Driverless Cars and Routing Around Damage

Dan talks a lot about his technological assumptions.  I generally agree, but:

Take, for instance, a self-driving car. One of the assumptions we have is that allowing computers to drive cars will allow a lot more cars to be on the road, since computers are better drivers than humans (a fact I don’t want to dispute). But imagine we do fit 30% more cars on the road. Imagine a traffic disruption. There will surely be far fewer traffic disruptions because computers are better drivers than humans. But when they do occur, they will cause massively more congestion than now, because the system will have been optimised that much further.

A driverless car will be best implemented when it communicates with its peers in a networked way that mimics the old CB network band: “Get off at Exit 351 and take US 31 north; I-65 is a parking lot.”  But there’s fragility, of course: not all cars will have humans out of the loop, not everyone will have a car that communicates in the same way, there will be network outages, etc.  That’s why peer-to-peer on open technologies will make that work.

See, my technological bias is showing.  But I will also admit my own bias against driverless cars: I’d rather drive, and if not, I’d rather take mass transit to have it be worthwhile.

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