Benton Blaine Speaks with Area Development on the Disruption of Autonomous Vehicles

February 6, 2020

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In a recent interview with Area Development, McGuireWoods Consulting vice president, Benton Blaine, spoke about the disruption of autonomous vehicles – and how the industry is already present in many communities.

With over $100 billion invested in autonomous vehicle technology, the industry as a whole did a million and a half miles in 2018 – just in California. Players include original equipment manufacturers like Ford, GM and Chrysler, but also include Amazon, Apple, Google and Waymo as new entrants into the transportation industry. Autonomous vehicles are going beyond cars, using the technology in the trucking industry and as people movers, or modified buses, to move people around downtown areas.

“You have got to get in front of autonomous vehicles for infrastructure and urban planning,” Blaine said. “We’re going to have a lot fewer jobs associated with delivery drivers, truck drivers, and bus drivers. Those positions are going to shift to more of a technician role – somebody to maintain these vehicles programs when something goes wrong. That’s not a job skill that we have a very solid base of in the U.S., so we’re going to have to build it, and we need to build that quickly, ideally before we lose those traditional transportation jobs.”

The autonomous vehicle industry faces roadblocks, but there are numerous opportunities to use the technology to improve everyday life.

“If everybody or a lot of people are in autonomous vehicles, you need less police officers on the road. There are less accidents, there are less speeding tickets, so it allows your police force to focus on other and major crimes,” Blaine noted. “Same thing for EMS, if they don’t have to be overly focused on auto accidents, they can focus on proactive monitoring.”