Robot wars: Will electric car giant Tesla win the race to launch the first fleet of robotaxis?
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has made a bold pledge – to put 1 million driverless ‘robotaxis’ on US roads by 2020.
Some experts remain sceptical about whether Elon can deliver his promise. If he does deliver, Tesla’s value could increase significantly, meaning now may be a good time to buy Tesla shares.
With Tesla’s share value currently at 228.9 (July 1st) it saw an increase of 4% recently, largely due to the analyst prediction of the electric car manufacturer doubling up the number of deliveries for its new Model 3 vehicle.
After his bold driverless taxi pledge, Musk may decide a stepping stone to achieving this goal could be to launch a human-driven ‘Tesla Network’ rideshare service, via the Tesla app. This would put Tesla in direct competition with existing rideshare services already available from Uber and Lyft.
Uber and Lyft are also in the race to make driverless cabs commonplace, so the competition is heating up. Uber and Lyft are expected to deliver on their own, perhaps more realistic, deadline of owning a fleet of driverless cabs within the next five years.
Driverless cars, once the stuff of science fiction movies, could be a regular sight on US roads within the next few years, as big businesses ramp up their efforts to become the first to market. Uber demonstrated its own driverless car, the Volvo XC90 SUV at its recent annual Elevate summit. It will be conducting on-road testing of the new vehicle as early as next year.
Uber’s driverless fleet will have computerised breaking and steering systems, plus back-up battery power and a back-up system to stop the car if its primary control systems fail. driverless cars are already being tested on roads in Pittsburgh, but Uber suffered a catastrophic setback in its development of driverless technology, when one of its driverless cars was involved in a fatal accident in Arizona in 2018.
Most driverless car manufacturers are aiming to use LiDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging) which will be combined with cameras and radar to navigate the roads. Not Tesla though, Musk claims the LiDAR technology is an unnecessary expense, and plans to use an eight camera system for a 360 degree view of what’s going on around the vehicle. Tesla also claims that in two years’ time it will be manufacturing cars that have no requirement for pedals or steering wheels.
And there’s another competitor in the race too. Waymo, originally Google’s driverless car enterprise, is now a standalone driverless car start-up, which is aiming to develop the ‘world’s most experienced driver’ and was recently valued at $100 billion.
There is one big hurdle that is yet to be overcome by all contenders though, and that is regulatory and Government approval. Electronic vehicles and driverless cars have met resistance and lobbying from many angles, from the Koch brothers battling against unfair taxes to the automotive retailers calling for a ban in direct sales.
Whoever wins the race to put robotaxis on the road, one thing is for sure - robotics generally, not only in automotive, is now a massive growth market, with experts predicting a threefold increase within the next decade. It’s an exciting time for the industry and presents a wealth of investment opportunity.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.