Snippet: in this post we look at the impact of self driven cars on parking spaces across the world. We also look at how close we are to a self driving world.
What are self driven cars?
A car which can drive itself through the use of road and traffic sensing technologies such as RADAR, LIDAR, and cameras. Lot of regulations bind this category of transportation. The idea is simple, human drivers have a rhythm. Not all of us drive the same way. This alone costs a lot of traffic issues.
The belief with self driven cars is that, if every car drives diligently, similarly and is equipped with technologies to sense obstacles (other vehicles or people on the road), it would lead to a more predictable and smooth movement of vehicles – which ultimately reduces delays, jams, and saves energy (gas and electricity).
Eliminating the human driver means that car makers can accommodate another passenger in the driver’s seat. This means we can accommodate more people in cars, and in fact reduce the number of cars on the road. A win-win situation.
Who all are working on self driven cars?
For the past decade, many companies and universities are working on the self driving concept. Though there are very few states or counties which allow self driven cars to ply the roads legally, mostly they are restricted to campus or track driving today.
The closest we can get to a self driven car is the auto pilot mode on Tesla cars. Truth be told, this lane following and radar guided vehicle (the one in front) following technology is not pioneered by Tesla. This was available a long time ago in luxury cars such as Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar et al.
Google (Waymo) and supposedly Apple are both working on self driven cars for a long time. Why would a search engine an a phone maker get into making cars, you wonder? Let me paint the picture for you. Once cars become driverless, you and I will get into our cars and just sit there, until we are dropped off. What are we supposed to do sitting idly?
This is what companies like Apple and Google are good at. Engaging people with hardware and content. Apple would want you to watch movies on Apple TV or listen to podcasts or music on iTunes. Whereas Google would love you to search the web, read, watch YouTube videos.
You are a captive audience in their car, they want to sell more products and services, that’s Apple’s and Google’s endgame. Or we could just turn our laptops on, and start working – right in the car.
How close are we to get self driven cars on roads?
Now that car makers and tech companies are getting there, they would have to convince the law makers that self driven cars are safe. A lot of money is being spent to spruce up the tech platform and making it hack-proof. Some industry analysts say that self driving will become ubiquitous in the next decade.
Advantages of owning self driven cars
Here are some advantages of owning a self driven car:
- No more driving in the city
- No more yelling at people who cut across
- You get more time to be productive – start work early, come home early
- No hassle of finding parking spots. The car finds one by itself
- Send the car back home. Make better use of your car
- Accommodate an extra passenger. Or more luggage space
- Rest or sleep during long distance travel
Here are some advantages for city managers and planners:
- Well mannered driving all round
- Fewer accidents
- Easy to plan roads and parking spaces
- Fewer cars plying on the road
- Cut down on CO2 emissions
- Less spending on traffic maintenance
Do self driven cars need parking at all?
If the car can be summoned back home, then what’s the need for parking spaces? Possible, but not practical. If cars keep going back and forth between home and office, home and shopping centers etc. the whole point of reducing traffic congestion goes out of the window.
Companies like Uber are investing heavily on driver-less cars. Does this mean that private car ownership will become a thing of the past? Not necessarily. If people don’t have to drive, and can summon a car whenever they want, then privately owned driver-less cars are more appealing than hiring an Uber or Lyft every day. While such apps have transformed the sharing economy and pioneered the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), people would still continue to buy cars. Hence, vehicles would still need parking solutions.
What self driven cars need is smart parking solutions
When cars become smart, they need to be part of the traffic grid as well as a the main parking grid. If this is accomplished, then your car drops you off at work, and it already knows where to park – and maybe find a parking space with charging and charge itself. This is why governments and communities are talking about implementing smart car parking solutions.
Self driving cars will not only change the way people commute, but it will change – and force – governments to change the way cities are designed. Today, cities and counties need to design city roads and parking spaces for the world of the next 10 to 20 years. The time is right to implement smart parking solutions.