Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Self-driving solving traffic congestion?

I've been hearing a lot about self-driving cars creating this utopia of no more car ownership, end of congestion, etc. I take issue with that for purely common sense reasons.
Consider that people work and live and shop in locations scattered all over. This clearly explains why, out of 140-million workers in the US, 107-million are single-occupant drivers and only 7-million use all forms of public transit combined.

All of the self driving developments are great, and the possibility of less car ownership is wonderful too, however, if you think about it, it doesn't mean less traffic.

The problem stems from the fact that people need to get to work. Their homes are scattered all over the place, and so are their work locations. Rarely, even if husband and wife work in the same location, do they want to travel together, as it limits their freedom to come and go as they want, and to run personal errands that the spouse may not want to go on.

Suppose that half of these people started using self-driving cars that are owned by Uber or other car share companies. True, the number of cars needed would decrease drastically, and that would solve a lot of parking problems, however, the flow of people would not change by much, except that the parking lanes might be used to increase road lanes, and therefore capacity, and the cars may be able to drive with less braking distance, as the reaction time would be reduced. There would be virtually no change in traffic as the same number of people need to go to the same number of places. The duty cycle of each car is greatly increased as they don't sit around in parking garages, but rather go on to give the next ride. So unless they are electric, the pollution is not even diminished.

The simple solution is to have single-occupant drivers/riders in cars that are less than 40” wide. That gives the same clearance in half of a freeway lane that trucks have in a full lane. The narrow cars would stagger naturally, and this gives added safety as they are short and much more maneuverable. They are also fully electric, as it's almost impossible to make the center of gravity low enough in a gasoline vehicle to make it stable.

I believe that the only way to combat traffic congestion and to get most commuters driving electric, is to give them something that makes commuting easier, faster, safer, and more fun.
The Tango ticks all the boxes.
• Dimensions of a motorcycle
• 0-60 3.2 seconds.
• FIA certified racecar roll cage
• Same rollover threshold as a 911 Porsche
• Fastest speed recorded by Consumer Reports through the “Emergency Lane Change Maneuver (Moose Test)
• Holds two large adults comfortably.
• Self-driving or not, solves traffic congestion.