I’ve been thinking about the Daily Star’s recent article about the robotic cars that Google has invented. Apparently Google has already navigated robotic trucks across the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe, and the day is not that far off that we start seeing these things on our highways.
I am guessing it will take a little while for Americans to give up personal driving, but I think they will do it once they figure out that having a robotic car is like having a personal limousine. And I am sure companies like Wal-Mart will be very early adopters of robotic 18-wheelers.
This got me to thinking about how many people’s jobs rely on the fact that, currently, we have to drive our cars ourselves. Obviously, commercial truck drivers and cab drivers will see their jobs disappear. But so will personal injury lawyers like myself, because robotic cars won’t drive negligently. (And yes I think this is a good thing.)
How about the auto insurance industry? Robotic cars don’t ever collide.
Let’s not leave out my comrades who represent people accused of DUI. And the State Police — what use will there be for most of them? Traffic court? Gone. Same with traffic school. EMTs and ambulance drivers? They are going to lose business too. The daily slaughter we currently experience on our highways will diminish tremendously, so hospital employees will be in less demand as well.
You know that garbage truck that comes by every week? It will be driven by a robot.
There will be no person in the front of the UPS truck.
There will no longer be lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, because there won’t be any need for a driver’s license, or driver’s test.
Auto body shops will vanish, and towing companies will struggle too. People’s cars will still break down of course, but not because they drove off the road.
Robotic cars can gas themselves up on their own (if they aren’t, God help us, electric by then) so gas stations will be dramatically different things, and there will be many fewer of them.
And people will be willing to accept longer commutes, of course, because they can spend all that time on Facebook or even sleeping. I predict this will bring about cars that are bigger, not smaller, and more urban sprawl.
The more I think about this, the more I see robotic cars dramatically transforming our civilization. Which is another way of seeing just how central the car is to our civilization already.