Roads to the driverless car

In New York, it is evident that motor vehicle traffic is not declining. Riding along the Cross Bronx Expressway, Brooklyn Queen Expressway, or the Long Island Expressway during rush hour, construction, or after an accident leads to mass congestion, delays, pollution, and unsafe driving conditions. Starting and stopping while in a car during periods of high traffic is extremely dangerous, and with aggressive drivers and an increasing population this is only getting worse. The driverless car is slowly becoming a reality and would help improve transportation in New York.

Image credit: Google, http://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/contact/

The start of the driverless car revolution is underway and in New York should begin with test vehicles that repeat the same routes. This way data can be collected around the driverless vehicles which would be monitored in a controlled system of planned routes.

The three entities that come mind for this testing include the United States Postal Service, garbage removal, and city or state bus services. Think about how outdated this seems. A mail person hand delivers mail to your mailbox every morning, except Sundays. They drive a truck along the same route, dropoff new mail, and leave the same location every single time. Garbage trucks drive around a neighborhood, have people run to the curb to throw trash into the truck, and do the same thing at each and every home. Buses pickup and dropoff passengers at the same route every single time (if no delays due to traffic, human error, or unforeseen road congestion). By having driverless cars, this will help alleviate traffic, pollution and reduce delays. Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and others are already capitalizing on the convenience of getting from place A to B through a mobile app. Transportation should be easy, reliable, and enjoyable.

While driving this evening, I used Google Maps to plan an alternate route home which saved time and helped avoid traffic. For self-driving vehicles, this would be automatically done while in transit. Testing the roads with designated vehicles will make the general public aware of which vehicles are self-driving, and would yield important, innovative results regarding routine services. New York could focus on improving infrastructure, reduce pollution, and build upon successful projects. New York must drive improvements around transportation, and self-driving vehicles would make things work better and faster. Imagine getting picked up on demand at La Guardia airport and leaving to a safe, non-congested parkway?

Driverless cars are not here to replace current vehicles. However, they represent an important technological achievement that would help build a sustainable and scalable eco-friendly infrastructure for a growing population in New York.

Some additional reading:

https://www.drivesmartnyc.com/#about (NYC’s Pilot Program for Collecting Driver Data)

http://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar — Google’s self-driving car project

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_electric_car_project — Apple electric car project on Wikipedia

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/dual-motor-model-s-and-autopilot — Tesla’s autopilot software in Model S