A couple of decades ago, niche companies such as Tesla and Faraday Future were drawn to the alluring concept of driverless cars. Now, the autonomous mobility market is predicted to continue to gain precedence, defining the next era in the evolution of transport.
With rapid urban development and technological advancement, big companies – such as Nissan, BMW and Mercedes – have entered the fray, investing their resources into developing autonomous vehicles, and effectively bringing them to the forefront of mainstream consciousness.
However, even as we fantasise about its utopian possibilities, challenges remain.
The developmental progress of autonomous technologies to mimic a human driver have long been the subject of many an engineering discussion. Even as developers continue to wrestle with its basic concept and materialise it into a corporeal form, questions continue to linger as to its possibility. For Mr Azmoon Ahmad, Senior Vice President at Desay SV Automotive, he is a resounding yes as he effused:
“The technology is ready, to enable the vehicle to react and perform like a human being. In fact, to a certain extent, with the integration of technologies such as radar and LIDAR, the vehicle is now capable of being able to process more information and be even more reliable than a human being.”
Despite the standard technical kinks and predictably high initial production costs, it seems that the tangible barriers to commercialisation may still be comfortably managed. More pressingly, intangible barriers have now gained a significant level of importance:
As a relatively new concept, autonomous vehicles do not fall neatly into the pre-determined categories that govern the transport systems of many countries. Besides accounting for the presence of autonomous vehicles in transport infrastructure, transport regulators must devise a legal framework that accounts for their unique scenarios, including determining the assignment of responsibility between the technology developer, car manufacturer and the victim, in the event of an accident. Without proper regulations, “Level 4 autonomous city driving will remain a challenge unless all the stakeholders agree to common rules of engagement” said Mr Vijay Rao, Senior Director of Mobility at Frost & Sullivan.
2. Consumer readiness
Consumers must signal their readiness to accept this new transport method as a fixture in their everyday lives. In this, developers must prove that the vehicles are safe, and consumers need to be convinced that they are safe. Much work has to be done now to engage with consumers – to educate them on the implications of autonomous technologies, assuage their concerns and raise their confidence level in autonomous vehicles. In this, Mr Ahmad remains optimistic. “Once this new technology is accepted by the public, I am confident that the process of bringing the autonomous vehicles to the roads will be very fast,” he said.
With autonomous vehicles gaining traction as an attainable reality, symbiotic development across all aspects of technology development, regulation and consumer readiness is paramount for its successful integration into society. It’s just a matter of time.
Mr Azmoon Ahmad, Senior Vice President at Desay SV Automotive; and Mr Vijay Rao, Senior Director, Mobility, Frost & Sullivan will be speaking at the upcoming Unmanned Systems Asia Panel – a webinar jointly presented by GeoWorks and Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia at Singapore Geospatial Week+ 2020 on 15 September 2020.
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 Global Shared and Autonomous Mobility Outlook, 2020, Frost & Sullivan