In the above short video (or access directly), I make the case that your future car will be like a living creature, able to predict what we want, and even start to reproduce.
I had a mere three minutes to present and deliver a single concept on the largest physical TED stage in Frankfurt Germany in conjunction with BMW at the world’s largest auto show. Over 180 people submitted ideas, and 6 folks were invited by the TED team to bring that idea to the stage. Of course, I was delighted to be selected. We had many planning calls, and a seasoned TED speaker was assigned to mentor me. I rehearsed about 50 times, and we did multiple dress rehearsals to get it right. Weeks of preparing for just a few minutes on stage –I gave it my all.
My topic? What happens when powerful AI connects to self driving cars, what kind of world would it be?
First, these self driving cars will connect to our online Calenders, giving them ability to automatically escort us around. Then they’ll connect to our smart fridges, getting the milk and eggs before they run out. Then they’ll connect to our social networks, analyzing what type of mood we’re in, setting the experience of the ride. Then they’ll connect to our search engines, and can take us to places we didn’t even know we’d love. It thinks, anticipates, and acts before we know we need something.
At that magical point, these cars become alive, but it won’t stop there. These cars will act like humans. They’ll generate revenues just as human workers do, by offering rides to individuals and ferrying parcels around town. Then, they’ll self-charge, just as we eat our meals and drink our energy drinks. After that, they’ll use their savings to upgrade their tires, upholstery, and even have installed a new VR entertainment system. At this next magical point, it knows to purchase another car, to increase its fleet, it reproduces just as humans do.
In this radical future, these distributed managed vehicles will become like a living species, able to self-sustain, grow, and reproduce. Of course this sounds far-fetched but we’re seeing similar behaviors with Blockchain: decentralized, unknown creator, and it’s growing at a scalable rate.
So what type of future does this mean for society? I address this in the speech, but I am optimistic that we can create a meaningful society for us all, but we need to start planning now –the impacts to society are not an afterthought we can clean up later, these technologies are going to grow at exponential rates.
By Jeremiah Owyang, with co-contributor Ryan Brinks
Drones come in many shapes and sizes, and are coming to a front door near you. Retail, logistics, and the way we shop and consume will never be the same.
We call this trend the “Autonomous World” when robots are able to augment, supplant and replace human workers at greater efficiency. It’s happening in all walks of life, industries and sectors, but the one area that will be most impacted will be the retail and logistics space. Earlier this month, I was a keynote at Etail, where over a thousand retailers were present to learn about how on-demand workers and autonomous drones will impact their business models.
Just three years ago, the thought of delivering packages by drone was a fantastical idea. Today, it is one of the leading obsessions of the tech world, and a future where drones fill the streets and skies now seems inevitable. When that day eventually arrives, it will no doubt change the retail business forever. An estimate from the former White House administration forecast the potential for an $82 billion American commercial drone industry with as many as 100,000 new jobs by the year 2025.
Here are 10 delivery drones that are likely candidates to help companies get there:
Domino’s Robotics Unit
Domino’s is not betting exclusively on either air or ground; if its flying drone venture with Flirtey doesn’t take off (below), it still has its wheeled DRU, the Domino’s Robotics Unit, in tests on the streets of Queensland, Australia. The 3-foot-tall carrier for up to 10 pizzas keeps them hot — and a few beverages cool too — while speeding along at nearly 12.5 mph. DRU is built by Marathon Robotics, better known for its robotic military targets. Domino’s as a whole produced $2.2 billion in revenue throughout 2016.
Much closer to reality is Amazon’s delivery drone itself, which successfully delivered its first order of popcorn and a Fire TV stick to a rural customer near Cambridge, England, in December. The drone is designed to fly under 400 feet with packages that weigh 5 pounds or less within a 10-mile radius of a fulfillment center, enabling deliveries to be made in less than 30 minutes.
Amazon first announced its pursuit of drone technology in December 2013, and with 341,400 employees and $136 billion in 2016 revenue, it is an undisputed leader in the race to deploy retail delivery drones.
While lesser known than the eCommerce giant it’s competing against, Nevada startup Flirtey beat Amazon to the record books by completing the first government-approved test delivery in March 2016, and the drone that can carry up to 5.5 pounds for a 10-mile round trip further tested 77 deliveries from a 7-Eleven in Reno before the year was out. Unlike Amazon’s drone, Flirtey designed its deliveries to be dropped from a cable while hovering 40 to 50 feet above the ground. The startup has raised $15.8 million and, in addition to 7-Eleven, has also partnered with pizza delivery giant Domino’s for development.
