Business Insider (BI) claims that it will take decades before autonomous driving will really take off and produced a flashy video to make the point. Are they right?
[businessinsider.nl] – Zelfrijdende auto’s? Dat duurt nog decennia volgens experts: dit is de reden.
Yes and no.
BI is talking about autonomous driving for individuals, replacing a traditional privately-owned car by a privately-owned autonomous driving car, fit to master all circumstances, the old-school car can end up in. THAT model is indeed NOT ready for prime time.
However, there is an alternative, public rather than private, approach to autonomous driving. The slowly evolving model. Here for instance is a map of all highways in the Netherlands:
These roads are well-maintained, with uniform, well-defined infrastructure, have no traffic lights, are all at least 2 lanes wide, connecting all larger cities. How about seeing these roads as virtual railway tracks for vans, like these:
Autonomous driving technology is meanwhile advanced enough to have these kind of vans, driving up and down these major roads in the slow lane, at say 80 kmh, with no overtaking. Just follow the truck in front of you. Start with one road, as an experiment, for instance the A2, between Amsterdam and Maastricht, via Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Roermond. Wannabee passengers can buy a ticket via the internet and download it onto their phones. Every seat has a door of its own, to be opened via the bar code on the phone. Vans start and stop at well-defined bus-stop-like passenger platforms along the highway, that are accessible with regular bus services. Passengers-in-waiting can track their van. The fleet of transport vans are owned and maintained by private companies and are to be seen as public transport. This is a perfect way of acquiring experience with this technology and help it to evolve further.
This is of course a model, the BI yuppies with their business cards, stock options and strict time schedules hadn’t thought about, because they would look down upon such a model. Isn’t that socialist, yuck?!
However, this model would very well realize the incredible valuable promise autonomous driving entails, namely affordable, fine-grained private mobility, without the necessity of actually owning an expensive car and congesting a parking place in the city for 95% of the time.
Yes, our BI business yup at 100 kmh (max. speed in Holland), alone in his leased business car would overtake grandma Jansen in her 80 kmh van, she shares with 8 others… but she would be reading a book, where he is wasting his time with staring at the bumper of the lease-vehicle in front of him, owned by another BI business brat. And she is sharing the cost with 8 others, but only during the time she actually sits in the van. Per kilometre, she pays up to ten times less than the yup and has valuable, stress-less time for free.
Autonomous driving is about getting the ball rolling and not about waiting for some imaginary “Level 5” 100% solution from the start. The solution is step-by-step, incremental.
Sorry Business Insider, no cigar.
[deepresource] – “By 2030 You Won’t Own a Car”