I’ll send my car to get you.
My wife and I recently welcomed a second boy to our family and I began to think about how we’ll soon have three primary roles in our household: one as a spouse, one as a parent and one as a chauffeur. With sports practices, music lessons and the like, we’ll be spending a good deal of time transporting our kids and their friends to and fro, while being forced to decide whether to go home and leave after 20 minutes, or wait in the parking lot listening to the radio or reading a book.
Selfishly, I then began to think about the recent developments with Google driverless cars. This summer, Google announced they completed over 300,000 accident-free autonomous-driving miles and testing continues with some question as to their plans for commercialization. While it will likely take 20+ years to convert most of the install base of cars to driverless, I dream of staying home while my Volvo drives my boys to basketball practice, dutifully waits in the parking lot, then drive them back home. Scheduling would be infinitely easier and my wife and I would have more time with each other. We wouldn’t have to worry about car accidents, because, in theory, all or most of the other cars on the road would be autonomous and would be communicating constantly. I suppose this means that traffic lights will someday be unnecessary.
As the boys age and get closer to driving age, I honestly wonder if they will ever have the need to learn how to drive a car. A lot can change in 15 years, and I believe the amount of (avoidable) deaths and injuries from regular accidents, distracted driving and drunk driving accidents will be a key factor of government “encouragement” that will incentivize adoption. In this scenario, my boys can text all they want to in the car. Commutes to school and practice could be time for homework and studying. We could take road trips overnight, sleeping as our car drove us safely to Disneyland.
I don’t know how long it will take to commercialize the autonomous solution or how government influence or cost of ownership will affect adoption, but part of me wishes my boys would never drive. At some point, they are going to want to cruise the streets or park on make-out hill, but the peace of mind driver less vehicles would bring is very appealing. How do you feel about the idea of autonomous vehicles?