Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hey Tesla: Partner With Google to Wire the Highways

As I type this, I'm traveling about 60 miles per hour in an electric car with unlimited range. Every day I ride this electric car to and from work, as do thousands of other people.

Of course, this electric car is part of an electric train, and it doesn't have to worry about battery range because it receives continuous power from a rail above the track. The downside is that it's constrained to a prescribed route. I can't have the 6:43 drop me off in front of my house; I live about 5 miles from the train station.

The promise of an electric automobile, like the Tesla Roadster - as opposed to an electric train- is the ability to drive anywhere you'd like, without being constrained to the tracks. The main sticking point is the range- after about 200 miles you need to plug in for a lengthy recharge, vs. a five minute fillup for your gas vehicle. That makes it a little tough to do a 400 mile roadtrip, like the Los Angeles to San Francisco trip I used to do frequently on my motorcycle.

Looking at this map, you can see that there aren't a heck of a lot of choices as to the route between the two cities. In fact, Interstate Route 5 is so direct and straight, it might as well be a train track. My proposal: Tesla, partner with Google to wire the I-5 freeway with a 'third rail' for electric vehicles. You don't have to do the whole thing, just the 200 miles worth of desert in the middle- that way you can throw up solar panels and wind farms to provide part of the energy.

If this as-yet-undeveloped third rail can power the car without depleting the battery, suddenly the vast majority of California between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and even up to Santa Rosa and down to Long Beach, is reachable in a day's drive via electric car:

If the third rail can recharge the battery pack while running the car, even better- suddenly San Diego is in reach for San Franciscans looking for a little sun.

This undertaking would undoubtedly be costly and require a lot of engineering and political effort. However, I think it's a natural fit for Google, for the following reasons:

  • Google can pump map, traffic & local information / advertising down to vehicles on the wire.

  • Google can garner important information about traveler's buying and search habits, as well as traffic flow information for traffic reporting.

  • Google wants to take real action to reduce our impact on the environment

  • Greatness comes to those who dare to do great things, and we could use a little more greatness in this country lately.

So how about it, Google? Are you going to keep trying to give free wifi to people who have enough already, or are you going to turn California into an electric vehicle paradise?

1 comment:

Darryl Siry said...

Marc - I told you not to share secrets I tell you over thanksgiving on your blog...sheesh