The average commute in the United States is 25.4 minutes. If the trip home takes exactly as long, then Americans spend an average of 50.8 minutes per day behind the wheel of their car driving to or from their workplace.
That’s a lot of time, and autonomous vehicles are positioned to give that time back to drivers in a big way. Currently, doing things like eating breakfast or applying makeup in the rear-view mirror during the commute is dangerous. In many places it’s even unlawful. It creates a hazard for the driver, their passengers, and other vehicle occupants on the roadway. This is one of the strongest cases for self-driving vehicles.
That extra hour could be spent doing any number of things you normally would be able to accomplish at home or in the office. For employers, this means salaried employees are more accessible. To hourly employees, it’s an opportunity to get a head start on work and clock some extra time ahead of arrival.
Vehicle manufacturers are making this easy, as well. Concept autonomous vehicles from brands like Rolls-Royce replace the typical instrument panel and steering wheel with a screen capable of displaying video content and even work-related tasks. The interior of the vehicle is being set up more like a lounging area than a traditional car.
The concept behind the Zoox autonomous taxi project includes two bench seats facing each other so the vehicle acts like a portable meeting space. Imagine being able to hold face-to-face meetings on the ride between the hotel and the conference hall, or carpooling with coworkers and getting the morning meeting out of the way before you even arrive.
Extra time to…watch ads?
This is also a win for media companies. The car has long been an almost exclusive domain for radio. Now, an autonomous vehicle will be able to become a medium for media consumption not unlike your laptop, phone, and television at home. This opens the door for cable and Internet service providers to develop more wide-reaching services that cater specifically to autonomous vehicles, enabling passengers to enjoy broadband, television access, and more — which also opens up new advertising channels.
What would you do with your extra hour? Would you spend it watching YouTube videos? Would you spend it working to go home an hour earlier than usual? Would you use it to organize your home life and pay bills or arrange appointments? You could even take nap and catch up on that extra 25 minutes of sleep you would have otherwise hit the snooze button for.
No matter what you choose to do, it’s clear that autonomous vehicles will change the way we commute.