UPS and the Workhorse Group
No stranger to the intricacies of delivering packages, UPS has driven to the forefront of the drone scene with its deployment of an electric delivery truck equipped with a drone dock on its roof. Its ubiquitous brown trucks have made news in September 2016, when it teamed up with a CyPhy Works drone to make a package delivery to an island near Boston, and again in February when a partner HorseFly UAV lifted off and delivered a package in Florida.
A lot is at stake for UPS; in addition to its standard-setting role in the delivery industry, the company projects that it could save as much as $50 million a year by shaving just one mile off each of its drivers’ routes every day. UPS employs more than 434,000 people and generated $61 billion in 2016.
The HorseFly is an eight-rotor drone developed by the Workhorse Group of Ohio last year, and it can carry up to 10 pounds for a 30-minute flight. As soon as it returns to its truck-top dock, its battery automatically recharges.
Mercedes-Benz and Matternet
As would be expected, luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is upgrading the UPS vision with a drone delivery van concept of its own. This one features a stylish self-driving electric van with a fully automated cargo space and rooftop drone hatch, making the entire process fully autonomous. Mercedes-Benz has designed the van with a 168-mile range and backed drone startup Matternet with a five-year, $562 million investment back in September. Matternet had reported $13 million in funding at the time of the Mercedes partnership. Its drone can carry up to 4.4 pounds and fly 12 miles per charge. The automaker anticipates testing throughout 2017. Mercedes-Benz employs 140,000 and generated revenues of $94 billion last year.
Legacy automaker Ford isn’t about to pass on the delivery drone opportunity, either. Though lagging behind UPS and Mercedes-Benz in development, Ford recently unveiled its Autolivery service concept with virtual reality headsets at the Mobile World Congress. Married to Ford’s push for fully autonomous vehicles by 2021, Autolivery envisions self-driving electric vans equipped with flying drones for curb-to-door navigation and even skyscraper window delivery. Ford generated $152 billion in revenue last year.
Self-Driving Delivery Trucks
Mercedes-Benz and Ford aren’t the only companies in hot pursuit of a self-driving retail disruption. Overseas, Charge has designed a self-driving electric delivery van that it says could be ready for use yet this year — and priced competitively with conventional vans. The Oxfordshire, England, startup has been backed by $500 million venture capital firm Kinetik since late 2015. Charge’s lightweight frame can be built by a single person in just four hours, giving the company an initial production capacity of 10,000 trucks per year with just 10 workers on two daily shifts. The electric vehicles are autonomous-ready and emit no emissions over their first 100 miles. A dual mode can extend that range to 500 miles.
In the United States, the retail industry’s interest in self-driving vehicles has focused on larger distribution trucks, and while leading names like Otto and Embark have made headlines with self-driving technology for highway driving, Starsky Robotics has put together a self-driving truck that also boasts of having remote-controlled last mile navigation. Its aftermarket retrofit kit can turn any big rig into an autonomous vehicle remotely monitored by a driver who can instruct the onboard robotics to physically push the pedals, turn the steering wheel and change gears. These remote drivers can keep an eye on and intervene for 10 to 30 trucks at a time. The San Francisco startup with $3.75 million in funding debuted a successful test in February that featured autonomous driving for 120 miles and remote guidance for 20 miles.
Moving even closer to home is Starship Technologies, which has created a wheeled sidewalk drone for small deliveries across town, I visited them at their Redwood City location and test drove their unit. Spawned from a 2014 NASA robot contest by a pair of Skype innovators, the delivery bot can send up to 40 pounds of goods out into the neighborhood and reach its destination within a 3-mile radius in 5 to 30 minutes by traveling at pedestrian speed.
Headquartered in London and engineered in Estonia, Starship just garnered $17.2 million in funding this January and has already inked partnerships in the United States with DoorDash and Postmates, as well as deals in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Estonia with Just Eat, Hermes Parcel Delivery, Media Markt, Swiss Post and Wolt.
Carry by Dispatch
Another leading contender in the neighborhood delivery race is Carry, a 3-cubic-foot delivery bot that stands 3 feet tall and sports four storage compartments that can hold a total of 100 pounds. While it travels at the same pedestrian speed of 2 to 4.5 mph, Carry is only limited in range by its 12-hour lithium-ion battery. Its compartments are unlocked by an app.
Carry’s $2 million South San Francisco startup, called Dispatch, is testing the bot out on the campuses of Menlo College and CSU Monterey Bay. Dispatch, backed in April 2016 by Andreessen Horowitz and Precursor Ventures, plans to sell access to Carry, not the drones themselves.
