Self-driving cars.

I’m really looking forward to the day when self-driving cars become a standard in transportation.

This will be one of the next disruptive innovations we’re going to experience in the next 10 to 15 years. Google is even expected to release it’s first car by 2016. Imagine what massive improvement a self-driving car would be. These are just a few of my thoughts regarding this topic.

Security

Self-driving cars are expected to drive much safer than any human driver could. Algorithm-controlled cars which are able to communicate with each other will react much more reliably to sudden events like children running on a street, animals crossing roads or drivers falling asleep. This will reduce the amounts of accidents and spendings for insurance companies. Good news for all customers!

Intelligent traffic control

Communicating cars which are able to pass their destinations to each other will be able to intelligently control traffic flow. You could even know the exact traffic situation of next morning’s rush hour based on data analysis. Or communities and private road and bridge providers could even offer “pre-booked” slots for self-driving cars. This could result in a bunch of new business models based on traffic data and realtime traffic analysis.

Commuting will be much smarter: Imagine car sharing in a world of self-driving cars. People will be able to organize routes digitally. This will result in lower costs for energy, efficient use of cars and – in the end – less cars on the road.

Spend less time for searching parking space

For me a self-driving car would be a major improvement and time saving device: I live in a dense urban environment. When I come home from work, there’s usually no parking space available in front of my house. Imagine a car that searches parking space on its own! You just jump off your car in front of your house and tell the car to search for parking space – maybe even far away from your door. ¬†Who cares? You don’t have to walk the long way. The car will then be back in the morning at the anticipated time right after you closed the door behind you. Fascinating. And if the car uses renewable energy – who cares about energy costs for the way to the final parking destination?

Spend less for speeding and parking fines

If you don’t drive yourself, there will be no speeding and no illegal parking. Therefore, you will never spend a dime for parking or speeding bills. Good for you, bad for our communities.

Less signs on the roads

Self-driving cars gather information by accessing the mobile internet and GPS. There is simply no more need for signs: There will be no need to display speed limits and distances as the car knows this much better. This will result in reduced costs for communities as well as in a cleaner environment and cityscape.

Is technology the major problem?

Will self-driving cars enter markets quickly? I think the biggest problem is not the technology. Self-driving cars more or less are a further development of existing technologies. Of course, there are new problems regarding cyber-security. But I think the key to accept this technology is not the complexity of it itself. It’s people and their understanding of administration, control and organisation. There are so many questions to be answered:

  • what about car insurances? Who is to be held responsible if there is a crash of two self-driving cars? The owner? The manufacturer?
  • what does a self-driving car mean for taxi-business and the transporting business? There will be many jobs lost just be having this technology available for a mass-market.
  • people love to drive. Especially Germans – they don’t even like automatic transmission in cars! Shifting this from “total control” of a car to “total relaxation” as a guest in their own car will take time.