The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots
Waymo announced today they will begin commercial operations in the Phoenix area under the name "Waymo One." Waymo has promised that it would happen this year, and it is a huge milestone, but I can't avoid a small bit of disappointment.
How and where we live is governed most by transportation, and all the new mobility technologies are poised to cause big changes. Today, I want to look at the following technologies and how they will affect life outside the city. In many case, they will come last to the country, but in other cases, they may come first.
Everybody here is in shock over the destruction and death from the recent California fires, and I, like many, have even fled the coast for the mountains as the air in the San Francisco Bay area remains unsafe. Videos of people escaping down burning streets send chills into those who watch them.
A Washington Post article suggests robotaxis may become popular for sex on wheels. In my talks I have often made the joke that while the auto industry quests for "Vision Zero" -- no automotive fatalities -- the robocar is the only technology that could result in people actually being created while driving.
We have a bunch of new robocar news recently -- it seems that is a common event. Here's the relevant stories, plus some notes on robocar doors.
I love to talk about the coming robocar world. Over the next few decades, more and more trips will be made in robocars, and more and more people will reduce or give up car ownership to live the robotaxi life. This won't be instantaneous, and it will happen in some places decades before it happens in others, but I think it's coming.
But what of the driver of the regular car? What lies ahead for those who love driving and want to own a traditional car? I often see people declare that nobody will own cars in the future, and that human driving will even be banned. Is that realistic?
This week I attended the "Revolution.Aero" conference on advanced new ideas in aviation, including electric VTOL aircraft (often called "flying cars.") I learned that there's a lot of interesting new stuff going on in aviation, but the strong regulatory environment keeps much of it repressed.
Update 2019: New research suggests the incremental cost per mile of electric robocars is low enough to alter some of the logic below. An update is in the works.