Auto Manifesto

February 14, 2013

Why Google Wants to (and Should) Drive

The big picture issue I see is that so many things in life are becoming secondary activities to our connectivity.  This new world consumes an ever growing share of a limited resource – attention; taking people to a state of mind that is distinct from their physical presence.  In the early stages this took place in front of a desktop computer.

With the wide availability of mobile communications, companies whose growth is predicated on consuming more and more of this attention are increasing their ubiquity.  The car is a logical extension of that because of how much time people spend in them.  It’s not really about driving or cars.  It’s about gaining users’ attention as much as possible.  The potential attention of 320m people x say 45 minutes/day x 365 days/yr (approximately 87 billion hours per year) has some very large value attached to it.

It seems the battle isn’t about who is building or selling the vehicles, but who has the customer’s mindshare while they are in transit.  Autonomous vehicle technology is a means by which to transform motorists from drivers to connected passengers.  It also has the potential to provide huge societal benefits in terms of mobility, safety and the environment.

I recently saw a survey (don’t remember where) that ~70% of auto industry executives surveyed believe it was in the 5-10 year range before we see significant deployment of autonomous vehicles.  So maybe in 15 to 20 years we'll see autonomous vehicles widely deployed in some regions.

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