Cars cruising on our roads without a driver behind the wheel are becoming a reality. Yes, this is no longer a fantasy or a sci-fi imagination. Companies like Google, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota are in the testing stages for various versions of self-driving vehicles. Very soon, we could be seeing cars dropping people off and picking them up all by themselves.
Now as we await for this disruptive new technology to hit our roads and shake the automotive industry, what market trends should we expect?
“Zero” Drivers On Our Roads
Obviously, a car being “driverless” literally means driverless to the fullness of the meaning of the word, i.e. nobody behind the wheel! But should it be something to be happy about? Depends on who you are and how you look at it. No more road rage. But what if you make a living out of driving or if you run a driving-related business? Of course, you’ll be looking at a loss of income.
On the other hand, a brand new self-driving auto industry is going to benefit cab-sharing services such as Zipcar, rental car firms and public transportation. But what will people be doing on the road as they ride home? Take a nap or read some novel maybe?
Tremendously Reduced Number of Accidents
Now that we know most road accidents are caused by human error, what should we expect of self-driving cars? Much higher levels of safety! No more texting while driving. No more drunk driving. No more emotions behind the wheel.
But one potential issue arises here: what if a driverless vehicle causes a crash? Should we blame the owner, the manufacturer, the software creator, or the government? It’s certainly something to ponder about, and a big obstacle we’ll have to regulate before we start enjoying a handsfree driving.
No Need for Driving Etiquette Anymore
Which driver doesn’t hate the right-of-way law? Who doesn’t get frustrated to see pedestrians throwing themselves at your vehicle and expecting not to be run over? Which driver loves to see another car cutting yours off and then driving at 20 miles an hour right ahead of you while you’re rushing somewhere?
With driverless cars, no more of those drivers that seem not to understand anything about using their turn signals! No more “unnecessary” driving etiquette! And certainly, no more annoying cops and traffic tickets!
Extremely Minimal Car Ownership
Who needs to have their own cars when driverless cars are cruising people around? Maybe a very small number of people. Surely, if one vehicle can drive itself to work, drop one person and go back home to pick somebody else, then there is no need for too many self-driving cars filling the driveway, right? People can share.
All indications are that by 2018, we will have these machines on the move. Indeed, the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) forecasts that driverless automobiles are going to account for up to 75% of all vehicles by 2040. Too generous a prediction?
Only time will tell.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons