Elon Musk, Apple, Google, and Big Auto are feverishly trying to bring Self-driving cars into our lives. There is something fantastical about the idea that we could get into a personal vehicle and have it whisk us away to our destination while we preoccupy ourselves with other matters, but truth be told, autonomous vehicles are not a solution to any broad problems facing society today. In fact, they will likely exacerbate existing problems, like urban sprawl development and the health problems that result from sedentary lifestyles.
Instead of solving the root of the problem which is properly designed communities where we need not travel long distances for our most common trips, these wealthy innovators are trying to create a method for us to sustain the dysfunction. Trying to create a machine that will make urban sprawl more convenient and sitting on asses for longer periods of time more palatable is not helpful. Developing autonomous vehicles is like spending billions upon billions of dollars to figure out a way for us to tolerate a fatal poison. What we should be doing is figuring out a way for us to stop taking the poison.
Undoubtedly there is some good that can come out of autonomous vehicle technology. Those who are currently unable to drive cars may one day have that convenience. Long distance transport of goods may become less expensive, passing savings onto consumers. But that should not be our focus at this time. What we must focus on now is getting our towns and cities in order. We should be shoring up infrastructure. We need to provide a safe and convenient environment for people, not cars. We must promote safe and logic land development practices.
Perhaps after we accomplish those ambitious project, we can start thinking about cars that drive themselves.