The latest news in autonomous vehicle technology is coming from China, and the hi-tech firm Baidu. Throughout the city of Wuhu, Baidu will be letting driver-less vehicles freely roam the city over the course of the next five years, starting with autonomous cars, and then slowly introducing vans and buses. Initially, no passengers will be in the vehicles, but as the technology is tested and refined, autonomous journeys involving passengers will take place in designated test zones.
“They want to be the first city in the world to embrace autonomous driving,” stated Wang Jing, Baidu’s head of driver-less cars “This is the first city that is brave enough, daring enough and innovative enough to test autonomous driving,”
The initial phase of the testing will last approximately three years, and will only involve restricted areas of the city. After these initial years, the areas of the city where autonomous vehicles are allowed will be greatly expanded and the service will become commercialised, allowing the three million inhabitants of Wuhu the opportunity to utilise the vehicles for transport. At the end of the five year plan, the intention is for the city to run seamlessly with both normal and autonomous vehicles on the road.
It is believed the current model wherein households own their own car is a great waste of resources, as most private cars stand idle. Mr Jing on the other hand believes that autonomous cars would be much more heavily used and are a much more efficient way to transport people and goods. On the other hand, research undertaken from KPMG suggests the use of autonomous vehicles will actually increase congestion, as it will encourage wider groups of people to travel including the young and old, who are not usually on the road.
Impact on Video Conferencing
Until autonomous vehicles are a common place part of our society, it is very hard to gauge the regulations that may impact upon their usefulness and their impact on how we communicate while on the move. Up to 70% of video conferencing takes part over a mobile solution. Meetings on the move have become more and more popular over the years, and this trend shows no sign of slowing as devices become more capable, and picture and audio quality becomes clearer. With the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the opportunity to meet on the move could expand even further (depending on legislation), as driving will no longer be a barrier to communication for teams. The meeting that begins in the office will be able to continue in the car with Lifesize Cloud, and productivity will increase even further.
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