Autonomous Vehicles – What am I Missing Here?


Autonomous Vehicles – What am I Missing Here?

I read on Park News that “Experts” are telling us that autonomous vehicles, when they arrive on the scene, will constantly be in motion, moving and picking up and dropping off, maybe except for the night shift.

What am I missing? If someone takes an autonomous vehicle to work in the morning, the only difference from today is that they are self-driving. The vehicle will take them to work, drop them off, and then what? Just who are they going to cruise around and pick up for the next trip?

OK, sure, there will be Uber style trips, but the vast majority of trips will be from home to work. And assuming after they drop someone off, they will need a place to wait until quitting time, when they take that person back home. It’s called parking.

The prof at Stanford quoted in the article are probably talking ‘first mile, last mile’. The autonomous vehicles will take people the first mile where they will get the train into town, and then the last mile from the station to work. But still, there will be a mad rush at, dare I say it, rush hour in the morning and evening, but the rest of the time most people will be at their desks slaving for the man.

Assuming AVs make any sense at all, is it reasonable that they will be cruising around between rush hours, looking for nonexistent passengers, creating congestion and pollution (yes, even electric cars create pollution.) I really can’t see it.

They will have to be parked, stored, or whatever one might call it.

Wait, you say, they can drive back to the burbs and take kids to school, parents on errands, and then return in the evening to bring the worker bees back. Oh please. Think about it. Now instead of two rush hours, we have four.

I”ll give Mark Lawrence at SpotHero his due. He was commenting on the fact that AVs will have to park but will need a predetermined place and also need to pay when they do. Technology will out and take care of that (Including Spot Hero’s). Parking isn’t going away, it just will be different.

The Stanford Prof is living in his Ivory Tower. He see’s AVs queueing like taxi ranks when not in use. However there will be tens of thousands of them and certainly no room for them to ‘rest’ at curbside waiting for a call. I guess there is no place off street for them to wait for the next call. Its almost like these professors have never commuted, driven in the city, or lived the life in the real world.

My wife, Robyn, who has a PhD in Microbiology, has told me many times that the three letters stand for “piled higher and deeper.”



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Based on some of the theories being put forward on how it will work with AV’s (in constant motion, no parking needed, etc.) I can only imagine that our transportation system will be something similar to an amusement park ride where the cars just keep covering the same ground over and over whether there is anyone in them or not. It would be similar to the mass transit in many areas where empty buses continually make the same stops and cover the same routes with or without any passengers.

    If the reality is that they will only be in motion based on demand then I fail to see any possible benefit with regards to a reduction in traffic congestion, or the predicted drops in demand for parking. Will the parking demand change? Of course, but that is something that is and has been happening everyday since mankind started traveling by any method other than their own 2 feet.

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