Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Next Big Thing

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.
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.


Mark said...

Great post - you can't stop progress when there is that much upside. Just think of the cumulative societal benefit of 30,000 fewer deaths per year and how much in medical costs from accidents? Fewer police, cheaper insurance, fewer auto body repairs, fewer cars per household - it just goes on and on and on...

Anonymous said...

Would a driver (or, rather, passenger) of autonomous car expected to have driver permit or know how to drive? If not - I can't wait for that, too!

Dan from Madison said...

In theory, yes you would need a license because you would have a manual override but I suppose eventually not after they become more reliable. This would be a boon for blind people as well as voice recognition becomes more advanced.

Anonymous said...

I hate voice recognition. It doesn't get accents!

Anonymous said...

Classic example:

Gerry from Valpo said...

Sounds like another one of the many ideas Walt Disney claimed would would become a reality in ten years….fifty years ago.