In previous posts I’ve argued against the wide take-up of driverless cars. My reason for doing so is because the personal or family car is a status good. It is the modern replacement for the horse and carriage of the aristocracy of 200 years ago. True, the car has also become a vital production tool for many businesses and jobs but, for most owners, the cost and afraid of a car is still an important status good and this was the only reason for its introduction in the first instance.
The idea that millions of us, instead of commuting to work in a car, will drive to work in a driverless car is, I think , a risible one. Equally so is the idea that thousands of automated freight lorries will be driving in long fleets along motorways safely at high speed. In both cases, if we need a new technology — and we certainly do — let it be using pressure tubes such as the Hyperloops that Elon Musc is hoping to deliver in the next fewyears.
The one area where small driverless units could be immensely successful would be the final flourish that makes complete sense of the uber-taxicab, now taking off in many of the largest and most congested cities of the world. The cost per trip may be higher than at present on private car, tram, bus, train or taxi (though not the bicyclc!) but there would be an extraordinary gain in the energy efficiency of the city as a whole from which all concerned would actually benefit.