Thought provoking (and remarkably similar in spirit to our article, "Self-Driving Cars - Second Level Changes") article from Ben Evans of Andreessen Horowitz.
There are two foundational technology changes rolling through the car industry at the moment; electric and autonomy. Electric is happening right now, largely as a consequence of falling battery prices, while autonomy, or at least full autonomy, is a bit further off - perhaps 5-10 years, depending on how fast some pretty hard computer science problems get solved. Both of these will cycle into essentially the entire global stock of (today) around 1.1bn cars over a period of decades, subject to all sorts of variables, and both of them completely remake the car industry and its suppliers, as well as parts of the tech industry.
Both electric and autonomy have profound consequences beyond the car industry itself. Half of global oil production today goes to gasoline, and removing that demand will have geopolitical as well as industrial consequences. Over a million people are killed in car accidents every year around the world, mostly due to human error, and in a fully autonomous world all of those (and many more injuries) will also go away.
However, it's also useful, and perhaps more challenging, to think about second and third order consequences. Moving to electric means much more than replacing the gas tank with a battery, and moving to autonomy means much more than ending accidents. Quite what those consequences would be is much harder to predict: as the saying goes, it was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Wal-mart, and the broader consequences of the move to electric and autonomy will come in some very widely-spread industries, in complex interlocked ways. Still, we can at least point to where some of the changes might come. I can't tell you what will happen to car repairs, commercial real-estate or buses - I'm not an expert on any of those, and neither can anyone who is - but I can suggest that something will happen, and probably something big. Hence, this post is not a description of what will happen, but of where it might, and why, with some links to further reading.
By Artur Kiulian
Overview of a presentation by Andreessen Horowitz on the future of autonomous vehicles
I love everything about self-driving cars to the extent of even taking the Self-Driving Car Engineer Degree at Udacity. That’s why this particular video from the a16z Summit really caught my attention. Frank Chen (a16z partner) goes over the most commonly asked questions about autonomous cars and I’ve decided to dive deeper into each of those here on Medium.
Level by level or straight to level five?
The major assumption is that “Everything that moves will go autonomous”, and we are not only talking about cars, all the trucks on our roads, drones in the sky, shopping cars and even toys will move by itself to the extent that our involvement will become rudimentary, undesired or even illegal.
Obviously self-driving cars are going to change the world. That's not what this post is about, at least, not entirely. Over the last few years, self-driving cars have become commonplace in the news. Innumerable articles have been written with predictions on how the world will change: (1) thousands of lives will be saved; (2) the taxi and trucking industries will become fully automated with countless people losing their jobs; (3) time that was once wasted in daily commutes can now be used productively; etc.
I call these "first-level changes." First-level changes are direct consequences of fully autonomous vehicles, or Level 5 autonomy. Before we go further, below is a refresher on the levels of autonomy set by SAE International (and adopted by the NHTSA).