Thursday, August 13, 2015

No More Prisons of the Road?

From Peter Wayner
at the Atlantic come this interesting idea: that driverless cars could turn a lot of city parking lots into urban parks:

There’s plenty of research showing that a surprisingly large number of people are driving, trying to find a place to leave their car. A group called Transportation Alternatives studied the flow of cars around one Brooklyn neighborhood, Park Slope, and found that 64 percent of the local cars were searching for a place to park. It’s not just the inner core of cities either. Many cars in suburban downtowns and shopping-mall parking lots do the same thing.

Robot cars could change all that. The unsticking of the urban roads is one of the side effects of autonomous cars that will, in turn, change the landscape of cities— essentially eliminating one of the enduring symbols of urban life, the traffic jam full of honking cars and fuming passengers. It will also redefine how we use land in the city, unleashing trillions of dollars of real estate to be used for more than storing cars. Autonomous cars are poised to save us uncountable hours of time, not just by letting us sleep as the car drives, but by unblocking the roads so they flow faster.

Over at Treehugger
, they wonder whether Tesla is going to compeete with Uber using driverless cars
An Uber would clearly love to have a fleet of self-driving vehicles out there that can be hired via its app. While drivers might object to the very idea of driverless cars, the rest of us could see benefits from lower car ownership; rather than almost everyone owning a car and letting it parked 95% of the time, a single shared car could drive around dozens and dozens of people around the clock. And if it's electric, powered by clean energy, the benefit would be compounded further.

The question that arises for the next few years is: Will Tesla and Uber get together in some way or other to push self-driving cars forward? Or will Tesla decide that it has everything it needs to start its own transportations service and launch its own equivalent to Uber, powered by its self-driving cars?

There are early signs pointing in that direction.

Read the whole thing
, but one thing is clear: the era of everyone owning their own cars, having them sit empty 98% of the time, and driving around with only one other person inside the other 1.75 percent of the time, is clearly almost over.

What that will mean for our cities, our car companies, national energy use, our roads, human productivity (less traffic time) is almost beyond understanding. but this is BIG, BIG, BIG, and not too many people are talking about it.

1 comment:

jeff hays said...

I would love to invest in that, maybe too far forward at my stage of life.
I will tell you though, they will have to pry my BMW shifter out of my cold dead hand before I stop driving my own car. I live in the sticks,for any number of good reasons, and zooming down twisty back roads is one of them. Uber be damned.