Nowadays, most mobility & autonomous driving technological advantages and trends are developed with a focus on the millennial, (Generation Z and Generation X) living in the cities with a high necessity for solutions that provide them time for themselves and comfort. Technological advantages are trendy these days and sometimes we tend to forget what these technological solutions are trying to achieve. Improve our lives and make a difference to as many people as possible.
As we are on the subject of autonomous driving and mobility solutions, everybody has a generic picture of a tech person in a city environment using all these services and being the first one to adapt the technology. It is hence already embedded in our mind that when you read or hear about Mobility solutions, people will automatically think of autonomous vehicles in a city environment. However, let’s stop for a moment and analyze the target consumer and the early adopters of these technologies.
Autonomous driving is more than just the means of enabling a smarter, more Intelligent mobility. Intelligent mobility is a service focused in the community and their ability to share, collaborate and communicate in order to develop a way of thinking and behavior as a community.
According to the big four consultancies (PWC, McKinsey, Deloitte, KPMG) and many others, the early adopters of a technology are the ones that would embrace this technology because they foresee that it will provide a solution that improves their lives, financially and not only. If we review most of these studies, all of them point to the fact that the early adopters of autonomous driving technologies are disabled people (usually with vision disabilities) and elderly people in rural areas.
Roland Berger recently published a study that demonstrated an in-depth analysis of the market, demographics and the social benefits that some of these technologies have had. According to the study, the global average of 65+ population in 2060 will be 30-35% in China, Singapore, Italy, Germany and South Korea and up to 40% in Japan. The study also show the distribution per county of the rural population on 2015, see below:
It is very evident from the above that the elderly population (especially in rural areas) are a key users of these technologies and the benefits that they can gain from them can be life changing.
Benefits of the integration of autonomous driving in rural areas:
Impact in Health and happiness: We all have family most of us in rural areas. Some of our relatives don’t drive anymore and they are dependent of family or friends to do normal tasks like shopping, going to the doctor, etc. It is consequently clear that Autonomous technologies can help them maintain that independence which in turn can have an enormous impact on one’s confidence and life overall. In addition, it allows them to continue their social interactions and relationships with their loved ones and local community having a tremendously positive impact on their happiness and health.
Reactivate communities in rural areas: Some of the rural areas are isolated due the lack of public transport and despite the fact they have good road networks. Opening up transportation between rural areas will allow communities to intermingle and reconnect.
Increase Mobility and Technology Adoption: Some of the rural areas do not have the ability to be so “technologically savvy”. Internet can be poor, infrastructures are not up to standard and smart devices are not exactly ..popular there. The integration of these technologies in rural areas would speed up the adoption of these technologies and would also provide insightful feedback to tech companies for that demographic of society.
Sustainability: Most of the POD’s and autonomous driving vehicles are going to be electrical. At the same time rural areas are the ones with high use of older vehicles and not environment friendly, so the adoption of these technologies would also contribute to “greener” solutions and much more environmentally friendly solutions. The movement from Diesel to EV..will have began.
Conclusively, it is very clear that the autonomous driving and intelligence mobility industries, are key in rural areas. Nonetheless – and as I operate in the industry daily – I am not aware of any such initiatives apart from Waymo in USA that are currently working on a very interesting project. According to the pre-mentioned study above, it is clearly a market that would substantially benefit from autonomous technologies and I hence believe (and hope) more companies will soon engage a lot more actively.
Final Personal Note:
I have personally worked in the sector for years and am a firm believer that technology is there with a sole purpose. To improve our lives. I would thus encourage both governments and technology companies to push the boundaries and invest more in time and money in rural areas sooner rather than later. As a company with vast experience, here at Y-mobility we would be happy to support and assist any new project that focuses in the above area.
Technology contributes to our Happiness and achieving Happiness through Technology is our primary goal.
Article by David Fidalgo