Waymo, Uber, Ford, and others are joining forces to explore the ‘human impact’ of self-driving cars

A crisis in labor is brewing, and the big AV companies are on it


Driverless vehicles could eliminate millions of jobs in the future, from cabbies to truckers to food delivery workers. But the companies that are hoping to hasten the adoption of this disruptive technology don’t want to seem callous to this brewing labor crisis, so they are joining forces to study the “human impact” of robot cars.

The Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO) is a newly formed group comprised of most of the major companies that are building and testing on self-driving cars. This includes legacy automakers like Ford, Toyota, and Daimler; tech giants like Waymo (née Google), Uber, and Lyft; and logistics providers like FedEx and the American Trucking Association. The new organization is being formed as a 501(c)(6), which allows it to accept donations like a nonprofit and lobby government like a chamber of commerce.

The group has its work cut out for it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3.8 million people operate motor vehicles for their livelihood. This includes truck driving, the most common profession in 29 US states, which employs about 1.7 million people. Many expect self-driving trucks to be among the first autonomous vehicles to hit the road. When autonomous vehicle saturation peaks, US drivers could see job losses at a rate of 25,000 a month, or 300,000 a year, according to a report from Goldman Sachs Economics Researchreleased last year.

So what can we expect from a group funded by some of the biggest companies that are working on this technology?

In the first six months, the PTIO has set its goals to: 1) begin to develop a well-rounded and data-based understanding of the impact and implications of autonomous vehicles on the future of work, 2) solicit the expertise, concerns, and aspirations of a variety of interested parties, and 3) begin to foster awareness of existing and near-term career opportunities for workers during the transition to a new autonomous vehicle-enabled economy.

For some of these companies, this isn’t their first time at the coalition rodeo. In 2016, Ford, Google, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a lobbying group with the express purpose of advocating autonomous driving. That group, led by former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head David Strickland, lobbies on behalf of the autonomous vehicle industry.

“While the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets is doing very important work on issues related to autonomous vehicle safety and implementation, the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity believes that while society prepares for the practical impact of autonomous vehicles, we must also focus our efforts on the human impact as it relates to Americans’ careers and jobs,” Westphal said.

All of these companies have a vested interest in selling autonomous driving technology to a skeptical public. So how much independence can we expect this group to have from the financial motivations of its corporate backers? “Part of PTIO’s mission is to promote debate on these issues,” said Westphal, a former press secretary for Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer and ex-communications director for the American Beverage Association. “Our hope is that in doing so we will help bring consensus around some proactive policies and initiatives that help ensure everyone benefits from these technological innovations. At the same time, we realize by promoting debate we may generate conversations that are uncomfortable for some stakeholders, including our members.”

Leaders in Autonomous Vehicle Technology Launch Coalition to Study, Spur Dialogue on the Future of Work

Employers, Stakeholders to Host Events, Support Research to Assess U.S. Workforce Issues as Technology Evolves

Washington, D.C.— Today, a diverse group of leading companies and associations launched the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO), a collaboration committed to exploring how autonomous vehicles will impact American workers as well as identifying opportunities and developing solutions to address future challenges.

The group – whose members include American Trucking Associations, Daimler, FedEx, Ford, Lyft, Toyota Motor North America, Uber, and Waymo – intends to promote open and thorough discourse about workforce issues in this new economy.

“As with any prior technological revolution, the transition from traditional to autonomous vehicles will not happen overnight,” said PTIO Executive Director Maureen Westphal. “This evolution should allow adequate time for us to understand how autonomous vehicles may change the way we live and work and implement policies and programs to respond proactively to, and allow all Americans benefits from, those changes. This transition is likely to have significant benefits. Some potential benefits will be more obvious, like safer roadways, increased access to mobility, reduced traffic gridlock, improved air quality, and lower costs. Others, including greater efficiency on our roadways, economic gains, and enhanced employment opportunities, will require data and real-life demonstrations to be widely recognized and understood.”

In the first six months, the PTIO has set its goals to: 1) begin to develop a well-rounded and data-based understanding of the impact and implications of autonomous vehicles on the future of work, 2) solicit the expertise, concerns, and aspirations of a variety of interested parties, and 3) begin to foster awareness of existing and near-term career opportunities for workers during the transition to a new autonomous vehicle-enabled economy.

