As both Google and Apple play around with driverless cars, will they become a way of the future? With technology advancing at an exponential rate, that future may not be far off.
Last October, Ontario became the first Canadian province to approve self-driving vehicles for testing on their roads.
Despite the occasional setback, all indications are this will be a far safer option than allowing for human error of a real driver.
But there are various other factors to consider that could re-shape the way our world operates.
Increased safety would be a result of cars being automatically programmed in conjunction with GPS and mapping data, not just to get you safely to your destination but to get you there whilst obeying all traffic laws and speed limits.
Just imagine, speeding tickets may be a thing of the past. While I’m sure this may be good news for drivers, it could spell very bad news for local governments.
Last year the City of Winnipeg raked in $14 million just from photo radar alone. Add to that, fines from other infractions such as distracted or dangerous driving and the potential loss of income to local councils could be staggering.
Photo radar, one of the most despised usages of modern technology could cease to exist.
So too could impaired driving. Imagine being able to go out and have as many beers as you like and still take the car home. Organizations like MADD would be redundant.
You need never worry about losing your license. In fact would you even need a license? Why take driving lessons, pass a test and pay an annual fee for a license? Another source of income loss for the government.
Would you even have to be an adult to drive? Imagine a responsible young teenager taking the family car to his Sunday morning hockey game all by himself. Allowing his parents some much valued free time.
If a medical condition like epilepsy or blindness has prevented you from driving, the advent of the driverless car may still allow you to own and operate a vehicle.
The implications are mind boggling, but it does give pause for thought.
Commuters may still be stuck in heavy traffic but at least they can read the morning paper or sleep on their way to work. Maybe even text someone without fear of recrimination; or causing an accident.
The auto insurance industry will also have to adapt. As safety increases and accidents decrease there should be a corresponding reduction of insurance premiums.
Google, the main tech leader in driverless technology, has logged over two million miles in the past six years in 48 vehicles on private tracks as well as city streets and highways near its California headquarters.
Their latest prototype models have no steering wheel, gas or brake pedals.
There have been a few accidents, however Google put this down to driver error in other vehicles who have side swiped their cars or rear ended them at stop signs.
This could also be a wake-up call for car manufacturers. Having survived crises like oil shortages and adapted by coming up with hybrids and electric vehicles, at least they were competing amongst themselves.
Now they have to compete against the tech giants, and with Apple entering the market, they’ll be going head to head with the world’s most valuable company.
Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and new kid on the block, Tesla, are all experimenting with driverless vehicles.
The only downside I can see is that you can rest assured that local governments will come up with other ways of recouping that lost revenue.