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The Driverless Car Tipping Point Is Coming Soon

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Google-self-driving-car

Here’s a recent prediction from Cisco’s technology trend watchers: In 5 to 7 years, it’ll cost us more to drive our cars than to let them drive us.

At a moment when Google dominates the conversation in key auto tech sectors — capturing attention in May as it demonstrated its cars’ latest driverless acumen, in terms of mapping, sensing and responding — two reasonable questions emerge: How would driverless cars cost us less to use, and how close are we to commercially available models on our roads?

“Considering that not only Google, but also automakers, such as Nissan, Audi and Toyota, are intensifying their efforts to develop advanced autonomous-driving technology, it’s safe to say that driverless cars could go mainstream in about 10 to 15 years,” said Jordan Perch, an analyst and writer for DMV.com. “Google is confident that it will be able to launch a self-driving car by 2025, and Nissan is even more optimistic, saying that it will bring an autonomous car to the market by 2020.”

And what can we say about the concept that driverless cars will be less expensive, somehow, than what it currently costs — in numerous ways — to drive ourselves around? On that point, we turn to experts, many of whom are already considering the prices we could pay when our wheels become driverless.

Driverless costs: accidents to ownership

“It’s a best-case scenario, from a technology perspective, but possible,” said Chunka Mui, managing director of The Devil’s Advocate Group, and author of The New Killer Apps, regarding Cisco’s 5-to-7-year prediction surrounding the cost advantages of driverless cars. “There are two types of cost to consider: the cost of accidents and the cost of operation.”

The first set leads quickly into considerations of not only medical bills and insurance claims but also ethics and decision-making — that is, costs that come to us on a wholly different level.

On the first point, says Mui, “In the U.S. alone, we estimate that vehicular accidents inflict about $450 billion in annual costs.

According to Ravi Pandit, an automotive-engineering expert who is the chairman and group CEO of KPIT Technologies, if the human-driving equation were eliminated from the vehicle-safety scenario, insurance companies could create additional incentives for what would then be vehicle passengers/owners.

“When autonomous vehicles are proven safe for roads, at scale, insurance companies will pass on significant rewards to those using such a vehicle,” Pandit said. “Even today, many insurers will pass on savings if the vehicle owners allow access to driving parameters such as speed, location, time and acceleration/deceleration patterns.”

Granted, there’s plenty of research still to come before we can assert for certain what “proven safe” means — and at what scale, in fact, humans will begin to feel right about taking their hands off the wheel for good.

Alex Hern, writing for The Guardian, raises a separate quandary having to do with the philosophical costs we may be readying ourselves to pay when it comes to the in-car CPUs of the future. What should coders tell driverless cars to do in scenarios that are no-win situations? In other words, if an accident were unavoidable, into what — or whom — should a driverless car be programmed to crash? Swerve into children, swerve into adults, or what?

As Hern quotes Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University, in his article, “it’s the difference between premeditated murder and involuntary manslaughter.”

On a less unpleasant level, Hern comes back to basics of a different kind: If our cities begin to fill with autonomous cars that can simply pick up passengers and take them from here to there, then, “in that world,” he asked, “why does anyone need to own a car at all?”

The cost tipping point

The consultancy IHS predicts that by 2025, there could be 230,000 driverless autos out there on the roads. By 2035, perhaps up to 12 million. In that future, perhaps one day we’ll experience the metropolitan fleet, happily whisking us to and fro. But in the beginning, it’s almost certainly the case that we’ll be plunking down cash for our self-driving cars. That, experts say, could be at considerable expense indeed.

“They could cost as much as $10,000 more than what the average conventional car costs today,” said Perch. “One could argue that this is a conservative projection, considering that the equipment that is implemented in Google’s self-driving cars costs more than $250,000 — although this figure should drop significantly as the company develops its autonomous-driving technology further.

“This is why self-driving cars are more likely to be popular among the wealthier consumers,” he continued, “whereas people with average income levels will not be able to afford one for a long time.”

Still, a tipping point for consumers could arrive when they begin to realize how deeply driverless technology can impact the cost of operating a vehicle in the first place.

The savings could add up quickly, especially if conventions around ownership begin to shift.

