In the middle of the global race to develop sustainable mobility it’s natural that attention focuses on the technology required to bring it to life.

The finest minds across the world are grappling with the legion of challenges and in the UK we’re embracing our tradition of innovation enabled by a supportive legislative framework. But a conversation this week gave me cause to look at connected and autonomous vehicles in a different way.

Andrew Everett, one of the UK’s leading transport strategists was sharing an overview of the fundamental difference between the development of vehicles today with its current supply chain and the associated major changes for tomorrow’s CAV. The development process for a CAV requires new partnerships with new players including telecommunications, cyber security, road infrastructure and artificial intelligence amongst others.

As we talked afterwards a picture emerged of the fundamental transition now underway: today’s vehicles are focused on driver control including the driving dynamics and performance, aimed at the purchase of a product by an individual. By contrast in a CAV, the driving experience is secondary (or perhaps not relevant) compared with the passenger experience and the quality of the journey, in a product that is unlikely to be bought outright, instead accessed as a service.

The fundamental shift here is that instead of selling the convenience of driving, the CAV industry will be selling the experience of the journey and quality of time released.

So, now we’re talking about a journey and time proposition as the primary benefit to the individual.

The potential societal benefits of CAVs are even greater and are well described by companies such as Ford in their ‘Living Street’ approach, using technology to improve quality of life. Jim Hackett, Ford CEO  told Forbes magazine ‘Together we can create cities where density and diversity give life, they’re not in competition. It’s not about cities getting smarter, it’s about humans having a better day…benches…not double-parked vehicles.’

What he’s talking about and what Andrew Everett described is how CAVs have the potential to give us back our most precious commodity. This opens the door to innovation and creativity in the provision of things to do with this time.

It may be coincidence (or entirely unrelated..) that BMW, once using the strapline ‘the ultimate driving machine’ have recently designed interiors for Singapore Airline’s 777 first class cabin. Is this an early example of the transformation from the primary automotive proposition being based on driving to that of a mobility service offering quality time spent during a journey?

The time machine beckons.

Meridian was created to make the UK the world leader in the development of CAVs and their environment. We integrate existing facilities and capabilities and, along with a programme of matched investment are creating a more comprehensive testing and development environment addressing all aspects of CAV systems.

As a collaboration of business, government and academia across all relevant sectors we promote the UK’s CAV proposition to enhance the UK’s capability in the global race for sustainable mobility thereby contributing to the country’s social and economic prosperity.

Nick Colledge
2 Feb 2018