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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on April 16th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Tesla’s Fremont Parking Lot Shows Some Problems With Personal Auto Use (Images)

April 16th, 2017 by  

I recently came across some images of the parking lot at Tesla’s Fremont (California) facility that seem worth sharing here — as they really demonstrate the fundamental problem with widespread personal auto use and ownership.

Take a look at this one, via teslaparkinglot/Instagram (h/t Streetsblog USA):

Look at all of those empty cars just sitting there, most of which were likely driven there with only one person in the car. Personal auto use is a bit wasteful in many ways, isn’t it?

I guess that’s one of the places where the large-scale deployment of self-driving taxis could potentially (potentially is the key word here) help reduce auto needs and associated greenhouse gas emissions — after all, a single intelligently deployed electric taxi could displace the need for multiple personal vehicles in many urban regions. This could allow for a reduction in parking space requirements, and potentially for “better” city planning where people find it quicker to get where they need to go by walking and biking than by car.

This is only the potential of the situation, though — it’s still an open question whether self-driving vehicles will lead to greatly reduced personal auto use (and subsequently reduced parking space requirements) and greenhouse gas emissions.

As the image above demonstrates, however, personal auto use is in many ways a ridiculous paradigm. What do most personal vehicles do all day? Sit there. Why not use self-driving taxis that can serve the needs of other people during what would otherwise be downtime? Technological and cultural reasons — for now, that is.

I wonder if Tesla’s eventual solution to the parking problem at the Fremont plant won’t be to trial the use of its own self-driving taxis (robotaxis) for employee transportation (ala Google/Waymo and GM/Cruise)?

Some of you reading this may be wondering why I don’t bring up the topic of public transit system use as a solution to the parking problem. Well, I don’t bring up buses because of the time and inconvenience involved in their use in that part of California (everyone who’s willing to use it there is already doing so, I’d guess), and I don’t bring up rail transit because of similar problems.

So, where does that leave us? That leaves us with personal auto use, self-driving taxi use, and bicycling as the options most people will choose (if they have any kind of choice financially). Notably, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has actually begun “paying employees to bike to work,” according to CBS.



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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