My recent trip to Burning Man (slides), at the intersection of RVs and high-tech, got me thinking about the potentially revolutionary consequences of a self-driving RV. If Google can make us a self-driving car, why not a self-driving 40′ Class A motorhome? Now the RV becomes like a cruise ship. You spend the day in a National Park, tuck everyone into bed, and then let Google drive you to the next National Park overnight. You wake up to find that Larry and Sergei have selected a campsite for you, extended the awning, and put out the lawn chairs and table for breakfast.
How awesome will this be for aging Gen Xers? (let’s assume that the Baby Boomers will die off before Google can leap through all of the regulatory hurdles)
What about the potential for increased fuel consumption? When television was invented people thought that Ivy League lectures and Shakespeare plays would be popular. In the 1970s nobody would have predicted that improvements in engine efficiency would result in suburban Americans buying pavement-melting SUVs. Right now we have prototype Google self-driving cars that are the apex of environmental responsibility. Could it be that self-driving technology, by eliminating the main problem with 40′ RVs (ungainly to drive and park), will result in a renewed arms race among Americans for who can have the biggest most gas-guzzling vehicle on the road?
What else changes if an RV can drive itself? Would it be reasonable to revive my idea of using an RV as a defense against urban gridlock?
- our family’s dream RV floorplan (garage for bicycles in the back; four separate sleeping areas)