Let’s begin with today and see how full autonomy in vehicles might progress. Today there are some auto-driving cars, but we know they are still just safety features that help you avoid collision more than anything else. Soon, however, these features will be able to take full control of the car and you can sit back and be just a passenger. Once this point is reached there will be rapid changes in where and how driving is done.
Freeways will be split – not like HOV lanes are today, no. Imagine all the Northbound lanes closed to all cars where a driver is in control. The southbound lanes will be split down the middle and drivers will be using this as their new north-south lanes. Those northbound lanes will be only for fully autonomous cars.
But there won’t be any lanes. Traffic will run swiftly in both directions on any side of the road that works for the flow of traffic. You may be heading South at a full clip when the car needs to move over to the left (into oncoming traffic) and the cars will make a path – the car will float over to the left and exit as needed. A bit like the video here but the water is northbound and the car is the swing.
Traffic signs will no longer be needed and perhaps digital markers will replace them. Easier for the car to know what’s up ahead if there are sudden changes beyond its ability.
Once the freeway is 100% autonomous then all old lanes in both directions will be used (again in any direction) and the median will be removed. There probably won’t be any lines painted (waste of paint by now).
Autonomy also brings a freedom from congestion. Your car could pick you up – drop your kids off at school, drop you off at work, go backhoe and be available for your spouse all day until it needs to grab you or the kids or both. Schedule conflict? Uber-like services or your friend’s car will fill in the gap. With cars always doing work or being there for the person that needs it – you have fewer cars, less need for parking in a city. If these cars are gas or electric they can go fill themselves up without wasting your time or more importantly encouraging the (now mythical) range anxiety.
Sure there’s trucks and buses and other large vehicles that will need to be developed too.
Old cars will still have a life – where you can use it on country roads and enjoy the top down or whatever. Not forever, but don’t worry most of us will outlive our nonautonomous car and the nostalgia we have for them.
This is not tomorrow – this is the final destination. Well until these things can fly of course.
Enjoy the future.
— Range anxiety: I don’t have it. When all-electric cars have a 200+ mile range and (a big and) people charge their car @ home when they sleep, the anxiety effect will be gone. Even better the fully autonomous car will always know its limits and will be sure to charge when necessary and keep that in mind for longer trips. Also lastly; battery swap we know is possible and fully automatic and autonomous battery swap is clearly within reach.