Blog 3: How time will be spent

One of the most obvious benefits of fully autonomous vehicles is the amount of time that will be saved and otherwise diverted that was previously spent driving.  It is estimated that in the U.S., over 87.5% of people over 16 years of age report that they drive.  Of those people, it is estimated that they spend over 17,600 minutes a year driving.  That number is very similar to the amount that people drive in the rest of the world:

Americans drive nearly 2.45 trillion miles per year, With nearly an hour a day spent driving, it is clear that the time saved will be put to an entirely new use.  Now it is difficult to completely access what time will be spent doing what, but I believe that it will be split up into 3 main categories. The first (and the least noteworthy) is entertainment.

Movies, live sports, and other entertainment will likely have its place in autonomous vehicles.  It will appeal to a younger audience, as well as those who are trying to relax.  However, this is the smallest of the markets.

It is likely that a lot of this time will be used productively (the most obvious choice).  The amount of time could lead to 507 billion dollars annually, according to a Morgan Stanley study, stimulating the economy by up to 5.6 trillion dollars.  This work will result in shorter days, with more time being spent doing other things.

The market that I am most excited about is that which will result from industries transforming to work in autonomous vehicles.  Hair cuts for example, are a great example of a service that could easily be performed in an autonomous vehicle.  There could be certain fast food/quick food options where you can eat while being taken to where you want to go.  I believe that certain industries will shift from stores that require customers to drop in to being in autonomous vehicles.  This will result in more and more of our lives taking place in autonomous vehicles.  It is not out of the question that entire industries shift over to be in autonomous vehicles due to convenience for the customer.  There is a chance that people actually spend time in vehicles simply for the service provided.

Another interesting component is how much time will be saved in certain situations by not needing to drive.  Parents who need to drive their kids around to extracurricular activities can now send cars to do that job.  Jobs requiring delivery (for example, food) will now no longer need a car.  In fact, there is already implementation in San Fransisco of an automated delivery system.  Industries all around us will have a drastically different feel to them, and it will be exciting to see just how much changes.


Americans Spend an Average of 17,600 Minutes Driving Each Year

Autonomous Vehicle Data

3 thoughts on “Blog 3: How time will be spent

  1. The free time that could result from people not needing to drive during commutes definitely offers the potential to change many aspects of society, like in-office schedules as you mentioned. Two thoughts came to mind while reading this that might make this less of an impact than we would imagine: just about all projections show AVs reducing or eliminating traffic meaning there would be less and less “new” time, and when people find free time they tend to waste it. If I knew I could work during my commute to shorten my work day that would be a good incentive, but at the same time I might be tempted to unproductively extend my sleeping hours.
    I also think taking a look at how people currently abuse self-driving features would be extensible to expected behaviors with full autonomy. Reports and videos usually show people sleeping, eating, applying makeup, or watching videos on their phone. I can’t recall ever hearing about someone in the driver’s seat depending on Autopilot balancing their laptop and briefcase on the dashboard.
    Definitely looking forward to seeing how society initially responds to this freedom and what new applications we haven’t thought of develop.

  2. I think you’re idea that industries might shift from brick-and-mortar stores into vehicles is interesting, but maybe unrealistic. Food trucks are one example of an industry becoming more mobile due to cars, but I don’t think they actually cook while they drive, despite it being theoretically feasible. Whatever benefits AVs might bring, they are still ultimately just another mode of transportation like buses, and you don’t see new industries popping up in buses.

  3. I think one potential outcome that you mention, sleep, might be one of the biggest impacts. It is recommended for adults to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, but American adults only average 6.8 hours of sleep. Sleeping in the car will become common when there is no more need to remain alert at the wheel. I know that if I was taking (not driving) the car to school in the morning, I would most likely use the time to sleep and rest, rather than something more active.
    Also as AVs make the roads and highways more efficient, cutting down on commuting times, there will be more time for people to sleep in. If your commute takes 45 minutes, but an AV cuts that down to 30 minutes, you might find more people sleeping those extra 15 minutes.
    You touch a lot on productivity in your post, remarking that people might use the time in AVs to work, but if they use the time to sleep and get adequate rest, they might be even more productive during the work day in the office.

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