market-ticker.org / by Karl Denninger / 2017-07-26
Prediction: Within 10 years every single airline will be reduced to carriers that operate routes consisting entirely of flights of more than 1,000 miles, most over water.
Because self-driving cars.
The long-haul trucking industry is going to get it up the pooper first, simply because of the cost of tractors. Self-driving vehicles there are a moderate cost increase and they eliminate the nut in the cabin that makes mid-five to low-six figures and as such they pay for themselves in a single year. You will still have drivers for the local segments but the automation will hook up and run the trailer from Terminal A -> Terminal B, where it will automatically undock and drop it, instantly deleting 80% of the truck drivers in the economy.
But as the cost comes down to where the additional cost gets under $5,000 — and it will be a while before the hardware and software is that cheap, probably 20 years or so — the airline industry is finished.
Look folks, most cars today can be retrofitted as the automakers have moved to electric steering assist (as opposed to hydraulic) for fuel economy reasons, every engine is DBW (no mechanical link between the throttle and pedal in the cabin) and brake systems now have both retardation and application available via the ABS pump which is routinely used for both since it does traction control as well. They’re four-channel too, unlike the brake pedal which is one-channel, which means they can be more-efficient than even a highly-skilled driver in terms of stopping ability. (As an aside a highly-skilled driver can beat the ABS-n-mash-pedal mode; I can quite-handily outperform these systems in crap conditions, but they’re a vast improvement for the “slam on brake” crowd, which is most people. But no driver with a one-channel system can beat a 4-channel system that is applying, rather than retarding, the brakes.)