Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The age of the robot car

Fast Company looks at the possible impact of robot cars in the near future:
But a world filled with robot cars may have consequence even their creator can’t predict. Driverless cars would be a perfect match for car-sharing services such as Zipcar or Getaround, gradually replacing the idea of car ownership with “mobility-as-a-service.” That, in turn, may lead to a precipitous fall in car ownership--as high as 50%--while breathing new life into suburbia and creating more congestions as the pain of commuting lessens. And what would halving the number of cars on the road mean for the Detroit Three--and the taxpayers who’d like the rest of their bailout back?
Interesting,  though the author is clearly a city boy.  Robot cars have their advantages and I'd love to see them perfected, but they sound very much like an urban phenomenon for people for whom owning a car in central London is like being given a dead albatross complete with neck rope.   Out where I live, the car isn't just a taxi that I happen to own; it's a hauler (my 4X4 is legally classed as a truck), emergency vehicle, people transport, dog transport, and a key element in the Szondy family disaster planning.   What to do if the balloon goes up?  The three-day packs are in the Blazer. Furthermore, I live on a mountain, so some cyber-Prius isn't going to cut it if the road up gets icy.  And then there's the fact that if I do order a roaming robot car with my smart phone, "around the corner" is at least seven miles away.  Also, I sincerely doubt if these would be built with travelling any distance in mind. 

The most chilling point is found in the last paragraph:
Perhaps in the future, they will socialize on smart phones in driverless cars. 
Oh, Lord, they'll want me to socialise.  Exactly the thing I've spent half a century trying to avoid.  No, thank you.


eon said...

As usual, the soi-disant socialists who dream of this overlook the obvious. Namely, that if there is no incentive for people to own cars, there is no incentive for manufacturers to make them. Once the car makers go out of business, who supplies the robot cars?

Of course, they could be made by a government monopoly, which gives the Googleistas wet dreams just contemplating such absolute command-and-control, I'm sure. Never mind that a government-made car is more likely to resemble a Moskvich than a Lexus, in both aesthetics, reliability, and whether or not it actually obeys the Central Computer. (Another of their wet dreams- see "Colossus, The Forbin Project" for what those dreams look like. And yes, they enjoy them.)

Also, what happens if their centralized, "rationalized", command-and-control mass-transit system gets hacked- say, by radical environmentalists who just hate technology and people, period? Imagine a crowded expressway, as in "Minority Report", suddenly turned into a 200-MPH demolition derby, as the deep-ecos play bumper cars with one-ton "toys"- with people inside.

While the Googlites are smiling their vacant, Partridge Family smiles and dreaming of hegemony, others are dreaming of destruction. And counting on the Googleists to make their dream possible.



Ironmistress said...

eon, a government-designed car does not necessarily mean a Moskvich.

It may also mean a Volkswagen.

Etatism is not necessarily Socialism, it may just as well be Fascism. The good news is that Socialism does not work. The bad news is that Fascism does.

antiplato said...

This might just be the common-sense talking, but presumably the companies that loan people these shared cars would purchase the vehicles and compete on quality. Just sayin'.

Wesley said...

Why is it that people who love statism so hate for others to have private property rights?

Ironmistress said...

Wesley, you might ask Mr Hitler and Mr Mussolini about that. They both insisted that every family would own a People's Car. In Hitler's case it was VW Beetle, in Mussolini's case it was Fiat 500 Topolino.

Wesley said...

Ironmistress, both societies sure had a lot of choice, didn't they? (You want your Beetle white or smog-stained white?)

Ironmistress said...

Wesley, the modern Environmentalist legislature is the direct legacy of Nazi Germany. They had the strictest environment protection laws around.

As they had the strictest animal rights and anti-smoking policies as well.