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Old 11-10-2017, 12:03 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 11,764
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
And what do you suppose the people in those "couple of states near Florida" will use for transportation to get to work while all "their" local cars are busy ferrying en masse to the tip of FL? And where will all those cars charge as they do so?
This is a problem to solve, but it's not an insurmountable one. And it's one that we face in other areas when there's some kind of shock.

Some people will work from home. Some people will carpool more, or bike to work, or whatever. Maybe the economic hit of the disaster spreads out a bit more geographically, but that's ok because the added efficiency of the system will make up for it and then some.

And the rest of the system can adapt and respond. A self-driving car can go a long way in a single night. So reinforcements can arrive from other areas, even ones that are pretty far away.

I'm not convinced that this will be that much of a political problem, either. Sure, people who have to wait longer to get to work because they're a few hundred miles from a hurricane might gripe, but is anyone really going to begrudge their local transportation fleet being used to save people from disaster? When someone has a medical injury on a plane, the plane lands ASAP. Sucks for the other people on the plane, but there's no one seriously advocating that the rest of the passengers' schedules are more important than emergency care.

And who will be paying for the deadhead time and mileage? Remember that a car will drive empty from, say, Atlanta to Miami, pick up an evacuee household, carry them back to, say, Atlanta then do it again a week later in reverse. The point being there's between 200 and 1000 miles of extra ferrying above and beyond the normal ferrying that's part and parcel of autonomous vehicle ops.
Depends on the pricing structure. Could be the evacuees, like any other long-distance traveler. Maybe if you request a longer trip, you pay higher per-mile costs to handle the logistics of the deadhead. Or maybe it's just built into the cost and it's paid as a sort of evacuation insurance by all passengers. Not every trip has to have the same profit margin.

One solution to paying for the ferrying is to charge premium prices for evacuation services. Sounds economically sensible, but just like price gouging for board-up supplies or generators or gasoline is illegal, it's a pretty good bet that price gouging for evacuation transportation services will be (and should be) illegal.
I think public opinion will be mostly ok if an evacuation cost a bit more, since it requires lots of logistical scrambling. It would be nice if people were more rational about supply and demand shocks increasing prices, but oh well.

There are other ways to limit the costs. Evacuation situations could require filling cars. They could be more time or location constrained (sorry, you might not get to evacuate as far as you want, because the priority is getting everyone out of immediate danger).

On advantage that we don't think about is that a fleet evacuation would be much more efficient. My parents live in Santa Rosa, and they told stories of people evacuating from the fire on foot because the roads were so clogged they couldn't get anywhere. A centrally dispatched fleet wouldn't bother putting more cars on the road if they'd just get stuck in traffic, which means people would get out faster, and the required cars to aid in the evacuation might be lower than you think.