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Why People Who Don’t Trust Self-Driving Car Tech Should Still Pay Attention

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You should probably be aware of how self-driving car tech will show up in your life.

Every family or circle of friends has that one holdout who swears off technology trends. But all you have to do is wait a little while, and all of a sudden you?re getting goofy-faced Snaps from them or you see their new Facebook page filled with memes.

However, one trend that is still causing pause for most Americans is that of hopping aboard a self-driving car. Even though ma and pa and your crazy conspiracy theorist uncle are vowing to not only never own an autonomous car, but be a passenger in one, it still pays to know the direction the American roads are going in the rapidly developing world of self-driving car tech.

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My dad said he would always be okay with his heavy duty contractor-type flip phone that rested snugly on his belt. But when the iPhone 6 came out something clicked, and he dove in and got one. I don?t know, I guess those first five versions of the iPhone didn?t do it for him.

Now, dear old dad is constantly checking emails, watching Netflix, downloading songs (that still happens, people), and catching up on tech news. Giving in to the latest fun tech trends always catches on sooner or later, but owning or driving in a self-driving car is where an actual line has been drawn.

According to WBUR in Boston, a recent study from MIT shows that out of 3,000 drivers surveyed, about 48% of them said they would never own a fully autonomous car.

Another striking bit of info from the study shows a decline in consumer interest in autonomous vehicles across all age groups, even Millennials who are typically all-in on new tech trends. But no matter what age group you?re in or how adamant you are about staying away from self-driving cars, the technology isn?t going anywhere.

In fact, all indications show that while freeways may not be flooded with people kicking back in an autonomous car à la Minority Report, there are still areas where it will show up, and we need to take note.

One space that fully autonomous car technology is really making headway in is shipping. There?s a scene in Logan that shows empty, self-driving big rigs driving along the highway, going on at steady clips. Well, we?re actually getting to that point as Uber (currently in a heated court battle with Google?s Waymo) teamed up with Budweiser to deliver a batch of brews in 2016.

And Anheuser-Busch is also wanting to team up with Tesla to make regular deliveries in this fashion to help cut carbon emissions.

Tesla

Outside of self-driving beer runs, autonomous delivery of your packages will soon be a thing. According to Network World, just last fall Nvidia CEO Jensen Juang made the announcement that it is joining forces with DHL and ZF, an automotive provider, to start testing a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles starting this year.

And this leads us to another factor worth taking note of when it comes to autonomous car technology: jobs. I guess I can drop another movie reference here, but it?s applicable, so bear with me: there?s a scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the freaky remake, not the original, that showed Charlie?s dad, Mr. Bucket, lose his job at the toothpaste factory to a robot.

Something like that may actually happen in the world of self-driving car tech. Delivery drivers will either become obsolete in the next decade, as mentioned by Forbes, or will have to become dual specialists with experience and knowledge of autonomous car engineering. And outside of delivering packages self-driving car tech is making its way to every day things like pizza. Pizza! Ford and Dominos are coming together in the most arbitrary (but actually understandable) pairing, developing autonomous pizza delivery cars.

So, even though you hit cancel when Uber suggests one of its self-driving test cars picks you up or you plan on putting good ol’ American petroleum in your SUV until you die, just being aware of self-driving car tech and its many reaches is important.

Who knows? A future Super Bowl party may be made possible by autonomous cars dropping off your friends, your pizza, and your beer.

This post was originally published on February 10, 2018.

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