Who Will Get to Own Driverless Cars?

Some people have predicted that, by 2030, 95 percent of all travel will be by shared driverless cars. The prediction is based on an estimate that the cost of using a shared car will be so much less than the cost of owning a car that hardly anyone will want to own a car.

Some environmental groups, including NRDC, ICLEI, and Transportation for America, want to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. They have proposed that no one should be allowed to drive a private car in “dense urban areas”; instead, only vehicles in “shared fleets” should be allowed. Since it is also their joint goal to make all urban areas dense, effectively they want to ban car ownership except in rural areas.

Not surprisingly, the companies that want to operate those shared fleets, including Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar, are supporting the proposal. So far, however, no auto manufacturers have signed on; no doubt they will be happy to sell their cars to anyone who buys them.

As the Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Marc Scribner, points out, “many of the transportation departments in major U.S. cities are defined by their incompetence and corruption,” so giving them power over who gets to own the means of transportation is a particularly bad idea. But this proposal also is a part of urban planners’ schemes to make Americans live in ways that Americans don’t want to live.

Apparently, the fear is that owners of private vehicles are more likely to let their cars wander around with zero occupants or park in precious spaces that should be dedicated to someone’s microhouse. A ban on private vehicles also puts up a barrier at the edge of the dense urban area, however that is defined, requiring anyone who lives outside to transfer from their private vehicle to a shared vehicle when they cross the boundary.

In fact, it is quite likely that the most important result of driverless cars is that they will reduce the density of urban areas. On one hand, people who don’t have to drive will be willing to spend more time traveling to work. On the other hand, a reduction in congestion means that they can travel even further in whatever time they take.

Urban areas are only getting denser in places with growth boundaries or similar policies. Overall, the claim that people are moving back to the cities is a myth; in fact, 90 percent of population growth is in the suburbs and less than 1 percent is in downtowns. A recent survey asked people, “where do you want to live in five years?” and most answered they want to move to lower-density areas.

The solution to traffic and parking problems is to charge people by the mile their car drives and charge them for parking when there is a real cost of parking (which still means a lot of parking will be free because the cost of surface parking in suburban areas is nearly zero). If people are willing to pay those costs, why should they be denied the right to do so?

What this comes down to is that environmentalists only want driverless cars if they can use them to shape the cities to look the way they want. If driverless cars lead cities to look like something else, they will demonize them even more than they have ordinary cars.

Share

13 thoughts on “Who Will Get to Own Driverless Cars?

  1. LazyReader

    I tend to think auto ownership will still be high…
    Namely for the reason a fixed amount of vehicles available on demand, there’s nothing more on demand than your own. Also like human driven cars, used autos is where the money is really at. Lastly call me selfish, but I don’t wanna share my car with anyone cept people I know.

    I find it hard to believe the auto industry would push so hard for a technology that would actually discourage ownership of it’s products. Cars exist for more than just our transport from A to B, they’re historic pieces, family heirlooms, personifications of power and prestige.

    Lastly driverless tech hasn’t been mass marketed so so far, it hasn’t been mass networked like many computerized products an entire industry has grown up for the sole purpose of protecting your data and hardware…. Cyber attacks on our IT, traffic control, electric grid, corporate privacy….Since robocars rely on software updates and uploads, We’ve yet to see how a 15 year old with nothing better to do online will do when YOU take your eyes off the road. And Because computers never crash, suffer glitches, accidentally rewrite operating code, short circuit. If a computer crashes I have files backed up on USB or discs or Cloud. If you’re in the computer………what backs you up.

    Anyone can see that it would be in pork-barrel’s best interests to red flag all wireless satellite communication within all Dept. of Transportation highway systems.

  2. Sandy Teal

    Since there are so many 10-20 year old cars on the streets, any prediction of almost all cars being driver-less need to be 30+ years out. Only now do 95% of people have cell phones, and only 77% have smart phones. And that is just a $100 or less investment that is replaced every five years or so.

    The first regulatory step would be letting driverless cars use HOV lanes. Has that happened anywhere? Will that be supported by the HOV advocates?

  3. Frank

    “And that (cell phone) is just a $100 or less investment that is replaced every five years or so.”

    Still rocking the flip phone, Sandy?

    Phones ? cars.

