CB Insights has released a very inclusive list of industries that self-driving cars will have an impact on, some of which are decidedly unexpected.
Foreseeable are industries such as insurance, where the debate on the safety of driverless cars versus the reflexes of human drivers has been steadily increasing for years. An adaptation by insurers has been to offer packages where the consumer is charged by the number of kilometres he or she drives, an attempt at compensation for a decreasing demand for car insurance.
Equally, the demand for car repairs or auto parts is reduced as smarter driving leads to fewer accidents and less wear-and-tear on the vehicles. Cars themselves are changing as their electronics are more and more costly, meaning that in future what needs replacing might not be your tyres, but the tech that makes your car smart (Genius bar for cars, perhaps?!).
Ridesharing and public transportation will adapt as driverless cars are able to service locations that are out of the way for traditional transportation, and will adjust to the schedule of the person, instead of the individual having their time dictated by the arrival and departure times of the transit system.
Burgers and Houses
Driverless cars will also impact our fast food habits: with someone else being at the wheel the chances decrease that consumers will make use of the drive-through window. CB Insights predicts that “food stops will be determined more by choice, mood, and quality — less by convenience”, as well as gas station restaurants taking a hit as people stop less to refuel. This change could see an increase in food delivery, with UberEats already taking the first steps and Pizza Hut working with Toyota to develop new delivery solutions.
With self-driving cars moving continuously, the need for long-term parking falls away. According to McKinsey, these car fleets could save 61 billion square feet of unnecessary parking space in the US alone, which opens up new opportunities for real estate. How can the allocated space be repurposed? And with the commute being easier, people might also start to prefer living outside of cities, instead of at the heart of them.
The New York Times took the premise of a future with self-driving cars to more extreme measures by imagining what this would be like, including an autonomous car workout. At the moment we are still more than a minute away from these developments, but maybe we’ll be doing Pilates in a Prius soon enough.