CES and Self Driving Cars — Will It Play in Peoria?


CES and Self Driving Cars — Will It Play in Peoria?

Reports are coming in from Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that self driving vehicles have overwhelmed the floor. Every auto manufacturer, computer chip manufacturer, and software provider has its toe in the water.

One wag, however, seemed to have been struck with a tad of reality. Alan Ohnsman, writing in Forbes Magazine, tells a story that should calm some of the fears in our industry, Read it all on Parknews.biz. Its featured in “trending”.

Ohnsman posits:

You’re not about to own a self-driving car; but on-demand ride services, deliveries and some commercial transportation will soon deploy autonomous vehicles; they’ll arrive courtesy of major brands like Lyft, Uber, Waymo, Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW, among others.

Why would this be?  If the technology is such that it can deliver pizzas and Amazon, and trust it with bus loads of people, they why not individual ownership?

The answer is obvious. When you provide a self-driving car to individuals, you don’t get rid of an expensive, $100K a year driver. However if you can provide self-driving cars to Dominos, Amazon, UPS, and FedEx, those companies will be on board in a heartbeat. Labor is their biggest cost.

They will pay the premium that companies must charge to help defray the huge development cost for these automated critters. Plus…

These vehicles drive at fixed speeds (relatively slow) and they rely on highly mapped, tested, and often sensor arrayed roadways. A self-driving vehicle that you purchase may be forced to drive down alleys, perform in rain, snow, and other improbable climes, and dare I say it, take you to grandpa’s farm, down a dirt road in rural Iowa.

In addition, commercial automated vehicles will have considerably less stress placed on them by ownership. Companies will be more tolerant of bugs, problems, and start up issues than folks with individual interests. Don’t believe me? Remember Windows Vista? Me neither.

I live in a high tech neighborhood in Los Angeles. This morning walking back from breakfast, I reached a point where I could see three Teslas parked in driveways, and I knew two more were just around the corner. I have to keep kicking myself and shouting that this is not even close to average.

The CES is like my neighborhood and Tesla. Companies spend millions to launch products and put their best foot forward. Call me when you can see three self driving cars from one spot in Peoria.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Has anyone analyzed what the upkeep on a roadway that is designed for autonomous vehicles would cost? Municipalities and government agencies everywhere are struggling to maintain the low tech roads and bridges we currently have, not sure where the funding is going to come from for the development and maintenance of the roadway system that will be needed for these vehicles.

    Your Peoria comment is spot on. In fact, according to USDOT over 1/3 of the roads in the US aren’t even paved, and of our existing roadways and bridges we have a backlog of over $830 billion in needed repairs and an estimated need for an additional $142 over the next 20 years. I’d love to see something on the projected costs to upgrade an urban center’s road system to the necessary levels that will support autonomous vehicles.

    Some other random thoughts; Will driver-less pizza delivery, UPS, Fed Ex vehicles require the customer to come to the curb to get their meal/package? Will driver-less taxis require the customer to load and unload their own luggage? Who cleans up any trash (or worse) left behind by the previous occupants using the taxi?

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