Dan posted this up at Chicago Boyz and it also has a great discussion thread there...
A few weeks ago while sitting around, my wife and I started discussing the Next Big Thing. My new smart phone is simply an improvement over the last one – that isn’t it.
I will tell you what is the Next Big Thing – driverless cars.
I had heard about them a few times before reading America 3.0, and they are mentioned in that book. I send Lex links about testing and we have both come to the conclusion that the big hurdle with them won’t be the technology – it will be regulatory hurdles. But this is coming faster than we all think – and there really won’t be much anyone can do to stop it since the demand will be intense.
I imagine the cops will be trotting out “safety” issues when the real reason will be that their days of writing dumb speeding tickets will be over. That revenue train, along with the DUI industry, will take major hits. I imagine they and others will fight this to the end. Insurance companies will likely see damage done – as crash rates go lower, they will be forced to drop premiums, or people will just go to a simple liability policy and chance the crash.
As for me, I lose 70 minutes a day of productivity sitting in my car. All isn’t lost since I listen to Bloomberg business news, however if I could have that 70 minutes to catch up on email, or to simply further myself by reading a book it would be a huge plus in my life. How about being able to have more than one glass of wine with dinner with my wife at a nice restaurant or at a wedding reception and not having to worry about a DUI?
Elon Musk says that we will be ready, tech wise, in five to six years:
Mr. Musk expects autonomous driving to be safer for riders and pedestrians by a factor of 10.
I absolutely believe this. In addition, when the computer gets traffic reports, it will choose the quickest way to the destination, and will choose the speed to use the least amount of fuel.
This article is interesting from CNBC. Here is a quote:
But for some mass market brands like Chevy, Honda or Volkswagen, Winterhoff says it will tougher to compete and win in a world where self-driving cars usher in the idea of mobility on demand.“Autonomous drive vehicles will mean many families will need fewer cars and if you only have one car instead of two, you will likely make it a premium brand,” he said.
Imagine having only one car for a family of four. In my life, it would drop me off at work, head home and transport the wife if she needs to go somewhere, pick up/drop off a kid at school, head to the market where my groceries will be loaded by a clerk there that I have already paid for with Google Wallet, etc. etc.
When you get talking heads speaking about winners and losers, you can feel that it is on the way. I just can’t wait.