Archive for the ‘Autonomous World’ Category


So Who’s Really Going to Own Autonomous Cars? There’s Four Scenarios.

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Above: Mercedes Benz Autonomous Car

Two mega trends are coming together: The Collaborative Economy and the Autonomous World, which means shared mobility from self-driving cars.

Early this year, we published a research report on the Business Models of Self-Driving Cars, and we’ve presented our findings at a number of industry events. A commonly asked question is: “In the future, will we even own cars?” I want to share a few scenarios that are likely to emerge.

Today’s 3-year-old toddlers are unlikely to ever learn how to drive. With autonomous cars already making their debut now, and then en masse in 2021, per Ford and others, these toddlers are unlikely to require driving skills in the year 2031.

Here are four scenarios of car ownership that could play out:

  1. The on-demand model, a.k.a. “Uber/Lyft” model. In this model, autonomous cars would be like a “utility” where most don’t own them, certainly in cities; they are summoned on demand.  John Zimmer, the CEO of Lyft, put forth a visionary piece where most city dwellers do not own cars in cities by the year 2025. Uber’s executives paint a future where mobility is like any other utility, where at a “twist of the tap,” mobility can flow out of a nozzle. In urban areas, home garages could be converted to living space (or Airbnb rentals), and large multi-story garages could be converted to green spaces.
  2. The shared car model, a.k.a. “Zipcar” model. A group of cars are available in a convenient regional area, where many can share and own these cars. For example, some progressive apartments now have shared vehicles in their garage for renters. In this model, a group of neighbors could invest in the commonly owned costs of these cars, and share insurance, car ownership, and maintenance costs. We’ve seen a growth in P2P insurance models, which could further enable this market.
  3. The wholly owned model, akin to current ownership. Just as we currently own most vehicles, we could continue to own vehicles in the future, but they will self-drive. This makes the most sense in rural areas and, to some degree, in suburban areas. Some people with families that have specific car seat or mobility needs (the elderly, those with wheelchairs, etc.) may require their own self-driving vehicles. Others we have spoken to suggest that human-driven cars will only be owned by the very rich — or very poor — similar to how horses are owned today.
  4. Autonomous cars own themselves. Also called a distributed autonomous organization (DAO), self-driving cars could become sentient creatures in the radical future that can not only self-drive and self-charge, but also then take themselves to be repaired at a local garage, and pay for it on their ownership. In this future, the excess profits generated from these self-driving cars would enable them to purchase an additional vehicle, expanding themselves from one car to eventually a fleet. All of this, in theory, could occur without human intervention and without human ownership.

In the end, there won’t be one single model. We’ll likely see a mixture occurring, just as we see this occurring now. Below, the models are broken out into a grid.


Matrix: Scenarios of Future Car Ownership

Mobility Model Who’s Likely to Adopt Who Will Own Business Model
On Demand Urban areas will embrace Uber, Lyft, car manufacturers On-demand service
Shared Car Urban areas, suburban Enterprise, Avis, private owners offering cars on Getaround, Turo Subscription, pro-rata
Wholly Owned Car Wealthy, young families, special care Individual owners Ownership/lease
Autonomous Cars Own Themselves An advanced artificial intelligence that can self-manage a fleet Cars will own themselves Computer-owned “corporation,” an undefined model, or a nonprofit akin to Wikipedia

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Above: Tesla’s Autonomous Car

Tesla showed its hand by prohibiting customers from sharing.
Recently, Tesla made an unusual mandate, that its own customers cannot enable their privately purchased self-driving Teslas to be listed on Uber or Lyft. This is a strange mandate considering the cars were purchased outright. It, of course, forebodes a few future business models that we’ll see from Tesla; it’ll likely offer a service model where the owners, or Tesla themsleves enable their autonomous cars to be made available to others as a service.

When would human-driven cars become obsolete?
While Elon Musk suggests that manually driving a car may someday be illegal due to human error and safety reasons, such vehicles won’t go away anytime soon. There would be a significant economic bottom if so many owned assets were quickly depreciated by a government decree. But looking decades forward, when autonomous cars become dominant and common, we will see a social and perhaps government cry for human drivers to be curbed. Perhaps if it’s not illegal, the insurance costs of manually driving would become too high.

