Monday, March 05, 2012

The "platoon" thing

Quite a few people have now chimed in on how much we will miss James Q. Wilson's voice of reason.  Among other things, he well understood modern urban life and how it is wrapped up with automobiles.  In 1997, he wrote this:
The European experience should explain why this is so: if people can afford it, they will want to purchase convenience, flexibility, and privacy. These facts are as close to a Law of Nature as one can get in the transportation business. When the industrial world became prosperous, people bought cars. It is unstoppable.
Read the whole thing.  It is remarkably clear.

This morning's WSJ includes an opinion piece by Gordon Crovitz, "The Car of the Future Will Drive You ... A truly auto-mobile is coming if liability laws don't stop it."

The piece cites Bill Ford saying this:
This will limit the human error that accounts for 90% of accidents. Radar-based cruise control will stop cars from hitting each other, with cars by 2025 driving themselves in tight formations Mr. Ford describes as "platoons," cutting congestion as the space between cars is reduced safely.
It's the "platoon" thing that makes me wonder.  A huge part of the private auto's charm is freedom (ask any teenager).  Is that lost when we ride in platoons?  More time to fiddle with smart phones.  But at some point, we would no longer be driving.  Leather driving gloves would really look silly.