Autonomous Vehicles: The Automotive Ecosystem

This post continues the disruption scenario discussion initiated by my earlier Insurance Industry Case Study. I’ve been using the autonomous vehicle (AV) as an example of a disruptive scenario with potential societal, economical, and environmental impact. In this post, the focus shifts to the scenario’s possible effect on the automotive ecosystem.

Autonomous vehicle technology can be viewed using a five-part continuum suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with different benefits realized at different levels of automation:

Driverless Car Continuum

Last month, an IHS Automotive study predicted the world will have nearly 54 million self-driving cars by 2035. The study also predicts that nearly all vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving cars or self-driving commercial vehicles sometime after 2050. Meanwhile, automakers and others are unveiling both their plans for – and introduction of – automated features: 

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The New Machine Age

I recently participated in a panel discussion at an MIT CIO Symposium and had the pleasure of hearing Andrew McAfee talk about the book he co-authored with Erik Brynjolfsson titled Race against the Machine. Mr. McAfee has talked at length about the digital revolution and its impact on the workforce. He talked about the dawn of a new machine age, where the focus is on idea production versus physical production, and knowledge work versus manual labor. He focused on the most impactful period in human history – the advent of the steam engine that ushered in the first industrial revolution. A lengthy period that followed the first machine age was transformative and disruptive. We are on the verge of something that history may someday view as more transformative and disruptive. A quote from Mr. McAfee summed up his thoughts:

Digital will make a mockery of everything that came before it”.

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