In the past decade, self-driving vehicles have transformed from a
‘maybe’ to a reality. Today, we already see various forms of autonomous
mobility solutions being adopted in multiple ways. For instance, autonomous
guided vehicles (AGVs) are used on the shop floors of the factories.
Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, the government
started using a four-legged autonomous vehicle to ensure citizens are following
distancing norms. There are also several instances of autonomous cars and robo-taxis
being tested and used around the world in controlled environments.
While it might take some time for
a completely autonomous car to come on Indian roads, autonomous vehicles are,
without a doubt, the future of mobility. This future is being widely welcomed by the end consumer
As per the Continental Mobility
Report released in 2018, 51
percentage of the people trust autonomous driving could prevent serious
accidents, and 54 percent believe it will help during stressful or monotonous
situations. More than 50 percent of the total respondents felt optimistic about
riding through the city in a robo-taxi. In China, this number was as high as 79
Autonomous vehicles and lockdown
COVID-19 has had an everlasting impact on both industries and the psyche
of people across the globe. It created questions in issues that were previously
considered taken for granted - like the safety quotient of the packages being
delivered to our doorstep, the health of the delivery people, etc.
Moreover, there were various questions about the logistics of essential
services and goods. All this can be resolved by bringing autonomous vehicles in
Delivery: During the lockdown, one of the major
challenges was getting groceries and medical supplies at home. Even with some
players delivering at home, the idea of the product traveling through different
hands was a primary concern for a majority of the population. Contactless Robot
Delivery is the perfect solution for such scenarios.
Autonomous Robo-taxis, for instance, Continental’s CubE (Continental Urban
Mobility Experience), can carry one or multiple delivery robots and deploy them
to handle the last-mile delivery of the goods and parcel. The seamless
integration of a driverless vehicle – in this case, CUbE as a carrier – and a
delivery robot present a more effective and efficient distribution of goods.
through the Infected Areas: Autonomous
driving will also prove to be crucial by providing necessary supplies to corona
warriors and food to the public, especially in the COVID-19 hotspots areas.
They will be instrumental in disinfecting hospitals. In the future, if the
government decides on street-level, autonomous vehicles will prove to be
helpful in disinfection at regular intervals.
The robo-taxis, as mentioned earlier, can
be easily transformed into autonomous ambulances to traverse through infected
areas and safely transport the patients and medical supplies.
Trucks and Supply Chains: Disrupted
supply chain was a key issue during the lockdown in India. Closed state borders
made it difficult for goods to be transported to local stores. This further
creates a shortage of supplies and creates a panic-like situation among the
trucks can also play a
crucial role in getting the supply materials to the manufacturing facilities to
ensure the smooth production of essential goods.
They will prove to be beneficial if
another lockdown-like situation occurs in the future.
Taxi: Today, if you don’t have a personal
vehicle, you cannot commute during the lockdown. All shared mobility solutions
do not fit the social-distancing paradigm. Under these conditions, self-driving
cars or taxis can help people from taking them from point A to point B with
ease. This can be aided with auto-sanitization of the vehicle after each ride
to ensure a safe commute.
Klotz is the Head of Technical Center India at Continental Automotive