Industry pundits are referring to vehicles as “iPhones on wheels” as onboard OEM telematics becomes more and more prominent. We might just see an iPhone on wheels in the not-so-distant future. Apple is reportedly ramping up its plans for a fully autonomous electric vehicle.
According to Bloomberg, “Apple’s ideal car would have no steering wheel and pedals, and its interior would be designed around hands-off driving.” It is also being reported that Apple has designed its own chip built specifically to handle the complexities of enabling self-driving.
1. Why Apple’s headway is news you should care about
Why this is a big deal? Well, because it’s Apple. While Apple has had many fits and starts before in this area, we can’t deny that it is a design and consumer products powerhouse. If they succeed, there’s a strong likelihood that they are the tide that raises all boats (or cars, for this purpose) in the autonomous driving space.
2. The impacts on shared mobility
What does this mean for the future of shared mobility? Will mass-produced Apple AVs become integrated into Uber and Lyft fleets? Will they be regionalized instead by smaller fleet companies? What does this mean for the future of last-mile delivery?
3. The potential of interoperability
Third, talk about the potential for interoperability. While we don’t know about the OS for the vehicle, we can be sure that Apple will want to be able to make it seamless to connect and share user profile information like it does for every other “device” in the Apple family.
4. The challenges of interoperability
This type of interoperability raises all sorts of challenges for fleets. After all, there’s a reason why people have a work iPhone and a personal iPhone – to clearly separate work from personal. Fleets would want to set and enforce clear boundaries about what information and data is consumed in a self-driving vehicle.
5. How future drivers will spend their time
What kinds of productivity gains could fleets see if drivers were freed from driving? Could they be inputting data about customer visits, deliveries and service calls from the onboard computer or their mobile device? Could they undergo routine training/webinars while between visits?
And…There’s more. If self-driving vehicles really are safer, what does this mean for fleet insurance? What does it mean for shift scheduling? Will regulations change to allow longer shifts since safety won’t be a concern?
While autonomous vehicles may still be years out — even Apple’s accelerated timeline is four years away — it’s never too early to be thinking critically about an autonomous future for your fleet.