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Driverless Cars and our Global Economy

Driverless Cars and our Global Economy
by Daniel Payne on 12-23-2016 at 7:00 am

While traveling to California this year I had my first Uber trip after a concierge in Santa Clara recommended it as the best way to get to the airport, instead of the usual and expensive taxi ride. Later in the year I had my first Lyft ride after my road bike broke down and I needed a ride back home. Our transportation choices are shifting, and probably one of the most talked about is the driverless car. This new transition is exciting for the electronics industry because of all the semiconductor, sensor and software involved to enable it.

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A futurist named Thomas Frey is actually paid to think about the economic consequences of the driverless car, and he is the founding executive director of the DaVinci Institute. Sure, we know that some companies supplying the technology for the driverless car will see an increase in product and service revenue, however is there any downside? Yes, in April Mr. Frey predicted that the rise of autonomous vehicles will start to impact multiple sectors of our economy, and some of these will actually decrease the number of jobs.

One example of job loss is at the airport where many of us typically park our cars en route to taking a flight. With driverless cars there is a reduced need for airport parking, and therefore the revenues decline for the airport along with the need for those shuttle bus drivers, taxi cab drivers, Uber drivers, Lyft drivers and limo drivers. Another trickle down effect is on the auto dealers themselves, because we may not even need to own a vehicle, instead opting for just-in-time rides from a driverless service, so think about losing jobs in auto sales, auto maintenance, and even in the auto insurance and financing industries.

In a typical year I have my car looked at by the oil change store, tire store and local maintenance shop, but with a driverless car future I may not have need for any of these services anymore. Thinking about driving we need to remember those pesky speeding tickets, but with an autonomous vehicle our local police departments will have reductions in speeding tickets which effect their employment. Even the legal system with lawyers and judges would be trimmed a bit because we have fewer court cases involving auto drivers.

Making our cars smart enough to drive themselves is part of a growing AI trend that is slowly replacing customer service jobs around the globe, even factories are adopting more robotic devices to replace repetitive tasks once done by employees. Here’s a list of dozens of jobs that could down-size as autonomous vehicles pick up business (Source: Futurist Speaker):

[TABLE] style=”width: 500px”
| Taxi drivers
| Uber & Lyft drivers
| Delivery
| Courier jobs
| Bus drivers
| Truck drivers
| Valet jobs
| Chauffeurs and limo drivers
| Road flaggers
| Drivers Ed
| Defensive driving schools
| Traffic analysts
| Car licensing & registration
| Drivers testing
| Rental car agents
| Crash testers
| Forklift drivers
| Lawnmower operator
| Snowplow operator
| Water truck driver
| Fire truck driver
| Water taxies
| Ambulance driver
| Trash truck driver
| Tractor driver
| Combine operator
| Swather operator
| Horse trailer driver
| Grain truck operator
| Fruit harvester operator
| Crane operator
| Road grader operator
| Backhoe operator
| Trencher operator
| Cement truck operator
| Rule truck operator
| Auto sales – new, used
| Account managers
| Auto auctions
| Credit managers
| Loan underwriters
| Insurance agents, sales
| Insurance claims adjuster
| Insurance call center
| Traffic reporter on news
| Sobriety checkpoint people
| Auto industry lobbyists
| Stoplight installers
| Pothole repair people
| Emission testers
| Road and parking lot stripers
| Night repair crews
| Roadside assistance
| Auto repair shops
| Body shops
| Tow trucks
| Glass repair
| Auto locksmiths
| Transmission repair
| Auto part stores
| Gas stations
| Car washes
| Oil change business
| Detail shops
| Tire shops
| Brake shops
| Emission testing
| Alignment shops
| Parking lots
| Parking garages
| Parking meters
| Charging stations
| Handicap parking
| Traffic cops
| Traffic courts
| Driver licenses
| Patrol cars
| DUIs and drunk driving
| Sobriety checkpoint
| The boot
| Road rage school
| Weight stations
| Guardrails
| Mile markers
| Traffic cones
| Road closures
| Detours
| Stoplights
| Pilot cars
| Flag people
| Speeding tickets
| Failing to stop
| Reckless driving

Our society’s love affair with the automobile is slowly changing, so expect our economy to adjust for better or worse as driverless cars start to catch on.

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