About a year before the coronavirus pandemic hit our shores, the Boston Consulting Group and Detroit Mobility Lab stated that advancements in self-driving and electric cars will create more than 30,000 jobs for engineers in the next decade. However, the same report revealed that the demand for engineers with computer-related degrees could be up to six times more than the expected number of graduates!
While typical engineers work on specific automotive components, like engines or electronics, in the future, they will need to have more cross-functional skills to work on interconnected automotive systems. This means they will need skills in math, physics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, data science, and software, the report said. Because these skills remain in high demand and low supply, the talent gap will likely persist, it added.
Fast forward to today and it seems that the coronavirus has accelerated a future with autonomous vehicles (AV’s). Countries around the world have responded to COVID-19 with lockdowns, restrictions, and technology solutions that use artificial intelligence to combat the virus. In China, new opportunities for the autonomous driving industry and intelligent solutions have stood out. Restrictions on retail, dining, and everyday life during the outbreak have increased demand for driverless deliveries and non-contact operations, both heavily relying on autonomous driving technologies. As the outbreak progresses, all sectors of Chinese society continue to apply AI, big data capabilities, and robot services to prevent and control the coronavirus.
With countless changes forced upon our day-to-day lives by the COVID-19 pandemic, the automotive and transportation industries are on the lookout for how changes in consumer behavior may affect the adoption of autonomous vehicles (AV) technologies across all facets of the economy and day-to-day life. While consumer demand for new and used car buying may have momentarily delayed the adoption of AV systems in the consumer segment, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important AV is throughout day-to-day commerce and the logistics industry. Street-ready AV systems are in many respects years away from street-ready testing and commercialization in any form or format. That said, the weaknesses identified by COVID-19 in our day-to-day lives and the potential for AV to be a component of the national response to emergencies may accelerate the adoption of AV systems in ways often on the fringe of the AV discussion. Time will tell if COVID-19’s impact will accelerate or postpone timelines for AV’s adoption, but many of the issues and risks highlighted by COVID-19 are problems that AV technology is primed to help solve.