I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about autonomous cars, and I wanted to summarize my current thoughts and predictions.Most people – experts included – seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption.I believe that this is significant underestimation.
They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.
And the major automakers aren’t far behind – according to Bloomberg News, GM’s 2017 models will feature “technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic.” predict that fully-autonomous cars – what Musk describes as “true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination” – will be available to the public by 2020.
How it will unfold Industry experts think that consumers will be slow to purchase autonomous cars – while this may be true, it is a mistake to assume that this will impede the transition.
Morgan Stanley’s research shows that cars are driven just 4% of the time, Next to a house, an automobile is the second most expensive asset that most people will ever buy – it is no surprise that ride sharing services like Uber and car sharing services like Zipcar are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to car ownership.
It is now more economical to use a ride sharing service if you live in a city and drive less than 10,000 miles per year.
The car purchasers of the future will not be you and me – cars will be purchased and operated by ride sharing and car sharing companies.
And current research confirms that we would be eager to use autonomous cars if they were available.
A full 60% of US adults surveyed stated that they would ride in an autonomous car Such convenience and low cost will make car ownership inconceivable, and autonomous, on-demand taxis – the ‘transportation cloud’ – will quickly become dominant form of transportation – displacing far more than just car ownership, it will take the majority of users away from public transportation as well.
With their billion valuation,in the United States is well within the realm of feasibility – at a cost of ,000 per car, the rollout would cost a mere .3 billion.
Fallout The effects of the autonomous car movement will be staggering.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers predicts that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced by 99%, estimating that the fleet will fall from 245 million to just 2.4 million vehicles.