Disruptions ahead for automotive industry?

January 25, 2016 at 10:11 am

The latest forecast from McKinsey Consulting on the disruptive trends unfolding in the automotive sector is very much along the lines of what I have been saying for quite a while.  It predictions comes packaged in a nice, easy to consume slick video presentation shown below.

Among the major disruptions, the ones I see having direct and tremendous social and roadsafety implications are ridesharing and vehicle automation, both aided by a confluence of technology and consumer aversion for driving/owning automobiles. Of course, the pace of disruption will be dictated by the Federal policies and that means our lawmakers must remain nimble and be willing to set aside their political ideologies to help the industry as it leaps forward.

Growth of vehicle automation. Source: McKinsey

Scenarios for growth of vehicle automation. Source: McKinsey

Check out the full report here

Infograph: Amazing Ways the Self-Driving Technology will Change the World

August 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

via Visual.ly

Infographs are always a nice way to tell a story visually and this one below gets adopts that visual story telling to explain the complex societal impacts that are in the offing as the auto & tech heavy-weights like Google are vying to bring their self-driving technology to the mass market.. Imagine a world with no crashes, no traffic lights and no parking?  Mind boggling stuff for today’s drivers but that future doesn’t seem too distant anymore.. Though I think  Level 4 automation (i.e.,  completely autonomous) is at least a decade away, anyone would get excited about the prospect of not waiting for a light to turn green (or for that matter to not drivearound in circles looking for parking)…

The Amazing Ways The Google Car Will Change the World

The Amazing Ways The Google Car Will Change the World

Video: How Many Americans Want to Live in a Driverless-City? Intel’s Futurist Discusses Future of Driverless Cars and Cities

February 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

(Source: Bloomberg)

Intel Futurist Steve Brown discusses the future of driverless cars and cities on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” Transportation and City planners better start thinking already because we know your long-range plans drafted a decade or so ago is rendered useless by the fast paced evolution of computing and automobile technology (agree with Steve that the technology is coming but it may be more than a decade away). It is time to think different and act fast!

Planning for a driverless car future – Univ. of Michigan @ Ann Arbor ramps up infrastructure for testing driverless cars

December 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm

University of Michigan is building/billing itself as the “go-to” place for testing autonomous vehicles (i.e., driverless cars). .. Check it out.

Infograph: Driverless Cars and Eliminating Human Error

February 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm

via InsuranceQuotes.org

Here is a neat infographic that shows the benefits of moving towards autonomous vehicles.. Though some of the statistics seen in the graphic are old and needs revision (esp. fatality numbers, which continues to see a steady decline every year), it still reminds you of the sheer size and scope of the problems we encounter in the current scenario of human-piloted vehicles.  Oh, Google Cars is not the only game in town when it comes to autonomous vehicles.  Not anymore.  Most auto OEMs are ramping up their research to make sure they remain relevant when Google’s project materializes. That said, the transportation systems that are currently developed for the coming decade looks quite promising!

Driverless Cars and Eliminating Human Error

Google’s Self-Driving Car Demo With Legally Blind Driver Shows a World of Possibilities

April 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

(Source: Google)

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgQpa1pUUE&hd=1′]

Google hits a home-run with this real-life demonstration of  its autonomous vehicle by putting a vision-impaired person behind the driving wheel in the regular streets.  Steve Mahan, the man behind the wheel, is legally blind (95% gone) and he goes about what most of us drivers do in a normal day – runs errands, stops by a drive-through window for a burrito, picks up his dry cleaning, etc – all this without touching the steering wheel.   For people like him this self-driving car should feel like a god-sent and the level of autonomy it offers should be priceless.

Gizmo Gone Wild – Funny Video of Advanced Mobile Ketchup Delivery Platforms

January 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

(Source: Reddit.com)

Editor’s note: I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Oh, and I’m not the only one who had tears streaming down my face watching this one.  You can see plenty of folks who enjoyed this Gizmo Gone Wild video from their comments on Reddit and also on the source (YouTube) comments page.

