Something meaningful about driverless, for a change


This is refreshing, really.

I have written a lot about the depressing hype and waste of effort around driverless cars. This time I am happy to point readers to something that is actually interesting, and productive. It is an argument I just read, about the “Twilight Zone self-driving development can’t seem to get out of” (but also applies to electric vehicles). Here’s the argument:

Something meaningful about driverless, for a change /img/driverless-square-peg-in-round-hole.jpg
  • If people have already wasted billions trying to make self-driving work, it is also because they overlooked the obvious fact that vehicle size, footprint and shape matter a lot
  • (successful) New technology tends to reformat products
  • This is exactly what happened with personal communication. It succeeded also because it went from “bulky, cumbersome and fixed [devices…] to sleek smartphones”
  • Personal mobility should do the same, that is optimize for driverless movement, where it is actually possible of course, the very shape of cars
  • Driverless, that is, cannot “become real [without] deploying sleek-footprint vehicles”
  • (instead) there still is a “huge void between the car that has grown obese (SUV trend) and micro-mobility”

Less corners = more chances to go driverless, some day

Quoting from this picture (see the article for bigger version and links):

Something meaningful about driverless, for a change /img/round-driverless-car.jpg
  • Round-off and sloping contours reduce/eliminate fragmented scanning and imaging: no blind spots, which is unavoidable with more boxy vehicles
  • Instead of putting autonomous tech in conventional cars, as add-ons, reformat the vehicle first

THIS is what I find refreshing. Driverless versions of today’s “private cars for the masses” remain a pipe dream, of course. But shared driverless cars, which may do a lot of good, could become real only if done from scratch, not by retrofitting old stuff, and old business models.

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