In the not too distant future your car will be a lot like your smartphone today.
It will know a lot about you and will give up your secrets when asked. Your car proclivities, like your grocery store purchases, will be catalogued and dissected to give you an ever improving experience.
This is a good thing.
Don’t Fear the Autonomous Car
The future will involve people doing less and less actual driving. Your car will be autonomous. Your car will be connected. Your car will join car platoons of other vehicles as it effortlessly weaves its way around traffic jams and gets you to your destination.
Let’s be clear --- it will NOT likely be YOUR car. Much like Software-as-a-Service we’ll have Vehicles-as-a-Service (VaaS). Of course, Uber and Lyft are pioneering this effort today. But, they are doing it with human drivers. Imagine that same service, on-demand and on-command, except with an automated vehicle.
No longer will we need to pay for a big suburban if all we need it a one or two passenger vehicle. And, when you need that big car – whether it’s a 5 seater or a 25 seater … it will show up on demand and on command.
In the future only the very wealthy (the enthusiasts) and the very poor will drive automobiles.
Your car will know where you go, when you go and how often you go. You wont care how fast the car will get you there. You will only care that it gets you to your destination.
The Docking Port Vehicle
A friend I worked with at K2 had an ingenious idea. He suggested that some people might have the equivalent of an Recreational Vehicle (an RV) and the vehicle would “dock” with your house. When you arrived home the unit (which is self-driving and autonomous) would dock, set the seals and allow free access to the house or to the RV unit. There would be no need for a garage or side yard parking area.
Then, when you are ready to go to bed … you sleep in the RV unit. Depending upon where you need to be the next day the RV would be in constant communication with the roads and it would undock and leave your home port at an appropriate hour to get you to your destination on time. Because the RV units and cars on the road are all sync’d up there could be slow 5 – 10 mph lanes dedicated to “RV Traffic”
I extended this line of thinking to be able to dock with hotels and other properties – gyms, friends RV’s, concert venues, the ideas are endless. Perhaps leading to the question amongst friends … “Where Are You Docking Tonight?” and they can say it with all sincerity.
Oh … and There Will Be Jobs
For the foreseeable future there will be jobs to build, maintain and develop the vehicles, the infrastructure, and the services that surround the VaaS Experience.
Humans will still be actively involved in the development of many aspects of autonomous vehicles. Some of these will be transitioned to more service oriented tasks.
And, perhaps, as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak predicts humans will become pets of the robots we will build … including the vehicles we will develop.
For the near term there is still a lot of work to be done. There is a lot of HUMAN work to be done. Including:
- Logistics – Who can order a VaaS? Will there be age limits? Where will vehicles go when they aren’t needed (both immediately and when they need to be de-commissioned)? Who will pay for the storage of vehicles that are out of service?
- Ownership – Will the concept of owning a vehicle still exist?
- Priority Access – Will people be able to pay a premium for faster service? Or for a different kind of car? Uber does this now with “surge pricing”
- Human Factors Engineering – How will automobiles change when there is no need for a steering wheel? Can more of the vehicle “space” be used? How to engineer a sleeper car? A Game Car? A <fill-in-the-blank> vehicle for whatever you can imagine?
- Economics of the markets servicing the autonomous vehicle industry. This will be significant. The way automobiles are purchased, provisioned, serviced, etc.
- Government Regulations – There will be taxes in the future. There will be taxes levied to cover the costs of these vehicles, the roadways, the service industry that surrounds them and so much more.
- Computer Programming – Currently humans have the upper hand here. Eventually processing speed as well as creativity will be outsourced to faster and more adaptable computing systems.
- System Design – Roads, docking ports, working hours, on-call provisioning, payment systems, vehicle safety, etc.
- Maintaining Roads and Bridges – At present there are a lot of human specific actions needed to maintain the roads. This may change rapidly, but not for a little while.
- Much, much more … I’m only skimming the surface here.
Over time some of these (and many other) tasks will be automated and go to the next closest robot. This is not a doom-and-gloom post. This is a reality post. The reality is … Autonomous Vehicles are coming.
I embrace my robot overlords and here are three scenarios I envision.
Next Stop: Submarines and Space Ships. I’m ready.
Image Credits: McViker, ROV.org, sportku
Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and is currently the Chief Evangelist at K2.
Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter.