Pods and Self-driving Carriages

I'm not convinced we'll only want to rent self-driving taxis.  There are benefits to having a car with personal space: leaving things in your car such as a sweater for when a restaurant puts the AC too high, or storing packages purchased in different stores while out shopping, or simply having confidence that if you accidentally leave something in the car it'll still be there when you go back. 

But there's a possible compromise.  Design for separable carriage and passenger/cargo pods. 

Your personal pop sits along the street or in a garage.  You order a shared carriage, then sit in your pod to relax and listen to tunes, or start working.  In a few minutes a generic taxi-carriage comes along, slides under the pod to pick it up, and drives off with you.  There would be security features so no one else can order a carriage to pick up your pod from the street (i.e. steal it).  

You could order a carriage with better range for long trips - more flexibility than a normal car.  More commonly, you would simply contract to have fully charged pods meet you pretty much anywhere, any time they are needed.  The carriage service would know where you are and dispatch a carriage just in time to meet you based on your trip plan, adapting to any changes you spontaneously add.  

Pods being lighter, "stacking garages" become more feasible and compact than parking garages.   Carriages running between passengers would have lower weight and drag, saving gas or charge, partly making up for the increase in trips. Carriages might stack to move between areas of anticipated low and high demand, taking up less road space. 

Potentially pods could be designed to integrate with personal rapid transit, a la Skytran.  Your pod is delivered to a PRT station, gets picked up by a sky-carriage, and whisked away at 200mph.  With much shorter local drives, each ground carriage could be used more times during rush hours. So even if you need equal numbers in the city and in suburbs during rush hour, the number could be less than today's number of commuter cars.  

Carriage density re-balancing would be handled like a sheet of water shifting around an uneven, tilting surface.  No one carriage would need to drive all the way from a distant suburb to the city to meet increased demand, as carriages nearer the city would shift in that direction, while more distant carriages shift to take their place (if needed).

Auto companies should like this, because it lets them continue to market based on style and target different markets. 

A bit more 'out there': slide the pod into a climate controlled garage with a wall screen, automatically lift the top off, and your garage becomes a comfy home theater. :-)


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