Driverless Car Myths

Countless reports and studies regarding driverless vehicles speculate about the drastic changes that will happen as a result of the proliferation of this disruptive technology (my Guide included!). I thought I’d highlight a few of the more extreme myths and de-bunk them:

  • No more headlights will be needed! Despite what this article states, headlights will still be needed. Even if the vehicles don’t need headlights to “see” in the dark, pedestrians and cyclists will always need to be able to see the vehicles.
  • AVs will reduce or eliminate stoplights! While this article highlights the potential for commute time savings with no stop lights, it ignores the fact that (again) pedestrians and cyclists will need to know when they can safely cross intersections. Moreover, the study assumes a society with all driverless vehicles and it may be many decades before we come close to that.
  • Connected vehicle technology won’t be needed once AVs are here! Driverless and connected vehicle technologies are distinct technologies that have significant benefits independently; however, the combination of the two will maximize the safety benefits for society.
  • All AVs will be EVs! Just about every research report discussing AV impacts highlights reduced greenhouse gas emissions since AVs will be fueled by electricity. These are two distinct technologies, so it can’t be assumed that AVs will leverage the EV technology.
  • Public transit will be obsolete! While I do think transit agencies will need to re-think their service offerings, fleet types, pricing, and coverage areas, I believe government involvement in public transportation will always be necessary. Government will need to manage their jurisdiction’s mobility to minimize congestion, ensure proper transportation options for all demographics, and enable seamless payment across platforms (amongst others).

The list of driverless car myths is much longer….any other ideas?

About Lauren Isaac

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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3 Responses to Driverless Car Myths

  1. Henry Moss says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful observations, Lauren. I’m an amateur on this stuff, but, as a philosopher, I’m trained to think logically. That has made me a driverless car skeptic, though I’m a huge fan of technological development. Attached is a piece I’ve written that suggests that driverless cars, Google-style, will never happen. I’m still working on it and haven’t sent it anywhere, but would appreciate any feedback you might have, or suggestions about where to send it.

    Henry Moss


  2. Mike Stanley says:

    Transit X is working to make cities car-free. Compared to personal mass transit such as Transit X, autonomous cars are 10X less capacity, 100X less resilient, 10X less efficient, require 10X more parking, 4X slower, 1,000X less safe, and 10X more costly. If implemented, they will likely increase congestion, and only slightly improve parking.


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