What pending revolution on our roads?

By Mr. Paul Godsmark posted 01-03-2013 01:39 AM


"Surprisingly few people, even within the transportation planning world, are talking about this pending revolution."

The statement above was made in an online article by Freakonomics in December 2012:

In my opinion this is a very good point - what are we as a Transportation Profession doing about preparing for the biggest revolution that we will have seen on our road network since the invention of the car some 120 years ago?  Why have we not already started planning for this inevitable paradigm shift that will transform not just our roads, but society as well?  What should we do to prepare?

The unfortunate fact is that a significant proportion of readers of this blog may have been unaware of what this impending revolution is.

To aid research I have posted up the following document which is a sort of "Autonomous Vehicles 101" and this should help bring you up to speed if that is necessary.  If you are interested in this subject then you may also find the LinkedIn forum on 'Self Driving Cars' of interest, or the Facebook page 'DriverlessCarHQ'.  This technology is developing rapidly and even my presentation of October 2012 now needs updating.

If there is any interest in this subject I will happily blog further to aid discussion and keep folks abreast of latest developments.  So please register that interest and let me know what aspect of this fascinating subject that you would like to know more about.

Cheers!  Paul Godsmark, 2 Jan 2013
(tags: autonomous vehicle, self driving car, autonome, driverless, Google) 



01-06-2013 03:18 PM

Gary - thanks for a great response.
As you are someone that is clearly aware of this technology, then, if you haven't done so already are you willing to transition from following this technology to actively becoming involved in determining what us transportation professionals should be doing about it?
With my limited efforts I have been unable to identify a client or a funding source that wants to invest in preparing for this technology. Yet government and businesses are making decisions every day with significant societal and financial implications with no obvious cognisance of this autonomous vehicle future.
If we work together as a profession I have no doubts that awareness will be raised and funding will be found.
But the Freakonomics article sums it up for me - where are the Transportation Planners in all of this? We have an impoprtant part to play and if we don't 'step up to the plate' soon then we risk becoming sidelined.

01-06-2013 10:01 AM

Hi Paul,
First, thank you for creating a blog post that simply wasn't an announcement. I was growing tired of looking at the ITE Community blog system functioning as an announcement system and not as a true blog.
Secondly, there are some of us in the profession who are following the development of autonomous vehicles closely. People in our profession who aren't following it are missing out on the next transportation break through and an extraordinary opportunity. Recent events by Apple and Google show how each are seriously focused on the car of the future. Google hired Ron Medford (former deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Board), Eddy Cue (Head of Internet Software and Services) joined the Ferrari Board of directors and Apple abandoned Goggle Map's for their iOS system. Many think that Apple abandoned Google Maps because of their competition with Android, but there are enough minor signs out there to suggest that there was more to it. Apple realized that they had to bite the bullet to start their own navigation system. They realized they couldn't rely on Google when they will be soon competing more with each other more with respect to the motor vehicle market.
The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES for those who are familiar with it) is scheduled to officially start this Tuesday (www.cesweb.org). The major car manufacturers are scheduled to be present with both Toyota and Audi showing off driverless cars. If there are any good videos and other interesting developments, I'll try to post them in a future blog post.
And for the readers who are skeptical of the driverless cars becoming a reality, it will happen. There is too much money to be made. Apple has about $120 billion available when factoring in long term investments. Google has over $40 billion in cash reserves. Money that will be used on technology and perhaps more importantly, lobbyists.