Winner-takes all effects in autonomous cars (Benedict Evans)
Where do network effects kick in for autonomous vehicles?
Maps have network effects. When any autonomous car drives down a pre-mapped road, it is both comparing the road to the map and updating the map: every AV can also be a survey car. If you have sold 500,000 AVs and someone else has only sold 10,000, your maps will be updated more often and be more accurate, and so your cars will have less chance of encountering something totally new and unexpected and getting confused. The more cars you sell the better all of your cars are - the definition of a network effect.
So, maps are the first network effect in data - the second comes in what the car does once it understands its surroundings. Driving on an empty road, or indeed on a road full of other AVs, is one problem, once you can see it, but working out what the other human...
Chris Urmson led Google’s self-driving car program and was a member of the faculty of CMU's Robotics Institute. In this talk, he walks through the history of self-driving cars and the problems he sees on the road ahead.
The Impending Revolution in Transportation (Stefan Heck)
Stefan Heck, co-founder of Nauto and consulting professor with the Stanford Precourt Center for Energy Efficiency, makes a case for moving from a car-centric community to a convergence of new mobility concepts focused on autonomous, connected, electrified and shared vehicles for improved efficiency.
Cars and second order consequences — Benedict Evans
An excellent analysis on the second and third order consequences of electrification and autonomy for cars. (First order being the obvious ones like the move away from gasoline for electric, and reduction in the number of accidents for autonomy). Would love to hear your thoughts — hit Reply below!
Roughly half of US spending on car maintenance goes on things that are directly attributable to the internal combustion engine, and much of that spending will just go away.
As gas stations go away, so do the convenience stores attached to them. Snacks, sodas and tobacco (>50%) sell meaningful proportions of their total volume as impulse purchases attached to gasoline. Some of that volume might just go away. Car crashes kill 35k people a year in the USA, but tobacco kills 500k.
Self-Driving Cars Can’t Cure Traffic, but Economics Can (NYTimes)
This article makes a case of why we have good reasons to be skeptical about curing traffic via technologies that will increase road capacity (for instance, self driving cars by increasing efficiency) to the point at which no amount of traffic will fill them.
If decades of urban planning and economic research are any guide, the solution is unlikely to come from technology but from something similar to Uber’s surge pricing: charging people more to use driverless cars at rush hour.
What do you think? What are some good economic levers that the regulators can pull to cure traffic today?