Driverless prototypes & concepts

The last few weeks have been exciting for those following driverless technolog

The last few weeks have been exciting for those following driverless technology, with Google unwrapping “the first real build of [their] self-driving vehicle prototype”. This prototype follows the early mockup unveiled in May 2014.

Vehicle prototype

And on the other end of the driverless spectrum, Daimler introduced its Mercedes-Benz F015. CEO Dieter Zetsche, during his 2015 CES keynote, talked about a vehicle that gives the consumer what is lacking most in the 21st Century: time and privacy.

 

 

Both are electric vehicles (recognizing the importance of moving to electric propulsion), both are driverless but they are two completely different vehicles that will deliver very different experiences.

 

Google & auto insurance

Google, which already offers auto insurance online the the UK, could soon be selling auto insurance in the US.

Google, which already offers auto insurance online the the UK, could soon be selling auto insurance in the US. Rumours have spread about the company purchasing CoverHound Insurance. If this foray into US auto insurance materializes, will Google limit itself to auto insurance or expand into home and …?

Creative car sharing programs and their impact on insurance

Audi recently announced its UNITE program

Audi recently announced its UNITE program which lets participants choose up to 4 people with whom to share a lease, using beacons and mobile apps for tracking usage, scheduling and coordination. How would this work from an insurance perspective?

 

Data Driven Insurance … by Ford

Ford will collect driver data from a large fleet and assess how they “could use driver profiles to personalize insurance rates”.

The newsletter’s editorial focused on Ford’s 25 mobility projects, announced by CEO Mark Fields.  One of these projects relates to insurance. Fields asked the CES audience to consider what it would be like to own “a database of [their] driving behaviour for all of the years since [they] got their driver’s license”. He continued: “what if this driver score passport could go with you from car to car, no matter the brand? Imagine that you could share that data with insurance companies to get better rates”.

For this particular project, that will take place in London, Ford will collect driver data from a large fleet and assess how they “could use driver profiles to personalize insurance rates”.

It looks like insurance is also part of the “mobility services” that Ford is considering as it repositions itself from an auto manufacturer to something more as it branches into related areas.

We know that in the US, Ford is working with State Farm in a number of areas. In May 2012, we learned that the two companies “teamed up to track drivers for cheaper insurance rates”. At the end of 2013, Ford announced that it was working with State Farm and the University of Michigan on autonomous vehicle research.

If the experimental project in London meets the company’s expectations, how long before it is introduced into the US? Will State Farm be involved in such work in the US or will Ford, in an attempt to expand its mobility services forward integrate into the insurance space? In a world of shared driverless vehicles, could Ford be considering self-insuring or providing mobility insurance to the customers it will have a relationship with?

 

Photo credit : Dmitry Kalinovsky – Shutterstock

From auto manufacturing to mobility services

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show was once again attended by over one hundred thousand people looking to discover the next great thing.

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show was once again attended by over one hundred thousand people looking to discover the next great thing. Over the last few years, the show has attracted some of the most innovative prototypes and concepts created by the auto industry.

At this year’s show, Daimler’s CEO, Dieter Zetsche, delivered a keynote, during which the Mercedes F015 electric driverless concept car was introduced.  It can only be described as one thing: luxury in motion.

 

Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO, gave a morning keynote at CES during which he introduced Ford Smart Mobility and the 25 mobility experiments that the company will be undertaking in cities around the world.

According to Fields, four megatrends are shaping the way Ford sees the future:

  • increasing urbanization
  • rapid growth of the middle class
  • issues of air quality and related health risks from congestion
  • changing consumer attitudes and priorities.

Combine these megatrends with three enablers (connectivity [in two years, 80% of world’s population will have a smartphone], software and sensor technology and big, smart data) and Ford sees a major opportunity for innovation and a “higher purpose”, as Fields explains.

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The 25 described experiments fall into three categories:

  • creating a better customer experience
  • developing more flexible user-ship models for customers
  • connecting with every customer in a socially collaborative and rewarding way. 

