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Can you solve this driverless car puzzle?

Driverless cars are on their way. The Google car is well advanced, with plenty of competitors hot on its heels, including Chinese web giant Baidu that has announced it will launch its first driverless car in the second half of this year.

Driverless trucks are already being used at Australian iron ore mines (See Robots on a Roll) and in Europe autonomous trucks have been tested on highways.

But still many questions remain to be answered. Most of them revolve around safety but we believe there are other issues that need to be addressed about how the vehicles might be used if the driverless vehicles aren’t going to create more congestion than ever.

Consider this scenario, for example.

Jack has an appointment downtown. Before having a driverless vehicle, he would park his car at an expensive car park. Now he has a cunning idea. Instead of forking out $60 for a two-hour stay, why not just tell his driverless car to cruise the street while he’s at his meeting and then pick him up in two hours.

But that creates a conundrum. What if everyone were to do this – traffic congestion would increase dramatically. Can it be prevented?

If you have a solution as to how governments or innovative businesses might prevent increased traffic congestion, while still respecting individual car owner’s rights to instruct their driverless car to travel wherever they wish, leave it in the comments section below.

 

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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