How Self-Driving Cars Could Change Everything

For starters, a Netflix model on ownership
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2010 12:03 PM CDT
How Self-Driving Cars Could Change Everything
A file photo of a Google Street View car. This one has a driver: how quaint.   (AP Photo/dda, Michael Kappeler, file)

Google's big idea to put self-driving cars on the road someday could be a game-changer. Three quick opinions:

  • Netflix for autos? "Cars that don't need drivers also may not need private owners—since they could be summoned remotely and returned once their journey is complete," writes Doron Levin at Fortune. "Why take on a lease if you can purchase a subscription to a car instead? ... Car owners who never want to spend a Saturday under the hood or in the waiting room of a mechanic's shop again might quickly adapt to a car subscription model."

  • Electric cars: This could be the boost they need, writes Felix Salmon at Reuters. People are wary of buying them because of occasional long trips and charging hassles. "Car subscriptions would be a much better solution. You use an electric car most of the time, and then when you need something with greater range, you just swap it out for one of those instead."
  • Resistance is futile: "Given how steadily computers have invaded every part of the driving experience, it doesn't seem like a big leap for them to take over the wheel," writes Farhad Manjoo at Slate. "That would free us up to handle much more intrinsically human tasks, like looking up movie show times. Perhaps this explains Google's motivation for looking into robotic cars: If you're not driving, you'll have much more time to surf the Web."
(More Google stories.)

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