The Autonomous Vehicle and What It Means

Editor’s Note:

An automobile industry executive and subject matter expert, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote the article that follows this preface. It is in response to my June 2nd article that speculated on Google’s long-term plans for the autonomous vehicle. This article provides additional insight into the AV market with some excellent references, while having some more fun imagining the type of vehicles we may see in the future.

Graph showing evolution of the vehicle in the digital age.
Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design

This article also introduces images from ED Design’s Michael Robinson, a Hall of Fame vehicle designer and leader in “Experiential Design”. He is at the forefront of determining what autonomous vehicles (whether on wheels, rails or wings) will look like and their impact on society. He wants to ensure that, in addition to achieving a safety goal of zero accidents, the autonomous vehicle doesn’t kill the love affair people have had with their cars (check out the presentation he gave to the Passenger Experience Conference in April of this year).

More importantly, he wants the autonomous vehicle to be an extension of the future digital home; an environment that stimulates emotions and thoughts and not one that is simply a mobile couch potato transporter. As he points out, removing the steering wheel changes everything as far as vehicle design and he even suggests a scenario where regulators outlaw steering wheels and driver-less cars are mandatory in 2040 (coincidentally, the same year as my story takes place).

It is important for broadband providers to stay abreast of the direction of the AV market and the thinking of visionaries like Robinson and the anonymous author of the following article, as this mobile Internet of Things, known as autonomous vehicles, will have an impact on broadband networks at some level. Broadband providers will either find new opportunities in this arena or let the Googles of the world grab the opportunity.


The Autonomous Vehicle and What It Means by Anonymous Contributor from the Automobile Industry

Ever since the Google Car made its debut in May, we have been inundated with articles on the autonomous vehicle (AV), for good or for bad.

An image showing how swarms of insects and birds as an analogy for what autonomous vehicles will do in the future.
Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design

The fact of the matter is that the AV is here to stay. This is most definitely confirmed by Carlos Ghosn in his address to the French Automobile Club on Tuesday, June 3. Mr. Ghosn lauded the UN’s accomplishment of successfully pushing through an amendment to Article 8 of the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic which allows for AV driving if, and only if, AV “systems can be overridden or switched off by the driver.” In his address he stated that “the problem isn’t technology, it’s legislation, and the whole question of responsibility that goes with these cars moving around … and especially who is responsible once there is no longer anyone inside.”

Knowing that the AV is not going away, governments have begun addressing the AV legal framework, such as California in the United States. More recently, UK Science Minister David Willets has called for a change in UK road laws to accommodate the AV. Therefore, if governments are using monetary resources to develop legal frameworks, then the AV is not a passing fad, but a paradigm shift in the way we will live and view transportation for the next one-hundred years.

With that said, what the AV means to our way of life is very simple. The automobile will no longer be viewed as a status symbol because most people will not own automobiles. Instead, the AV will be looked at as a service. We will reserve our AVs through reservation service providers based on the litmus test of Time, Place, and Occasion (TPO). For example, I have made a short list of AVs which could be available based on a TPO for Yokohama, Japan:

  • No Thrills (Basic AV to get you to/from Points A and B. Has reclining sofa chairs and relaxing music and images so you can sleep well during the commute. Imagine going to work in an Enya video.)
  • Shopping Mall (Large Size AV with security compartments for valuables. Great for people who enjoy shopping at different stores but who don’t want the worry of getting anything stolen.)
  • Family Trip (For families who want to go somewhere for a weekend or holiday. Has essentials for short trips, such as refrigerator, food storage, Internet, DVD, and Radio.)
  • Work Commute (For people working during their commute. Has all the desk essentials, TV Conferencing Equipment, plus coffee maker, tea pot, toaster, and breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods)
  • Business Meeting (Same as Work Commute but a larger size AV arranged in boardroom style)
  • Car Pool (Same as Work Commute but a larger size AV so people have room to work and not disturb one another. Great for people working in the same office building or business area.)
  • Image showing what a vehicle might look like without a steering wheel.
    Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design

    Tea Time (The tea time AV could come in three sizes: S, M, L. It would be like a restaurant booth equipped with all the tea time essentials, such as water, pot, cakes, sandwiches, scones, and a variety of tea and coffee. For those traveling in Yokohama’s China Town, it could be equipped for Chinese tea time.)

  • Game Center (Japanese love to play video games. This AV could come in three sizes: S, M, L)
  • Karaoke Kar (A Karaoke AV complete with its own Karaoke system and beverages. For those at the legal drinking age, it would come with alcohol.)

And for the #1 Japanese AV……

  • LOVE MOTEL (Yep, You got it! A Japanese-style love hotel on wheels. Equipped with a waterbed and all the love hotel essentials. Need I say More.)

0 thoughts on “The Autonomous Vehicle and What It Means

    1. Thanks Alan for the excellent link. I will have to get over to the CHM and check it out in person. In the meantime, the article is an excellent resource of the background of AV. By looking back, it shows that people have been thinking of the concepts of the AV for a long time. The technology is finally catching up.

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