Autonomous Vehicle View – 11/03/14

[Note: This is a biweekly round-up of some of the articles on autonomous vehicles that elicited commentary from this author. Note, with all the buzz about autonomous vehicles, this list isn’t comprehensive.]

Depiction of V2V in urban area - image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.
Depiction of V2V in urban area – image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.

Riding my bike yesterday in a neighborhood bypassed by the relatively new wealth generated by the tech companies of Silicon Valley, I spotted an elderly woman standing (no benches) at a bus stop. It was in a somewhat isolated, industrial area that hasn’t changed much in 50 years. From wherever she came from, it had to have been a hike, particularly for someone who looked like she was in her eighties. For people like her, autonomous vehicles that provide near on-demand service and point-to-point delivery from home to destination cannot get here fast enough.

Less Need for Public Transit with Smart Vehicles? 

Even if the opportunity of packing more cars in a dense space isn’t as productive as it could be, there will still be opportunities to reduce the number of cars and lower the cost of transportation by robo-ride sharing. In this way, an on-demand, public transit to the door-step could potentially be lower cost than today’s public bus systems. A simple model is given in this article I wrote about how life might be affected in 2040 by the autonomous vehicle.

Some Voters Are Already Thinking About the Future:

In Florida, an important election tomorrow on whether to fund traditional fixed line transportation. Opponents are using the prospect of autonomous vehicles as an argument that investment in traditional public transportation could be a poort investment, given the prospects of autonomous vehicles.

Succinct Article on Why Autonomous Vehicles Will Be So Disruptive

This article is a great summary of why autonomous vehicles are potentially an even bigger disruptor than the Interent. They will change the way we all live, work and play. Amongst other things, it makes a strong argument for a shift from owning to using cars. Think Uber without the driver.

Self-Driving Cars Potential for New Prosperity:

Great insight and references, as usual, Michael. It is going to require new way of thinking. In some ways, this shift in thinking will have to be like the one that telecom has had to make going from sort of a fixed mindset of Time-Division-Multiplex with fixed paths to Internet Protocol and multiple routes. Those who stay the course will be saddled with infrastructure that doesn’t allow their regions to remain competitive.

Autonomous Vehicles and Their Potential to Strip Away Our Privacy:

Privacy and security may be two of the most serious challenges that need to be addressed for autonomous vehicle success. The metadata that will be generated from a person’s interaction with an autonomous vehicle will be enormous and valuable. Monetizing the metadata might even be more valuable than the transport aspect of autonomy and that’s why “Internet” companies may be able to disrupt the traditional automobile market with an autonomous “Transport as a Service” offering. Think autonomous Dial-a-Ride those who remember Silicon Valley’s early public transit offering. Thanks Michael Reber for pointing out this post from the World Economic Forum.

Brilliantly Simple Idea for Creating Next Generation Road Lanes:

Brilliantly simple, magnets embedded in the pavement to help keep autonomous cars correctly positioned. This is the sort of thing that could create dynamic lanes allowing adjustment of supply based on demand at a given time. Thanks Michael Reber for pointing out.

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