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There's a revolution brewing in the auto industry. For several years now, cars have been moving in the direction of better fuel efficiency with the eventual goal of becoming completely electric. However, the more exciting development is in self-driving cars. These are already hitting the streets for road testing and they promise to completely alter the way we interact with our cars.
The self-driving car is a simple idea with complex execution. A computer controls all the movement of the car and uses sensors placed on the top, sides, front, and back to "see" the car's surroundings. It can react to signs, traffic lights, other cars and obstacles, curves, and anything else a human driver would be able to see. Any kind of vehicle can potentially use this technology. Uber is testing out self-driving cars to use in its fleet, which could completely replace human taxis. Many auto manufacturers and tech companies from Google to GM are developing self-driving cars. Even long-haul trucking companies are getting into the act.
This presents an array of new opportunities while also creating some new holes in the economy. The need for human drivers will decrease dramatically when these cars start to become safe for general use. On the other hand, car companies will need new workers to maintain the navigation systems, Wi-Fi connectivity, security, and other features of the car. Plenty of people will look to obtain a masters of engineering management online so they can adapt to the new jobs in this area. The key will be to stay on top of the innovative opportunities. For example, pizza companies can use self-driving cars for delivery. Bars can keep a self-driving car on their premises to drive home drunk patrons.
These cars are likely going to be harder to repair and maintain due to their increased complexity, so auto garages might wind up employing some programmers as well as mechanics. That skillset will be ever more important as the increasing difficulty of car repair means that it is harder and harder for regular people to do any work on their own cars. Getting a car repaired will be half mechanical labor and half tech support.
It's an exciting future because of how much these cars promise to change the way we drive. However, the upheaval they bring means that only the nimble and opportunistic will survive the coming waves of innovation.