The savings could add up quickly, especially if conventions around ownership begin to shift.Here’s one model. Fixed annual ownership costs for the average U.S. passenger vehicle start at approximately $8,700, according to Andreas Mai, director of Smart Connected Vehicles for Cisco. In this model, a driverless car — in part due to its ability to communicate with other smart and connected cars on the road, driverless or not, as connected-car tech presumably becomes more commonplace — would help eliminate some 80% of human-caused crashes involving that vehicle. According to Mai, as an average based on AAA, Texas A&M Transportation Institute and DOT numbers — encompassing all U.S. passenger vehicles — that kind of reduction could create some $1,800 in accident-related savings for our owners. So, now the average annual operating cost is roughly $6,900. Then we look at how the very concept of ownership might change.

“Conventional vehicles are used less than 5% of their usable time,” Mai said. “The convenience of being able to call an autonomous vehicle when it is needed and easily release it for others to use when it is not needed is likely to make autonomous-car sharing a much more convenient and cost-efficient mode of transportation for many. Assuming the remaining average ownership cost ($6,900) can be shared by three users, this would equate to additional savings.”

In other words, now you’re into the operation of an autonomous car for $2,300 per year, on average, or just about 25% of what you’d spend to operate a human-driver vehicle. Would 75% savings be a tipping point for the consumer? All other factors aside, at this rate you’d pay back a $10,000 premium on a driverless car in your second year of shared ownership (at an average of $4,600 savings per owner), or in your sixth year if you owned it alone (saving, on average, $1,800 annually).

Bringing autonomous cars to market and integrating them with the world in which we drive are two different things, however. Cisco, considering a model in which dedicated lanes and exclusive city sectors accommodate just driverless vehicles, estimates they could be out there as early as 2015 to 2019 (bringing us those operating savings within five years). Mixing driverless with human-operated cars pushes the timeframe out to something more in line with Perch’s estimates.

Meanwhile, tipping points, whatever they might be for the consumer, probably won’t prevent passengers from sitting in a driverless car now and then if commercial fleets take on the technology faster than the individual.

When Columbia University researchers crunched numbers — considering the possible cost of a driverless taxi, per mile, versus the cabbie-piloted versions we know now — it came out with a significant savings projection. For example, given a robot fleet of Manhattan taxis, The New York Times reported, the cost per trip-mile of your future ride could drop from $4 per to about 50 cents per trip-mile.

For some, that’s already reason enough to keep the meter running on next steps for driverless cars.

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Business

ONEPLUS IS GOING TO START MAKING TVS

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OnePlus is is getting into a new line of business: making TVs. Best known for its phones, China’s OnePlus also has a small catalog of really good accessories like wireless earphonesand surprisingly awesome backpacks, though nothing as complex or expensive as a television set. In announcing the news on the OnePlus online forums, company chief Pete Lau describes it as “the first step in building a connected human experience.”

Every hardware manufacturer is now looking intently at ways to monetize the smart home space. Samsung and Huawei recently announced smart speakers, Apple and Google already have the HomePod and Google Home, respectively, and Microsoft and Sony are old incumbents with their Xbox and PlayStation consoles. OnePlus has decided to make its entry point into this market the TV itself, which has always been at the center of home entertainment, though often with the help of other connected devices. Reading Lau’s teaser announcement, the OnePlus TV — which so far only has a project name, no timeline or specs have been revealed — will serve as the connectivity hub for OnePlus’ future vision of the smart home.

The OnePlus smart TV will be developed by a new division within OnePlus, led by Pete Lau himself. Still at the earliest stages of development, OnePlus is currently seeking input from its fans, as it often does, about what their priorities with a future smart TV will be.

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Finance

LAGOS TO HOST BIANNUAL AFRICA FINTECH SUMMIT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NOVEMBER

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The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures
LAGOS, Nigeria, September 17, 2018/ — Africa’s premier fintech event, the Africa Fintech Summit, (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) will be held for the first time in Lagos, Nigeria, onNovember 8-9, 2018. This event comes on the heels of the earlier edition in Washington D.C. which featured leading policy makers, c-suite business executives, start-ups, and investors.

The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures.

