Driverless cars are no longer in the realm of science fiction. They’re becoming a reality. And although there could still be challenges, autonomous vehicles (AVs) are becoming more common on our roads. Eventually, they will change the way we live. Here are six ways AVs will change our lives:
1. We’ll be able to reclaim our commute
The average American spends 27.6 minutes commuting to work each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s nearly 10 hours a week, or 500 hours a year. That’s a lot of time sitting in traffic or stuck on a crowded train or bus.
With AVs, we’ll be able to use that time productively, whether it’s working, reading, relaxing, or sleeping. In fact, one study found that AVs could add an extra hour to our day. That’s because you don’t have to actively control your vehicle while driving.
2. AVs will make us safer drivers
More than 90% of car accidents are caused by human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But AVs are equipped with sensors and software that allow them to react more quickly and accurately than humans can.
AVs will also help us avoid accidents by communicating with each other and with infrastructure, such as traffic lights and stop signs. This will make our roads safer for everyone, not just those in AVs.
3. AVs will reduce traffic congestion
Traffic congestion costs Americans billions of dollars every year in wasted time and fuel, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. But AVs could help reduce congestion.
For example, if all cars were autonomous, we wouldn’t need to leave as much space between them on the road. That’s because AVs can communicate with each other and brake more quickly than human-driven cars.
4. AVs will make parking easier—and cheaper
Parking is a hassle, and it’s only getting worse as cities get more crowded. In fact, drivers in the U.S. spend an average of 17 hours a year looking for parking, according to one estimate.
But AVs will make parking easier and cheaper. That’s because they can drop you off at your destination and then go park themselves. They can also park closer together than human-driven cars, which will free up valuable space in crowded cities.
5. AVs will revolutionize public transportation
Public transportation is often slow, crowded, and inconvenient. But AVs could change that.
For example, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft could become much more efficient if they switch to AVs. That’s because AVs wouldn’t need to return to a central location to pick up their next passenger. They could just keep going from one fare to the next.
AVs could also be used to create on-demand bus or shuttle services that are cheaper and more convenient than traditional public transportation.
6. AVs will make it easier to get around without a car
Not everyone wants to own a car, but many people still need one to get around. AVs could change that by making it easier and cheaper to get around without a car.
For example, AVs could be used to create an on-demand ride-hailing service that would pick you up and drop you off wherever you want to go. This would be especially helpful in rural areas, where public transportation is often scarce.
Or, AVs could be used to create a subscription-based “car-sharing” service that would give people access to a fleet of autonomous vehicles. This would be similar to existing bike-sharing and car-sharing services, but with AVs, you wouldn’t have to worry about finding a parking spot.
These are just some of the ways AVs will change our lives. As this technology develops, we’re likely to see even more transformative changes in the years ahead.