Slow progress expected for autonomous tech as COVID-19 takes toll

The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing major disruptions for future mobility research and technology, with automotive companies reassessing their priorities to manage finances during this time, according to GlobalData.

Autonomous and connected vehicle technology has been the centre of heavy investment and research in recent years, with the rise of the lucrative sharing economy and success of ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft touted as a major factor for this increase.

However, according to Calum MacRae, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, any major advancements in shared or autonomous technology is unlikely in the next few years due to COVID-19.

“Connected, autonomous, shared and electric strategies were seen by car companies as elevating them to another plane in terms of being able to make money and bring their market capital up to the levels enjoyed by Silicon Valley tech companies,” said MacRae.

“Sharing provides the best use case for fully-autonomous vehicles. By eliminating the fixed cost of the driver, fully autonomous vehicles hold out the hope of much reduced cost per passenger-kilometre travelled. However, full autonomous is devilishly difficult and it does not look like level four and five vehicles will have a commercial solution in the next few years.”

MacRae pointed to increased concerns about sanitation among customers and cash conservation among companies as the reason for this expected downturn in investment.

“Even more seriously, in these difficult times cash conservation is king for automotive companies. They are reining back on future mobility initiatives and returning to basics and products that will bring immediately realisable returns.”

Source: GlobalData | COVID-19 puts brakes on driverless cars, says GlobalData

24 April 2020

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