Test-Driving Driverless Cars

An integrated network of communal, driverless vehicles is needed to transform today's unsustainable, dangerous, and inconvenient road-transportation system. The task now is to establish prototype networks to test what is possible, find out consumers’ preferences, and identify attractive business models.

ANN ARBOR – It is June 15, 2030, and for Sam and Sue of Ann Arbor, Michigan, it is going to be a busy day. Their daughter Sophia has a 9 a.m. karate match. At noon, her older sister Sally’s high school graduation will begin. And, by 3 p.m., the house must be ready for Sally’s graduation party.

At 8:40, Sam uses a smartphone app to order a ride from Maghicle, Ann Arbor’s mobility service, which uses self-driving robotic vehicles. Within minutes, Sam, Sue, and Sophia are headed for the karate club. En route, Sophia studies videos of her opponent’s past matches, while Sue catches up on emails and Sam orders appetizers and flowers for the party. They arrive at the club on time, and the robot proceeds to pick up someone else nearby.

Sally, who must arrive at school by 10:30, has already ordered a Maghicle ride. When she boards at 10:15, she receives a text message from her best friend Amanda, who wants to ride with her. Sally enters Amanda’s address in the Maghicle app, and the robot chooses the best route.