Friday, November 06, 2015

Forget PRT, it's Google time!

This article sets the stage for my view on the future of mobility.

An excerpt:

"The technological differences are really just the beginning of the disruption Google has planned. In Google's world, you won't just quit driving cars, you'll also quit owning them. Forget investing in an expensive and depreciating asset that sits idle 97% of every day. Fleets of autonomous vehicles will circulate through town, pick you up when you summon one via smartphone or whatever, drop you off, and move on to the next fare."

This is the new replacement to the old PRT transit offering that never went anywhere in volume. PRT is a transit technology where automated pods follow customized roads to get you from point A to point B faster than pretty much any other mode, while serving as a feeder into higher capacity modes like BRT or LRT. The problem with PRT is that you need separate roads and the cars can only drive on those roads.

Thanks to Google's autonomous car, getting driven from A to B no longer requires a custom road. It solved a number of issues, starting with 'no driver required'. This not only makes the trip safer, you omit the cost of paying someone. When you have a dense network of automated cars driving around an area of town, driving yourself becomes a lot less desirable. This in turn makes the road safer, because there are no selfish, distracted, amateur drivers putting the rest of us at risk.

So what's my point? Once again, after seeing the development planned for University District in Calgary, the new Cancer Centre on the NE corner of FMC, and the planned development at the old Stadium Shopping Centre, we're going to see a transit vacuum affect mobility.

The area including Market Mall, University District Alberta Children's Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary, the new Cancer Centre, the new Stadium development, and perhaps Motel Village, may be served well by transit at its periphery, but getting from one of those aforementioned places to another of the same is not easy, nor fast. But if this entire area were served by autonomous cars, it would be a breeze to get around.

On the map, the red asterisks indicate where major developments will be happening and the blue area would be well served by autonomous cars.

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