Linklist: January 17, 2012

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Kottke sends me to: Koushik Dutta - Google+: The Unintended Effects of Driverless Cars :

"Google has been working on driverless cars for a few years now. The obvious selling point is that the cars will be much safer without a human behind the wheel.

Currently, a car spends 96% of its time idle. Compare that with planes which spend almost their entire lifetime in operation/airborne. Idle planes aren't making money, and they need to recoup their hefty $120M price tag. There is an unforgiving economic incentive to make sure it is always in use.

The proliferation of driverless cars will have a similar effect. Cars will spend less time idle: why would a household buy 2 (or even 3) cars, when they only need 1? Ride to work, then send the car home to your spouse. Need to go grocery shopping, but your kid also needs a ride to a soccer game? No problem, a driverless car can handle that.

What will begin as households cutting back to a single car, will expand. Why would a family need an entire car to themselves? That's crazy! It may start as extended family in the same area sharing cars, then neighbors sharing cars, and then entire apartment/condo complexes in cities offering driverless cars bundled into their HOA/rent.[2]

The operating percent of a car will go from 4% to that 96%. But back to my leading statement: there are unintended consequences. Parked cars will be a relic from the past. What happens to car insurance prices if a driver is no longer part of the equation? And if cars are receiving 20 times more actual use, that would imply that there would be 20 times less cars sold.[1] This is the kind of disruptive change that can reshape the automotive industry. The recent GM/Chrysler bailout may have been for naught.[3]"

Kurzweil notes: A French autonomous car:

"French researchers have developed a self-driving vehicle, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

IFSTTAR, a French R&D organization, and the Embedded Electronic Systems Research Institute at ESIGELEC, an engineering school in Rouen, are developing autonomous vehicle technologies to help test automotive safety systems.

The researchers modified a Renault Grand Espace by adding a “robot driver” to  control the exact trajectory, speed, and behavior of the vehicle and compare the performance of different safety systems.


JW sends me to Technology Review: Join the Mobility Revolution with These Five Apps Uber, Waze, NextBus, Avego, Progressive Insurance

1 Comment

I am skeptical about the 96% usage. All the adults in my family expect to choose when to go somewhere and not wait for the car to drive home. Even if the car does drive better than me, I would not send my kids out without parental supervision. While I think self driving is revolutionary, I am less convinced that it can keep my kids from being exposed to all kinds of non-driving hazards.

I would add that most people would have their cars drop them off at the front door at work (sending there car to find cheap parking) or at the New Vikings Stadium (reducing Ziggy's parking revenue), but also increasing traffic congestion since the value of time equation changes greatly when you are not in the car.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on January 17, 2012 10:08 AM.

Cities or Solitude was the previous entry in this blog.

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