Monday, May 30, 2011

Driverless is not very macho

Tyler Cowen wrote about the potential of driverless cars, and why they are slow to emerge, ("Can I See License, Registration And CPU?") in yesterday's NY Times.

Granted that absent peak-load pricing, we waste a lot of time stuck in traffic.  (The title of a pretty good book on the problem.)  And granted that as the highway system is politicized and auto engineering and production are heavily regulated (and, of course, politicized), available new technology will become available too slowly.  A privatized highway system would be better in all respects.  These points have been made over the years by many writers.  I like this collection by Gabriel Roth and friends.

The only thing missing from Cowen's essay is that fact that most people love to drive.  Many grudgingly choose automatic transmission and miss the real thrill of actually driving. The cliche is "ask any teenager".  Many people prefer "motoring" to "driving".  And then we get into discussions of the psychological factors ("macho motoring") that come into play.  Dargay and Gately show the demand is pretty universal.