Look up "autonomous" in the dictionary and you see entries such as "freedom to act independently," "self-ruling," and "unmonitored."
A recent megatrend study by Goldman Sachs was dismissive of the future of autonomous vehicles because the social, economic, and regulatory changes needed were not yet mainstream. Even Google, which has come closest to a commercial vehicle has to write algorithms based on sensor data regarding other vehicles, road conditions, and other information.
Hardly independent, self-ruling, or unmonitored!
This might be useful to addressing autonomous cars. In modern QFD, we must first ask who are the key customers for autonomous vehicles? What is their scenario? I'll suggest a few examples here:
What customer needs are their most important, given these customer segments and scenarios? Here are some possibilities (again examples):
What alternatives meet them best, given these customer needs? For example,
Based on this quick study, at the moment (July 2015) I don't see autonomous vehicles anytime soon being the preferred, day-to-day transportation for these segments. Thus, the social changes are not yet significant. Economic and regulatory changes are more on the technical side and may be solved sooner than the social.
Now, if we use "technology-driven Reverse QFD," then we can start with the autonomous solution, identify its key functions, identify the needs addressed by those functions, identify which customer segments highly values those needs, and then finally determine whether these segments are sufficient to build a business case. For example:
It would seem the best opportunity for social change to autonomous vehicles might be in the delivery sector. The economics are somewhat already achieved through navigation software used by companies such as UPS and FedEx to optimize delivery routes. But is there enough in-the-truck work that could be done by drivers relieved of operating the vehicle?
Google car photo by wikipedia/Steve Jurvetson
Santa photo by wikipedia/Canada Forces
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