Kids Born Today May Never Drive a Car
Robotics expert say autonomous future not too distant
Technology is moving very quickly these days - so fast that predictions of what the future will look like are constantly changing. One day someone is predicting that the majority of cars in the U.S. will be electric, but still human-driven, and the next someone else is telling us most cars will be autonomous and won't even be owned by those riding in them. The latest prediction posits that babies born today will never drive a car. Ever.
The prediction comes from Henrik Christensen, head of UC San Diego's Contextual Robotics Institute, who spoke with The San Diego Union-Tribune ahead of a big robotics forum being held at the university this coming February.
"My own prediction is that kids born today will never get to drive a car," said Christensen. "Autonomous, driverless cars are 10, 15 years out. All the automotive companies — Daimler, GM, Ford — are saying that within five years they will have autonomous, driverless cars on the road."
When asked how he feels about future generations not knowing what it's like to drive, Christensen said, "I love to drive my car, but it's a question of how much time people waste sitting in traffic and not doing something else. The average person in San Diego probably spends an hour commuting every day. If they could become more productive, that would be good. With autonomous, driverless cars, we can put twice as many vehicles on the road as we have today, and do it without improving the infrastructure."
Just as others, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, have predicted, Christensen believes car ownership as we know it will not exist in 20 years. The days of getting in your car, which sat overnight, to drive to work where it will sit for another eight or more hours until you need it again are numbered.
"There would be no need to have parking garages in downtown San Diego," said Christensen. "In theory, you'd get out of the car and say, 'Pick me up at 4 p.m.' Long-term — we're talking 20 years into the future — you're not even going to own a car. A car becomes a service."
The idea of not owning, let alone never driving, a car is a completely foreign concept to those of us that have driven our whole lives, but could Christensen be right? Will future generations never know the joys of driving a car? We're going to keep a human-operated car in the garage for Junior just in case, but what are your thoughts on this latest prediction? Tell us in the comments below.