The average American spends 52 minutes a day behind a motor vehicle with their eyes glued to the road, according to AAA. That could all change very soon; self-driving car technology is rapidly progressing, and Tesla is expected to release an update to many of its existing cars allowing for complete autonomous control as soon as this year.
The downstream effects of this automotive revolution will shape the future of American society in many fields, from emergency response to urban planning; and the technology created alongside these vehicles, to assist processing their data and enabling vehicle-to-vehicle connections, could affect several other sectors. The most common theme is the transition of car ownership from everyday Americans to larger ride-sharing companies, given that self-driving technology will reduce the fare for a private taxi significantly enough that personal car ownership could drop 80% by 2030, reports think tank RethinkX.
Many Americans are excited about this change. Freeing up your hands from the steering wheel and your eyes from the road could allow you to get a head start on work, catch up on the latest TV, work out during your commute, or sleep during an extended road trip. Urban workers could move further out into the suburbs, getting larger homes for their dollar, since commutes would be less stressful. Algorithms may reduce traffic by better allocating vehicles, and the emergency response times of ambulances could decrease significantly.
However, many Americans are also anxious about the looming specter of automation taking their jobs and leaving them nothing. For taxi drivers, long-haul truckers, and other professional drivers, the widespread use of self-driving vehicles will lead to massive layoffs, forcing them to find another field of employment. The new field may create jobs, like monitors for the self-driving fleets, but it’s tough to see a future where the millions of professional drivers in America are all made better by the change.
To help cut through the noise, Stacker has detailed how driverless cars will affect 33 key industries, as outlined by analytics company CB Insights. Click ahead to find out which food company is already designing vehicles that will cook your food en route, and how driverless cars can help you exercise your way to the office.