Stoking the juggernaut’s engine
Waiting at rush hour for the light to change on Speen Street, I sat and watched as hundreds of vehicles sped past me on their way to the Massachusetts Turnpike and home.
It was Friday evening and the passing cars and trucks seemed to be driving extra fast, with a kind of mass single-mined determination to conclude the work week in a hurry.
Strangely, and I know all of us at one time or another have witnessed the same thing, every vehicle had but a single person inside, the driver. Somehow it seemed like a waste of resources and time and money, but then again, I was alone in my car. Got me to thinking what this same scene will be like when all of this traffic is driverless.
That same evening an article from the Financial Times popped up on my computer screen: Auto industry: Look no hands. The sub-head read: Robotic cars offer untold advantages but they might not be enough to convince people to give up driving.
Three quotes and a baker’s dozen of points of interest, all worthy of further driverless musing, jumped out at me from the article. I jotted down the quotes and turned the points of interest into bullets. There’s a future tale here of a looming juggernaut that, when it finally arrives, is going to change everything in a very big way. As the old saying goes: May you live in interesting times. Indeed.
First the quotes:
?It was Google?s demonstration of its self-driving technology in 2010 that brought serious attention. That event put a rocket up the industry.?
?Andy Palmer, Nissan?s head of product planning
?Driverless cars will be on our roads by 2020. But there?s a storm brewing … Who exactly will be responsible if someone gets killed??
?Mike Woodward, automotive partner at Deloitte
?It?s a new world. There are many things that have to be solved. [But] we?re absolutely committed to the technology.?
?Alan Mulally, CEO Ford
Then the bullet points:
- It took a database company like Google to shock the automotive industry into action
- Americans who commute by car spend about 50 minutes a day at the wheel
- The average American spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic
- Cars spend more than 90 percent of their lives idle
- Saved time will enhance an individual?s productivity
- The end of traffic jams
- Automated cars could organize themselves more efficiently, navigating the streets in tight, fast-moving formations
- Diving closer together in narrower road lanes at constant speeds, autonomous cars could pack themselves far more tightly into the same amount of road space
- One of the ways to prevent cars from crashing is to take the human out of the equation
- More than 1M people are estimated to die on the world?s roads each year
- Automated cars may still struggle for social acceptability: ?People are not comfortable with robots killing them.?
- 65 percent of people in UK liked driving too much to want an autonomous car
- ?People will not buy robotic cars, they will subscribe to them.?