By on October 11, 2013

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The following article is long. Some of you will decry it as fiction outside of the space this website normally reserves for stories and others of you will lament its presence on what is supposed to be an automotive news website. Maybe you are right, but the truth is that I read a lot and my mind is constantly pulling at a million disparate threads of information and tying them together in ways that make unusual patterns. Some of these things have coalesced this week into the following piece and so I have offered it to the editors to see if they think it has a place on our esteemed pages. If you are seeing it, then they have given it the green light and all I can do is ask you to indulge me.

Articles about the future used to show up in the newspapers and the magazines with surprising regularity when I was a kid. They were great reading and were almost always accompanied by large, full color illustrations by noted artists like Syd Mead that fleshed out the words out surprising detail. In virtually every case, despite much of the turmoil going on in our country in the 1970s, those articles painted a picture of a better, brighter future. Now more than a third of the way through the second decade of the 21st century, we all know that things didn’t turn out quite the way those old articles imagined but that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to predict what is coming. I can’t help but think that a better tomorrow really is right around the corner.

Bob Jones is startled out of his sleep at 8:30 AM by the beeping of his alarm clock and makes his way into the bathroom for a shower and a shave. Monday mornings are the same as they have always been and he knows he has a long four-day work week ahead of him. So much of the America that his grandparents knew is gone. The five day work week has been abolished, the smoke belching factories moved offshore and the din of traffic eliminated by electric motors and a new kind of urban planning that has brought people closer together. Countless millions of jobs were eliminated in the move away from industry, but increased access to information and the efficiencies of automated production have changed the way the economy works. To be sure there is still poverty in places and still work to be done. Children must be educated, customers served, systems maintained and improved and in the case of Government, paper pushed.

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After he is showered and dressed, Bob grabs a cup of coffee and a piece of toast and spends a few minutes looking over the news on his countertop before making his way out to the garage. Bob is fortunate, and although much of humanity has gravitated towards larger cities and new, walkable communities Bob lives in an immense century-old house in what was once an affluent suburb. When it was built, the house had a massive four car garage but as cars became more automated and evolved into a public utility, most of these old garages had been converted into living space. In Bob’s house, huge windows stand where two of the three garage doors once stood but, because Bob lives so far outside of the city and owns his own “autocar,” he chose to keep a one part of the old house as an actual, functioning garage.

The concept of a car as a status symbol is all but gone and cars are about as anonymous as a dish washer. For the most part, people rely on automated cars as a part of the public infrastructure in the way that people once relied on taxi cabs. Summoned to the house within minutes at the touch of a button, they are generally used for mid-range trips, places too far to walk but too close for train or air travel. Bob lives far enough off the grid that owning his own car makes sense, but even so it is tied into the network and its operation is outside of his control for everything except emergencies.

The car opens its door as Bob approaches and he slides easily into the little vehicle. Because he has a wife and son, the car is a mid size model that can comfortably seat up to four people. Bob’s seat is firm but its shape conforms under his weight as his body presses against its gel filled surface. In front of him he finds a large touch screen already on and displaying the same page he was viewing on the kitchen table. He takes a glance at the car’s vitals displayed in the upper corner of the screen, ensuring that the vehicle is fully charged, and then slips into his seatbelt.

The car itself is lightly constructed, made of composite materials and has huge windows. There is a crash cage and numerous air-bags hidden behind the interior panels, but the chances of an accident are virtually nil given the way the car connected to the network. As the seatbelt clicks home, the garage door rises and the little car moves automatically out onto the road. Usually it turns left out of the driveway, but today it goes right to avoid a slowdown that the network has detected and accelerates smoothly up to the speed limit. It makes no stops as it cruises through the neighborhood and the computer ensures that other cars are cleanly avoided as it crosses through the various intersections between Bob’s home and the entrance to the freeway.

When the car reaches the on-ramp, it accelerates smoothly up the incline and merges flawlessly into traffic, tucking itself neatly into the line just inches away from the car ahead of it in order to take advantage of the aerodynamic effects of drafting. As it cruises along effortlessly, Bob enjoys the morning news and entertainment report on his touch screen, barely noticing the outside world as it whizzes past. Fifteen minutes after he leaves home, Bob’s car exits the freeway, makes its way across town and pulls silently up to the curb in front of his office. The car pauses to let him out prior to turning and heading back for home. Now in town, Bob won’t be needing a car until it is time to make the trip home after six hours of work and his wife Susan has plans for the afternoon.

