By now you are probably familiar with our LUST for the driverless car and the impact we feel it could have on both transportation and economic diversity in the Park City area. While it’s something we wish we would do here, it looks like Ann Arbor, Michigan is taking the first step.
This summer a 23 acre facility will be opened near the University of Michigan campus to test driverless cars in a virtual metropolis built with roundabouts, freeway entrances/exits, other cars, pedestrians (robotic of course), tunnels, and other conditions one might find in a metropolitan area. Many of the major auto manufacturers are contributing to the project with the hope to have hundreds of driverless vehicles driving in M City at the same time.
We’ve received comments on the topic ranging from “that’s really exciting” to “maybe in 50 years.” We firmly believe that in 5 years, production ready driverless cars will be sold. Why do we think that? Tesla is offering a self-steering model this summer. Cadillac will have hands-free driving in two years. The CEO of Ford says the first self-driving cars will arrive on motorways in 5 years.
While we could wait on the technology, become a passive bystander, and hope some people around here buy these cars so that we alleviate some traffic congestion … is that the best way to approach this? We still don’t think so.
We still have an opportunity to lead and become part of the process that made this technology happen. We can figure out how to optimize it for our type of environment. We can get people excited about it. We can bring a technology company here.
However, it seems like squandering this opportunity would be a big waste.