Driver­less fall­out

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

BE­SIDES elec­tric cars be­com­ing com­mon­place per­haps around 2020, much more im­por­tant is the de­vel­op­ment of driver­less cars.

Af­ter ini­tial teething prob­lems driver­less cars will be main­stream.

We all put our lives in an air­line au­topi­lot sys­tem with­out think­ing about it – as­sum­ing a man­ual over­ride when nec­es­sary.

With driver­less cars the same idea could ap­ply. How­ever, it’s more likely that the car can be a ‘ auto- hu­man­pilot’ pre­vent­ing you from hav­ing an ac­ci­dent.

There would be a mas­sive re­duc­tion in road ac­ci­dents. One may go as far as see­ing no need for driv­ing li­cences. Both th­ese as­pects will be a boon to el­derly driv­ers.

And be­cause of this, in­sur­ance will be neg­li­gi­ble, if not non- ex­is­tent. This will hugely af­fect in­sur­ance com­pa­nies whose car in­sur­ance busi­ness model will dis­ap­pear.

But it is not just driver­less cars that the new tech­nol­ogy can ap­ply to. It can sim­i­larly be ap­plied to driver­less trucks, de­liv­ery vans and all mo­torised trans­port.

This will have enor­mous ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Driver­less trucks will be able to pick up, for ex­am­ple, pro­duce and gro­ceries from farms and de­liver di­rect to the door to all peo­ple who have or­dered such prod­ucts on­line. This can be ex­tended to other prod­ucts.

Whereas in times past the milk­man would de­liver to the door, now you would get door- to- door de­liv­ery of nu­mer­ous prod­ucts.

This would then re­sult in the demise of su­per­mar­kets ( or at most would be­come just ware­houses) as they would be un­nec­es­sary. There is not space here to dis­cuss cloth­ing and al­lied and other prod­ucts. Spe­cialty shops can still ex­ist in the su­per­mar­ket premises.

Alarm­ing con­se­quences might seem to oc­cur. Where one could ring for a taxi which would ar­rive at your premises to take you to where you want to go, taxi and truck driv­ing jobs will be­come un­nec­es­sary. How­ever, a cre­ative gov­ern­ment mind should con­sider to­tal so­ci­etal changes with fast tech­no­log­i­cal progress, with dif­fer­ent ideas of an econ­omy – and per­haps gov­ern­ment!

It is im­pos­si­ble to en­vis­age or de­scribe all con­se­quences of just au­ton­o­mous trans­port as there is not enough space in such a brief ar­ti­cle. R. L. AGACY,

Gul­liver.

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