The concept of self-driving cars had always been knocking around the Automotive industry for decades until Tesla’s foray into the industry. The deployment of self-driving cars first came into the scene in 2004 and it started with the Defense Advanced Research Projects challenging anyone to develop a self-driven car that can navigate 142 miles of the Mojave Desert for prize money of a million dollars. Although no developer was successful in 2004, it paved the way for a community dedicated to delivering self-driven vehicles to the masses.
Also, the commercial success of Tesla’s models inspired the rush for automating the personal automobile and this week saw Chevrolet announce its first self-driving utility van which adds another major player to this niche industry. While these milestones are admirable, it also raises questions about the future of the automobile industry and the impact of self-driving cars on society.
The short answer to these questions is the age-old parable about ‘no one having the ability to accurately predict the future’. As for the longer answer, a more nuanced approach that takes into consideration today’s statistics and predictions for the future is needed. In this post, our perspective on the impact of self-driving cars on society will be divided into three sections. These sections will consider its economic, social, and technological impact on society.
The Economic Impact of Self Driving Cars
Statistics from Gartner paints a bright future for self-driving or autonomous-ready vehicles. It’s study states that approximately 740,000 autonomous vehicles will be added to the market by 2023. From an economic perspective, the acceptance of self-driving cars will lead to revenue growth for third-party original equipment manufacturers.
Hardware and software developers such as LIDAR technologies can expect more business from major automotive stakeholders. The economic impact will also have a positive effect on interrelated technologies automated processes rely on. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Digital Twin are some examples of emerging technology fields that will be impacted by self-driving cars.
The market for self-driving cars is also expected to hit $60billionby by 2030. This means a wider acceptance for its use by government policymakers and the general public. Thus, self-driving cars will have a net positive impact on the global economy, create more jobs, and accelerate growth for interrelated technologies that support its ecosystem.
The Social Impact of Self Driving Cars
In many cases, life imitates art and the drive to design functional self-driving vehicles is one of such cases. The movie ‘The Fifth Element’ sparked the public’s interest in autonomous vehicles and today, self-driving cars have become a reality. But challenges to its widespread acceptance across different social demographics exist.
The accident stories involving self-driving cars still cause a stir today and this raises questions of how safe these vehicles have to be in order to be accepted by society at large? The benchmark is obviously the 518,000 crashes per month set by manually-driven vehicles. If autonomous vehicles can do better than this, which we believe they will, then it’s wider social acceptance is something that will definitely occur with time.
Now, moving to a not too distant future were self-driving vehicles have been accepted, what will its social impact on society be? First and foremost, I see it changing how overworked parents carpool when taking kids to school. The choice of simply trusting a vehicle to know and do what’s best will assist parents with reducing the amount of time they spend on the road handling school runs.
The commute to and from work also creates avenues for self-driving cars to be explored. One such example is the work being done by the Boring Company. Here, underground high-speed tunnels provide traffic-free road networks for individuals to travel through. And those who think this idea is not scalable may have another thing company. Simply imagine the hundreds of thousands of upper middle class to rich individuals who will prefer a safer, more private mode of transportation when compared to regular helicopter flights and the chaos in trains. The success of the first Boring tunnels may be needed to set the pace but if successful, the future will be defined by high-speed underground self-driving cars avoiding daily traffic and chaos.
The next impact is simplifying logistics chain management. Today, businesses such as Uber eats are already exploring the use of autonomous vehicles to deliver food and other items to customers. When this scales to trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles, we will see entire logistics chains being run through autonomous vehicles.
Since the days of Enzo Ferrari, race cars and racing have become a major part of our everyday lives. So, it is not far-fetched to expect a future where self-driven cars are giving their day on the tracks. This will also provide automobile enterprises with opportunities to sell their wares and highlight the different ways in which their autonomous technology is superior to the competitors’.
Although self-driving car regulations are still being created, a successful regulation policy will accelerate the acceptance of self-driving cars. Once this is achieved, more manufacturers will partake in building self-driving vehicles which will lead to rapid innovation.
The Technology Impact of Self Driving Cars
As stated earlier, the technology impact of self-driving vehicles will lead to further innovations in interrelated technologies. Its effect will also be witnessed across other industries such as the healthcare, search and rescue, and the road repairs industry.
For example, when mapping out damaged road surfaces self-driving cars can be used to do the leg work of covering a large expanse of roads. These vehicles will also be equipped with surveying cameras and 3D visualization technologies to capture damaged road sections.
We also expect self-driving cars to enhance 3D visualization technology, IoT, and data analytics in diverse ways. This will lead to further innovations within this industry to enhance the performance of these vehicles and the technologies that supports it.
Statistics show that the future of self-driving cars is one to look out for. Its impact on society is likely to revolutionize how humans commute, conduct business and apply technology.
What Will The Car Of The Future Be Like?
We asked a group of experts to report their opitnion on what they think the car of the future will be like.
The car of the future will be fully connected with its surroundings. 5G will open up an array of opportunities to connect cars to the outside world in a much more dynamic way, pulling in information regarding traffic, weather, service stations, electric charge points, and parking amongst others. Then you have the in-car aspect, where cars will be able to monitor their own condition and diagnose problems, with passengers being connected to an array of online services – Wi-Fi, media and entertainment services. Expect in-car Alexa-style personal assistants to become the norm.
When incorporated within autonomous vehicles we’ll see a real paradigm shift in what people do in cars, transforming into connected pods where passengers can utilise Wi-Fi, respond to emails and stream TV shows.Charles Cridland. yourparkingspace.co.uk