This week the Wall Street Journal published a special eight page report on the “Future of Cities.” The lead article was about driverless cars the wonders they will bring to cities. The graphic showed central operating systems for all vehicles (including private cars), Cameras, Parking garages turned into commercial space, stop lights that talk to driverless cars, narrower streets and space for people, buses talking to taxis, self driving shuttles, and special pickup zones at office towers.
Wow! What wonders these critters bring?
I think most people will look at the graphic and that will be it. I read the article. Buried 12 paragraphs after the jump was the comment that these AVs could lead to greater congestion downtown. But, I thought they were supposed to lower congestion. There was also the part of the piece that noted that AVs wouldn’t park downtown but would park outside the city.
Hold the phone. If the AV takes me downtown and then returns outside the city to wait for its next instruction, doesn’t that increase traffic. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to park it downtown (where the people are) and let it wait there. Wouldn’t that save tons of gasoline, electricity, and pollution. Plus can you say four rush hours instead of two?
Also it was noted much later in the article that a mother with three children going to three different events after school would probably place them in three different AVs plus have a fourth for her errands thus using four vehicles where today she would have used one.
I then got to the author bio and found he lived in San Francisco and realized that most of the input was from Silicon Valley. Naturally his bias was promoting AVs and not leading with the problems they may cause.
The goal of the media, the government (cities) and of course companies that make and support AVs is to show all the wonders of the new technology and downplay the problems. Shouldn’t we be doing the opposite. That is discussing the problems and solving them before going headlong into the project.
Oh yes, also buried in the article was this tidbit: Did you know that developers of AVs have a severe problem when they attempt a left turn against traffic. Seems that’s difficult for sensors and computers. You know, that turn you make a dozen times a day. Oh well…