How Will Autonomous Vehicles Benefit You?
It’s anticipated that L5 fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be mainstream by 2030, quietly and precisely sensing their way around the world’s roads and marking a milestone in technological maturity for AI- and electric-powered autonomy that’s already progressed far beyond the toddler stage of fixed routes.
Eight years hence, AV sales are expected to reach 58 million units, according to Research and Markets.
That said, will it really make sense for you to buy one? Read on and decide.
Either way, AVs may be one of the most disruptive technologies we experience in our lifetimes, one that’s already underway:
A fully autonomous taxi doing it’s thing in Shenzhen, China in February 2023 / Video credit: Chris Pereira
And the transportation model that’s likely to evolve from AVs is poised to be easier on your wallet, give you more time, and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the likelihood of you dying in a car crash.
A green light for ‘TaaS’
So, how will these benefits come about and what is TaaS?
As currently represented by Uber, Lyft, Grab, Didi in China, and a raft of crowdsourcing commute apps, Transport-as-a-Service (TaaS) is likely to evolve even further with AVs, creating a fast, efficient on-demand service that, thanks to smart digital tech, will know your journey history and preferences before it even picks you up.
Compared with today’s cars, passenger AVs are likely to live vastly more active, but shorter, service lives under the TaaS model. Given that up to 75% of car trips are single occupancy, it’s possible that the form factor of future cars will resemble connectable pods that enable both single- and multiple-occupant journeys.
A logical outcome of TaaS, and one that will have a massive impact on the urban landscape (which I’ll cover in a later post), is that there’ll be far fewer cars on the roads.
Rethink X’s study Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, which focuses on TaaS, predicts that US car ownership will plummet by 80%, from the current 247 million to just 44 million in 2030. If this holds true on a global scale, that’ll mean just 260 million or so cars in use on the planet as of 2030 – marginally more than in the US total today. (If you’re wondering, there were an estimated 1.45 billion cars on the world’s roads in 2022.)
Many people (me included) enjoy driving and the freedom and convenience it brings.
But, it’s not cheap. If you live in Britain, running a car will set you back around £3,500 per year on top of the initial outlay. In the US, car ownership can slash your bank balance by nearly US$11,000 a year. And in Singapore, you need to shell out up to a whopping US$72,000 just for the Certificate of Entitlement that lets you drive on the city-state’s roads for 10 years.
Moreover, most cars sit idle for most of their service life (up to 95%!), quietly depreciating in garages, car parks, and driveways to around 60% of their purchase price in just 5 years.
As well as more money, TaaS will give most of us more time. Assuming you don’t work from home, Vehicle-to-Everything connectivity and connected traffic infrastructure promises effortless, gridlock-free commuting. If you’re an American with an average to-and-from commute time of 55 minutes, that adds up to 250 hours — or 10 days — per year. Cumulatively, that’s a year of your life spent behind the wheel when it’s time for your golden handshake.
As a quality of life booster, pain-free commuting is something we can all root for. Even if you like driving, there’s a good chance your daily commute stresses you out and makes you like your job less, says Harvard Business Review:
“Car commuters report higher levels of stress and lower job satisfaction compared to train commuters — in large part because car commuting can involve driving in traffic and navigating tense road situations.”
As well as saving you time and money, AVs may well save your life. An average of 1.3 million people are killed on the roads each year. Unlike people, an AI driver won’t drink-drive, fall asleep, or (in theory) take risky manoeuvres like tailgating or overtaking on corners.
Moreover, many of the estimated 7 million people who die each year from pollution-related illnesses may soon be gifted with greater longevity, as the anticipated shift to electric power for AVs gradually shuts down a major source of pollution — an outcome that the planet will thank us for:
Transportation accounts for up to 24% of all global emissions, the majority of which come from road vehicles.
With humanity swelling its ranks by 1 billion every 12 years or so, our planet is becoming an increasingly crowded place. Fewer cars on the road, less pollution, faster trips, and calling up driverless taxis may well put us all on the road to a better life.
In the next posts in this series, I’ll be looking at how AVs will change the urban landscape, what driverless tech means for car brands, and then deep diving into the tech that will power the future of vehicles.
If you want to get a head start on the tech, download our Intelligent Automotive Solution 2030 report.
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.