Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Mon December 07 2015

How Driverless Cars Could Mean Huge Losses For Airlines and Hotels

Business Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | December 07, 2015

How Driverless Cars Could Mean Huge Losses For Airlines and Hotels

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

If you are the airline industry, the advent of self-driving cars means losing a large chunk of customers who value transportation to relatively close destinations.

Consider for a moment what the amazing innovation gets you as a consumer. A large swath of stress is immediately erased as you can worry about things that matter and forget all of the traffic that passes outside your car’s window.

But one thing you might not have considered and an important aspect that is raised in a recent Dezeen article is the fact that self-driving automobiles immediately impacts airline travel and the hotel industry.

Instantly, sleeping in your car would be the norm and something that isn’t just relegated to those sitting shotgun in a car.

Dezeen spoke with Sven Schuwirth who is the vice president of brand strategy and digital business at Audi.

Schuwirth opined on the impact something like self-driving cars would have on the industry, which as it turns out is no less than revolutionary.

Schuwirth tells the publication: “In the future you will not need a business hotel or a domestic flight. We can disrupt the entire business of domestic flights. I think that vision is probably 20 years from now.”

Schuwirth explains that as collisions fall to essentially zero, the need to have huge, hulking cars that have one safety device after another becomes superfluous. The car itself begins to morph into what could really be a temporary tenement on wheels.

The Audi executive continues: “There will be a steering wheel in case you decide you want to drive but you can get rid of the steering wheel and maybe the chairs somehow change so it's not the standard sporty chair, but it's more like a sofa or a bed. The entire space inside of the car will definitely look completely different.”

Imagine a world wherein, as Schuwirth states, “Your car wakes you up at four o'clock in the morning, picks you up and drives you autonomously the entire way from Munich to Berlin. You can sleep, you can prepare for your meeting, you can call your friends and family, do whatever you want and you enter Berlin in a very relaxed mood.”

Now consider how this exact scenario affects the hotel and airline industry at large. Travelers who would normally fly out the night before and check into a hotel for a business meeting taking place hours from their respective home would opt to just drive, arriving as refreshed as they would have had they left hours earlier and suffered through TSA and other airport scenarios.

The good news for those industries is there are a couple decades of lead time to prepare for a scenario that might be, however implausible as it may seem, a foregone conclusion at this point.


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