Bob’s office is like the car, bright, light and airy. He works for the county government, working with contractors to help ensure they understand how to navigate the building permit process and ensuring that local codes are taken into consideration as a part of the planning process. He has four appointments on his schedule and before the first man shambles into his office at 10 AM he has already had the opportunity to review the plans with one of the building inspectors. The meeting goes well, the required data has been gathered by the computer system during the application process and the building site checked through the county’s map database and crosschecked through satellite imagery. The builder wants a couple of exceptions to the plan and is prepared to offer a couple of concessions to get them, a taller hedge in place of some setback and a cutout in the sidewalk to facilitate deliveries. In the end the two men negotiate an agreement that serves both the public and the builder, something a strict computer program could never do and both sides leave the process feeling positive about their interaction. A similar meeting follows and the morning is complete.

At lunch, Bob pops down to the local café. The service is personal but much of the actual cooking is automated. The result of increased automation has been less food borne illness and increased freshness but the downside is lack of local flavor. To be sure, Bob knows it isn’t the same as home cooking, but when has eating at a restaurant ever been home cooking? There are plenty of ways for Bob to stay connected while he eats, a television in the corner, displays integrated into the tabletop and Bob’s own telephone means he can effectively do anything he wants. Bob opts for the table display where he reads the latest Hollywood gossip, checks the scores and even orders a refill for his coffee via the tabletop console. When he is done, his bill is displayed on the same screen and he pays it by waving his telephone over the display prior to returning to work.

The afternoon goes smoothly and at 4:00 Bob’s work day is over. Because the car is taking Bob’s son to his afternoon music lessons, Bob decides to hire a car to take him home. Since he is in the city Bob finds a row of cars waiting at the curbside with their doors open. He chooses a small one-person car and climbs in. This car is smaller than Bob’s own four seater, in fact Bob’s grandparents wouldn’t even call it a car.

Technically the car is an enclosed three-wheeled motorcycle. Thanks to computer controls it maintains perfect composure and quickly counters Bob’s weight as he climbs in. Inside it is a little tighter than his own, larger car, but thanks to its full glass canopy still feels light and open. The car pauses there by the curb as Bob belts himself in then, accesses the data in its passenger’s phone to get the specific destination once Bob tells it to take him home. Like all cars, this one doesn’t need to stop for lights or worry about encountering traffic jams. It heads to the freeway without incident and runs right up to speed while Bob checks his email and orders Chinese take-out for dinner.

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Because this little car tilts in the curves Bob eventually decides to switch off the screen and spend his time looking out the window. Once, there had been only three lanes of traffic on this same road, but the autocar needs no margin for error and no breakdown lane so now six lanes occupy the same space. Even so, it seems like overkill as most cars run in tight formations in the leftmost lanes, only using the other lanes to run up to speed prior to merging or to slow prior to exiting. Because Bob’s screen is switched off, the car knows he is looking out the window and moves to the front of the formation in order to afford him the best view.

The road rushes towards him as he heads out of the city, past some of the smaller walkable communities built to resemble old world townships complete with public edifices that resemble old Roman Forums or medieval castles and narrow paths more suited to foot traffic than motor vehicles. As an urban planner, Bob knows all about how these spaces evolved and how they are linked to one another through a sophisticated transportation network, but even he is a little dismayed by the odd way that developers have chosen to incorporate ancient architectural styles as a part of their design. Some people, he knows, find them charming but to him the cities seem more like amusement park sets than real functioning communities. Hopefully, their designs age as gracefully as the cities they mimic.

Well before Bob’s exit the car shifts right and begins to slow. At his exit it drops off the freeway and leans hard over as it pulls through the intersection at the bottom of the ramp moving right at the speed limit. The gyro brings the car back upright and it moves silently through the neighborhood until it stops at the end of Bob’s own driveway. The screen comes alive and flashes the fare for the ride but Bob ignores it as the paltry sum is already deducted from his account. As he unlocks the door his Chinese food arrives piping hot and ten minutes after that his wife Susan and son make their return as well.

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After dinner, Bob and Susan relax on their patio and enjoy drinks while their car drives their son to a friend’s 10 minutes away. Despite the inconvenience of living so far outside of the city, the garden is the real reason they purchased the home and they talk over the day’s event in the golden afternoon light while on the hedgehog size lawn robots roam relentlessly back and forth emitting ultrasonic sounds to drive away moles and other burrowing creatures and ensuring that every blade of grass is perfectly trimmed to the correct length. As the sun goes down, the houselights come slowly on, increasing in brightness so gradually that Bob and Susan hardly notice them.

