Paul Saffo on Google’s self-driving cars

Paul speculates on the implications of the Google/Stanford research. There’s a short video of one of the Google robo-Prius cars on the highway.

(…) Why buy a car when you can subscribe to one? This is the alluring premise behind services like Zipcar and City CarShare, but thanks to an assortment of small annoyances, car sharing is a tiny industry that remains more promise than reality. Advanced telematics could be what makes car-sharing practical by adding features calculated to protect occasional drivers and the cars they share. Collision-avoidance systems would spare drivers the grief of an accident and allow for lower insurance rates. Cloud-based mapping and traffic alerts would dramatically increase the convenience of shared cars and provide better monitoring and diagnostics for the system operators. Thrun even thinks we can create a service where instead of picking up your car in a nearby parking space, the driverless car will come to you like a well-trained spaniel.