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OPINION


nologies Inc. competing to undertake a long-overdue task of creating an entirely new, disruptive and more sustainable trans- portation mode for the 21st Century much as stagecoaches, canals, railroads, aviation and automobiles did in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th [and 20th] centuries, respectively. These are critical ultimate goals – targets – whereby the transportation and tech- nology industries must set their sights to ensure the further evolution of mobility. Moreover some of the first SDC advances


 In the mainstream: Ford’s 2017 Super Bowl commercial put self-driving cars to the forefront of their customer strategy


ride just as many of them eschew getting the driver’s licences that were once a rite of pas- sage, the older generations with their higher purchasing power and political leverage are clearly willing to put money (and votes) on the table right now that neither industry (nor government) dare ignore. If there is anyone out there that still needs


convincing that connected and autonomous has gone mainstream, and that traditional automakers actually “get it” in terms of the inevitable progression of the industry away from its product manufacturing legacy moving towards MaaS and the evolving multimodal mobility ecosystem note the Ford commercial developed for the 51st US Super Bowl. I am interested to see how other OEMs worldwide might follow suit later dur- ing 2017/18 around such key sporting events as “March Madness,” the Stanley Cup, and (especially) the FIFA World Cup.


TOO FAST, TOO FAR However, even in our otherwise laudable efforts to develop and deploy technology to overcome human fallibility, the huge ongo- ing effort to make in effect a quantum leap to full autonomy has, unfortunately, taken on something of an obsession. As I have said again and again in numerous contexts across both conventional and social media: We as a species do not need self-driving car technology that eliminates drivers nearly as immediately as we need ADAS technology that eliminates accidents. The current debate


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around SDCs is analogous to what those of us who have spent time in military aviation refer to as “Target Fixation.” Simply put this means being so focused on the ultimate objective that one disregards all other priorities includ- ing not getting shot down, hitting the side of a mountain or other immovable object, or even flying right into the target itself. Many in the media, the public and even


in industry who should know better are suf- fering from target fixation in the context of SDCs these days, predicting thereby the imminent replacement of human drivers and the jobs associated with them. Rather than cite current and near terms benefits from ADAS technology including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems and many other safety and convenience enhancing features, there seems to be far more focus on when people will be able to summon a sharecar to their front door, send their vehicle to park itself, (safely) sleep in the driver’s seat and even speculation as to how soon steering wheels will disappear. Make no mistake, I am an unabashed


admirer of what Waymo (nee Google X), nuTonomy and Tesla Motors among many others are doing in paving the way for SDC technology as well as the potential to more fully develop the autonomous-connected- electric-and-shared (ACES) business model in conjunction with Solar City, espoused in Elon Musk’s “Part Deux” over the summer. Likewise I am glad to see both Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Tech-


might well come on not vehicles that con- sumers can buy, share or even ride in as much as those supporting the commercial logis- tics enterprises that are in many ways even more critical to the economy at all levels than retail automotive. A new report, The State of Freight II jointly developed by the American Association of State Highway & Transporta- tion Officials (AASHTO) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) dis- cusses needed public investment in freight infrastructure. It could hardly be timelier as the vision for public and private infrastruc- ture investment under the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration emerges. Concurrent with that, there has been sig- nificant though far less headline-grabbing work related to connected and autonomous trucks by OTTO Motors [owned and funded by Uber] and Peloton Technology [backed by DENSO and Intel Capital among others] including a 120-mile autonomous beer run by the former recently. Finally, even focus on the technology itself


represents another form of target fixation, where the best solution might not always be in devices, vehicles and software so much as more sustainable business models. For instance, just because we have developed the capacity to haul food, beverages and just about anything else to and from the ends of the earth doesn’t mean we should do so at every opportunity. The efforts of local sourc- ing activities to provide quality in what we eat, drink, wear, and use right in our communities – everything from hand-knitted alpaca wool sweaters to 3D-printed machine parts – will in many ways as much ensure better use of our logistics infrastructure and other resources right now as the eventual ability to send a self- driving truck halfway across country.


www.thinkinghighways.com


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