I think driverless cars will change the design of cities, revolutionize retailing, and greatly change our driving culture, soon for example you will need a license to drive…well, you know what I mean. The scale effects on this technology are tremendous, once it works for one car it works for all. The technology won’t be expensive and it will get better every year. The technology will also get better the more driverless cars their are. Once these cars become common, for example, I expect speed limits for driverless vehicles to be substantially increased.
I do worry about lawsuits in the early years. I am not worried, however, about the following attack on driverless cars which appears to be real although it seems like something from the Onion:
One of the reasons I don’t think this will work is that the technology will be offered first as an option, like cruise control, which will appeal most to the safety conscious. The elderly in danger of losing their license, for example, may appreciate a driverless car. Personally, I would like the driverless option for night driving and I would be much happier lending my teenager the car if I could say “but only if you use the Google option!” At first when there is an accident people will ask, “did he have the driverless option on?” But soon they will start to say “if only he had the driverless option on.”
I do think, however, that technologists should change the name to the electronically chauffeured vehicle. Electronically chauffeured vehicles will appeal to the affluent, the influential and the productive.
The ubiquitous Daniel Lippman gets the hat tip.