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The rise of self-driving cars has the potential to transform society in a number of ways. Earlier this week Tesla revealed that every car they manufacture now comes equipped with self-driving hardware. While the self-driving features won’t be enabled until Tesla fully calibrates its system, this news is proof that the future of self-driving cars is closer than ever. This post looks at five different ways driverless vehicles will change the world.

Automobile Industry

At the moment Google and Tesla are the leaders in self-driving vehicle technology. Yet, it’s likely that as the technology becomes more powerful more manufacturers will incorporate it in their vehicles. In fact, if the technology results in fewer accidents then it’s plausible that consumers will prefer self-driving cars to standard vehicles. Governments may even legally require self-driving vehicles in order to protect citizens. Manufacturers who ignore the trend will be left behind.

Insurance

As self-driving vehicles become more popular, fewer accidents will occur. Consequently, the insurance industry will need to adapt. Imagine a reality where every car drives itself. In this scenario, it’s possible that the vehicle manufacturer or software company will be liable for accidents. Of course, this scenario would only occur if self-driving cars become mandatory, but it’s not that far-fetched.

Delivery/Pickup

It’s possible that self-driving cars will eliminate any job that requires a delivery driver. The food you order could arrive without a driver. The taxi you hail might also lack a driver. On one hand, this scenario has the potential to eliminate many jobs. On the other hand, it could save businesses a lot of money. Instead of dealing with all of the costs associated with hiring humans, businesses might be happy to simply purchase a vehicle to do the job.

Privacy

It’s likely that most self-driving technology will require GPS. Drivers who fear big brother won’t be happy about software recording their every trip. However, software that protects user data might also appear for concerned consumers.

Law Enforcement and Military

A significant portion of a police officer’s job is devoted to drunk driving and traffic violations. Self-driving cars may eliminate both. The fines that drivers currently pay for traffic violations are a lucrative source of revenue for many local governments. If traffic fines are eliminated local governments will be forced to adjust.

The military will be able to use self-driving cars in many different ways. For example, driverless cars equipped with bomb detection technology will be able to search for explosives and not risk the lives of soldiers. Driverless cars can also serve as decoys or transportation.