The route to a fully autonomous vehicle market seems long and fitful in the eyes of many. But it is likely to become a reality faster than many are prepared to accept. Like IBM, Kodak, and many other companies once confronted with a rapidly changing market, we, too, are now faced with disruptions in the auto market, perhaps unlike any since the invention of the auto. As liability increasingly shifts from the human driver to systems and software – a trend highlighted by recent reports of the first autonomous fatality – original equipment manufacturers (OEM) will come to the forefront as primary holders of automobile-related insurance risk. How they manage this risk will help determine the success and acceptance of the autonomous vehicle market in the years to come.
Imagine hopping into a car, setting the coordinates of your destination, and then sitting back to take a nap or read a book while the car safely transports you across town. Sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, no? Well, prepare yourself, because autonomous, or self-driving, cars are coming, and they will be here much sooner than you might think.
Mercedes has launched an autonomous bus with a view to the future of integrated intelligent transport systems for smart cities.The company unveiled its Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot, which it says is “a milestone on the way to the autonomous city bus, and a revolutionary mobility system for the future”.
Autonomous vehicle technology continues to develop at pace, and it has the potential to bring sweeping changes to our transportation systems. Much of the focus is on the impact this technology will have on passenger vehicles, but the trucking industry will also experience significant change over the coming decades.
In Singapore, meanwhile, convoys of driverless trucks carry freight between terminals at the city’s bustling shipping port, while, in Germany, truck-maker MAN and operator DB Schenker plan to test twotruck platooning with HGV drivers behind the wheel – rather than testers – on the A9 motorway between the company’s Munich and Nuremberg depots by spring 2018. Likewise, Daimler’s driverless 'Future Truck 2025' has already travelled it’s first kilometers on a public highway.