From it’s “humble” beginnings in 2009, Uber changed the transportation landscape by introducing a luxury transportation that was more widely accessible. Instead of waving down a cab or calling ahead of time, you simply order a car when you needed it and it arrived shortly after, the beginning of the on-demand ecosystem. Economists now speculate that the ridesharing industry is valued at about $40 billion. Uber, Didi Chuxing, Lyft, and the numerous other rideshare companies that have come and gone have created a product that maximizes the efficiency for traveling throughout urban areas, at the lowest price possible for consumers. In 2015, there were more Uber’s in New York City than there were active Taxi medallions. Since then, Uber and all of the other ridesharing companies have experienced astronomical growth, continually launching in many new markets throughout the world and seemingly imprevious to market fluctuation (although Uber seems to be doing its best to push those limits). With ridesharing organizations’ overwhelming success, it was only a matter of time for auto manufacturers to take notice.
Rise of Autonomous Vehicles
Only few years ago, thinking that you could get into a vehicle that would be able to drive itself, seemed like something out of science-fiction. However, this emerging technology has been making waves over the last few years and is on the cusp of being more widely available for consumer use. Waymo, Uber, Ford, General Motors all have announced products that focus on the development of autonomous vehicle technology. Earlier this week, even Apple announced that this was going to be a major focal point for them. At this point, all major Auto manufacturers see where things are heading.
Only a few years ago, thinking that you could get into a vehicle that would be able to drive itself, seemed like something out of science-fiction
Companies like Waymo, who are pioneers in the AV space, claim that they have tested 3 million miles of their vehicles traveling on the road with over 1 billion miles in simulation, while they continue to refine their technology. There is speculation that we will start to see semi-autonomous vehicles for consumers on the road as soon as 2020 with fully autonomous vehicles widely available by 2030 and that would essentially change everything.
Cars Steal City Space
Throughtout the world cities and towns cede a ton of space to automobiles. Given that, the automotive and technology industries see overwhelming flaws with the current state of the transportation industry and are forging ahead to find a more efficient and better solutions. Cities have begun initiating new programs to free up more space in an effort to stop the plague of traffic jams and urban sprawl. Look no further than Barcelona, which started creating "superilles" or "Superblocks" to speed the flow of traffic and free up more space for the people living in the city. Such a drastic idea has only come about thanks to the endless addion of vehicles on roadways. Furthermore individual car owners barely drive, leaving the car idle for 90% of its lifetime. This leads to cities having to dedicate untold amounts of space simply for parking. With that, cities are becoming more densely populated leading to an increasing the amount of congestion and the cost of housing is skyrocketing (it reached an all time high last year). With the rise of the sharing economy, it makes it easier to get around without needing to own a car and is slowing reducing the total number of vehicles in cities.
Dependency on Fossil Fuel
Fossil fuels might be one of the worst energy solutions for the simple fact that they are a scarcity. Eventually one day we'll run out and thats not a great solution when you depend on so many fossil fuel powered vehicles.
On the other hand EVs are continually gaining market share while charging technology is becoming faster and cheaper. Seemingly everyday, more stores come out about batteries with longer ranges, faster recharge times, and even new technologies emerging. (I’ve touched on this previously in my other blog post).
Even with the barrier to entry for most EVs still being high, they still continue to grow at an accelerated rate and companies like Tesla have start becoming far more than just automotive companies, but power suppliers as well. In fact because Tesla is not reliant on fossil fuels in any way they can focus on growing their own market one in which they are most certainly headed for a monopolistic-like hold.
Since all of this is new territory, many regulations do not exist. Local and state governments see the direction that things are heading and are in the slow process of creating legislature for emerging technology. However, as we have seen time and time again, the private sector outpaces bureaucracy, so local and federal regulations need to figure out how they keep pace. With the rapid advancements in technology, the timeline that regulations need to be introduced and implemented is becoming shorter and shorter, which in turn leaves the doors open for many more loopholes to exist. What is the likelihood that the regulatory component will hamper the innovation of the technology and/or debilitate people from being able to adopt this technology?
Rideshare Autonomous EV
What will Autonomous vehicles mean for the way we live our lives?
Rideshare, Autonomous vehicles, and EVs were all born out of a need for change and increased efficiency and decreased costs. It would only make sense that technology continues to move forward together, where all three become one in the same. With the three components having a harmonious relationship.
The gains of widely adopted autonomous vehicles in major urban areas would amount to changes that many of us have never seen. What we are talking about is shifting major city centers from being focused on where we park our vehicles, to having an abundance of high value real estate that could be transformed into affordable housing, public parks/buildings, and office space. As noted most vehicles are parked over 90% of their lives, autonomous vehicles that are constantly being utilized, the need for parking is greatly reduced. Additionally, with the increased efficiencies of vehicles, this would mean a reduction of accidents, which results in higher vehicle safety and less money spent repairing vehicles.
Think about all of the time that you are either sitting in traffic and/or looking for parking and the amount of time you would save in your life if both of those things were eliminated. Yes, I am probably thinking of things that won’t happen in the short term, but it is still pretty exciting to think that cities will be transformed within the next 30 years.