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Humans dream of electric cars (self-driving)

The writer does not happen often in Milan by car but last Thursday there were too many appointments in places so far apart and some of these so peripheral and little served by the metro and the means that it would have been impossible to reach them all together in a single day.

A totally wrong choice: traffic in a city like Milan, especially on a rainy day, something impossible or better unacceptable for reasoning individuals: endless queues at the traffic lights along the avenues, the navigator that lets you enter area C to help you to find the shortest road but also the biggest fine and finally the impossibility of finding a parking space even after 40 minutes of unsuccessful merry-go-rounds. In the end, the only possible choice was to abandon the car in one of the few free spaces with yellow stripes with the risk of being with the vehicle removed, or with some luck, fined.

electric cars

But now we are here, 40 minutes late, we have an absolutely credible excuse but the conference has already started. It is a communication on health and the digital world but in the end everyone talks about how they reached the place where we are: one of the colleagues who comes from outside the city tells how he decided to arrive by train and book an electric car for to reach the unmarked area of ​​Bocconi University.

To those who write, unfamiliar with the direct attendance of the traffic in the metropolis, a scenario opens up: whether this is the optimal environment for proliferating the self-driving car of Apple and Google that is set in recent months? Not on large highways or suburban roads with too mixed traffic and subject to a thousand variables but in cities like these where the open space is actually a huge deposit of iron, glass and rubber monsters.

It would not only be a system that saves time, queues and would allow you to reach places not served by vehicles but would in fact represent an unprecedented urban evolution capable of transforming cities like Milan in which the streets are occupied by long strips of cars at a cathedral pace. In the big cities, the handling areas are in turn surrounded by strips of parked cars greased in parallel by a second herringbone row: once they were large communication roads that, emptied, could be worthy of the Boulevard of Paris after Hausmann's intervention or which may become large Milanese ramblas.

What could change with the revolution of self-driving electric cars?

Imagine a city with practically no level or elevated parking with immense underground silos where thousands of zero emission cars based on electric motors can be stored.

You arrive in the city by train and in front of the station or at a metro stop, one of these self-driving electric cars is waiting for you, booked and activated by the geolocation of your smartphone: it comes from one of these invisible parking lots, or rather from the one closest to yours starting, based on an optimized algorithm. You prefer to travel alone and the price of a few euros but you could have saved even more if you had chosen to share the transport with those who arrive with you at the station in an interval of 2 or 3 minutes and share part of the route with you.

The car leaves the station silently and runs along the large avenues in a reserved lane which until yesterday was the parking lot parallel to the road, always full of cars positioned there permanently.

Of course there are still some nostalgics aboard a traditional taxi that travels in the normal lane but it is up to him to deal with the long row of traffic lights while you are perfectly synchronized with all the greens that follow one another along the way because the self-driving car can modulate the speed from start to finish based on the intersections it has with other similar cars. In any case, the old drivers have to give you priority or adjust according to your traffic which becomes the main flow.

Disembarkation and boarding areas for new cars have been created in the old comb car parks that still house some old, non-autonomous vehicles so that you can get off no more than a few meters from your destination.

Here you are! Get off the booked car and go to the business appointment. Five minutes from the end of the meeting, click a button on your smartwatch and notify the centralized system that you are ready for the next stage. Go down the stairs and the new self-driving vehicle is ready, apochimeters from the building to take you to the next destination.

Drive along the large avenues of Milan completely relaxed: there are no cars parked in the second and not even in the front row, the car takes you to your destination without jerks, sudden braking, the only inconvenience is the stink of some rare pre-electric residue that is turning for the cities with a special permit and high price. The car can also take you directly to the center as it does not make noise and does not pollute and so much of the space occupied by the means of the residents is freed to let live and discover new streets and squares that previously were only a space to place huge tin monsters.

Of course, but those who live in Milan who can do? How do they leave the urban and suburban areas if the autonomy of electric vehicles is limited? In reality they do not need to bring the car under the house: they go to the large traditional – interchange parking lots (waiting to gradually change the circulating fleets) outside the infernal ring roads and thanks to a luggage system, traditional today and tomorrow modular, the objects to be transported pass by the self-driving car that carries out the city transit to the family transit waiting for them to escape the city.

A naive dream? Maybe androids dream of electric sheep. Humans could be content with electric cars, perhaps autonomous to dream of a more comfortable future, free roads, parking lots that become silent streets and gardens where you can meet others of your own species.

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