While not every country has yet embraced the autonomous (driverless) vehicle industry, there is little doubt that this relatively new industry will continue to make a significant impact in 2019 and moving forward. Here are some of the trends to look out for in 2019:
Already facing competition from peer-to-peer ridesharing services such as Uber, the traditional taxi industry now has to face the challenge of the emerging robo-taxi industry. This industry refers to autonomous vehicles that are operated as an e-hailing (on-demand mobility) service. The assumption is that the vehicle will be shared, and will be capable of seating four people or up to six people in a shuttle form. Several companies are already testing out robo-taxi services, especially in the USA and Asia. Wayomo has already commenced public services in Phoenix, Arizona while GM’s Cruise Automation is planning to launch soon in San Francisco, California.
Purpose-built autonomous vehicle (AV)
Another recent development has been purpose-built AV’s. This means that autonomous vehicles will be specifically modified and designed to meet the needs of a particular market segment. Thus far, about 47 cities around the world are piloting AV’s. An important consideration in this roll-out is the need to change regulations in all these cities to accommodate the building, manufacturing and operations of AV purpose-built vehicles.
Collaborations and partnerships
As designing, testing and manufacturing a new vehicle is an expensive process, many companies are trying to minimise risk by partnering with other players. As such, one should expect many more partnerships, collaborations, mergers and consolidations in the autonomous vehicle industry.
With autonomous vehicles being such a new industry, lawmakers may have to catch up to the vagaries of this technology by changing regulations. For example, US regulators will have to look at implementing regulations that deal with vehicles built without a steering wheel. These regulatory changes will take time and lobbying efforts could indicate what commercial interests are being planned.
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