Auto Manifesto

January 3, 2008

Advantages of Autonomous Vehicles, Part II

Further exploring potential benefits of autonomous vehicles, aside from the tremendous safety and energy benefits that would come with their use, there will be increased transportation access. The young, the old, the disabled, the poor, and even those who don’t speak or read English can safely travel. It’ll be like having a taxi, chauffeur, or train station every where you go.

Why would someone have to be 16 years old to decide they want to go somewhere by automobile? Similarly, why should someone who’s mentally sound at 90 years of age not take a trip by car, even though they may not be able to drive anymore? The same goes for the disabled.

As for those who don’t speak or read English, road signs and signals can be transmitted directly to the vehicle in any number of languages. The technology to do so, I believe will become far more prevalent in the coming years as there is more and more interaction between people from many different parts of the world.

Vehicle packaging and styling will see limitless new possibilities open up that can’t be done with today’s constraints. You’ll never have to park your car again. It’ll park itself. Cars may not have windows or glass at all. Video screens could show the outside when you want to have a look. Engines, driveshafts, transmissions, fuel tanks, may be totally obsolete. Even tires and wheels may not be recognizable as we know them today. And on and on and on.

It may take many decades but I firmly believe it will happen, perhaps in 30 to 70 years. The future is very bright, and it just may take an oil induced crisis or two in the nearer term to spur development of a fully automated road network.

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