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A Short Story that Won

I wrote about how I thought the driverless ride sharing economy would be in 2030. You can see the challenge question and my submission here, as well as below for your convenience.

How can this be? One moment I'm cruising around in search of a parking spot, the next I've got a smoking car and a cracked radiator! This is awwwwwwful.

It's Monday morning and I wake from a terrible nightmare. Dreams that relive the past days of horrid car ownership. Better make breakfast for myself before the nine am surge pricing kicks in. Out of one nightmare and into another. When I'm nearly ready to head off to the office, I call for an Uber before I forget like last time. If only they had a feature for planned recurring pick ups. I walk out the door a few minutues later as my phone reminds me the Uber is here, I take a second to marvel at the empty electric vehicle in front of me, and how far self-driving technology has come in the past decade.

"How are you today, Dr. Santoshi?" inquired a voice from the electric Mercedez. "Never been better, thanks for asking" I credited. "You can deploy the manual controls, I feel like driving today." The computer casually noted a small insurance fee that would be appended to my bill. Ever since computers had been proven ten-x greater at driving safety, insurance rates for human drivers had surpassed that for computers. Eventually my nostalgia for driving will have to be limited to the Oculus Rift only, I wagered. That wouldn't be so bad, if only they could master haptic feedback, there's nothing truly like letting go in the hills of Lijiang.

As I drove out of the suburbs and headed onto the belt way, I hardly noticed my fellow commuters dozing. A few were alert and had their Hololens dawned. Probably playing the latest version of Teddy Twist. Google always claimed that autonmous cars would bring about the golden age of productivity, but I knew in the end you would only see more computer games. At least Twitch TV is seeing unheard of prosperity.

Traffic had improved dramatically since the addition of an autonomous lane. Glancing over, I was grateful for the existence of the densely pacted high speed computer lane, allowing for no-stress human driven lanes to be sparsely littered with vehicles.

Seeing the skyline rise before me, my mind tried to imagine how much more business we could support with nearly all the parking lanes and garages gone. The driverless ride sharing economy is truly an amazing feat of progress since my younger days. Pulling up to the curb, I told the Mercedez to enjoy the day, (even knowing that it wasn't conscious, I hope) and strode off to begin my own. The Mercedez wished me luck and silently cruised off in search of its next tenant.

Things to learn from this story of the driverless ride sharing economy:

1. Parking is no longer an inconvenience to solve at your destination.

2. Decreased traffic congestion due to elimination of street parking(although there are still pick up and drop off zones) and peer to peer algorithms via wireless network between cars. Highways can now have dense high speed lanes for autonomous cars.

3. Passengers no longer worry about car maintenence. The company provider does all the maintenance on their fleets.

4. Low insurance rates from predictable computer operated vehicles.

5. Distractions and Drunk driving are no longer a problem.

6. Algorithms needed to maintain supply and demand of driverless fleets. Inventory buffers need to be available at supply warehouse during rush hour to avoid price surges from increased demand.

Car Utility and Interfaces:

1. USB charging ports

2. Integration with user devices

3. Voice commands, spoken in natural language. Computer should understand context and ask questions if needed. Empathizing with user a plus.

4. Front seats swivel and lock to face forward or backward.

5. Flexibly tint the windows, if the user wants to sleep or look outside. the windows should be able to turn opaque and act as touchscreens.

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