A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 31, 2016

The Socio-Economic Impact of Driverless Vehicles Could Be Profound

The changes will not be limited to the automotive market, but will be wide-ranging, affecting jobs, housing, incomes and economic growth. JL

Business Insider reports:

Baby boomers and millennials indicate a strong desire to live near urban centers and, in many cases, they don't own a vehicle. Consumers will quickly get used to riding in driverless vehicles, similarly to how they replaced the horse and buggy. Data sharing will be crucial for vehicles’ navigation around the roads, but also for safety.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says that in 2021 fully autonomous technologies will be in operation across the country for many use cases. He sees driverless cars being deployed in multiple ways, both by being sold directly to consumers and by being utilized as part of a ride-hailing service. He added that autonomous systems will not just transform the consumer auto industry, but they will also be used in shipping and logistics. Trucking and shipping could see autonomous transformations, and unmanned aircraft could deliver consumers products as soon as 2018.
He argued that the largest challenges for this driverless revolution will be integrating the vehicles into the bloodstream of our transportation system. Foxx elaborated that federal and state regulators should be at the forefront of ensuring the safety of the vehicles on the road, but the private sector has a role to play as well.
Part of this includes educating the public so they can react appropriately when they see a self-driving car on the road. Foxx did acknowledge that recent surveys indicate that consumers are not entirely sold on driverless vehicles hitting the roads, and they don't yet want to give up their cars for a driverless taxi service. However, he argued that consumers will quickly get used to riding in driverless vehicles and seeing them on the road, similarly to how Americans grew comfortable with automobiles when they replaced the horse and buggy over 100 years ago.
Foxx believes data sharing will be crucial to self-driving cars’ success. Not only can shared mapping data be helpful for vehicles’ navigation around the roads, but it also can be crucial for safety purposes. For example, a driverless car could go over a pothole, measure the impact of the pothole on the vehicle, and communicate that data to other vehicles in a fleet. Tesla already uses a similar system in the latest version of its Autopilot system.
He emphasized that more investments in transportation infrastructure will be necessary to pave the way for this driverless revolution. Both baby boomers and millennials indicate a strong desire to live near urban centers and, in many cases, they don't own a vehicle. The US Department of Transportation must adapt to this change, argued Foxx. This could involve, for example, pegging infrastructure investments more closely to consumers’ transportation demand. Foxx elaborated that infrastructure spending must be flexible at the state, local, and federal levels to best fit the demands of consumers.
Foxx believes this driverless revolution will have ripple effects on other segments of American society. Integrating new infrastructure investments and self-driving cars with smart city solutions could be crucial in this way. For example, if a city bus that is bringing an individual to their doctor’s appointment is running late, an app could notify the individual and help them change their appointment time and find a new bus trip to get there on time.
Columbus, Ohio, is currently developing an app that it hopes will enable consumers to do just this. On the other side of the coin, the advent of self-driving vehicles could also lead to transformative changes to the employment landscape, as whole job segments transition from human operated to autonomously operated.
The federal government seems well positioned to deal with regulating changing technology on the roads. Ensuring the government is in the right situation to anticipate and react to issues that may arise when self-driving cars are deployed, while also helping to ensure these new technologies improve the lives of the largest amount of Americans possible are both key to this. Overall, Foxx said, he believes autonomous technologies will lower transportation costs, enhance safety, and create access to vital technologies for traditionally underserved areas.

Here are some key takeaways:
  • Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: 1) high technological component prices; 2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology; and 3) relatively nonexistent regulations. However, in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
  • Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
  • Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
  • California became the first US state to propose regulations. California's regulations stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google's and Uber's idea of a driverless taxi system.


JackStone said...

Being a student economics and commerce, I was always assigned with tasks which required researching to support my answers. Like I visited this informative blog talking about the development and socio economic situation of cars over the years , the effect of these cars on the economy, and how self driving cars will be introduced. contemplating this kind of information is very tough. hence I availed assignment help near me to write these assignments in the best possible manner.

Gregory J. Trujillo said...

WOW, I never thought about the socio-economic impact of driverless cars. Yes, it’s a revolutionary technology, but that’s all I thought. This looks like an interesting post. I will return to it once I submit a client’s project who hired me for Master Thesis Help. As soon as I submit it, I will return to this post.

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vegitajames said...

An insightful analysis of the profound socio-economic implications of driverless technology. The exploration of job displacement, income inequality, and traffic safety is particularly compelling. Keep up the thought-provoking content!
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