Self-Driving Companies Are Coming

Automation can go far beyond cars. Self-driving company capabilities are closer than we realize.

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Every day we hear more about how self-driving vehicles will change our lives. Automotive innovators such as Tesla and Waymo have been working to advance this capability for years while legacy companies, including GM and Ford, have more recently joined the chase. Self-driving cars are now shuttling around riders — although still with human overseers — in Las Vegas, Boston, and Detroit, among other cities.

But artificial intelligence and automation go far beyond cars. When it comes to “self-driving” capabilities, how long until we can achieve this at a company level?

The concept of a self-driving company is that many routine, data-intensive decisions would be made by machines in partnership with humans. As our ability to quantify and capture organizational information grows, the opportunity to apply machine learning, and even automate decision-making, grows as well.

Self-driving company capabilities are closer than many leaders realize. Software companies and established venture capitalists are investing in new products to help serve self-driving enterprises in the near future. Here, we highlight some of the companies that are already making strides toward autonomous futures and suggest three steps for leaders to take to prepare for the coming changes.

The Metaphor of the Self-Driving Car

To put the concept of autonomy in context, autonomous vehicle offerings are ranked from zero (no automation) to five (fully self-driving) by SAE International (see “Understanding the Self-Driving Car Metaphor”). Tesla’s Autopilot, which requires drivers to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel, is level 2, which provides “steering or brake/acceleration support” to drivers but requires drivers to “constantly supervise” the support features.

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