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How would you use a self-driving car?

Posted in original forums by Brett M:

Hello- new to the forum.

If self driving cars were available today, what would the primary use for them be? My guess would be for commuting back and forth to work, but I can also see people using them for long family vacation trips, or even having the car go pick up kids from school, etc.

6 thoughts on “How would you use a self-driving car?”

  1. It’s hard to imagine, but I assume everything. For me, I’d use it to drive to and from work. That would allow me to do other things while commuting – either work, rest, whatever. It would in many ways give me extra time each day to enjoy.

    The biggest benefit is actually the safety issue to me. Assuming they can work reasonably well in all weather conditions, we wouldn’t have anywhere near the number of accidents and fatalities.

    As for winter and snow, self driving plows and salt trucks could be deployed to keep the roads clear as snow is falling, avoiding some of those long commutes.

    The bigger question will be whether people will continue to own cars or just use them like taxis. Or if you own a car, would you make it available to others as a taxi when you aren’t needing it. That is why Uber has put so much work into self-driving research.

    Having self driving cars could be one of the biggest changes I’ll experience during my lifetime. Safety and convenience are the obvious changes. The changes to large industries is an even bigger impact.

    1. All great points, Rick! I wonder if the first wave of self driving cars will be released only to major companies (for things like snow plowing and long transport), just so the driving public can get used to them on the road? My guess is that car companies won’t start sales to the general public until there is a general sense of comfort with the automated cars on the road. Or does anyone know if Google and the like will start selling cars straight to the general public?

      1. I don’t know what Google’s plans are, but I don’t see them making their own cars. They will ultimately need to either partner with a car manufacturer or they will need to license their technology. They seemed to have a big head start over almost everyone else, but the other players in the game seem to have brought something to market before Google. Ultimately, I’m hoping whatever Google has learned will become available in one form or another.

        I think we will see this in personal vehicles first. While I haven’t personally experienced the Tesla autopilot, it seems to be at least a basic self driving option. I was concerned that they may have released it a bit early. I’m sure anyone who visits this site already knows that there was a horrible fatality with someone who trusted it too much. Tesla is learning from it and making signifcant changes to hopefully prevent anything like that from happening again. Keeping things in perspective, there are approximately 90 people who die in car accidents every DAY in the US, 3400 people die each day in the world, totally around 1.3 MILLION people who die in car fatalities in the world each year.

        The research in this field has grown so rapidly recently. I expect more cars available to the general public in the next few years with more and more self driving capabilities.

  2. Once you can summon a car with your phone, it no longer makes sense to own a car. It’ll be cheaper to simply hail a car every time you need to use one. We only drive our cars about 4% of the time. The other 96% of the time, they’re parked. Why own a self driving car by yourself, when somebody else could be using it the 96% of the time you don’t need it. With self driving car share programs, the utilization rate of each car will go way up which maximized each car’s efficiency and will bring down cost significantly.

    1. That is true to a point. If a car were being driven all day long, there would be much higher maintenance costs per year and the cars would “age” more rapidly. You also may run into issues of not having a car available during high volume driving times, but there will probably be ways to reduce that risk by reserving cars in advance.

      I think ride sharing companies are expecting more and more people will pay per ride instead of owning. There will have to be ways to report a car that was abused by a previous rider, as I wouldn’t be too happy to get into a dirty, smelly car.

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