This last week in Pittsburgh, PA, the first autonomous vehicles were added to the fleet of cars used by ridesharing service Uber. Eventually the entire fleet will be self-driving cars. Those who thought this technology was still years off now have to shift their thinking.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a few people who are actually involved in building the future of autonomous vehicles. As I’ve written about before, I’m pretty happy about this technology and see it transforming pretty much everything about city living, just as did the arrival of affordable cars did in the early 1900s, and a lot more.
I believe the perfect place to test the first entirely self-driving autonomous vehicle community is at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World covers an area about twice the size of Manhattan and is home to 200,000 plus people at any time, some overnight and some on a day basis.
Over the course of a few years, all existing parking lots could be relocated to the exterior of the property. At the start non-resort guests, and then all guests, would then take an autonomous shuttle direct to their destination.
Technology already supports doing this along fixed routes. As software and self-driving technology continues to improve, concepts like car-pooling when traveling to the same destination, supply chain automation, maintenance and cleanliness, pizza delivery, how to handle crowds when 25,000 people all leave the Magic Kingdom at the same time when the park closes, etc can be worked out.
The first autonomous fleet manufacturer to recognize this and partner with Disney will have a large advantage in that 44 million guests a year will be exposed to their brand and technology. Right now big players like Volvo, Ford, GM/Chevy, Toyota/Lexus Google, Apple and, of course, Tesla are all in this market. The question is, who will partner with Disney first?
I have the perfect name for the transportation system of the future too – AutonoMOUSE. What do you think?