As driverless cars become more capable and more common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry.
Each time there’s a headline about driverless trucking technology, another piece is taken out of the old equation. First, an Uber/Otto truck’s safety driver went hands-off once the truck reached the highway (and said truck successfully delivered its valuable cargo of 50,000 beers). Then, Starsky Robotics announced its trucks would start making autonomous deliveries without a human in the vehicle at all.
Luckily no one was injured when one of Google’s self-driving cars recently crashed itself into a bus as it pulled out at a junction. The car was only travelling at 2mph, after all. The company has admitted it bore “some responsibility” for the accident because the test driver (and presumably the car) thought the bus would slow down to allow the car to pull out.
Self-driving cars are becoming a very real technology. The latest Tesla car has an autopilot feature. The CEO of Uber has stated that he will buy every self-driving car Tesla can produce for a year (about 500,000). The Google self-driving car occasionally overtakes me as I cycle to work in Austin. Other manufacturers are also developing their own self-driving systems. There’s even talk of driverless car racing.