The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Driverless Cars And the Transportation Revolution

Technologist Brad Templeton has a few thoughts on how driverless cars might revolutionize modern transportation (h/t Alexis Madrigal). Think on-demand robo-taxis which are much more fine-tuned for the task they’re used for. The key insight:

If one can hire a cheap specialized “robotaxi” (or whistlecar) on demand when one has a special automotive need, car users can elect to purchase a vehicle only for their most common needs, rather than trying to meet almost all of them—or to not purchase at all.

For example, for many, most trips are short, have only one passenger and do not require significant cargo room. Almost nobody purchases a vehicle good only for that purpose, because they want to cover the occasional needs for long trips, taking extra people, carrying cargo, towing or going off-road.

The article teases out what these cars might look like as a result, and how they might impact the design of our infrastructure. Read the whole thing, and then think about what a white elephant California’s $68 billion-and-counting high speed rail system is likely to be.

Published on September 29, 2012 3:00 pm