Alex Bainbridge, CEO, Autoura
With autonomous vehicles, it will be much more like YouTube and Netflix - there’s literally going to be unlimited routes.
Quote from Alex Bainbridge, founder, CTO and CEO of Autoura, in an article on PhocusWire this week on the future of autonomous vehicles.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
Assumptions are bad - or, at least, dangerous - things to get wrapped up in.
The travel industry has suffered many an awkward moment over the years when protestations about the future of the sector have, well, not turned out at how commentators thought they would do.
For example, The Death Of The Travel Agent, forever sounding like an Agatha Christie novel, has turned out to be a bit of a work of fiction from those that forecast its demise when the web took off in the 1990s.
And so, like many other predictions for the future of the sector, as digitalization takes over so many aspects of how brands and travelers co-exist, we can turn to the opportunities that autonomous vehicles will supposedly give us in the decades ahead.
There is no doubt that self-driving machines, whether they be tour buses, rental cars or car-shares, will have a profound impact on the way that so many parts of the industry operate.
They will be efficient, probably environmentally friendly, be able to reduce staff costs and perhaps even help with urban congestion.
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There is also Alex Bainbridge's argument that, when it comes to tours, standardized routes will disappear and options for users to personalize their trip will increase massively.
This level of flexibility in tours and activities, for example, will be great for operators and, presumably (that word comes into play now) for consumers.
There is a word or two of caution needed here.
So much of the narrative around autonomous vehicles is based on the idea that the aforementioned efficiency and flexibility for the industry will be welcomed with open arms by those using the services.
Second-guessing consumer behavior, especially when it comes to the introduction of new technology, is often fraught with problems.
A counter argument is that, perhaps, travelers will not be so keen on moving around a city in a self-driving car - and that perhaps the humble tour bus is actually rather nice and that traditional type of excursion isn't so bad.
And, perhaps they just don't want endless choice, Netflix-style.
Furthermore, travel and tourism is inherently a human activity and the engagement between people is part of what makes the overall experience.
The chances are that, over time, there will be a world where autonomy exists happily alongside its predecessor - rather than a wholesale switch to automation and one-to-one, highly personalized services.
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