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Meet GM’s new EN-V , the transporter for 2030 is sleek, electric & automated

March 24, 2010 at 4:13 pm

(Sources: Wired; RTTNews, Associated Press, The Detroit News GM Press Release)

Image Courtesy: GM

General Motors always dreams big, no matter how much money they have in their bank account.  Now that Uncle Sam’s treasury is backing up the financial future,  GM continues its tradition of dreaming big and the latest outcome of this is a future where people navigate crowded cities in big Segways that look kinda like a Dyson vacuum cleaner and can drive you home when you’ve had one too many after a long day at work. . Seriously.

Today, GM unveiled a trio of electric “urban mobility vehicles,” built with help from the über-geeks at Segway, today in Shanghai. They’re called Electric Networked Vehicles (EN-V) and they’re designed for cities bursting at the seams with traffic.  The EN-V, pronounced “envy,” is GM’s latest effort to burnish its credentials as a future-focused, environmentally friendly company and shed its image as the bastion of the gas guzzling Hummer. The automaker is in the process of winding down Hummer after a deal collapsed to sell it to a Chinese heavy equipment maker. The helmet-shaped two-seater vehiclesunveiled today in Shanghai will be now showcased at world expo 2010 to be held in Shanghai starting May 1 through October 31. The pavilion will be shared by GM with its Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp.  There will be three models on display in Shanghai:

  • Red – Jiao, or Pride – Created by designers at GM Europe, the vehicle was influenced by bullet trains and Chinese opera masks.
  • Black – Miao, or Magic –  Sculpted by designers at GM’s Advanced Design Studio in California and influenced by the consumer electronics industry’s sleek, masculine looks.
  • Blue –  Xiao, or Laugh –  Created by GM Holden’s designers in Australia, who took a more lighthearted approach to the vehicle’s “gumball blue” paint and nautical design.

Shanghai is the perfect place to show the funky runabouts because China is the largest automobile market on the planet. A lot of thought is going into figuring out how all those people buying all those cars will get around. Sixty percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030 and there will be 2 billion cars on the road. Automakers are looking for ways to build cars that pollute less and take up less space.gm-en-v-02

Here are some interesting nuggets gleaned from the above sources:

  • To that end, the two-seater concepts are about one-sixth the size of a conventional car.
  • They’re made of lightweight materials like carbon fiber and weigh just 1,000 pounds apiece. GM says you can squeeze five of them into a single parking space.
  • The 1.5 meter by 1.5 meter (about 5 foot by 5 foot) EN-V appears to build on GM’s earlier work with Segway Inc. in developing the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (PUMA) concept vehicle. It will use the same types of battery cells as the Segway and the same battery supplier, Valence Technology Inc.
  • The propulsion technique employed in the prototype was, however, introduced earlier by GM on its Hy-wire concept, introduced at the Paris Motor Show 2006.  The forward-thinking concepts build upon we saw last year in New York.
  • Powered by Lithium-ion batteries and enriched with capabilities like dramatically smaller turning radius, the zero-emission vehicle is designed to travel at least 40 kilometers on a single charge.
  • GM notes that the operating costs are one-fifth to one-sixth the price of a conventional motor vehicle and one-third to one-fourth the operating cost of a passenger car.
  • The EN-Vs are super-connected. They’ll use GPS, distance-sensing technology and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to ease congestion and reduce the risk of accidents. GM says the vehicles can “sense” what’s around them and react quickly to obstacles or changes in driving conditions.
  • There’s a motor in each wheel and a lithium-ion battery. It’s got “dynamic stabilization technology” so it can balance on two wheels, and GM says it can “literally turn on a dime.” It also says the vehicles have a range of 25 miles and a top speed of 25 mph, which it says is more than adequate for daily city driving.
  • There will be an estimated 1.2 billion vehicles worldwide in 2030. That’s up from 844 million three years ago, according to the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.
  • People living in major cities will have a more difficult time commuting because in 20 years, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, according to GM.
  • In major cities, 30 percent of fuel is wasted while drivers hunt for parking spots, which adds to the cost associated with operating vehicles.


Click here for some interesting pictures and a detailed scoop.  If you are interested in reading more about the concept and have the time to enjoy some cool videos that demonstrate the technology and vision, click here.

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