Driverless Cars — You Heard It Here First

Not five months after Randal O’Toole discussed the idea of safe, efficient, driverless cars in his book Gridlock: Why We’re Stuck in Traffic and What to Do about It and in this full-page Wall Street Journal essay – but 71 years after Norman Bel Geddes first imagined the idea at the New York World’s Fair of 1939 – the Washington Post (in an article picked up from the New Scientist) and Scripps-Howard columnist Dale McFeatters (in the New York Post and elsewhere) are writing about the benefits of such advanced technology. As the Post puts it,

Yet according to Jonas Ekmark, a researcher at Volvo headquarters near Gothenburg, Sweden, this is just the start. He says we are entering an era in which vehicles will also gather real-time information about the weather and highway hazards, using this to improve fuel efficiency and make life less stressful for the driver and safer for all road users. “Our long-term goal is the collision-free traffic system,” says Ekmark.

Or as O’Toole had put it in the Wall Street Journal,

Driverless vehicles offer huge advantages over current autos. Because computer reaction times are faster, driverless cars can safely operate more closely together, potentially tripling highway throughput. This will virtually eliminate congestion and reduce the need for new road construction….

Driverless cars and trucks will be safer. They will also be greener, first by significantly reducing congestion, and eventually because vehicles will be lighter in weight due to reduced collision risks.

Stay tuned to the Cato Institute for more ahead-of-the-curve ideas.