“Those currently working in the transportation industry—both on the ground and behind the scenes—are in the best position to shed light on how this transformation may change our lives,” Westphal added. “Now is the time to engage stakeholders in an open dialogue about this evolving technology. We look forward to continuing these conversations in communities throughout the country and leveraging the partnership to propose constructive steps in supporting jobs at the beginning of this transformative moment.”


The Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity is a coalition of leading companies and associations committed to improving the lives and opportunities for working Americans through commonsense adoption of autonomous vehicles. The coalition’s members include American Trucking Associations, Daimler, FedEx, Ford, Lyft, Toyota Motor North America, Uber, and Waymo.

Visit: OurAVFuture.org and follow @OurAVFuture to learn more about PTIO.

From rust belt to robot belt: Turning AI into jobs in the US heartland

Artificial intelligence is offering an amazing opportunity to increase prosperity, but whether or not ­we will seize it is our choice

by David Rotman

June 18, 2018

The vast vacant lot along the Monongahela River has been a scar from Pittsburgh’s industrial past for decades. It was once the site of the Jones and Laughlin steelworks, one of the largest such facilities in the city back when steel was the dominant industry there. Most of the massive structures are long gone, leaving behind empty fields pocked with occasional remnants of steelmaking and a few odd buildings. It all stares down the river at downtown Pittsburgh.

Next to the sprawling site is one of Pittsburgh’s poorer neighborhoods, Hazelwood, where a house can go for less than $50,000. As with many of the towns that stretch south along the river toward West Virginia, like McKeesport and Duquesne, the economic reasons for its existence—steel and coal—are a fading memory.

These days the old steel site, called Hazelwood Green by its developers, is coming back to life. At one edge, fenced off from prying eyes, is a test area for Uber’s self-driving cars. A new road, still closed to the public, traverses the 178 acres of the site, complete with parking signs, fire hydrants, a paved bike path, and a sidewalk. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture it bustling with visitors to the planned park along the riverfront.

The gem of the redevelopment effort is Mill 19, the former coke works. A structure more than a quarter-­mile long, sitting amid the empty fields, it has been stripped clean to a three-story metal skeleton. Crews of workers are clearing away remaining debris and preparing the building for its reincarnation. By next spring, if all goes according to plan, its first occupant will move in: the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.

The symbolism of robots moving into a former steelworks is lost on few people in the city. Pittsburgh is reinventing itself, using the advances in automation, robots, and artificial intelligence coming out of its schools—particularly Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)—to try to create a high-tech economy. Lawrenceville, five miles from Hazelwood, has become a center for US development of self-driving cars. Uber Advanced Technologies occupies a handful of industrial buildings; self-driving startups Argo AI and Aurora Innovation are nearby. Even Caterpillar has set up shop, working on autonomous backhoes and other heavy machines that could one day operate themselves.

This has drawn billions of dollars from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, a welcome development in a city whose economy has been moribund for decades. And the effects are visible. Self-driving cars out for a test ride are a common sight, as are lines outside the trendy restaurants in what civic boosters call “Robotics Row.” While many longtime residents complain of skyrocketing home prices near the tech firms’ headquarters and test facilities, they’ll also tell you these are the best days the city has seen in their lifetimes.

But despite all this activity, Pittsburgh’s economy is struggling by many measures. Though the city’s population is no longer hemorrhaging away—between 1970 and 1980 it fell by roughly a fifth—it isn’t growing, either, and is aging quickly. During the last half-decade, almost 70,000 people aged 35 to 54 have left the region. And not far from the city and its elite universities, in areas where the main hope for prosperity lies in coal and natural gas from fracking rather than self-driving cars, well-­paying jobs are scarce and towns are being devastated by opioid addiction.

This makes Pittsburgh not only a microcosm of the US industrial heartland but a test case for the question facing every city and country with access to new digital technologies: Can AI, advanced robotics, self-driving cars, and other recent breakthroughs spread prosperity to the population at large, or will they just concentrate the wealth among entrepreneurs, investors, and some highly skilled tech workers?

To prosper, says Scott Andes at the National League of Cities, Pittsburgh “can’t just be a producer of brilliant talent and ideas that then don’t turn into job generation.” He adds, “Pittsburgh is a great case study for the 21st-century economy, because it is beginning to leverage research strengths into economic value.”

