Self-driving cars are now a reality, but not a market option. Many of us hope they will become one soon for many reasons, primarily safety and convenience. The following article from Reuters today outlines the state-of-the-art, discusses the history, and provides some clues as to when the market, and laws will start to accept self-driving cars.
The following quote seemed interesting to me:
“Boules and executives like him will have to win over a public that includes those who love to drive or simply wouldn’t trust their lives to a robot. Others, like long-haul truckers, could resist the technology for fear of job losses”
The cultural passion of driving is, at least to me, the weakest argument for an absence of self-driving vehicles on the market. Considering that they can mix with driver operated cards well, and at least for the time being, people who love driving could continue to do so. I can understand that some people don’t want to put their life into the hands of technology. These people are mostly ignorant to the many ways that technology already impacts their life, and to reliability of technology that is being created today. However, the most compelling and likely deterrent to self-driving vehicles today is driving-related occupations. Truck-driving and taxi-driving are large industries. Massive unemployment in these industries would certainly occur rapidly if self-driving vehicles were introduced today. For that reason politicians will continue to feel pressure to put of the laws that would allow cars like the Google car to hit the market.
How will this be resolved in the future? Well, of course the concern is that if the US tech industry is not allowed to mature and release this technology of self-driving cars, that other countries such as China and Japan will have time to catch up to American technological innovation and take a larger slice of the pie when these technologies are legalized. So, stunting the innovation and growth of this industry should be a major concern. Also, as the population ages in the next 20-30 years, there may in-fact be holes in the economy due to retiring population and this stress in the workforce could easily be alleviated by autonomous vehicles. Actually, without autonomous technologies, immigration would be the only other alternative that will help ease the workforce shortage.