Driverless cars are coming. There’s no disputing this fact. Tech giants Apple, Google, Uber and Intel are pouring large amounts of money into self driving car research and development. The same can be said for massive car manufacturers like BMW and Audi. With that kind of financial firepower, there’s no question that the future of automobiles is self driving. Here is a look into what self driving cars will look like.
The question is: When will driverless cars hit the market, and how quickly will they supplant current, autonomously operated cars? Some people point to recent setbacks, such as Uber’s self driving car program experiencing a high profile crash, and say that self driving cars are still a decade plus away from being deemed safe enough for mass adoption. However, the general consensus is that self driving cars will be hitting the market in the next five years, and no later than the next ten years.
And once the driverless car hits the market, most predict that adoption and proliferation will be swift. The general trend in our society seems to be that technology adoption cycles are accelerating. Consider how quickly smart phones as multimedia devices spread to become the new normal, as an example.
Effects on Daily Life
Once self driving cars become fairly common, expect some very significant societal trends to evolve. One of the biggest one involves personal car ownership. Already, Uber and similar services are providing a somewhat viable alternative to automobile ownership with ride sharing and car pooling options available. Once the Uber fleet is self driving, it should be even more possible to do without a personal car with little inconvenience, and with less overall financial investment. The idea of ubiquitous personal car ownership may disappear from the American/Western culture.
Changes in the Business World
The ramifications of self driving cars are even more significant in the business world. One of the industries which would be most disrupted is the trucking industry. On a positive note, employing self driving trucks will streamline the industry, driving costs down and lessening traffic accidents associated with human operator error of trucks. The downside, however, is that the approximately 3.5 million truckers currently being employed will be largely out of jobs. So if you’re currently a trucker, the advent of self driving cars is going to signal a forced career change.
Another industry that will be significantly altered is the insurance industry. The whole concept of auto insurance is going to have to be refined, as all projections suggest that driverless cars will lead to far fewer traffic accidents than we see currently. Additionally, the concept of ‘fault’ in a traffic accident will be completely different.
All this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact that self driving cars will have on the lifestyles of anyone who regularly operates an automobile. Are you ready for driverless cars? If you haven’t considered what life will be like with them, it’s probably wise to spend some time thinking about it, because that day is coming sooner than you might expect.