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In a chat not long ago with me, an influential GOP member of Congress pooh-poohed self-driving cars based on the idea that people wouldn’t be interested in the technology. Voters like their pickup trucks! Apparently this politician didn’t know any parents with teenagers getting ready to get behind the wheel. Certainly some polls show consumer concern.
But I recall someone who rode in a driverless car with great initial apprehension, which later turned to boredom since the car drove like it had downloaded the brain of a driver’s ed instructor. Actually I think the phrase “grandmotherly” may have been used.
To the above point, some relevant analysis from Ben Evans:
Electric and autonomous cars are just beginning – electric is happening now but will take time to grow, and autonomy is 5-10 years away from the first real launches. As they happen, each of these destabilises the car industry, changing what it means to make or own a car, and what it means to drive. Gasoline is half of global oil demand and car accidents kill 1.25m people year, and each of those could go away. But as I explored here, that’s just the start: if autonomy ends accidents, removes parking and transforms what congestion looks like, then we should try to imagine changes to cities on the same scale as those that came with cars themselves. How do cities change if some or all of their parking space is now available for new needs, or dumped on the market, or moved to completely different places? Where are you willing to live if ‘access to public transport’ is ‘anywhere’ and there are no traffic jams on your commute? How willing are people to go from their home in a suburb to dinner or a bar in a city centre on a dark cold wet night if they don’t have to park and an on-demand ride is the cost of a coffee? And how does law enforcement change when every passing car is watching everything?
Anyway, this great Axios chart gives a feel for just how seriously global companies are taking the technology, as well as the many complex linkages between them.