Autonomous Cars

Feel free to drink and drive

daimler benz autonomous car
Commuting could be a lot more comfortable. Source: Daimler

When Morgan Stanley updated its list of American companies it believes will play a significant role in the transition toward autonomous driving last May, some investors scratched their heads. Tesla, the manufacturer of electric cars, was the only carmaker that made it into “The Shared Autonomous 30.”

Instead of GM, Ford or Chrysler, the bank’s hot stock picks included companies like sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings, alcohol giant Constellation Brands and other firms that have little to do with mobility. According to the analysts, those companies will see revenues skyrocket when drivers no longer have to mind how much they drink. Even Domino’s Pizza made the cut: Morgan Stanley analysts reckon the restaurant chain’s labor costs will significantly decrease when autonomous vehicles enable driverless deliveries. And this could happen sooner than many think: Domino’s is already doing tests in Michigan with Ford.

Morgan Stanley’s report is essentially a bet on the cities of the future. Self-driving vehicles will bring about many more changes than just transportation. There won’t be a need for taxi drivers in cities anymore. And instead of roadsides clogged with parked cars, there will be more space for playgrounds and sidewalk cafés.

Autonomous driving will bring about a lot of disruption in our lives far beyond the confines of mobility, just as smartphones did to communication a decade ago. Touchscreens gave rise to entirely new industries, while other business models went by the wayside. Driverless vehicles will have similar effects, though so far we’ve only had a vague inkling of what’s coming. “That’s why, when it comes to autonomous driving, politicians should think less about the car industry and more in terms of the whole system,” said Steffen Braun, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering. “There are great opportunities for Germany.”

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