The Race For Driverless Cars: The Winners & The Losers

The Race For Driverless Cars: The Winners & The Losers
SHARE
THIS



This article first appeared on The Conversation. And here, Michael Milford, an associate professor at the Queensland University of Technology, and  Jonathan Roberts, a professor in robotics at the Queensland University of Technology, take a look at driverless car phenomenon and what it means for Aussie motorists…

The ridesharing service Uber is pretty close to getting the go-ahead in almost all states and territories in Australia, with Victoria set to follow Queensland in introducing new legislation.

In the short term, Uber has committed to creating tens of thousands of new jobs in Australia. Many thousands of jobs have already been created and your typical Uber driver speaks positively of being empowered in a flexible working arrangement.

But we know Uber has other plans. Like almost all large car and technology corporations such as Toyota, Ford and Google, Uber is investing heavily in self-driving technology. It’s already testing its driverless technology in Pittsburgh, in the US. A rival, nuTonomy, has also started trials of driverless taxis at a Singapore business park.

With drivers contributing a large fraction of operating costs, removing them through automation has an enormous commercial motivation.

If companies solve the technological problems and successfully navigate the government policy landscape, millions of transport-related jobs worldwide are at risk, including Uber and taxi drivers, truck drivers, posties and fast food delivery drivers, just to name a few.

This is just one in a stream of events where technology is changing society. Each of these events has an immediate impact on society.

What if we step back from Uber’s short-term aim and examine who are likely to be the big winners and losers in this technological arms race for driverless cars.

Public vs Private Research

Universities are winners and losers. While the large-scale hiring of researchers from US university Carnegie Mellon to Uber became public in 2015, top researchers, especially young ones, are moving to self-driving car and artificial intelligence (AI) corporates and start-ups.

While in the past universities have performed much of the critical research leading to technological breakthroughs, this is less likely to be true in the age of self-driving cars.

Current autonomous car research is extremely resource intensive. Fleets of development vehicles must be maintained and large teams of engineers must be employed. There are also mind-blowing amounts of data to be stored and processed using massive computer resources.

Some universities have remained connected. For example, Toyota has funded research at the University of Michigan, Stanford and MIT to the tune of almost one hundred million dollars.

But many universities have lost their top talent. A brain drain itself does not have to be a long-term problem, if some of those researchers eventually come back to share their experience or establish collaborative relationships with industry.

However, the stakes are so high and commercially important that meaningful collaboration between corporations and universities is arguably getting rarer in the robotics research area.

It is also a problem if none of the most exciting researchers and teachers are left at universities to educate and inspire the next generation of robotics engineers.

The Car Culture Of The Future

If society transitions successfully to an ownerless car culture where cars are summoned upon demand, there are potential huge environmental benefits.

Properly implemented, self-driving cars will drive in a more fuel or energy efficient manner. Networked car fleets will further reduce energy consumption by reducing traffic congestion.

The biggest potential environmental win is simply from having far fewer cars in existence. It is estimated that you can meet a typical city’s current transport needs with a much smaller fleet of shared pool cars compared to the current privately owned car system.

It is not hard to conclude that if there will be far fewer cars in the future then the world may need fewer car manufacturers or that current car companies will make far fewer cars.

It is quite conceivable that a number of today’s large automotive companies will not exist a decade after self-driving fleet cars dominate the roads.

This may be one of the reasons it seems that every major car maker is racing to develop this new technology. It is simply survival of the fittest.

With fewer people needing to learn to drive, there will be less demand for driving instructors.

The trend in developed countries is that fewer young people are learning to drive. Many simply do not see the point in spending time and money learning to drive when they can simply get out their phone and call an Uber.

This trend is especially true in highly urbanised areas, where ride services are most plentiful and where the cost and hassle of owning a car is often highest.

We The Consumer

As consumers, we are likely to both win and lose. Potential monopolies are a risk; in the US this isn’t currently a problem due to fierce competition between ride sharing companies such as Uber and rival ride-share operatorLyft.

Uber is currently the dominant ride sharing option in Australia so only time will tell whether real competition will occur.

Improving the safety of car occupants and pedestrians is also a potential big win for consumers, especially if better autonomous driving systems can make a dint in the thousand-plus annual fatalities in Australia and the more than a million deaths annually worldwide. If the technology works, reducing fatalities including those caused by drink driving and fatigue, is fantastic for everyone.

Your transport experience itself may or may not improve. One of the big, less glamorous motivating factors around self-driving cars is that we spend a comparable amount of time in our cars as on the internet. The company that gets significant market share in this space may choose to monetise your driving time with ads (something you already experience in some taxis).

Consumers may be faced with the unenvious choice of paying a hefty no ads premium charge fee, or being deluged by ads that they can’t turn off or mute.

When you first get into an autonomous ride-sharing car, who do you think will be in control? Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 movie Total Recall gives us a glimpse of what the future may hold (language warning).

