Imagine a time in a lot too distant future. How do you think self-driving cars will work?
I think most people won’t own cars themselves. Instead, consumers will have a car membership and a mobile phone app. You subscribe to a pool of cars, and whenever you need a car, you use an app to summon one. You tell the app where you are and where it’s going. If you’re not in a terrible rush, you can allow other people who are going the same way as you to join you on the ride. When you’ve reached your destination, the car goes off somewhere. Maybe it’s refueling/recharging. Perhaps it squirrels itself away for a service or a clean. Or maybe it goes off to complete another trip.
None of this is rocket science, but pause for a moment and think what all of this means to us. The social impacts are enormous. A few small but significant pieces of that puzzle: What will our cities and roads look like when cars don’t need to park near where people live? If self-driving cars can communicate among themselves, could they drive closer to each other? Could a 4-lane highway become a 6-lane highway by eliminating human drivers?
As far as consumers are concerned, self-driving cars already exist.
Cars driven reliably by computers are still not quite here — there are technical and legal challenges that need to be addressed. But that’s but a formality that the lawyers and technologists will resolve sooner rather than later.
As far as consumers are concerned, self-driving cars already exist. You can experience it today. There is an app you can use to summon a car. You can choose to share the ride. You don’t have to worry about refueling, recharging, or driving. And when the ride is done, the car vanishes again. For now, the app in question is Uber or Lyft, and the drivers are human — but that’s temporary. From the user’s point of view, self-driving cars with human drivers is a reality.
From a business point of view, it’s easy to see how both Uber and Lyft could become important players in the backbone of the self-driving car economy. They already have the demand — all they need to do is to bolt on the business models and the cars themselves. The gradual switch to self-driving will be completely transparent — at least to the consumers.
I, for one, can’t wait for the technology to catch up.
Haje is a pitch coach based in Silicon Valley, working with a founders all over the world to create the right starting point for productive conversations with investors — from a compelling narrative to a perfect pitch. You can find out more at Haje.me. You can also find Haje on Twitter and LinkedIn.