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CASE in point: Autonomous

Corporate News -

By Jack van Reisen, Executive Director Mobility Sector at NIBC

To live is to move. The concept of mobility has evolved enormously over the years and continues to change rapidly. Mobility is increasing across the world, both in developed and emerging countries, as people live longer and data plays an ever more integral part in our lives.

This is the second blog in our series about four key trends in mobility: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric (CASE). Drawing on NIBC’s expertise and experience in these areas, we look at themes and innovations in mobility, and the opportunities and challenges they present for businesses.

Robo-cars

Whether they’re termed self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, connected and autonomous vehicles, driverless cars, robo-cars or robotic cars, the concept of driving with little or no human intervention requires a big leap of the imagination for most of us.

And yet the technology is advancing rapidly, as deep-pocketed tech companies and carmakers such as Tesla make significant, long-term investments into the concept and its execution.

I believe it will only be a few years until we see the first such cars and trucks on the road – probably on motorways to start with, rather than in large, crowded cities, where there is so much more for a vehicle to sense in its environment, so much more data to amass and react to.

Productivity gains

It may not be so long until we find it normal to grab our smartphone, state where we are and where we want to go, then see a driverless car appear to whisk us to our destination.

Think what enormous implications that has, not least for productivity. For my job, I drive around 40,000 kilometres each year – sometimes three to four hours a day. If the many people in similar situations could all use that time to work productively instead of gripping the steering wheel and staring at the road ahead, think how much more work we could get done. (Not to mention how we could use the time to relax and look out of the window, read a novel – or even sleep.)

Liability questions

Still, if “falling asleep at the wheel” is no longer a taboo, what happens if something does go wrong? If you’re reading or sleeping and your self-driving car hits a pedestrian or another car, who is at fault? You? The manufacturer of the car? Or the software engineer that produced the cameras or sensors that are such vital elements of autonomous vehicles?

That question of liability is one of many that has yet to be solved in this new area. As the technology advances and driverless vehicles enter our lives, such questions will need to be thrashed out between equipment manufacturers and insurance companies.

Financing to grow

The self-driving trend will significantly change the game for vehicle manufacturers, fleet owners, public transport and taxi companies, logistics businesses, and the vast ecosystem around them. Areas such as sensor technology, for example are growing fast, and almost all new cars are equipped with all-round sensors. This equipment will become even more important as autonomous driving takes hold.

Financing needs will also evolve as new players and new business models adapt to these new realities. The self-driving market is racing forward. NIBC has in-depth knowledge of the mobility industry and experience in funding mobility businesses with tailor-made solutions to accommodate clients’ future growth. Want to finance your company to get ahead in this fast-moving sector? Get in touch.