On good thing that these self driven cars will do to all of us good drivers is that the Bad drivers will not be able to take us for a ride by their over speeding, lane cutting, honking, dangerously overtaking, tailing at high speeds and all that increase our BP and heart rate .
The thrill of driving one's own car goes away and will be restricted to the racing tracks and the cross country car rallies.
Oh I will love to see this scenario happening in my lifetime!
Yes Metcalfe has pointed about the value of a telecom/network infrastructure according to that the value of the infrastructure will be proportional to the square of number of users using it, but here the cautions to be considered are many more as it will be the multiplication of the square of the number of technologies/protocols and square of the number of systems in use.
While the value of state-of-the-art cars with V2V, V2I etc. is maximised with increasing numbers of other state-of-the-art cars o the road, it does not make them useless nonetheless even if it's just one car on the road. A smart car for instance is better equipped at a avoiding obstacles and crashes, optimising fuel consumption, keeping the people onboard connected with the rest of the world etc. etc. With such value, more and more people would buy such cars and the value increases further because of network effects - it's a virtuous circle.
I would venture to say that by 2050, most of the cars on our roads will be equipped with V2V, V2I etc. technologies and self-driving cars will be commonplace.
While the value of state-of-the-art cars with V2V, V2I etc. is maximised with increasing numbers of other state-of-the-art cars o the road, it does not make them useless nonetheless... A smart car for instance is better equipped at a avoiding obstacles and crashes, optimising fuel consumption, keeping the people onboard connected with the rest of the world etc. etc.
While I agree with you every point you raised here, this actually raises another question. Then, do we even need V2V or V2I? If every car gets so smart after all, what's the point of V2V and V2I?
Junko said: "While I agree with you every point you raised here, this actually raises another question. Then, do we even need V2V or V2I? If every car gets so smart after all, what's the point of V2V and V2I?"
Well, for V2V, one scenario I can envisage is for a car to follow another car automatically. For example, I often have to follow someone else when driving in foreign countries, it would be nice if my car could do that automatically just by communicating with the other car. This needs initial secure identification and authentication and then data to be sent forwards and backwards between the two cars.
For V2I, I can think of the automatic driving scenario as well e.g. to get updates on the state of the roads/traffic for rerouting purposes. Another scenario is for the car to connect to an intelligent home hub e.g. to check on the stock of groceries and perhaps suggest stopping by the shops on the way back home.
The problem that you describe will get worse before it gets better. The bad driver behavior that you describe depends on intimidation of other drivers, forcing them to accomodate the bad driver. That behavior increases as the accomodation increases, since the reward also increases (bullies always escalate if they are not pushed back). How do you think those drivers will react to cars that can be relied on to give way? I predict that it will become a sport. Self-driving cars will be seen as weak and turned into targets for intimidation.
A car would be fairly useless if there were no roads. So in fact, that aspect of Metcalfe's law has long been with cars.
I fully agree with KB's points, though. Connected cars can appear on the scene very quickly, even if fully autonomous operation will be introduced gradually. And vehicle to vehicle and to infrastructure comms are imperative for fully autonomous operation, for fairly obvious reasons. Think how you drive a car manually. You try to decipher what that guy in front of you is thinking, and you look at the road. Those actions have to be automated, not ignored. If the car in front of you puts on a turn signal, it's because this intention to turn matters to others, right? It's supposed to make drivers approaching and follwoing this guy do something specific, different from how they would behave if no turn signal were present. Well, there you go.
Another point. I remember very well, back in the 1960s, that often when flying across the Atlantic, planes would get stuck in an endless holding patterns before being able to land at JFK Airport. Why did that problem subside? Mainly because of scheduling improvements. Airlines don't ignore every other airline's scheduled arrival times. Same improvement can happen in cars, wrt vehicle to infrastructure comms, gradually. Those with smarter cars will get stuck in fewer traffic jams. Either because they'll figure a better route before leaving, and/or because they'll leave at a more optimal time.
Actually, when I think of bad driver, I think of the idiot who is texting while driving, or who falls asleep at traffic lights (never mind while driving!). In any event, these guys, as well as the overly agressive, will have less of a negative impact on traffic.
It's not just "safety." It's also about making efficient use of the roads. If you're at an intersection, and the genius in front of you forgets what it means when the light turns green, the result is that this intersection will saturate more quickly. That catatonic driver makes it so fewer cars can make it during the traffic light's cycle, and that promotes traffic jams.
Same with drivers who don't know where they're going, so they decide to do their introspective soul searching right in front of a green traffic signal. If the car would either drive itself, or at least tell this guy where to turn (well within today's state of the art), again, the roadways would be used more efficiently.