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Looking for something different to photograph? Need a mobile platform to photograph from? How about a self driving electric car? Keep your eyes peeled on the streets of San Francisco, where you will surely see several of the test versions of the Google Self Driving electric car. Nothing is quite as unsettling as seeing the infamous San Francisco hills traversed by a self driving car. With no driver, no steering wheel, and no brake peddle! This self driving electric car technology is much more than a luxury, it is fast becoming a necessity. When was the last time you drove the streets without having to dodge a car “out of control” due to texting, twittering, facebooking, or just plain talking? Been awhile, for me. Please Google, bring on this tech fast as you can. I’d much rather take pictures being safely transported to my destination.
Ironically, Google is one of the major contributors to automotive driving distractions with their search and text messaging, Google+, and millions of search results to explore. Realizing they helped create a huge problem, Google now brings us a prototype solution. Wow. How ironic, and how cool, is that? Almost like an oil company bringing you solar collectors for a rooftop power grid and recharging station for electric powered cars. Far fetched as they may seem, both are true. Not only is “big oil” the major owner of solar cell fabrication worldwide, as surely as time ticks down on ecological disaster from worldwide pollution, the time for the electric powered self guided car has come. Our choked Los Angeles freeways being a shining example of old school tech ripe for disruption. This time disruption as planned progress.
We’ve always been an interconnected, interdependent world. Were finally waking up to the responsibilities that go along with it. Not only will the “self driving electric car” help prevent accidents due to negligent drivers, those same drivers now become advertising consuming mobile internet surfers. Smart Google, very smart. An out of the park win-win. Fixing problems both long standing and new with a single brilliant stroke. Google and the other companies working on a self driving electric car have some great minds at work, so I expect a successful program rolling out to consumers within the decade.
But what’s all this self driving electric car stuff got to do with photography? Google among others will have answers of their own to that. Google owns Nik Software, remember. Google is famous for interconnecting everything Google does in one way or another. I admit I am an early technology adopter. Pioneers count the arrows in their backs. I also admit I’m looking forward to the day electric powered self driving cars are the primary means of transportation in our cities. Not only will the pollution be lower, the energy costs will go way down since a grid of electrical vehicles all traveling at a uniform speed will save energy as well as save time.
The greatest energy usage in a car is building up the speed. Breaking means more energy used to regain the speed afterwards. Traveling at a constant speed is the most efficient use of energy. Traveling at a speed low enough to avoid high wind resistance, like 25 MPH also makes sense. In fact, tests show it takes very little energy to maintain a 25 MPH speed. Burst speed may be lower, but when you no longer need to stop for anything your average time to destination will go down inversely as the efficiency goes up. Your trips cost less to make. Your stress level lowers. You travel at a lower speed, but much more efficiently as you get there quicker. Nothing is stressful about the world passing at a sane twenty-five miles per hour. Leaving more money to spend on your photography gear and finally the time to read the instruction manuals we never get time to read. All while motoring to a great shooting location!
I’m sure this technology will stay in development a couple more years while R&D proves it is safe, then I expect it to roll out in key West Coast US cities first. So far, Google is doing a masterful job of educating the general public about this new concept. A key piece of this technology will getting the general public to embrace it. If it is to succeed, wide acceptance and participation are critical. The key question being how quickly. Many have safety concerns, particularly about these cars operating without a human being inside. Not that any physical presence in the cockpit would be of help in preventing an accident. There will be a time of public adjustment along with a predictably slow acceptance until the inevitable fears subside.
But the best part for me? I’m a hybrid storyteller. I can’t wait to travel around town shooting from my driverless mobile camera platform – a self driving electric car! Google, sign me up!
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