Autonomous vehicles are coming. Are you ready?

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In September, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled the Trump’s administration audacious plan for driverless-car development. In a document titled ‘’Automated Driving System 2.0 : A Vision for Safety’’, Washington’s new strategy is presented as follows: do not regulate self-driving cars.

This is good news for car manufacturers and the tech companies of Silicon Valley (and elsewhere), but also cause for concern to those who fear that such loose conditions will turn US roads into ’private laboratories for robot cars.” 

What’s behind this decision

Managing director of the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) Dr. Joachim Damasky is fascinated by the autonomous car. Beyond seeing it as an exhilarating creation of our collective imagination, he, like the American government, believes that it will be the solution to important social, economic and environmental issues worldwide.

Some surprising stats Dr. Damasky shared during the World summit on sustainable mobility, Movin’On, highlight today’s most important mobility challenges:


Photo credit: Arianne Bergeron

Joachim Damasky on stage during Movin’On 2017.

 

So, what’s the catch?

“We tend to think autonomous vehicles will be on streets worldwide overnight [but] it won’t happen that way,” said Dr. Karl Iagnemma, cofounder and CEO of MIT’s technology startup nuTonomy.

The truth is, many crucial questions remain unanswered and are causes for concern. The main one being, oddly, the notion of safety; an argument that both those who are in favor of and those who are against self-driving cars use to support their position. Moreover, no one currently knows what the connected and autonomous mobility business model will be. Who will own all the data? Which automobile manufacturers will become fleet owners, managing large fleets of constantly-circulating autonomous vehicles?

United States, the new Singapore

The Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore is quickly becoming a case study for the potential of our connected future. The global commerce and transportation hub was dubbed the “most technology-ready nation” by the World Economic Forum and, at a glance, it’s easy to see why.

nuTonomy’s software in action on a typical drive in Singapore.

MIT technology startup nuTonomy chose Singapore as a strategic location to roll out autonomous cars in their highly connected, super smart space. Under the 360 Big Top, nuTonomy CEO Dr. Karl Iagnemma explained how Singapore became an early adopter of autonomous vehicles.

8 characteristics of cities suited for autonomous vehicles

  1. A government that wants them and will put regulations in place to operate them
  2. A climate that’s mild and consistent
  3. Great infrastructure and roads
  4. Limited road capacity – only 12% of Singapore’s land mass is dedicated to roads and they don’t want to expand it
  5. A courteous driving culture that obeys the rules
  6. A large taxi market and a population that is used to transportation as a service instead of car ownership
  7. A tech-savvy population that is willing to take the leap
  8. Great universities, which act as an academic magnet for recruiting industry talent
A projected autonomous vehicle timeline 

2017 Testing already taking place in Singapore, Pittsburg, Phoenix and the U.K. The community is working out how to make cars smarter; autopilot is already available on a Tesla.

2020s Testing in 100 cities worldwide, autonomous trucks on the roads, a multimillion dollar economic opportunity for driver-assistance features.

2030s Significant ramp-up of autonomous vehicle deployment. Up to 25% of miles driven in the U.S. could be autonomous; millions of global AV sales of personally owned cars with automated features.

2040s Combination of autonomous fleets and personally owned cars. nuTonomy predicts 75% of cars will be autonomous.

2050 The number of injuries and fatalities on the road will be reduced by 90%.

2060 Cities restrict human driving.

The conversation on the future of transportation continues at Movin’On 2018, May 30-June 1, 2018, in Montréal. This article was excerpted from the Movin’On 2017 Minutes.