Driverless cars are coming. Not that long thereafter, it will be illegal for humans to drive cars on public roads as too dangerous. This will be a mixed blessing:
- They will drastically reduce accidents. Computers are not distracted by texting, fighting children, drowsiness, alcohol, worry, road rage, shapely behinds, eating, shocking news on the radio, phone calls, heart attacks, epileptic seizures, orgasms…
- Computers have pre-planned rational strategies to deal with every contingency including ice, oil slicks, a mattress falling off the truck ahead, a lion on the roadway…
- Because of their microsecond reaction times, cars will be able to drive much closer together and in narrower lanes. This means the same roadways will pump through more traffic reducing congestion. Without such intelligent cars, there is no may to reduce congestion. There is no more land to build roads.
- Because driverless cars sense with ultrasound, radar, infrared… and because they can talk to other cars and to traffic control, they can drive safely in foggy, snowy and icy conditions.
- You will be able to sleep, read, have sex, watch movies, work, talk on the phone, browse the Internet… as you travel. It will give commuters more free time.
- It will not be up to you to find a parking space. Your car will know where one is and park itself, perhaps quite far away from where it let you off.
- If you want, you can allow others to use your car while you are not using it, perhaps for a fee. You may sign up for a service like ZipCar where you have access to a whole fleet of various sized and special purpose vehicles.
- Car insurance will eventually become very inexpensive, both for liability and collision.
- Children, the elderly, drunks, irresponsible teens, disabled people, people with mental illness or dementia all can drive safely.
- Special vans can be used to deliver packages without requiring a driver. This will reduce the cost of catalog/Internet shopping.
- Cars will do less stop and go driving since they can anticipate what other vehicles are about to do. They will drive to satisfy fuel efficiency not road rage efficiency.
- Since cars are communicating constantly about road conditions, they can avoid congestion, and obstacles always picking the currently optimum route.
- All cars will be able to act as taxis, delivering children to school or music lessons.
There is a downside too:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)
- With cars more convenient than ever, the numbers will rise and the number of trips will rise. Even if the cars are electric, this will increase net energy use. This is the killer. We need to be thinking about how to reduce passenger-miles not increase them.
- Taxis will disappear. It will be up to people at the end points to load and unload and deal with disabled people.
- Public mass transit will wane.
- Because it will be safer to drive faster, cars will drive faster, thereby reducing fuel efficiency and encouraging even more optional trips.
- Cars are not very efficient. They use rubber wheels and combustion engines. Ideally we should be using rails, electric power and cars that travel bumper to bumper to reduce wind drag, more like a automated railway than an automated highway system.
- Because commuting will be not quite so onerous, you will find people commuting and polluting three hours each way to work.
- Because of CO₂ emissions, the gas-powered driverless cars will be obsolete before they are invented.