Highway 101 in Silicon Valley is no stranger to headless drivers, that is, cars that drive themselves. Google is experimenting with driverless cars that will eventually do just about everything but donate themselves to Kars for Kids when it’s time to buy the next, newer model. Auto manufacturers are sitting up and paying attention and drawing plans for their own prototypes of these automated cars.
Those of us who don’t live in the Valley, however, may find the concept of driverless cars hard to take in, while those responsible for coming up with the technology behind these wonders are beginning to think about how these cars will change the city they know and love. For example, imagine what will happen when you have to fly out of town. You won’t need to worry about getting from the long term parking lot to the airport entrance with your luggage. Maybe your driverless car will drop you off at the airport entrance and park on its own. Or perhaps there will be some kind of automated system to cart away all the vehicles at once and deposit them into parking spaces.
Schlepping In Heels
Ditto for finding parking spots in the crowded city—your driverless car will receive input about available spaces. It can drop you off where you need to be and go park. When you’re ready, you can summon your car by remote control, or maybe by phone, and your driverless car will come to you so you don’t have to schlep in high heels a long distance away to where your car is parked.
Traffic lights will become redundant since sophisticated sensors located in cars and streets will manage traffic without them. Parking tickets will be phased out since driverless cars will know better than to park where they have no right to be. The sightless will be able to go anywhere they please on their own driverless steam.
Engineers and city planners are trying to envision how city spaces will change as driverless cars become the norm. But a spokesman at Audi says we still have a decade to figure it all out. And even after that, there are still other details that must be ironed out in advance of city planning, such as regulatory issues, for instance.
Still, California is way ahead of the, um, curve. As early as last year, California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing for driverless car traffic on state roads. Federal agencies are also beginning to issue policy regarding these cars, in an effort to encourage cities to begin testing autonomous vehicles. In general, driverless cars are thought of as a positive and timely innovation. There seems to be no doubt that driving will become a thing of the past.