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The autonomous age is still some way off

The autonomous age is still some way off

Anyone hoping to see the widespread use of autonomous vehicles (AVs) will have to wait quite a while longer. Because, despite the hype, there are still numerous hurdles – financial, technological and social – to overcome.


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Roger Montgomery is the Founder and Chairman of Montgomery Investment Management. Roger has over three decades of experience in funds management and related activities, including equities analysis, equity and derivatives strategy, trading and stockbroking. Prior to establishing Montgomery, Roger held positions at Ord Minnett Jardine Fleming, BT (Australia) Limited and Merrill Lynch.

This post was contributed by a representative of Montgomery Investment Management Pty Limited (AFSL No. 354564). The principal purpose of this post is to provide factual information and not provide financial product advice. Additionally, the information provided is not intended to provide any recommendation or opinion about any financial product. Any commentary and statements of opinion however may contain general advice only that is prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial circumstances or needs. Because of this, before acting on any of the information provided, you should always consider its appropriateness in light of your personal objectives, financial circumstances and needs and should consider seeking independent advice from a financial advisor if necessary before making any decisions. This post specifically excludes personal advice.

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  1. Brett Edgerton

    Hi Roger, just catching up on reading after my sojourn. Great article and largely agree, especially the difficulty of getting things done right. But I do believe that the “need” for this is growing sharply indeed. Two years ago in a conversation around this topic I would say that it is becoming necessary because people are becoming less able to keep their hands off of their devices, and that in one round trip pre or post school drop off/pick up I would see at least one driver totally distracted on their phone. Then a year ago I changed that to at almost every traffic light I would notice at least 1. Now I have to say that at every light I see many! It’s essentially an epidemic…

    I do agree also on your point that many of these safety concerns will be met by lower order automation and other regulatory responses such as road cameras to detect device usage. But I think this will go much further – I think that fatigue detection software will be adapted fully to detect distraction, and may well become compulsory in cars in the years ahead (I did some research on potential investments in this space but most were either a part of larger companies – eg Caterpillar – or were not planning public listing any time soon).

    I had a brief chat with a delivery driver a month back who had some rather frightening stories – in one case he saw a crash at lights where the young woman on P plates didn’t even break as she went through a red light and straight into a collision! It didn’t surprise me given the level of distraction I have been observing personally… And I mentioned the school periods because I want to make the point that it is not just young drivers – I think that middle-aged drivers up to their 60s are some of the most distracted! Perhaps Facebook will need to link in with maps to detect fast motion and automatically close down (like many car Bluetooth systems will not allow fiddling when moving)…

    So I believe that over the next decade stronger and stronger regulation will be needed to stop distraction. It’s a far, far bigger issue than drink driving ever was. And ultimately people will be required to decide – get off your device or drive… A lot people will not want to be detached from their devices, but also will not want to make use of mass public transport… so the demand for autonomous is enormous, I believe… (and this trade-off will help people get over the “control” issues that they might have with “letting go of the wheel”).. it’s not just cheap money that’s “driving” the investment in this area… So money will continue to be thrown at even if there is a “paradigm” shift in the availability of financing, and I think this will happen at a speed that will surprise many skeptics (that’s not including you – I realise that you are just trying to think rationally around the investment case, and that’s why I spent the time sharing my 2 cents worth, for what its worth)… Mind you, like most major technological advancements, being able to make money by investing in the theme, well that’s something else altogether… I do like the anti-distraction device theme over the next decade, so if you had any investment ideas on this would appreciate hearing them…

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