Driverless cars are going to disrupt much more than just the auto industry.
While the advent of autonomous vehicles will have obvious effects on car manufacturing and auto insurance, it will also shake up several sectors that on the surface don't seem directly correlated to the technology, CB Insights reports. Driverless cars will probably create significant challenges for most of these industries, but for others, the phasing out of human drivers will lead to massive new opportunities.
Here are five sectors CB Insights has singled out that are set to be transformed by autonomous vehicles.
1. Fast food.
Believe it or not, 70 percent of sales at McDonald's come from drive-thru customers, Bloomberg reports. When people enter their destination into a driverless car and press "go," they'll be less likely to change course mid-route to grab fast food. Why? When it's just as convenient to go anywhere for food as it is to go to McDonald's or Burger King, people will likely choose fast food less, CB Insights notes. On top of this change, fast food locations near gas stations are also likely to attract fewer customers, as driverless cars will probably refuel when they're not transporting passengers.
2. Media and entertainment.
Freeing up people from operating motor vehicles will present consumers with new blocks of time to read the news or enjoy entertainment. This will create opportunities for broadcasters to send video content to screens inside driverless cars and for advertisers to serve location-specific ads about products and services passengers will be near on their trip.
Hotels that derive a significant amount of business from single-night customers during road trips are set to lose a lot of business. Why? It's likely that many travelers will simply decide to sleep in their cars rather pay for an overnight stay. To be sure, it may take 20 years or more for this to become commonplace, but the roadside motel seems like a less viable business proposition as driverless cars take over.
4. Real estate.
When commuting substantial distances to work in a car becomes less of an inconvenience, property values will likely shift. Instead of the highest values concentrated in urban areas, home values will likely spread out more evenly across cities and into suburban areas. Parking garages and other spaces built around human drivers may also be converted to serve other purposes, as autonomous driving technology gradually reshapes city planning.
Though most people prefer flying to driving due to the quicker travel time, shorter flights will likely see a drop in customers. The convenience and lower cost of sitting in a driverless car will begin to appeal more to people who don't want to go through the hassle of waiting in line at the airport, going through security, and paying for ground transportation once they've arrived at their destination.
It's unclear which of these industries will be hit the hardest--or soonest--by driverless cars, but if your business is directly tied to providing a service that might become less convenient as drivers adapt to autonomous vehicles, it's probably time to start thinking about how to adapt your model.