Google obviously thinks this technology has a future, and so do I. I think it’s future is huge. So too does an author at Forbes, who I have to thank for much of what will follow here. Google’s car will not only affect the way people drive cars, but it will have a lasting impact on numerous industries.
Chunka Mui says the Google car will eventually affect:
Car insurance – Google thinks its car would reduce accidents by 90%.
Gasoline consumption and sales – A road with self-driving cars would mean far more fuel efficiency. No more annoying traffic waves!
Car sales – We’ll need fewer cars in the United States if a car can be shared by driving itself to another person, essentially delivering itself to the next user. Every home could be a one car home.
Personal injury lawyers – No accidents, no lawyers!
Real estate values – Prime real estate will no longer be wasted on parking. People who live and work in a metro area could have their car park itself miles away, where land values are lower and parking spaces don’t cost $100,000.
Municipalities and state governments – See ya later, traffic tickets and licensing revenues.
Health care – Fewer traffic accidents mean far fewer emergency room visits. This is good for everyone as there will be more doctors, nurses, and hospital staff in general to go around.
Car repair businesses – Fewer cars and accidents mean fewer repairs and regular maintenance.
Mui’s next article in the series (not yet published) is about how Google will make money from their driverless car. Frankly, I don’t think this will make Google all the much money, and by the time it does generate any profits (assuming it does) they’ll have little net present value today. I see this as another example of a company that changes the world and makes no one rich. I’m interested to see what Mui has to say, though.
I’m still wondering if the driverless car will ever be made legal. What, with millions of people out of work (adios insurance sales, lawyers, gas station attendants, etc.), I expect a whole lot of lobbying to keep this from becoming law. Hell, you can’t even pump your own gas in a few states.
Mui’s article makes me realize the ridiculous amount of resources we dedicate to transportation including all the externalities. A Google car can definitely change the way we think about transportation, but can it make Google money?