Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Want an Autonomous Camper

Here's where autonomous cars will hit very bigly: campers. This sector - which does not yet exist - will one day be a phenomenal investment for stockholders of whatever carmaker jumps into this.

Past a certain age, it's enormous strain to get yourself to an airport, onto a plane, and then reverse that process...with luggage. Shoot, that's a strain even for 35 year-olds! Same with trains or buses. Cars are easier, but you still have the long drives, the transfer to hotel, etc. Older people miss out because the overhead of going out and about becomes too much (anyone who's ever had the flu can relate!).

Here's what I want for my 75th birthday: an autonomously-driving camper. If I hear about a great breakfast place in Maine, I can get into my camper at midnight, crash in the back, and wake up in front of the place at 6 am. I can shop and sight-see without hassle, calling my vehicle back whenever I need it.

This will be awesome; the greatest lifestyle enhancement an elderly person could hope for. Really, it's shockingly anachronistic that such a huge swathe of our population barely participates in day-to-day life. With an autonomous camper, all you need to do is get yourself and your overnight bag out to the driveway, and, after a night's sleep, step off the curb and into your destination, while the camper parks itself. I could manage that even with a walker!

Older people are already famously into RVs, though they're clunky to drive and difficult to park. Remove those issues, and this would be a must-have. There will be 80 million elderly Americans by 2050. While not all will be able to afford an autonomous camper (though I suspect much car ownership will be replaced by spot-rentals from a fleet), I can't imagine even one of them not wanting this. Shoot, I'm only 54 and I'd buy an autonomous camper now in a second if it were affordable (and electric-powered, to avoid gasoline cost). For comparison, about 18 million new vehicles are sold annually in America. See the possibilities?

I'll be watching for it. This new electric motorhome covered with solar panels is a start, at least, but the field is still wide open. If Tesla's stock ever finally dips a little (I've been waiting since July), I might buy in on the mere chance they'll eventually think of doing this.

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