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Blake Dowling: Time to jump on the self-driving bus

AV tech is the future of transportation, so go ahead get on the train (the self-driving train, that is).

Last week, state Rep. Jason Fischer submitted HB 311, and it is all about autonomous vehicles (AVs), or self-driving cars. I have followed the innovation, development — and barriers to success — of AV tech since the early days.

Cheers to Jason for pushing this forward, despite opposition and massive obstacles.

AV tech is the future of transportation, so go ahead get on the train (the self-driving train, that is).

The car of the future as projected in the 1960s.

First, we must get through the pioneer days: making sure AVs function properly, are safe and affordable.

After that, we can watch with wonder and laugh as we zip down Monroe Street drinking a Martini and look back on when we used to drive places.

Hahahahaha! Not buying it, see you in 2034.

By that time, I would be willing to wager that AVs will account for about 50 percent of personal transportation, and 75 percent of commercial traffic.

A common side effect of innovation is disruption; think carefully about which side of the fence you are on regarding the industries impacted by this new tech. Also, look for a massive lobbying effort from all parties associated with this innovation — such as booze in cars, as per the hypothetical martini scenario above.

Hey, why not have a party if no one is driving?

One of the leaders of the pack in this discussion is Google. Its first self-driving car hit the road in 2011. Millions of miles later, only 20 crashes with just one being the fault of the car.

Ironically, most of the human drivers in the car — to “assist” — cause the crashes.

As we say in the tech world: “Problem in seat, not in computer.” We say this quietly, however, as not to offend.

Uber, Amazon and Tesla all have big budgets dedicated to this tech. And let’s not forget the nice people at Apple, either. What are they up to with Project Titan (their car development)? This month brings fresh rumors on that front.

I am especially curious if they will call it iCar. They have to, right? Come on man, we need an iCar.

Read more here.

Could the Apple iCar look like this?

Along with the early successes, there have been brutal setbacks. Last year in Arizona, there was a fatality with an Uber Self-Driving Car — with a human on board for emergencies — neither the car (nor the human) could prevent running over and killing a pedestrian.

Here in Florida, Tesla also had its own tragedy with an additional fatality.

Obviously, this is as serious as it gets, but (in my opinion) these companies should continue to push to make these a reality.

Consider this: In 1899, there were 26 deaths in the U.S. caused by motor vehicles, up to 37,000 in 2017. If we can automate this process, many many lives will be saved. That’s the big picture here.

Plus, there are significant benefits those who are visually impaired or living with other disabilities. It could provide more freedom of mobility, as noted last week by Drew Wilson in Florida Politics.

The Road Hog, Fourth of July Parade, El Rito, New Mexico 1968 Image via Lisa Law/Image Works.

The autonomous vehicle revolution is here, and as Ken Kesey liked to say: “You are either on the bus or you’re off the bus.” I suggest getting on the bus.

The real question: Who … or what … is driving it?

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Written By

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

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