What are the most interesting economic opportunities that exist adjacent to autonomous vehicles? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Chris Heiser, Co-founder and CEO of Renovo, on Quora:

One opportunity is the service economy that needs to exist and support the AV industry. What happens when someone leaves something behind in the car, when someone spills coffee on a seat or when a sensor gets dirty? Today fleet vehicles have human operators that do dozen of things in addition to the driving function. It's not economically viable to automate all of this. There is an entire support infrastructure that will need to exist to keep these cars functioning and operating optimally. There will need to be teams of people needed to fill these needs. It could possibly be a gig economy.

Another opportunity is expanding the modal nature of transport. Today's cars are really optimized around driving, but they don't have to be. Instead of staring at your smartphone, you could see vehicles devoted to specific activities you would otherwise be interested in. Sleeping, working out, a movie theater, a meeting room. What you are doing in the car can be an entirely new opportunity. It's not just about transportation, but more about what you can do while being transported.

But probably the most substantial economic opportunity is the data that will be generated by AVs. It's a good idea to think about an AV as a data collection device where all the sensors come for free--because you need them for the basic AV function. This data "exhaust" has value, unlike the physical exhaust that comes from tailpipes.

But the data volume is massive; a few thousand AVs generate as much data per day as Facebook does, but the quality and continuity of that data is unlike anything we've seen before. This data can do a nearly unlimited number of things from helping smart cities, enabling new businesses, and even improving occupant wellness and personalization.

The data generated by the AVs will become the next great business opportunity--by some estimates, $500B/yr by 2030. Imagine a world where the amount of money made per mile from data is higher than what is made by transporting you. Would that even be a transportation network? Or would it be a data network that has a byproduct of transport?

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Published on: Oct 14, 2019