Hope for The Future of Autonomous Cars & Private Road Systems

WARNING: MIND DUMP

Imagine Automated Cars become a reality and they are networked to one another providing optimal traffic management and eliminating car accidents.

Cars are now perceived more as a service than outright ownership. Imagine Uber, but with automated cars instead of human drivers. The costs could theoretically drop down to essentially be at cost. The wait for these cars could be within a couple minutes.

With how quick technology improves, it wouldn’t make much sense to buy a car. It would be quickly outdated every 3 – 4 years as we see with cell phones & computers today. There would be exceptions to those who need full ownership, such as those who have very large families, businesses, government, etc.

The biggest danger to these automated cars are manually controlled human drivers not plugged into the Network. You can’t exactly BAN these manually controlled cars since everyone has mixed reasons to have them. Perhaps there’s a phaseout period of 10-20 years.

What if the automated car companies united to create their own private roads?

Google, Uber, Tesla, Apple, Volvo, Bosch, nuTonomy, Ford, BMW, Baidu, and FiveAI could unite to create their own road networks restricted from Public use.

They could set their own speed limits, and charge users based on actual usage. This could easily be tracked since all the cars are networked, including with GPS. I’d imagine insurance rates for these cars would drop drastically as well. Perhaps even the typical safety features on cars could decrease due to the drastically lower accident rates.

Perhaps once the phaseout of manual cars on Public roads occurs, the argument for publicly financed roads will be eliminated. Or perhaps the billing model for these roads will change to be toward actual usage such as electricity & water.

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I think the cost to add extra, private roads would be prohibitive in dense City Centers. But it’d be different for suburbs further out. Areas like Houston already have toll based system highways.

Assuming you can remove the speed limit, and traffic congestion, you could theoretically travel by Automated Cars as a service at 3-4 times the speed as the congested Public road systems. It may very well be worth it to consumers to pay the premium.

Now “commute” time will be no excuse to living further out from the City Center. This could lower the cost of housing as well, increase sprawl, and increase the overall quality of life.

Today, it may take 2 hours to make a certain commute to your job. With automated cars on private road systems, that commute could lower to 30 minutes, while you sit back, and watch your favorite show or do some work.

Uber also has ride sharing. I can imagine a “cheaper” option where automated cars are used locally to pick up individuals, then ferry them to a central hub, perhaps right off an on ramp, where they board an automated bus equipped to travel high speeds. There would be another “hub” at the city center where they can get off the bus and hop onto an individual vehicle toward their final destination. Costs could be combined with scale to lower the cost even more.

Also, due to scale, these automated buses could be optimized to minimize wait time due to GPS coordination in a centralized system.

An even crazier idea could be that the individual automated cars would be tiny enough to simply drive onto a larger platform that is the actual vehicle to travel on these high speed highways. So the smaller automated cars (better to call them “pods” with the removal of all that added weight) have a top speed of perhaps 45 MPH , and the larger vehicles up to 200 MPH or more.

This way, you’ll never have to leave the vehicle at all!

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Another possibility is that, just as entire towns existed around railroads, you could have entire housing developments specialized and optimized to these automated transport networks. I know of some subdivisions that exist around a light rail stop into the City.

You could also have a subscription system of car usage, as we do today with cell phones and minute usage. Unlimited plans could exist, but they would most likely be very expensive, and perhaps their coverage isn’t that great, similar to T-Mobile.

The possibilities are as endless as the mind can imagine (and where the profits can exist).

I haven’t even considered cross-country travel. These automated-only super highways, privately owned, could revolutionize travel, logistics, and so much more.

That is, if Government gets out of the way to let these geniuses compete to offer the best services at the cheapest prices possible. It’s not one-size-fits-all. There will be niches and different tiers of service at different costs.

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I had a side thought of airplanes being replaced for shorter distances. I’m thinking of Los Angeles to Las Vegas & San Francisco. I then thought of these Pod-loaders that travel at very high speeds. I suppose there’s a possibility of a terrorist bringing a bomb onto one of these pod-loaders.

I hope it’s simply private security that screens these pods for explosive material and not the TSA. What a potential nightmare like we see today. Perhaps you can have the entire pod screened through an X-ray machine automatically as they loaded onto the Loader.

It’d still probably be faster than the airport.