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Image lead story UnLtd’s ‘Big Clash’ Raises Over $120K, With Media Owners & Media Agencies Crowned Champions
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

UnLtd’s ‘Big Clash’ Raises Over $120K, With Media Owners & Media Agencies Crowned Champions

With over 50 companies taking part, the fourth annual Big Clash cricket tournament has been the biggest yet, raising $124,000. The event once again brought the industry together for a great afternoon of cricket, drinks, music, and charity activations. This year, the event was expanded to have Media Owners, Media Agencies, Techies and Creatives all […]

SCA’s Profit Drops 21% Due To “Years Of Heavy Lifting”
  • Media

SCA’s Profit Drops 21% Due To “Years Of Heavy Lifting”

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has experienced a negative first half of the 2018 financial year, posting a dramatic drop in overall profit and a slight drop in revenue. The group’s net profit after tax fell 21.2 per cent to $48.5 million in the six months to 31 December 2017 (compared to the previous corresponding period), […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Lord Of The Fries Pays Homage To Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar In Clever Ads Via Milkman
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Lord Of The Fries Pays Homage To Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar In Clever Ads Via Milkman

Creative digital agency Milkman has helped Lord of the Fries (LOTF) pay homage to two of the fast food outlet’s favourite artists through a series of clever art poster adverts. Milkman re-created the latest album covers of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar with a LOTR vibe to highlight the brand’s hip-hop roots and its favourite albums […]

Keep Left Wins PR Account For Greening Australia
  • Marketing

Keep Left Wins PR Account For Greening Australia

PR and content marketing agency Keep Left has been selected by proactive conservation organisation Greening Australia to raise public awareness of its flagship programs and national footprint. The relationship began in 2017 when Greening Australia engaged Keep Left in support of Reef Aid, a project launched with corporate partner Virgin Australia to improve water quality […]

Now Screen Repositions Organic Care Brand With New Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Now Screen Repositions Organic Care Brand With New Campaign

Aussie agency Now Screen has teamed up with Organic Care to reposition the brand in what has become one of the most competitive FMCG spaces. The new campaign, ‘Caring Comes Naturally’, celebrates what Organic Care has created since its inception: products that are as good for your body as they are for the environment. In […]

Can You Speak Data?
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Can You Speak Data?

We're certainly fluent in gibberish, balderdash and claptrap here at B&T, but sadly data isn't part of the lexicon.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Social Change Maker Profile: Emma Heath
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Social Change Maker Profile: Emma Heath

B&T has partnered with UnLtd to showcase industry heroes! Well, it's arguably more heroine in the case of Emma Heath.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve
  • Advertising
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Ad Fraud: A Problem We Can Solve

Unlike B&T's mystery office farter, this columnist argues ad fraud is a problem that can possibly be solved.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Why We Pivoted Our ‘Specialist’ Agency Five Times In 15 Years
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Why We Pivoted Our ‘Specialist’ Agency Five Times In 15 Years

In this opinion piece, Gavin McDonough (pictured above, co-founder and managing partner of Urban, shares through his own experience some valuable advice for independent specialist agencies. In November 2017, my brother Ryan and I celebrated 15 years in business. We started business out of my front room in Melbourne in 2002 – not with any grand […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
W+K’s Susan Hoffman Chosen As 39th AWARD Awards Chair Of Judges
  • Advertising

W+K’s Susan Hoffman Chosen As 39th AWARD Awards Chair Of Judges

Susan Hoffman, co-chief creative officer at Wieden+Kennedy (W+K), has been appointed chair of judges for the 39th AWARD Awards. Known to challenge the status quo, Hoffman is behind some of W+K’s most memorable and game-changing ads, including Nike’s ‘Revolution’, Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ and Chrysler’s Super Bowl spots starring Eminem and Clint […]

Experiential Agency Kreate Gets Bought Out By Staffers
  • Marketing

Experiential Agency Kreate Gets Bought Out By Staffers

Leading experiential marketing agency, Kreate Australia is embarking on an exciting growth strategy following its purchase by three of the agency’s existing management team from its UK founder, Steve Evans.

Hurry! B&T 30 Under 30 Entries Closing Friday!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Hurry! B&T 30 Under 30 Entries Closing Friday!

This is a clarion call for B&T 30 Under 30 entries, although it's probably more mariachi band than angelic harbinger.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Hit Network Chooses Comedian Tanya Hennessy To Host Weekend Breakfast
  • Media

The Hit Network Chooses Comedian Tanya Hennessy To Host Weekend Breakfast

Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network has announced that rising radio star and comedian Tanya Hennessy will take over hosting duties for its weekend breakfast slot in 2018. Hennessy will bring content to the airwaves each Saturday and Sunday morning from 7am to 9am with a regular rotation of guest co-hosts. The self-described talker, not walker […]

Straight Up PR Wins Five New Clients
  • Marketing

Straight Up PR Wins Five New Clients

Health, wellbeing and lifestyle PR agency Straight Up PR has welcomed Changing Habits, Unichi Wellness, enerGi, SleepX, and Healthie Hampers to its client portfolio. Straight Up PR’s projects will include bespoke PR services and influencer marketing packages specifically focusing on communications strategy and execution, media and influencer relations, PR launch events, product seeding and gifting, […]

March One Creates ‘Cheese For Change’ Fundraising Campaign For White Ribbon Australia
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

March One Creates ‘Cheese For Change’ Fundraising Campaign For White Ribbon Australia

Independent creative agency March One has developed a new fundraising event for White Ribbon Australia that turns a social moment into a social movement. Starting on Thursday 22 March and going until Sunday 25 March, Cheese for Change will ask Aussies to create a cheese platter that matters by gathering friends, family or co-workers together […]

Sixth Annual IGN Select Awards Winners Announced
  • Marketing

Sixth Annual IGN Select Awards Winners Announced

The winners of IGN Australia’s sixth annual Select Awards were revealed during a huge special event at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney on Friday, February 16. Some 225 Media & Game Publishers alongside 320 IGN Community Gamers attended the annual event. 2017 was absolutely crammed with terrific games and several categories were extremely tightly-contested. The top […]

Meet Your Mentors For B&T Bootcamp 2018!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Meet Your Mentors For B&T Bootcamp 2018!

When it comes to an industry "who's who", you'll find there won't be too much who-ing with this impressionable lot.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
ANZ Unveils Its 2018 GAYTMs
  • Marketing

ANZ Unveils Its 2018 GAYTMs

Mardi Gras is only weeks away and B&T has already hoisted the mirror ball and donned the hotpants to bring you this.