Changing jobs

There is no sillier—or more disingenuous—debate in the tech community than the one over whether robots and AI will destroy jobs or, conversely, create a great abundance of new ones. In fact, the outcome depends on various economic factors. And how it will play out as the pace of AI intensifies, no one knows.

Automation and robots have certainly wiped out many jobs over the last few decades, especially in manufacturing. In one of the first attempts to quantify the impact of industrial robots, research by Daron Acemoglu at MIT and his colleagues, based on data from 1990 to 2007, found that for every robot on the factory floor, some six jobs are lost. That means as many as 670,000 jobs for the years that they looked at, and as many as 1.5 million jobs at 2016 levels of robot usage in the US.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that about 50 percent of tasks done in our economy could be automated. But such statistics are often misinterpreted. The 50 percent merely describes the “technical feasibility” of what can be automated with existing and emerging technologies, says James Manyika, the institute’s chairman. The number of actual jobs lost will depend on the costs and benefits of replacing people with machines.

Even more uncertain is how many new jobs will be created. Many technologists, especially roboticists, assert that advances will lead to a wealth of new kinds of work. So far, though, that hasn’t happened, and few of the breakthroughs have reached the largest sectors of the US economy, such as health care.

Perhaps we just need to be patient; technology advances have always increased incomes, which then increased demand for goods and services, which then led to more jobs. But Laura Tyson, a top economic advisor to President Bill Clinton and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, asks the question that is on everyone’s mind: What if, this time around, the goods and services that people want just don’t require much human labor to produce? “This is the first time that technology, we think, could on net reduce the demand for human workers,” she says.

“The naïve view among macroeconomists for several decades has been that technology will always create jobs,” says Acemoglu. “The alarmists’ is that this time is different and it will destroy jobs. The truth is it’s capable of doing both.” Though in the past the economic benefits from new technologies have always been enough to create more jobs than were lost, he says, “lately, for a variety of reasons, there has been a much more job-destroying face to technology.”

Part of what he’s describing is the so-called productivity paradox: while big data, automation, and AI should in theory be making businesses more productive, boosting the economy and creating more jobs to offset the ones being lost, this hasn’t happened. Some economists think it’s just a matter of time—though it could take many years (see “The productivity paradox”).

But the debate about how many jobs are gained or lost obscures a much more important point. The location of jobs and the kind of work they involve are changing, and that’s what’s causing real pain to people and to local economies.

In the US, demand for low-­paying work in places like warehouses and restaurants is growing; so is demand for well-paying work in occupations requiring lots of technical skills, such as programming. At the same time, many traditionally middle-class jobs in areas like manufacturing and data processing are shriveling. These trends have contributed to record levels of income inequality. “There is not a lot of disagreement that technology is changing the skills and occupations in demand,” says Tyson. “And that will continue to increase income inequality.”

This movie has, of course, played out before. In 1900, about 40 percent of US workers were on farms; today fewer than 2 percent are. In 1950, about 24 percent of the jobs were in manufacturing; today around 9 percent are. Similar shifts are occurring in other developed countries. But today’s changes are happening faster and more broadly than before, leaving little time for people to adapt.

Many are simply giving up on finding a decent job. Labor-force participation—basically, the proportion of people working or seeking work—is showing a troubling drop, especially for men aged 25 to 54. Melissa Kearney and Katharine Abraham, economists at the University of Maryland, have looked at why. They think there may be several causes, but they say robots and automation are a critical one. Many people without a college degree simply think the prospects of finding a well-­paying job are too slim to make it worth looking.

Princeton economist Anne Case and her coauthor Angus Deaton have identified what’s likely a related trend. They found that mortality is rising among middle-aged white people in the US with a high school diploma or less. The culprits: high rates of suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism, which Case and Deaton call “diseases of despair” because they don’t seem related to poverty per se, but rather to disappointment; in a reversal of expectations, people are realizing they won’t be better off than their parents.

Automation might be partly to blame for these social problems. But if economists like Acemoglu are right, the key to creating more good jobs is not fewer of these advances but better versions of them that are deployed faster throughout the economy. 

