From driverless cars to jalopies running on 9V batteries, the world of transport is quickly becoming the biggest “consumer” of advanced computers. And with the Internet Of Things rapidly disrupting life as we know it, things are looking quite sci-fi in the modern world. At the fore of the self-driving automobile is WAYMO, a company started by Google and fledged into an innovative subsidiary, which could be worth well over US$70 billion once it rolls out.
But where would self-driving cars play off in South Africa? Innovation Group South Africa’s 2016 Automotive Future Now Report provides a qualitative analysis of automotive trends, forecasts and insight into the future of the automobile in South Africa. According to this report, Africa is the globe’s “last market”. It’s where small businesses can grow, and with such unlimited expansion, there is more than enough room for facilitative policy and business that will allow driverless cars to roam the streets. The up-and-coming generation (that’s you and me and anyone born post-1990) views transportation as an integral part of digital technology. That means we’re unlikely to differentiate from the two once digital technology and transportation successfully fuse. We’ve already seen the impact of Uber on the market within the country.
Vehicle sales within South Africa are booming, and people are becoming more concerned about service, quality, and support than just the brand name. That means that cars like Hyundai are becoming “healthier” buying options compared to the German bigwigs (that means Audi, BMW and Wabenzi). This makes self-driving car manufacturers eager to get involved. Though it must be noted that this report was published before the country’s recent sovereign credit rating was marked as junk – which saw General Motors announce that they will be taking their business elsewhere.
The odds may be in our favour with regards to a growing market, but there are a couple of obstacles in the way. According to the Vaal University of Technology, there are 30 million daily internet users in South Africa – as opposed to 319 million in the USA. We first need to bring this service to the masses to truly see the self-driving car take off in South Africa. The more our tech, and access to it, develops, the sooner we’ll be kicking back and letting the machine do the driving.
By Shawn Greyling
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