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Hands off: what's the future for automotive tech?

By Olly Woodall

I keep up with the movements, shifts and transitions of the automotive space. Partly as it's my job as an Automotive recruiter, but also because it's a genuine interest of mine.

Ever since I was young, I have loved travelling - whether in a "cool car", a plane, a boat or a train. Then add in technology, the complexity, how it works and the benefits...I'm hooked. I remember being taken to pick up my brother from one of his "lads holidays" when I was just a boy with my dad and him taking me on the electric train at Gatwick airport. I couldn't get enough! Again and again we did this until I was reluctantly dragged away to meet my brother. It was so futuristic to me. 

Fast forward to 2011 and the Heathrow T5 launch (yes, I spent a great deal of time at airports growing up) - they had the autonomous Self Driving Pods! WOW! #Ultaglobal designed and built these and are now working on further projects. 

Today, as automotive recruiters, we see multiple businesses taking autonomous tech in vehicles to the next level, and trials and pilot programmes are well underway. #Zoox, a US based company, has just been given the green light to trial on public roads in California. Take a look - https://zoox.com/journal/publicroads/ 

In the UK though, a recent poll was released by Dominik Leeson, the deputy head of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Fifty percent of delegates at the November Fleet Strategy meeting said they could see the benefits of autonomous vehicles, including improved safety, greater accessibility and reduced congestion. But only 20% of those surveyed expected to introduce them into their fleets within the next 10 years, while almost half - 48% - said they were unlikely to add to their fleet and 1 in 5 (20%) were very unlikely to adopt driverless vehicles over the next decade.

The complexity around this really starts to show, as fleets are predominantly used to provide a workshop on wheels, or toolbox, or functionality across utilities businesses. Yes, this could be adapted for different sectors but is it cost effective? One area of real optimism for adoption is public transport - buses and coaches, or closed/controlled environments such as airports, ports, dock and building sites etc.  

Could it work in taxis? Well yes and no in my opinion. Yes it would be great - clean, safe travel - but on the other hand, could we be getting to the point where is it now becoming a reality that technology is replacing people's jobs? We have already seen this in factories and warehouses with huge machines replacing staff to be more efficient. Autonomous taxis could well equal disgruntled employees of taxi companies (most self employed but not all) - will they be able to compete? At the moment we'd only be looking at short inner city travel but over time battery ranges will improve greatly

I love how our technology and advancements move us to become better, greener and more sustainable but I don't know what my opinion will be when it comes to putting my life in an #AI #AV (autonomous Vehicles) hands. But doubtless I will give it a go, as I am still that excitable kid that loves new tech! 

Fleets express scepticism in connected and autonomous vehicles

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