[Liveblog] How we will move – the rise of the autonomous vehicle

Self-Driving cars are getting ever closer to reality - or the public road, at least. This session explored the massive changes this will bring to business.

Warning: Liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar. This post will be improved over the first 48 hours after publication.

Rashik Parmar, IBM Softlayer

Rashik Parmar

The challenge is all about the time to get from A to B. Without the data, we can’t optimise that. And to do that, you need the cloud. The mobile phone can tell you where the car is, and beyond that our cars themselves are getting more sensors. That’s all information we can use.

A little more efficient is a big thing, on a world scale. $4 trillion is wasted by inefficient systems. But unlocking that is about business models, which are embedded in the car we drive. Without the data, we can’t change the business models, which will allow behaviours to change.

Who owns the data? It’s a big topic, but ultimately, it belongs to the person who generated it – the user. In the near term, the big opportunity is to join together transport methods into seamless journeys.

The biggest challenge with driverless cars is getting people to adopt them. People like their cars, and their personal spaces.

Richard van Hooijdonk, trendwatcher

Richard van Hooildonk

We’re living in an increasingly connected world. Things are connected. Pets are connected. And now Richard is connected – he has RFID chips implanted in his body. His phone and his home automatically unlock in the presence of his chip. His Tesla will do the same when it arrives.

His Bitcoins are stored on it – and in a few years, he will be able to pay wirelessly with his hand.

There are parts of the world without connection – but that’s what Google’s project loon is working on. Soon all cars will be connected. What about robotics? The Tesla factory is completely automated. Amazon is planning predictive shipping – but how about drone shipping, homing in on my chip for individual delivery?

96% of cars are standing still at any time. That’s horrible. In the future, we will be able to brush our teeth and read the newspaper in the car. Pods can be connected with our calendars, and will arrive to pick us up when needed. In 2025, our roads could be dominated by autonomous vehicles. You won’t be able to kill yourself in traffic. Our three-year-olds won’t need driving licences.

WiFi-enabled trains are coming to the London Underground. The Netherlands has 6-person autonomous vehicles coming. Planes are increasingly flown by the computers, not the pilots. Things won’t break down anymore – because they will be connected, and smart systems will judge breakdown and dispatch replacements.

With connected bodies, doctors will be able to warn us, rather than waiting for us to go to them with symptoms. Our computers will order our groceries, and our cars will drive to collect them. We don’t need to think about it – it just happens. Our cars could decide that it’s quicker for us to drive to the station, get a train, and then a self-driving taxi. This only happens when systems are all connected together.

There are business models in all of this:

  • Connections
  • Access points
  • Entertainment
  • Health

As the car becomes a different space, we have opportunities to reach and serve people in that space.

There will be problems: there will be ⅓ fewer organs for transplants, because the accident rate will drop dramatically. But don’t worry too much – soon we’ll be able to “print” organs and other body parts.

And we could get rid of 80% of our highways, if we can use our roads more efficiently.

We’re just at the beginning of this. But we need infrastructure. The rate of data is going to grow rapidly. We’re moving to an API economy. 85% of all new applications are built on the cloud. The cloud itself is growing by 20% per year.

Nils Wollny, Audi

Nils Wollny

Autonomous vehicles are at the top of the hype cycle right now – which means we’re five to 10 years from the plateau of productivity. Full autonomous driving may not happen until 2030, and there are plenty of ethical and legal challenges to be overcome.

Audi started working on the idea in 2009. They’ve had a whole run of cars: Shelley, James and Bobby. Each has pushed harder at the limits of the technology. Jack drove from San Fransisco to Las Vegas. And now Robby went to Sonoma in California, to participate in a man versus machine racing challenge. Most human drivers were slower.

The benefits are manifold:

  • Most accidents are caused by humans. Eliminate the human factors, and you reduce the accident rate.
  • We’d get more flexibility – autonomous taxis will be with you in seconds not minutes.
  • It’ll be more comfortable than the stress of driving on, say, an Autobahn.
  • And it could be fun. It feels a little like a rollercoaster ride.

For many people, it will free up an hour a day. What will they do with that time?

  • 45% would use it for relaxing.
  • 30% said they’d work.
  • 25% would use it for entertainment.

This will, clearly, have an impact on business. Right now, Apple is part of about ⅔ of your day. That leaves the drive and sleep areas of your life. Already Car Play is reaching into that. But there could be more.

Our cars could be doing other things while we’re not in them – when we’re at work, for instance. Could they become the heartbeat of a new economy? This impacts the logistics sector, and the retail sector and the travel industry and…

Fewer accidents mean a smaller aftermarket for parts. Delivery services will change, through autonomous delivery, and autonomous taxis. Removals could be automated. How will the insurance industry react? Why fly to Munich when my car can take me there itself – in about the same time?

There are so many sectors that can be impacted that we haven’t started to think of them all. Right now, Audi would like to partner with startups that have ideas for taking advantage of this new technology. Piloted driving will not just change how we move – but also how we live.