Early Christians made use of acronyms in Greek to explain Jesus. POTUS and SCOTUS date back to 1895. Acronyms really caught on in World War 2 to specific mostly chaos: AWOL, SNAFU, and FUBAR come to mind. (Excuse the implied expletives.)
In digital conversation today, acronyms like YOLO, DM, and LOL are ubiquitous.
Acronyms have also evolved to assist us understand the rapid evolution of transportation. Once we launched the Fleet Forward Conference in 2018, we received multiple speaker submissions with ACES within the title, equivalent to this one: “The Way forward for Fleet is ACES.”
ACES (or CASE) stands for Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared. Back then, when those pillars were far more rooted in theory than in practical applications, it gave the impression of we’d be further along by today.
ACES Back Then
Here was my breakdown of the paradigm in 2018:
Autonomous: There was a notion that my two young sons would never need a driver’s license, as in a number of years we’d all be passengers in cars with no steering wheels. That seems silly now, but who were we to query Elon Musk’s prediction of robotaxis by 2024?
Electric: By 2023, we thought electric vehicle pilots for fleets would have was widescale adoptions and indie EV makers entering the market could be at production scale.
By 2025, we thought the market would have transformed to EV batteries with solid-state technology, allowing for 500 miles of range in a lighter battery pack. That likely won’t occur.
Shared: Technology that powered ride-hailing and retail carsharing was to penetrate business and company fleets, allowing greater utilization of fewer assets. While programs have grown barely in government fleet pools, shared mobility providers tested after which backed away from the U.S. market.
Connected: This paradigm is the anomaly. Telematics systems were already pervasive in 2018, but I couldn’t wrap my head across the hockey stick of penetration to come back.
Indeed, the share of vehicles which are connected either by an aftermarket modem or one embedded on the factory has exploded by at the very least 300% since 2018.
Today, the news tilts toward the negative. As we turn out to be operational in these pillars, the impediments turn out to be real: seemingly limitless edge use cases to unravel, lack of policy and regulatory coordination, supply chain issues, high prices for the whole lot, and the monumental task of upgrading the grid and getting power to sites for EV infrastructure buildout.
“I actually have to say, the longer term has felt a bit frustrating today,” I said in my opening remarks on the 2023 Fleet Forward Conference (FFC), which convened Nov. 8-10 in Santa Clara, California.
I also said that progress is usually higher measured by looking back at how far we’ve come, somewhat than looking forward to unmet goals.
To that end, here’s how the ACES pillars were worked into conversations at this yr’s FFC:
Autonomous: Driverless vehicles aren’t the norm, however the industry is evolving from Level 2 to Level 3 autonomy. Each passenger automotive and truck models are coming online with conditional automation systems. The technology guarantees greatly improved driver safety and luxury, which could help attract employees back to driving jobs, particularly for long-haul truck routes.
While Level 3 autonomy requires the motive force to keep up ultimate control of the vehicle, systems are designed to permit drivers to disengage from driving tasks at speeds under 40 mph. Fleet managers must understand this technology now to shape fleet policy around it.
Electric: Overall EV sales have jumped from 2% in 2018 to 9% within the third quarter this yr. Fleet sales penetration lags retail, yet organizations still face looming carbon emissions regulations and self-imposed ESG goals. Meanwhile the earth’s warming is negatively affecting every a part of society, and is not waiting for us to catch up.
Shared: Today, we’re expanding our definition of shared mobility. It’s not about replacing a salesman’s company automotive with a pool vehicle (gasp!); it’s about automating fleet processes through digital vehicle control.
Think concerning the efficiencies gained through digital keys, equivalent to for routine maintenance or breakdowns, loading and unloading vehicles, after-hours access, or distant entry to a rental van for deliveries during peak season.
Connected: The fulcrum for all these initiatives is, after all, connectivity. And we’re just scratching the surface of its use cases beyond geolocation, diagnostics, and driver management.
AI, the Latest Pillar of ACES
Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an inescapable trend on this conversation to the purpose that it needs to be added to ACES to form a brand new acronym entirely.
At this yr’s FFC, we convened a seminar specifically dedicated to how fleets could make the most of AI, or more specifically its subset, generative AI. The acronym sprang up in lots of other seminars organically.
Back in 2018, the AI acronym had already been tossed around a lot that I avoided it in titles and subtitles for fear of sounding too “buzzy” and without offering real value to our fleet readers.
Now, it’s unavoidable.
A brand new acronym isn’t my idea; I’m just running with it. Mark Thomas of Ridecell proposed it in a LinkedIn post after sitting in on that seminar in Santa Clara. His new edition is SEA: Shared, Electric, and AI.
Thomas makes a case for why Autonomous shouldn’t be included (not a relevant concept now), nor Connected (it’s a given and largely considered a solved problem).
I get his points but benefit from the friendly argument on why I consider Autonomous and Connected remain. We each agree that AI have to be included.
Here’s my proposal: ASECA, for Autonomous, Shared, Electric, Connected, and AI-enabled. I do acknowledge it’s so much more clunky than SEA. Okay, then how about ACESA or SEACA?
Generative AI takes the technology right into a latest realm, because it democratizes access to AI without programming expertise. By interacting with programs like Chat GPT and Google Bard using conversations, users are solving problems in hours that might’ve taken days or perhaps weeks before.
But are we treating AI with the identical exuberance we did with the opposite ACES pillars in 2018?
In a single seminar, a panelist served up the estimate that by 2027, some 30% of labor tasks may very well be achieved by AI. That’s not too far off, and whether we call it SEA or ASECA, you’ll be able to bet we’ll be talking about it at FFC.
This Article First Appeared At www.automotive-fleet.com