To summarize, autonomous vehicles will not only significantly impact how we will be transported, but also the very business models in which our economy operates and how cities will change.

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Above: BMW’s Autonomous Concept Car

Chart: Autonomous Cars Change Every Industry, Even Yours

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Above graphic: Autonomous vehicles impact every business model. This infographic illustrates some the many industries that will be impacted, from Insurance, Logistics, Retail, Auto, and Cities.

Though your company may still be adapting to social media technologies or Collaborative Economy disruptions, even more business model changes are coming. New autonomous technologies on the horizon are triggering greater acceleration of innovation programs to keep up. Google, Uber, Apple, Lyft, Tesla, BMW, Ford, Volvo, Yamaha, Mercedes, and other car manufacturers are working on producing self-driving cars, and the industry impacts will reverberate.

At Crowd Companies, we’re focusing on the autonomous world as the next phase of the Collaborative Economy, and define it asfollows:

Autonomous World: A future state when intelligent technology systems, operating without human participation, enable new business models in a more efficient society.

These intelligent technology systems can take the form of many hardware and software products, including self-driving vehicles, drones, and other artificial intelligence. The Autonomous World is our futuristic vision, with society experiencing an inevitable “semi-autonomous world” with minimal human interaction before fully autonomous systems are operable and dependable.

That’s right, the human drivers of taxis or Ubers will be cut out by robots who can do it better. Uber’s CEO elaborates further in BusinessInsider as to why they’re developing self-driving cars. Alphabet (formerly Google) is leading the way in self-driving car testing, and today it was even announced that autonomous cars could be considereddrivers.” Meanwhile, GM is close behind with its recent $500 million investmentin the development of an autonomous fleet utilizing Lyft’s platform exclusively.

Silicon Valley tech companies like Uber, Google, Tesla, and Apple are heavily investing in these autonomous cars, leading with a technology approach rather than with a traditional Motor City approach. Meanwhile, Detroit and other car manufacturers are opening up labs and innovation centers in Silicon Valley as they, too, strive to integrate tech.

We’re releasing this research-based infographic to the public, with a detailed report available to Crowd Companies members that further explores the industrial impacts of self-driving cars. In our research, we continually seek answers to two key questions:

  1. What role do humans play when robots do it better?
  2. What are the business strategies required to compete in the autonomous world?

At Crowd Companies, an innovation council, we recently hosted an event in Silicon Valley for our corporate members where we toured Stanford’s mobility lab, to see these vehicles first hand. Then, we held a panel of experts and council members responded to the impacts that are looming on the horizon from this next set of technologies. Brace yourself …more changes are coming soon.

The Collaborative Economy Sets the Stage for Autonomous Innovation

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First, we had the Internet Era, when a few people could publish online and e-commerce is born.

Then came the Social Media Age, when anyone could publish online using social tools, including brands. The digital communication floodgates were opened.

Today, many companies are trying to get their arms around the Collaborative Economy, as customers use common technologies to create and share products using P2P commerce. People increasingly get what they need from each other.

But, our digital evolution doesn’t stop with the Collaborative Economy. While we’re deepening our understanding of sharing behaviors, service marketplaces, and the Maker Movement, the next digital era is emerging: the “Autonomous World.” (See below image) In the Autonomous World, we see machines replace humans to deliver even greater convenience and efficiencies. The Collaborative Economy lays the necessary foundation for the Autonomous World to thrive.

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Above Image: The Four Digital Eras

How, exactly, does the Collaborative Economy lay the groundwork for new business models in the Autonomous World?

In the Collaborative Economy, people often access what they need from each other, rather than buying products for ownership. By gaining access to products and services through on-demand business models, customers reduce the need for ownership. Autonomous technologies like self-driving cars are going to extend the access model, by enabling cars to be hailed on-demand rather than having to own vehicles.

