Events of this past week have made me stop to ponder the future of automobile transportation. You may have heard that Google has managed to build cars that drive themselves. That’s really good news in light of Tracy Morgan’s recent accident involving a truck driver that was falling asleep at the wheel. Question is, why isn’t Google working on trucks that drive themselves?
The self driving car is no doubt the wave of the future. It seems to me though that the first step would be to master the self driving truck. Some companies are trying to build drones that deliver packages so why not start with the first layer, self-driving trucks?
Okay, we need to realize how that idea is going to put thousands of truck drivers out of work. But let’s face the fact that the number of fatalities in truck related accidents has risen dramatically. In 2010 there were 3,413 fatalities due to large truck accidents; according to a report by the US Department of Transportation. That number is up from 1,547 reported in 1993. That’s a 100% increase in less than ten years.
Yes, American truckers delivered over eight trillion dollars in goods in 2007, the last available report. Which of course only means in 2014 that number is much, much higher. So there’s no doubt that we’ll be putting a lot of truckers out of business by deploying self driving trucks. In the case of the Tracy Morgan accident, it would have saved lives and the health and well being of those in that particular accident.
This is a situation we need to weigh carefully. Think about it. If there was teleportation (beam me up Scotty) where we could move people and goods from one point to another instantly then there wouldn’t be any need for cars or planes, trains, buses or trucks. That’s millions of jobs we eliminate pretty fast; which would be devastating to our economy.
Here’s another great invention that can totally change the landscape of self driving cars, energy conservation, carbon emissions and so much more. A company called Iniegogo (www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml) has invented solar panel roadways. THIS IS HUGE. This idea could totally revolutionize life as we know it on so many levels. I’ll let you investigate this one on your own, however to sum all this up there is a very bright future ahead of us. However, it’s going to take some serious adjustments to make this leap.
Now, all these things may be revelations for you as you read this, but if you’re as savvy as I think you are then you’re having a Ah-Ha! moment right now just like I have this past week. There is so much to be gained by deploying these new technologies.
Global warming may not be something we can reverse, and like it or not, it is a reality and proven to be caused by humans. If we arrest this problem now by building solar panel roads and deploying self driving cars and trucks we can change the future for the better in so many great ways. But the Ah-Ha! comes down to one simple fact that we greedy consumers are not willing to face. There will be drastic changes to our economy, our jobs, and our way of life.
Yeah, I’d like to get a ride into the future to see how all of this is going to pan out. I like to be an optimist and think we’ll save ourselves from sure destruction on both the economic and environmental levels. But if history is proof of anything it is that we are destined to choose our pocket over our well being.
I’d like to close this article with a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Matrix. Agent Smith says, while interrogating Morpheus for the codes to get into their secret homeland, Zion, ” I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”
While we all look for a better way to get around, this world we love is quickly rotting away around us because we fail to recognize the truth of Agent Smith’s statement. This isn’t a call to action, or any sort of rant in regards to the reality I’ve painted here. Rather one man’s cross examination of what is possible and what might be.