Pittsburgh reborn

That, in essence, is what Pittsburgh’s attempt at reinventing itself is about. So far the results are mixed. “The transformation of the city by new, young people working in AI and robotics has been spectacular,” says Andrew Moore, dean of computer science at CMU. “But it has been more of an approach of gentrification rather than an inclusion of the community.”

That criticism resonates in a place that prides itself as a working-class city with strong unions and a rich history of progressive politics. Mayor William Peduto helped attract Uber to the city, but he has since soured on the San Francisco–based company. “The Silicon Valley model doesn’t [put] people in the equation. It is based on what return will be derived for VCs,” he said in a recent interview at city hall with MIT Technology Review. “In places like Detroit and Pittsburgh, when we look at the future of work, we want to know what the future of the worker is.”

According to a recent poll, more than half of Pittsburgh residents would strongly support Amazon’s building its second headquarters there. That’s far more than in many cities on Amazon’s shortlist—in Austin and Boston only around a third of the population would welcome the move. It’s hardly surprising: Amazon is pledging 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment, which would be transformative for Pittsburgh. It’s rumored that the city is tempting the company with the site along the Monongahela River that includes Mill 19.

But if Amazon picks Pittsburgh, that’s likely to exacerbate the anxiety over how to match residents with new high-tech jobs. “There is nowhere near enough people in the city and the region with the technical skills,” says CMU’s Moore. “We’re great in terms of the rare genius leaders, but [Pittsburgh] really needs to skill up the local population to take part in this.”

The challenge facing the city and the rest of the country, though, is not only to include more people in the high-tech workforce but to expand the supply of those well-paying jobs. Advanced robotics can modernize the factories in a city like Pittsburgh and help make manufacturing more competitive. But the factory jobs lost through the years aren’t coming back. As a country, we’re struggling to imagine how to build an economy with plenty of good jobs around AI and automation.

A person standing on the flat roof of a building in the Lawrenceville neighborhood can get a glimpse of the future. On the first floor is a large garage housing several of Aurora’s self-driving cars. Off in some weedy fields is a Caterpillar backhoe belonging to the company’s research outpost for autonomous machines. Beyond that is a fenced-in testing area next to yet another former steel facility—this one housing Carnegie Robotics, which is working on a bomb-clearing robot for the Army. In the background is the National Robotics Center, another imposing building and home—until it moves into Mill 19—of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.

It’s an impressive scene highlighting signs, if you know where to look, of some of the world’s leading research into robotics and automation. But it is also almost deadly quiet. There are a few cars in the parking lots—those of the engineers and programmers involved in the various robotic ventures, and probably some visitors. Beyond that, there are no signs of workers anywhere.

The only way the US can safely move forward with self-driving cars

via CNBC, by Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

American entrepreneurship has always pushed the boundaries of invention and ingenuity. It’s what spurred Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan, to introduce the Model T, revolutionizing the automobile industry and the trajectory of what’s possible in transportation technology.

A hundred years from now, when our great-grandkids are zipping around town in self-driving cars, we want them to be able to tell the same story of American innovation.

The United States has long paved the way for the rest of the world in technological advancements, and with self-driving cars on the horizon, we must continue our proud history of leadership.

However, without a national policy, we could lose the opportunity to promote the safe deployment of self-driving cars and realize their full potential benefits. We need a federal framework that provides clear guidance to companies as they innovate while maintaining states’ and municipalities’ traditional roles in traffic safety and consumer protection.

“Recent high-profile accidents, including one that resulted in the tragic death of a pedestrian, have raised concerns about advancing self-driving technology.”

The U.S. cannot risk getting outpaced by Europe and Asia, where countries have already enacted legislation to support self-driving cars.

The House of Representatives did its job by passing legislation, and we got it done in a strongly bipartisan manner. Last year, after hundreds of meetings with stakeholders, including safety experts and advocacy groups, the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed the SELF DRIVE Act.

The bill went on to pass the full House by voice vote with many of our colleagues coming to the House Floor to declare their support.

We heard the need for increased safety data for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), greater transparency in disclosures for the public, strengthening NHTSA’s ability to update safety standards designed for traditional vehicles, and consideration of societal changes likely to come with the deployment of self-driving cars.

