The Fuse

This Week In AVs: AV Delivery To Create 3.4 Million U.S. Jobs Per Year; China Expects 2023 Robotaxi Deployment; And More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | September 10, 2020

Delivery AVs Will Create 3.4 Million Jobs Per Year
According to analysis conducted by Steer Group and commissioned by AV delivery bot developer Nuro, delivery AVs will create and sustain an average of 3.4 million American jobs every year between 2025 and 2035. As autonomous deliveries grow, these new local jobs will be created in retail, warehousing, and maintenance, in addition to vehicle and software engineers. Reporting the findings, Nuro has noted that it has already created jobs with local delivery partners. “We’ve already started to see this in our initial deployments in Arizona and Houston,” the company wrote in a blog post, “where new workers were hired at our retail partners and in our depots.”

Delivery AVs will create and sustain an average of 3.4 million American jobs every year between 2025 and 2035.

Noting that the majority—43 percent—of vehicle trips are for shopping and errands, the analysis also finds that the AV delivery industry will generate an estimated $4.1 trillion in total value to the United States between 2025 and 2035. Moreover, AV delivery services will invest $1.1 trillion in the U.S. economy over the same time period. “As self-driving makes convenient and affordable delivery available for more stores, the jobs and investments in our local economies will only continue to grow,” Nuro added.

China’s AV Industry Aims For Widespread Deployment In 2023
Chinese AV startups expect large-scale commercialization of driverless cars by 2023, with self-driving taxis forming the main focus as they vie for industry leadership. “Robotaxis is the premier market for self-driving cars,” Jianxiong Xiao, CEO of autonomous car technology firm AutoX, told CNBC in an interview. China has the potential to become the world’s largest market for AVs, according to McKinsey, which also anticipates driverless cars to account for as much as 66 percent of the kilometers traveled by passengers in 2040.

“Robotaxis is the premier market for self-driving cars.”

That could generate market revenue of $1.1 trillion from mobility services and $900 billion from sales of autonomous vehicles by that year, and Chinese cities are already home to a number of AV robotaxi pilots. AutoX opened its robotaxi service up to the public in Shanghai last month, and WeRide started its pilot project in Guangzhou late last year. Fellow competitors DiDi, Baidu and also have robotaxi pilots in operation in Shanghai, Changsha, Guangzhou and Beijing.

How Will COVID-19 Change AVs?
The pandemic has changed public opinion toward AVs, particularly delivery bots. But how will the pandemic alter the development of AVs for a post-coronavirus world? A recent article in Mashable addresses this question, noting that the lingering effects of the pandemic will change consumer expectations of safety. Aside from the technology reacting to what is happening on the roads, riders will expect a greater commitment to sanitization and cleanliness, including measures such as the partitions currently in Ubers and Lyfts.

The uptick in demand automated grocery delivery is likely to continue as consumers prize contactless delivery and ecommerce, with Amazon’s purchase of Zoox seen as a reaction to this shift in consumer tastes. “There’s consumer demand for contactless delivery and it will persist for a long time,” said Anthony Townsend, author of Ghost Road: Beyond the Driverless Car.

Walmart Trials Drone Delivery As It Steps Up Autonomous Trials
This week, Walmart announced that it is teaming up with Flytrex to trial drone deliveries, as the retailer steps up its on-demand, autonomous delivery ambitions. The pilot launched yesterday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and focuses on delivering select grocery and essential household items from Walmart stores using Flytrex’s automated drones. Tom Ward, Walmart’s Senior Vice President, Customer Product said the trial “still feels like a bit of science fiction,” but the company’s steps into AVs has enabled them to learn more about how to use the technology available to improve company performance. “Take for example our autonomous vehicle work with Gatik, Ford and Nuro. We’ve gained loads of valuable insight into how autonomous vehicles fit within our business,” he added.