Industries Impacted by Self-Driving Cars

The idea of self-driving cars has been popular for many years, and recent technological advancements are making it a reality. Ford expects to produce a self-driving car by 2021, according to a statement made by the company in 2017.

Other companies have entered into partnerships or announced plans to develop their own self-driving vehicles as well. They may sound futuristic, but self-driving cars may become commonplace in only a few years. The question is, what impact will they have?

A self-driving car can prevent you from stressing out over your daily commute. You also do not have to struggle to find parking spaces when your car can drop you off and park after the fact. Those are personal benefits owning such a car can provide to you, but when more citizens own self-driving vehicles those vehicles can also change entire industries. Some changes may be beneficial and others detrimental. Below is a list of industries self-driving cars can change.

Automobile-Related Industries

When self-driving cars become commonplace, many automobile-related industries will change permanently. For example, traditional automobile manufacturers like General Motors may no longer control the development of new vehicles. Instead, the many types of technologies used in autonomous vehicles may require the expertise of experts at technology-based companies, like Apple. Only experts at such companies can develop and maintain the software needed to safely control driverless vehicles, such as GPS devices and proximity alert sensors needed to avoid collisions.

The production and sale of automobiles may also decline, as driverless cars become more popular. For example, you may own multiple vehicles right now. However, self-driving vehicles offer benefits that may reduce or eliminate your need to own even one vehicle. Those benefits include:

  • Ability to park themselves.
  • Constant availability at the click of a button or by making a phone call.
  • Ability to transport multiple family members in a single vehicle at all times of day by driving themselves to multiple destinations.

The automobile repair and insurance industries may also see declining profits, as self-driving cars increase in popularity. Imagine getting into your car after drinking all night at a bar. When the car can drive you home without you lifting a finger, drunk driving accidents are eliminated. Therefore, when self-driving cars outnumber standard automobiles, collision repair facilities may go into decline. Fewer accidents also leads to much lower insurance costs, which means insurance companies suffer.


Experts anticipate you are not likely to ever own a self-driving car. Instead, the majority of self-driving cars are likely to be operated by ride share companies, like Lyft. Some ride share companies are already embracing the idea of using cars with upgraded technologies built into them. When driverless vehicles become popular, you can summon them through such companies whenever you want. The goal of using driverless technology in such a manner is to maximize transportation efficiency. By using one car to transport multiple people in a taxi-like fashion, cars can perform with maximum efficiency, especially since they can operate continuously without the need to find open parking areas.

According to experts, approximately 61 billion of the 144 billion square feet of space currently used for parking in the United States may disappear when driverless cars become popular. One benefit is reclaimed space can be used for other necessary purposes, such as the construction of housing or business. However, the parking industry will no longer be as prominent. The following may all be at least partially replaced by self-driving vehicles:

  • Human valets
  • Parking meters
  • Parking garages
  • Parking ticket payments

The loss of parking ticket revenue due to the decreased need for vehicles to park has the potential to cripple the economies of large cities. For example, money spent to pay parking ticket fines totaled approximately $92.6 million in 2012 in Washington D.C. That income may practically disappear when it becomes normal to summon driverless cars, as needed.

Real Estate

Self-driving cars can also have a large impact on those working in real estate markets. For example, you may want to live in the city currently because doing so shortens your commute. However, the popularization of self-driving cars may reduce traffic. Easy commuting makes you more likely to choose suburban housing. Therefore, the residential real estate market as a whole may stay intact, but a shift may take place affecting the success or failure of urban and suburban real estate agencies.

Related Article: Real Estate Career

Commercial real estate is also not immune to the potential influence of self-driving vehicles, especially since many of those vehicles are likely to be powered by electricity. Electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs) are expected to eliminate the need for gas stations on every corner. When the vehicles sense their power draining, they can connect to smaller, less conspicuous charging stations. In fact, projections indicate EAVs may eventually store more energy than they use, helping to offset other forms of energy consumption worldwide.

The Hotel Industry

The future of travel-related industries is also in jeopardy due to self-driving cars. When you have the ability to get in a car and go anywhere you want as a passenger with no stress placed on you, you are likely to travel more. Therefore, you may think travel industries benefit from such technology. However, the technology built into self-driving automobiles may make them ideal mobile hotel rooms, allowing you to avoid staying in hotels on road trips. Therefore, the hospitality industry is likely to suffer as autonomous automobile technology improves. In fact, the vice president of brand strategy at Audi has predicted future self-driving cars will have sleeping mode and driving mode features and you will be able to switch between those features when desired.

The Entertainment Industry

In the future, when riding in a self-driving car, you can sit back and relax. Entertainment industry leaders can use your extra free time to their advantage. As your vehicle becomes more like a home away from home and technologies advance, you can enjoy various types of media on your commute or during road trips. Technology like smart glass designed to display media is already in development. With it, entertainment and advertising industries can give you mobile access to the following types of media built into the windows of your self-driving car:

  • Television and movie programs
  • Augmented reality
  • Video games
  • Virtual reality
  • Product advertisements

Such smart technology can adapt to where you travel in your self-driving vehicle as well. For example, the technology can sense your location. Based on your location, it can display only commercials for local businesses. Targeted marketing plans displayed in self-driving vehicles has the potential to increase sales conversions across multiple industries while simultaneously giving you access to more of the entertainment options you enjoy.

Related Article: Computer Support Careers


It might also interest you: