In Newsletter 2: Autonomous Cars Part 1 we discussed the history and near future of Autonomous Vehicles and highlighted how the approaching change due to Autonomous Vehicles will be greater than that posed by the transformation from horses to cars.
In Newsletter 4: The Autonomous Kitchen we discussed how the advances being made with Autonomous cars can be applied to the food preparation industry, and how that will create a transformation as large as that posed by Autonomous Vehicles.
In both articles we also discussed which businesses will likely benefit and which will disappear. In this newsletter we will discuss how autonomous vehicles will likely evolve in the five to fifteen year time frame and how that will further impact the business environment.
As mentioned in both Newsletters 2 and 4, the primary variables to be aware of include whether your products and services are highly used and repetitive, and whether they can be replaced by simple to moderately complex actuators, sensors, and communications, as well as emerging complex computation systems.
As vehicles start driving themselves, and passengers are picked up and dropped off, with the vehicles going off to park themselves, the view of the vehicle will change. No longer will large parking complexes be needed in congested areas, vehicles will be able to park outside of those areas. No longer will long walks in winter be needed, as vehicles will be able to drop off at the door and then park a distance away. Vehicles will be able to take parents to work, then go back and take kids to school on their own. Idle vehicles will be able to help grandparents, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances out with owners needing only to click a button.
Currently, there are web sites where individuals can rent out their own vehicles. Integrating these sites with autonomous vehicles will be extensive, as the cost of getting the vehicle to and from renters will be nominal. As all this occurs, the concept of vehicle owner will experience a metamorphosis to vehicle (or transportation) user.
The need for universal type vehicles, those that can be used for many different purposes, will experience a dramatic drop as the cost of transporting vehicles to where they will be used becomes nominal. Vehicles for single individuals will be right sized (shrunk). When needed, vehicles for the whole family plus luggage, will appear within minutes via vehicle sharing sites.
Personal transportation services will likely emerge that provide annual services to meet all transportation needs for individuals and families. Providers will have sufficient vehicles in neighborhoods to meet logistic needs to insure only short minute waits for subscribers. Personal garages will be reclaimed as usable living space. Look to remodelers to benefit from this change.
Look for services to introduce different tiers of vehicles, such as neighborhood and city vehicles. As neighborhood vehicles will have different power needs, they may use alternative power sources such as electricity. When leaving the neighborhood, they may connect to larger vehicles that both charge them and tow them to another neighborhood for their next task. As vehicles evolve, passengers may be able to move from neighborhood vehicle to larger city vehicles while in motion, allowing neighborhood vehicles to be more effectively reused, as they do not need to stay with passengers for the entire trip.
How will this affect the automotive industry? Average vehicle size and cost will likely drop moderately due to right sizing. Vehicle numbers will likely also drop moderately, as there will not be as many vehicles sitting idly. However, the largest impact will likely be felt by dealerships. As transportation users migrate away from managing their own equipment and towards services with assured delivery of transportation, individual purchases of vehicles will approach the level of horse purchases of today. With this most car dealerships are likely to disappear.
In Newsletter #2 we discussed how taxi, truck, bus, and many other professional drivers will start loosing jobs in five years, and all but disappear in the following ten to fifteen years. We also mentioned the impact this will have on emergency rooms, jails, hospitals, insurance brokers, police, driving instructors, and others as 2 million drunk driving arrests, four hundred thousand injuries, and fifty thousand deaths disappear, along with the disappearance of the need for the government to manage personal vehicle operation activities.
Transportation services will likely thrive. Those vehicle rental services that see this change coming and adapt ahead of time will likely be big winners. Likewise vehicle manufactures that prepare ahead of time will dominate the marketplace. Note that as dealerships and the marketing and selling of vehicles to individuals disappear and the size of vehicles shrink, the bar for entry into the vehicle manufacturing market will drop and new companies will enter the fray.
Public transportation will likely disappear as it will be replaced by private services that meet the needs of public transportation users effectively.
What about all of the delivery vehicle drivers, will they still be needed? While automated vehicles will not be able to deliver mail and packages, as with automated kitchens, delivery of packages and mail is a very common activity that at most would require simple to moderately complex actuators, sensors, and communications, along with emerging complex computation systems.
Similar to personal transportation discussed above, imagine city wide delivery vehicles that drop off and pick up neighborhood delivery vehicles, which themselves carry door units that can traverse steps, open gates, walk stairs, open mail boxes, drop off packages and mail, ring bells, knock on doors, and take pictures of delivered packages on doorsteps or in the hands of receivers.
City wide delivery vehicles will have conveyors, actuators, sensors, communications, and complex computation systems. Not only will they be able to transfer cargo to neighborhood vehicles, but they will also be able to connect to large range transport vehicles that are similarly equipped. This has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for warehouses as logistics systems become more and more intelligent.