The world is going through a period of unprecedented unrest following the emergence of the Corona Virus (COVID-19).Financial markets have dropped significantly and ecosystems across several nations have somewhat collapsed. So, what impact has this had on the Automotive industry and the wider Manufacturing sector?
Well, we have all seen the recent news coming out of the major OEMs in the Automotive space…closures of major manufacturing facilities across the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia, not to mention the components suppliers hailing from China. Within reason, the entire manufacturing supply chain has come to a grinding halt. That is catastrophic news for some of the largest businesses in this industry, not to mention the subsequent domino effect this has on local GDP and spending in these countries.
What About the Technological Impacts in the Autonomous Driving Domain?
There seems to be a divided opinion on this topic; with halting the testing of Autonomous Vehicles from some of the leading powerhouses in this field, including the likes of Uber, Cruise, Aurora, Argo AI, and Waymo among others. The suspension is not just limited to testing either, with many ride-hailing platforms suspending their traditional platforms, with the move aimed at limiting contact between riders and drivers. There is however a counterargument and evidence to suggest that this pandemic could in fact speed up the adoption of Driverless Technology. If we look at the world of Urban Mobility and Delivery-centric Robots, demand seems to be on the rise. Take reference to the significant increase in orders placed via businesses that operate these delivery robots, used to transport everyday groceries, food orders and goods…a technology that brings convenience to any “lockdown” scenario. These Bots have already demonstrated their value whilst delivering sanitary aid, masks, anti-bacterial/alcohol gels…etc. for the communities within several towns in the United States.
There is, however, a big downside to this increased demand as companies can hire employees far quicker than they can build and program these Robots. It doesn’t matter how you look at the current global status, the Automotive industry is feeling the impact of a crisis that is currently bringing economies around the world to their knees. The questions we should be asking include: How long will this last? How does the industry adapt to limit the downturn? What can a business heavily integrated into the supply chain do, to come through and out the other side whilst still intact? Only time will tell but if I’ve learned anything during my time in the autonomous driving jobs sector and the three significant downturns I’ve experienced over the years, it’s the relevance of the expressions I often find myself repeating: Smooth seas never make a skilful sailor.
Written by John Martin, Talent Director, Xcede