Speaking on the decision to bring the Summit to Lagos, the Chairman of the Summit, Leland Rice, said, “Lagos is an ideal host city; it’s an epicenter of Africa’s fintech revolution and the driving force behind the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit. The successes of companies such as Paga, Flutterwave, Mines.io, and Paystack have strategically positioned Lagos as the destination of choice for investors.”

“The first edition of the Summit in D.C. was a launch pad for several milestone fintech deals struck among its delegates in the months after the event. We plan to build on these successes in Lagos, with a focus on bringing innovators and policy makers together to move the needle on fintech regulation and bringing founders and investors together to facilitate further capital raises,” added Leland.

The two-day event will feature investor missions from the US, UK, and UAE, an Alpha Expo featuring the most exciting startups and entrepreneurs in Nigeria, a half-day blockchain masterclass, and an awards ceremony.

Reacting to the decision to host the Summit in Lagos, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technology, Lanre Osibona, stated, “This reflects the progress Nigeria is making in the areas of technology and financial services. The event is very important as it comes at the heels of the Vice President Osinbajo’s trip to Silicon Valley to promote Nigeria’s tech sector. We look forward to collaborating with the organizing committee and to a successful event in Lagos.”

In similar vein, Tayo Oviosu, the founder of Paga—a payment company that recently raised $10 million in Series B2 funding—said that “the Africa Fintech Summit in Washington D.C. provided valuable insights into the fintech space and connected me with key players in the industry. I look forward to the Lagos edition.”

Speakers lined up for the event include Chief Economist of PwC Nigeria, Dr. Andrew S. Nevin; Managing General Partner of EchoVC, Eghosa Omoigui; CEO of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie; Founder of Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji; and CEO of PayStack, Shola Akinlade, whose company recently raised $8 million Series A funding

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dedalus Global.

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For more information, please contact:
Ridwan Sorunke
Directory of Communications, AFTS
Ridwan@AfricaFintechSummit.com
+234 (0) 8037885760
+1 2023166726

About Dedalus Global

Dedalus Global (https://VC4A.com/dedalus-global/) is an investment and strategy advisory firm focusing on emerging markets and emerging technologies. With networks throughout Africa and the Middle East, we leverage granular market knowledge to drive innovation, accelerate capital deployment, and create value for our clients and the economies where they operate.

About Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS)

The Africa Fintech Summit (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) is a biannual event that brings together leading disruptors, tech and finance professionals, regulators, and investors from around the globe to debate policies, compare best practices, and forge Africa-focused ventures. AFTS leverages the growth of the fintech sector in Africa to bring key stakeholders to discuss the technologies transforming finance on the continent.

To learn more about AFTS, please visit www.AfricaFintechSummit.com

View a recap from the AFTS Washington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIdDS-u0rXE

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Dedalus Global

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Business

AMAZON IS REPORTEDLY BUILDING A FREE STREAMING VIDEO SERVICE FOR FIRE TV OWNERS

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Amazon is said to be prepping an ad-supported streaming video service; it’ll be available to folks who own any of the company’s Fire TV streaming dongles and set-top boxes, reports The Information.

It’ll be separate from Prime Video, which offers a range of licensed shows and movies, as well original content produced by Amazon, to people who are subscribed to Prime.

Amazon's latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube
Credit: Amazon
Amazon’s latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube

Do you like good gadgets?

Those sweet cool gadgets?

Oh, yeah

The idea behind this upcoming service, which is dubbed Free Dive, is to help Amazon bring in more revenue through advertising. Ads presently account for a small fraction – about $2 billion out of more than $200 billion – of its annual revenue, but they offer higher margins than retail, and are one of Amazon’s fastest growing earners company-wide.

To that end, the company’s been selling ad space on its site, and is slated to run ads during live sporting events on Prime Video. It also turned off ad-free viewing on Twitch – its game video streaming service – for Prime subscribers earlier this month.

Free Dive could give Amazon a chance to rival Roku, which offers a similar ad-supported streaming service for owners of its devices and is expected to reach 59 million users by the end of 2018. Roku also made its ‘Channel’ service available via the web earlier this month to folks in the US, so you don’t need the company’s hardware to access it. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon follows suit – and how it plays its cards with customers across the globe, especially in cost-conscious markets like India, where it’s expanding its media offerings.

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