Sramana Mitra: What is your estimate in terms of timeframe when self-driving cars becomes legal on the road?
Craig Powell: I’ll go cliche here. Everything we think is going to happen fast actually tends to be five years longer than we think. My guess is probably somewhere between 5 to 15 years. I still think we’re still way out from the American psyche truly trusting self-driving vehicles. The early adopters and technologists like myself and many of your readers will be on the early adoption of that curve. But for my parents in rural Missouri, I suspect there will be a lag before they’re willing to turn their life over to a computer.
Sramana Mitra: I have a different read on the timeframe. It’s not clear to me that governments are going to allow that. This is not something you can just do, right? You need approval. There’s going to be some regulatory bottleneck.
Craig Powell: That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought about that. The regulators tend to look more like my parents.
Sramana Mitra: I don’t know how much you’ve researched on the economic impact of self-driving cars. There’s going to be an unbelievable disruption in terms of job losses and so forth. Governments have to take into account how the economy is going to cope with something that disruptive. They have to do something taking into account those perspectives and not just jump in without thinking it through.
Craig Powell: In terms of taxi cabs and Uber drivers and that end of the service market.
Sramana Mitra: Not just that. There’s a huge population of people in the world who make their living by driving. If you take that whole thing out and the number of cars drops dramatically on the streets, then the car industry also is affected.
Craig Powell: I think that’s where they misunderstand who that end user is. Truck drivers do a lot more than just drive that truck. Drivers have to unload that truck and account for the inventory.
Sramana Mitra: That service is already provided on the point of delivery.
Craig Powell: My point is what might be an efficiency in one aspect in the economy will open up opportunities in another aspect.
Sramana Mitra: All right. Thank you for your time.