Autonomous Cars: More on the Pros, Cons, and Competition

The Automated Vehicle Symposium tracks the state of the driverless vehicle, examining the pros and cons of autonomous cars.

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It’s really interesting how people can pounce on an idea and love it 100% and then defend it to the hilt. This is often the case with technology investments, cars and the value they generate. Talk to anyone who has just bought a new car, a new camera, mobile or piece of software.

I caught some snippets of news this morning on my NPR app. One of them was that the White House is getting together with large corporates who are committing to reducing climate change. I love it.

Meanwhile back in the jungle they are flat out trying to sell more cars by adding cool features. The autonomous car is a great way to get more people into cars, because you don’t even need to know how to drive, the car will do it for you and you can use it as your mobile office.

I’m surprised Bose or some other audio giant hasn’t already come up with the perfect audio environment that allows you to appreciate your favorite music in ways that you never imagined possible, in your little cocoon that puts you in the appropriate state of mind to your destination, whether that be on the way to work, sport, hoe to see the kids, or simply to have a nap. In fact even if you have nowhere to go, hop in your car and go for a drive just to listen to the latest track from your favorite artist. It’s like radio with pictures. Want some urban music, drive through the hood, want some Vivaldi, go for a country drive, you’ll love it as the only sound is those perfect strings as you drive through a park covered in fall colored leaves.

A great thought of the day at the Symposium which I’m sure will be popular, related to a reduction of the parking problem. The problem being both finding and having to pay for a park. In some areas car park pricing is being increased to stop you using them and to force you to consider other modes of transport, such as cycling or catching a bus.

Your autonomous car could drop you off at work and simply drive home, coming back to pick you up at the end of the day. Fantastic, no more parking problem!

As Philipp von Hagen from Porsche pointed out, that will double the number of trips. Imagine if a large percentage of cars take their, frequently single occupants to work, then turn around and clutter the highway, going home again to park, causing an equal amount of traffic congestion in both directions.

Interesting that they are suggesting that at the same time as the US Government is saying let’s act on climate change. These cars run on energy. Energy could be petrol or diesel, or it could be electricity. How is that electricity generated? Coal, nuclear power, is any of it it green?

So the car park problem is solved, but our cities are not designed to have a massive number of cars waiting in line to pick up their occupants.

Think about what it’s like at the end of the day when thousands of parents arrive at schools to pick up their children. They clog up roads, car parks and pretty much shut down areas such as the business park where I work, waiting for their kids to wander over from their last minute gatherings.

Now how about we have even more cars coming to pick us up from the office or workplace, all jockeying for position (no road rage of course because they are driverless). They can notify us via our smartphones when they arrive, but what if we aren’t ready? What happens to the 200 cars behind mine when I get to the bottom of the stairs (I need my exercise) and realise I have left my laptop behind and have to go back to my desk? Sorry 220 cars that are now waiting and the 220 people waiting for them, jostling to see their car, like international passengers at an airport waiting for their bag, which is identical to the one that 10 other people also own, I’ll be back in a sec.

We are in a situation with urban population growth soaring and the latest contribution in driverless cars, could be to double the number of daily trips those cars make on roads that are already congested. That’s great foresight.

Of course the car could be equipped with a microwave and the whole family could come along for the ride. Turn the front and back seats to face each other with a table in the middle and we can save time by eating our evening meal in the car while listening to our Bose sound system, playing table music. We got our family time back!

Of course there are hurdles to overcome, for example, taking four trips a day (maybe 8 if the driverless car drops off and picks up the children from school each day as well) puts extra reliance on range and if the car is electric, it might not be able to recharge in time between trips, but there is always the potential for induction charging from the motorway barriers. It could be cost effective because they won’t be going very fast. Of course someone has to pay for those, I guess that’s us, the taxpayer, because we want better transport systems.

I’m getting tired of all this. I’m going to catch a bus today. I will thank the driver for taking responsibility for my safety and catch up on a few emails. Maybe some more stories about driverless cars.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti. I love the idea of a driverless taxi (sorry cabbies), or driverless Uber. I love the idea of a driverless bus shuttle taking me to the main line. I love the driverless trains at Narita Airport. I even love the sushi in Tulsa (sorry wrong song). I just wonder sometimes if people think the whole story through.

Today there are thousands of people around the world saying “They’ve solved the parking problem. I read it in the paper, it must be true! What a relief.”

See on Scoop.itLocation Is Everywhere

About Luigi Cappel

Writer for hire, marketing consultant specialising in Location Based Services. Futurist and Public Speaker Auckland, New Zealand
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