Self-Driving Cars Will Transform Cities, But Could They Make Things Worse?

For those dreaming of a world filled with self-driving cars, the future looks great — but it may not be great enough.

The biggest shift that may result from self-driving cars is an end to widespread auto ownership, with taxis taking their place. The idea is that a driver's wages are what make taxis expensive. Without drivers, then, taxis could become cheap and ubiquitous. There will be no need to own a car because it'll be more cost effective to just summon one whenever you need it.

We're already headed down this road, with Uber revealing this week that someday its entire taxi fleet will be self-driving.

An Uber taxi in New Delhi, India. Someday, taxis like this may be automated.

AP Photo/Saurabh Das

Right now in the United States, the average cost of owning a car is $8,876 per year. American drivers pay 59.2 cents per mile. And that's just the cost of the car itself; if you buy a home with a garage or rent an apartment with a parking space, you're also paying more for housing so you can own a car.

The promise of self-driving cars is that these costs would disappear, or at least shrink.

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