If 10 years ago you discussed the mere idea of a self-driving car, you’d probably be laughed at or sent to a mental institution. But in this fast-paced era that we are living in, the question of mass adoption of autonomous cars is not far fetched at all.
The question is not whether there will be a self-driving car, but when. This is a race to the top and all of the big tech giants are throwing their money into research and development whilst suing each other in the process in a bid to get out ahead of the competition.
Eliminates human error
One obvious upside of an autonomous self-driving car is that it eliminates human error, resulting in reduced risk of a car accident. Yes, it keeps the driver, passengers and other road users safe, but think of the wider benefits of this -
- fewer car accidents/fatalities would free up emergency services for other emergencies
- cheaper car insurance premiums due to the reduced likelihood of an accident/crash for cash scams.
- no road rage resulting in reduced stress and better mental health
- higher speed limits, due to the safer and more predictable behaviour of the autonomous vehicle, allowing people to get from point A to point B quicker and safer
- you may not even need a driving license to operate a self-driving vehicle
Frees up drivers to make better use of the previously dead-time they would have spent driving, resulting in increased productivity.
No more worrying about parking, the car would park itself after dropping you off and come pick you up.
Car rental market
Self-driving cars would also disrupt the car rental market, drastically changing the business model of the car rental industry. By taking human error out of the picture, rental companies will be able to mitigate risk.
Taxis & private hires
Imagine a autonomous car providing door to door pick-up and dropoff service completely. Now imagine that the car belongs to your neighbour. Yes, people would be able to commoditize their personal cars by leasing them out while they are at work or on holiday. This idea is not as far fetched as you may think, someone once was branded crazy for thinking people would rent rooms out in their personal homes to strangers, and now that company is worth around $38 billion (Airbnb).
In addition, the big put-off for people to rent out their own personal cars is due to the fact that others may mistreat the car, causing mechanical wear-and-tear. But if the car is self-driving, then the owner would be more more inclined to gain that extra bit of revenue knowing no-one can burn out the clutch, ruin the gearbox or do doughnuts in the Asda car park.
Vulnerable to hacking
Just like any computer system, an autonomous vehicles onboard computer can potentially be hacked, meaning someone could take control of the vehicle remotely.
Loss of jobs
If autonomous cars become mass adopted, it could render vehicles operated by taxi drivers redundant.
Car rental market
The fact that people may rent out their personal self-driving cars when not in use could have an adverse effect on the car rental market. Car rental companies may need to drastically change their business model to accommodate self-driving cars, perhaps even move to a subscription based model similar to a leasing deal but only paying based on usage.
The benefits of self-driving cars far outweigh the risks, and the opportunities it could bring certainly opens up new streams of revenue.
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