If cities would set aside dedicated lanes on highways or exclusively autonomous sectors in cities, autonomous vehicles could probably become reality as early as 2015 to 2019 on dedicated highway lanes and 2020-2024 in dedicated city sectors. Mixing with and managing the human errors of drivers in conventional vehicles will move the time horizon for fully autonomous vehicles out to 2018 to 2022 on mixed highway lanes and post 2025 in mixed urban driving sectors.
Today, technology is assisting drivers in preventing crashes (e.g., line keeping assist) and is allowing drivers to delegate driving to the “autopilot” under certain circumstances (e.g., adaptive cruise control). It is available in many premium models and also becoming an option in other vehicle categories for all who are willing to pay a premium for a safer ride. Cruise, a startup just announced plans to launch a $10,000 autonomous aftermarket kit for newer Audi cars early 2015. While the call is still out whether upgrading conventional vehicles to become autonomous is a viable strategy, it is a good example for how quickly the technology is evolving.
Technology companies and automakers have fully autonomous vehicles that have driven hundreds of thousands of miles on our roads to date. The time when we can buy and ride in a fully autonomous vehicle will not only depend on the autonomous vehicle technology the industry is maturing at rapid pace, but even more on the driving space we allow such vehicles to drive in. The options are best described in a four quadrant grid: One axis differentiates highway and city driving, the other axis distinguishes exclusive or non-exclusive driving space, meaning whether autonomous vehicles operate on dedicated lanes or city sectors or have to mix and cope with the mistakes of conventional drivers.
An investment in driverless vehicles will likely break even within one to six years, depending on the readiness of the auto insurance industry to adapt rates to the lower risks of autonomous vehicles and on owners’ willingness to share autonomous vehicles.
The fixed ownership cost of the average U.S. passenger vehicle is approximately $8,700 per year:
$4,300 depreciation, financing
$1,900 license, parking, warranty, etc.
$1,500 crash related cost born by the owner
$1,000 auto insurance
Human error accounts for over 90% of crashes. Assuming autonomous vehicles can eliminate 80% of this risk, the average vehicle owner would save approximately $1,800 (80% x 90% x $2,500) each year.
Conventional vehicles are used less than 5% of their usable time. The convenience of being able to call an autonomous vehicle when it is needed and easily release it for others to use when it is not needed is likely to make autonomous car sharing a much more convenient and cost-efficient mode of transportation for many. Assuming the remaining ownership cost ($6,900) can be shared by 3 users, this would equate to additional savings of $4,600 per user.
For the purpose of this “back of the envelope calculation”, let’s assume that structural design savings and the incremental autonomous cost are a wash. Virtually crash-less autonomous vehicles would require less structural and other safety features (e.g., fenders, airbags) built into vehicles, thus reducing cost and weight.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley study, driverless technology is estimated to initially add about $10,000 to the cost of a vehicle (less than the cost of a battery pack for an average electric vehicle). At the above savings rates, the investment in an autonomous vehicle would pay back in year six at $1,800 crash risk related savings, and in year two at $6,400 savings including the sharing option.
With mass market adoption, the autonomous upgrade cost is expected to go down to about $5,000 per vehicle. At this price point, the investment in an autonomous vehicle would pay back in year three at $1,800 crash risk related savings, and in less than a year at $6,400 savings including the sharing option.
I was fortunate enough to lead the Cisco team that looked at consumer experiences in the automotive industry, and the results were eye-opening. For those of you that didn’t know, the study surveyed more than 1,500 consumers across 10 countries. The global report examined consumer preferences of technology used when buying and driving an automobile. Consumers also identified preference for car dealers/manufacturers to provide a more personal driving experience, and their trust in future automotive innovation.
Some pretty interesting results emerged. Prior to purchasing a vehicle, consumers prefer to begin their process online. That’s not too surprising to most of us, since you’re reading this blog online right now, so you yourself are fairly comfortable with online research, I assume! But many had issues trusting the information on the manufacturers’ web sites.
Most consumers begin their car purchasing process online: 83% of global consumers prefer to research online for information on a car, versus only 17% of consumers that prefer to call or go to dealership.
We were also educated on what mattered most to consumers. Consumers desire a more automated way to track car gas and maintenance costs:
Impact of gas prices on customer experience:52% of consumers want to track gas prices from a vehicle. Gas-price tracking was the highest priority, compared to 46% of consumers wanting to track insurance prices, 35% wanting to track roadside assistance availability, and 32% wanted to track recall information.
