Many automotive insiders have begun to speculate what kind of impact self driving cars will have in the future. Predictions have varied; but for many there is a fear that those in certain industries may end up without employment.
With driverless cars on the horizon, it could have implications for those who currently drive for a living, cutting back positions for auto insurers, as well as taxi, truck, chauffeurs, delivery drivers and so forth.
Self Driving Cars Impact on Commercial Driving
Erick Guerra, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, predicts that the expense of purchasing a self driving car has the potential to be offset by lower labor costs, affecting 4.5 million bus, taxi, and truck drivers in the United States alone. He goes on to remind readers in his report that these employees are mostly men with high school degrees or less, which constitute for one of the most affected demographics during the last recession. Plus, in regards to the taxi industry, Forbes points out that the industry is a type of economic bridge for immigrants in urban centres.
According to Forbes, with the growth of this technology only a few thousand drivers will be left once self driving car technology takes off. However, the publication does note that significant job loss would only happen if completely driverless cars were introduced. In fact, delivery drivers would still be needed for door-to-door services such as food and mail delivery. It is hard to predict whether the commercial driving industry would feel a sudden impact or a gradual one.
There are benefits for those who will remain in their commercial driving job. A Labour Department study in the 1990s looked at commercial driving jobs, and found that there were more fatalities than any other occupation. At the time commercial driving deaths accounted for 12% of all workplace deaths. With driverless car technology, those still employed will reap the benefits of autonomous features and collision avoidance systems.
Self Driving Cars Impact on Auto Insurance
Donald Light published a report in 2012 regarding the end of auto insurance. In the report, he poses a theory of what would happen if the United States began using telematics, automated traffic law enforcement, driverless cars, and other autonomous technology. While the idea may seem eccentric, it is entirely plausible as many of these technologies are either available or on the horizon. When it comes to the use of the self driving car, it would reduce traffic accidents and single vehicle collisions drastically. The consequences for the insurance company would force a major reduction in premiums, as well as claim revenue.
Consumer Mentality on Driverless Cars
The transportation industry saw a huge shift over 100 years ago when the market went from horse to internal combustion engines, and allowed people to travel in a more efficient and safe way. Forbes predicts that self driving cars could result in a similar shift.
It is predicted with these changes in the automotive industry, once vehicles become fully autonomous, that the consumer mentality will also change. Vehicles will go from an owned possession to a service. This new perspective will ultimately change the way dealerships and manufacturers sell vehicles.
Not only will commercial drivers be affected by driverless cars, but other jobs such as parking attendants, traffic police, and others in field will suffer. While there is hope that jobs will be created such as jobs in self driving car design and infrastructure to suit these vehicles, it is hard to predict how sustainable some of these positions will be for those who are left without work.
Dr Stuart Armstrong, from the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford issued a warning that computers and autonomous technology could potentially take over human jobs, faster than new jobs could be created. If driverless cars become fully autonomous, there could be a large demographic out of work who will struggle to find gainful employment.
On the other hand, however, it is important to note that on a worldwide scale 1.2 million people die each year in automobile related accidents with another 50 million being seriously injured. Self driving car technology could reduce these statistics significantly.
While many fear the loss of jobs and note that not all jobs will be saved, it is up to the taxi, trucking, insurance, and automotive companies to adapt to these changes and think outside the box. The age of the self driving car is inevitable, it will be up to the employers to adapt to such changes.