Why Self-Driving (or autonomous) Cars?

GREED…. Via Bob Cringely

So everyone is going to need a new car.

Mandatory replacement is a glorious thing for manufacturers. It’s like that box of baking soda in the back of your refrigerator that you are supposed to throw away every 30 days. The golden era of the record business was when vinyl gave way to CDs and we all paid again to buy the same stuff we already owned. It happened again when we converted our VHS tape libraries to DVDs and to some extent when we gave up physical media for iTunes.

It’s a glorious thing, the prospect of selling 200 million brand new cars and trucks over a 2-3 year period. And it’s coming, it’s absolutely coming.

Ford says it will have a self-driving taxi without a steering wheel in service by 2021. That’s a key data point because there’s no way Ford can afford the liability of putting those truly driverless cars on the road if they’ll be mixing it up with me in my 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee that still smells faintly of mice.

For autonomous cars to be successful they will have to totally dominate, which will require new laws, getting old cars off the roads. This is the part they couldn’t do back in 1995. The banks will have to lend lots of money (with federal guarantees, I’m sure), old cars like mine will have to be melted down. It will be a huge endeavor that will also involve a serious increase in electric vehicles.

And it will happen. Shit, we all know there’s a recession coming after the election, followed by Japanese-style deflation unless we can find a way to really juice the economy. George W. Bush used a housing bubble for that after 9/11 but those tricks have been all used-up. And there’s no more room for the Fed to drop interest rates.

So autonomous cars it must be.

Appealing to both sides of the aisle, car factories will soon be running three shifts, infrastructure will be rebuilt at the same time, and even global warming will be quietly addressed if not accepted on the right — all while saving lives and increasing elderly mobility.

Heck of a deal. I’ll just whistle for my car like Roy Rogers summoning Trigger.

But will I have to also give up my Bugeye Sprite? Probably, unless Sundays are made non-autonomous car days.

I’m not saying this is entirely a bad thing or even mainly a bad thing. or even mainly a bad thing. It’s just a thing we’ll have to deal with. And I thought it was only fair to tell you it’s coming.

By Robert X. Cringely|August 25th, 2016|2016, Economy,