  4. Maddog

    The Fourth Turning: The Smart Growth planners and the self-drive car will destroy the progressive city model

    Who Will Get to Own Driverless Cars? https://www.maddogslair.com/blog/the-fourth-turning-the-smart-growth-planners-and-the-self-drive-car-will-destroy-the-progressive-city-model

    “Some people have predicted that, by 2030, 95 percent of all travel will be by shared driverless cars. The prediction is based on an estimate that the cost of using a shared car will be so much less than the cost of owning a car that hardly anyone will want to own a car.
    * * *
    As the Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Marc Scribner, points out, “many of the transportation departments in major U.S. cities are defined by their incompetence and corruption,” so giving them power over who gets to own the means of transportation is a particularly bad idea. But this proposal also is a part of urban planners’ schemes to make Americans live in ways that Americans don’t want to live.

    Apparently, the fear is that owners of private vehicles are more likely to let their cars wander around with zero occupants or park in precious spaces that should be dedicated to someone’s microhouse. A ban on private vehicles also puts up a barrier at the edge of the dense urban area, however that is defined, requiring anyone who lives outside to transfer from their private vehicle to a shared vehicle when they cross the boundary.
    * * *
    Urban areas are only getting denser in places with growth boundaries or similar policies. Overall, the claim that people are moving back to the cities is a myth; in fact, 90 percent of population growth is in the suburbs and less than 1 percent is in downtowns. A recent survey asked people, “where do you want to live in five years?” and most answered they want to move to lower-density areas.”

    That nicely outlines what is likely to happen in the Smart Growth progressive cities. The urban and transportation planners will act in a way which will incentivize many to leave the downtown area altogether and move even further away from the city. These dense area boundaries will reduce the number of people interested in crossing them causing businesses within to move out or satellite across the boundary. This shift will be supported by the +90% of people who want to live in a less dense community, the increasing number of people who work remotely, Millennials and GenZ. The Screwed Millennial Generation Gets Smart | Newgeography.com http://www.newgeography.com/content/005866-the-screwed-millennial-generation-gets-smart

    The fact that Millennials and GenZ are likely to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors is causing the Boomers and the urban types to choke. The Boomers thought they had indoctrinated the Millennials to their goals of urbanization, and anti-materialism. The millennials are unlikely to follow in the footsteps of the boomers and more likely to follow in the footsteps of the Silent generation which preceded them.

    The elemental composition of the generations across time follows a four-season pattern. The first generation raises the second and creates a push back over everything from society to politics to child-rearing, and so on. What we end up with is an oscillation in one direction followed by a pendulum swing to the other, again followed by another pendulum swing, and so on. The pendulum in this instance does not swing back and forth, but swings in a box-like configuration are creating the four different but repeating generational patterns.

    Over the past 80-100 years, the generations included the GI, Silent, Boomer, GenX, and Millennial. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Turning-American-Prophecy-Rendezvous/dp/0767900464

    The GI (Hero) fought WWII and are oft considered a Hero generation for fighting to defeat collectivism during the last Crisis Change. Words defining this generational type are commonly kingly, harmonizing, mechanical, warfighting, institutionalizing, and constructive.

    The Silent (Artist) came along behind and pushed back against the chaos and violence of the Crisis Change and created a coherent, thriving well-mannered society, which resulted in social order, stability, economic growth, and prosperity. Words defining this generational type are commonly aristocratic, admiring, preparatory, conformist, hypocritical, and adaptive.

    The Boomers (Prophets) came along and pushed back against the well-mannered, social order finding the society lacking in spirituality, and triggered an emotive social/religious awakening. Words defining this generational type are commonly populist, ignoring, revolutionary, war-declaring, moralizing, and reflective.

    The GenX (Nomad) came along behind and pushed back against the chaos of the emotive awakening and created a more pragmatic society focused on business, and wealth accumulation. Words defining this generational type are commonly anarchic, despising, reactionary, personal, anti-custom, cynical, and competitive.

    The Millennials (the new Hero generation) which are mostly now of the age of majority, will not be a repeat of the GI generation but they will rhyme with them. They too will likely face a Crisis Change. I suspect that just as the Hero generations Fourth Turning began with the Great Depression, so the Millennials Fourth Turning started with the Great Recession although that is open for debate. Regardless, the war-declaring nature of the Boomers (a pushback from their draft dodging, indulged youth) is likely to find a war somewhere to declare. The Boomers like the last generation of Prophets will declare Total War and fight to an incredibly bloody and deadly conclusion. I believe the US soldiers will find a way to escape the death and devastation of Total War. The enemy, however, will not fare so well. Woe be unto America if we should repeat the cycle of civil wars which drove our first (the Revolutionary War) and second (the Civil War) “Fourth Turnings.” This should be a warning to the progressives who are itching for a New Confederacy and Civil War. Should this war come, it will be the progressives who fare poorly.

