How autonomous vehicles will transform the ways we travel

This is a viewpoint from Rae Steinbach, freelance editor at Rothenberg LLP.

Driverless cars are on their way. The technology is developing at such a pace that many experts are predicting that they’ll have a noticeable road presence by the year 2020. These forecasts have many speculating about the ways in which autonomous vehicles are going to change society.

In the earliest years of driverless cars, the impact is going to be most felt by people that drive for a living. As taxis and cargo vehicles go driverless, their former operators are going to need to consider retraining for a future in which they may no longer be needed behind the wheel. As the use of the technology expands to the broader public, the changes are going to be significantly more noticeable for those who work in other industries.

These advancements are obviously going to have an impact on the way we travel and the decisions that we make concerning transit. This post will look at some predictions for driverless cars and how they’re set to impact the future of travel.

Improving holiday travel

Different holidays mean different things to different people. For many, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are times when they hit the road to go visit family and friends. The addition of millions of cars on the roads leads to increased traffic and longer commutes. With autonomous vehicles, much of this traffic could be reduced, helping to alleviate the stress associated with holiday travel while also making for more efficient trips.

Self-driving cars have the ability to continually monitor road conditions and the actions of other vehicles on the road. With this ability, driverless cars are able to go faster and drive closer to other automobiles. In a future where the majority of cars are autonomous, this will help to relieve congestion on the highways and prevent collisions that lead to auto accident injuries and major traffic jams.

Autonomous vehicles will also be able to track the expected traffic conditions on the planned route. They will account for things like weather, road construction, and traffic accidents to help the occupants get to their destination as quickly as possible. Additionally, by diverting more cars from potential problem areas, the overall risk of accidents will be reduced. This means more time spent on content consumption while in the vehicle, and potentially more in-destination spend as people spend less time in cars.

That’s a dual-pronged opportunity for destinations: content that engages riders while they are in transit, as well as more time on the ground to get them to in-destination activities.

The impact on air travel

Everybody likes the idea of going on vacation, but few of us look forward to the flying experience. Even before boarding the plane, you have to deal with long security lines, pat downs, restrictive baggage policies, and more. Even with all of these unpleasant aspects of air travel, it is still more attractive than having to drive for a dozen (or more!) hours to get to your destination.

As driverless cars become a fixture on roadways, the choice to go by air or by land is going to become clearer for shorter trips. Less traffic will also make long-distance road trips more practical, but there are several other benefits that may push some travelers to choose the road over air travel.

Some automakers are already starting to design driverless vehicles that don’t have steering wheels and pedals. Without the need for these parts, interiors could be designed to be more accommodating for long-distance travel.

Instead of having to sit upright for the entire trip, car seats could be designed to recline into a flat position for sleeping. You could get in your car, lie down, and sleep while your car takes you to your destination. For many travelers, that will be far more appealing than sitting in a cramped airline seat.

Services could even be developed for people that do not own driverless cars. You could arrange for an autonomous shuttle to take you and other passengers to a destination that is many hours away. The vehicle would come pick you up, you’d sleep during the trip, and wake up at your destination.

The future of road trips

Autonomous vehicles are likely to put an end to the road trip as we currently know it. Although we are probably still at least a few decades away from every car being autonomous, there may come a day where people are unable to drive for themselves.

For the road trip, that means that people will no longer get to enjoy driving on these long trips or have the experience of navigating around new locales. While that may be a great loss to some people, there are, of course, benefits that will come with letting your car do the work when you go out on your journey.

With your car doing the driving, you will be able to relax and enjoy the scenery as you travel through different parts of the country. Or, like many already do, there’s more time than ever before to consume content — perhaps related to the destination! Additionally, you won’t be tired from all of the hours of focusing on the road. Instead, you’ll reach your destination feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the different attractions.

As a further benefit, autonomous cars could use blockchain technology to make your road trip fully autonomous. With secure payment solutions that are automated by the vehicle, you won’t even have to worry about stopping for tolls or gas; the car would know when it’s time to pay for a service. Using secure blockchain technology, a vehicle could make payments without having to bother the driver.

We still have a ways to go before autonomous cars have these capabilities. Not only that, they will also have to reach a certain level of ubiquity before all of these benefits really start to pay off. However, there will come a day when the idea of actually operating a car will seem foreign to most people.

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



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  1. Max Starkov

    One simple question: How can a 3,500-4,000 pound self-driving car transporting a 120-150 pound human be called progress? Where is the efficiency? What is the impact on the environment to produce such highly inefficient product? Can all the energy and material resources be invested in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly fashion: mass transit, light rail, hyperloop transportation, etc.?

  2. Udi Sharir

    I Don’t want to disregard you, but autonomous cars market size will only be what rail is, in 10 YEARS !!!!


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