LA TimesA slightly edited version of this post of mine about the podcar system (and preferring the automated highway system instead) appears in today’s LA Times as a Blowback. The last time the Times picked up an article of mine – Defending Kozinski – it ended up an ongoing back-and-forth in the paper for over a week. I don’t think the ‘Podcar vs. Automated Highway System’ debate is quite that contentious! Thanks to the Times for publishing the piece.


Some comments:

1. We could have done this years ago but we didn’t. Want to know why? Liability, who do you sue when the automated system doesn’t account for the failing brakes of one car and all 25 platooning cars die? Or how about an earthquake that gives the central control a power outage? Its a nice idea but the realities of it are as far fetched as the ‘pod car’ idea. Electric cars are the future with more people working out of home. We can do all that now without increased cost or liability. So which sounds more likely?
Submitted by: Rep. Mike
2:53 PM PDT, September 12, 2008

2. The private automobile is just too convenient to give up. In one form or another the private automobile is with us to stay.
Submitted by: Dan
12:04 PM PDT, September 12, 2008

3. In principle I agree, but as with all advocacy articles I’d like to hear the other side. I remember seeing a filmed demonstration of this platoon concept several years ago; I think it was tested on I-5 near San Diego. Haven’t heard anything about it since then. What’s the holdup? Technology? Lack of investment? Lack of government support? Safety? (Not only flat tires, but what heppens when the system goes down?) In theory, though, it’s a really sweet idea.
Submitted by: oddodddodo
11:14 AM PDT, September 12, 2008

4. At last, someone succinctly speaks the truth. Podcars, or personal transportation systems, are enticing flights of fancy, flying overhead. My grandson’s lifetime wouldn’t provide enough time and money to acquire the rights of way and easements to build a viable system. On the other hand, the digital technology already onboard today’s cars is pretty close to the capability to interface with a computer-controlled highway. With enough emphasis placed on digital highway development, we should see at least demonstration systems within 3 to 5 years.
Submitted by: Ken Layne
10:00 AM PDT, September 12, 2008

5. Quite right! The technology to do this has been around a long time and combined with hydrogen or electric it’s definitely the way to go. Lawmakers – I urge you. Make California the example, out of anywhere in the world that this is the future. Imagine the 10 freeway as an automated highway! (I read this guy John’s blog too, excellent material.)
Submitted by: Greg, Sacramento
7:30 AM PDT, September 12, 2008

6. Right on John. You make great points. Among the most precious freedoms we enjoy is the ability to get in our car and just drive somewhere. Burke should be confined to the campus (likely already is!) before her ideas actually get taken seriously by some dodo politician who promises everyone a free ride. Oh yeah — we already have those don’t we!
Submitted by: OpenAir
7:29 AM PDT, September 12, 2008

7. As long as we continue to demand me and mine as the driving factor we are doomed to choke to death on hot CO2 generated by a transportation system that caters to self centered me firsters.
Submitted by: Gary J
5:32 AM PDT, September 12, 2008

8. At 150 mph – what happens when you have a flat?
Submitted by: ejballjr
1:52 AM PDT, September 12, 2008