The era of the autonomous car is coming, and it’s coming quickly. While some experts in the automotive industry believe the autonomous car will not be available to the public for another 20 years, companies like Audi, Google, and Tesla have other plans. Audi plans to put their autonomous technology on select 2017 models which is scheduled to be released sometime in August 2016. In March, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, announced he would have software available to Tesla owners that would allow them to use an auto-steering function. While this software update is basic, some experts in the industry believe that there are far too many problems to solve before autonomous vehicles are here to stay. Let’s explore what you need to know now about this release:

1. We Get More of Our Lives Back

With the average commute in the U.S. being 51 minutes, we will get approximately four years of our lives back. This opens up a number of possibilities for drivers to be more productive, whether it be doing work, catching up on sleep, or online shopping during their commute. Purchasers of autonomous vehicles will have more time to view emails, search the web, buy new products, and see advertisements all around them. With autonomous cars, vast digital marketing experience will present itself. These purchases and search patterns can be tracked to help companies tailor their marketing campaign to capture this new segment.

2. Increase in Global Revenues

With more time to be productive on the commute to work, we can expect to see increases in revenue globally around $422 billion a year!* This number assumes that every person has a job and commutes to work daily, but this potential upside in the global economy is astonishing. Now everyone will be given an opportunity to work while on their way to work, becoming more efficient with their day. The extra time saved from autonomous cars could potentially lead to a shorter work week, and give people the incentive of a long weekend by choosing to be highly productive on their daily commute.

3. Big Data Will Follow Us Everywhere

Think about this: You wake up in the morning and as you prepare for your day, your car already knows what time you will be leaving, where you are going, and the best route to take to get you to your destination as quick as possible. The car starts before you get in it, turns the air/heat on to your desired temperature, and plays your favorite Sirius XM station. Soon enough, our cars will know our schedules better than we do. These cars will see driving patterns that will lead to new roadways and stores being located in more opportune places. The scope of big data just got much bigger, but will become so tailored and predictive in the years to come that we may never have to manually adjust anything again.

4. Global Internet

In order for autonomous vehicles to become a monopoly in the automotive world, roads will have to become information highways. Self-driving cars rely on networked data, and a connection to internet 24/7 will be a necessity. What happens if the internet fails? The need for reliable, ultra-high availability, and highly secure internet is being developed by Elon Musk in one of his other ventures, SpaceX. This advancement means much more than just helping create a network for autonomous vehicles to drive within. A second-by-second update to the car’s system will be vital for many purposes, and will be heavily reliant on a strong Wi-Fi connection everywhere.

5. New Maps

One large question that will always loom in the back of our minds as drivers revolves around safety. As car manufacturers will put plenty of testing into their self-driving cars, Nokia, the Finnish communications company, is working on creating the most advanced set of hi-definition maps to ever be created. These maps will have to know exactly how far the curbs are from the car, where every single hill is, and have the most real-time traffic updates. These maps will interact with each car to lead them to their destination by taking them to their most efficient route.

So What’s Next?

All of the new digital possibilities for autonomous vehicles seem to be intertwined with the Internet of Things (IoT) with “everything talking to everything”. Soon enough, car windows will become interactive where children can use them as educational and learning tools. Each and every car will be able to communicate with each other, tell us when we need to go to the grocery store, re-buy certain products, or even remind us of a promotional event. This day is quickly approaching. Here’s to a more automated lifestyle!

*Business Insider: Autonomous Cars May Save The US $1.3 Trillion Dollars A Year, 9/12/2014