There’s a cool future prediction article here about the end of the human driven automobile. The author Bob Lutz, is a General Motors executive. He thinks within twenty years we will all be sitting in transportation pods being zipped along to our destination.
They had something like this in the dystopic movie Minority Report.
It all sounds pretty cool, but like most futuristic predictions it is full of holes and something called reality leaks in.
I am sure the techno wizards will be able to produce the smart cars and transportation systems. but what about the rest of the infrastructure? The cars are going to rely on decent roads and road markings to succeed. Have the future dreamers actually negotiated the pothole riddled roads of America? Have they driven along where the road markings are faded, ambiguous, just plain wrong or absent altogether?
How will their cars successfully navigate all the millions of miles of secondary roads, country roads and dirt lanes?
They can invent the cars, but who is going to invest in bringing the road system up to date? The corrupt and incompetent politicians can’t even repair and maintain the existing infrastructure. For the new system to work the private investors in the new transportation companies will have to invest in the road systems as well as the vehicles, and that investment will be far bigger than the already huge investment in developing the smart cars.
I reckon the whole project will be far slower to kick in and that the reality will be that we will still drive our own cars, but the interstate highway system and the highway systems of our major cities will be adapted and what will really happen is that we will be able to switch over to auto pilot when we hit the freeway or make the four hour drive down the interstate. But when we take a drive up to the mountains or out into the country we’ll still have to grab the wheel.
The author brings up another point. He says that legislators will make it mandatory to get rid of our own cars and belong to the brave new world of mass transportation.
Who is he kidding? The American government can’t even ban semi automatic weapons. Instead some politician will probably get a new constitutional amendment passed guaranteeing every American the right to own his own and drive his own car.
This is where his streamlined dream really falls apart. He underestimates the rugged individualism of most Americans. The Trump victory should have reminded this top end executive that most Americans in the heartland can’t stand stuck up guys in suits who tell them how to live their lives.
Does he really think he’s gonna get Jimbob out from the wheel of his six wheeled pick up truck? Does he think Bill and Patsy who have saved up for their RV retirement are going to give up their gas guzzling palace on wheels for his transportation pods? Sure the daily commute is a grind for suits like him, but does he really think retired Harry who finally has that Camaro he always wanted is going to hand over the keys for a transportation pod? Will there really be no more two seater convertibles for a lovely drive through the mountains? And what’s he going to do about motorcycles?
The problem with this dream is that it depends on a mono-state imposing a uniform solution for everyone, and I think there’s enough of the “Don’t Tread on Me” spirit in the USA to sink the idea before it sails.
Don’t forget to check out my new book The Mystery of the Magi.