So is a driverless car more like a car or more like a truck? It will take quite some time before we see people spend the majority of their commute in driverless cars. What will happen a lot sooner is stuff moving around. And no, we won't see pizza delivery in a driverless SUV. Our imagination is still quite shallow in that regard. The possible solutions are endless. Think drones moving your Amazon packages or little robots moving pizzas around. Moving stuff rather than people will be the first step.
The first clues lead already in that direction. We now use software as a way to move things to people, rather than people to the things. Take a look at Uber Eats for example. Easy accessibility of food has lead to serious behavior changes in food consumption. It’s not people going to restaurants or buying food in the supermarket anymore. It’s food that is moving towards people. Currently via cars, or in dense cities via bikes. Deliverers move through the city based on an algorithm.
Why do you think Uber and Lyft are investing billions into self-driving vehicles? It’s labor that is the biggest expense. With self-driving cars, they remove the necessity for a human driver completely. Uber has the best knowledge of urban transportation in the world. And it will leverage that to remove their biggest expense. The people.
So how does this change cities? Let’s say you want to start a restaurant. Instead of renting an expensive place, buying tables and hiring staff you slim it down. You rent a kitchen in the suburbs and just cook. Uber Eats will take care of the demand and all you have to do is cook. The economics of such a business is much less like a restaurant and much more like a factory. A food factory. With lower real estate costs, cheaper labor, and fewer upfront costs.