One of the local papers, the Delaware Local News (aka Delaware Online) had an article in the Opinion section about autonomous vehicles. I was impressed both with the editorial focus, as well as the quality of the article
Similar to some of my earlier articles, the author identified drivers, especially distracted drivers as being one of the chief causes of accidents. My only disappointment was the lack of actual direction the article gave. It only asked the reader to “Imagine a time when we won’t have to worry about distracted driving…”
Considering the quoted article references a report indicating a savings of $190 billion annually, I would urge us to do more than just “imagine.” Instead of waiting for technology to “come to our rescue,” that technology is something we should actively pursue.
How much so? Given that Delaware has about 1 million people, out of a national population of around 300 million, that’s an annual savings of $600 per person. Since many companies aim for a three year return on investment, and since DE’s accident rate is higher, investing $3,000 per person – or $3 billion dollars – would seem to be in order. I’m not necessarily advocating this be a 100% government initiative; taking some time to work on some areas might help tremendously.
Some areas that it is imperative for a legalistic, progressive state to work on would be:
- developing an encouraging legal framework
- developing specialty highways to utilize
- creating business/tech partnerships to facilitate technology growth
- Encouraging higher education, especially state-funded education, to pursue research into vehicular autonomy.
- Working with energy companies, such as Bloom, on creating the refueling station of the future to pair with autonomous vehicles.
- Working with tech firms like Uber to create the legal framework for “Mobility as a Service” (MAAS) to help alleviate transportation issues in poor neighborhoods.
It’s such a shame that an article that is so visionary does so little to call for the first step!