Once it’s widely adopted, self-driving technology will save lives, make commutes more productive and ease congestion in cities, but that doesn’t mean people will lose interest in driving vehicles themselves, or that their affinity for personal vehicles will diminish.
According to a panel of automotive experts, freedom, privacy, digital detoxing and the satisfaction of using your hands top the list of reasons why millions of Americans will continue driving and working on cars long after self-driving cars are the norm.
The expert panel, that included Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at GM and Wayne Carini, host of Velocity TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars, attended the inaugural “Why Driving Matters” town hall discussion recently hosted at auction week in Arizona.
“There’s no need to panic, the transition to the future is going to take some time,” said Lutz, who predicted that in 10 years people-piloted cars will be banned in major cities in favor of standardized self-driving modules that won’t be individually owned. “[The federal government] isn’t going to tell us we can’t drive; they’re going to tell us we can’t drive in cities.” Total autonomy outside of cities, he said, is still “way out there.”
Putting things in perspective, Lutz said autonomous vehicles are analogous to horses when mass-produced cars were introduced. Horses didn’t go away; they just weren’t allowed on the road. “The horse industry is still a gigantic industry and a wonderful hobby.”
Carini emphasized the satisfaction many people feel in repairing, building and restoring vehicles. “Cars are only about a century old and public fascination with them isn’t about to fade,” he said.
While alternate transportation options like autonomous vehicles provide time-starved customers with a new mode of convenience, they won’t displace that sense of satisfaction and feeling of control that only a personal vehicle can provide.
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