Self-Driving Cars and the Coming Urban Transformation

Featuring Robin Chase

Driverless car technology is expected to add at least $7 trillion to the global economy in the next three decades. But at the same time, it could devastate the auto industry and related businesses, and cause huge new problems for city governments. Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar, provides the inside track on how self-driving cars could impact our world. Filmed on March 8, 2018 in New York.

Published on
11 April, 2018
US Economy, Technology, Equities
25 minutes
Asset class


  • GO

    Greg O.

    23 4 2018 11:03

    1       1

    Good video but I have following comments for RVTV:
    1. Please cut down on that "fancy-flashy" editing, quality programming does not need distractions.
    2. When are you going to learn that there really needs to be (inteligent) interviewer present, someone that thinks during the interview and can ask additional questions or kind of challenge the interviewee. Examples below:

    I have nothing bad to say about the guest of this presentation. However there are things in this (and others similarly) presentation that should be easily asked about or flat out challenged (again, that's why you need that interviewer) i.e.:
    1. Shared driving vs public transportation. Isn't the latter the example of the former? And isn't the "old" car rental business the example of that too?
    2. Gas is already taxed so we pay for driving and polluting already (one of many failed arguments)
    3. Car manufacturers would still need to manufacture the cars, driverless or not. They could make up the drop in production (if any) by higher margins
    4. The perceived drop in demand for cars is also questionable if not flat out wrong. By increasing utilization rate of shared cars, you're increasing heavily amortization rate (wear and tear) and ultimately pace of substitution. Also, as more and more electronic "gizmos" get installed, there will be a constant pursue for the newer and newer cars. Even more so in shared cars than in non-shared technology
    5. One could argue that proving self driving cars is going to allow people to do so much more... So you forget about the basic fact, that when driving (self or not) you still need to spend that time transporting and absolute majority of the populations can't do their jobs/professions while in a car (autonomous or not). Yes there are some nuances but there is also a public transportation (including old school taxis or ubers and such).
    6. It is one thing to come up with a product that is capable of something (self driving car), it is entirely different for a wide spread adoption. I think the guest is overconfident (typical of any "insider") on how quick the change will be. Perhaps that "very important person that shall remain anonymous" she mentioned is not wrong thinking it will take some time. Otherwise it's like thinking that AirBnB will make hotels obsolete or food deliveries to your door will shut down all restaurants.

    Another interesting guest, but as I said before, for a true interview or quality presentation you really need good inteligent interviewer present. Unless RVTV is jumping on the same bandwagon and going down the road of "self-interviews"...

  • Jc

    Justin c.

    20 4 2018 18:08

    1       0

    Good piece and I like these Discover themes.

  • RT

    Rune T.

    20 4 2018 04:56

    1       2

    Never met anyone over the age of 35 who likes the whole "sharing" economy... however many young ones love having permanent "parent" aka. government and large corporations who can guide and direct their lives....personally... I'll keep my gas guzzler and my perceived freedom of driving myself - and happily pay for it.

  • ML

    Mark L.

    19 4 2018 06:35

    3       1

    Thank you to all RealVision subscribers for keeping your comments civilised, respectful, insightful and positive. I now read all comments for the videos I watch because of this. There seems to always be something to learn from the comments section as well..whether it's posing interesting questions, other viewpoints or links to article. So a Thumbs-up to Robin and another thumbs-up to you good people.

  • F

    Floyd .

    16 4 2018 23:13

    2       0

    some interesting points and suggestions,the Utopian world stuff was a bit much but like her spirit!

  • RS

    Richard S.

    16 4 2018 21:41

    3       0

    Many of the comments here seem to assume huge changes in behaviour. It would be interesting to see some modelling of the impact once even a small % of the car parc is autonomous and their utilisation is high. These initial vehicles could quickly have a large marginal impact on vehicles miles driven in urban areas; a McKinsey piece a few years ago estimated utilisation at only 3% now. It only takes a small % moving to very high utilisation (additional to the existing outliers) to really drive up congestion. I think her assessment of laziness is a good one; its crazy the small orders made on Amazon (guilty!) with little thought to the wider impact this has in terms of carbon impact/ congestion etc. etc. People will be the same with their car service... I agree the 'city principles' model is important to try and ensure pricing (taxes) reduces the unintended consequences.

  • GM

    Greg M.

    16 4 2018 15:12

    1       0

    One correction is the United States Highway system was never built for the consumers, the highways were built in the 1950s for the military to deploy it's troops.

    The two problems I see with automatic cars are - 1. The vehicle encourages passivity, which is extremely dangerous. 2. The issue of maintenance because of the liability. Automatic cars are basically aircraft where parts will have to be preemptively replaced after a set number of hours or use.

    Overall, something just doesn't sit right with me with self driving cars. I think it goes to the fact I don't want to share my car with anyone and I like owning something to call my own.

    It would be very interesting to see a vigorous debate on both sides of this issue.

  • WM

    Will M.

