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The IoT Effect: Why Driverless Cars Will Change Everything – By Sherri Hammons

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Author: Sherri Hammons, Chief Technology Officer, Beeline

The Internet of Things (IoT) is about to dramatically disrupt the automobile industry. We’ve seen the Google driverless cars roam California and watched Tesla auto-pilot free up the driver. Personally, I love to drive, and I hate to drive. On the one hand, I adore driving Sunday mornings with dance tunes blaring and the top down on my convertible enjoying a beautiful summer day. Alternatively, I abhor Monday morning traffic and my evening commute. I’m a bit torn on how I will love or not love driverless cars. Perhaps, I’ll be an early adopter. Perhaps, I’ll wait it out to see my options. But, driverless cars are coming. And they will leave a burning mark greater than Sherman’s March to the Sea. As a Board member of the IoT Consortium, not only am I passionate about this wave of technology, I want to share some predictions of how pervasive IoT and the driverless car disruption will be:

The automobile industry will divide into two:  Regular and Premium Manufacturers

Regular manufacturers will create basic cars that cater to lovers of the sharing economy. Who needs to buy a car when you have shared cars available at your convenience? Consolidation of the industry will begin as cars become a commodity with little need to customize and compete for features. People will use them similarly to on-demand taxis/Uber where it matters less about the style and features and more about quick access. Those same automobile companies will become small retail shops and partner with smart startups to take advantage of all that free time you will have. You can choose a car that will bring you breakfast so you can eat on your way to work, or you can pick a car to get a manicure on your way to the airport. Cars will begin to morph into different service form factors to take advantage of your entrapment and time.

Premium manufacturers will also consolidate because demand will lessen. But these manufacturers will still offer cars for people to drive, though it will become more of a novelty than necessity. People will want the experience, not the expense, so new business models will arise and others will explode. Rent a Maserati for the weekend. Take a Ferrari to your class reunion. These manufacturers will offer the driverless option and will cater to the higher end clientele and special occasions. Call it the “First Class” of the Uber generation.

The Butterfly Effect
As the number of cars on the road will be reduced with this new car sharing economy, we will see a chain reaction with other industries as well.

  • We will become less reliant on oil and hybrid vehicles will become the norm. Eventually, Tesla’s battery cars will become ubiquitous and will solve our energy crisis.
  • Professional drivers will decrease and finally cease to exist. This could affect some ½ million Uber and taxi drivers. These professionals will need to re-tool their skills for other work. As driverless cars expand, it will eventually include truck drivers. All 3.5 million of them.
  • There will be a real estate glut from the unused parking spaces. Cars won’t need to park anymore. Cars will drop off their passenger and go pick up another. No more parking garages. No more parking meters. Lots of space for new industries to take on.
  • Government revenue will decline as parking meters are removed and parking fines dry up. Traffic tickets and fees will also be reduced.
  • Gas stations will become more utilitarian since people will not shop while the gas is being pumped. And, as hybrids and battery powered take over, these industries will eventually dry up. Will we pay to use the restroom? More retail space available and cleaner air.

There are many other examples of how this one change will affect an incredible number of industries. One change whose cause and effect will have lasting impacts on our economy. The Internet of Things is a revolution, changing the way our world operates. It’s exciting. It’s a bit daunting. And, if you aren’t thinking about it, it’s going to march right over you.

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Sherri Hammons

About Sherri Hammons

Sherri is a technology executive with more than 18 years of experience managing technology assets, architecting technical solutions, and enabling technology and information to support, enhance and frame a broad range of corporate initiatives. She provides leadership and direction for all areas of Information Technology both nationally and internationally.