You wake up, and start your day with breakfast and a podcast. You see its time for you to head out for work. You walk out, and in front of your house is a car. It drove over to your house by itself, knowing that you leave for work around then. You walk in, hear your podcast begin playing on the cars speakers, and the car takes you to work, giving you some time alone to prep for the big meeting.
Google’s Self Driving Car in action
The future will look a lot like this. Self driving cars will make us more efficient, smarter, and better prepared humans. Your car is parked about 95% of the time. You spend on average, $1300 on parking each year. But if self driving cars replace your own car, those costs will go away.
Owning your own car will become a novelty, and most people will buy into some sort of subscription service with larger company, providing a fleet of cars to be used by the public. With a tap of a button on your phone, a car will be where you are within seconds.
An initial concern about convenience is valid, but when there are many many more of these self driving Ubers roaming around cities, the wait for a car will not be more than a minute. This also paves the way for specialized cars. Right now, cars are designed to work equally as well with a short 10 minute commute as with a long haul 7 hour journey. Imagine special cars with beds built in for cross state travel, or smaller cars with desks for the office commute. Short trip airplane routes should be worried, as it will be a lot cheaper for a robot to drive you from D.C to New York than a plane would be.
Entire new industries would spring up with self driving cars. Senior citizens would be able to travel on their own, so more businesses will cater to them. Kids will not need to be chaperoned by parents every time they need to drive somewhere, so camps and individual learning can be made easier.
Self driving trucks are the most imminent threat to jobs in our country, and they will perhaps be the first to become mainstream. Trucking is a job designed for robots. They don’t get tired, bored, or angry, and self driving trucks will be far safer and cheaper for customers all around. We must start thinking about the jobs it will take away.
Who will make completely autonomous cars mainstream? Tesla has the brand image, and public perception a company would need to build trust with the customer. They also have a head start. Ford and Honda and Toyota have the vast manufacturing prowess that could churn out these cars faster than anyone else. It is shaping up to be an exciting race.