It’s not often that we have breaking news here in the Throw Forward Thursday studios. But today I’m thrilled to say that we can exclusively announce that there will be driverless cars in the future, hang on a minute. Sorry, I’m just being told that everybody knows that. Okay, well, we’d better go further into the future then, because if everybody knows that driverless cars are coming, then what about the next step after that?

You see if a few cars on the road are driverless. If you have a driverless car, and your neighbour is a driverless car. You get into the traffic, you can sleep on your way to work or wherever you’re going in your car, you can read a newspaper, do your make up, whatever the case may be. Well, that’s just cute and interesting, you know, if somebody else drives past, you sort of take a double take and says, oh, my word and you realise, oh, it’s a driverless car. Well, I mean, it’s interesting, it’s made your life more fun. Well, I don’t know if it’s more fun because you’re not driving the car and some of us enjoy driving. But, you know, it’s allowed you to send your kids off to school without needing the parents in the car – and that’s going to be a big one, isn’t it? It’s allowed you to maybe drive further to work because you can actually do work in the car and so little change our lives, but it won’t change the world.

So actually, today it’s not driverless cars, it’s a system of driverless cars. What I really mean, it’s compulsory driverless cars. That’s what’s going to change the world. When driverless cars are not just here, but they are compulsory. If every car, if every truck, if every lorry, if every bus, if every taxi can speak to every other vehicle on the road, then between them, they can do something that we can’t do as human drivers. Those vehicles can come up with the best traffic patterns for the moment, because those vehicles cannot just tell each other where I am and what I’m doing right now, they can actually indicate the entire journey. And then a kind of hive mind of vehicle artificial intelligence can come up with the optimised system so that every car can get to its destination in the fastest way possible. And not just speed, but also safety, because ultimately every traffic accident is driver error. I mean, almost all of them. And so, if the vehicles can tell each other if something is about to happen, if a wheel is coming off, or a problem has emerged mechanically in the car that can be declared to the whole system and all the other vehicles can know what’s going on, and safety is improved dramatically. Efficiency, speed of moving through a traffic system and safety are probably the two most important factors of any traffic system. And if we can dramatically improve both of those features, then most certainly this is something that we are all going to want and even demand.

So, this is not about waiting for the government regulations to come in place, it’s not waiting about for everybody to be comfortable and be able to afford this. I think that the general society around the world is going to push towards a system of driverless cars. In other words, driverless cause being compulsory. I think it will go with different speeds in different parts of the world. I think it will roll out in small pockets. So, in Germany, I can see it on the Autobahns, in London, I can see it on the motorway, M25 in particular, or maybe even in the congestion zone inside London.

I can see it across the whole of Singapore, for example, or in my home country, I can see Cape Town, the city centre of Cape Town, just saying you can’t come in here unless you switch on the driverless mode and get into the optimised safe system of this driverless ecosystem. So, Throw Forward Thursday this week is taking a piece of technology that we already know is coming and we can see the benefits of, and pushing our thinking to what would happen if it became ubiquitous.

By the way, that particular process of thinking is very, very useful in many other parts of a future scenario, planning and thinking, taking something that in a small part of your market or your business at the moment and asking what would happen if it became ubiquitous and everybody used it. Throw Forward Thursday we’re suggesting this week that driverless cars are coming, but they will be compulsory for every vehicle on the road. And when that happens, everything changes in terms of how our traffic systems work and function. And that changes where you work, where you live, where your kids go to school, where and how you go on holiday, commute times, etc. etc. It changes the world.

We’re in the middle of a mini-series on transportation, so next week I’m going to extend your thinking and I’m going to suggest that there might be no longer whole travel anymore. It’s not what you think. Come back next Thursday for more details.

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I’ll see you next week in the Throw Forward studio.

Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.

For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.

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