Friday, April 18, 2014

Who Needs A Driverless Car?

The founders and executives at Google are very smart about their business, and very, very rich--no question. These two factors have led to Google becoming a mature cult stock.  Why the word "mature?" In  Google's first quarter 2014 earnings report, online ad volume, its core business, rose 26%, but the average ad generated 9% less revenue.  Operating expenses and capital expenditures rose faster than expectations, and revenues were below expectations.  Investors were upset, right?

Wrong. They lauded for buying companies like Titan Aerospace in the robotics and drone areas.  They have applauded commitments to things like developing a driverless car.  This is the cult aspect. Who needs a driverless car? Smart phones could send out GPS coordinates to Apple or Google networks.  Ads could be even better targeted, which might eventually affect how payouts went for key constituencies.

I think I get it.  If people are still in their car driving, but they don't have to pay attention to the actual task, then 100% of the time in the vehicle can be used for browsing, texting, and downloading content like movies. Wow!

After spending 25 hours on the road and back from Dayton, OH last week, the entire driving experience could have been made much safer and less stressful through the use of relatively simple sensors combined in a better packaged, heat and dust protected computer system that did things like maintain the adequate spacing from the vehicle in front, based on the car's speed. Helping drivers who might be older, have poor eyesight, or who misjudge stopping distances, these kinds of sensors could add great value.  Then, I happened to see any ad for Mercedes Benz where they showed a car with kind of feature already in production.

We have the technology to make driving safer, which is the real point, no?  Since 60% of the market carry smart phones. these would be good platforms on which to develop apps for parents and grandparents which collect, analyze and store data about driving habits and conditions. We can do something like this now.

The driverless car sounds techy-geeky cool.  But really, should Google be applauded for throwing money at this kind of product that nobody needs?

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