The CEO of TomTom is predicting that the introduction of driverless cars will be gradual with no fully autonomous vehicles anytime soon and that when fully autonomous vehicles do come onto the roads they will compete first compete with public, and not private, transport.
In an interview for Forbes India, Harold Goddijn said that there are aa number of disruptive technologies coming into the automotive industry. Electrification is one, and the second is a high degree of automation, with a view to making the cars safer, and eventually driverless. “When we will get a completely driverless solution is anybody’s guess, but there are still several technological hurdles to overcome before it can become a mass technology,” he said.
“There will be more gradual shifts, like adaptive cruise control, or automated braking,” he continued. “In many automotive applications map data and real-world representations play an important role. If you look at our product portfolio, traditionally it was about planning how to get from point A to point B. We are now adding a whole layer of new information that gives a highly accurate representation of things like where the lanes, separators, zebra crossings and traffic lights are, or if there are cycle paths and so on.
Asked where transport is heading he said the big trends are about frictionless multimodal travel. “It is getting easier to take a train, book a taxi, plan a trip, and that’s translating—especially with younger people who don’t necessarily want to own a car—to new ways of transport.
“Electrification is another big trend… That’s going to take time and massive investments, but the train has left the station, so to say.
“The third big trend is automation of vehicles, eventually leading to self-driving cars. What that will mean for the economy and how we live our lives is hard to predict—higher degrees of automation are primarily driven by the desire to make vehicles safer. Annual casualties on the road are about 1.25 million, and technology can bring it down.”
But, Goddijn said, it is “anyone’s guess” what completely driverless cars might mean. “They will initially probably compete more with public transport rather than private transport. They won’t completely displace human-driven vehicles soon.
He also told Forbes that TomTom’s goal is to make map-making more automated and therefore containing costs and readily updating maps. “We rely on sensor observations to validate that the map is still okay or to signal that the map needs to be updated. That’s going to be critical when it comes to safety,” he said.