I came across an interesting and fairly nuanced article on the future of driverless car technology. One of its underlying themes is that we all need to rethink the very definition of transportation and transportation infrastructure. It also dug a little bit into the idea that a driverless future will likely bring about all sorts of specialization in terms of the different vehicles that can be used for different purposes. It was refreshing to read some out-of-the-box thinking on the subject, but I don’t think the piece went far enough, particularly in terms of fleshing out the ramifications of the latter theme regarding different vehicles for different purposes.
So let me be blunt. I think that Paul Simon was right. I think that in the future we will all live in our cars.
Or drones, or planes, or starships, or whatever vehicles will be called in this not-so-far-off future. To be fair, this isn’t the first article that has been written on the subject of driverless vehicles serving as homes on wheels. I do, however, believe that I’m one of the few people that is thinking about the potential disruption that could occur in the housing market. After all, most of us know that:
a) Conventional single-family home ownership is fast becoming more and more of an unachievable dream.
b) Conventional home-building materials and technology have not made any major progressive leaps in decades if not centuries.
c) There is a significant trend towards down-sizing and tiny homes.
d) Commutes suck.
e) Climate change will make mobile homesteads very attractive both to the homeowner and the insurance industry (disclosure: I live in Miami, and my seven-year old gave me this particular idea e.g. “we can just drive away in our home the next time a hurricane comes”).
Moreover, if we play the scenario all the way out and factor in an eventual shift from terrestial vehicles to drones and other flying machines, one could make the argument that the trend towards mobile, autonomous housing will eventually make the millions and millions of miles of paved roads obsolete.
But I digress…
My point here is that I can see a world where people either lease or buy autonomous, mobile homes that serve as a home base of sorts. Day to day travel or shipping needs could be handled by smaller, specializes vehicles, but in the end…
I believe in the future
I may live in my car
My radio tuned to
The voice of a star
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edge of a thunderstorm
And these old hopes and fears
Still at my side