It feels like I have spent my life waiting for driverless cars, inspired of course by the Jetson’s green bubble car, with George shouting to Jane, “stop this crazy thing!” But as an industry that’s earnt its stripes by capitalising on big changes, there is more to this innovation than a 1960s sci-fi cartoon could have prepared us for.
Driverless cars, or Automated Vehicles (AVs) as they are called by those in the business, might just be the future of transportation and mobility. But what are they? When will they be on our roads? And, importantly, what impact will they have on the Out of Home (OOH) industry?
An AV is a robotic vehicle that is designed to travel between destinations without the need for a human operator. It turns out, most of us are already driving one – features such as adaptive cruise control, parking and ‘lane keep’ assist mean that we sit at level two of five on the Society of Automotive Engineers scale*.
While predictions vary, it’s reported that AVs will not make up the majority of cars on the road until 2045, after a decades-long transition, overcoming barriers to consumer adoption, and phasing out older vehicles.**
On the plus side, AVs have the potential to make our roads much safer, and to free up more time for passengers to read, talk and be entertained by your humble roadside OOH sign. However, this technology will also be a disruptive force across economies and will require both federal and state regulators to adapt legal frameworks to accommodate for them.
Abraham Lincoln said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” As an industry with a penchant for taking advantage of disruptive forces to shape the success of our future, when it comes to AVs, we must all be posing the question: how can we help create this future?
I think there is a chance for OOH infrastructure to become part of intelligent transport systems, speaking not only to the people in the cars, but to the cars themselves. Now is the time for our industry to begin planning, researching and embracing new ways for collaboration in this space. That’s why the OMA invited a panel of experts and industry together to start this conversation. You can find more information on the event here.
As technology hurtles ahead and many things in the Jetson’s lives become our reality, I look forward with great optimism and interest at how we can embrace this change and make it work for us. I am sure George will be wishing us well with a “Hooba-dooba-dooba.”
*Society of Automotive Engineers scale
**Reuters, Moody’s forecasts U.S. adoption of self-driving cars ‘several decades’ away