Thursday, November 1, 2012

The cost of manual driving

A discussion of online grocery stores that has bounced between Google+ and a post on my tymshft blog has morphed into a discussion of driverless cars. Specifically, Tad Donaghe has stated that driverless cars will reduce the cost of an online grocery service, and may help to make such a service viable today when it wasn't viable in the Webvan days.

Which got me thinking - what are the cost savings from driverless cars - or, alternatively, self-driving cars?

In a December 2011 post, Greater Greater Washington made this point:

They'll reduce labor costs: A self-driving car needs no operator, thus removing human labor from the equation. Self-driving cars will put taxicab drivers out of business. What will those thousands of people do with their skillset when a computerized system makes them obsolete?

But when considering costs, you also have to consider opportunity costs. And when you think of a self-driving car (as opposed to a driverless car), the effect of opportunity costs becomes evident. Slate:

On the Verge, Jeff Blagdon argues that self-driving cars would make financial sense for many commuters: “Call us crazy, but in the US, at the $16.57 median hourly wage being able to get work done during your half-hour commute would be worth about $4,140 a year, which would make an extra $3,000 for autonomous driving a steal.”

Assuming, of course, that you actually got some work done during your commute. In my case, I'd probably nap - although that provides benefits also.
blog comments powered by Disqus