At Crowd Companies, we define the Autonomous World as follows:

[Autonomous World: A future state when intelligent technology systems, operating without human participation, enable new business models in a more efficient society]

These intelligent technology systems can take the form of many hardware and software products, including self-driving vehicles, drones, and other artificial intelligence. The Autonomous World is our futuristic vision, with society experiencing an inevitable “semi-autonomous world” with minimal human interaction before fully autonomous systems are operable and dependable.

Here’s an example: we’re already seeing the foundation laid for autonomous vehicle penetration in the ride-sharing and carpooling market of the Collaborative Economy. These services have grown significantly in recent years, with more than 11 million people in the United States utilizing ridesharing services today. By seamlessly ferrying customers at the tap of an app, Uber, Lyft, BlaBlaCar, and others contribute to our increased preference of vehicle access over ownership. Eventually, when drivers are ousted in favor of autonomous cars, riders will experience more efficient routes, increased safety, and reduced transportation costs.

That’s right, the human drivers, whether they be taxis or Uber drivers, will be cut out by robots who can do it better. Alphabet (formerly Google) is leading the way, currently working on a ride-hailing service that utilizes its self-driving car fleet, while GM is close behind with its recent $500 million investment in the development of an autonomous fleet utilizing Lyft’s platform exclusively.

When intelligent technology systems operate with minimal human participation in the application of driverless cars, all industries must adapt to an inevitable transformation of societal behaviors and expectations. At Crowd Companies, we’re exploring these disruptions and impacts as our members chart new territory within their innovation programs.

We’re releasing a research-based infographic to the public this week that will further explore the industrial impacts of self-driving cars, and a more in-depth report exclusively to Crowd Companies members. In our research, we continually seek answers to two key questions:

  1. What role do humans play when robots do it better?
  2. What are the business strategies required to compete in the autonomous world?

I look forward to getting your feedback and would love to explore how our innovation council can help you weather the autonomous disruptions that lie ahead.

Auto industry goes head-to-head with Silicon Valley’s self-driving innovators

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Above: Daimler AG’s Dieter Zetsche and Mercedes executives with the new semi-autonomous Mercedes E-Class at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. Image Credit: Naias.com

This post originally published on VentureBeat, based on my recent trip to the Detroit Auto Show.

Google and Tesla may be pushing full-speed ahead in their self-driving car development and testing, but auto manufacturers aren’t sitting idly by. Judging from the outputs of this week’s North American Auto Show in Detroit, as well as CES in Las Vegas last week, it’s clear that incumbent car companies are rising to the challenges of competing in an autonomous world.

Silicon Valley startups and tech giants are launching many threats to the traditional auto industry as part of the Collaborative Economy movement, from ride- and car-sharing platforms like Lyft, Uber, RelayRides, and Getaround, to more recent innovations of autonomous cars that will further enable ride access over car ownership from Google, Uber, and others.

This is forcing brands like GM, Ford, BMW, and Mercedes to reconsider their product offerings to focus more on becoming “mobility companies” that offer an array of services that satisfy the needs of their evolving customers. These pivots are evident in a host of recent announcements of partnerships, investments, and new programs:

I had the privilege of attending the North American Auto Show this week in Detroit, as a guest of Ford, and it was obvious by the announcements and unveilings that car companies want to evolve into new markets — markets where they sell more than just cars. Ford’s CEO Mark Fields spoke during an event, boldly stating that, “We are a mobility company.” The same trend is evident in BMW’s new service offerings across the entire mobility experience. It’s about more than getting from point A to point B for today’s customer. The value proposition is shifting.

To break new ground, auto companies are becoming tech companies. They’re partnering with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, rather than building from scratch. They’re taking a page from startup playbooks and investing in peer-to-peer car-sharing and ride-sharing companies. Most importantly, they’re seeing new business models emerge and are quickly adapting to disruption.

