How would you like your car to drop you off at the mall, go park itself, and return when you’re done, all at the beck and call of a smartphone app?
And, yes, that’s a rhetorical question. Because, um, who wouldn’t want that?!
Well, the reality of that happening may not be that far off—with driverless car technology.
This technology, which allows cars to drive themselves with the help of lasers, cameras, and other gear, first debuted in 2009 when Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked with engineer Sebastian Thrun on the technology.
Since then, it’s made much advancement, including developing powerful sensors, long-range radar, and thermal imaging. Google plans to make their cars available to the public in 2020. Today, leading automakers, including Ford and General Motors have joined in the race to build self-driving cars.
Seen as tools for preventing accidents, saving lives, and helping the disabled, autonomous vehicles have already gotten political support, most notably in Nevada and California, and are expected to gain support in other states soon. In September 2016, ride-share company Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.
The impact driverless vehicles will have on the business world is expected to be extreme indeed. With driverless automobiles available at an instant summons—imagine Uber without a driver at the helm—the inevitable question arises: “Who needs a car, anyway?”
As car-owning becomes obsolete, information sharing will become a business necessity, as autonomous cars will rely on sophisticated data networks to communicate with each other and within the transportation infrastructure.
So, how does this affect the future of architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) firms? In several important ways:
Transportation infrastructure is evolving. As driverless vehicles continue to make headway, transportation infrastructure will need to have designs ready to support them.
Cities that accept this technology will generate new business. Lobbyists and political powers that back this new technology will bring their cities to the forefront of development, resulting in more business and economic growth.
There’ll be a change in the design of parking lots, malls, and office parks.
There’ll be more walking and biking options for pedestrians.
When the time is right, will you be ready to let go of the wheel?
PSMJ is always looking to publish diverse views on emerging issues and trends in the A/E/C industry. We invite you to submit a 500-word post on any industry-related topic. We look forward to hearing from you.
In the PSMJ Blog, we have covered technology and the A/E/C industry from a number of angles. Here is a list of technology-related blog posts: