Incredibly, we might actually get a chance at a do-over — of our cities, our fossil fuel dependence, and the social contract with labor — thanks to the impending advent of autonomous cars. Yes, their arrival is inevitable, but how they will impact us is yet to be determined.
It took 50 years to transition from the horse to the car. Surely few could have imagined the impact the car would have as it tore through cities, countries, and economies worldwide. Today, average Americans spend almost two of their eight hours at work paying off their car, which they need to get to that job. Last year in the US, more than 38,000 people died and 4.4 million were seriously injured due to motorized transport. Farther afield, in Singapore, 12 percent of the island nation’s scarce land is devoted to car infrastructure. In Delhi, 2.2 million children have irreversible lung damage because of poor air quality.
If we allow the introduction of automated vehicles to be guided by existing regulations we’ll end up with more congestion, millions of unemployed drivers, and a huge deficit in how we fund our transportation infrastructure.