By all accounts, driverless cars are the future of personal transportation, whether it’s your own vehicle or one you’re hailing with the tap of a button. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has gone on record to say that the future of his company is nixing all the sacks of meat in the driver’s seats in lieu of autonomous vehicles.
With tech behemoths like Apple and Google hard at work developing the software to run this future, and existing auto manufacturers like Tesla fully committed to the idea as well, it’s just a matter of when in our lifetime we’ll all start taking on a more passive role in our day to day transportation.
It’s hard to fathom just how much this seismic shift will affect our day-to-day lives. One could not have foreseen how the foundation of Eisenhower’s interstate highway system would have profound societal impacts on American life and culture, affecting everything from the way we shop to the neighborhoods we live in. Today, we can only speculate about the long-term impacts removing the time-sucking commute would have on the average person.
In the short-term, however, these are just a few things you’ll be able to do once self-driving vehicles are the norm.
Despite the dangers and illegality, it should be almost a begrudging assumption that everyone is messing about on their phone while driving, or at the very least, firing off the odd text while stopped at a long red light. With many high-stress jobs requiring 24/7 connectivity, it’s no wonder that some take the risks to send a work email while going 65 mph down the freeway.
Without the need to keep one’s eyes and attention on the road, that time is opened back up for texting, tweeting, streaming, or gaming. Heck, you won’t even be limited to phones. Bring that tablet or laptop out for getting real work done on longer journeys. WiFi hotspots in vehicles are already a luxury that exist in some vehicles, but before long, they may become as standard a feature as electric windows.
When time isn’t of the essence, and you can take a more meandering drive to your destination instead of a quick, but much pricier flight, self-driving vehicles will provide you a space for a full night’s sleep (or even just a power nap) along the way.
Picture, if you will, those first class plane seats that fully recline into horizontal beds. Now picture those as your driver and passenger seats. Over time, as driverless cars become more and more the standard vehicle on the road, as opposed to the outliers, accidents WILL go down. This is pretty much a universally agreed upon conclusion in the field. As those accidents disappear, so will the need for seatbelts and most other safety devices. This deregulation will allow for strap free slumber on comfy beds zipping down the freeway.
And with no true need for a windshield, expect cars of the future to come stock with glass that can be opaque-d or tinted at the flip of a switch to let you block out the lights from the road.
Unless you’re the most vanilla person in the world, you probably already know that sex can happen in a car. Those encounters are a bit more cramped and utilitarian than many of the participants would likely hope for, but as car seats gain the ability to transform into beds, as in the example above, you can probably imagine how that will translate to just as many non-slumber bedroom activities as well.
Limos and “party buses” already operate in a legally grey area wherein they can provide – or at least allow passengers to bring –alcohol on board the operating vehicle. Usually there’s a token partition or something to make sure the driver isn’t getting in on any of the party action, but when the driver is a series of cameras and programs working in tandem underneath the hood, there’s really no legal reason to prevent of-age adults from enjoying their God-given rights as Americans to throw back a cold one in their own vehicle.
As stated before, we just won’t know what new opportunities or cottage industries will pop up in the autonomous vehicle future. With safety regulations likely slackening a bit, we may see specialized vehicles taking on specific, atypical shapes. Home gym van with treadmill and free weights? Plausible. Hot tub car? Those were already in limos in the ‘80s. The beauty of self-driving cars isn’t so much the safety they afford us, as it is the huge chunks of our lives they return to us. What you do with that time is entirely up to you.