Exploring the Transformative Nature of Automated Driving Technology on Business
Thursday, January 8, 2015.
Enterprises with fleets, including delivery, shipping and logistics services as well public transportation organisations could be vastly disrupted in the coming years by automated driving technology and self-driving vehicles, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The focus of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers over the coming years will be on teaching vehicles to drive like human drivers, as investments in steering innovations increase among industry leaders, placing increased importance on the autonomy of the steering capabilities of the technology.
Frost & Sullivan’s analysis finds that the success of ‘steer-by-wire’ will largely depend on how OEMs tackle the obstacle of solving the loss-of-steering-assist scenario.
"OEMs with a clear and practical strategy for loss-of-assist mitigation are more likely to be successful in developing steering systems that are tuned towards automated driving," explained Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation Research Analyst, Manish M. Menon. "While this overall focus to develop state-of-the-art, driver-out-of-the-loop steering for all vehicle segments will gather pace, innovations to upgrade the steering feel of manually driven vehicles will also progress steadily."
These advancements could have huge implications for a number of industries, as the elimination of human drivers would allow enterprises to drastically cut costs, while the risk of human error would mean efficiency levels would improve significantly.
The most positive benefits of automated vehicles becoming standardised would theoretically come from the enormous rise in safety levels, and the consequent reduction of accidents caused by human error. Devastating causes of accidents such as alcohol, distraction and fatigue would all disappear once humans are taken out of the driving process, and tens of thousands of lives would be saved each year.
Self-driving vehicles would also be far more fuel efficient, due to their ability to drive closer together at steadier speeds, whilst allowing for reductions in size and weight in some use cases, due to a lower need for human protection in the event of collisions.
By utilising certain mobile solutions, these vehicles will also be able to autonomously overcome difficulties such as extreme weather conditions and unexpected construction and route disruptions, further strengthening the argument for their use.
Of course, there are a number of concerns which could prove to be barriers for such a transformation. The most obvious change from an enterprise point of view would be the decision to terminate the role of employees in the operation of certain vehicles.
Organisations with large fleets would find themselves replacing drivers with technology solutions, which would undoubtedly have an enormous effect on countries’ employment landscapes, and would likely see large-scale resistance to the technology.
There would also be even stricter emphasis on safety, regulatory and legal issues to address for any organisation looking to deploy self-driving vehicles, with the question of liability for accidents a particularly grey area in many cases.
Looking past the potential difficulties for the enterprise embracing these solutions to completely adjust their operations and services, it is possible that the accelerating rate of technological development could soon see the argument changing from whether or not automated driving vehicles should be on the roads, to whether or not human-driven vehicles should be on the roads. If this vision begins comes to fruition, transportation will be one of the industries most heavily-affected by mobility.