Ever since Elon Musk made his bold prediction that Tesla Motors will have a production ready fully autonomous car by 2018 (but not road approved until 2021), people have been dreaming up what it’ll be like to have their car be their personal chauffeur.
While it’s definitely exciting to think about going for a ride and not having to steer and remain focused the whole time, there are actually a whole list of interesting uses and side-effects for driverless cars. Here’s a list of some of the top things:
No more driving under the influence. If you like to go out for a night on the town you’re probably familiar with the dilemma; how will I get home? You no longer will need to draw straws to determine who will be the designated driver for the night because, well, your car is.
Car insurance will either be drastically cheaper or eliminated altogether. Elon Musk’s early data shows that driverless cars are not only as safe as humans, they’re twice as safe. That’s today. With another 5 years to develop the tech until its road certified this will certainly improve further. The future could hold no need for car insurance. This leads into the next point, who would pay for insurance if cars are shared?
Car sharing will be extremely common. Companies like Uber and Lyft are already warming people up to ride-sharing. Imagine if you didn’t have to trust a stranger to drive you or your kids from place to place. When cars can drive themselves from place to place they can be arranged around multiple people’s schedules. My guess? Uber will have an army of driverless cars that people will schedule into their day on an ongoing basis. They handle the maintenance and insurance, you just pay an established fee.
The cost of shipping will crash through the floor. There are two major ongoing costs with shipping businesses, fuel and labor. While self-driving cars do get all the attention, the technology can be adapted to the shipping industry. It’s easy to imagine what will happen to costs when businesses no longer need to pay someone to drive 30 hours across the country. Not to mention that fuel costs will likely greatly decrease due to transport vehicles turning electric.
Parking lots will vanish, underground parking garages will be unfathomably large. One of the amazing features of autonomous cars is that it’ll be like having a red carpet valet everywhere you go. If you plan to spend a couple hours at the mall your car will drop you off at the front door and then drive to a nearby lift that will plummet the car down into deep in-ground parking systems. When you’re ready to leave, it comes right back up and picks you up at the front door. You’ll probably rarely see the inside of the garages, but when you do it’ll be a definite “living in the future” moment.
You’ll never need to go to the grocery store but if you’re like me, you’ll want to go anyway. If you saw my article about the future of food you know that companies are already competing fiercely to be your go-to grocery-getter. Driverless cars could majorly upset the demand for these services as grocery stores offer free grocery loading. Why pay a grocery getter when you’re car can do it for you?
Big city stress levels will decrease significantly. One of the most stressful things with city life is traffic. The grind of driving to work every day often times one, two, and even three hours each way can make you feel like you have no time left for life. When your car is able to drive you to work you’ll be free to do other things like getting work done so you don’t have to stay late, study books and other resources online, and even reduce stress by having a digital hangout with your friends who are also riding, not driving to work. Plus, you won’t get all riled up when someone cuts you off in traffic, you’ll know that it was just a computer making efficient decisions.