Commuting in the next 10 years is going to be a highly stimulating experience for passengers. While sitting in a vehicle, one will be able to experience or benefit from multiple services. From booking tickets for hotels, to arranging transportation, to in-car infotainment services, and to having access to food and entertainment, the vehicle will offer it all. While some of these services are already prevalent in the vehicles today, others are fast catching up.
For instance, the concept of in-car infotainment can be experienced through Tesla’s system. In 2019, the company launched Version 10.0 of its in-car infotainment system which has features such as the inclusion of theatre mode (Netflix and YouTube), smart summon that gets your car in and out of parking while the driver is standing outside, playing games, car-aoke (in-car Karaoke), and instrument binnacle, among others.
In addition, technological advancements in the automotive industry have paved the path for autonomous vehicles. In the past few years, companies such as Google and Volvo have already been testing their autonomous vehicles on the roads for trials. The concept of autonomous vehicles, coupled with the rising popularity of mobility-as-a-service, has given birth to the concept of robo-taxis.
As the name suggests, robo-taxis are not to be run by a human driver and are totally autonomous, thus ensuring that the vehicle is available around the clock (24/7) for passenger travel. The safety of the passenger is a major benefit of these robo-taxis. The safety aspect includes 12 guiding principles, including cybersecurity, passenger safety in case of system failure, and design detailing, among others.
Another major benefit of these taxis is, since they are autonomous or driverless, there is no downtime, and this allows for a greater number of trips. These taxis are available at the beck-and-call of the rider. However, they are not owned by the rider, thus removing the challenge of maintaining the vehicle. Waymo offers robo-taxi services in California.
Further, keeping in line with the stringent pollution norms and the target of the automotive industry to lower its carbon footprint on the environment, these vehicles will be totally electric. It has been noted that more than two million electric vehicles were sold in 2018. Also, to support the 24/7 functioning of these taxis, it is expected that in the next 10 years the electric-powered robo-taxis must be supported with advanced battery technologies that are continuously charged using wireless charging technology.
Moreover, the recent technological advancements have paved the path for these electric vehicles to be equipped with a V2G (vehicle-to-grid) technology that can support these electric-vehicle batteries to receive a charge directly from the nearest power grid. V2G technology is based on the concept of two-way communication; i.e., it believes in managing the load on the grid. Thus, not only the battery can receive the charge to run the vehicle, but it can also return the unused charge of the battery from the vehicle back to the grid to support its load.
Today, the future of mobility can be defined by the four major pillars that can help sustain the automotive industry. These pillars are connected, autonomous, shared, and electric. V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology, along with the in-car infotainment and geospatial connectivity, is governed by the connected vehicle pillar.
The sensor and computing technologies that enable the self-driving nature of robo-taxis are a part of the autonomous vehicle pillar. The shared nature of vehicles that eliminate the need to own a car while enabling on-demand mobility is a part of the shared vehicle pillar, and the green technologies that enable electricity-based propulsion of vehicles are a part of the electric vehicle pillar.
Each of these pillars is intertwined and would shape the future of vehicle transport. However, each of these pillars faces several challenges that must be overcome to make the future of mobility a reality. The following figure highlights the challenges that are hampering the growth in case of each of these pillars.
While the industry faces several challenges across each of the four pillars, several steps have been taken to overcome them through technological innovations. Automotive cybersecurity has been at the center of avoiding cyber threats. Also, the continuously evolving 5G infrastructure and materials, along with the 5G network integration with the automotive industry, has pushed vehicle connectivity forward.
The improvements implemented across various components, such as LiDARs and radars, has propelled the growth of autonomous vehicles. Companies have invested heavily to improve AI capabilities in the automotive industry. Ride-hailing and carpooling have become increasingly popular across the globe. As shared services begin to control a large chunk of the vehicle fleet, the automotive supply chain is introducing components and products that make sharing vehicles easy while improving the riding experience.
As electric vehicles start garnering more attention from suppliers and buyers, the companies involved in its ecosystem have focused on improving the battery technology by improving the anode materials and cathode materials as well as the electrolyte and separator. Charging infrastructure has grown by leaps and bounds both in terms of reach and technology. Several additional features, such as insulation and fluids and lubricants, have been developed to improve EV range and efficiency. Therefore, the industry players must focus effort in their respective areas of expertise so as to ensure the future of mobility becomes a reality.