Imagine vehicles on the road that navigate and manoeuvre themselves through highways and even suburban streets. Imagine reading a book or finishing some work on the commute home while riding in a self-driving vehicle. Image all the time saved and accidents avoided due to cutting edge autonomous technology.
These scenarios may not be too long in coming as the autonomous car industry revs up and prepares for the future. Autonomous cars, also called driverless cars or self-driving cars, are vehicles that are built to sense its outside environment and navigate from one place to another without any human interference.
Autonomous cars are created from amazing technology such as radar, laser light, and GPS that allow them to detect and analyse outside information and therefore identify correct routes, obstacles, traffic lights, road signage, people, animals, bikes, other vehicles and more. There is a flurry of activity and overwhelming competition in this industry – automotive giants such as Tesla, Ford, General Motors, Daimler, Bosch, BMW and Volvo are all in the race to develop the first and best autonomous cars. Not to mention major tech companies such as Waymo (Google), Intel, Apple, and Uber who all also have made major developments in the field. The technology behind this industry might just be the most impactful and disruptive in the 21st century.
Autonomous cars would change, not just the automotive industries, but countless others through an organic ripple effect. There is enormous potential in this field; however, many industries would undoubtedly be affected, both positively and negatively, as the technology becomes more mainstream.
The most obvious industry to be affected would be car manufacturing. Presently, the automotive industry generates more than $3 trillion in revenues and $1 trillion in related sectors. All this would change with the arrival of self-driving cars. The mechanics and technology behind building a car would change as would the manufacturing process. Automobile manufacturers need to plan for these inevitable changes as full-autonomous cars should be on the road within the next fifteen years.
Till then semi-autonomous vehicles are already on the road, with technology aspects in place that are leading to a completely driverless car. GPS, ultra-sonic sensors, cameras, intelligent cruise control and parking assistance are already being used in vehicles rolling off the manufacturing conveyor belt.
Fewer parking lots
Driverless cars will drop off their passengers and either locate a parking lot to park in or, in the case of ride-sharing, move on to their next passenger. Because the popularity of ride-sharing is increasing, there will most likely be fewer cars on the roads in the future, which then leads us to logically conclude that the space allocated for parking lots would also decrease. This real estate could be used to add more lanes to streets or develop other assets that are important to the community.
Fewer accidents and traffic violations
Autonomous cars will definitely reduce the number of parking tickets, speeding tickets, and other traffic violations, resulting in cities having decreased revenue. Also, the majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, which means that self-driving cars could save thousands of lives and prevent countless injuries every year. The size of police and emergency forces may decrease, changing the landscape of police enforcement as resources would be shifted to other important public safety areas.
Increase in online entertainment and retail
The advent of autonomous cars inevitably leads to increased commuter free time. And more free time in this day and age means that online media consumption and revenue would increase significantly. Commuters would spend more time on the internet browsing different websites, checking email, watching shows or movies, listening to music, or even engaging in online shopping.
Decrease in auto repairs
With high level technology and no distractions, autonomous vehicles may drive down the number of car accidents to almost zero. Auto repair companies would lose business and the need for new car parts would also decrease, affecting steel and car-part manufacturers. This loss of revenue would hurt these companies substantially, causing them to either scale down business or even shut down completely.
Positive environmental impact
Suffice it to say, fewer automobiles on the road would have a huge environmental impact. Air pollution would decrease globally and less petrol would be required. The quality of life in cities around the world would improve as would the state of the environment.
Create new industries and jobs
Autonomous vehicles would ultimately put many workers out of a job, however, there would also be a whole new market of jobs and skills required to maintain the industry. Ride-sharing companies would be formed to meet commuter demands and new software development companies would be incorporated as software and electronics would be the core of the new autonomous vehicles.
Changes across the board
The industries that would grow, change, develop, or be eliminated due to the autonomous vehicle industry are innumerable. The changes would be felt all across the world. With fewer accidents on the road, there would be less need for car insurance. Hotel room sales would decrease as travellers could sleep in their cars while on any journey. Road traffic and government regulations would change to meet the travelling conditions. As the list goes on, it is clear that autonomous cars would disrupt the world’s economy like no other new industry.
The effects of autonomous vehicles have already begun, and businesses must track and monitor changes in their industries and other related sectors. Governments must consider the potential loss of jobs, but also plan for training facilities for workers as new jobs, skills, and industries open up due to this revolutionary technology.