We, as a society, are on the cusp of a transportation revolution, the likes of which haven’t been experienced in decades. The automobile has been one of the most important inventions ever created in our long history, and with the advent of the latest auto technology, we’ll soon have cars that will be able to drive themselves. The auto industry, as it is today, generates vast amounts of revenue; it’s estimated that in total, the auto industry is worth 1.6 trillion dollars.
Our current cities are populated with the vehicles that we’ve come to rely on, so it’ll be quite a massive change when vehicle automation starts to become the norm, rather than the exception. Already, companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla are incorporating automation features into their newest vehicle’s design that electric powered car owners are currently using with aplomb. The 21st-century futurist even has extensive plans for how self-driving vehicles will affect the civic landscape.
Google, one of the largest tech companies in the world, has also been heavily investing in vehicle automation for years. Recently, they indicated that the company could soon start experimenting with ride-hailing services on college campuses that would allow students to travel easily from place to place by using automated vehicles. This level of commitment is a prime indicator that companies are beginning to really consider the viability of an industry that is expected to see ten million cars on the road by the year 2020.
Cars to Get Around With, but Not Neccesarily Drive
Today, cars grant freedom, and it’s much easier to travel the way you want when you have a vehicle to take you where life leads you. With this in mind, what happens when you don’t need to actually own a car to partake of this traveler’s freedom?
It’s now much easier to get around without owning a car than it has been for decades. Companies like Uber have been commoditizing mobility for several years now, and millennials have felt less of a need to buy a vehicle than any other prior generation of adults. Now, imagine a world where, instead of your friendly Uber driver, you get from point A to point B via a driverless Uber vehicle.
This type of world will soon be here, and this change will be major when considering how much cost is involved in owning a vehicle today. Gone will be the days of paying for upkeep, auto coverage, or even vehicle purchasing. The convenience of utilizing a vehicle service will only increase as the cost of employing drivers is virtually eliminated, resulting in plummeting service costs.
Hitting Municipalities and Businesses in the Wallet
It’s estimated that large municipalities like New York City can earn up to $1.9 billion per year from vehicle-related fines. With this in mind, it’s not a farfetched scenario to imagine that with less overall vehicle ownership, major cities will lose a large chunk of their revenue stream.
Speeding tickets alone in 2014 were responsible for $6.2 billion in U.S. revenue, so if we bring driverless cars into the equation, there’ll be less speeding, and thusly, local governments will have to find another source for income.
On top of the profit that our governments generate based on vehicle ownership and operation, businesses reap similar rewards through parking lots and spaces. Vehicle storage is a $100 billion business that requires very little overhead for a big profit. On top of this, the construction of parking structures also brings in a sizeable income to local businesses and easy parking is one of the great ways to get consumers into these same businesses.
With the advent of the self-driving car, adopters of the technology will be able to be dropped off where they need to be and the car can automatically move onto the next user, almost completely eliminating the need for the additional space required for parking structures; freeing up more locations for additional commercial and residential projects.
If not in use, the self-driving vehicles can reside in lots that are in less in-demand areas, where they can use dedicated mobile broadband to receive new ferrying assignments.
A Changing Vehicular Landscape
Similarly to how no one could fully predict the rise of highways as a development spurred by the creation of the automobile, no one will fully be able to predict where the revolution of the self-driving vehicle will lead us. Automobiles have become a major part of the lifestyles of people around the world, so a sudden removal of the need to own a car or truck will certainly have unforeseen effects.
There are a few changes that this revolution is sure to usher in. Firstly, private car services as we know them will surely go into decline, causing the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. Secondly, those businesses that specialize in the upkeep of our vehicles will experience a plethora of unpleasant changes. Thirdly, there won’t need to be quite as many vehicles on the road as there are today; ensuring that the landscape of our world will be greatly changed as this vehicular revolution takes hold.