Google’s Driverless Cars Will Be Huge Boon For All

Margie is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

I have been writing about this for a while, including this column in November where I scratched the surface of what the driverless car might bring us as a society, but after reading this article in Forbes written by Chunka Mui, my excitement grew, and grew, and grew.

I thought I would bring added flavor to my Motley Fool readers, no doubt piggybacking off some of Mr. Mui’s ideas, which are in line with my own. (perhaps he read my original column too)

Is It Real?

As of November Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) robotic car, a Toyota (NYSE: TM) Prius pimped out with onboard computers and laser visual echo system, had driven 300,000 miles without an accident. Since then, according to Mui’s column there were two minor fender benders when the driver switched over to human control of the car (which is an option).

Sidenote- as this technology ramps up, and comes closer and closer to fruition; Toyota and their Prius are going to be getting a lot of free press. According to Toyota.com the Prius, last month, had its best January ever, up over 36% in volume sold. Imagine if it somehow became the default for driverless car technology.  

For a look at the car and a demonstration of how it works I refer you to:  Google's Driverless Car- YouTube video. It is definitely worth ten minutes of your time, promise.

Majorly Disruptive

First of all, this technology is ground breaking and Disruptive in major major ways.

As I am super excited about this, I will likely turn this into a series of columns. In this one I am going to explore 5 ways that society benefits of the hundreds that might exist. If you readers have more ideas of added benefits please enter them in the comment section. To write/ think of them all would take a long time, plus we'd need the clearest of crystal balls. Here are 5 biggies:

  1. Car ownership won’t even be necessary
  2. Cheaper insurance
  3. Less demand for medical care
  4. Seniors will be much more independent
  5. Productivity of society will increase dramatically

Car Ownership Not Necessary??

That’s right. Most of the time your car lies dormant. Loan it out, there’s always a chance you won’t get it back, somebody will get into an accident, and lord knows what the liability situation is on it.

Enter the driverless car: Imagine a fleet of taxis driving around every nook of a large city. Merely communicate via your phone that you need a ride and within a minute the car is there. Used to parking far away? Not anymore. The car comes to you and drops you off at the front entrance of your location.

Maybe there are competing companies. Enter your destination into your phone, and instantly bids come in as to the cost. Press a button to choose. Based on GPS location, they know where you are. 

Basically you will be paying per mile that you drive and no tip to the robot necessary (unless maybe it tells a super funny joke-app makers?)

No worries about overnight parking tickets on the street, about damage to the body of your vehicle from someone plowing into it and not leaving a note, car washes, etc. Nope, that will all be included in the price you pay for the trip.

No DMV fees for you, no tickets, personal liability coverage, etc. That doesn’t mean you might not choose to own a car, but unlike today’s world, you’d have the option.

Cheaper Insurance

Google estimates accidents would go down by 90% with their technology. Based on the fact that most accidents are attributed to human error, it’s easy to see why insurance costs would go down.

Less Medical Care Needed

A good number of visits to the ER come from traffic accidents. On the assumption that we have 90% less accidents, that means less medical care is needed, and cheaper medical insurance for Everyone.

Independent Seniors

The AARP should be a proponent of driverless cars. How many of us know members of the 70+ crowd who have had their keys taken away, or really should have them taken? Most can’t afford a driver, and have to rely on younger relatives/friends to take them where they need to go.

No longer! They just call in your Google powered car. Freeing them up to do chores/ go places they wouldn’t otherwise go/ nag you in person.

Productivity Increase of Society

Instead of concentrating on the road in front of you, wasting time in traffic (you’ll get places more quickly) developing road rage, you can be in the back seat sipping a cappuccino, watching a presentation you need to for work, Skyping with someone/ planning, hell, even making love (join the 100 mph club) … you can be working/ producing with the time you’d otherwise have to spend staring at the road.

All that time the cops spend clearing the roads, doing accident reports can now be used for something else. I mean, the list goes on and on …

Who’s Against It/ Stands to Lose

Like all new technologies, there will be luddites. We will explore that in an upcoming column. We will also be exploring the possibilities involved for car companies and others, such as Toyota and GM.

Bottom Line

My goal here was to give some examples of how this technology promises to be incredibly disruptive. If you’re a Google shareholder you should be super excited. If this produces even 10% of its immense potential which I have only begun to outline it’s easy to see how Google (or whoever gets driverless cars right) might generate multi-billions of dollars in profits and how we, as a society worldwide will benefit as well.

Please feel free to enter your thoughts below. We are witnessing this technology in its infancy and if you have a brainstorm as to what might transpire, leave us all a thoughtful comment. 


margiecfl has a position in Google. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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