They must enable rather than resist, leaning in to survive. This includes the building of autonomous vehicles that encourage “rides as a service” behaviors rather than ownership. Motor City may not be operating on as aggressive of a timeline as Silicon valley, but it has a seat at the table. Auto manufacturers are predicting self-driving car consumerization in three to four years, versus Tesla’s expectation of one year and Google’s current deployment of cars already in California.

We’re in the midst of a significant transition for auto companies as they realize a future where people may not want or need to own vehicles. These manufacturers must continue evolving in step with customer behaviors, offering access to vehicles and rides-as-a-service programs as expectations rise. Acquisitions will continue to make headlines as Detroit’s powerhouse manufacturers offer their expertise to Silicon Valley technologists and vice versa.

We can expect to see more changes in an exciting year ahead as auto companies become mobility services and tech companies become auto companies.

Here comes the Autonomous Vehicle Arms Race

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Above: Sci Fi movie Minority Report envisions a future of fast-moving networked cars

We’re one week out from the Detroit Auto show, 2016, which I’ll be attending. In this new market, many established auto manufactures have shown prototypes, made pronouncements, while young upstarts release their vehicles at CES, all while partnerships between established tech startups and traditional players are announced with great fanfare.

This new Autonomous World has evolved from the Collaborative Economy movement: Uber, Lyft, Didi, Ola, BlaBla have all taught us that we don’t need to own a car to achieve mobility. We can summon a car, on-demand, using an app, whisking us away to our location, without the frets of parking, the stress of driving, and associated management woes of vehicle support. The tenant of “access over ownership” is also driving the Autonomous Vehicle movement, the pains of managing a car can dissipate.

Before we move forward we must acknowledge when companies announce self-driving features, there’s a wide range of features, from driver assist (like helping to park) to autopilot features (auto slowing when a traffic jam is spotted ahead) to full autonomous like Google’s car –which lacks any steering wheel or pedals, learn about the four different phases of self driving maturity in this industry-referenced graph.

The purpose of this post is to aggregate the numerous self-driving car deployments in the industry show the acceleration as the next phase of technology disruption. At Crowd Companies, we’re hosting an event for our members, and launching a premium report that will answer questions on what the business models are of the future, when robots are more efficient than humans. To track this movement, I’ll aggregate (with your help) the players quickly moving into this Autonomous Vehicle market, listed in date order:


Autonomous Vehicle Arms Race Timeline:
While many car companies have secret prototypes testing away from prying eyes, the criteria of this will seek publicly referenced articles from credible source that include testing announcements, spotted prototypes or full blown unveilings.


A quick analysis indicates: the deployments are coming from three groups: 1) Established mainstay auto manufactures, 2) Upstart players, like Tesla, Faraday, 3) Tech startups like Baidu, Google, Uber, and supposedly Apple. There’s a variety of deployments from simple self valet parking, driver assist features, to full freeway driving management.

If you’ve updates, you can leave a comment below, or tweet at me at @jowyang, so we can collaboratively keep this list going, to show the acceleration of this arms race.

If you want to learn how these technology disrupt business models from hospitality, logistics, health and wellness, short haul airlines, insurance and more, this post outlines the major changes coming. The biggest question, which we plan to ask and answer is: “What role to humans play, when robots do it better?”

Welcome my friends, to the Autonomous World.

Self-Driving Cars Disrupt the Crowd

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Vehicle prototype

Google and Uber are building self-driving cars, it’s rumored that Apple is going to be building self-driving cars, Tesla has launched driver-assistance features, and many traditional auto manufacturing companies are advancing their features to include driver assistance and, eventually, automation.

Ride sharing and car sharing pave the way for the self-driving car industry.
Ride sharing startups, like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, BlaBlaCar, and car ownership-sharing, like Getaround, DriveNow, Car2Go, RelayRides, and Zipcar are paving the way for this market. Society is learning we don’t need to own a car to complete our journey, increasing the demand for this new product. Yesterday, at a Silicon Valley Forum event in Palo Alto, experts predicted that self-driving cars will be rolling out within 5-10 years, which is just about the time car payments will end on any recently purchased cars. Also, keynote speaker, Stanford’s Stefan Heck shared this stat: “The leading cause of death for 25-40 year olds is human driven cars”, demonstrating the market need for safer and effecient transport. The potential impact to society is staggering. I’ve outlined the findings below.

