Linklist: January 17, 2012

Kottke sends me to: Koushik Dutta – Google+: The Unintended Effects of Driverless Cars :

“Google has been working on driverless cars for a few years now. The obvious selling point is that the cars will be much safer without a human behind the wheel.
Currently, a car spends 96% of its time idle. Compare that with planes which spend almost their entire lifetime in operation/airborne. Idle planes aren’t making money, and they need to recoup their hefty $120M price tag. There is an unforgiving economic incentive to make sure it is always in use.
The proliferation of driverless cars will have a similar effect. Cars will spend less time idle: why would a household buy 2 (or even 3) cars, when they only need 1? Ride to work, then send the car home to your spouse. Need to go grocery shopping, but your kid also needs a ride to a soccer game? No problem, a driverless car can handle that.
What will begin as households cutting back to a single car, will expand. Why would a family need an entire car to themselves? That’s crazy! It may start as extended family in the same area sharing cars, then neighbors sharing cars, and then entire apartment/condo complexes in cities offering driverless cars bundled into their HOA/rent.[2]
The operating percent of a car will go from 4% to that 96%. But back to my leading statement: there are unintended consequences. Parked cars will be a relic from the past. What happens to car insurance prices if a driver is no longer part of the equation? And if cars are receiving 20 times more actual use, that would imply that there would be 20 times less cars sold.[1] This is the kind of disruptive change that can reshape the automotive industry. The recent GM/Chrysler bailout may have been for naught.[3]”

Kurzweil notes: A French autonomous car:

“French researchers have developed a self-driving vehicle, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.
IFSTTAR, a French R&D organization, and the Embedded Electronic Systems Research Institute at ESIGELEC, an engineering school in Rouen, are developing autonomous vehicle technologies to help test automotive safety systems.
The researchers modified a Renault Grand Espace by adding a “robot driver” to  control the exact trajectory, speed, and behavior of the vehicle and compare the performance of different safety systems.

JW sends me to Technology Review: Join the Mobility Revolution with These Five Apps Uber, Waze, NextBus, Avego, Progressive Insurance