Eventually, as the sounds of the night begin to rise outside of the bright lighted area of the yard, Bob and Susan head back into the house for an evening of video entertainment. The main screen shows the hottest drama and Susan is engrossed by the action. Bob, meanwhile, watches his own programming on his tablet taking only enough notice of the drama so that he can discuss it with his wife once it is over. At about 8:00, Bob and Susan’s son returns from his friend’s house and begins his own night time routine of bath and bed. By 10:00 both Bob and Susan are tired and, after checking their email one final time, head to bed. The day has been a busy one and Bob looks back across the things he was able to accomplish with some pride. He drifts off to sleep satisfied that he has helped make his own part of the world a little better place. Time will tell if he made the right decisions.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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38 Comments on “A Vision Of The Future: A Day In The Life Of Bob Jones...”


  • avatar
    rnc

    Have to admit I was hoping for disotopyian (sp) ending, system goes down, hundred car pile up, carnage, the automated jaws of life won’t work, when everything is automated, nothing is automated, his legs crushed by the safety cage, battery packs punctured, automated fire suppression system pushed through the composit body, emits all of it noble gas into the atmosphere (as Bob’s account is charged for an finite resource being expelled) as he excepts his fate and begins to burn Mr. Jones begins to question his place in the world and if he ever made the slightest difference (ofcourse the system, once back online, will notice that number 8746942348 no longer is functioning and begins sending dating advice to Ms. Jones)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    My My Thomas ;

    You mind certainly has been active .

    I sure hope this lifestyle doesn’t come along before I’m dead as it reads like a nightmare to me .

    Nevertheless it’s a nice story .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    See? The future CAN work if we expand our definition of animal husbandry.

    Soylent Green = amelioration of entitlement and incarceration burdens = growing construction activity for Bob to deal with. And a reanimated tax base to permit a nice salary for all the Bobs. Plus we can finally export enough to China to reverse our trade imbalance.

    ‘Cause I don’t see any other way for your future to exist, yo.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    This site really needs to do a better job sourcing the photos that are used.

    Not much different taking a picture from somewhere than taking a snippet of someone’s writing- but that would never go unsourced.

    • 0 avatar

      I take the full blame for that. There used to be a way I could enter a “Image courtesy of:” tag that would show if you hovered over it, but the input method changed when the site was updated a few weeks ago and even when I enter the info it doesn’t show up anymore.

      Whenever possible, I try to link to the actual photos on their existing sites but sometimes I have to resize things to make them look right. I guess it comes down to the fact I need to learn more about how the program works and just haven’t done it. It’s a poor excuse I know, I’ll try to do better in the future.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    After some high desert hooning in his aRaptor, Bob leans back in the aRecaro smiles to himself and says “well boys, time to roll”. He yells “Home good boy”‘ rotates his seat, and shares a fattie with his friends while watching aDebbie doing aDallas.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Doesn’t sound like a bad way to live, actually. I am all for automated cars for the boring everyday running about. Just let me keep an antique crocke or two for fun drives in the country. It’s really nice to drive because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to.

    One question though – why would Bob even have to go into the office other than for special occasions? Video conferencing means you get to stay home most of the time. I’ve been working from home for years now, I get to my office (125 miles away) about once a quarter, usually for team meetings/dinners. I do travel a lot of the time, but usually by plane. My usual “commute” is <10 minutes to the airport. SOOO much better than the daily slog downtown.

    • 0 avatar
      lando

      I think this is the true future. The daily commute is a reduction of compensation in the average job. If it could be reduced or eliminated, the company would be able to reduce the rest of the compensation package and still be attractive. Working for the government, you can see this already happening as some of the less essential personal are allowed to telecommute once or twice a week. In this application it doesn’t work very well because they are paid hourly instead of by production, so a lot of the time it seems they are getting paid for little or no productivity. (Which could be argued is the same level of productivity as if they were physically at work.) Conversely, I am in a Master of Engineering, Engineering Management program through ODU, and I rarely meet with the professors. However, as my “compensation” (i.e. grades) is production based, it doesn’t matter where I complete the work or how long it takes me; as long as it gets done. I think as time goes on, more and more work will be in the form of mini contracts in which a person is paid on the output instead of hourly wages or salary… and if it can be done at home from a computer, the commute will be one more expense which gets cut.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “if it can be done at home from a computer”

        Then it can be done from a cheaper home by a cheaper worker in a cheaper country. And the gradually lowered quality of the work will simply become the industry standard.

