus Ride will monitor every rise and vehicle, ready to tale over the car in an emergency. Although it has limited size and scope, the work of Optimus Ride is disrupting the autonomous vehicle industry.
Collaboration and partnerships
Designing, testing, and manufacturing an autonomous vehicle is a costly affair. Not everyone can invest billions even if they develop out of the box technology.
Companies seek to minimize their risk and kick start their project by partnering with each other.
Recently, Ford and Volkswagen plan to join forces to boost the growth of the autonomous vehicle industry. The deal involves billion dollars and would allow the companies to share each other’s intellectual properties and hardware.
The joint venture would offer Ford access to Volkswagen’s MEB platform that serves as a base for Volkswagen’s ID.3 electric car.
Moreover, Volkswagen would share business in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based research firm that focuses on autonomous vehicle development. With this deal, Argo AI would set up its first office in Europe to closely work with Volkswagen.
In another news, Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit, Waymo. would partner with Lyft to deploy around 10 vehicles in Phoenix. Alphabet is now an investor in both Lyft and Uber and this deal is expected to bring autonomous vehicles on the roads quicker.
The autonomous vehicles are expected to be deployed by the end of the third quarter and would involve safety drivers during the rides.
For Waymo, this would be another opportunity to operate a commercial ride-hailing service that features autonomous cars.
On the other hand, for Lyft, this would be a chance to work on an open platform, through which it can lure countless partners to deploy and test vehicles.
About the author: Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University, and works as a content writer. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life, and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel, and spend time thinking how she could read and travel more often.