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Study Finds a Way to Duplicate the Effect of Self-Driving Cars: Chauffeurs

A small group of test subjects, enabled with the use of a chauffeur, increased driving distances by a collective 83 percent.
November 19, 2019, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Self-Driving Cars
Motortion Films

Aaron Gordon shares news of research that attempts to duplicate the effect of rolling out a worldwide fleet of self-driving cars available for use by anyone with the money to pay for a ride.

Mustapha Harb, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, duplicated an autonomous future by hiring a bunch of chauffeurs to drive people around. "The chauffeur…will do the driving for you. And, just like the most optimistic AV future of fully autonomous robot cars zooming around, you don’t even have to be in the car," explains Gordon.

"Using 13 volunteers (a very small sample size due to budgetary constraints) from the San Francisco Bay Area who owned cars, Harb and his team studied their travel patterns using GPS trackers on their cars and phones for one week, then gave them a chauffeur for a week who would drive the participants’ personal vehicles for them. Finally, the researchers observed the subjects for a final week to look for any changes returning to their chauffeur-less life."

As for the findings, the study reports that subjects "increased how many miles their cars covered by a collective 83 percent [pdf] when they had the chauffeur versus the week prior."

The article includes a lot more context, in the form of other historical innovations in transportation that changed the world, as well as discussion of what the study's findings could mean for an autonomous future, should self-driving cars finally become a viable product at scale.

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