This post belongs to a series I’m calling Self-Driving Commentary, in which I spout and ramble on whatever is rattling around in my head pertaining to self-driving cars. Enjoy!
Are you ready to have your mind blown? Too bad! Unless your answer was “no.” In that case… good.
Nope. Not that. What is this bullshit? “Sleeper pod”? C’mon people.
I hear a lot of complaints that SDCs are more likely to exacerbate congestion than relieve it. We’ll have just as many solo riders puttering along at rush hour, and because the rides are shared the cars of recently dropped-off customers will also be puttering along, empty, on their way to the next customer. It’s not exactly efficient, and that’s only one example of how. And by the way, who’s going to be washing the sheets on this abomination?
Here’s my idea, stay with me here:
Maybe we all agree that the earliest, most widespread adoption of Level 5 Autonomy will be for long-haul trucking. And all of this autonomous long-haul trucking will obviously happen at night (Duh! Right?), freeing up our precious highways for rush hour commuters during the day. That’s not going to solve our congestion problems as city populations explode in coming decades - it may just put a small dent in it for a short period of time.
But what are these trucks going to be doing during the day? Sitting there waiting for nightfall? Here’s what I think they should do, since they’re already autonomous: pick up a JeremyShannon brand bus-trailer and haul it back and forth along major city roadways. People hop on and off, and switch directions not unlike switching subway trains. Hell, if all my dreams are coming true, why not have a bicycle ramp that I can roll up on while the bus-trailer is in motion like I’m goddamn Knight Rider or something.
A lot of people say the only way SDCs won’t exacerbate congestion is if autonomy is purposefully implemented to supplement existing mass transit, but I think a bus-trailer driven by autonomous tractor could be the best of both worlds. Plus, you could have sleeper-bus-trailers since obviously more than one person is likely to want to sleep on an overnight trip from NYC to Chicago, right? Take that, “sleeper pod”!