Autonomes Fahren: Nicht nur die Autos werden sich verändern!

Autonomes Fahren wird eine Menge ändern, nicht nur bei Autos.

In most parts of America, the market is currently dominated by the top row of the chart: owner-operated vehicles. Most people get around town by driving their own cars. To buy stuff, they drive their own cars to the store, then drive home with their purchases.

But other people rely on third-party services to move themselves and their purchases. Today someone who wants to get around without owning a car can choose between a taxi or a shared mode of transit like a bus (or a train in some areas). Taxis are faster and more convenient, but they're expensive enough that only wealthy people can afford to use them on a daily basis.

The story is similar when it comes to moving stuff around. You don't have to drive to a store to buy stuff. You can also have it delivered. And there are two basic options here. Most products are delivered using a service like UPS or FedEx, and it takes a day or two to get your stuff to you. But some companies, like pizza restaurants, offer personalized on-demand deliveries measured in minutes rather than days.

The tradeoff here is similar to the taxi-vs-bus tradeoff. On-demand services are faster and more convenient for customers, but they're so expensive that they tend to only be used in cases (like pizza delivery) where slower, cheaper options aren't practical.

The self-driving revolution is going to fundamentally change the economics of all of these markets.

We can expect the owner-operated segment of the market—for both transporting people and stuff—to shrink over time. Of course, some people will still want to drive themselves around and shop in brick-and-mortar stores. But labor costs account for more than half of the cost of a conventional taxi service. So as the cost of self-driving hardware inevitably falls with scale, we can expect self-driving taxis to cost dramatically less than a conventional taxi costs today.

That should increase demand for taxi rides—both from former bus riders, who can now afford a more convenient option, and from some former drivers who are happy to give up the hassles of car ownership.

And we should see a similar shift in the transportation of stuff. As on-demand delivery options get more affordable, some people who would previously have driven to the store will let stores send stuff to them instead. Others will shift from two-day shipping on Amazon to 30-minute shipping using an on-demand service.

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