My friend Frazer points out that the manufacturers of screen wash fluid had better start looking for a new business, because, with self-driving cars, we soon won’t need windscreen wipers. And with no rear-view mirrors, where will we hang the fluffy dice? Actually, Frazer has some keen insights into the massive changes that driverless cars will eventually bring to society.
Richard and I, discussing our hopes for this future, realised that what we really wanted was a driverless campervan or motorhome. Just imagine, you can all sit around and have a cup of tea en route. Or, if you prefer, a glass of wine. And then go to bed. And in the morning, you wake up in the Alps and take the dog out for a walk. If you need a car, to get around while you’re there, you can call one to wherever you’re parked. But if you have a car of your own, and you want to take yours along, you can just tell it to follow you there.
Now, this is an important new market, because one of the things that driverless cars will bring is dramatically-reduced car ownership. Cars sit idle in the street for so much of the time, just so that they’re around when you need them. But when an iPhone app can call any nearby car to you at any time, they’ll be much more efficiently used, and you’re much less likely to need one of your own. Having to find parking in city centres will be a thing of the past, and residential streets will be freed of so much clutter. All good news.
Unless, of course, you’re a car manufacturer. If car ownership goes down by a factor of two, three, four… who knows?… you’ll need a new source of revenue. And I think your motorhome/campervan, decked out the way you like it, is a very personal thing – it’s something you’ll still want to own. And something a lot more people will want to own in this future.
So I’d like to offer my services as a consultant and beta-tester for Google, and all those auto manufacturers, who are now slapping their foreheads as they realise that… of course! The key to their future is in the mobile, self-driving, holiday cottage…