I’m very excited about the news going around that Google is successfully trialling self-navigating automobiles. Beyond the many ‘cool factor’s involved here (can I call mine KITT?), I really believe the automation of personal travel and freight delivery has the potential to save civilization.
Energy savings are already possible by training yourself to drive in an gas-efficient way. Getting these gas savings without training is an inherent benefit of computer controlled cars. Additionally, one can speculate on the HUGE savings involved in having less cars, since you don’t need to purchase and maintain vehicles based on your maximum usage, but rather bases on your minimum usage.
Family car sharing would be fantastic. Have the car drive me to work, then take itself home to pick up the kids to go to school. Then off to Safeway to pick up the groceries, which it will take home to my wife. Imagine how many less UPS trucks will need to drive around when your car can go pick up your packages at the depot for you.