Look past the rose-tinted glasses of investors to see the true timescales attached to autonomous car
The race to move to an autonomous workforce seems to have attracted a frenzy of activity from those with money to burn looking for the Holy Grail.
The motoring industry, in particular the taxi and private hire market, has long been the jewel in the crown for those wanting to shed a few employees and reduce the costs involved employing workers. At TaxiPoint we’re sent updates on an almost daily basis where companies claim to have made the breakthrough and driverless cars are imminent. Sometimes you’ve got to look past the investors rose-tinted glasses and actually seek a more impartial view on the challenges that remain. Private hire firm Addison Lee and Oxbotica, a British leader in self-driving vehicle software, have reportedly agreed a wide-ranging alliance that “accelerates the implementation of autonomous vehicles to London’s streets” by 2021. But how likely are we to see the technology from the minicab firm in the next couple of years? Not very likely if you listen to more impartial opinions from those not looking to burn the next colossal mountain of cash on a futurist pipe dream. At the recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Mobility Summit, a meeting that attracts all the top experts within the industry, a live poll was conducted asking its esteemed audience when consumers will be able to purchase a fully autonomous vehicle. The results are not encouraging if you are looking forward to be driven driverless soon. Almost three in four experts said the autonomous dream won’t be achieved before 2030. There are three very big road blocks that are proving tricky for those looking to make the breakthrough. Technology, regulations and public opinion. Quite simply the technology still isn’t there. Yes a vehicle can be driven in perfect conditions and with clear road markings. However, problems have emerged when any sort of variable is added. Whether it be the sun sitting in-front of a white vehicle, autumn leaves covering road markings, bin-bags sitting in the middle of the road, snow covering sensors and road markings, the list goes on. Several high profile accidents, and in some cases fatalities, have also hindered progress. The race to become the first city in the world to introduce driverless cars continues to push regulations to a level that have seen trials introduced and then quickly stopped on the grounds of safely. Then you’ve got the big question, do people actually want driverless cars? Do the majority of drivers want to give up the freedom and skill of driving the vehicle that each motorist is trained to drive? There’s a still a future for taxi drivers so long as these road blocks remain.