According to the European Parliament, the autonomous vehicle market is facing steady growth, and it is expected to reach up to €620 billion by 2025. Autonomous fleets offer a more effective and safer transportation option on the roads; however, there are various challenges ahead of the industry as well. Amongst these challenges are the costs of production, maintenance, road infrastructure, data privacy, and insurance coverage as the most pressing issues to tackle.
To introduce a self-driving fleet, it would be necessary to create roads and highway lanes entirely dedicated to autonomous vehicles. This step requires detailed and strategic city planning and financial commitment on a national level. The reason for this is that even if these new lanes are introduced on highways when AV trucks enter urban areas, those smaller and often busier roads are more challenging to dedicate solely for AV traffic.
Ride-sharing and Pollution:
While ride-sharing generally would mean fewer cars on the road, reduced commute time and air pollution, this becomes only achievable if the rides are proactively planned. With the appearance of various car-sharing brands on the road, if they operate without a clear strategy and commitment to creating a healthier environment, the ride-shares may cause the opposite with more cars and pollution on the road. A clear and detailed regulation needs to be in place to manage and optimize the fleets on the road.
Cost of AV Fleet:
The cost of the technology for running an autonomous vehicle is high. It requires onboard safety systems, cameras, various sensors, and software that is an added cost on top of the price of each vehicle.
Server attacks and cybersecurity threats are other areas that need continuous improvement to ensure the AV fleet operates safely on the roads.
The vehicles’ insurance is currently tightly connected to the actual driver – age, driving history, driving habits, and other personal details are also often considered. Once humans are replaced by software, the insurance companies will have to focus on the company managing the fleet, as there won’t be any drivers in the vehicles. When fleets operate autonomously, the rate of accidents will likely drop to a much lower level than the current one; hence, the insurance premium will also reduce.
Undoubtedly, autonomous vehicle fleets will improve transportation. However, achieving a new transport method requires dedicated planning and financial investment in technology and supporting network.