Monday, April 04, 2016

The Down Side of Driver-less Cars

The television ads of cars braking on their own to avoid an accident or parking themselves are attractive, right? But the completed future of that promise may be a nightmare of you in a crowded minivan or paying high insurance rates to be able to drive a car yourself.

From Market Urbanism:
For those of you who expect to be sitting in your own personal car being whisked around in effortless comfort and privacy as you commute to distant suburban locations…Not quite. The true promise of autonomous vehicles isn’t about you. It’s about the larger institutions that are relentlessly squeezing costs out of the system and optimizing expensive existing infrastructure. Aging highways will be maintained by charging for their use on a mile-by-mile pay-per-view basis. Traffic congestion will be solved by having more people ride in fewer vehicles. The rich will have stylish robotic SUV chauffeurs. Everyone else will be climbing inside a fully loaded eight or twelve passenger minivan bound for the office park. And in the future you will choose this voluntarily based on price.
Here’s something else to consider. Insurance companies will become more and more influential players in the culture and economy. A few insurers are already offering customers a discount for having their cars chipped and monitored. Sooner rather than later auto coverage will be based on how well and how often a human drives. In the not-too-distant future the chips and monitoring may not be entirely negotiable unless you’re willing to pay a great deal extra for the privilege of opting out. You may think you’re a good driver, but you may quickly and expensively be informed otherwise by the authorities. That’s going to pull a lot of people off the road, especially when the gooey details of your swerving and speeding are cross referenced with local law enforcement. But the cops won’t necessarily be in squad cars. They’ll be the cars themselves. That’s coming too. And sooner than you think. Brace yourself.
(emphasis added)


MAX Redline said...

Ha! Good find, TD. And I'd tend to agree were it not for one tiny little detail: for driverless cars to perform well, the roads need to be maintained. And we don't do that here, as we're too busy building bioswales and other stuff so the politicians can point out how "Green&Sustainable" we are.

T. D. said...

So that means Portland can't be on the cutting edge. Fun to see political shenanigans boomeranging. Heh.

MAX Redline said...

Actually, Portland's a finalist for a $50 million fed grant to build "smart roads" that can "talk" to driverless cars. Someone back in D.C. actually believes that a town that can't maintain its existing roads can manage to build "smart roads".

We had a downpour over here yesterday. Sure enough, mallards claimed the larger rain-filled potholes.

T. D. said...

Interesting, Max! The upside of that may be that pot holes will soon be filled. But, I'm not holding my breath. Probably just the area where the grant funds will be spent. Then the City will whine about the need for new taxes to fill the other pot holes.