8 November 2016

Getting from A to B the futuristic way

Unless you’ve been living on a remote Pacific island for the last year or so, you’ll probably have heard or read something about car manufacturers testing their driverless or ‘autonomous’ vehicles on the road for real.

Even if driving laws like the Highway Code are updated along with motor insurance standards to allow autonomous vehicles to have free reign on our roads, few people will be able to afford them initially.

Still, like many of our young customers, we love technology, gadgets and amazing news in general, so this week on The Root we take a daydreaming look at mobility of the future.

Mobility is all about how we get from A to B which, for many of us, means jumping in a car, or alternatively walking to the bus stop or train station.

One thing that’s already changing is how increasing numbers of people in the UK are switching from buying and owning cars to leasing them, which has been popular for a long time in America. After all, younger people especially are used to paying a small upfront fee for their mobile phones, followed by fixed monthly payments, and people buy fewer films on DVD these days, instead renting them via LoveFilm or watching them over Netflix. Some people are perfectly happy doing a similar thing with cars.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - mobility as a service MAAS - connected autonomous ride sharing


Whether you own a car like most people still do or you’ve switched to leasing, stop and think for a moment about the vehicle’s daily routine. Quite possibly it helps you get to college, university, work or some other destination and then just sits there doing nothing til you drive home again.

Adam Jones, a guy from Morgan Stanley, recently said: “Your car is arguably one of the most underutilised, polluting, time-consuming and dangerous machines on earth”. The idea might make your skin crawl, but what if, after you’ve parked your car somewhere, someone else who needs a ride could summon it, making use of it instead of it just sitting there? This is what the concept of ride-sharing is about.

Combine ride-sharing with driverless cars that nobody actually owns anymore and it could mean that in the future our streets will be full of autonomous cars, buses and wagons driving more efficiently and safely than we humans could manage. Computer and telematics technology means vehicles would be able to drive closer to each other and may mean traffic jams are a thing of the past. Most vehicles will more than likely be electric at that stage, too, helping the environment.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - mobility as a service MAAS - work or read on the move


Autonomous vehicles will also mean we can make better use of our time, working, studying, watching YouTube videos or, err, sleeping, rather than being stuck behind a steering wheel. Having more time to ourselves sounds pretty cool, but then it’s true that some people really do love driving.

Elderly, disabled and other people with mobility difficulties will have easier lives thanks to autonomous ride-sharing vehicles, as they will hopefully be able to summon a car at relatively short notice in the middle of the night, even if they live up a mountain. Lazy people will love it, too, as they can request a vehicle to go and pick up their takeaway.

In geek-speak, all this stuff that may happen in the future is called Mobility as a Service (MaaS for short) and even though the technology is already here on some levels, the bigger question is really whether people actually want a society like we’ve described. It’s not going to happen overnight, so don’t worry – Carrot will continue providing traditional car insurance for young and newly-qualified drivers for a long time to come.

Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook and tell us what you think of the kind of futuristic society some technology companies would love to see.

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.