Wharton professor John Paul MacDuffie, alongside Eric Bradlow, Vice Dean of Analytics at Wharton, delves into the impact of AI on the automotive industry in their recent discussion. This conversation is part of the “AI in Focus” series, addressing the evolving dynamics between automotive and tech companies, the potential for open-source software, and other pertinent topics.
Eric Bradlow welcomes John Paul MacDuffie, a Management Department professor and director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation at the Wharton School. MacDuffie sheds light on the program’s focus, known for its research on CASE technologies – Connected, Autonomous, Shared mobility business models, and Electric.
The conversation navigates the historical trajectory of AI in the automotive sector, particularly in the context of self-driving cars, often referred to as “Level 4.” They explore the current state of AI in automotive, addressing challenges like safety concerns, acceptable error rates, and public perception.
Bradlow raises questions about the potential winners in this space, pondering whether tech giants or legacy automakers will dominate. MacDuffie highlights the necessity for collaboration between these seemingly disparate industries due to their complementary expertise in physical and digital realms.
The discussion also touches on the future of autonomous vehicles, contemplating whether personal ownership or fleet models will prevail. MacDuffie predicts that full autonomy might be economically optimized as a fleet model, emphasizing the role of density and accessibility in urban and rural settings.
As the conversation concludes, MacDuffie reflects on open research questions, particularly the organizational and structural aspects of the industry, and shares his skepticism about the feasibility of a fully modular, open-source model. He envisions potential outcomes in ten years, considering the possibility of dominant software players and collaborative alliances between legacy automakers and big tech companies.