Autonomous Cars Could Lead to 180-Mile Commutes--Each Way


Speculation about the autonomous car--when it will become available to consumers, how it will affect the way we live, what it will mean for auto ownership--is so widespread that it's now almost a journalistic genre unto itself. There's good reason for all this conjecture: The jump from human- to software-controlled driving represents not the typical, incremental improvement to the automobile that accrues with every passing model year, but rather a massive, qualitative change in the way we get around. As a result, when we think about the implications of the auto-auto, the big picture tends to take precedence. One prediction plausibly holds that the autonomous car will contribute to suburban sprawl, reversing the recent flow of baby boomers and millennials into cities. But there's a hulking, hairy question hidden within that idea: How much?