Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Self-Driving Future

Self-driving cars and trucks are coming. The success of the DARPA Grand Challenge demonstrates that this is inevitable. Indeed, GM is planning to release its 2008 Opel Vectra with a self-driving "Traffic Assist" feature for the European market.

With the pace of technological progress it can be expected that most, if not all, cars will be auto-drive equipped by 2020. I proprose that shortly after this technology becomes widespread, manually driving a motor vehicle on public roadways should be prohibited by law.

We should outlaw manual driving for the following reasons:

  1. Safety. More than 40,000 people are killed in the United States every year by human-driven automobiles and more than 10% of those are pedestrians, according to the US Dept. of Transportation. Beyond the cost in human lives, there is a significant economic cost to car accidents, which the USDOT estimated at $230,568,000,000 for the year 2000 alone. (Which equates to approximately 10% of the Federal Budget)
  2. Improved Law Enforcement. The huge drain on local law enforcement and the judicial system with regards to time, resources, and money will be gone and the system will be able to focus on other crimes. Officers will be treated with more respect as people feel less threatened by them. Officers and the public will also be safe from the dangers of high speed chases.
  3. More Freedom. In the self-driving future, there will be no more DUI charges, speed limits, or other traffic violations. Your freedom to go where you want and do what you want will be greatly increased. Late-night drunken parties, ultra-long distance trips and more will become safer and more viable.
  4. Significantly Lower Insurance Costs. Because self-driving cars will be significantly safer, insurance cost will be a fraction of what they are now. If rates are not uniform, they likely will only be based upon the vehicle and where you live. Further, certain demographic groups will no longer be discriminated against.

Reasons to oppose outlawing driving:

  1. People will lose their jobs! Yes, tens of millions will lose their jobs but what of the 40,000 people who lose their lives every year? Just the other week on the news I heard of a pedestrian who was killed by a commercial trucker. Was that trucker's job worth that person's life? Besides, I'm confident that professional drivers will become a thing of the past once self-driving vehicles go mainstream, regardless of whether we can get driving outlawed or not.
  2. But I enjoy driving! If you truly enjoy it, I expect you will be able to relive the glory (gory) days on private tracks and roads, for a reasonable fee. However, I expect most people will come to see that we are all better off when the cars drive themselves and they will come to enjoy riding in a self-driving car more than they ever enjoyed driving one.

So where do we go from here? Since plenty of others are already working on the technology, I will focus on the social issues. I have a fairly simple Plan of action:

  1. Spread the self-driving future meme. Effective immediately, will link to this post and to a dedicated website eventually. If you agree with me, promote to get the word out.
  2. Create a fund for education/support for those unemployed by the rise of self driving vehicles. Even before manual driving is prohibited, professional drivers will be losing their jobs. I would like to lead the way in helping these people retrain for different careers.
  3. Lobby for the prohibition of manual driving. First we'll lobby for prohibition of manual driving on the Interstate System. Afterwards, we'll work to outlaw manual driving on all public roadways.

With luck, manual driving will be prohibited nation-wide before 2030.


Blogger AKG said...

I've created a blog for No More Driving:

7:59 AM  

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