Driverless car technology has the very real potential to save millions from death and injury and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars of costs. Google’s claims for the car, as described by Sebastian Thrun, its lead developer, are:
* We can reduce traffic accidents by 90%.
* We can reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90%.
* We can reduce the number of cars by 90%.
About 5.5 million motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2009 in the U.S., involving 9.5 million vehicles. These accidents killed 33,808 people and injured more than 2.2 million others, 240,000 of whom had to be hospitalized. This costs the US $450 billion per year.
PWC indicates that the global automotive supply industry has aggregated revenue of $2.8 trillion.
Nextbigfuture has previously discussed how robotic will enable denser and larger cities. Google told the world it has developed computer driving tech that is basically within reach of doubling (or triple) the capacity of a road lane to pass cars. It could let cities be roughly twice as big, all else equal.
Doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission
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