As the springtime gets into full swing, orange barrels start blooming on the highways. Construction seems to never stop, especially in large cities with high traffic and brutal winters. Budget issues don’t help things either. So when it comes to the subject of autonomous vehicles, I am very perplexed at the long term goal relating autonomy to infrastructure.
Economists and auto manufacturers have been conscious of “peak car” for quite some time. Peak car is a complex theory, but the premise is that there is a limit as to how many miles can be traveled by a number of cars before there are too many cars driving too many miles, at which point peak car has happened and a decline in usage and sales occurs. Add that to the highly debated topic of autonomous cars, and if autonomy will require a greater demand for vehicles or less, and the recipe is quite perplexing.
If autonomy will require fewer vehicles, than the amount of money going into creating new infrastructure to accommodate more vehicles will seem irresponsible and silly in the future. Yet, if autonomy will demand more vehicles, it will be a good thing that highways and roads and all other vehicle infrastructure would be improved upon and expanded. We will look back and be thankful we spent the money on those resources.
It is hard to determine which way things will go. Planning long term is something that is very hard to do in these modern times, so to try to perceive how autonomous vehicles will be needed and used, and weigh that to the current and future needs of infrastructure, the comparison is tough to connect in a shared goal situation. Time will tell how it turns out, but for the moment, I just hope construction will be completed so traffic can flow properly again.