Autonomous vehicles (AVs), including self-driving cars, hold the promise of revolutionizing the way we experience transportation. Original equipment manufacturers of AVs and AV components (AV OEMs), and primary suppliers of AV parts and systems (Tier 1 Suppliers), have benefited from the enthusiasm for this emerging technology. However, the data AVs are capable of collecting may be more valuable than the technology used to operate the AVs and their equipment.

Data evolutions in other consumer goods stand as models for the AV market. Take for example the mobile phone, a device that transformed from a convenient way to stay in touch to the curators of our digital lives, often facilitating the derivation of data and profiles from our communications, digital activities and physical presence using geolocation. AVs will likely evolve into similar mobile platforms capable of collecting robust consumer data from a slightly different perspective. However, AVs also present a unique opportunity to collect valuable data that is more difficult to collect with present day mobile platforms¾extensive details about the physical environment in which individuals interact and offline, real-world observations of the habits and behaviors of AV users and bystanders. This means that AVs could be capable of not only identifying an individual’s proximity to a physical object or another person, much like mobile phones do with geolocation and cell signals today, but also of potentially identifying an individual’s level of engagement and interest in the physical objects and persons nearby.

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