And the SELF DRIVE Act delivers by establishing a national policy that encourages the testing and deployment of self-driving cars on America’s roads. It also requires that safety assessment certifications are filed by manufacturers and ensures NHTSA’s broad recall authority still applies to these new vehicles. Under this bill, NHTSA maintains the authority to remove vehicles off our roadways that it deems unsafe.

That said, we understand the apprehension many folks have about this technology. Self-driving cars have been making headlines in the past few months, but, unfortunately, not for the right reasons. Recent high-profile accidents, including one that resulted in the tragic death of a pedestrian, have raised concerns about advancing self-driving technology.

We fully agree that thorough and definitive investigations must be carried out by the appropriate agencies. However, these incidents underscore the need for a federal safety framework as implemented by the SELF DRIVE Act.

The SELF DRIVE Act takes an important first step by providing the structure and government oversight needed to help ensure that self-driving cars are as safe, if not safer, than cars on the road today. It’s also important that we work to restore and build consumers’ trust and confidence in this technology.

The bill also includes an advisory council to consider the effects of self-driving cars on labor and employment, mobility access for people with disabilities and senior citizens, environmental impacts, and more.

Legislation in the self-driving car space is coming at a critical time, and America needs to lead. While accidents involving self-driving vehicles might make the headlines, more than 37,000 Americans died behind the wheel of traditional cars last year.

The status quo is simply unacceptable. We have the potential to make a real difference by saving lives and improving mobility. But we have to get it right, and that takes federal leadership.

The safety and economic benefits of self-driving technology are too far-reaching, and the costs are too consequential, to delay its development. As Americans, it’s in our nature to pursue the next big thing on the horizon. We have the greatest innovators and strongest work ethic in the world, but we’re at risk of losing our hold in the race to self-driving technology.

Since the House reached bipartisan consensus on the SELF DRIVE Act last September, the Senate has been working on its own self-driving car legislation but progress has stalled. Calls for the Senate to halt its work on this legislation will only delay American leadership and further safety innovation.

We are ready to work with our Senate colleagues, and we urge them to act quickly before we begin to trail too far behind other countries and miss the chance to champion this emerging technology.

Commentary by Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

From Horseless Carriage to Driverless Car

via The Wall Street Journal, by Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Cars once seemed clean and safe. Now autonomous vehicles seem cleaner and safer.

Driverless cars will be tested on California roads for the irst time without a human being behind a steering wheel under new rules for the fast-developing technology. The regulations approved Feb. 26, 2018, are a major step toward getting autonomous vehicles onto the streets of California, the nation’s self-driving car hub.

Autonomous vehicles may well be the quintessential symbol of the AI age. Cars are a major part of our daily lives. A self-driven car is a concept that requires little explanation, something we can all grasp.

It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of an autonomous vehicle driving us around while we read or sleep would have felt like the stuff of science fiction. Having such experimental vehicles coursing through public roads in Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh and Phoenix is concrete evidence that our smart machines are achieving human-like intelligence, raising a number of important questions: How long before autonomous vehicles are all around us? How will they impact our lives? What unintended consequences might we have to deal with? What should be done to ensure that they arrive as safely and smoothly as possible?

The March 1 issue of The Economist discusses these and other important areas, starting with the assumption that we will overcome whatever technological hurdles may impede us now. But there are wider economic, social and public policy issues to be explored. What can we learn from the transition to horseless carriages in the 20th century that can be applied to the transition to driverless cars?

At the turn of the 20th century, big cities were grappling with the growing volumes of horse manure and the diseases spreading from thousands of dead horses. By comparison, cars seemed clean and hygienic, and promised to provide safe and fast transportation — key reasons why they were so quickly embraced.

Cars granted enormous personal freedom and changed the world in unforeseen ways. But there were heavy societal costs. Just like cars were first viewed as a fix for the problems caused by horses, people are now looking to autonomous vehicles to help address problems brought about by cars, especially accidents, pollution, and congestion.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from 2015. More than 2.4 million people were injured in 2015. Ninety-four percent of serious crashes can be linked to human choices and errors. The Economist notes that about 1.25 million people die, and another 20 million to 50 million are injured, in road accidents around the world each year. It’s the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.