10) Amazon’s Flying Warehouse
One of the most widely anticipated concepts for the future of retail delivery is Amazon’s vision of drones literally raining down to Earth from a massive blimp-style flying warehouse. Patented in April 2016, this airborne fulfillment center would house a vast store of popular Amazon products some 45,000 feet in the air and release small drones to glide nearly energy-free to their destination. Upon delivery, the drones would then fly to a nearby collection site to await a return trip to the flying warehouse.Amazon also attained a February patent for an alternate delivery method from its flying warehouse: parachutes instead of drones. And another patent theorizes a system of light poles capable of recharging or docking drones.While the challenges that stand in the way of such visions are daunting, they have nonetheless inspired many to dream outside the box.
Challenges Facing Delivery Drones
Despite the prevalence of successful drone tests across the country and world, the real roadblock to a drone-filled future for the retail industry is government regulation. Regulatory frameworks are lacking and commercial drone rules are stifling. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying higher than 400 feet, at night, over human heads and outside their pilots’ line of sight.
Better rules have been proposed, but that process is moving slowly. A government committee recommended standards for drone flights to the FAA in April 2016, and Congress ordered the FAA to create new regulations that would allow for commercial drone delivery by 2018. The new Trump administration, however, has thrown a curveball into that progress via an executive order requiring two federal regulations to be rescinded for every new one passed.
Meanwhile, other workarounds are also being proposed. A D.C. bill to allow personal delivery devices has been introduced, and Virginia was the first state to pass legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks across the state. That law, drafted with the help of Starship Technologies, goes into effect on July 1. Similar legislation has been proposed in Idaho and Florida.
Besides airspace concerns, costs and energy usage constraints — particularly in the collection of deployed drones — have hampered drone development.
But with so many players now in the game, viable solutions are bound to find their way to customers’ doors in the near future.
The rise of automation is destined to replace some worker employment, and it could increasingly cause friction with efforts to create new jobs, a hallmark of the Donald Trump administration.
Many studies have forecast a day when repetitive and labor-intensive jobs will be recast by automation, though the jury is still out about whether the humans now holding those jobs will be elevated to more meaningful positions that utilize automation or will be replaced outright.
One particular technology, self-driving cars, is on pace to emerge en masse in 2021, right around the next election, as most car manufacturers will offer these features in their fleets. Furthermore, Lyft has partnered with GM to roll out self-driving on-demand fleets, and Uber and Mercedes have forged a partnership with a similar offering. Uber also purchased Otto, which automates large trucks — a move that will have profound effects on safety, speed, and the shortage of truck drivers.
Far from mainstream America, Silicon Valley represents a bubble that reveals parts of what the future will hold. Just last week, I filmed an automated barista serving coffee in San Francisco without the need for humans, and a few months ago, I visited an automated restaurant in the same neighborhood. In my local city, Starship Technologies is already starting to ship food to people’s homes and offices using a robot. Mercedes, Amazon, Google, GE, and many other companies are also quickly advancing in robotics.
How will this administration respond to automation? I see a few options:
Resist automation and place limitations. The current administration may seek to limit the amount of automation that can be deployed, keeping American workers intact. The risk is that foreign competitors could leapfrog ahead in productivity by deploying robots, as China-based Foxconn is already doing.
Embrace automation, as it lifts American productivity and GDP. The administration might welcome automation, embracing the productivity benefits it brings to company performance, country GDP, and taxes. The risk is that displaced workers who are unable to upskill will be left in the cold.
Embrace universal basic income. In a less likely scenario, I could imagine the current administration embracing universal basic income, which would be a social program to provide all citizens with a living wage (food, clothing, shelter, and education) regardless of employment status or age. The funds would be derived from taxes on the companies that are deploying automation. The hope is that automation increases total productivity, generating more food, goods, and services than ever before, thereby creating a surplus for humanity. However, IDC industry analyst Alan Webber has given me feedback on this scenario that suggests it is at odds with Republican values, an assessment that’s in agreement with government expert Alan Silberberg in a phone discussion with me.
America and other countries can’t stop innovating their automation and risk lagging behind, as that will give other competitors the opportunity to leap forward. Within the next few years, the Trump administration and other global leaders focused on nationalism will need to prepare a message and plan to deal with the automation that will certainly change the job landscape.
My suggestions: The Trump administration (or any administration, for that matter) should quickly: 1) assess which jobs will be automated, 2) make plans to communicate this to the public, 3) prepare its base with upskilling, 4) and prepare to partner with the technology companies that will be driving this new future. This is the best path forward for the people, businesses, government, country, and world — there’s more at stake than political position.
