Driverless cars have stuck in the realms of science fiction. Their benefits have been in the experimentation and the new concept being of interest to people rather than having any practical benefits.
However, in terms of the uses for driverless cars, it extends so much further than many are giving them credit for.
At the moment the driverless car as a separate entity from a human having at least dual control, does not exist. There are several models that are trying to break this mould, at CES we have seen BMW, Mercedes and Nissan all demonstrate their driverless options, but mainstream production of these is something in the future rather than feasible now.
So what are the main benefits of driverless cars going to be for business?
With human error moving out of the question in terms of reasons for an accident, the roads would become significantly safer for everybody. This would mean less crashes, decreased chances of potential damage to vehicles and less chance of being caught in traffic behind an incident.
This means faster delivery times, not being late for meetings and a more reliable timing for when certain products or services can be delivered.
As the safety of the roads increases, the chances of delays that are often caused by bad driving will be eliminated. This can be anything from a crash that stops traffic on a road through to somebody merging without looking and causing the cars behind them to brake.
As these cars are going to be a huge combination of sensors, it would also be far easier to choose the best route to take if there are hold ups in one area. This would not just be in a redirect sense like a satnav, but with every car being able to communicate, it would be possible to see how many cars are going a particular way, then optimizing a route to avoid excess traffic.
At the moment when a customer is expecting a delivery, the most accurate tracking that they can get is that a package is in a certain building or within a certain segment of the delivery process. With driverless cars, there would be a significant increase in the numbers of trackable metrics.
This would mean that it would be possible to see when something is going to be delivered in real time. You would be able to see exactly where a package is on the road. With a smarter, more connected and more intuitive fleet of delivery vehicles, this would be considerably easier than it currently is.
With the added predictability of transit times, it would be possible to narrow down delivery times to within a few minutes, rather than the ‘between these two times’ model that currently exists.
Having a smarter and more connected fleet would allow vehicle maintenance to be significantly improved. With the metrics available to companies, it would be possible to identify wear and degrading of parts before they cause more significant damage and cost more to replace. This would decrease down time on vehicles for repairs and also decrease the amount spent on replacement parts as smaller and cheaper parts could be fixed in time rather than needing to replace larger and more expensive units.