        In cases where real professional competence is required the employer will demand you be in-house to interface with other top level team members in meat space. Fast, comprehensive and sure, the Cloud being too fickle.

        • 0 avatar
          lando

          Perhaps. I do think you will have some professions which will still require a physical presence. For example, construction, some project management, ect… However, as video teleconferencing gets better, the employer will probably care more about production than how it gets done. There are already programmers who live in lower rent areas and work from home. Sometimes that is rural US, and sometimes it is a third world country. There are communities being built in Central America directly targeting US citizen programmers attempting to entice them to move and work out of planned communities. As for overseas workers taking over the work… to some extent this will happen. The US based worker will have to compete. But that already happens and there is still a shortage of good programmers/computer engineers.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Those walled “safe” compounds, with the big US-style suburban communities in the middle of the jungle outside a city creep me out. I’ve seen them on HGTV before. Razor wire and guards to protect the white people from the 3rd world country outside.

          • 0 avatar
            lando

            LOL, I didn’t say I wanted live there! Only that they exist. I would prefer the rural US route… however due to the wife’s desire to live near a large city and my work(construction/project management), my dream mini-farm is unlikely to ever happen.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Worked for a company that tried that; the results were less than great when we handed over to offshore. I will never forget my overseas counterpart telling me that maybe if he went up on roof, our web conference would work better.

          • 0 avatar
            lando

            This has proven to be the problem with outsourcing, including not enough skilled labor overseas. For example, there are India call centers which are out sourcing… to the US because they don’t have enough qualified workers in India. Even manufacturing is coming back to the States as increasing automation has shifted the cost from labor to energy and transportation. Especially when you may not have stable energy in third world countries. Or there isn’t enough bandwidth. Or the bribes necessary to not be tied up with “official” permits get burdensome. Or the host nation decides one day to nationalize your assets. Or your management team refuses to live there. Ect… There are a lot of reasons outsourcing to low rent areas end up not being as attractive as first thought.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I was actually surprised when some companies started reducing or eliminating telecommuting privileges, even though from what I understand, properly managed remote staff is no less productive. Yahoo recalled their remote staff recently and the same thing happened at a company a friend of mine works at. My company did something similar a few years ago and now the lights and HVAC have to be kept on through the weekend for a minimal staff of about 30 people for.

  • avatar
    Slab

    A world where bureaucrats negotiate and compromise? That really is a fantasy.

    • 0 avatar
      Travis

      I got a good chuckle out of that. Very enjoyable read overall. Glad this was put up.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They negotiate and compromise all the time.

      You’re probably just haven’t arranged to receive the grownup treatment. Some things aren’t negotiable (“TPS Reports or fees required by the legislature”), but some things are (especially if you appear to be adhering to the spirit of the rule if not the letter). My stepmom used to have a job where she sat on the board of zoning appeals (which has apparrently been replaced by Bob in this story), and it was like any other part of local politics: messy, high stakes for those involved, but ultimately necessary.

      It does help to know the system, have some money/resources with which to bargain, and be well connected… But this is America, so all you really need is to study the system and come in with a pleasant attitude.

      A pleasant attitude is necessary because bureaucrats won’t bend over backwards to help those who despise them. They HAVE TO follow the rules with everyone who comes through the door. But they’re normal people employed as public servants, and not saints, so they won’t usually coach the people who despise them on how best to navigate the system.

      At least that’s how it was 20 years ago in the rural county where I grew up – I imagine it’s different in Chicago or DC, but I’ve never spent any time in the planning offices there.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Interesting timing on the article. As I had a small load to bring into town with me today, I took the Ranger. Plugged in the Android phone, punched on Pandora, and was greeted with an initial playlist consisting of the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Ramones, Dead Kennedy’s, and The Misfits.

    I can easily see where the ‘vision of the future’ described herein could bring back of resurgence of the punk ’70′s. Just for the sake of the mindless screwing up of the sterile, perfect, everything works so well world as described.