This may come as a shocker to many, but in the next few years, the peer-based sharing/collaborative economy will shift to automation.
I’ve studied this market closely and want to make some clear predictions on where things will head. Four years ago, I mapped out the Collaborative Economy, which is the phase where humans get what they need from each other (peer-to-peer commerce). In the next phase, the Autonomous World, robots will augment and replace humans, and they will serve humans. In some cases, robots will serve other robots as we advance further.
The transition from traditional business models to the Collaborative Economy and ultimately to the Autonomous World is already creating ripples throughout the world. We are in the midst of global disruption due to widespread mobile Internet and cloud technology, vastly improved processing power and Big Data, and the rise of the sharing economy and crowdsourcing, according to the World Economic Forum. These changes have prompted new waves of geopolitical volatility and the creation of a new middle class in emerging markets.
These innovations are now spawning new energy supplies and technology, the Internet of Things, advanced manufacturing and 3D printing, and societies that live longer — all of which are quickly altering expectations about the future.
The next turn is likely to produce robots and autonomous transport, AI, and breakthroughs in advanced materials and biotechnology. These represent a new frontier that may only be a few years on the horizon. WEF posits that the world could look fundamentally different by 2020.
Let’s indicate how timely this is, and how it lines up with what we see.
How the Collaborative Economy will shift to Automation
(Uber, Lyft, Didi, Ola)
Self-driving cars are quickly emerging, most by 2021, from many car manufacturers
Uber has experimented with cars, Lyft’s bold pronouncement, and Didi
Professional drivers will need to upskill and find a new career
Wheeled and flying drones will deliver packages, beyond humans
Starship, based in my area, is delivering food, and Amazon’s patents are inspiring
Postmates, Instacart and other couriers will be displaced by robots
Home Sharing (Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway)
Home automation will enable hosts to offer hospitality without being present
Airbnb could offer digital locks, Wi-Fi management, digitized home appliances, and more
Hosts can manage more properties, and guests get a personalized experience
Online Service Marketplaces (Upwork/Freelancer)
Simple AI bots will complete rote tasks currently performed by online service providers
While a plethora of early-stage bots have emerged from M, Alex, and Watson, advanced AI to conduct intermediate tasks hasn’t emerged
Online workers will need to specialize their skills for project or robot management, human-based design, community skills, and humanities
Anywhere repetitive tasks exist but could be automated
Simple machines will replicate human behaviors
Jobs will be lost, so humans must upskill or specialize in humanities
The implications of these coming changes will likely have a profound effect on the people of the world. Here are some concrete observations:
Only some, not all, humans will be able to upskill, unlike other social economic revolutions. Humans could grasp industrial revolution roles as we shifted out of agriculture because they were taught single repetitive jobs. The challenge now is that robots will always learn faster than humans, as they are networked and can process faster and work at an accelerated pace.
The world will need solutions to unemployment. From a nonpartisan standpoint, the next threat to Western employment isn’t offshore workers but the rise of automation. Predictions from the former White House administration predict that automation could replace 83% percent of lower paying human jobs. The impact to other nations that will develop these automated technologies are also at hand, they must prepare for changes in society and their economy. Humans will need to redefine what purpose means, for those where human labor is the primary driver.
The impetus to push for universal basic income is at hand. The experiments are happening in Finland, Oakland and more, proposing such a policy would provide every human — regardless of age, gender, educational attainment, or intelligence — with a guaranteed living wage to cover basic needs: food, shelter, and clothes. For anything else they want, they will have to earn it. The companies that own and/or profit from these technologies should be taxed to cover this societal benefit. The robots should not only provide more resources to the planet for cheaper, but they should also fund a quality life for others.
Who will maintain employment: Those who manage robots, humanities, nonlinear roles. While we actively try to teach our children coding, technology is quickly advancing that robots will be able to self-code. This means that understanding how to manage systems of robots towards solving problems will be key. Secondly, arts, humanities, entertainment, sports, psychology and other softer skills will rise to the forefront as skills that are needed. It’s assumed that robots will replace many repetitive and rote jobs, humans that can solve complex tasks that are constantly unique, will thrive.
In summary, Uber, Lyft are ushering in self-driving cars and a wave of automation that will cascade across the broader ecosystem as humans are augmented then often replaced by robotic systems.
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:
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.
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.
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
Who’s Likely to Adopt
Who Will Own
Urban areas will embrace
Uber, Lyft, car manufacturers
Urban areas, suburban
Enterprise, Avis, private owners offering cars on Getaround, Turo
Wholly Owned Car
Wealthy, young families, special care
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
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.
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.
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:
What role do humans play when robots do it better?
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.