Moving Things Vs. People In Self-Driving Vehicles

The technology for self-driving vehicles is moving right along, but the question of who or what will ride inside such vehicles is still to be determined.

The recent announcement that Waymo is buying thousands of self-driving minivans for a ride hailing service is but one example of autonomous vehicles carrying people. Apple also recently increased its self-driving California test fleet to 27 cars.

However, there are other programs where self-driving vehicles are being designed to carry things rather than people.

For example, the focus of Nuro, a startup by former Google engineers, is to create a vehicle to deliver things such as groceries or laundry. The vehicle is targeted for local goods transportation.

At CES, Toyota showed a concept vehicle that could carry people, but also could be used for food delivery, or even be converted essentially to self-driving food trucks. Pizza Hut already has a deal with Toyota to jointly work on pizza delivery by autonomous vehicle.

For Mother’s Day last year, used robots from Starship Technologies to deliver flowers, though those particular self-driving vehicles are too small to carry people, and Amazon is working on delivery of things by drone.

Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft are the most obvious major entities to move to self-driving vehicles to replace the overhead of paid drivers.

Whether the public will jump on board the driverless train is yet to be seen.

The AAA study last week found that 63% of U.S. drivers are afraid to get into a self-driving vehicle, so there is that potential hurdle. But then again, not everyone uses Uber or Lyft for transportation.

The more likely at-scale move to autonomous movement is of things. The things don’t have to be convinced to get into something over which they have no control.

3 comments about "Moving Things Vs. People In Self-Driving Vehicles".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 30, 2018 at 4:56 p.m.

    When drivers learn they can save on car insurance (or pay a premium for old-style driving), they might see the benefits, pending the effectiveness of the self-driving software. Comparing the mishaps with software to mishaps with drunken, distracted, or sleepy drivers might eventually persuade the insurers and car makers, It's not as though people asked to pay extra for airbags or seatbelts.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, January 30, 2018 at 5:49 p.m.

    Those are precisely the arguments being made by many involved in creating the vehicles, Douglas. The CEO of Continental said as much at the recent auto show.

  3. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , January 31, 2018 at 9:35 p.m.

    ......................until, the whole support system collapses or is hacked.
    I don't know why the pro-self-driving car folks  seem to think they are immune  to
    millions of bits of information not being disrupted, intentional, ot purposeful.
    You put 200 cars on I-15 on the way to San Diego, and just have a five second hiccup, with cars that have no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, and let the carnage begin.
    Then the "rubber hit s the road" with mega lawsuits.  Who do we sue.  owner? manufacturer, GPS designer?  Sensor maker?  hacker?.   Won't take too many of those to
    bust out the "Your're in Good hands" folks.
    And my mantra for this:    HOW MUCH DOES IT ADD TO THE PRICE OF THE CAR?  NO ONE
    ever addresses that.   Just like solar panels.  Good idea, good for enviornment.  Can't get the return for investment  without subsidy.    Self driving.............will be right there.

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