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How self-driving cars will change your life





While it may seem like a bit of a novelty these days, the era of the autonomous car is fast approaching. And the implications for business, marketing and everyday life are astounding. Fasten your seatbelts.

A driverless vehicle will look very different inside.

First, there will be no need for a driver’s seat. That means the interior of cars will become modular. Seats will be able to turn into beds for long journeys. Or front seats will be able to swing around and a table could pop up for business meetings.

Or a car could convert into your mobile office complete with a desk. Commutes will become productive.

Potential configuration of a driverless car’s interior. If you no longer have to drive, why not use the time to get rid of a spare tire. There is a possibility that self-driving cars could transform into fitness pods with fitness equipment. You can do your 20-minute workout on the way to work in the morning. A boon for fitness equipment manufacturers.

There will be giant screens in cars of the future, and vehicles will be completely Internet-connected. So you can tap Netflix on the way to work. Or catch up on your favourite TV show. That means cars will be able to convert into theatre-mode seating with a surround sound immersive experience.

Cars of the future may even be built out of different materials, especially if the danger of collisions drops drastically. There might be much more window area to enhance viewing since you no longer have to keep your eyes on the road.

You will also be able to program personalized sightseeing tours. Just punch in the itinerary on the screen, sit back and enjoy the sights. That means tour operators will have to evolve and market very different services in the future.

Those giant in-dash touch screens will present huge opportunities for marketers. As a matter of fact, there will be a big corporate fight to control the dashboard of the future.

Your screen will be full of branded apps. So you’ll be able to place your order at Starbucks with the tap of an app, then your car will find the closest drive-through to pick it up.

Online shopping will increase as people will have more time to peruse their favourite retail websites as they travel. Online shipping will get more efficient, as we mentioned earlier, with self-driving delivery vehicles. Vehicles will deliver packages to vehicles.

The advertising industry loves a captive audience, and in-car screens offer a myriad of advertising opportunities. If you need to buy an item, you’ll be able to touch the screen during a commercial, your car will quickly source the nearest store and employ GPS to get there. Or send the item to your home.

The elderly and the disabled – who often lose the freedom to drive – will be much more mobile and therefore could do more shopping and traveling if they choose to.

As driverless cars free up time to work, exercise or sleep, many people will choose to drive to their travel destinations instead of flying.

As Audi Vice President Sven Schuwirth says: Your car will wake you up at 4am, pick you up and drive you autonomously the entire way from Munich to Berlin. You can sleep, you can prepare for your meeting, you can call your friends and family, do whatever you want, and enter Berlin in a very relaxed mood.

Google’s self-driving car shown during a demonstration at the Google campus. (Associated Press) Suddenly, short-distance air travel won’t seem worth the hassle or price. Which is also a big problem for the hotel industry.

People on longer drives, say from Toronto to Florida, might not stop overnight at a hotel. They’ll choose to sleep…in their car bed. It’s cheaper, easier and gets you to point B faster.

Roadside hotels and motels will suffer, because the convenience factor they rely on won’t be so convenient anymore.

And that’s a major theme you’ll notice throughout many industries: flying to Halifax won’t be convenient. Stopping at a hotel won’t be necessary.

So these industries will have to recalibrate their marketing and focus their energy on enticing customers with an experience.

Giving them something they can’t get in their car. Something that makes them choose to stop and pay extra.

That kind of thinking also poses a huge problem for the fast food industry.

With driverless cars taking you seamlessly to your destination on the fastest route possible, fewer people will detour and impulse buy at, say, McDonald’s.

Restaurants off the highway near gas stations will suffer, because driverless cars will mostly be electric. So, like a Roomba vacuum cleaner, they’ll head to designated charging stations on their own when they need to.

Domino’s self-driving pizza delivery. (Dee-Ann Durbin/Associated Press) The Tim Horton’s near the gas station without charging stations will no longer be a convenient stop.

But autonomous cars will also benefit the fast food industry.

Driverless delivery vehicles will be able to cook food in the car as it travels to your house.

This means a hot pizza will be pulled fresh out of the oven just as it pulls up to your front door. It also means fewer trips back and forth to the restaurant for the delivery car. Something Pizza Hut and Domino’s are already experimenting with.

In the future, autonomous cars will even be able to run our errands.

Whether our dry cleaning has to be dropped off or our groceries have to be picked up, we’ll be able to send our cars out to complete the tasks for us.

Say goodbye to the Honey-do list, and say hello to the Honda-do list.

It’s going to be a brand new world.

For these stories and more from Under The Influence, click or tap on the “Listen” tab to hear the full episode.

You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our Podcast.

Under The Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio – a 1969 Airstream trailer that’s been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O’Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

Follow the journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and search for the hashtag: #Terstream.

(Image Credit: Sidney O’Reilly)


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister





Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa





OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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