Driverless cars are no longer just a fantasy, as they are already being test-driven and prepared for mass adoption. Even though Moore’s Law seems to have come to an end and technological advancements have slowed, the driverless car is changing the world in seven significant ways.
1. The Transition Will Trouble Us
The transition from human-driven cars to autonomous vehicles will be gradual, but could potentially result in a great deal of anxiety and tension. For example, the stringent adherence to the law by self-driving cars could conflict with the erratic actions of human drivers, such as premature lane changes, speeding and abrupt braking. Any incident between a self-driven car and a human is sure to be put under scrutiny, but eventually human-driven cars will be phased out.
2. As Automation Trends, Technological Unemployment Will Rise
Automation will lead to unemployment for many people, particularly those working in the transport industry. Ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, are planning to employ self-driving cars, leading to job losses. Commercial drivers, including those in the trucking and transport industry, will be affected. City governments will also see less revenue from parking and speeding tickets. Moreover, conventional auto industries could be replaced entirely by a new brand of car manufacturer. Jobs worldwide face the threat of extinction, as robots are becoming more capable than humans.
3. We Will Have More Time… to Create More Jobs?
Automation will increase free time which can be spent reading or cultivating the arts and mind. People will also spend more time telecommuting, which will improve productivity. The evolution of the commute from the 1800s to the present day has led to 150 million Americans commuting to work, with the average American commuting over 100 hours per year.
4. More People Will Share
One optimistic predicted outcome of the driverless car is that people will share more. Ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber have proven that people can operate and live in a society where major commodities and big-ticket items can be shared. However, those in opposition argue that this could lead to the end of car culture and a loss of privacy.
5. Fewer People Will Die
Every year since 1994, around 43,500 people have lost their lives in car accidents in the US. Approximately one-third of these deaths involve alcohol, while many involve distracted driving, such as texting and using cellphones. This means that deaths on the road could be significantly reduced with the introduction of driverless cars. This reduction in deaths would also mean that fewer emergency services, police and doctors, may be required.
6. Underage Drinking and Driving Will Become… Legal?
Less deaths on the road could lead to new laws and policies such as making “manual” driving illegal, and allowing children to travel alone in autonomous vehicles. The legal drinking age could also be lowered to 18 or 19 because of the lack of drunk driving.
7. Cities Will Change and Become Internet Connected A.I. Organisms Themselves
The introduction of driverless cars could lead to the creation of an Internet of Things (IoT) that connects cars to a central network. This network will allow cars to collect and share information about traffic, road and weather conditions that are then used to improve driving conditions. Smart cities could also be created that are populated by autonomous vehicles, which transmit information to create a ‘Smart Infrastructure’.
While driverless cars will no doubt change the world, they will bring a possible series of problems that we are yet to comprehend. Nevertheless, if we can adapt to these changes, the future of autonomous cars may ultimately be positive.