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Surely the autonomous electric vehicle is the gold at the end of the rainbow? ❞

THE VIEW Foreword Thinking Kevin Borras

Can’t we live together in electric dreams?


s any of my Facebook friends or followers would readily tell you, the major- ity of my social media posts are about music. I recently contributed my opinions to a discussion group and, I really can’t recall why, ended up men-

tioning an album by a band that I very much doubt too many Thinking Highways readers have ever heard of – Number One Cup, who hailed from Chicago. The album in question is called People, People Why Are We Fighting? And the title made me think about something that I may entirely fabricating but I am quite con- vinced has cropped up in ITS circles over the last year or so. This whole “autonomous vehicles versus electric vehicles” thing - it’s puz-

zling me somewhat. I seem to remember there being a film out recently called Batman Vs Superman and I couldn’t think of one reason why those two superheroes would be battling each other. I am not a fan of that kind of film, I’ve not seen any of the “-man” movies, as I like to refer to them (Bat-, Super-, Spider-… Snow-) but it seemed to me that putting Batman and Superman in opposition was fundamentally, logically flawed. Not that the whole premise of Batman and Superman on their own isn’t logically shot full of holes as a pound of Swiss cheese (did you know that the holes in that type of cheese is caused by microscopic hay particles falling into the buckets that are used to collect the milk? Neither did I) but it just sounded like the convoluted market- ing ploy to end all convoluted marketing ploys. That’s clearly not the case with “AVs Vs EVs” as I shall not ever refer to it

again, but the premise here seems to be a “race” to see which of the 21st Cen- tury’s most innovative transport technologies will become mainstream first. Healthy competition is all very well but not if it’s as manufactured as this. Is there a race? And if so, why? As a journalist I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven electric vehicles and

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been a passenger in a number of autonomous vehicles and, on one glorious occasion in Luxembourg, I sat back and marvelled in extraordinary comfort as the electric vehicle in which I was being slung around a race circuit was switched into semi-autonomous mode. Surely the autonomous electric vehicle is the gold at the end of the rainbow? I have no intention of turning my foreword into an adver- tisement for Tesla but this is what Ford’s vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering Ken Washington had to say to the BBC earlier this year: “The vehicles we are going to put in our 2021 fully autonomous ride service will not have a steering wheel, they won’t have a brake pedal. This means there’s no issue with drivers having to take over control because the vehicle will know how to handle all scenarios.” So does that mean that the autonomous part of my theory will be pretty much covered in four years’ time? Electric vehicles are there already – so what’s the delay? This is The Autonomous Issue of Thinking Highways North America. Not that

it was produced autonomously (editorlessly?) but because David E Pickeral, Mike McGurrin, Bern Grush and John Niles have contributed such compelling pieces that we decided to run them consecutively to provide a collection of thought- provoking articles about the most thought-provoking ITS subject of our time.


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