Self driving cars will change everything, for the better. They will increase capacity of the roadways by three times minimum, and that means more room for bike lanes, ped lanes, and medians and rail. It means a lot of good things. Its not just Google pioneering on this, far from it. Giant Tech companies are way ahead in my opinion, because they actually BUILD cars, and Google is making things from scratch, hence the little bug like cars. Recently, Google announced that it would be testing its prototype of a driverless car on roads in the summer of 2016 inside of California. Many still think that Self-driving cars are a futuristic idea, decades out. This simply is not true. Numerous car companies are ALL working on it, all independently. Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla, etc. all have self-driving features in the works.
I believe we should be embracing this technology because it is going to vastly improve the quality of life and help lower vehicle miles traveled, lower or eliminate congestion, eliminate accidents, reduce the death rate of 30,000 dead each year by significant margins. They will also enable the idea of shared vehicles with businesses like UBER leading the way in changing the culture of vehicle ownership vs. shared vehicles.
But Bullet Trains are still the rage in some countries, like China where I lived for 2.5 years. I rode these fantastic trains. They are awesome and useful and BEAT the car ride HANDS DOWN because you go much faster and also don't have to have the stress of driving.
But let's bring that to the USA and see how it fits here. First of all, 100% of the people here have a car, or two, or more. In China, only 10% have cars and in very poor cities, even less. This is such a huge and significant cultural difference in how we move about. So the transportation market to choose to ride a train is much much higher in China than in the USA because of this little talked about demographic: Car ownership. If those people without a car in China want to travel to a nearby city they have to take a train, or for more money, a bus. If they can afford a Bullet Train ticket, they will take a Bullet Train and get there 4 or 5 times faster, but for a corresponding increase in price. Most ride the cheap trains out of necessity.
Once a bullet train gets installed in California, China will be another decade ahead of us in terms of infrastructure installed and possibly technological advances in HSR. They already have, right now, these trains connecting at high speeds between ALL major cities in that country, and we have nothing like that. In fact, we have nothing even similar because the antiquated AMTRAK train is just that. The Bullet Train in California when finally fully constructed in 20 years will be a start but it will serve a very small demographic of people who live here, and it may be less than state of the art in the world.
How Googles Self Driving Car WORKS--
TWO YEARS AGO: One of Google's safety drivers takes a ride in their second generation vehicle, the Lexus, to understand how Google's self-driving technology works on the road.
Now they feel they are READY FOR THE ROAD!
Grant Johnson, registered Traffic Engineer, shares insights and experiences from around the world.