    15 4 2018 18:28

    4       0

    The disruption that is coming to our society is going to be profound. The AI revolution of which this presentation is just a part, is going to hit us just as the Industrial Revolution did only much much faster. I am beginning to lean toward the view of a highly deflationary environment, coupled with Raoul's baby boomer declining demand feels like inflation is going to be under real pressure. Add to all of this, sovereign debt, collapsing pension system, rising international tensions and stock markets and house prices near their highs, and its all going to be a lot of fun....... not!

  • MS

    Matt S.

    15 4 2018 16:05

    4       5

    "climate bills" lol.. what utter BS.

    A "nice" place to live... ahh! Do you mean, utterly sterile, and devoid of real life? Yes I think you do!

    How about driving cars... because they give you freedom? How about, they are fun and exciting? How about, the satisfaction that comes from mastering that vehicle, becoming an excellent driver, learning about the mechanics of it? How about, racing someone at a traffic light? How about, slowing down to cruise along, whistling at the girls and them flirting back? Pulling over at the side of the road to talk to a friend you just saw walking along? Rolling with the top down, playing your favorite music? How does that work in a little shared box with complete strangers? Strangers who might rob you, rape you, stare at you weirdly or smell bad? Some selfish person playing their garbage music out loud from their phone?

    This is all just a way for Big Government to have YET MORE control over us and our God given freedoms. Take away cash and wow......... there is basically nothing they won't have their big fat tax sniffing noses in... right up you they will be.

    Made a comment on social media they don't like? How about they take control of your EV and drive you directly into a detention center? Don't think it won't be used that way.

    Orwellian doesn't begin to describe how dark the future is becoming. Why even bother moving us around anyway? Why do we "go to work"? Think of your bedroom as your office cubile... why even leave? Just a camera and VOIP, no different to being in your cubicle at work.

    Have food delivered by a drone to your house. Any medication you need dropped off. No need to exercise, just be a blob. Why even need the blob? Get rid of the blob and replace it with AI......


  • AJ

    Aaron J.

    15 4 2018 11:55

    4       0

    I know quite a few people who are employed by the German carmakers, and the mood within the working ranks is not cheery concerning the longer term future. It was reported in the German press that almost 2% of Germany's workforce are directly employed in the automotive sector, and according to Angela Merkel almost 1 in 7 German workers are at least partially involved in the sector (although this claim is probably a tad exaggerated). For the German automotive sector, it's hard to see how electric and autonomous cars will deliver a double-blow. German carmakers and suppliers excel at designing complicated electromechanical components (drivetrains for combustion engines, for example), but since most of these components are not needed for electric cars, this competitive advantage will at least partially vanish. Second, fully autonomous cars will not need to deliver a polished driver experience (steering and handling feel, braking feel, engine/transmission characteristics, etc.) which is another loss for the Germans. Finally, as mentioned in the video self-driving cars will likely accelerate the trend for younger people to not view car ownership as an important rite of passage and status symbol, as the hassle and cost of getting a driver's license may be seen as uncessary along with the cost benefits of ride sharing. Is all this one of the (many) reasons why German car-makers sport such low P/E and P/B multiples?

  • gg

    gurdeep g.

    14 4 2018 18:05

    1       3

    Reading some of the comments, and forty odd thumbs down....I can actually see why women find it hard t be taken as seriously as men in the world of investing and finance. Hopefully this will change along with self driving cars. And no i'm not the Canadian PM

  • AB

    AJ B.

    13 4 2018 14:54

    2       0

    Where are these self driving cars going to park when not in use? At 3am? I think we will continue to need parking garages.

    What if I have multiple stops and need to keep items in a car? Does the car just drive away with my stuff? Where does my rented car park in that case?

    It doesn't seems like she has thought everything through.

  • PC

    Philip C.

    12 4 2018 23:21

    1       0

    All software has bugs and the software in driverless cars will be no exception. Sometimes these bugs will cause serious accidents and kill people. Maybe there will be fewer accidents with driverless cars than those with drivers , but our legal system is currently focused on the idea that if a serious accident happens then it must be someone's fault and they can be prosecuted and/or sued. Are we able to move towards a system in which we are willing to say: driverless cars are safer on average, so nobody pays the penalty for accidents? If not, lawyers will have a field day suing everybody for accidents, and it will hold up adoption.

  • NF

    N. F.

    12 4 2018 17:49

    3       2

    Mesh networking will be revolutionary

  • AI

    Andrew I.

    12 4 2018 16:04

    6       5

    I'm so tired of these technocrats espousing values in which people can not afford. "If you are spuing more emissions & pollution into the air you should pay for it." Guess what?! If they could afford a better car, in most cases, they would have one! Another upper-class individual looking for ways to tax the poor & middle class to create their imperfect "utopia." In this case, through driverless vehicles.

    If you want to tax individuals for their contribution to global warming maybe you should start to animal agriculture, IE eating meat, which is said to account for, in some studies, up to 50% of carbon creation. NO! Let's tax the poor single mom with 2 kids instead! She'll only need her vehicle to get her kids to school & to her job.

