How will self driving cars impact car rental industry in Dubai

The future is here! Or so we have been told. You must have seen it in the movies; a man gets into his car and speaks his destination using voice command. The autonomous vehicle revs to life and speeds away to its given destination.

How will self driving cars impact car rental industry in Dubai

How about that for convenience, but we all know the movies are full of a lot of unrealities. So, you may wonder, does this technology really exist and if it does why haven’t you seen it yet, why is it not mainstream, and if it is not in existence yet how long before it does.

First, we have to understand the concept of these self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles as they are commonly called. Many years ago, the idea of self driving cars was just what it was, an idea. But many years of research and testing has brought this technology within reach. An autonomous vehicle is one which is self governing or in other words does not require human interaction. So, the question in mind is when will this technology take over, right? When will you be able to hop in your sedan and say “Take me to grandmas”? I think the right question should be when it will be ready. Well the parts that go into the production of such vehicles over the years hence the leaps and strides but the major concern is safety.

How safe are these cars? It wouldn’t be easy convincing your sixty-five-year-old dad to get into a car that will take him to work without him having to do anything. Your guess is as good as mine, he just won't trust it. But companies are working day and night to make these cars work as naturally as human drivers. Now these vehicles are not just avoiding obstacles and sticking to trails but following traffic laws, merging, parking, even making safe, legal U-turns.

Here’s the question everyone should really be asking: How will this technology change your life? Well, your ride to the airport will get cheaper and safer. Your pizza will show up in a human-free robot, no tipping required. Your highway commute will become less of a drag. There may be ads during the ride relating to the company, where you are and where you're going at any given moment.

Now how will it affect the car rental industry especially in a city like Dubai. Dubai is one of the beautiful cities of the United Arab Emirates known for luxury and flamboyance. The city is also committed to its development and growth so they don’t hold back in investing in the best of technologies. There are a lot of businesses opened in this prosperous city and the majority of them are licensed in the trading field. Self-driving cars will be welcomed with arms wide open.

What does this mean for car rentals?

There are endless possible applications to these cars, courier services, public transport and even travel. But we will focus on the car rental industry.How enticing would it sound if you went to a rental service and they had a self-driving car on offer, would you take it? Assuming it is at a time where the integrity of these cars has been proven and safety is assured then sure, why not. Usually when someone rents a car there’s also the likelihood of hiring a driver but with the emergence of these cars there will be no need for such.

Also, there is the possibility of sending the car on errands such as picking the children from schools. As radical as that sounds that will be a welcome option for busy housewives. As time goes on people will grow accustomed to the use of such cars and rental services will be forced to key into the growing market by acquiring more of these autonomous cars as humans tend to gravitate towards convenience. One can only hope that these machines do not become abused as is the nature of society. We are still in the early days of self-driving cars but they're becoming more mainstream, companies like Google have already started road testing with their Waymo project. The transition will of course demand a high upfront cost but the curve smoothens as the expenses reduce over the course of time. That may mean an initial increase in the cost of rental for the consumers.

From the company point of view, it might be an opportunity or it might be a threat. Some companies are ready to embrace this leap in technology but some others could be a bit sceptical. The fear of customer safety aside some would look at it from the economic standpoint. Acquiring such vehicles will not be cheap. Or let’s say the world has moved on to these driverless cars and a company has acquired a whole fleet, what happens to the old cars? These are some of the factors that would be considered. Maybe it could be an option when purchasing the car just like GPS.

On the other hand, it will be a great business opportunity for these rental companies as tech companies will be looking to partner with them to key into their already established fleet. Google and Waymo is one example while Apple and Hertz are another. The car rental industry is embracing people’s changing habits and a new operating environment. Car rental companies are responding with intelligent strategies, innovative ideas, and technology investments that can help drive operational efficiency, growth, and profitability. These are the strategic initiatives on which industry executives must focus to remain relevant.