    Optimistically, the current Fourth Turning will follow the last, and if war comes, it will be a foreign, not domestic, war.

    The Civil War Fourth Turning was a shortened generational turning. I suspect this was so because the Crisis Change was the Civil War and the abrupt end of slavery. After that, the cycle did not need a Hero generation; it required the Artist generation’s aristocratic, admiring, preparatory, conformist, adaptive traits which would generate social order, stability, economic growth, and prosperity.

    The present generational Fourth Turning is likely to be either longer or shorter than usual. The Civil War Fourth Turning (1860-1865) was shortened from a full generation to five years because what needed to be done, ending slavery, was done immediately due to the war and its outcome. It is not clear that we will be able to accomplish all we need to during this turning in such a short period, so it may be much longer than the usual 20-year generational period, it may take 25-years or more.

    What we will likely need to accomplish is the shift to the reformation of K-12, and higher education; reorganization of local governments including addressing the pension, debt, and other governmental crises; restructuring of the federal government; restructuring the international order; the economic model shift from the Industrial Age to the Ownership Age; and much more. It is not clear which of these, if any, or all, we will address, but it seems highly likely that this Fourth Turning will set the stage for a Pheonix-like reduction, reformation, and reconstitution of most, if not all, of these institutions. The Fourth Turning is likely to end with these bodies collapsed and in flames. The following First Turning is expected to be where we see these new institutions created, formed, and launched.

    Because we are entering a socio-economic phase where America is undergoing a shift from the Industrial Age to the Ownership Age, I expect that jobs will begin to disappear and we will find new, and better, ways to redistribute wealth through society. Part of this will include an exodus from the cities, and a new way of living in exurbs, and the rural areas surrounding the cities. As I noted above, I suspect that the New Smart Growth urbanist will facilitate this through their authoritarian policies and draconian edicts.

    This change will be shocking and disruptive. I expect changes we should expect after a Fourth Turning, like the incredible changes from the go-go flapper libertine 1920s of the last Third Turning to the staid, conservative, respectable First Turning of the 1950s. (The previous Fourth Turning lasted from 1929-1946.) Today, I expect to see a sea change from the social breakdown of the hysterical postmodernist culture wars, anti-free speech spasm of the current generational Third Turning (1984 -2008) to the gentrified aristocratic conformity, teamwork, economic growth, and prosperity of the next First Turning (unknown dates). I expect this Fourth Turning to last from 2008-2026 or 2028 but, perhaps longer.

    Friends often tell me I am daft for believing that Americans will be able to reduce the mass insanity of the Cultural Wars to social conformity within a few decades. They find this especially tricky since it is already 2018. However, America did just that from 1929-1946 and then spent the next decade sorting out the institutions like the new international order, the Cold War, American SuperPower status, and others. We’ve done nearly as much before, I am sure we can do it again. It seems impossible because these periods only come every 80-100 years about the time that the last people who remember them die out.

    To understand the present, we need to understand the past – 80 years ago, and the past before that 160 years ago, and before that 240 years ago. Only then can we have clear insight into where we are going, and what we should expect. But then, that would require we know something about history.

    These periods do not repeat, but they do rhyme.

    If the Smart Growth Planners are successful in altering the urban landscape as I believe, I will, for the first time, raise my glass in a toast to them. It will also be the last, as their time will be at an end.

    Boohya!

    Mark Sherman

  5. prk166

    When you wear transit colored glasses, overly obsessing over strip malls and still a bit dazed from the shock of American energy independence since you absolutely knew peak oil was going to happen and certain that Big Oil And Big Car Corps all have magical powers to dupe people into driving….. well, when that’s your world you tend to salivate over anything that has even a hint of less driving.

    I wouldn’t take that rethinkX paper too seriously. They’re basing it on an unproven “disruption model”. And they’re keen to invoke some key religious points for the environmentalists, North Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL.

    They core issue is this unfounded belief that people are driven merely by money. Any 4th grader knows this isn’t true. Yet they foolishly pick up this false totem and run full bore with it.

