According to The Conversation, one of the self-driving vehicles' impacts will be a reduction of police officers needed. Self-driving cars do not break the law, which would allow for smaller police forces dedicated to more serious crimes.
Half or more of law enforcement professionals is a large number. The latest Justice Department census reports that about 1.2 million people were employed by local, county and state police forces. Any reduction in officers would have a significant impact on local and state government budgets, which allocate about $100 billion a year to police protection for citizens, plus billions more for retired officers’ pensions and health care. Active police forces comprise 5% of all local government spending.
Reducing that spending without affecting public safety would make many politicians and taxpayers quite happy.
While on topic, Tesla's Elon Musk stated that a self-driving vehicle is "not that hard to achieve" and a "solved problem." He goes as far as predicting that humans will be banned from driving twenty years from now.
Tesla has already added some self-driving features to its cars, but is working on technology that will let the car drive itself completely. An "autopilot" mode introduced for the Model S will do things like change speed, brake, and keep you in the correct lanes using on-board sensors. The next logical step is combining that with highway driving and navigation features to let the car drive the driver. In an interview last October, Musk said models the company was working on for this year would be "90 percent capable of autopilot."
He's also gone as far as announcing that it will let anyone use the company's patented technology "in good faith."
Musk says that Tesla no longer sees other automakers' electric vehicles as its competition, but is instead focused on the millions of gas vehicles still shipping. Allowing others to use Tesla's patents — and potentially being able to use the patents of others in the future, should they follow suit — might make the electric vehicle landscape evolve far more quickly, making them more appealing purchases.
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