Sunday, March 31, 2013

Year 2030: Tomorrow’s yesterday jobs due to self driving cars now on our roads

Year 2030: driverless cars and trucks are everywhere. We’ve reached step 3 i.e. everyone is able to operate a car with a smartphone and cars are shared.

There will be major impacts on the way cities are built with less need for parking space or the fact that public transportation use will be modified (can driverless cars be considered as public transportation as they are shared?).

This will also have a major impact on our lives and some jobs are going to disappear. Here is a non exhaustive list:

  • taxi drivers - are going to be replaced by (your) smartphone. In 2028 Apple launched a new App where you just need to tell where you want to go, with how many other passengers. Minutes later a driverless cab or minibus arrives and pick you and your friends up and seamlessly drive you to your final destination.
  • car dealers - are just disappearing, because remaining car manufacturers will sell cars directly to company similar to car renters, who will maintain them and make them available for end users on demand on a trip to trip basis.
  • auto insurer - In 2013, there were already some early signs from the government (Oregon at least) that said: “car manufacturers should have some liability for self driving cars accident”. Today, in 2030, car operator cannot be insured as he does not pass any driving exam anymore and has, thus, no ability, responsability and liability when driven by an autonomous car. Insuring a vehicle is just a nonsense. In addition, there will be less accidents. Car accident will be renamed as “software bug” and dying on the road will be renamed as “having a blue screen”.
  • driving professor (Europe only) - It’s going to be a week-end job like someone who teaches how to ride horse in 2013. Remember, no one will drive be cause she has to anymore, but we can imagine some people enjoying to drive a car on week-ends. In 2013, there were still a lot of people enjoying a horse ride, though, horse had not been used for daily use since decades in US and Europe.
  • truck driver - will disappear for the same reasons that taxi drivers are going to disappear.
  • road police - fining a robot does not make any sense. Fining car owner won’t make any sense either as they have no clue about driving. In 2030 car manufacturers will be fined instead... They are responsible for the software driving the car and its bug. In 2013 you are still responsible for the self driving car whether you drive it or not. At least in Texas (still a proposal).
  • car manufacturer - In 2030 cars will not be privately owned anymore. It will serve less as a social status. In addition to that, there will be less cars because vehicles will be shared. Car manufacturers won’t actually disappear, but they will compete on “cost of maintenance” not on style.

Next post soon on jobs that are going to stay but will see tremendous changes...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Driverless trucks before driverless cars

As of now, driverless cars cost more than regular cars because of the additional sensors and additional computer power needed to manage all these sensor’s data. It’s clear that the added cost will dwindle during the following years as driverless cars will become more “mainstream”.

This “driverless” added cost might, soon, not be so big anyway when considering a truck driven by a professional driver.

In a 1st step, a driver will have to be present, but the driverless functionality will be a great help for him. Legally, he might even be allowed to drive longer in the day, which would improve its productivity from its employer point of view. The overall balance between cost of driverless feature and improved productivity due to assisted driving would then very soon tilt in favor of driverless trucks.

In a ultimate step (step 3), a driver might not even be needed (technically and legally). At this stage we can expect driverless functionality to be well below a truck driver’s yearly cost.

Driverless trucks are most mature in Australia mines

Before having driverless trucks on our road, they will arrive very soon or are already there in controlled environments such as mines. In these “closed” environments V2V or V2I technologies make sense as opposed to regular highway.

Typically in Australia where Rio Tinto is using some Komatsu’s driverless trucks and Autonomous Haulage System—Komatsu's Pioneering Technology Deployed at Rio Tinto Mine in Australia.


Talking about another mining project in South Australia from Iron Road Limited:
Despite all he has achieved, Mr Scholz (Wudinna’s mayor) realises without the mine Wudinna faces an increasingly difficult future. "They will have driverless tractors within 10 years and if the trend continues we won't be able to sustain our community," he said.

Truck driver might not be a job with a great future anymore.