The AI and mobility singularity

The impact of autonomous driving


By Jiaxiong Xiao


The rise of logistics and delivery platforms has revolutionized the gig economy, but with more and more countries facing problems around aging populations, labor shortages will become a critical concern in the coming decades. According to the World Economic Forum, U.S. labor force participation is expected to keep falling until 2024, even though it’s already near its lowest level since 1977.


Labor demand already far exceeds supply. In major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, it’s increasingly difficult to hail a cab. Mobility, on the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) side, is heavily reliant on human resources and is therefore profoundly affected by rising labor costs.


Just as the Internet democratized access to information, I set out to democratize transportation by making autonomous driving technology just as accessible. This technology is paving the way for a next-generation automobile that will be one of the most transformative advancements of this century.


As self-driving cars fill the gap left behind by the shrinking workforce, the economy will start to follow suit. Individuals will no longer buy cars to drive them, but as an investment to meet their city’s logistical needs. Soon, people will be able to join the gig economy without having to show up for the gig itself.


Our concept of distance will also change, as our full attention is no longer required for driving. Demand for parking spaces will also drop, as cars can drive back to designated parking areas, saving car owners parking fees at malls and offices.


AutoX is the world’s first company to have developed xUrban, a Level Four autonomous driving system dedicated to handling China’s downtown driving scenarios. Our vehicles can navigate swiftly through heavy downtown traffic at night, in bad weather, and throughout the busiest areas of Shenzhen.


The development of urban autonomous driving is highly complex due to the shorter timeframes for sensors to make decisions about speed and navigation, especially compared to long-haul drives. But there is a crucial need to perfect this type of autonomous driving for the future success of the technology.


Last year, we launched the world’s first autonomous grocery delivery service in California. We have found it to be an effective way to educate consumers, easing them into the adoption of autonomous vehicles through delivery before becoming passengers themselves.


While the technology is coming close to a truly autonomous application, the missing pieces lie with governing bodies and their efforts to pass legislation regulating its use. Once this legal hurdle has been overcome, it won’t be long before driving out of necessity seems like a distant memory.


About the Author


Professor Jianxiong Xiao (a.k.a. Professor X) is the Founder & CEO of AutoX and has over a decade of experience in Computer Vision, Autonomous Driving, and Robotics. He received his PhD from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT and later joined Princeton University as an Assistant Professor where he founded the first Computer Vision and Robotics Lab of Princeton.

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