The Future of Driving

Driving in the future will look different than it does today.  Electrics, hybrids, self-driving cars, hyperloops, and drones. These are a few of the innovations we have seen or are being dreamed up to fulfill our future transportation needs. But how much of these are just that, dreams? What will actually change and what might stay the same?

Cars as you know them today are here to stay.

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Americans love their cars and love driving their cars. Germans love their cars and love driving their cars. Brits love their cars and love driving their cars. Italians love their cars and love driving their cars. Everybody loves collecting cars. Just like television has not eliminated radio, neither will self-driving cars eliminate human-driveable cars. More likely, self-driving cars will become another viable class of vehicle that we add to the mix along with electrics and hybrids. We’re also very likely to see combinations of classes. One example of this is the Google Car. It is a self-driving hybrid vehicle that can also be human controlled.

What about completely autonomous vehicles?

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Many shuttles and busses are already moving toward driverless systems. These systems are likely to expand in the future. Set routes allow their navigation systems to be more easily trained. Since they’re sharing the road, they’ll likely still have emergency override features. As these systems get more robust, we’ll likely see industries like over-the-road trucking changed considerably.

How will Government change?

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Roads cost the government money. Today, governments use a gas tax as a primary means to collect money to build and repair roads. Unfortunately (or fortunately), as cars become more fuel-efficient or eliminate the need for petrol-based fuels entirely, this means an ever-shrinking tax income for roads. If we see a large shift to electrics, the government is likely to increase taxes on electricity. Charging stations that are currently free could shift to not being so any longer. Alternatively, the government might switch to mileage-based tax collection. Oregon has already created a Road Usage Charge Program as an alternative to the gas tax.

Does it make sense to own a car?

uber

Will it make sense to even own a car if I can just request one from my smartphone to come pick me up? Uber and their competitors do that today, but a driverless Uber could be an interesting concept. I’m excited to see what the future holds and how innovation will continue to shape the transportation industry.