The rise of the self-drive vehicle (SDV) is inevitable and I, for one, and quite happy with this. Having spent the last couple of weeks commuting back and forth along the I-76 beside the Schuylkill River in and out of Philadelphia I am quite sick to death of the pointlessly aggressive driving habits of the average driver. The sooner we have computer controlled cars that communicate with each other the better. However, in conversations over the last few months, my own view to be quite the opposite of just about everyone I know. I seem to be the only one (at least in my circle) who sees that a networked set of vehicles will reduce traffic congestion, reduce environmental impact, be more efficient in getting us where we want to go, reduce stress and, in the end, be safer.
I also think we aren’t thinking big enough. For example, this technology could, if we have the foresight, result in redesigned vehicles with, say, rearward facing seats for safety. It could even finally dispense with the need for personally owned vehicles.
Imagine the efficiency on a national level if whenever we needed a vehicle we just called it up from the local “hive” of automatic cars, trucks, and minivans and our specialized vehicle came along in a few minutes, took us and our passengers and cargo to where we wanted to go and then went back to the collection of available vehicles for immediate re-use. There would be fewer vehicles on the road and even fewer parked up rusting unused for 22+ hours a day on driveways and full parking lots. That has to be a better world for everyone.
My vision is summed up by this wonderful Philly street sign I saw earlier in the week – we have one way to go logically – a sort of “super Uber.”
But, unlike many drivers I have seen just this week, will we adhere to the road sign…?