This one is much more realistic. Google has made impressive progress, but apparently their cars can’t even handle rain. The media hypes this as the solution to all transportation problems … and by media, I mean wide-eyed transportation bloggers.
Let’s assume that these things drove themselves as well as the average, barely trained US driver. What then? What problem do they solve? Not GHG emissions since once they drop you off at your destination, they’ll drive around until they find a place to park, racking up vehicle-miles (but not passenger-miles!). If they don’t reduce VMT then they don’t reduce congestion. So what’s the upside?
Oh, and then there’s liability. I don’t see the public being OK with not holding the vehicle owner responsible when their driverless car mows down a Brownie troop at a cross walk. I’m also pretty sure the manufacturers won’t accept liability either so who is responsible? Will states just exempt owners and manufacturers from any liability? Yeah, I don’t see that.
The article above is not about that, though. While it’s even better when elevated roadways are taken down, like they did with the old Central Artery and are planning to do with the McGrath Highway (not to mention many others including OKC’s Crosstown), this at least makes them less ugly and/or scary. That’s a good thing, IMHO.
I believe I will pull this quote and leave it at that:
“[A]t all levels of government, 20th-century American land use and transportation planners sought to support “one single purpose to which the whole of society is permanently subordinated”—making cars go as fast as possible.”