If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I, for one, welcome our new self-driving overlords

Let's take a diversion away from the Presidential campaign to discuss self driving cars.

They are coming. Eventually people will not be allowed to drive on roads. Get over it. There is no ethical dilemma. It starts with something like this (a lane of a highway to test things). The lower rates of accidents and deaths will do two things: 1) it will push insurance rates for self-driving vehicles lower and 2) it will pressure politicians to "do something".

Rich people and fleets will be the first owners of these vehicles. That'll cost some jobs in the taxi/Uber worlds (eventually that's a lot of jobs, starting in big cities). Long distance truckers are also likely among the first job victims.

As the fleets grow and private ownership shrink, the jobs in the auto insurance world will also shrink. Eventually, humans will be banned from driving on public roads. That'll mean the end for most body shop workers, parking attendants, parking police, traffic police. It'll also mean the end for most of that parking ad traffic fine revenue. Courts need less judges and other people dealing with traffic violations. Of course there will be less need for lawyers. A lot fewer people working at the DMV.

As more people make the switch from owning a car to hiring a ride, there will be less cars needed. Fleets will prefer more uniform designs to simplify maintenance. Don't be surprised if body style equates to a certain fleet. With less cars and less customization, far fewer auto workers are needed.

Since robots drive better, they can drive closer together. For some roads, that'll mean an extra lane or two in the same width. Robots can drive closer together and/or faster, further increasing road capacity. There will be a lull in road construction (likely at least partially replaced by road reconstruction.)

There will be less need for parking. The fleets will need to park but they don't need to be in the best parts of town. Street parking will disappear. Partly used for pick-up and drop-off but maybe adding some wider sidewalks.

Subways will still hang around for a while but eventually, if ridership drops so much, they could be repurposed as underground expressways for the cars.

Motorcycles likely would be banned (on streets) too. They just cause too many problems. Cyclists might get dedicated roads and/or times of allowed use.

With fleet ownership, EVs with swappable batteries make more sense.

You should eventually see some "sleeper" vehicles for longer distance and overnight trips. There could be small ones for individuals or families. There could be large ones for large unaffiliated groups. The large ones could caravan to hub-spoke centers to create a virtual passenger rail line. This could lead to less air travel.

And what will replace all these lost jobs? Well, as the cost of transportation goes down, the people that do have jobs have more spending money. That boosts jobs in general. We might put more people to work fixing and restructuring our current infrastructure. I expect the transition to banned humans to be slowly phased in and telegraphed years in advance. It will not be painless for everyone. If things are too painful expect delayed transition plans. But, by then, the whole world will be moving on this path and to remain competitive, it will happen.

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