Self driving vehicles could lead to ‘mobile brothels’ that drive to client’s houses – and raise ‘genuine security fears’ terrorists could use them to carry out attacks
- Researchers warns the technology will lead do ‘mobile red light districts’
- Warns of ‘the potential for terrorism’ as self driving cars will ‘likely be able to travel unoccupied into crowded urban areas’
Self driving cars are set to have a huge effect on commuters – but will also dramatically change other businesses, a new report has warned.
Academics from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford say the advent of autonomous vehicles will affect everything from red light districts in major cities to restaurants and hotels.
They also warn of potential for terrorism facilitated by autonomous vehicles (AVs) also raises genuine security fears.
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A Waymo self-driving car is seen during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View. Academics from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford say the advent of autonomous vehicles will affect a huge range of industries.
The study, published in the Annals of Tourism Research, predicted AVs may be spotted on our roads as soon 2025 and could lead to far-reaching impacts on urban tourism.
‘The visitor economy will be gradually transformed if AVs become fully automated and mainstream, ‘ said Professor Scott Cohen, Head of Tourism and Transport at Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
He predicted ‘a future where hordes of small AVs could congest urban attractions, hop-on hop-off city bus tours may go out of business altogether, motorways between cities could fill at night with slow-moving AVs carrying sleeping occupants and commercial sex in moving AVs becomes a growing phenomenon.’
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The report predicts ‘hotels-by-the-hour’ are likely to be replaced by self driving vehicles, which the team refer to as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs).
‘This will have implications for urban tourism, as sex plays a central role in many tourism experiences,’ it says.
‘While vehicles will likely be monitored to deter passengers having sex or using drugs in them, and to prevent violence, such surveillance may be rapidly overcome, disabled or removed.
The report predicts ‘hotels-by-the-hour’ are likely to be replaced by self driving vehicles, which the team refer to as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs)
‘Moreover, personal CAVs will likely be immune from such surveillance.
‘Such private CAVs may also be put to commercial use, as it is just a small leap to imagine Amsterdam’s Red Light District ‘on the move’.
The potential for terrorism facilitated by self driving vehicles also raises genuine security fears, the researchers say.
‘CAVs may also threaten the security of those outside them,’ the team wrote.
‘While the recent death of a pedestrian in the US, who was struck by an experimental Uber CAV, gained widespread media attention, there is also the potential for terrorism facilitated by CAVs, which will likely be able to travel unoccupied into crowded urban attraction areas.’
Potential benefits include reduced traffic congestion and emissions, improved foreign car hire processes, reduced parking requirements and cheaper taxi fares, the researchers say.
They also highlight that tourists who rent cars often struggle to drive in new countries.
‘The risk of jet lag, fatigue, misunderstanding new driving rules, and cultures of mobility could be minimised.’
Potential benefits include reduced traffic congestion and emissions, improved foreign car hire processes, reduced parking requirements and cheaper taxi fares, the researchers say. Pictured an early prototype Google self driving car
More time spent in cars on longer journeys could facilitate greater urban sprawl and increase car dependency, it predicts.
AVs may reduce demand for train travel, coach tours, public transport and driven taxis – all resulting in future job losses.
Professor Cohen, Head of Tourism and Transport at Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said: ‘This groundbreaking study will benefit urban planners, policy makers and the tourism and hospitality industries, who will face a range of threats and opportunities as AVs begin to reach the mass market in the coming decade.
HOW DO SELF-DRIVING CARS ‘SEE’?
Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and depth-sensing ‘LiDAR’ units to recognise the world around them.
In LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanning – which is used by Waymo – one or more lasers send out short pulses, which bounce back when they hit an obstacle.
These sensors constantly scan the surrounding areas looking for information, acting as the ‘eyes’ of the car.
While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time.
In November last year Apple revealed details of its driverless car system that uses lasers to detect pedestrians and cyclists from a distance.
The Apple researchers said they were able to get ‘highly encouraging results’ in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data.
They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR.
Other self-driving cars generally rely on a combination of cameras, sensors and lasers.
An example is Volvo’s self driving cars that rely on around 28 cameras, sensors and lasers.
A network of computers process information, which together with GPS, generates a real-time map of moving and stationary objects in the environment.
Twelve ultrasonic sensors around the car are used to identify objects close to the vehicle and support autonomous drive at low speeds.
A wave radar and camera placed on the windscreen reads traffic signs and the road’s curvature and can detect objects on the road such as other road users.
Four radars behind the front and rear bumpers also locate objects.
Two long-range radars on the bumper are used to detect fast-moving vehicles approaching from far behind, which is useful on motorways.
Four cameras – two on the wing mirrors, one on the grille and one on the rear bumper – monitor objects in close proximity to the vehicle and lane markings.
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