This was originally on twitter because I didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing. Below are my tweets, slightly modified for readability.
Long thoughts on autonomous vehicles
First, if you have not yet, watch a video on Tesla Motor’s recent update allowing autonomous travel.
Tesla’s cars are talking to each other, and year after year more should. Intelligent companies will adopt this.
Cars shift to being autonomous drivers while drivers are travelers. This is an exciting, huge shift in personal travel.
Connected travel = all cars are talking to each other. This will allow for optimized travel, especially from a safety perspective. Eventually, all cars will have the ability to know where each other are, communicate data on their trip details, car maintenance, and driver information.
Smart devices on users inside vehicles will update personal vital statistics which will influence performance. If your car speeds up on the highway and your pulse jumps and maintains a dangerous range, your car will learn not to drive that way. This data will be incredibly valuable. Monitoring vitals is also key to optimized travel times.
You can’t drive 55 and your autonomous driver surely won’t. Highway travel, regulated to be safe for all, doesn’t have to have limits(or lines on the roads for that matter). With cars talking to each other, knowing if the car in front of them has heavily used tires, wretched battery, or a performance package, and adjusting it’s speed to optimal levels. This goes beyond the car in front as well, measures of probability will tell your car if a vehicle five cars ahead is significantly dangerous, or minimally if it’s impeding your optimal speed, and re-route your trip around it.
Changing “lanes”(again, on real lines in the road are needed, that’s for skinbags) is never a nail biter, waiting until someone is kind enough to let you in, but rather a simple processes that keeps all traffic flowing safely and quickly.
Vital statistics work in here balancing the speed against how your body responds to going exceptionally faster, changing lanes, and taking routes through neighborhoods previously avoided or unknown. Again, this data would be extremely valuable and interesting to work with.
Road conditions are an obvious worry. A car breaking down or a patch of ice could really screw up this dream world.
A car breaking down is simple(in the grand scheme of this post). Cars will be aware of their component parts, wear and tear, and a probability associated with safety. In general, cars should bring themselves to repair facilities during times it knows you don’t use it(or there’s a high probability you won’t use it). On the off chance you find yourself in Last Action Hero 7: Still Actioning, and someone shoots out your tire, that could be messy. The bright side, however, is that all cars will know your car broke down, and reroute instantly, avoiding you for safety. Yes, edge cases will always exist where shit goes wrong, but lets keep this sunny.
The broken down car can relay it’s status, not just to oncoming cars, but to maintenance facilities. From there an emergency vehicle knows they exact location to be dispatched & possibly what is needed to fix the car. Emergency response is quicker due to automatic parting by other vehicles on the road, no assholes getting in the way or being stubborn about letting someone in.
Other road conditions share the above benefits. The first time a car rolls over a patch of ice, and identifies its location, all other cars will be alerted. Initial passing cars will go slow to further analyze the area, clearly defining the problem area for both other vehicles and emergency response. From there all cars can pass safely while emergency vehicles, either cars+people or in some instances, drones, are dispatched to fix the problem.
A drone with chemicals can fly from an emergency bay, destroy the ice, and update the safety for all vehicles to resume driving over the area.
On Local Driving
What benefits highway travel transitions to small towns just as well, and I’d like to talk about 2 more pieces: Safety & Parking.
Safety, to start, is depending on signals coming from people(an alternative to Google’s camera vision). If signals are available, the location of people relative to cars can be taken into account. If a person crosses the street on a whim, rides a bike, or trips into the road, cars will be able to adjust (hopefully) in time to not hurt the person.
Parking is a pretty amazing topic. There is a general behavior available through autonomous vehicles that wasn’t really possible before(aside from niche valet events I imagine), and that’s the ability to move in unison to create space.
With autonomous drivers, a row of car, or block, can all move in unison. This allows for more parking in any area, streets to garages.
Your car approaches a line of 4 parked cars on the street outside your destination. Today each car needs a couple of feet buffer to be parked, so each can get themselves out. Autonomous drivers will be able to move in unison, opening a large space in the line for your car to park, then return to surround it in a pincer motion. There will be a couple of inches clearance where previously there were feet. This goes for garages as well.
Blocks of cars, parking garages, turn into a terrifying game of Tetris.
I’m not getting into owning vs renting a car, beyond this.
Other things to think about
Automated heart health testing through stress induced rides would be interesting to monitor peoples health.
Nudged health benefits. If a person wants to increase their daily calories burned their car could automatically park further away from destinations, forcing an increase in calories burned.
Friendships take a turn as well. Your car tied to a calendar & social app can make suggestions to pick people up on your way to coffee, the gym, a movie, etc., relative to how often you talk, last time you visited, shared interests, etc.
Free time is big too. It will be healthier to be distracted, at least starting out. Long Netflix and distance learning.
Also, to touch on data for a second. Tesla will have an interesting data set of higher income drivers, their activities, etc. Uber will have an interesting data set on city and short distance travel. Apple and Google will have the most interesting data sets due to mobile devices. I’m not sure how they will/won’t play together.
There are a number of interesting startups in the space as well. Cruise comes to mind easily, but I’d love to know more.
That’s all folks, no apologies for the poor sentence structure or formatting. ❤