    I’m happy to say at, even at the age of 63, I’ve got enough hair to immediately convert to a blue mohawk should this world happen.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Syke, what’s the name of the Pandora station? I like your style.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Sex Pistols radio.

        I love Pandora for the way you can subdivide and subdivide musical tastes. It took me about four tries, but coming up with “Rip Chords radio” gave me a channel of nothing but early/mid 60′s California car songs.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          We just bought a Bose Wave III for streaming Pandora from an iPad. Fantastic, room-filling sound. You want Zep, Zappa, Celtic Harp, Elgar symphonies? Pandora has ‘em.

          Now what to do with the old, massive stereo?

          • 0 avatar

            I sold my giant JBL floor speakers on Craigslist just last week. TheY cost me about $450 each to buy 10 years ago and I sold the pair for $300. They were in the basement for the last couple of years and I feel like I was lucky to get as much for them as I did.

            The best news is that I sold them to a guy who wanted them for his karaole system. I hope he gets all the enjoyment out of them that I should have.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Old age and tech progress are weirding me out.

            I’ve got a Roland guitar amp in the closet that can rattle my vinyl siding and has digital processing that would’ve seemed space-alien back in my old Twin Reverb days.

            All I do is take it out once a month to dust it off. Pud.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I recently set up a system consisting of JBLs some Polks and even a couple of old Infinity speakers to bring up the rear. I haven’t had an adequate sound system since I sold a pair of Jensen Model 6 floors along with a Sherwood amp and other irreplaceable equipment to help finance a ’71 Corvette which then accounted for two of my biggest mistakes I made in early adulthood. Righting those wrongs has been gratifying. My heart goes out to your JBLs and Roland amp and to Bob in the story because without any visible outlet, what does one do when one needs crank it up or whomp on it while oaring through the gears to maintain ones sanity?… Maybe there’s a Prozac drip that comes with life in the future

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Good article Thomas.  Maybe it is my old age and my experiences; but nowadays I do not see the future you do.
     
    I mentioned before the 1980s and 1990s; that was the high point in my life in seeing a future like this.  The Space Shuttle was flexing its stuff; the aero cars were pointing the way out of the Malaise era that was the 1970s-1980s, and the Star Wars and Star Trek movies, along with “2001 A Space Odyssey” pointed the way to a bright future.  I was majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and my bookshelves and files were full of books and articles on airships and the Solar System, as well as aviation, reviews of the Audi 5000s, and human powered vehicles like the Vector.  My senior paper in college was on wind turbines; while I would go on to work with conventional fossil fueled and nuclear power plants.
     
    Electronics and the Internet have come through in the time since, and much of what you described has or will come to past.  The picture phone of 2001 is with us thanks to Skype and net meetings, and I hold something close or in some ways better than the communicator and tricorder of Star Trek in the form of my iPhone.  As others have pointed out, telecommuting is here to stay; I work from home one day a week; but if the truth be told, could do so five days a week; I mainly commute in to keep in touch with my coworkers at the sites, and to fix things that can’t be fixed from home.
     
    But transportation has not.  I think the biggest problem is that our national and worldwide GDP has not grown enough to support such massive multi-billion dollar projects as the road network you describe, space travel, and airships.  The dot com bust, the money lost and spent on terrorism and fighting the wars that came out of it, as well as environmental and social programs, not to mention the Great Recession have all taken their toll.  Someone has to pay for those roads with the embedded technology that will be needed, along with the electric cars and the fail-safe computers and technology to support it; and neither governments at any and all levels nor private enterprise has it.  Nor do I see it in the near future; the system you describe would be difficult to implement piecemeal, and would have to extend to even remote locations to work; Farmer Brown and his truckload of turnips would get smashed by the high speed stream of trucks and cars just trying to get to market or the grocery store. 
     
    The original 2001 movie envisioned a more global economy; Star Trek an interstellar economy.  Someone would have to pay the bills while we chase monoliths, or while Kirk and Company explore new worlds; not to mention pay for their spaceships.  But all we have seen to date is the International Space Station; and the United States is now stuck with a retired Space Shuttle fleet and nothing to replace it.  China, not Russia or Europe or the United States may be the next steam locomotive to drive us further into space; but I don’t think it will have the steam to make it in the decades to come.
     
