The recent launch of Google’s Waymo ensured the autonomous vehicle’s leap from moonshot status to reality. Google’s resurgence in a field crowded with heavy-hitters like Uber, Tesla, Baidu, Ford, and General Motors raises several questions. How will Google commercialize this offering? Will it sell its technology to networks? Perhaps it will build a network. What is the best path forward for autonomous vehicles–shared or self-owned?
Shared vs. Self-Owned: Which Path Forward?
Our CEO Jonathan Matus recently participated in the “Cooperative Mobility Systems and Automated Driving” roundtable in Ottawa, Canada, which highlighted the potential for car- and ride-sharing to radically reduce car ownership levels in urban areas and transform the use of vehicles and road space. It put forth the vision that shared mobility is the most likely path forward–and the one where everyone wins.
Here at Zendrive, we share this belief that a shared mobility solution is the most likely and strategic scenario. (View our CEO’s Code Mobile talk on the topic here.) It’s the one that makes the most sense in terms of capital expenditure, how urbanites think about driving, and likelihood of adoption. In fact, it’s a path that Uber is currently exploring; as of today, you can hire one of Uber’s self-driving cars in San Francisco.
Instead of spending a small fortune to own a highly customized robot car that functions as a mobile second home, consumers will continue their rapid adoption of the sharing economy, where we may eventually see city streets flourishing with shared cars. This fosters societal changes such as fewer cars on the road and more green spaces, and spurs a design evolution that optimizes the car for the passenger (instead of the driver–as it is today) and readies the auto for 24/7 utilization while minimizing cost per mile.
Naturally, breakthrough technology and design alone cannot ensure the successful rise and adoption of autonomous vehicles. Collaboration with regulatory and safety concerns will be critical.
Safety and Trust Remain Hurdles
There’s no question that safety and trust continue to limit widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles with regulators, insurers and consumers.
Government organizations like the U.S. DOT have implemented policies to set the framework for the development of automated vehicle safety technologies.
Meanwhile, consumer advocates are demanding more safety standards, but signs of increased regulation is deterring some autonomous vehicle companies from launching their products.
The advent of autonomous vehicles is one of the most exciting developments to hit the roads, and we at Zendrive are working hard to ensure safety for everyone by partnering with autonomous vehicle companies to help give stakeholders confidence in the safety of the ride of the future.