Winning, but no Competition?

Where new technologies emerge, things change. The old way of doing things gets faded out. I understand some can see this as a competition. An example is the autonomous car. Technically it appears within our reach to deploy this at a large scale. Heralding the improved safety and preventing fatalities in traffic, but likely also costing jobs of professional drivers. In the interview of U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, she tells us:

“the race to develop new transportation solutions like self-driving cars is "not a competition" between the technology and automotive industries.”

Races are often seen as a competition of sorts though, but I found it remarkable that in the same article featuring the interview, a proposal to speed up this change ‘exemptions’ can be won:

“a Senate committee is working on legislation that would make it easier for automakers to get self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads by winning exemptions from rules requiring human controls”

It is branded not really a competition, but a race in which things can be won. Though I expect it is also possible lose then, which still still sounds a lot like a competition.

The Autonomous Arms Race

Google, Audi, Nissan, Daimler, Ford, Tesla, Amazon. They are all in one way or another working on autonomous vehicles and all working very hard to get their solutions out there the first. Some claim they will do so as early as 2015, others have announced their plans for 2020 to see the light (and hit the road).


True, Amazon announced their autonomous delivery drones today and they will be airborne over cars on the road. But that would in theory make managing such a large fleet perhaps a bit more complicated, while on the other hand it would be easier as much of the drone design is already done. Another bonus is that while carrying packages, they can probably get permission earlier compared to when they would carry passengers instead.

Really looking forward to see this play out, it will become most interesting to see (and participate in) this. The autonomous race is on, may the best robot win!

The External Costs of Transportation

A study from TU Dresden revealed the true (external) costs for transportation in the EU. Interesting they have made 2 distinctive cases, one with a high cost for climate costs, and one for low climate costs.

n the case for high climate costs, the total costs for the EU-27 comes at a total external costs of €373 billion. In the case for low climate costs, the total is 'just' €258 billion. A staggering amount, but when looking at the graphs provided in the report, the largest parts of the pie-chart are for accidents and climate change.

Accidents are by far the largest share, so reducing the external costs is benefitted better by reducing accidents than by preventing climate change. Autonomous cars anyone? And yes, electric while we are at it...


High Climate Costs

High Climate Costs

Low Climate Costs

Low Climate Costs

For the full report, check out the TU Dresden website.