Imagine a scenario where you call an online taxi through an application embedded in your smartphone. Then after waiting a while, your taxi arrives. But something strange this time. There is no driver behind the steering wheel, aka the car runs alone! But believe it or not, this strange thing will become commonplace starting in 2025. At least that’s the prediction of global automotive industry analysts.
Uber online taxi provider company, became a pioneer in this matter. In the city of Pittsburgh, United States, Uber has begun to apply Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) to some of their online taxi fleets. Uber uses Volvo XC90 for their AVs fleet. But for the initial stage, AVs operated by Uber still have the driver behind the wheel. This is only to ensure the safety of their AVs so that they are still under human supervision. This is because the first generation of software embedded in the Uber AVs fleet has not been able to detect damaged roads or repair roads that cause road markings to change (first generation AVs software currently depends on road markings).
Analysts estimate that collaboration between automotive companies, technology companies, and online taxi companies will encourage the acceleration of the development of AVs. The world’s major automotive companies began competing to develop AVs and this was welcomed by technology companies to develop technologies that were able to realize this. While online taxi companies will be the main consumers of AVs.
Automotive companies are moving quickly to develop AVs by partnering with technology companies. General Motors (GM) has acquired Cruise, which is a start-up company in the field of autonomous-driving software, worth $ 1 billion. While Toyota, Volkswagen, Tesla, BMW and Daimler developed a cooperation contract with Nvidia. While Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi shared with Mobileye, a subsidiary of Intel (Intel acquired Mobileye for $ 15.3 billion in March 2017). Realizing the prospect of the AVs development business, start-ups in the field of autonomous-driving development software have also sprung up in Silicon Valley.
On the other hand, observers predict that online taxi companies will be the biggest consumers of AVs. UBS offers an economic value analysis of AVs. According to UBS, currently 60 percent of operational costs for online taxi trips are still charged to online taxi companies and the rest (40 percent) is charged to consumers. This is the reason why Uber is still losing up to now. But UBS predicts that electric-fueled AVs will cut travel operating costs by 70 percent. Maybe this is also what caused Uber to purchase 24,000 Volvo XC90 to add their fleet to their AVs.
Security Aspects of Autonomous Vehicles
But the development of these AVs is not without controversy. Many accidents led to deaths caused by AVs. In March 2018, Elain Herzberg, an American citizen died after being hit by Uber who was in autonomous mode in Tempe, Arizona, United States. Even today, May 5, 2018, AV, which is owned by Waymo, a Google subsidiary, was involved in an accident that also occurred in Arizona. This caused many parties to have a skeptical view of AVs. But the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 94 percent of the causes of traffic accidents are caused by human error or human error. Therefore, many also think that AVs will actually improve driving safety.
On the other hand, many view that this is indeed a process of the technological revolution. Like aircraft, ships and land vehicles. At the beginning of their development, the number of accidents was high. Over time, the level of safety also increases. The same thing applies to AVs, so it seems that negative views on AVs will not dampen future development. Industry players even predict that 10 million AVs will be circulating on the streets starting in 2020; only two years from now. Maybe this will indeed happen. In January this year, General Motors announced that in 2019, it would begin producing vehicles that would not have traditional features such as steering wheels and gas pedals and would be fully capable of running alone.