The preserver cities are those that have the means and the innovative desire to integrate new solutions into their high living quality cities. Examples include many European cities like Oslo or Zurich, but there are countless other examples across the globe, such as Los Angeles, which is slowly trying to move from a gridlocked to a preserver city.
Good-bye marketing, hello business model
We have seen Waymo set up the perfect marketing campaign for their self-driving car operation in Chandler, Arizona. It caught the world by storm and forced investment banks to value the business before it has made a single dollar in revenue. In San Francisco, Cruise Automation made noise and set grand deadlines, on which they could not deliver. Many of these promises and campaigns are slowly converting into reality, hand-in-hand with testable business models. The key question to be asked here: How much autonomy do we need before profitable business can be made and can the market leaders truly deliver in 2019? Our on-field research indicates that there are still technological hick-ups that may affect the viability of any business model.
The battle for the „eyes of the car“ will show first results
Over the last years, the race towards the ‘perfect’ sensor set-up has reassembled some of the key discussions. For a long time, Tesla defended their no-LiDAR approach against, pretty much the rest of the industry. With the company finally admitting that LiDAR sensors, despite their costs, limited supply, and in parts low reliability, will play a role in high level autonomy, we expect some consolidation to the experiments around hardware set-ups. We expect further consolidation in the LiDAR market and the beginning of certain standards also across different firms. In addition more ‘exotic’ sensor systems like ground-penetrating radar and advanced infrared solutions have to show their viability soon.
5G testing on relevant scale
Many countries are in the midst of setting up or launching their 5G services. While some applications within autonomous and connected vehicles, given their limited data transfers, can operate on a 4G basis, scalability of connected vehicles enabling true positive network effects, requires the ability to send and receive large data packages swiftly – Hence, 5G. Our experts in Phoenix have witnessed with their own eyes how autonomous vehicle – human driver interaction remains uncertain and dodgy at times. Only when the vehicles are able to reliably communicate with each other, will we overcome this issue.
Strongly fueled by the persistent lack of human talent working on AI, and computer vision, we expect further industry battles taken to court. With the most valuable talents entering one firm through the front and leaving again through the back door once they receive a more promising offer, we will necessarily have more (patented) knowledge travelling across firms. While some law suits are settled outside court, we believe that potential patent infringement will be a more common phenomenon in this field – there is simply too much monetary potential in the application of many of the patented technologies.
Testing of new mobility solutions like UAV and hyperloop
There always is the ‘next big thing’. We observe an increasing number of firms working on Vertical Take Off and Landing Solutions with real-life prototypes trying to introduce airborne individual mobility into urban spaces. At the same time, vacuum-tube based Hyperloop still works towards high-speed fixed operations. Despite many challenges in the technological, regulatory, and economic realms, examples like VTOL personal mobility and Hyperloop will enter a crossroad in the years to come, deciding whether they are unfeasible dreams or a valid option in a multimodal mobility landscape of the future.