How Autonomous Vehicles might work in a Car Rental Fleet

Waymo Self Driving Car

A sneak peek at driverless cars in a future market

Although autonomous vehicles are slowly stepping on the gas as they wedge their way into the car rental market, it’s still a work in progress. Waymo’s been making great strides in driverless technology, while other automakers aren’t far behind. GM’s work on the Chevy Bolt and Ford’s ArgoAI project are also yielding positive results, even though securing investment has also been rather cumbersome.

But according to Digital Trends, the incremental way that autonomous vehicles have been shifting into faster lanes is indicative that these new automobiles will be here before we even know it. According to the piece, the cars will transition to driverless status in a variety of stages, meaning that we may be hard pressed to declare when full-scale autonomy becomes official, especially in the car rental market.

In this case, the future scenario involves a potential customer opening a smartphone app to book a vehicle which automatically drives itself to a choice destination for the client to pick up. The car is then notified about where the customer wants to go, reaches the location, drops off the customer and then drives itself to the next client. During its downtime, the driverless vehicle remains on the rental lot, or drives itself to an electric fuel depot, car wash or garage for maintenance.

Meanwhile, at the car rental office, maintenance will be far more efficient as the vehicle will almost literally be self-inspecting, relaying data to staff about its staff. Everything from a minor fender bender to mechanical issues could be reported, prompting faster repair jobs and upgrading when needed.

It’s much akin to a shuttle without humans behind the wheel and if total autonomy is achieved, chances are these might be the only vehicles on the road, all part of a rental fleet, since there wouldn’t be much of an incentive to own a car anymore. It also might lead to fewer cars on the road and fewer congested parking lots.

Much of this will depending on the diversity and expansion of connectivity. Wireless and cloud-based technology can already make the booking and status reporting elements a reality, as an office and vehicle can send and transmit data to each other. Other self-driving features will be added piece by piece, every time connectivity become slightly more sophisticated.

But the next wave, which allows for more autonomous mobility, is progressing steadily to the point where autonomous cars can virtually talk to each other about road conditions and their immediate locations to prevent collisions and increase auto safety. And with all that available on a car rental platform, it’s a safe bet that vehicular autonomy will take the market on roads previously untrodden.

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