Imagine arriving at an airport on a business trip. While the plane is still taxiing to the gate, you open an app on your phone to see several transportation options for getting to a meeting downtown.
None of the options involve a human driver.
Sound far-fetched? Not at all. Aptiv is already linking this imagined future of mobility to the reality of today. The concept of being able to order one of several services to get people from one place to another in an autonomous vehicle is called Automated Mobility on Demand or AMoD.
But is this AMoD a product or a service? The answer, as the name itself suggests, is both.
At the core of its possibility is careful integration of new software and hardware that will someday soon let all of us enjoy the benefits of Automated Mobility on Demand… and we at Aptiv are thrilled to be at the center of developing and integrating all the pieces required to make this a commercial reality.
So where are we in this journey? Further along than most realize, even for those in the auto industry.
Remembering that AMoD is both a product and a service, it’s best to review the development in terms of Aptiv’s partnerships around the world in the AMoD field.Teaching the Car to Drive Itself
Aptiv purchased software-guru Ottomatika, which spun off from Carnegie Mellon’s engineering research, and in simplest terms is the software doing the “thinking” (decision-making, controls, etc.) for Aptiv’s autonomous driving systems.
The combination of Ottomatika’s software with Aptiv’s world-class advanced electrical architectures and next-gen supercomputing platforms all the vehicle to drive themselves for safely and efficiently.
Ottomatika’s autonomous driving software expertise and Aptiv’s leading systems integration expertise came together in a big way. In the spring of 2015, Aptiv successfully completed the very first automated cross-country drive.
The Aptiv team drove (or more accurately, was driven in) an automated vehicle from San Francisco to NYC in automated mode 99 percent of the way. Along the 3,400 mile coast-to-coast trip, Aptiv collected four terabytes of data, which we’ve used to make our autonomous technology better than ever before.
Going the Last Mile in Singapore
The high-tech city-state of Singapore recognized Aptiv’s leadership in the emerging AMoD space back in August of 2016, when the Singapore Land Transport Authority picked Aptiv to implement a cloud-based mobility-on-demand transport concept service.
Aptiv provided a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles that we’re actively testing in a mixed industrial and urban area called One-North Test Bed. Our work here is focused on solving first-mile, last-mile challenges. In dense urban areas, this “first mile, last mile” challenge is a mobility problem that can be solved by AMoD.
Going back to the introduction when you landed in an unfamiliar city, a bus service might take you to the city center, but how do you get to your meeting? This is “the last mile”, and it would happen quickly and efficiently via AMoD. This is exactly the kind of challenge we aim to overcome with our work in Singapore.
Filling in the Gaps in Beantown
The City of Boston is a great example of an established city with a radial transportation network. This design brings people to a central downtown area, with “spokes” that radiate out to suburbs. But, over the years the City has grown and new neighborhoods and work communities have popped up or expanded.
That means many residents are unable to use existing mass transit for their whole trip because their local stop is too far from home, the number of connections too great or commute time simply too long.
Aptiv has an active pilot program in Boston, where we’re working with nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software firm recently acquired by Aptiv, a ride-hailing service and the City of Boston to address transportation issues identified in the GoBoston2030 initiative.
nuTonomy, an autonomous driving software startup out of MIT that Aptiv recently acquired, is developing driverless vehicle technology for a range of commercial applications, including robo-taxi services. Combined with Ottomatika, and in partnership with Mobileye, these software powerhouses enable Aptiv to accelerate time to market, increase our bench of incredibly bright engineers and our global scale and reach.
The upside to using both of these software platforms together is that Aptiv will be able to support both the eventual consumer market for autonomous vehicles as well as commercial AMoD applications, which we expect to be the first buyers for these technologies.
Our acquisition of nuTonomy enables us to accelerate road testing and add even more expertise to our R&D team. We are confident that the first large-scale opportunity to make Level 4 self-driving vehicles a reality will come through ride-hailing fleets, so this move is an important one in expanding our leadership position in the new mobility space.
What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas
Aptiv is partnering with Lyft to bring AMoD to the world first – here in Vegas, right now. Using the Lyft app, if you step outside at the Consumer Electronic Show this week, you can take an autonomous vehicle to the strip when you leave the show.
Aptiv AMoD as Soon as Next Year?
Delivering a validated service is the final step in putting autonomous driving on the road. And, we’re excited to share that Aptiv has partnered with a major US city to launch the world’s first AMoD application using automated buses. The partnership will augment an existing bus route to make it smarter, more efficient, and more effective for residents.
And, what’s perhaps most exciting about this application is that it won’t be a pilot: it will be a real service, helping real customers. We’re currently in validation phases and plan to launch in early 2019.
AMoD is a question of when, not if. In the next 18 months, Aptiv will make it happen.