What it is: Self-driving cars are the future. The only question is when will they get here?
Google, Uber, and many other companies are working on self-driving cars. The appeal is simple. Self-driving cars can be more efficient with less accidents. More importantly, self-driving cars promise to create robotic taxis that can drive people around.
One problem with mass transit is that it rarely takes you exactly where you want to go and it’s rarely convenient to access when you need it. Self-driving taxis offer the ability to pick you up exactly where you’re at and take you exactly where you want to go.
The Japanese are particularly interested in robotic taxis because they have a rapidly growing elderly population that needs to get around. As Japan’s population ages, they need more capable robots able to care for them and that includes driving them from their homes to the grocery store or any other place.
Robotic taxis are the future. When they become convenient and inexpensive enough, that will eliminate the need for everyone to drive themselves (causing accidents) and clogging the highways (creating traffic jams). With a robotic taxi, you could be more productive while working on a laptop, reading a book, chatting on the phone, or just taking a nap while your robotic taxi takes you where you want to go. With robotic taxis controlling vehicles, cars will be able to move more efficiently on the roads, increasing traffic flow and reducing traffic jams. Combine robotic taxis with mass transit and now you can conveniently get to a mass transit station and back home again, completely avoiding traffic on the main highways.
Right now we have a situation where everyone drives. Soon we’ll be sharing the road with self-driving cars where most accidents will still occur because of driver error. Eventually we’ll make the transition to mostly self-driving cars.
Taxi services will disappear when robotic taxis are cheaper and more efficient. Already fewer young people in America want to drive a car, which means fewer cars on the road, less pollution in the air, and less wasted time stuck in rush hour. Self-driving cars promise tons of benefits to eliminate today’s current problems of parking problems, traffic jams, and wasted time stuck in traffic.
If you’re looking far into the future, public parking lots will eventually disappear, but they could become taxi waiting areas for self-driving cars to temporarily park while waiting to be called. Parking meters will also be obsolete, which means wider roads for more self-driving cars to roam around. Imagine self-driving cars as mobile offices and you suddenly see how you can be more productive sitting in a self-driving car, getting work done instead of driving.
Apple’s current car project is CarPlay, which aims to integrate computer functions with a dashboard. Apple’s future project, Project Titan, might be a self-driving car or a hydrogen or electric car. Whatever the case, Apple plans to have a role in tomorrow’s self-driving future.
Self-driving cars can’t come soon enough. When they finally do arrive, we’ll all look back and wonder how we ever got along with driving cars, parking them, and dealing with the hassle of maintenance on our own.