Friday, 16 February 2018

Benefits of Self-Drive Vehicles

Recently I watched a video by Continental (GaadiAdvisor, 7 October 2017), with their view on what the future will look like with autonomous vehicles. I liked their view. We do have issues to sort out: hacking; hijacking; working self-drives around accidents and natural disasters; operation outside urban environments; IT security; payments; driver's licensing, citizen ID etc, but I think the future is exciting, and those issues simply require more thought, idea sharing and the establishment of good systems.

However, I keep reading articles on self-drive vehicles in the main-stream media, and they keep (a) focusing on whether people will trust self-drives enough to get into them, and (b) missing the same key factors that are going to persuade us to trust the AI.
  • Insurance. Already insurance is less on Tesla vehicles when engaged in self-drive mode, and insurance on NZ's existing vehicle fleet will increase as we are in a global market for risk, with an increasing road toll. Business insurance is expensive. You can see the accountants doing the maths already.
  • Road Toll. International statisticians are suggesting a 90% reduction in accidents once fleets turn over (7 years in the US, 14 here; Crew, 1 October 2015; from McKinsey, Bertoncello & Wee, 2015). The cost of ACC in New Zealand will go down for those who have self-drive, because the risk is less, and up, correspondingly, for those who don't. Those accountants will like this too.
  • Adoption Age. According to a Stuff article, 12% of AA members would take a self-drive. I would be interested to hear what the average age of the respondents was (Noon, 15 February 2018). I suspect that younger drivers, who have less of a car culture, will be more likely to take a self-drive car, and older drivers less likely (Shankleman, 13 February 2018). For the past ten to fifteen years there has been a growing trend in London not to get your driver's licence. You don't need it with the public transport available. This trend may well force the licenced driver requirement to be dropped fairly quickly.
  • Cities. Self-drive vehicles work in cities, as taxi or bus services, in areas of good connectivity and high population. The convenience of the hail and ride on short trips or work commutes will overcome reservation. Sweden already has self-drive busses on the road (); Singapore is still trialling taxis with nuTonomy (now owned by Delphi; and a range of other initiatives at Huiling & Goh, 2017). Eventually children will be able to get to music lessons or sports on their own: but not until the technology has earned trust through performance.
  • Time Saving. It is estimated that a city dweller might spend 90 plus hours looking for a park each year, and 18 hours queuing (Shankleman, 13 February 2018).
  • Cleaner/Cheaper. Most self-drive vehicles are electric. Cleaner fuels, lighter weights, fewer moving parts, lower accident risk and lower environmental impact are likely to lower fleet running costs in direct and and indirect costs (taxes) (Huiling & Goh, 2017). It is estimated that a Chevrolet Bolt needs its first full service at 150,000 miles, not at 10,000 (Shankleman, 13 February 2018). Accountants again are going to see much better financials.
  • Ownership. In cities you won't need to own, park, or service a car. You will simply hire the vehicle for your use. Ride services like Grab in Singapore will make public transport easier, providing the service itself is reliable. Why own a car - which depreciates from the second you buy it - when a service with less hassle and cost is available? Another one for the accountants: that and no parking.
  • Congestion. It is estimated that self-drives will decrease congestion. We will have to wait and see on that one. However, if your business is in moving goods, at least you won't be paying wages for traffic jams: just lost asset time.
  • Infrastructure. We won't need huge new roads. Car parks may be able to be turned back into green spaces. With a park and ride, we pay no parking fees. No traffic fines. No traffic police. No speeding. No racers unless they are on a race track.
  • Shift in global power.  The shift to electric vehicles means we are likely to be less locked into trading oil in USD/barrel. This will make a huge change to international politics (ZeroHedge, 14 January 2018).
This will all take some time to sort out. There will be teething problems. But this is the road we are on.



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