There are a number of companies that are working on self-driving cars and if you live in an area like Phoenix’s East Valley, you’re probably already used to seeing them on the roads. But what exactly will change? One blogger suggests road designs, parking, recreational driving, relationship with technology, government revenue, and access to transportation.
Roads are designed for humans; visual citreatures who need physical cues to make decisions and navigate. Currently, autonomous vehicles leverage a lot of the same cues. Their sensors detect road cones and railroad crossing signs. They also read the painted lane lines in order to stay in the right place. Today, this approach makes sense. It’s not feasible to change our entire infrastructure for an experimental technology. The only way to catalyze adoption of self-driving cars is to leverage the past. But in the future, when self-driving cars have all but replaced human drivers, the need for the past will fade away.
When cars no longer need us to drive them, they no longer need to stay close by.
Taking a trip? Your car will drive you to the airport, drop you off, and drive itself back home to be safely parked in your driveway until you return. At which time it will come pick you up. No more long-term parking.
Just making a quick stop to grab some milk at the grocery store? Your car will drop you off and circle the block until you are done.
There is something fundamentally exhilarating about driving a car. It captivates and excites us. The speed, the control, the power. These are all things that we will be reticent to give up.
When we no longer drive on a daily basis, our desire to drive will create a billion dollar industry around recreational driving. People will pay to learn to drive non-autonomous cars on closed circuit tracks. Like a boat at a marina, people will still own non-autonomous cars and keep them at the course. Driving will cease to be done for utility and will become purely about the fun.
Technology companies have been pushing for us to talk to our devices for years. Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Amazon Echo, Google Glass, Xbox Kinect, Fire TV Voice Search, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, so far, few of these attempts have sparked the kind of widespread adoption most companies hoped for. People do try it. Business Insider reports that 98% of iPhone users have tried Siri, but very few actually use the feature frequently. Some of this is driven by usability issues inherent in a technology that is in its infancy. Things like inconsistent and spotty natural speech recognition, and lack of affordances for commands and available interactions. But the biggest problem, as BI and others have pointed out, is that people feel awkward talking to their phones, or their glasses or a magic assistant in the corner of the room.
When cars drive themselves, an entire revenue stream for local and state governments goes dry. Ticket related fines, parking fees, drivers license fees, fees from DUIs and DWIs, they all go away. Red light cams and speed cams become a short-lived technological blip. Among other possible systemic effects, this could result in the loss of a lot of law enforcement jobs. Or it could just mean that police will focus more time on enforcing other laws, like cracking down on all the jaywalkers that are impeding self-driving cars.
Our world is built around automobiles. To not have one, or to not be able to operate one is a fundamental barrier to social mobility and is one of the defining lines between the social classes. Without the financial or physical means to own or drive a car, the majority of the world, and it’s opportunities, are simply out of reach. While we have the technology to travel anywhere around the globe in a matter of hours, huge portions of the population are confined to the places they can walk, or where the bus stops.
Source: Medium, Jesse Weaver