Self-driving cars are the future of driving. They’re already here and they’re getting better all the time. In just the last few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of self-driving technology. Google’s Driverless Cars program is now underway in earnest, with more and more car manufacturers integrating this safety feature into their models over time. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a fully autonomous vehicle on the roads by 2030. Drivingless or not, everyone needs to get behind the wheel more often than they think — especially when you’re drinking wine with your friends at 1 a.m. After all, it’s the only activity that makes people do what they do best: drive. So why not make it as easy as possible? Enter the future of driving: ride hailing! Ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft have made it easier for people who can’t drive to get around cities and find transport. As a result, more and more people are getting behind the wheel again every day. This is creating a new set of challenges for today’s drivers, particularly those who earn little or no money from their hobby. Fortunately, there are some promising solutions in place that could ease their stress levels once again.
The Rise of the Autonomous Car
Self-driving cars are not a fad or a passing trend. They’re here to stay and will become increasingly common in our cars over time. The technological advancements that have gone into these cars are simply staggering. They use a combination of mapping, computer vision, and machine learning to navigate traffic, change lanes, and stop on the spot. The computer vision system can detect lane markings, road signs, and other objects. The combination of the two systems allows them to “read the road” and make proper lane adjustments, even when the car is in motion. Google’s prototype of its self-driving car, seen in 2016. (Google) Compared to regular cars, self-driving cars are incredibly safe. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where a self-driving car couldn’t prevent significantly more accidents than a human driver. This is thanks to the extra precautions taken by carmakers to ensure that these systems are as safe as they can be. Google’s prototype of its self-driving car, seen in 2016, had a driver behind the wheel at all times. (Google)
The Future of Driving: Self-Driving Cars First, then Ride-Hailing Services
Even though self-driving cars are still in the early stages, it’s clear that they have the potential to completely transform the way we drive. The idea of being able to get in and out of your car, food, or beverage without taking your hands off the wheel is enticing and inspiring. But is it realistic to think that you, as an ordinary driver, will start taking self-driving cars for a ride? Probably not. That said, for the time being, self-driving cars will only be available to professional operators who need the added layer of security that driverless technology provides. This will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future.
Self-driving cars are the future of driving — but how soon will this happen?
The first wave of autonomous cars is expected to hit the roads in 2020. After that, it will take about 5 years for manufacturers to bring the technology to a mass market level. The average speed for these vehicles will be around 30-40 mph, which will be faster than a human driver’s can reach on the road. For perspective, a car traveling 60 mph would have to take evasive action while a human driver would be lucky to get over 50 mph. This is a significant difference, and it’s not clear if it would be possible to drive a car at a consistent speed above 40 mph.
The future of driving: will it get easier for today’s drivers?
As we’ve seen with ride hailing, offering a service that eliminates the need for drivers is likely to make driving less appealing to many people. By creating a barrier between driver and passenger, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft make it harder for people to get behind the wheel. The good news is that more people are getting behind the wheel every day. OTR (on-the-road-time) driving is down by more than 10 million hours per year. This is good news because it means more people will drive if they could be shut out of the flow of traffic.
What This Means for OTR Drivers
For the most part, we OTR drivers are doing fine. Most of us are working full time jobs and have families. We also value our time and the environment we drive in. The idea of being able to get in and out of our cars without having to think about how to get there or how to drive is fantastic. And in many ways, it’s a breath of fresh air. OTR has the potential to change how we drive, but first we need to normalize the practice.