Carmageddon is upon us: Before we know it, robocars will be ubiquitous and crowd out human-driven cars.
After all, Elon Musk has said that buying anything other than a Tesla that can drive itself will be as financially insane as owning a horse. But horses survived, and driving will too.
Reality check: Automated vehicles will change our lives and our cities — hopefully for the better by reducing traffic fatalities and making it easier to move from A to B.
- But it'll be decades before they arrive in significant numbers, and when they do, they'll be confined to cities, catering to commuters, tourists and urban dwellers.
What's happening: Taking a realistic look at the industry, most experts say...
- The first automated semitrucks on highways could arrive in the next few years.
- Urban delivery vehicles, and then robotaxis, could arrive next. But, they will be confined to certain neighborhoods and limited to good driving conditions.
- Widespread deployment is many years away.
- Meantime, the rest of us will still be driving — though our cars will make it easier through highway-assistance features like Tesla Autopilot or Cadillac Super Cruise.
Key stat: Americans spend nearly an hour each day behind the wheel, traveling 220 miles per week in 2017, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- If it feels like you're driving more, it's true: Compared to 2014, U.S. drivers in 2017 spent an additional 20 minutes driving each week.
- As many of us know, commuting can be a nightmare.
But "commuting is not driving," argues McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, which insures collector cars and boats and who will forever be a driver. "It's almost a different act."
"Never Stop Driving," a book for which Hagerty wrote the epilogue, is an antidote for the autonomous era.
- It celebrates cars and culture — everything from collecting and restoring old cars to racing and car clubs.
- "It's fun to put away the phone, clear your head, and enjoy a 'whole person' experience rather than being digitally distracted," Hagerty tells Axios.
- Cars have their own social network, after all, as this week's Pebble Beach reminds us.
Between the lines: Digital music didn't kill vinyl records, and automation won't kill driving, Hagerty adds.
- "Cars have been around for 120 years, and they didn’t make horses go extinct. They just took them out of city centers."