Self-Driving Cars: $7 Trillion Payoff?

Yandex is a Russian multinational, multi-service tech company. Wikipedia describes the internet–related services and products firm as “the largest search engine” in that country, with “about 65% market share,” and says Yandex ranked as the 4th largest search engine worldwide, as of 2012.

104181597-GettyImages-605519688.530x298    “This technology is driving big changes”


So why is Yandex getting into the autonomous driving pool?  230px-Hands-free_DrivingAnd why are so many other worldwide tech firms, carmakers, components suppliers and ride-sharing companies investing billions of dollars into developing self-driving cars and trucks?  The answer could be the predicted $7 trillion value of the global “passenger economy” by 2050.

Yandex.Taxi is already a very much in-demand, on-demand service in Russia.  Just a hint at the numbers (again, from Wikipedia):  Operating in Moscow and other cities across Russia, the company is used by approximately 200 Russian taxi companies, operating around 20,000 cabs.  Yandex processed 3.5 million orders in 2013.

Strategy Analytics, a research and consulting firm, and tech giant Intel see figures like these as a huge market already in development.

The companies’ joint study explores the economic potential of the Intel-named “Passenger Economy,” one in which today’s drivers become passengers, an economy that the study predicts will grow from $800 billion in 2035 to $7 trillion by 2050.  The spark that may ignite the global “passenger economy” will be the marketing of the first fully autonomous-drive vehicles in the next four to five years.  (A “fully autonomous vehicle” must be able to navigate without human intervention, to a predetermined destination, over roads not adapted for its use.)

“This technology is driving big changes,” said Kathy Winter, Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Automated Driving Group. “Time will be freed up by people not driving.  There will be increased productivity and new goods and services to be consumed.”

Autonomous mobility means more than sit-back-and-relax-hands-free driving.  The phenomenon–likened to the space race of the 1960s and the explosion of technology-driven, and other life-changing aspects of our lives that it spawned–is poised to alter our patterns and perspectives.

Example:  Intel estimates widespread adoption of driverless vehicles could save at least 585,000 lives between 2035 and 2050.

Example:  Autonomous technology will reinvent the delivery of products, locally and long haul.  The shift could make up for driver shortages and account for much of the projected revenues.

Example: The new technology could reduce accident-related public safety costs markedly, by some $234 billion over the period 2035-2045.

Dmitry Polishchuk, head of Yandex.Taxi, says, “Self-driving cars are set to revolutionize the way we commute within a matter of a decade. . .there are dozens of companies around the world building their own driverless cars, but only a few of them have components crucial for turning this project into reality.”  Among those components are reliable technologies and algorithms, engineering expertise and resources, and access to the market.



Autonomous mobility means, in fact, a fundamental shift in the business models for automakers, who are looking at the fact that individual car ownership will probably plummet in the next 20 years, affecting what exactly manufacturers will be making and how their products and businesses will operate.

Which companies will lead the industry, or at least share in the coming bonanza, is still unclear.  Road testing, engineering simulation, data analysis, software development, design parameters, consumer applications and other elements need to be explored, expanded and verified to ensure autonomous safety and reliability.

But driverless vehicles and roads are literally just around the corner.  And when they do become an everyday reality they will have revolutionized how we travel, how are cities are designed, and how our social lives are shaped. invites you to read the report at


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