Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Are Going to Change Everything

Recent News:

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Complete 300K Miles Without Accident, Deemed Ready For Commuting

Here's what is going to happen in the next 5-10 years. It won't all happen right away.

  • The car insurance industry will cease to exist. These cars aren't going to crash. Even if there are hold-outs that drive themselves, insurance would be so expensive they couldn't afford it, as no one else would need it. 

  • If the cars don't crash, then the auto collision repair / auto body industry goes away. The car industry also shrinks† as people don't have to replace cars as often.

  • Long-haul truck driving will cease to exist. Think how much money trucking companies will save if they don't have to pay drivers or collision and liability insurance. That's about 3 million jobs in the States. Shipping of goods will be much cheaper.

  • On that note, no more bus drivers, taxi drivers, limo drivers.

  • Meter maids. Gone. Why spend $20 on parking when you can just send the car back home? There goes $40 million in parking revenue to the City of Vancouver by the way. 

  • Many in cities will get rid of their cars altogether and simply use RoboTaxis. They will be much cheaper than current taxis due to no need for insurance (taxi insurance costs upwards of $20,000/year), no drivers, and no need for taxi medallions (which can cost half a million in Vancouver). You hit a button on your iPhone Android, and your car is there in a few minutes.

  • Think how devastating that would be to the car industry. People use their cars less than 10% of the time. Imagine if everyone in your city used a RoboTaxi instead, at say 60% utilization. That's 84% fewer cars required. Currently, at peak travel times, only 12% of cars are in use - so, you don't need that many cars, even at rush hour (So a more realistic drop of 80%...)

  • No more deaths or injuries from drinking and driving. MADD disappears. The judicial system, prisons, and hospital industry shrink due to the lack of car accidents†. 6 million crashes in 2010 (USA). 2.3 million hospital visits from car accidents (USA 2009). $300 billion annual cost from crashes (USA)

  • Car sharing companies like Zip, Modo, Car2Go are all gone. Or, one of them morphs into a robo-taxi company.

  • Safety features in cars disappear (as they are no longer needed), and cars will become relatively cheaper. Cars become lighter too (more fibreglass), and thus more fuel efficient.

  • "People will want to drive their own car". Of course, and no one is stopping them. But they will have to pay very high car insurance premiums. 

Who is it good for?

  • Consumers. A family of four can probably get by with one car that shuttles everyone to and from work, school. Save $2000+ a year on car insurance. Read on your way to work. 
  • Bars and restaurants. Everyone can now drink and drive safely! More alcohol is sold.
  • The elderly and disabled can get around on their own more easily.
  • Cyclists and pedestrians - fewer deaths from cars

† to the degree that they are affected by this