We’ve known for some time that the Google geeks were working on cars that could drive themselves. Lasers, cameras and radar work together in Google’s system to, well, drive a car with no human help. According to Google, it’s working: This week, Google celebrates 200,000 miles of computer-led, accident-free driving. (Reports that a self-driven car had been involved in a fender-bender last year were misguided; a Google computerized car was involved in an accident, but it was being driven by its human driver when it crashed.)
This is the kind of development that seems set to change the way we get from point A to point B. Imagine a highway full of cars driving themselves: They could drive closer together, at higher speeds, and with better fuel efficiency, and they could react to danger faster than a human driver ever could. We’re not there yet, but Google is bringing this dream a little closer to reality.
All this makes us wonder again who thought it was a great idea to sink billions of the public’s dollars into high-speed rail projects. Why drive to a train station, park, pay for a ticket, wait, hop on a train, sit for a while, then hop back in a car or other train when you get close to your destination, when you can just take a nap while your self-driving car carries you safely—and directly—to your destination?
One day—and Via Meadia hopes that day will come sooner rather than later—we won’t need trains for human transportation. One day, self-driven cars will be all over our roads, safely and efficiently taking us to a desired location. One day.
And then what will we do with all this legacy high-speed rail infrastructure?