Oh my, apparently there isn’t anything serious to talk about today; so the global media is choosing to be gobsmacked by a pod-like, 25 mph, electric golf cart that drives itself – around a parking lot. Really folks?
To be sure, here at The Auto Future and Greener Ideal we’re interested in serious solutions to the development of alternatively-powered, zero-carbon vehicles. But today’s flap over the electric, auto-drive Google car may just be the dumbest way to waste ink on a popcorn fart ever seen on planet earth.
Is the Google Car technology clever? Yes. Is the rolling demonstrator interesting? Yes. But, is the concept applicable to the majority of people who are dependent on ad-hoc personal movement to conduct their lives efficiently? When pigs fly.
Granted, if you live in a beehive-metroplex like New York, Chicago, or even San Francisco where a city center means the center of everything, i.e. home, office, shopping, entertainment, healthcare and the like; perhaps ‘pod-driving’ could potentially trigger in a serious discussion driven by the alternatives to today’s mass-transportation. But, if one lives or commutes to work beyond the range of a 10 minute drive, the ‘beam me to the office Scotty’ approach ain’t going to work.
Then there’s the matter of mixed traffic integration. Google and its acolytes have been taunting us with the premise of ‘auto-driven’ vehicles for some time, and the public has barely gotten used to the potential of auto-drive Lexuses that allow the option of self or auto-driving; let alone simply asking the public to give up on ‘self-driving’ entirely. That said, even if the concept were to be largely acceptable, vehicle grid-lock is already a serious problem in most metro areas. So what would a practical solution look like; simply ban personally driven ICE, PHEV’s, EV’s, trucks, vans, and – wait for it – busses? Not likely.
I accept that the concept could work in more controlled areas such as boundary-controlled business and academic campus’, integrated home/office/shopping malls, planned communities, and even small nextgen towns, but again, that ain’t free-form ‘driving’, that’s point-to-point ‘people-moving.’ So in the end of the day, the Google self-driving car isn’t new at all, other than that fact that HAL 2000 will be in complete control (again); and after all, how did the technology work out for ‘Frank Poole’ back in ‘2001?’
According to Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin,
“The main reason the team and I decided to build this prototype vehicle is that we can do a better job than we can do with an existing vehicle. The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today.”
Wow, as the old opine pines, ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same,’ but particularly when it comes to a matter of technological hubris, or even simpler yet; having nothing more important to do with a bazillion dollars.