Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Unlove our cars?
“Mother Jones” magazine currently has an article about how Americans can learn to “unlove” our cars.
It's becoming an old tale. The new twist is that we'll see the benefits of self driving cars and leave the driving to robocar.
If you are a daily city commuter, it might even make sense and be an attractive alternative to driving one's own car. Maybe it appeals to workaholics who want to use commuter time to get work done How this is supposed to be a major advantage over current public transportation is not covered in the article. Already it makes little sense to own a car in a major city.
What about all of us who live out in the boonies? Can we expect the driverless infrastructure to make it all the way out into dirt road American? For the sake of argument, let's assume it does.
Here's the rub, rural folk may or may not love our cars, but we work them hard. The “car” most likely is some sort of truck. It's not a truck for show and status. It's a truck for hay bales, lumber, and gravel. Even if we have an actual car, it may have roof racks for canoes and ladders and a trailer hitch. They certainly don't fit the image of standardized people movers.
If my driverless car could haul my boat and launch it at the docks, that would be something -something they certainly have no plans for.
Those cars would not actually be owned. Instead, people would subscribe to a service. That might be fine city commuters. It makes little sense where people customize their vehicles to fit their needs. I and a lot of people I know don't lease their vehicles because they need to be customized too much. The lease company does not want to lease a regular sedan and get the Batmobile in return.
My big problem is that they are not trying to adapt the driverless infrastructure to the way people really want to use their vehicles. Instead, they want people to fit the cookie cutter roles they've made for everyone.
The technology is neutral. How it's applied is where the politics and agendas come in.