How Will Driverless Cars Shape Our Economy?

Posted: Updated:

Autonomous cars were relegated to science fiction until fairly recently. Today, the implementation timetable for driverless cars is shrinking as companies race to beat the competition. Research into driverless cars is popping up in Columbus, Bloomington and at IUPUI's Transportation Active Safety Institute, where students are literally test driving the potential for driverless cars and analyzing the opportunities and challenges this fledgling technology creates for the automotive industry and the community.

Still, how close are autonomous cars to becoming reality? Features of autonomous cars are already commonplace. Some cars can self-park; others won’t let drivers change lanes if an oncoming car is too close. Still others use adaptive cruise control that changes the speed of a car to match the car in front of it.

The technology is developing so rapidly that state legislatures all over the country are considering laws to regulate autonomous cars. Nevada was the first state to authorize the operation of autonomous vehicles in 2011. Since then, 20 other states have passed legislation related to the self-driving vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

There will always be pros and cons to the unintended consequences of technological advancements.

Here are few things to consider as we look at the impact self-driving cars will have on our economy and daily lives:

Commutes and productivity. Productivity will increase because traffic flow will be faster and smoother during rush hour. The roads will be effectively clear of accidents, as autonomous vehicles will “talk” to each other to avoid collisions.

Savings. Most autonomous cars will be electric and use less fuel. These cars will be lighter and could travel greater distances without much downtime for maintenance.

Improved elderly/disabled mobility. Millions of people in this country do not drive because of age-related issues or a disability. Think of what a life changer it would be if autonomous vehicles could transport people who cannot drive or take public transportation.

Space. People may migrate back to cities that feature newly open vistas no longer congested with parked cars. Conversely, people could move out of cities and into rural areas if their commutes are quick, efficient and productive.

Jobs. Some jobs, such as truck driver and taxi driver, could eventually go away. Other jobs, such as high-skilled mechanics and data mining and security experts, could become more plentiful.

Cost of goods. Lower transportation costs and more efficient deliveries could mean lower costs for goods.

Safety. Accidents should drop significantly, because distracted driving and driver errors will no longer cause crashes. This can impact everything from insurance rates to auto body shops and personal injury lawyers. Most experts say driverless cars have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in the U.S. each year, and millions worldwide.

Passive income. We may earn extra income by having our autonomous cars run errands for people or drive them around while we’re at work.

We can’t conceive of all of the possibilities now, just as no one likely envisioned pizza delivery jobs back in the days of the horse and carriage. A society dependent on autonomous cars is coming and getting closer to reality.  The one certainty about the technology is it’s going to sneak up sooner than we think.

Mekael Teshome is an economist with PNC.

  • Perspectives

    • New Child Tax Credit: Will You Benefit?

      Do you have children? The Child Tax Credit was one of last year's most hotly-debated topics. Several senators, including Marco Rubio, called for a comprehensive overhaul before approving the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill. Ultimately, substantial changes were made. Here’s how the changes to the Child Tax Credit may impact you...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Big Names Unveiled For Snake Pit

      The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is bringing in some major names in electronic dance music for this year's Indy 500 Snake Pit concert. The event is looking for its third consecutive sellout May 27 during the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. 

    • Indiana Companies 'Most Admired' in Respective Industries

      Three Indiana companies are included with their peers on an annual World's Most Admired Companies list. Compiled by FORTUNE, the list includes 680 companies from a pool of around 1,500 candidates globally. Survey results from 3,900 executives, directors and securities analysts are used to determine 50 "All-Stars," which ranked in the top 25 percent of last year's surveys and in the top 20 percent of their industry.

    • New Child Tax Credit: Will You Benefit?

      Do you have children? The Child Tax Credit was one of last year's most hotly-debated topics. Several senators, including Marco Rubio, called for a comprehensive overhaul before approving the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill. Ultimately, substantial changes were made. Here’s how the changes to the Child Tax Credit may impact you...

    • Springbuk Plans 'Momentous Announcement'

      Indianapolis-based Springbuk is planning what it calls a "momentous announcement." Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett will join the employer health data company for Monday afternoon's announcement at the Union 525 building downtown. Springbuk is headquartered at the downtown tech hub. Last summer, the company said its customer base had grown to 900, leading it to add about 10 employees.

    • 'Big, Audacious Project' Attracts San Fran Transplant to Fort Wayne

      One of the goals of Fort Wayne's $440 million Electric Works project is to attract talent to northeast Indiana. Before the first shovel of dirt is turned for the public-private partnership, it appears to be working. The project, planned for the historic former General Electric campus near downtown, has hired its first full-time employee. "I love the big, audacious project," said Crystal Vann Walstrom, Electric Works’ new Managing Director of Innovation.