In the future, cars won't just be a way to get from A-to-B, they'll be social hubs.
Services like Lyft Line and UberPool have taken off in recent years because there's demand for less expensive rideshares. People appreciate the convenience of getting picked up at their front door and dropped off at their destination.
Not only is it easier than hopping a train or catching a bus, but as autonomous vehicles replace human-driven cars in existing taxi and rideshare services, it'll become cheaper too. And as the cost for door-to-door transit falls, autonomous ridesharing could completely replace public transit.
As this unfolds, the social landscape of our cities will change too. There are many differences between public transit and ridesharing, but perhaps the most important is that cars—as an environment—are more intimate.
We all do it when we get into a shared ride: We offer a greeting, either to our driver or a fellow passenger. Sometimes a conversation develops, sometimes it doesn't. Either way though, we acknowledge the people we're riding as though they are, well, people. It just feels wrong not to.
Right now, there's just barely enough demand to make ridesharing possible. But as it becomes the modal transit choice, something beautiful is going to happen: We will no longer match just for a common destination, we will begin to match on other preferences as well.
This is going to unlock a richer ride for consumers, but it also presents an opportunity for brands to get into the car too. Suddenly, social services like Tinder or Wiith will have a lot more room to play. Each shared car becomes a microcosm of human interaction that can be branded not just to offer you a ride, but a personalized experience.
Going to the game tonight? Why not grab a beer with a fellow fan in a CarBar?
New to the area? Get to know your neighbors by commuting with Block Party.
Still looking for the love of your life? Your "one" may, quite literally, be right around the corner in a Harmonic Convergence.
Maybe you just want to expand your social circle. Summon a Social Drive and you'll be matched with a recommended rider based on shared interests imported from your social media.
Trying to get your foot in the door with a new company? Sign up for LinkedIn’s next competitor, Vignette, which does one better than connect you via email; it actually puts you face-to-face with people in your desired industry.
Don't worry, if it's been a long day at the office you can always request a Paper Shade to match with people who also want a little peace and quiet on the way home.
If a café is more your style, make your way over to a nearby Coffee Stop where you can step onto the next gentle autonomous bus fitted with baristas and barstools. This fresh take on public transit circulates slowly in dense urban communities to allow effective use of the now relatively empty streets reserved for autonomous traffic. In essence, these lumbering giants will offer a dynamic form of real-estate that can be used for restaurants, storefronts, or live performances; it’s a whole new kind of food truck.
Of course, the hyper-segmentation offered by a burgeoning autonomous transit system won't be limited to simply matching people with people. People can match with things too.
Tired of coming home to "Delivery Attempted" stickers littering your door? That's a problem of the past if you subscribe to Rendezvous, a car service that makes sure your packages arrive home with you.
Is it your turn to cook dinner tonight? Never mind the supermarket, just place your order for fresh produce with FreshCart.it by noon and, at 5 o’clock, your groceries will pick YOU up.
As these changes take hold, car branding will likely shift away from thematic references to adventure (e.g., Ford’s Explorer, Nissan’s Pathfinder). Instead, it will become more geared toward the service or experience (e.g., Coffee Stop, Block Party).
These are just a handful of easy to imagine examples describing how big data and social media are going to change the way we get around. No longer will we choose Lyft over Uber because surge pricing is less ridiculous for our particular destination; we’ll choose based on how we want to spend our time getting there.
Moving forward, it may be more useful to think of the car as a social medium rather than simply a means of transit. Although these exact services might not make it into a future rideshare with you, there is one thing we can count on: Brands will be built around promised connections with the people, products, and experiences we crave on the road.
- Aaron Snyder