There won’t be any car guards or street vendors at traffic lights in 10 years’ time. There won’t even be speed humps or traffic lights.
In the UK in the late 1800s, the ‘red flag law’ required that a person walk ahead of ‘self-propelled vehicles’ waving a red flag, ostensibly to warn pedestrians and horses. A speed limit of just over 3 km/hr was also imposed on ‘road locomotives’ in cities. In reality, these obstacles were there to inconvenience those first motor car drivers into giving up their offensive monstrosities.
Instead, hundreds of thousands of horse grooms and coachmen eventually had to find new jobs as cars replaced carriages and carts.
Protesting taxi drivers in Mexico City recently attacked Uber drivers and smashed their vehicles in an attempt to prevent them from competing with conventional metered cabs. Whether we like it or not, our world is also changing drastically.
Technology developed from testing Google’s self-driving cars has been so radical that autonomous vehicles will likely revolutionise road traffic the way that the early car did.
Vehicles on ‘auto pilot’ will no longer speed illegally and will rarely collide, so we won’t need speed cops, speed traps, tow trucks and panel beaters. Flexible capacity passenger vehicles will travel safely at high speeds so we won’t need minibus taxis – or taxi drivers. And because they will travel fast, they will spend less time on the roads so less tarmac will be needed to carry the same number of people: fewer people involved in road-building.
The same vehicle will take the kids to school, mom to work and dad to do the grocery shopping, so middle class families won’t need more than one car. In fact they won’t need any car at all, they will just summon a community pool car.
Fewer cars on the road means fewer cars need to be manufactured, so less steel, glass, plastic and fuel will be used. Fewer components need to be made, and the few vehicles that do need to be made, will be made by robots. Autoworkers jobs will be cut. Vehicles will dock and refuel, and service themselves: no pump jockeys, workshop technicians. No car parks at shopping centres, so no car guards. No traffic lights, so no vendors at intersections.
Drastically reduced fuel consumption. How will this impact the oil producers in the middle-east and the lobbyists in the USA?
Car owners in South African cities will have to adjust to this new mode of transport just as taxi and bus passengers will benefit from a faster, safer, more comfortable and reliable service.
But, people whose work depends on the current road transport paradigm will have to start adapting the way that they think about jobs and re-skilling themselves starting …. Now!
No more need for traffic cops
And if that is the impact that self-driving cars will have on the transport industry, what will happen in other sectors, like logistics and freight? What will happen in your sector?
Time Magazine recently ran a story suggesting that a child born today could typically expect to live to over 100 years old. You might yourself reasonably expect to live ‘till you are at least 80. That’s well over a decade past ‘retirement age’, maybe 20 more years navigating a brave new world.
Rhymer Rigby author of The Careerist, explains that to future-proof your career you will need to become a lifelong learner: keep up to date, what you know today will really be ancient history in a decade’s time. Make a habit of keeping in touch with the latest developments in your field, be it engineering, law, finance, politics, medicine. Expect constant change and be resilient and adaptable: few future jobs will have a fixed job description. The old rule about ‘who you know’ will be truer than ever: network actively beyond your current career and workplace.
So, how will you future-proof your career to ensure that you will be able to work for as long as you want to work?
first published in SME South Africa
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