autonomous_vehicles

Autonomous Vehicles

(Topics: Science & Technology | Back to Home)

The entire landscape of America was changed by the invention and proliferation of the automobile. Cars meant that more people could live farther from where they worked. Cars made suburbs possible, which is where most of us live [1]. Before the automobile, few people traveled much farther than they could walk. Cars are the modern embodiment of American independence, and were a huge driver of the American economy through the bulk of the 20th century.

But that's all changing. And it's not because cars are going away, but because traditional automobiles require drivers. You can already purchase a new car which has features that assist in this realm, from cruise control to lane assist to being fully autonomous in some conditions [2]. We don't know when self-driving cars will reach a tipping point, but it's likely to be years and not decades.

Much of our country's landscape is dedicated to cars right now, especially because today cars require drivers and cars have to wait in a parking space until the driver returns. Perhaps in the future you'll exit a car and it will find it's way to an out-of-the-way spot to wait. Or, it will run errands for you or pick up other passengers in the meantime.

But in any case, now is the time to begin developing policies and frameworks around autonomous vehicles. Because what's going to happen to the millions of jobs in the trucking and logistics industries? What's going to happen to auto insurance? And if most of us are riding in self-driving vehicles during the times that we need them, does that mean fewer of us need to own vehicles?

These are important questions to discuss. The future is coming, and will feature riding in vehicles that drive themselves.


[1] Seriously: 55% of Americans live in the suburbs. The rest is 31% urban, 15% rural.

[2] This has been happening quickly enough that many people don't realize it. There are half a million Tesla's on the road with Autopilot technology that handles the majority of highway driving.


Page Tools