Sunday, February 22, 2009

Robo-Taxis - A concept for the (near) future

Brad Templeton (another verteran of the very very very early internet and pre-internet days) has an interesting and thought provoking set of essays on his blog describing the robo-taxi concept.

The main point being that we can with current technology implement a transportation system that uses distributed intelligence to allow computer powered robotic taxis to take over the job of driving us around.

  • These type of vehicles can provide a solution that reduces traffic fatalites dramatically (think saving 40,000 lives a year in North America.) 
  • Transportation costs (think oil and CO2) far lower than either mass transit or any current car or vehicle. 
  • Implementation does not require multi-billion (trillions globally) local investments in infrastructure.
All utilizing most of the existing infrastructure:
  • municipal road systems
  • exising car and vehicle manufactures
  • exising local support (sales, repair, recycling)
  • adoption is done in a gradual and progressive manner over decades
There are no silver bullets required. Current battery technologies are adequate (you don't need super long range batteries when you can swap vehicles if your taxi has a low charge, and then it just drives itself to a charging station.)

Its green. Its cost effective. It will save lives. 

And remember, as a bike rider, one of those lives may be you or one of your cycling friends.