Autonomous vehicles promise to reduce these numbers drastically. Even at this early stage, there’s evidence that these vehicles are considerably safer than human-driven cars. Moreover, safety is the highest design priority for autonomous vehicles because to succeed they will have to be almost infallible. While people tolerate deaths caused by human drivers, they’re much less likely to do so when no humans are driving.


Electric cars are much cheaper to run than gasoline-powered versions, so most autonomous vehicles will almost certainly be electric, especially those used as robotaxis, a market that will demand low operating and maintenance costs. This should help reduce harmful emissions, particularly in high-density urban areas. In addition, electric vehicles are quiet, helping to reduce noise pollution.


It’s less clear how autonomous vehicles will help reduce congestion. Computer- controlled vehicles should be able to optimize routing to ease congestion. Over time, they should be able to travel more closely together than human-driven cars can, thus increasing road capacity.

In just a few short years, autonomous vehicle technologies have advanced from the phase of “not sure it can be done” to “it’s just a matter of time.” Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Uber Technologies Inc. and just about all auto companies are developing autonomous vehicles. But, there’s still a ways to go before the technology is ready for mass deployment.

“A fully autonomous car must solve three separate tasks: perception (figuring out what is going on in the world), prediction (determining what will happen next) and driving policy (taking the appropriate action),” explains The Economist.


Autonomous vehicles use a combination of technologies to perceive the world. These include cameras, radar and lidar — a method that creates a high-resolution 3-D map by using pulsed laser light, measuring the reflected pulses with sensors. These technologies have strengths and weaknesses that complement each other. Cameras are cheap, for example, but cannot measure distance. Lidar provides fine detail, including distance, but is expensive.


To predict how the objects around it will behave, an autonomous vehicle must first identify those objects — such as other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, road signs and so on. The hardest things to identify are unanticipated objects such as debris, roadwork, broken-down vehicles, and accidents. Rain, snow and puddles can also confuse an autonomous vehicle. Once objects are identified, the vehicle has to predict how they will behave in the next few seconds and then determine what actions to take.

Driving actions.

Autonomous vehicles are at a considerable disadvantage compared to human drivers, who are used to dealing with exceptions to the normal flow of traffic. In the near future — even as technologies continue to advance — it’s quite likely that the vehicles will need to ask for human assistance every so often. Humans providing assistance will likely be in central control rooms with access to all the data the vehicle is receiving. They will be able to direct the vehicle or even to take control and guide it remotely, to get around problems.

Advances in machine learning will be a great help, especially as autonomous vehicles can learn from each other’s data and experiences. Over time, there will likely be road lanes and entire areas dedicated to the vehicles, which will coordinate their actions.

The Economist predicts that self-driving vehicles will be initially deployed by fleet operators, not by individual owners, for two main reasons. First are the high costs of technology and a required support structure. These costs can be amortized over a fleet of vehicles in use almost all the time but don’t make financial sense for an individual likely to use the vehicle just 5% of the time. In addition, local governments may limit the use of autonomous vehicles, at least initially, to dense city centers and other specific areas where they would be used widely. That’s fine for a robotaxi but not for a private car.

Autonomous vehicles will have a profound impact on the auto industry. Car markers will have to reinvent their business models, perhaps to sell rides, not cars, The Economist says. Such a shift could open new opportunities. Whereas the car market is worth about $2 trillion a year, the market for personal transport is significantly bigger, perhaps as much as $10 trillion a year.
That’s why it’s attracting a number of new competitors, including big technology companies.

People who drive taxis, delivery vehicles and trucks are threatened by self-driving vehicles. But it’s quite possible that their jobs will be redefined rather than eliminated. Truck drivers, for example, could oversee platoons of vehicles traveling on highways, The Economist speculates.

Regulating complex, high-impact and rapidly evolving technologies is hard. Policymakers should work closely with autonomous vehicle firms to develop new safety standards, issue guidelines, and permit limited testing on public roads. But they should wait for evidence that the vehicles are safe before approving widespread deployment.

“A century ago cars raised fundamental questions about personal autonomy, freedom of choice and mobility,” writes The Economist. “Driverless cars present an opportunity to forge a new and better trade-off between personal mobility and societal impact. But [autonomous vehicles] will deliver on their promise only if policymakers — like passengers climbing into a robotaxi — are absolutely clear about where they want to end up.”