What the Microsoft / Mercedes Deal tells us about the future of commutes

Mike Peluso
May 22, 2017 · 6 min read
Microsoft, Apple and Google are all on a self driving car high and business is the pusher!

Editor's note: I know this story is a bit old, but due to a scheduling snafu I’m only just now posting my comments on it as there is still value to the thoughts presented here:

One of the most fascinating things about the self driving vehicle effort is that it will have such a major change on the economy and the world. If you are in any way engaged in the world of trucking or logistics I feel really bad for you. But it’s not just the trucking industry that will have to deal with major issues. It’s also going to have an effect on working professionals and here is one major tell sign that the transition is already in place.

Currently, in the short term we are adopting and adapting to minor modifications to vehicle automation including self parking cars and intelligent cruise control. I’m always fascinated when I see tentative steps that are so clearly showing the future movement. This implementation is typical of companies like Microsoft and Mercedes. They are taking existing tech and shoehorning it into existing consumer behavior patterns. In this case, the product “In Car Office” will let you integrate your calendar, to-do list, and contacts with your car’s navigation facility.

Ok, I get it, Mercedes is trying to turn their car into an impossible to upgrade $40,000 smart phone because that’s what people want today and that’s pretty classic. But in this instance the effort is built around automating the things professionals are currently doing in the car. Once that’s figured out, one way or another (I’m thinking a future generation of Apple Carplay will do a better job of this particular task), it stands to reason that the next step is what I predicted ages ago.. I.e. the expectation will be that commute time becomes work time. Want to unwind on your commute to and from work or a meeting? Sorry charlie, that report still needs to be into the boss and you’ll get a negative mark on your next review if you are not being a great team member by being available 24/7.

I don’t think it’ll end with hopping in our car and saying “drive to work” and then starting on a spreadsheet report in our in-car desk. Realistically In the future this move to partially automated vehicles that will morph into completely self driving cars, which will eventually obfuscate the need for any vehicle ownership at all. Why deal with insurance, gas, electric charging times, repairs etc when you can just click on an ap in your smartphone and a clean, neat driverless car pulls up exactly when you need it for pennies a trip? It’ll be Point to Point public transportation for the masses with different companies catering to different niches. Just call “Business Ride Inc” when you have to go to a meeting or the office. Log into your work account on the in-vehicle office and get to work.

I’m under no illusions, this is a generational behavior change and won’t be fully implemented for decades. I cite as an example how many people still buy music on CD’s at Walmart. This exists in an age when the MP3 has already been supplanted by streaming services for Gen X and Gen Y.

It won’t just be business either. All you have to see is how Millennials behave with uber and you can see where the generation after Millennials would be comfortable throwing their seven year old into a self driving car service so they can get to school on time. I can see it now…

“Kiddy Kab” where their ride is perfectly safe and the company and parents continually monitor the child’s behavior. “Business Ride Inc” will have a screen dedicated just to the kids commute, you know, so you can be a good and involved parent. Kiddy Kab will include enriching activities to help prepare them for their school day.

I have to say that I feel a bit bad thinking about all this. I guess even our kids won’t get out of being productive during the car ride to school.

Original Post:

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Mike Peluso writes is about the collision between the professional world and life. Read more at www.pelusopresents.com or listen to the Peluso Presents Podcast