Autonomous Cars: Sooner than You Think

GovTech.com, which tracks technology in the public sector, now predicts that self-driving  cars will be fully operational within the next four years. What’s driving this trend? Just the fact that the market opportunities are so huge that companies like Uber and Lyft are hoping to carve out big chunks of the market. Car manufacturers are scrambling for a piece of the pie.

One interesting sidenote: brokerage house Morgan Stanley is predicting a 500 billion dollar windfall for municipalities as a result of dramatically lower costs of car-based infrastructure – think lower road maintenance costs, fewer municipal garages to maintain, fewer police and emergency services, etc. Towns and cities will also take a  hit in revenues because traffic fines are a substantial source of revenue, which will drop dramatically over time. (Aw shucks!)

Below: An Uber test vehiclegoogle-uber

 

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Self-Driving Truck Makes Colorado Beer Run

USA Today just ran a story about a trial run in Colorado of a driverless truck delivering a load of beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, a journey of about 120 miles. There was a human driver on board, but he spent most of the trip watching from the truck’s sleeping berth.

The truck featured driverless technology developed by Otto, which was recently acquired by Uber for $670 million. (No doubt Uber execs spend their nights dreaming of Uber cabs without drivers – and, of course, without driver salaries.)

I remember a couple of years ago when I first started following the progress of driverless cars. Back then, the prediction was that the technology was fifteen to twenty years away from implementation. Since then the timeframe has shrunk like a cheap suit. Just the other day, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Cars, promised that by 2018, a Tesla would drive completely unaccompanied from one American coast to the other using what Musk calls the most advanced driverless technology in the world.

It’s getting clear that the hurdles are no longer with the technology, which is already good, and will continue to get even better. The big hurdles now are administrative – how do we write the rulebook for driverless vehicles when we don’t even know what the biggest problems  – including vehicle insurance – will look like.

But make no mistake. The cost savings and productivity benefits of driverless vehicles look like they will far outweigh any challenges. In the end in our world, money trumps most things, and it will here too.

Do you mind if I give your car a call to go pick up my pizza for me?

Enough of What’s Wrong, Let’s Celebrate What’s Right

Watching and reading the media lately, it’s hard not to reach for an extra anti-depressant.

Partly that’s because we are in Presidential Election season. Once upon a time, candidates spent most of their time talking about how to make things better. Now candidates spend most of their time explaining why some other candidate sucks.

As at least a little bit of antidote to all the negativity, I would like pass along two heartwarming stories.

The first is from my favorite newspaper columnist David Brooks. In a recent NY Times column, Brooks writes about a remarkable couple whose once-a-week Dinner Group is changing the lives of teenagers who need at least one place to go for fellowship, encouragement, and support. It’s a really sweet article. Find it at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/opinion/the-power-of-a-dinner-table.html

The second article is also from The Times. The title is “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” Writer Melanie Thernstrom brings us the story of a Silicon Valley exec who has turned his ample home and yard into an wonderfully imaginative communal playspace. Kids from all over the neighborhood are welcome to explore and play as they like, free from the hovering presence of adults. You might not agree with Mike Lanza’s philosophy about the importance of unsupervised play in a child’s journey to adulthood. But it may be very worthwhile to see it and hear it from his perspective.

 

On the Road to the Wealth Economy

Want some more indications that we are headed for a Wealth Economy?

Apple CEO Tim Cook was on stage today at the latest Apple product announcement. In the midst of bragging about sales of the Apple Watch, Cook supposedly said that the Apple rolex-116034Watch is the second-best selling watch brand in the world.

Pray tell, which watch brand is number one? According to Cook, the Apple Watch is second only to the Rolex. Rolex? You mean the multi-thousand dollar Rolex outsells every other watch in world?

Well, perhaps that shouldn’t come as a great surprise. CNN has recently reported (http://tinyurl.com/glkwhbo) that “There are now 145,000 U.S. households worth $25 million or more, up from 142,000 in 2014, according to Spectrem. There are 1.2 million households worth $5 million to $25 million, an increase of 42,000.”

Informed sources tell me that it’s not too late to get on the number one watch bandwagon. Here for your consideration is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. List price seems a tad pricey at $5350, but think of the company you will be keeping.

And welcome to your 2016 wealth economy!

A Neighbor’s Testament to Steve Jobs

I will never forget how exciting and pleasureful it was to be a hard-core Apple fan during those magical years when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and transformed the way we use technology.

This morning, I came across a beautiful tribute to Jobs that I had once saved. It was written a couple of months before he passed by Lisen Stromberg, a neighbor of Steve’s in Palo Alto.

Here’s a link to that article for all of you who, like me, still deeply miss him:

https://lisenstromberg.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/my-neighbor-steve-jobs/