Most everyone is aware that Google is building cars that drive themselves, and gaining headlines for their efforts. The experimental cars are approved in both California and Nevada for testing and have made news headlines repeatedly as they ply the streets. Other companies, like Audi and Toyota, are also working on driverless car technologies with Audi climbing the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado with a self-driving car last year.
Interestingly, Google says that they will have their technology ready for market by 2020. Would we be able to buy a car that drives itself then? Probably not, but it would be within a handful of years from Google’s release assuredly. So in our lifetimes, we could potentially see driverless cars on the road.
Well, sort of. Most likely, we’ll not see cars without drivers behind the wheel, though we might see drivers committing what today would be egregious acts of safety obliteration like magazine reading and cell phone game playing while the car is in motion.
If these cars become the norm, how would a typical Canadian city in, say, 2030 look? What would change because cars are now able to take care of themselves when not in use by their owners?
Well, parking would be a completely different game. Imagine pulling up to the door of the grocery store, getting out of your car right there on the curb, then saying “Go park yourself” (preferably without a rude gesture).. and the car actually does it. So it parks way out in the back of the lot? Who cares? Once you’re done shopping, as you exit the store, you can press a button on your cell phone (or cell watch or whatever we’re using fifteen years from now) and your car drives back to the curb to pick you up. Once you’ve gotten back in, you say “to the Post Office” – because we all know mail will never change – and the car takes you there. Without your further input.
Parking and traffic tickets would all but disappear, traffic jams on the highway would be a rarity, and even the shape of our homes and garages could change because we no longer need to have easy access to the garage or the car if the car can come to us whenever we ask it to.
Think of the cars themselves too. Luxury items would no longer include things like “Active Cruise Control” and “Steering-mounted controls” for audio and so forth. Instead, tomorrow’s luxury cars might include coffee makers, large screen televisions, dash-mounted computers for accessing the Internet and work while on the road, etc. Imagine the three hour road trip to a business meeting if you could work from the car while it drives!
Other changes could come as well. What if families only required one car instead of two or three? Simply because once you drive to your destination, the car can then leave and go back to pick up your spouse or kids to go to theirs.
Taxis and rentals would be a completely different thing as well. The taxi driver is now merely a conversationalist rather than a driver and rental cars could come to you on-demand. City buses and other transit vehicles would also be very different.
Just imagine what it will be like if this technology proves itself and is allowed to flourish! What fun times we live in.