That was a little different to how folks wearing a manufacturing hat actually thought. Most manufacturing executives (57%) thought that auto manufacturer information is most important for consumers to track!
Consumers are also more willing to trade personal information for customization, security and savings:
More Personal Security and Customized Cars: 60% would provide biometric information such as fingerprints and DNA samples in return for personalized security or car security. 65% would share personal information such as height/weight, driving habits, entertainment preferences if this allowed a more customized vehicle and driving experience.
“The survey shows consumers’ comfort with technology and need for immediate information whether they are researching, buying, driving or servicing their vehicle. While consumers in diverse parts of the world may expect very different experiences, their technology demand is more positive than many manufacturers imagine. Many consumers are just waiting for manufacturers to respond with better car buying, driving and service experiences augmented by technology.”
In the months since I attended the Smart Cities event organized by Qualcomm and CommNexus in San Diego, the buzz about “Smart Cities” and the use of machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless technologies has only grown louder and more intense. Which Smart City-relevant innovations are under development inside Qualcomm?
Known primarily for mobile chipset technologies, Qualcomm is working to optimize wireless networks and sensors that support M2M solutions and, ultimately, Smart Cities of the future. An often-overlooked part of this initiative is the company’s work in preparing the wireless industry for the imminent tsunami of data that will come when countless “things” equipped with M2M wireless sensors—part of the “Internet of Everything”—hit wireless networks. Qualcomm calls it the 1000x Challenge, referring to wireless industry predictions about a 1000x increase in mobile data usage between 2010 and 2020.
From Qualcomm’s perspective, a “smarter grid” employs digital wireless technologies that allow utility companies to safely and securely deliver prepaid electric services that save homes and businesses money through real-time monitoring of power usage over existing cell networks, thus reducing deployment costs for the utility and saving energy for the planet. At the same time, smarter grids enable customers to better manage their own energy usage.
One recent Smart Grid example is Qualcomm’s work with Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the United States. The success of this collaboration has enabled Duke Energy to install hundreds of thousands of communications nodes, which interface with electric and gas meters, line sensors, transformers, and other end points, meters, sensors, and distribution automation equipment, and optimize energy usage in five states.
Working with ECOtality, a maker of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, Qualcomm participated in The EV Project, the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history. The project, now in nine states plus the District of Columbia, leverages cellular technology incorporated into charging stations, enabling EV car drivers to easily find charging stations with their smartphones. Moreover, the solution allows users to reserve stations as well as receive alerts users when the charge is finished or if it the charge has been interrupted.
Another exciting development, also involving EVs, is Qualcomm Halo’s teaming with Renault and Delta Motorsport in London. Qualcomm Halo, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, produces wireless charging mats that enable EV drivers to simply drive up and park over the charging mat—no exact alignment necessary (e.g., you have to line up your electric toothbrush perfectly on the charger in order for it to charge). Initially, the benefit is no longer having to deal with tangled charging cables. But looking beyond that, Qualcomm Halo envisions embedded chargers in the roadway. Even further out is the idea that these mats could be built into the road and connected to the overall Smart Grid. Depending on the time of the day, more or less energy resources could be devoted to that specific roadway, effectively channeling energy to where it’s needed most.
This week sees the beginning of Automation Fair, and this blog will tell you more about the demonstrations you’ll be able to see.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Cisco speakers will be featured at the Food and Beverage Industry Forum and the Global Machine & Equipment Builders Industry Forum as well as during technical workshop sessions. In addition, demonstrations will be on show at Cisco Booth #1307, and that’s what I wanted to tell you about in this blog. This is a great opportunity to network with Cisco and industry thought leaders and technical experts, whilst actually seeing live demonstrations at the booth.
Watch the video for details of the demonstrations, to get a better feel for what’s being shown.
The world of transportation is rapidly changing, which is in turn driving rapid change in the world of manufacturing. Transportation products of all kinds have had connectivity in some form for many years however; the connectivity was confusing, unreliable and often deficient in adequate bandwidth and technology to sustain a continuous stream of interactions between equipment and operation centers. New means of M2M have emerged out of necessity, which have broadened the ecosystem of participants to include tech companies, service providers, and others. Read More »