The four phases of self-driving car development suggest we’re 5-10 years out.
The Personalized Car event, hosted by SVForum was held on illustrious tech-centric Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, with speakers from Stanford, BMW, consulting firms, investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, and forecasters. Four states currently allow the testing of self-driving cars, including California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, as well as the District of Columbia. The speakers discussed the four phases of self-driving car automation (see maturation chart, courtesy of Morgan Stanley, below) at the most basic-level, driver-assist features, like Tesla’s autopilot. The second phase, which we’re in now, is where cars can self-drive along with human fail-safes, like the Google self-driving car I see whizzing around Silicon Valley. In the next phase, we can expect to see cars transporting people, without assistance. In Phase 4 the need for human drivers will be eliminated altogether.

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Above: The event verbally cited these four phases of car automation.

Speakers at the opening panel discussion were asked to forecast when they might expect to see self-driving cars for mainstream deployment. They forecasted 5-10 years, in agreement with the preceding Morgan Stanley graphic. Many of the speakers discussed the impacts self-driving cars might have on society at large. Here’s a list:

Partial list of who’s disrupted by self-driving cars:

  • Taxis compete with Uber, Google, Apple self-driving cars. Ride sharing was just the first blow.
  • Ride sharing drivers at Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, BlaBlaCar will be disrupted as autonomous cars do a safer job at lower cost.
  • Local couriers, like TaskRabbit, Instacart and bike messengers will be impacted.
  • Mid range and long range transportation and delivery services would be impacted as local delivery becomes automated.
  • Retailers may see a change in foot traffic as people order goods to be delivered to their homes by driverless cars.
  • Auto and life insurance should be impacted, due to fewer accidents and the introduction of per-mile-based insurance.
  • Paramedics may be impacted if victims choose self-driving cars to whisk them to ER for less than severe injuries.
  • Car ownership could dwindle. Self-driving cars means fewer cars will be needed, as they’re efficiently routed as needed.
  • Airbnb may benefits as urban areas convert garage spaces into living areas for short term stays.
  • The parking industry could suffer, as lots are converted to other uses.
  • Parking fines and local taxes could dwindle with fewer cars on road and robotic efficiency.
  • Radio and podcasts could become less popular, as people play video games and watch videos in the self-driving rides.
  • Short distance airlines could suffer, as people choose to take a relaxing trip in a mobile living room.
  • Communities or attractions not connected by rail could prosper as people easily travel there for business or pleasure.
  • Auto repair could be impacted as self-driving cars automatically head for maintenance without the driver or owner present.
  • Hotels and motels could be affected as families are able to sleep in the comfort of a self-driven vehicle on the way to their destination.
  • Leave a comment, below, on who else might be disrupted.

I’m on the advisory board of Sparks & Honey, an agency based in NY that looks at future trends and their impacts on society. They recently published this SlideShare, below that shows the impacts of self-driving cars on logistics, retail, culture, and even our love lives. Their list of disruptions goes far beyond what was mentioned at the event yesterday. Also, I captured notes from the event in real time on my Facebook feed, which you can read, along with community reactions.

 

Impacts to Business and the Crowd.
My current focus is on the Collaborative Economy, how the crowd obtains resources directly from each other, using commonly available technology. The key finding is that the startups in this space will also need to adjust their business model to adopt automation and prepare for people to be slowly eliminated from the driving process. Given that Uber is indicating that they’ll be creating self-driving cars and that Google will be adding ride-hailing apps to summon their self-driving cars, we can see how this is already coming to fruition. Get ready for more disruption, led by technology. To prepare us for this next phase, I’ll continue to cover this topic from time to time, based on what I see and learn.

Update: The day after I posted this, Volvo announces they’re releasing a self-driving car, by 2017, in just two years. Hat tip Lisa Woods.

There’s more discussion about this article on Linkedin, and on Facebook.