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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer Writes in Favor of Self-Driving Cars

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a famous advocate for alternative transportation, has thrown his support behind the epoch-changing potential of self-driving cars.
May 31, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) at work in 2012.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Rep. Earl Blumenauer writes an argument of positive support for Wired, beginning with an unequivocal statement of immense scope:

The powerful disruptive force of car sharing services like Uber and Lyft will rapidly be joined by autonomous vehicle technology. A huge part of our economy and culture—the American way of life designed around the automobile for the last century—will change.

Underlying Rep. Blumenauer's argument is the assumption that Congress is currently held hostage by the automobile. That could all change, however, and quickly. As Rep. Blumenauer writes: "I’ve never seen a combination of technological changes converge with this level of speed and intensity before."

The editorial, however, functions less as a paean and more as an appeal—to move quickly to take advantage of the coming wave of innovation and overthrow the captive power of the soon-to-be obsolete infrastructure and politics of the automobile. The article even includes a playbook, of sorts, which starts with an example taken from Rep. Blumenauer's home state of Oregon, which has pioneered the use of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to charge for the use of roads and highways, rather than relying on the broken mechanism of the gas tax, with its OReGO pilot program. "Integration of this miles traveled charge into market-ready and emerging vehicle technology can provide data to drive transportation planning decisions," writes Rep. Blumenauer.

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Published on Friday, May 20, 2016 in Wired
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