Future of transportation: will you travel by autonomous car or VR headset?

Exponential technologies will bring change to almost every area of our lives. One of the most disrupted sectors will definitely be transportation and automotive industry, which are already in stage of transformation. Traditional automobile manufacturers cooperate with technological giants or ride-sharing companies like Uber.

Almost every family has at least one car. We got used to them so much that we no longer see what a negative impact it has on our society and lives, especially in the cities. Did you know that cars cover on average 20% of the whole city? And that today’s cars are parked 95% of the time? Nearly 1,3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults aged 15-44. What a terrifying statistics. And let’s not even mention all those air pollution stats.

Soon this era of cars with combustion engines – with often one person using 5 seater to get to work on time and afterward parking the car for 8 hours with no effective usage –  should be over.

Business and manufacturing models that brought us this kind of lifestyle are going to be disrupted by new technologies. While these technologies might not be perfect today, they will shine tomorrow – now they are in so-called deceptive mode. This new manufacturing and energy revolution will provide cheap and participative energy from renewable energies. This will affect transportation tremendously; new vehicles will be powered by electricity and fully autonomous. That will result in a shift from “buying and owning” a car, to “car as a service” (CaaS), therefore car insurance will vanish. Eighty percent of highways will be completely useless.

Car companies are betting on energy storage

Even though electric cars still have many unsolved problems like slow charging batteries with poor lifetime and their unecological manufacturing or obtaining energy from coal power plants. But fossil fuels will once run out and their most logical successor is an electric power. That’s the reason why an increasing number of major car manufacturers have been developing solutions for energy storage.

BMW has recently signed a contract that adds 500 of its i3 battery packs to the UK national energy grid. Audi is running a pilot project. Renault is turning some of its Zoe batteries into a home energy storage solution, and in Japan, both Toyota and Nissan have announced that they will offer battery energy storage.

Will virtual reality disrupt commuting?

The rapid rise of the virtual reality could disrupt commuting completely. At the press of a button, we can commute from city to city and attend meetings virtually without having to move our bodies across thousands of kilometers. VR is also changing the shape of retail shopping. One more reason for not having to travel. With 3D printing and drone delivery services, you don’t really need to actually get into a car and drive anywhere.

Of course, we will have to (and want to) travel. But no longer due to work and shopping. The main reason will be mostly tourism and entertainment. And there’s gonna be many possibilities. Musk’s hyperloop is slowly becoming reality and Uber, Airbus and Alphabet are diligently working on autonomous flying taxis.

Considering the rate of change of the transport industry, can traditional car makers disrupt their business models quickly enough to stay competitive?

Author: Martin Kysilka, 6Dhub.cz