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Morgan Stanley Thinks Self-Driving Cars Will Bring Utopia by 2026

Illustration for article titled Morgan Stanley Thinks Self-Driving Cars Will Bring Utopia by 2026

The term "techno-utopian" is helpful for referring to people who believe technology alone can solve the world's problems. The term is rarely used literally. But if the financial services company Morgan Stanley is to be believed, driverless cars will literally bring about a utopian society in just over a decade.


Business Insider has this slide from Morgan Stanley about the future of Tesla Motors. The chart looks at projections for autonomous car capabilities and by 2026 it predicts a "utopian society."

One can't help but wonder if "100% autonomous, utopian society" was maybe meant as a harmless chucklegoof that didn't get edited out before publication. Joke or not, there are indeed plenty of people who are putting their eggs in the self-driving car basket. [Business Insider]

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Good luck. Cars provide the masses with a very tantalising illusion of freedom. They don't see how much their way of life has been socially engineered by highways and zoning.

There's also the fundamental usage of space issue with each person or 2 in a separate vehicle. A highway lane can only move so many vehicles per hour, even if they can go bumper to bumper at high speed, it still can't touch the throughput of a well-run light rail line.

Parking is another issue. Automatic cars still have to park somewhere, or at least wait at depots. tens of thousands of driverless taxis may be able to replace hundreds of thousands of private cars, but what happens at peak load, and after dropoff remains an issue. It's a challenge that buses and trains are used to, how to get nearly empty vehicles out of the way when they deliver their passengers, or get them staged to load people. Current road networks rely on cars disappearing into parking lots, but if the empty cars have to go somewhere else to park, that's going to add to congestion.

I also hate this, because people use this potential to oppose meaninful transit upgrades today. We need to spend money on what works now, not hold out hope that a decade from now popular science got one right