    Wind turbines have worked out; but after decades of prototypes and concepts; I only see the blimps being used for advertising and the Zeppelin NT in large scale use.  While airships promised the economy and capacity of water and rail transportation with the speed of roads and the VTOL and reach of air; they still need immense funding to build and operate; and while they continue to work on it, are still vulnerable when close to the ground and to weather.  (The Goodyear Blimps have a great safety record with only one fatality in decades of operation; but several have been lost due to weather.)  Most of our airliners trace their roots to the 1960s and 1970s; the Boeing Dreamliner and  777 and the Airbus A-380 being the main exceptions.
     
    No, my vision of ten, fifty, and maybe a hundred years out if we make it that long is more the same, just sleeker machines moving stuff around and bigger and shinier buildings mingled among the older buildings and infrastructure of our present day existence.  I hope I am wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      lando

      I wish there was a thumbs-up function. I like your comment. I think transportation will change, but it will have to be a leap instead of an evolution in regards to over road transportation. For example, driverless trucks, without any of the infrastructure requirements you mentioned. I think it will start in areas without much public interaction, such as farm and mining equipment, and then move to trains and aircraft, and finally to the road.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        They are already trying out driverless trains in limited operations, and the use of pilotless aircraft or drones will only increase; especially if the FAA grants them limitless access to the skies instead of today’s restricted access.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a wonderful, well thought out response. It will give me something to think about for a while.

      I think your last paragraph is right, honestly. Buffalo is a great example of new buildings going right up alongsdie the old. The idea that the future is an old, lived in place can be hard for people to wrap their heads around sometimes.

      To get to where I have us, there will have to be some real societal shake-ups, dropping to a four day work week and guaranteeing people some standard of living. There is going to be a lot of pain for the individual person, especially people in the working class, as we transition into a high tech, highly educated culture.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I think some of that pain is taking place now as we move more to a service based economy; and nearly everyone is expected to have some level of computer skills. All but the homeless and maybe the very poorest have a lifestyle that much of the world would have envied a few decades ago, with the minimum of a car, A/C and appliances, and a phone; maybe a base level smartphone on a per use plan.

        What I never see happening is a reduced work week; most of us are working more, and staying attached 24hrs to our jobs with our smartphones and laptops.

    • 0 avatar
      seattle4r70w

      i am working in china right now (kunshan area of jiangsu) and think that some of these changes to transportation may come more quickly and comprehensively to emerging economies vs. more mature ones. similar to cell phones here or in africa, where in many areas the infrastructure for landlines was never installed.

      here, there is little cultural attachment to cars other than as a statement of wealth or transportational tool. traffic can be miserable (hangzhou!), roads are mixed in quality (glass smooth to near jeep trails) with staggeringly rapid changes in routes, exits, directions of travel, traffic patterns and so on.

      my question – would self driving cars best for hugely stable environs like the one in the story above or would they make more of a difference in one that borders on chaos? humans aren’t awesome at either. we get bored without stimulation yet we don’t seem to process information quickly enough to manage something like driving in low visibility dense traffic on a variable road surface. (i just experienced this in a taxi.)

  • avatar
    Dan R

    There is nothing more illogical than cars.
    we should all be driving Camrys,the logical choice.
    I bet that these cars of the future will have chrome and fins.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Damnit, they promised us hovercars! I guess the future really ain’t what it used to be.

  • avatar
    davew833

    Somehow I’m conditioned to expect dystopia too… I guess I read too much Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick as a child.

  • avatar
    imag

    There is no way that cars as status symbols will go away, or that all subscription cars will be anonymous.

    Instead, your subscription will pay for a certain class of vehicle. There will be the cheap generic option, which will be used by many people. But others will have (and flaunt) uplevel subscriptions, which will provide them an elevated class of self drivers. People will be able to pay extra for a nice vehicle for special occasions.

    And the wealthy will still have their own private luxo-yachts. Independently minded people will probably keep their own vehicles as well, just to have their own space. Not everyone will go with the generic fleet option, just because the cars drive themselves.

    Anyway, impossibly perfect predictions of the future aside, I am glad the new bosses didn’t hold this article back.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The need for personal transport will most likely never go away. Virtual offices at home have been tried and have shown the lack of human interaction is a challenge an many cases.
    Heavy congestion is the biggest challenge with personal transport. It is caused by poor infrastructure, human error and high volumes of cars.
    I think this vision of personal transport is not far off the mark, It solves. It will, however, only work in 1st world places with developed economies. Poor countries will continue to pollute the air and congest roads with old school rusted deathtraps packed to capacity.


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