The Driverless Car

seff-driving-priusWell it’s finally come to pass. The horseless carriage, is now officially the driverless carriage.

Is this potentially the next biggest thing to happen to the car(riage) since the invention of the combustion engine?

On the face of it, it opens up many possibilities for public transport, and could answer congestion problems too. Imagine a bus arriving outside your door exactly when you want it. Then imagine that bus dropping you off exactly where you wanted to go, and collecting you again when you wanted to leave. Sounds pretty nifty eh? But for this to work would involve a quite serious rearrangement of our infrastrure.

I can see this catching on, as potentially it’s going mean motoring becomes much cheaper, safer, and possibily quicker too, although one of the main pitfalls will be mixing these with other “human” motorists on the same roads at the same time. Not even Google is clever enough to program for other driver’s crass stupidity.

So we’re going to have to keep them segregated – but how? Even if it does prove to be massively popular, you can’t change everything over night, as the Belgians discovered when they recently changed from cars driving on one side of the road to the other. If all goes well, they said, they’ll implement the same policy with buses and trucks too.

But seriously, I can think of one idea very quickly that could work – having them on the motorways.

You reserve a lane solely for, let’s call them “droid” cars. Service stations would be the ideal place to keep them at something similar to a taxi stand on the left hand side of the site. Travellers would then simply board them and the droidcar would zip up the motorway, skirting round the outside of each service station as it comes across them, and you get off at the one you want.

This could easily be implemented to begin with, and shouldn’t involve exhorbitant cost either, as you are already using existing facilities and infrastructure.

Next, you’d do something similar with a few main A roads to towns and cities, where there would be stations/turnaround/parking areas for them. After that you could trial a city or town centre with local electric droidcars stored at the same stations, which would drop you off and pick you up where and when you want. The centre would become off limits to ordinary cars, but then you could park your own car at a station, and use Droidcars© as a park and ride service. It gets greener by the minute this plan doesn’t it?

And as it goes on, you roll it out across the whole country.

But what about us petrol heads? What about those of us who get up early on a Sunday morning when nobody else is about, to go out driving purely for pleasure? That’s the only really worrying part for me.

Still, there’s always trackdays. You can leave your car in storage there at the track. Should be reasonably affordable considering how much tax discs, insurance, fuel and the like cost right now…

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