The Opportunities & Challenges of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry: Infrastructure

The recent death of a driver operating a semi-autonomous vehicle garnered widespread traditional and social media attention, and sent some worrisome shockwaves through the businesses and organizations serving this market niche. Factually, the Autonomous Vehicle industry is faced with both phenomenal opportunities and critical challenges.

The Opportunities

The market for partially and fully autonomous vehicles is projected to be worth $42 billion by 2025 and growing to nearly $77 billion in 2035 according to the Boston Consulting Group. With the growth of the market there will be opportunities and challenges for everyone with a vested interest in the future.

Autonomous vehicles will have an impact on every aspect of society, not just transportation. Our infrastructure will have to be upgraded as 65% of the roads in the U.S. are in poor condition. In California, which is the leader in autonomous vehicle technology, 68% of the roads are in poor condition.

This has provided opportunities for entrepreneurs such as Magic Johnson, who recently raised $1.3 billion for his JLC Loop Capital Partners infrastructure fund. As the U.S. Government is expected to invest $7 – $12 trillion in America’s infrastructure over the next 10 years, JLC Loop Capital Partners will be in a great position to bid on the RFPs and secure federal infrastructure contracts.

By 2020, you are likely to see the following developments as the Autonomous Vehicle market come to fruition as it relates to infrastructure:

    • Autonomous vehicle drop-off and pickup zones will start to become commonplace in cities across the United States.
    • The way in which we develop buildings will change as developers will begin to incorporate autonomous vehicles into the design and overall functionality of buildings.
    • Cities will start to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology for city owned and operate fleet vehicles.
    • Traffic signals and road sensors will be connected to secure networks owned and operated by the municipality to ensure smooth traffic flows as traditional cars and autonomous vehicles co-mingle on public roads.

The Challenges

For companies manufacturing autonomous vehicles, poor road conditions in the U.S. pose a challenge, as they have to develop cars that can operate in less than ideal conditions and are not depend on infrastructure.

Today, autonomous vehicles need to clearly see lane markings. In the future these vehicles will not have to see lane markings, as scientists at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory have developed a ground-penetrating radar system that achieves centimeter-level localization without the need of lane markings. This innovative system will allow manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to partially overcome the challenge of poor road conditions.

One of the less-visible, but not less critical challenges is crisis prevention and response. Crises will happen. Accidents. Serious business interruptions. Threats to reputation. Product defects and/or recalls. Failure of a crumbling infrastructure.

While some aspects of crisis prevention are technical and due to infrastructure, others involve vulnerability assessment and creation of a crisis management plan that incorporates both operational and communications response to crises.

Co-author and crisis management expert Jonathan Bernstein has found that 95% of the crises to which he has helped organizations respond were completely preventable if proper systems and plans had been in place.

As the infrastructure in the U.S. is upgraded and both partially and fully autonomous vehicles are deployed on public roads, it will be important for both autonomous vehicle manufacturers and Cities to have crisis management plans in place.

The future is bright for Autonomous Vehicle industry, but only if the industry properly understands the opportunities & challenges posed by the current infrastructure.

The Opportunities & Challenges of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry: Infrastructure is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte and Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management.

Jonathan has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of crisis management — vulnerability assessment, planning, training and response.

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