I have a hard time accepting that self-driving cars are on the way. I have a new Subaru with all kinds of radar that will stop itself -- I am told -- before I plow into the car in front of me while texting a pizza order to be delivered by drone.
Dominos will start delivering pizza by drone in New Zealand, and Singapore is introducing self-driving taxies, so what do I know? What I want to know: in a self-driving taxi, who do you talk about the weather with? And who smokes the foul cigar?
Search-giant Google is developing self-driving cars for those who don't know where they are going and need to search. Google will know your interests from the giant database it keeps on you, so you won't have to tell the car where to go. Google will also remember what kind of pizza you like. Someone suggested that Google cars should have "I'm feeling lucky" buttons for those who don't much care where they end up.
One of my favorite bloggers, who calls himself The Z Man, isn't sure about any of this himself.
Why would any of the car companies sign off on robot cars? There’s no advantage for them to do it. Of course, taxi fleets of self-driving cars is about the nuttiest thing imaginable as it just means the death of a number of industries, namely car makers and car insurance firms
Think about it. Your car sits unused most of the time. You take it to work where it sits all day. Then you take it home where it sits all night. You have a car for convenience, mostly. Pubic transportation, where available, is not good for running errands, going shopping or other tasks. Cabs are fine for some of it, but hailing a cab in the rain sucks compared to walking into the parking garage to get into your car. There’s a reason why rich people have car services and limos. They get the flexibility of their own vehicle with the convenience of a taxi
Now imagine that anywhere you are you can order up a Johnny Cab, having it pick you up and take you where you wish, at a low fee. All you do is pull out the phone and order it up and it comes by to haul you to work or take you to the market. It sounds wonderful, especially for old people and alcoholics. The question is, why own a car when you can get the service of a car, without having to own it, store it and maintain it?
Do a little math and you see that you use maybe ten percent of your car’s useful capacity. The hour commute to work and the hour home means two hours out of a day. Throw in some driving on the weekend and 90% of the time your car is sitting idle. Even assuming inefficiency, one care could serve the needs of five people, which means a world of Johnny Cabs is a world with about 80% fewer cars. That means 80% fewer car sales for the car makers. It also means 80% fewer insurance polices, tax stickers and all the other things that are based on people owning cars.
If you are in the car business, the plan should be simple. Buy enough politicians to kill off Uber and the robot car people. For their part, the pols should require little bribing as it is in their interest to kill the robot cars too.
Instead, all of the car makers are announcing plans to produce robot cars aimed at the for-hire business. Uber is doing a test run in Pittsburgh with a fleet of driverless cars. Like those newspaper and magazine guys of the 90s, the transportation industry is fashioning a noose for themselves out the new technology, so they can destroy themselves.What I need in a self-driving car is enough cargo space to haul mulch.