This is a nice article, read the whole thing and watch the videos (they are low quality, but the fast forwards and golf carts in motion are cool). The second video includes self-driving golf carts on the Google campus. Campus applications are a logical first step in deploying the technology.
A study sponsored by AT&T Inc. and conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project estimates that skipping business trips and using video conferencing instead could save $19 billion a year.
The study also said that by 2020 companies in the US and UK that have more than $1 billion in revenue could cut CO2 emissions equal to taking about 1 million vehicles off the road for a year.
If the government confiscated that, it would *almost* be enough to pay for a small US high-speed rail system. However, if business travelers teleconferenced, we might not need intercity HSR. Clearly teleconferencing is getting better. (Although institutions are lagging individuals, I regularly video-conference with my mom, and managed my students from the UK in 2006-07 successfully, I cannot get any number of bureaucratic institutions to get this working without cajoling). Any opportunity to avoid the hassle and headache of most business travel would be greatly appreciated. As Wayne Gretzky said “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” full study here: Telepresence Revolution (the model looks fairly simple, but the general point obtains under any number of reasonable assumptions).