Driverless cars will lead to more sex on the road, study says

Driverless cars will eventually change the way people have sex.
Driverless cars will eventually change the way people have sex. Copyright Maciej Toporowicz, NYC Getty Images
By Alyssa Newcomb with NBC News Tech and Science News
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"It is quite likely that autonomous vehicles will lead to prostitution, whether legal or illegal, taking place in moving autonomous vehicles in the future," said one researcher.


Driverless cars will have a transformative impact on the future, shaking up certain industries and changing the way people live and work. They're also going to change the way people have sex, according to a new study.

With the relative privacy of a car, and no need to pay attention to the road, sex on the go will likely be common with the widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles, according to a new paper published in the journal Annals of Tourism Research. The study reviewed papers on self-driving cars and cities to identify future trends around how self-driving cars will reshape the tourism industry.

"This is something that seems to have stimulated interest," said Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, who led the study.

Around 60 percent of Americans have already had sex in a car, noted the survey. But with driverless cars, it's more than just couples who might want to sneak in a quickie while on the go. Cohen said autonomous vehicles could become a new venue for sex tourism.

"Sex is a part of urban tourism and commercialized sex is part of that too, so it is quite likely that autonomous vehicles will lead to prostitution, whether legal or illegal, to take place in moving autonomous vehicles in the future," he said.

Cohen said he predicts sex in autonomous vehicles likely won't become a reality until "the 2040s." In places where prostitution is legal and where regulations support the advancement of technology, "those two strands will come together," putting sex tourism on wheels.

Sex tourism was just a small part of the paper, which doesn't address the additional questions that will need to be answered about safety and sex tourism. As autonomous vehicles become a mainstream reality in the future, it's also likely they'll be designed for a range of activities from sex to sleeping and dining.

"Hotels will be affected in the future, particularly roadside motels," since people will just sleep in their cars as they travel, Cohen said. He added that people may be more likely to choose a less expensive hotel outside of a city center, since they can rely on their self-driving car to get them where they need to be, with little effort.

There will be job losses in industries linked to transit, including taxis and hop-on, hop-off bus tours, Cohen said. Even restaurants may get burned. Dining pods in self-driving vehicles could replace some restaurants, he said, allowing tourists to go on dining excursions.

Sex, technology, and privacy have always been closely intertwined, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor of law at the University of South Carolina.

However, by the 2040s, when the majority of time Americans spend on the road will be in driverless vehicles, people might simply "be too engrossed in virtual reality sex to care about what's in the car," said Smith.

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