When talking about autonomous vehicles, it’s easy to think in terms of the consumer segment. But think for a moment about the transportation, freight, and delivery verticals. Drivers can only legally spend 10 hours behind the wheel at a stretch. Those industries see autonomous vehicles as a solution to their human capital problem. Amazon warehouses are all now largely automated. Most freight trains (tractors to be precise) can be operated remotely. And while these industries are chomping at the bit to solve their internal challenges, I don’t imagine they’re fully considering the holistic economic impacts of the move toward automation.
Scattered across flyover country, there are legions of “cities” that aren’t much more than a Love’s truck stop, a Wendy’s, and a Motel 6. Clusters of people and businesses that depend on the fact that trucks are driven by people. With “headless” trucks whizzing by, those communities will wither and die, leaving a significant gap.
No, I don’t think the autonomous vehicle problem is punctuated with human life. The problem is going to be the displacement of so many jobs.