China Launches Autonomous Taxis

In a recent post, I Revisited Autonomous Vehicles. The conclusion is very apparent, we have not realized what many thought we would – at least not yet. But as I mentioned in that post, these scenarios move slowly and then suddenly. In an example of that phenomenon, China just launched an Autonomous Taxi service in Beijing. In a recent article, author Matthew Crisara said the following:

Baidu’s Apollo Go Robotaxi service is the first paid autonomous vehicle service where users can hop in a taxi without a backup driver to intervene. Customers will be able to hail a ride using an app, which allows them to locate a taxi within their vicinity. If they are unable to spot the car, users can remotely honk the horn to find their ride.

Matthew Crisara

The video below describes the new autonomous service.

Revisiting Autonomous Vehicles

In reflecting on thoughts from the previous decade, I looked back at Automation and Digital Transformation. Today I will focus on autonomous vehicles. I first wrote about them in 2014 when I looked at their Disruptive Potential. At the time, the compelling case for moving to full autonomy was truly clear. From the post:

In a recent book titled: The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups, the authors (Chunka Mui and Paul Carroll) dig deeper into this topic. About 5.5 million U.S car accidents occurred in 2009 involving 9.5 million vehicles; the accidents killed 33,808 people and injured 2.2 million others. The total accident related costs in the U.S. are estimated to be roughly $450 billion.

Autonomous vehicles: a disruption case study

The focus was to shift to preventing crashes versus previous efforts to ensure accidents were survivable. Automobile makers would rethink the design and construction of cars from built to survive a crash, to built to avoid them. A report titled Preparing a Nation for Autonomous Vehicles predicted mass market adoption of autonomous vehicles between 2022 and 2025. My post mentioned announcements by Nissan and Volvo of their intentions to have commercially viable autonomous-driving capabilities by 2020. In their view back then, it would take an additional five years for prices to drop to allow for some degree of mass-market penetration.

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An Animated Guide to Autonomous Driving

The future of cars is a popular topic these days. In a recent Article by Drew Page, he explores self-driving cars in detail, including the hardware, software, points of failure, issues, and levels of autonomy. The article uses this brilliant infographic from The Simple Dollar to describe these various areas. It is hard to get consensus from experts on when they envision full autonomy. In light of this, continuous education and awareness is critical, making articles such as this one critical. Although the benefits of full autonomy are fairly clear (a dramatic drop in auto fatalities, positive environmental impact, etc.), the risks are just as important to consider.

I highly recommend a quick read of the above mentioned article and a thoughtful journey through this infographic.

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The Future of Cars: An Infographic

I recently came across a very good Infographic that describes the future of cars. Here is the abstract from the Carsurance website:


The future of cars undoubtedly seems exciting. Up to this point, cars were viewed primarily as a convenient method of transportation. The main advancements were made in reliability, safety, performance, and overall comfort. Carsurance InfographicHowever, the advent of the internet and artificial intelligence unlocked a whole new field of progress in the auto industry.

An automobile of the future is not just a machine for driving to your desired destination. It’s a fully automated system that makes all the decisions for you while you enjoy the latest content on its premium audio-visual system.

Want to change the route? Just give a verbal command and the cars of the future will know what to do. Worrying about crashing or getting a citation? The vehicles of tomorrow will carry self-driving software that is so reliable, humans do not even come close.

Reducing carbon emission is another crucial challenge for the car industry. Electric and hybrid cars, with their replicable batteries, seem like a convenient solution. However, future cars could rely on even more advanced fuels.

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Autonomous Vehicles and the Perils of Prediction

I am a big believer in rehearsing the future versus attempting to predict it. The wild swings we experience when following future scenarios can range from bold predictions of imminent manifestation to dire warnings that a scenario will never be realized. In this Recent Article, the author describes how the auto industry is rethinking the timetable to realizing level 5 autonomy. Turns out we underestimate the human intelligence required  to drive a car and overestimate our ability to replicate it. The article provides simple examples:

When a piece of cardboard blows across a roadway 200 yards ahead, for example, human drivers quickly determine whether they should run over it or veer around it. Not so for a machine. Is it a piece of metal? Is it heavy or light? Does a machine even “know” that a heavy chunk of metal doesn’t blow across the roadway? It’s a tougher problem.

Or how about this challenge that humans for the most part handle very well:

When a car arrives at a four-way stop at the same time as another vehicle, for example, it’s a dilemma for a machine. Human drivers tend to nod or make eye contact, but micro-controllers can’t do that.

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Self Driving Delivery

The hype around autonomous technology continues. The focus, investment and rapid advancement in this space has changed the way leaders Think about the Future. The science-fiction feel of a future-focused discussion has disappeared – replaced by the reality that the future is appearing faster than we think. Look no further than self-driving delivery.

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The Driverless Car: Fast Lanes or Speed Bumps?

Fast Lane or Speed Bumps

The driverless car is one of many emerging future scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As these shifts converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. This speed is unappreciated, undermining the levels of urgency required to survive in this exponential age. I sat with Chunka Mui recently to discuss these shifts, using the driverless car to explore the challenges of our emerging future.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting group that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. As a consultant on strategy and innovation, Mr. Mui has spent considerable time analyzing the driverless car scenario. He asked a question in his book The New Killer Apps about autonomous vehicles and what happens if traffic accidents are reduced by 90% as Google predicts. This simple question makes visible the broad and deep implications of these future scenarios. As society responds to their implications, new ecosystems emerge that alter our world. In this case, the driverless car is one of numerous components of an emerging mobility ecosystem that is defined by the responses that are playing out right now.

I will share insights from our interview in a series of posts, starting with this one. In this segment of the interview, Mr. Mui and I discussed the growing need to rehearse the future.

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