The Politics of Transportation

While most eyes are on the 2016 U.S. election, Tesloop CEO Rahul Sonnad is looking ahead to 2020, and he sees autonomous vehicles as a much bigger political talking point than they are currently.

In a video interview with TechCrunch contributor Andrew Keen, Sonnad talks about transportation in terms of politics, remarking that the current U.S. administration has been "remarkably grown-up and rational" about transportation, particularly with regards to autonomy.

While he notes that the current election cycle hasn't yielded much significant discussion of the transportation industry, Sonnad predicts the 2020-2024 administration period is "going to be completely transformative" for the U.S.'s transportation landscape.

"The technology will be there to have a car that is safer than a human driver by that point," says Sonnad.

"I think the implications of that are really staggering in terms of both making transportation much cheaper, but also I think you'll start to see at that time a lot more electric transportation, which will make it much cleaner."

He goes on to predict that autonomous vehicles will eliminate traffic, eventually be used to move freight, and even change our roads themselves, with high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes becoming autonomous car lanes.

A New Era

Sonnad is positioned to know what he's talking about. Tesloop combines two of the latest and greatest transportation disrupters — autonomy and ridesharing — into one company, providing passengers with one-way transportation between Las Vegas and Southern California using Tesla's Autopilot feature (a human "pilot" is behind the wheel at all times for legal purposes).

As of last week, all Teslas in production will be capable of Level 5 autonomy; Lyft's CEO expects the service to be driverless within the next five years; and Uber has already tested its own driverless vehicles. The age of vehicle autonomy may arrive before we even get to 2020.

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