    What interests me most is how this technology will further isolate the poor & underprivileged. In this particular article, how uber & lyft still experience issues of racism.

  • EF

    Eric F.

    12 4 2018 14:11

    4       3

    Fantastic video. very impressive woman. Great job RV.

  • MN

    Marcus N.

    12 4 2018 04:25

    7       1

    Benedict Evans published a very thoughtful piece on the second order effects of electric, autonomous vehicles last March. He posits, among many other ideas, a potential reduction in smoking, a revitalisation of rural pubs and city centre restaurants, and a whole new take on law enforcement:

    [...Finally, remember the cameras. Pretty much every vision of automatic cars involves them using HD, 360 degree computer vision. That means that every AV will be watching everything that goes on around it - even the things that are not related to driving. An autonomous car is a moving panopticon. They might not be saving and uploading every part of that data. But they could be.

    By implication, in 2030 or so, police investigating a crime won't just get copies of the CCTV from surrounding properties, but get copies of the sensor data from every car that happened to be passing, and then run facial recognition scans against known offenders. Or, perhaps, just ask if any car in the area thought it saw something suspicious...]

  • RM

    Robert M.

    12 4 2018 03:02

    5       0

    Clearly, self-driving cars will be a major disrupter at some point in the coming decade.

    I think the elephant in the room is hacking, you can let your imagination run wild as to what could be done.

    Having said that, tech companies have talked themselves up for decades across all emerging technologies. There is a huge gap between hype and the industrial roll out of a technology.

  • NI

    Nate I.

    12 4 2018 02:39

    11       4

    Where does the race to the bottom end? My clothing is only worn for nine or ten hours per day and some pieces hang in the closet for much longer. Better rent it out for the other 14 hrs because God forbid I should let that inefficiency go unresolved. Unfortunately, I'm fairly sure Robin is correct and this Orwellian nightmare will indeed materialize mostly as she envisioned it, but don't hold your breath for me to characterize it as an improvement.

  • RC

    Roslyn C.

    12 4 2018 02:01

    11       0

    I learned a lot from today's presentation. Robin Chase was engaging and insightful.

    I was surprised though she did not discuss recent deaths, safety, and accident liabilities. If my self-driving car hits and harms a pedestrian or another vehicle, am I responsible or is the manufacturer? What if a nefarious person hacks my self driving car and takes it on a joyride? Would automobile insurance be higher or lower for self driving cars? So many unanswered questions.

    Exciting technology and I look forward to learning more.

  • TH

    Thomas H.

    12 4 2018 01:07

    7       14

    If you believe what this woman is selling, then buy TSLA.

  • JW

    John W.

    11 4 2018 22:14

    1       2

    Great piece. If people figure out how to retrofit current non self driving vehicles with self-driving capabilities, the auto companies will tank much faster as demand plummets. I drive my car 7minutes to work, it sits for 10 hours, I drive it 7minutes home... If I could put it to work and it could pay for itself or make me money, sign me up...

  • TN

    Tim N.

    11 4 2018 21:47

    1       0

    Try to download the audio several times and does not go past the first few minutes without resetting... disappointing

  • PD

    Peter D.

    11 4 2018 20:16

    3       1

    Truly insightful thank you

  • TR

    Todd R.

    11 4 2018 19:12

    2       1

    So good!!!

  • rr

    rlw r.

    11 4 2018 17:01

    0       1

    Wow, who wouldn't want an autonomous auto retrieve your smart phone - awesome.

    Once the valley has them drive on water - we'll be set.

  • VS

    Vaibhav S.

    11 4 2018 14:53

    4       1

    She is freaking awesome! Great piece

  • RP

    Raoul P.

    11 4 2018 14:47

    7       1

    Wow... I just learned a lot! Love how Robin thinks.

  • PB

    Pieter B.

    11 4 2018 13:16

    8       1

    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge Robin!

  • V!

    Volatimothy !.

    11 4 2018 12:36

    9       2

    For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Less city revenue equals more taxes. Where will the money to fix roads come from? All this glitchy technology and I now need to trust my life with this. Hackers could take over a car, direct it to a dark alley where you can imagine what happens. Great opportunity for drug dealers too, with no probable cause to pull people over. Classic human behavior. We screw up and rush to fix it without thinking things through. Don't get me wrong I'm all for less cars on the streets (it bothers me seeing all these big diesel trucks hauling nothing more than ego's around), but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves again.

  • DT

    Daniel T.

    11 4 2018 12:19

    5       2

    Just wow. Thank you Robin for this insightful and energetic presentation! You got me excited and tons of ideas are going around my head... This is what I love about RV!

  • Nv

    Nick v.

    11 4 2018 11:51

    13       1

    Just brilliant

  • js

    jacob s.

    11 4 2018 10:44

    2       0

    I can't imagine how different this will make Indonesia.