Tuesday, July 7, 2009

atnmbl self-driving electric cars coming soon!

Mike and Maaike, the design firm behind the Google phone, has released design ideas for a self-driving electric car. Their idea is that people will trade productive time spent traveling for top speeds and power. The cars will be slow but quiet, and will not have steering wheels or pedals. They envision that the vehicles could be ready by 2040. I think this is a great concept, and while it shares some features with PRT, is solves the biggest PRT problem by operating on existing infrastructure.

From a travel behavior perspective automated vehicles will likely increase the overall demand for travel because people won't mind spending time in traffic as much since they could read, work, watch TV or eat without worrying about driving. Of course, lots of people do those things while driving already, but at least with automated cars those behaviors will be safer. But an increase in demand for underpriced auto travel will increase the strain on our infrastructure and potentially cause shifts in development patterns that make transit more difficult to design.
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