Stan Boland, Five
"I have to say that there is probably no problem being worked on today that is as complex as automated driving."
Quote from Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of Five, in an In The Big Chair interview on PhocusWire this week.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
Ask anyone in the sector who is working in some capacity in the area of autonomous vehicles and their relation to the travel sector and you'll get similar points of view.
The opportunity is huge but the problems in this nascent phase are equally large.
The technology is there (albeit not exactly cheap), there are passionate advocates (just ask people like Alex Bainbridge) and, drop in the electric nature of the vehicles, many boxes are ticked on the sustainability agenda.
The money is also pouring in, as Waymo's recent capital-raise demonstrates.
But, but, but... there's always a "but" with many new technologies and ideas.
There's a confidence issue with the public, with many still unsure about the concept of a device (a heavily protected one, mostly) doing all the work and relying on systems to keep them safe.
This will be overcome - eventually.
But it's the use-cases that others also struggle with - as some forms of transportation lend themselves to the introduction of autonomous driving units (freight, for example) but others are less better defined.
And, finally, autonomous driving still appears to be a futuristic phenomenon - something to look forward to and seize further, no pun intended, down the road.
This is especially true for a sector that is trying to do everything that it can to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than considering the introduction of a technology that is still in its infancy.
It will be, perhaps, only in 2022 and 2023 that autonomous driving becomes a serious agenda item on the R&D list of many brands.
But this is arguably a good thing, giving the technology providers and the concept's champions the opportunity to continue with the education that is required to convince a still-sceptical traveling public.
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