Numerous car, tech, and ride-sharing companies are currently developing driverless vehicles that would allow passengers to set a destination and let the car navigate itself. But some scientists think these vehicles will lead to an increase in sex work.
New research published in the journal Annals of Tourism Research says, “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.”
Researchers say that as cars become more automated, their interiors will likely be redesigned to accommodate other activities like eating, sleeping, TV watching and sex — all things people can enjoy when they don’t have to pay attention to the road.
Thus, in the future, a person will be able summon a sex worker in a mobile bedroom just as easily as they can currently summon a ride-share, like an Uber or Lyft driver.
Related: Should sex work be a crime?
Lead researcher Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the U.K. University of Surrey, said, “Particularly in cities where the governance is in place, where prostitution is legal, and regulations allow [self-driving cars] to develop fast and be on roads quickly, we could see this come together rapidly. Europe is one of those places.”
He added, “It’s not impossible or that far-fetched to imagine the red light district on the move. Prostitution doesn’t need to be legal for this to happen. Plenty of illegal activities happen in cars.”
While this might sound far-fetched, an estimated 60% of Americans have already had sex in a car. And as ride-sharing apps have become more popular, so have tales and videos of people having sex with their drivers.
In short, people are already having sex inside of cars. Future technology will simply make this easier, paving the road for all sorts of new conundrums about how to regulate sex in self-driving cars.