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Should we Worry about “Self Driving Vehicles?” Not in your lifetime

The parking industry is in full crisis mode concerning “Autonomous Vehicles.”  OMG — they are going to destroy the industry  — no need to park them, they can zip by and pick you up and drop you off at work then go and pick someone else up, etc etc etc, cruising by tens of thousands of empty parking spaces.

Not…

To review this fallacy, one must first determine what an “autonomous” vehicle really is. In the above scenario, it is a vehicle that, like in the Jetsons (look it up youngsters), drives itself, has no steering wheel, and you sit in the back seat and read the paper — THERE IS NO DRIVER AND IT WILL NOT REQUIRE A DRIVER under any circumstances.

Cars that are designed to assist the driver, like having power steering, or cruise control, or even radar or proximity alarms, are different — If they require a driver, they are no different than UBER or Lyft today.

This is one of those situations where you have to know the answers before you ask the questions. Here are some answers:

  1. To drive at or near ‘freeway speeds’ all cars on the road must be “self driving, autonomous.”
  2. Driving in inclement weather is problematic.
  3. When Elon Musk says he will sell self driving cars in 2020, does he mean “Full on Jetson style” or something less?
  4. Do you know it took decades for safety features like anti lock breaks and electronic stability control to be in all vehicles, and these are the automotive equivalent of the wheel compared with full on autonomous vehicles.

Don’t believe any of these, and there are more, look them up. In future blogs I’ll give you a link for each on.

But you have to be clever. Articles about these and other autonomous features are self serving. The author or the company written about has a dog in the fight. If you persist, there will always be a disclaimer near the end something like:

Furthermore, will the vehicles be equipped with the technology that currently helps out human drivers? Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control have served humans well, but some of necessary software may not yet be available for driverless cars as the tech is sometimes made by third-party suppliers. So, while self-driving car technology is getting better at handling snow, it’s clear that we are still a long way off. In other words, don’t expect a driverless car to drive you through a blizzard anytime soon. Link here.

Why am I concerned about all this — I’m in the message business. When we have headlines like “Autonomous Vehicles Means the End to Parking” or “Attend this seminar: Find out how Autonomous Vehicles may Mean An End to your Career” we are passing out the kool aid.  The message gets sent, the kool aid drunk, and full panic mode sets in.

In the upcoming months leading up to PIE, I will be publishing articles that I hope give a more even handed view of this “Autonomous Vehicle” dilemma.  Don’t put your retirement papers in yet.

JVH

 

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2 Responses to Should we Worry about “Self Driving Vehicles?” Not in your lifetime

  1. Peter Guest says:

    Its pretty clear that, on average a car is parked about 95% of the day and so, in theory, with autonomous, on demand vehicles, we will only need about 20% of the current vehicle fleet. But of course most of the 5% use is in the morning and evening peaks so, in reality the vehicle fleet won’t shrink that much, not unless patterns of movement change dramatically.

    That means that most of the time, most of the vehicles, be they self drive or autonomous, will have to park.

    The real value that I see with an aging population is that old farts like you and me John will still be mobile long after we are no longer safely able to control a car. it also means that on intercity motorways (freeways) movement can become both more efficient and safer; and people who value their time highly can work as they travel.

  2. rta says:

    Self-driving vehicles will reduce the amount of time an individual spends in a car searching for a parking spot, but the car still needs to go somewhere. The scenario they use in this example doesn’t accomplish either a reduction in congestion or pollution, or a reduction in the demand for parking spaces; https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/14/self-parking-vehicle/

    “But TechCrunch Disrupt NY hackathon team Val.ai built a way for autonomous vehicles to participate in auctions for nearby parking spaces. When a self-driving car needs to park itself, it can submit real-time bids for local spots occupied by others. If a currently parked car knows it needs to pick someone up soon, and it will earn more from selling the parking spot now than the gas it might burn driving around until its pick-up time, it can accept a bid……… technology like Val.ai could eventually reduce congestion and pollution by more efficiently routing cars to spaces.”

    Under this scenario the demand for parking may actually increase.

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