    If money itself were what was driving people’s behavior, we wouldn’t be spending $8k a year on average on a car. All those SUVs – which is half of auto sales today – wouldn’t be happening. It’s far cheaper to buy and drive a Honda Fit than the single most selling vehicle, a Ford F150. If cutting that cost by $4k or $5k a year was a big deal to people, they’d have already done it by skipping buying the Pathfinders, Flexes, Envoys and Suburbans for Versas, Fits and Fiestas.

    Yet last year 50,000 Honda Fits were sold. Honda sold 300,00+ Accords, ya, accords. That’s not even getting into SUV territory. Honda sells 2 1/2 times more Pilots than Fits. If people were driven so much by price, then those sales figures would be flipped around the other way. They’re not. Price isn’t the driver.

    The driver is the value of everything else considered. People __WANT__ to spend $8K a year on a car. They could already be cutting that in half by changing what they buy but they’re not. How is that people could be spending less today but they’re not. Yet somehow tomorrow rethinkX claims people will act vastly different, they’ll start to value pure cost above and beyond everything else. Really? How?

    RethinkX doesn’t tell us what will cause this shift. Either they don’t know or they know they’re full of crap. It wouldn’t time something like this was done to stroke the ego of Standford alum too full of themselves to realize how little they actually know. To better understand a collar y of this, see Nasim Taleb’s writing on Harvard professors lecturing birds on how to fly.

  6. CapitalistRoader

    Due to the transformational potential of autonomous vehicle technology, it is critical that all AVs are part of shared fleets, well-regulated, and zero emission. Shared fleets can provide more affordable access to all, maximize public safety and emissions benefits, ensure that maintenance and software upgrades are managed by professionals…

    I’ve noticed that the statists have been trying to dictate the marriage of AV technology and battery electric powertrains for some time now. One ridiculous reason was because LIDAR are electric devices and as such they should be installed on electric cars only. Dumb. My guess is that LIDAR units consume tens of watts i.e., any standard 100amp alternator and car battery could easily power many of them.

    The people pushing this crap are just latter-day communists who’ve snagged some crony capitalist money from the shared car companies. It’s all pretty much nonsense. Rich people will always own or lease cars for their exclusive use. Slowly middle-class people will give up car ownership as car service contracts become cheap and ubiquitous, just home computers became cheap and ubiquitous. But gearheads will continue own their own cars. There’s no way politicians will alienate that group by banning private car ownership. For what gain? Banning human drivers in the city, yeah, that will happen, but what legitimate purpose would banning private car ownership serve? None, but the communists want this badly:

    Shared fleets can provide more affordable access to all…

    It’s dawning on them that AVs have the capactiy to obsolete collective (and often dirty and dangerous) trains and buses so they want everyone to get crammed into collectively owned (and possibly dirty and dangerous) shared cars. But only for commuting within their ideal communist city.

  7. prk166

    I’m curious how these shared cars would work on a mass scale. A common joke in the current car rental industry is that the rental car like a hotel room, you really don’t want to know what actually goes on in there.

    Or maybe they’re looking to be able to ban everyone that doesn’t use the term “zhe” or “Alexigender”. The latter is “a gender that is fluid between more than one gender but the individual cannot tell what those genders are”.

  8. CapitalistRoader

    My guess is that car sharing companies will build their customer base like Facebook does now, using social media and internal metrics to allow or reject customers based on past behavior.

    Consider who you would find it acceptable to share a car with now. Friends? Family? Acquaintances? Co-workers? I don’t use social media but it’s my understanding that you can accept or reject people from seeing or posting to your page. Why couldn’t car sharing companies use that same platform? Of course civil libertarians will scream about discrimination just as they rightly do now. But there’s more at stake for the car sharing companies than just eyeballs on ads; it’s the survival of their business. So I’d bet that those companies would be much more circumspect about banning a customer who, for example, a single other passenger said passed gas in their shared car.

    Ultimately, though, I think shared AV’s will be built with individually sealed passenger compartments. Each compartment will have electrically adjustable glass transparency not just between the rider and outside but between riders too. Individually controlled HVAC and audio. This should put an end to the need for crowd-sourced yea or nay of customers. The next rider, though, will just press a button if the previous rider left a mess which will 1) send that car off for cleaning and 2) flag the previous rider to be banned for future rides and/or make an upcharge for the cleanup.

    I imagine metro areas will contract car services to provide transportation for people who either have no car sharing history or are permanently banned from commercial car services for repeated disgusting behavior. Municipalities will be the transporter of the last resort. BTW that’s what the communists over at Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities want for everyone.

Leave a Reply