How self driving cars will lead to small, shared, electric vehicles that will save our cities and climate

It’s a popular meme these days: “Self driving cars will not solve anything. On the contrary: we will only drive more and increase congestion!” This meme enables people to find fault with the somewhat scary or emasculating thought of self driving cars while treehuggers can go safely back to condemning cars.

But I would argue that this meme does not think the impact of self-driving cars through to its logical conclusion. Self driving will introduce shared, small and nimbly connected electric vehicles that reduce congestion while making cities healthy, spacious and wealthy.

Autonomous driving: why startup Tesla beats Goliath Mercedes

Recently some articles have compared Tesla’s self driving features with that of the new Mercedes E class. What emerges is a picture of an incumbent Goliath that takes a half-hearted approach to self-driving, shies away from over-the-air updates and is hesitant to empower consumers. Meanwhile start-up Tesla admits imperfection but gives the Autopilot a prominent place on the dashboard and turns consumers into trainers. It illustrates what we see happening in the broader transition to renewable energy: it is the new start-ups and not the big incumbents that are paving the way.