A drunk person, a child, and a blind man get into a car. Who’s driving?
Cars that drive themselves seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, but recent demonstration projects have shown that the technology is already here. Self-driving car technology, pioneered by Google, has advanced so quickly that its ubiquitous presence on city streets is now simply a matter of time. Boosters say that mass-market autonomous cars are only three to five years away; others estimate at least 10 years. No one doubts they are coming.
But ideas about how these cars will affect cities and the environment seem to be stuck in the past. People think of self-driving, or driverless, technology as something added on to personal cars. Personal cars, however, spend 95 percent of their time parked, going nowhere, and waiting until they are needed. It’s more likely that city dwellers will view this technology as a service, like calling for a taxi. In principle, an on-demand car service could offer the door-to-door mobility of car travel without the fixed costs and hassles of owning a car.
Self-driving technology could cause a societal shift away from private car ownership and towar... Read more