I was talking with my sons the other day about driving – I have one son who is learning to drive and another one who is interested and I told them that their generation will likely be the last generation who will need to learn how to drive. Their kids will probably never need to learn how to drive. In fact, in my opinion, humans driving cars will probably be outlawed at some point. Here is my sense of the progression here.
- We will start seeing a lot more autonomous vehicles on the road. It will be expensive at first, but, judging by the number of Teslas on the road, there should be no shortage of people willing to pay to drive autonomous vehicles. At first, autonomous vehicles will look exactly like regular cars – they will still have a steering wheel, ready to be jumped on by a driver. Operators will need to be able to drive themselves, and even though you can probably dispatch your car to pick up your kids at school, it won’t be legal. Laws will require someone behind the wheel. Eventually, cars will get cheaper, and the number of autonomous vehicles on the road will increase.
- At some point, there will be ultra-compelling evidence that autonomous vehicles are so much safer than human driven vehicles, that the government will mandate that all vehicles must be autonomous. A few years after that, human driving will be declared illegal, as they will simply compare the “deaths and injuries due to autonomous vehicles” (zero) to the human number (not zero). The government, led by groups like MADD and similar, will shut down the ability for people to drive (thus making James T. Kirk’s drive of his step-dad’s Mustang off a cliff impossible – not only would the vehicle probably be crushed, it will have been at least 10 generations since anyone in Kirk’s family actually DROVE.) By Kirk’s time, no one even knows how to drive anymore. In fact, I’m surprised anyone needs to drive anything. Shuttles and even starships should fly themselves with a simple voice command – sorry Sulu, but you’re out of a job. Once this happens, and even a little before, the car will no longer really be a car, but a moving room.
- We are already starting to think about the autonomous vehicle experience. Why would you need a steering wheel at all? I think that the car of the future will be more like a living or family room instead of a car. You step in, close the door, sit on a couch like construct, then read your tablet, or flip on your giant TV and watch while your car (or more likely your uber) effortlessly whisks you away to your destination. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even need to tell your car where to go – it should already know where you are going and when you need to be there, as all of this information is in the cloud and reviewable. The seamless world will make it so that you will never even have to tell your car where to go, where to park, or anything like that.
So you may enjoy driving, and so might your kids, but eventually your grandkids will probably gaze in wonder when you talk about a time where you “got in your car and drove”. All of those books which describe driving will seem so quaint and retro, as you read them on your brain embedded Kindle on your way to your 2 hour shift at Spacely Sprockets.
It’s not really as far out as you think.