Thousands of cabs make their way through the streets of London. Hundreds of buses pick up and drop off passengers. Trucks carry their cargo. They are, of course, autonomous; like Google’s self-driving car, they all move without a driver.
This vision is almost a cliché. Everyone is already talking about a future where professional drivers are unemployed and all vehicles will drive themselves.
But what do you think about vehicles that own themselves? Yes, that own themselves. They have their own file at the IRS. They generate their own income, support themselves financially and if they don’t succeed in the free market, they turn themselves off. Sound strange? It’s not far-fetched at all. Let’s see how it could look in practice.
You order a cab through the reservations system. Hundreds of independent taxis, vehicles that own themselves, receive the order. They calculate their distance from you and see if there are any traffic jams. They take into account the price of gas and where you want to go. They suggest a price and an estimated arrival time.
You choose one and the vehicle arrives. You sit inside and proceed to ride in a cab without a driver. Arriving at your destination, the agreed fee is transferred from your bank account to an account that is registered to the cab itself.
On your journey you pass a toll road. Like the cab, the road owns itself. It also has its own IRS file, and tolls are transferred to its bank account. The cabs’ profit margins are very low. The income of the road, the traffic light and the cabs are enough for upgrades and to keep them operational.
They are not alone: Tens of billions of objects that service human beings have joined the free market where billions of people do business. They belong to no one
Originally appeared at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/08/18/when-the-bus-will-be-its-own-boss/