Many of the experiments to be undertaken relate to vehicle sharing and many involve electric vehicles. Fields also mentioned “user-ship” experience, multimodality and the company’s priority “in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses” although Fields does expect the first driverless vehicles to be available in five years.

He spoke about shared and electric as well about autonomous and multimodal. Fields also talked about making mobility information accessible to consumers through their smart phones.  Doesn’t this remind you of the SEAMlessTM Mobility model that has been promoted by the Transportation Evolution Institute?

The megatrends identified by Ford are clear to everyone in the mobility space.  The combination of population growth, urbanization, an aging population, millenials’ relative disinterest in vehicle ownership / driving and finally, the congestion and pollution issues faced by most cities would make any auto manufacturer and transportation planner realize that a more sustainable transportation system is required.

Strained government finances in most countries means that limited resources can be invested toward new road infrastructure. As Fields stated, “the existing infrastructure for motor vehicles simply cannot sustain the sheer number of vehicles expected to be on the road in the coming years”.

Given a low vehicle utilization rate (average of 4%) means that vehicles can be shared. The growth of an increasingly urbanized population means they HAVE to be shared.

Despite Fields’ continued emphasis on a “higher purpose”, we are all aware that auto manufacturers are in business to deliver a strong return to shareholders.  It is fantastic to see that at least some of these auto OEMs are recognizing that a strong ROI will not necessarily only come from auto manufacturing but from an expansion into other areas of mobility.

In the future, surviving auto manufacturers will need to adjust to the new mobility ecosystem and become mobility service providers. Such mobility services may include operation of car sharing programs, ride sharing services and mobility insurance.

Will today’s auto manufacturers, seeking to generate revenue from activities other than vehicle manufacturing, look to expand their operations into areas that are currently the domain of transit properties? How will governments react in such situations?

Telecoms prepping for self-driving

New generation of autonomous cars that to be connected to the highspeed internet

Huawei Technologies is reportedly designing the “communications architecture for a new generation of autonomous cars that will be connected to the highspeed internet”. The company aims to have 5th generation mobile networks commercially available by 2020: here’s a year that keeps coming up in the driverless world.

The car sharing boom continues

In the first month of car2go’s operations in Brooklyn, over 13,000 members joined.

In the first month of car2go’s operations in Brooklyn, over 13,000 members joined. Car2go also informed the world that it officially has 1 million members, marking its spot as the largest car sharing company in the world. Japan’s car sharing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60% by 2018.

UK: aiming for the driverless lead

First driverless pods in Milton Keynes in March 2015.

The UK is positioning to be a global leader in the merging ‘Intelligent Mobility’ market, estimated to be worth £900bn per year by 2025. Four UK towns and cities (Milton Keynes, Coventry, Bristol, Greenwich) have won the £10m Driverless Car Competition to integrate autonomous vehicles into everyday life. First driverless pods in Milton Keynes in March 2015.

Disruption in delivery

The delivery business is about to change in a big way.

The delivery business is about to change in a big way. From Amazon to Dominos, the industry is preparing for drone and autonomous vehicle technology to decrease costs and increase customer satisfaction. Another example is DHL (42% of parcel delivery value in Europe) and Volvo reportedly partnering on a project that would allow the parcel delivery service to remotely open Volvo cars (DHL would only get access after the owner accepts delivery via text message). Such a service would minimize the number of missed deliveries, contributing to decreasing costs. Will these deliveries be made by drones in the future?

Cybersecurity laws on their way

How can vehicles be protected from hacking? How can we ensure that the vehicle will not become the weapon used by terrorists?

Cybersecurity is often cited as a major issue when discussing driverless technology. How can vehicles be protected from hacking? How can we ensure that the vehicle will not become the weapon used by terrorists? The laws are currently not in place.

“The Hewlett Foundation, the billion-dollar philanthropic organization set up by one of HP’s founders, is pledging $15 million towards a cybersecurity initiative at MIT that will bridge the worlds of policy and future technology” by shaping cybersecurity laws for self-driving cars and delivery drones.