The future holds two main trends for commuters: shared and/or flexible mobilty, and driverless vehicles.
Studies have shown that South Africans spend less time in their cars but more money on them than most first world countries, and have a stronger emotional attachment to them too. And so, not everyone in South Africa is crazy about the idea of ride sharing and look more enthusiastically towards still having their own car – just an automated one.
But all is not what it seems… Here, we look at some surprising pros and cons of shared rides and autonomous ones that you may not have thought of…
Surprising disadvantages of self-driving cars
A lot more traffic
One of the arguments supposedly for autonomous cars is that people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to drive are on the road. But that also means that a lot more people are on the road than before. If you aren’t happy about the congestion in your city now, well, driverless cars is going to worsen it.
Spare a thought for the nervous and ill
If you happen to get motion sickness… eish. The driverless trend will mean that generally everyone spends more time in their cars, which is fine because presumably they’ll be able to be productive doing other things while your car keeps its eyes on the road. Not so if you get carsick. Generally these people need to assuage their inner ear balance by watching the road fixedly to tone down nausea. More time doing that in worse traffic? Sounds horrible. Also, if you’re not completely comfortable in a car, and are a nervous passenger at the best of times, letting your car drive itself is going to be hard.
Hackers will be able to get into your car
Cyber crime is on the rise – this we knew already. But there is already a worrying – and increasing – amount of interest in hackers being able to find a way into your car. With the kind of computer software that a driverless vehicle would have on board, it’s almost an inevitability that someone finds a way. Imagine being held for ransom in your vehicle during rush hour for criminals to demand everything you own, as your car speeds toward a concrete wall or something without you being able to control it?
You’re going to be waiting a while
Also, perhaps relievingly after the last point, if you are excited about getting your own driverless car you will be waiting a while. Experts calculate that it will be at least 20 years until countries like South Africa have readily available driverless cars. Currently, one of the imperfect prototypes in the States will set you back $100 000. So maybe it’s best to wait anyway.
Surprising advantages of flexible shared mobility
Huge money savings
It is estimated that commuting South Africans with cars can spend up to R18000 a year on petrol. Not only would your petrol spend be cut in half – at least – but you would not have to spend any of the money you currently do on car services, car insurance, car washes, tyres… The list goes on.
Less traffic. Like, way less
Countries like Finland that have been on this shared mobilty train for a while now estimate that each shared vehicle on the road takes 15 cars off the road. With widespread mobility options and people choosing them, that will mean less car fumes, less noise pollution, less time getting to work and less stress for everyone.
Enjoy more real estate
Our prediction is that when driverless shared moblity kicks off, say with widespread autonomous shuttles, there will be a huge trend of people who takes their garages at home and use the money they’re no longer spending on driving to turn them into something they’ve always dreamed of but couldn’t afford. Think amateur artists’ studios, magazine-worthy extended closets, offices at home, man caves… Oh yes people. Garage bands are about to become a real thing again.
Not to mention that places like malls, office blocks and universities will be able to convert their parking bays into free gyms, networking hubs, daycare centres, aquariums, miniature drive-ins, you name it. The world will hopefully seem a less stress-obsessed, workaholic place.
Meet new people
This one seems odd, but in a generally less stressed society it will be a big plus. During European Mobility Week recently, officials said one of the joys of shared mobility would be “to meet new people and make the journey more sociable”. Trendy cycling groups and area-specific shuttles to the local mall could become the new Tindr for finding love, or a work bus could lead to way better relationships at work and more job satisfaction.