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5 trends driverless cars will steer up in the future

 By Joe Levy

LevyuntitledThe wheels on the driverless cars go round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheels on the cars go round and round all by themselves…

Yes!  No more science fiction fantasies. Driverless cars are around the corner, and it’s a reality.  Just close your eyes and imagine: A city with self-driving cars dropping off people and picking them up. No more looking for parking spaces, getting traffic tickets, or need for multiple cars per household.

Automakers and tech companies are developing complex technology that will allow cars to drive themselves; possibly by the end of the decade, around the year 2018. Fortune reports that Google is leading the race by having driverless cars already in the testing stages, followed by Audi, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz.  The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicts that driverless cars will account for up to 75 percent of vehicles on the road by the year 2040. Are you counting how old you’ll be? Don’t worry; most of us will be here to witness it.

We used the competitive intelligence software clearCi to identify future market trends we can expect with the arrival of driverless cars. Here are five ‘No Mores’ clearCi’s crystal ball found when looking into the future with driverless cars:

Driverlesscars1)    No More Drivers

Driverless cars mean no more drivers; that’s obvious!

But is this something to be particularly thrilled about? Well, it depends. If you experience constant road rage, is time to celebrate! However, if you drive for a living or own a driving-related business, you may want to start considering a new career or business venture.

But don’t fret; when one road closes, another one opens. In this case, the self-driving car industry will benefit car-sharing services like Zipcar, public transportation, taxi services, and rental car companies.

In the not-too-distant future cars will pick people up at their requested destinations or arranged stops and charge them online or by phone, while they enjoy the ride. What exactly would people do on the road? Whatever they want: read, nap, maybe even exercise.

2)    No More Accidents

Driverless cars promise safety, according to what clearCi found on research.gov. It makes sense. No driving equals more safety because there’ll be no more text or drunk driving. Might more safety even mean no more insurance premiums? Let’s press the breaks here. This is huge! Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. with over 40,000 deaths per year. But how do we know these cars are safe? Ever since Google began testing its driverless car (300 miles ago), there have been no accidents caused by driverless cars. Sounds too idealistic, if you ask me.

But let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. Nothing is perfect, so who would be responsible if a driverless car crashed when no one is behind the wheel? The driverless car owner, the software manufacturer, the automaker, or even the government?  Good questions, but still no answers. A decrease in car accidents in the U.S could positively impact insurance providers, emergency and roadside assistance services, while reaching into the deep pockets of personal injury lawyers.

3)    No More Driving Etiquette

As a driver, don’t you hate the right-of-way law allowing pedestrians to throw themselves at your car and expect not to get run over? Or drivers cutting you off and then driving 20 miles per hour? What about those drivers that don’t seem to know how to use their turn signals!?

Driving etiquette will no longer be required with driverless cars. clearCi found an article on a Geek site that said driving will be smoother, “...supposing the cars were clever enough to negotiate with each other…” Technology giants are already coming up with sensors, patterns, and light systems that warn driverless cars when it’s their turn to go ahead. They are also developing smart road-sensor systems including radars, integrations with cruise control, and pedestrian (“obstacle”) detectors to turn the concept into reality.

4)    No More Traffic Tickets

No more paranoia of looking for flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. If driverless cars are smart enough to avoid accidents, then they are smart enough to avoid traffic tickets. Sorry officers, no more petty traffic violation tickets to meet your quotas.

If millions of traffic tickets are issued every year with the average ticket costing  $150, imagine how driverless cars could potentially disrupt the income of cities and states?

Bryant Walker Smith, fellow at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, said that driverless cars are “challenging all sorts of traditional revenue models for cities and states.” This also means parking tickets - San Franciscans rejoice!

Traffic lights would also be less common because smart sensors will facilitate traffic with greater order. And, since there will be less traffic officers, consumers will not need to study and take a driving test. "People do not need a license to sit on a train or a bus," confirms Azim Eskandarian, director of the IEEE's Center for Intelligent Systems Research, in a statement.

5)    No More Car Ownership

With cars driving people around, the need for car ownership will slowly decrease. If a car can drive itself back home and pick up another person elsewhere, then why have more than one driverless car sitting in the driveway?

I believe driverless cars will become shared vehicles. Sharing cars can mean less traffic, more available parking spaces, a cleaner environment, and fewer fatal car accidents. In addition, clearCi found a study estimating that traffic congestion wastes over 4.8 billion hours of productivity. I’m sorry, but time is money.

Sure, driverless cars can and will disrupt much of the status quo. It can also drive open (pun intended) market opportunities like car-sharing and entertainment services inside of driverless cars. Come on, who would want to drive if they were given the option to opt out? The technology is almost here, the time will come, and the only thing left to see is how society will react - especially those skeptical of new technologies. In the meantime, clearCi will continue to monitor trends to keep us informed.

Joe Levy is the co-founder and CEO of ClearCi in Fort Lauderdale.