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It will be only a matter of time until we have autonomous vehicle spam: cars with billboards driving around (unless stuck in traffic) simply to be seen.

It could be a huge problem because of competing goals. The spammers won't care about traffic flow as their only goal will be to have cars on the road and visible, whilst people in cars will want to get places in a reasonable time.

I hate to tell you.....this is already a thing with drivers. Las Vegas is infamous for this, and I have seen them in other large cities too. And the issue you describe happens as well. The Car with billboards want to drive as slow as they can for that reason, and it directly competes with folks who are trying to get from point A to Point B

Fortunately the regulatory way out is easy. Forbid ads on vehicles.

Like all politics, it's not so simple. What qualifies as an ad? Should Walmart and Amazon discontinue their corporate logo (and sometimes produce) on their semi-trucks? Many large companies put a lot of thought into the branding on their vehicles: a law forbidding that will not get passed without a fight.

Here's some real-world examples:




Respectfully, I think that would cause a lot more trouble than the problem. Would that mean the license plate ads are illegal? Or the Dealers stickers? Or would branding for cars be ads? And many commercial trucks have ads for their trucks. While I despise seeing those Ad trucks, I think making them illegal would cause more problems than it solves.

Just Dutch auction off the limited quantity: road space. Modern technology allows ubiquitous tracking and recognition of vehicles. No reason to subsidize at that point. We can just charge everyone

We already have a system to turn road usage into government revenue. Collection is easy efficient, and wastes zero time for the people paying. It does a good job correlating not only to road use but also pollution produced. In fact it's so easy to pay that many consumers rarely even think about it when they're paying it, yet even anonymous cash payers can't find a way to skirt around it.

It's called the gas tax, and it does a good enough job charging people for their negative externalities that everyone seems to hate it.

This would be true if fuel usage was linearly related to wear and tear on the roads, or road usage.

Fuel taxes almost never tax heavy usage vehicles enough, compared to the amount of damage they do to the road.

A fuel tax also doesn't solve the problem grandparent post is trying to solve, excess usage of 'high value' roads.

If road usage, and road wear and tear, was evenly distributed then a fuel tax would work, but the reality is that is simply a convenient and fairly effective proxy solution. As technology improves a solution similar to grandparent, some form of usage tolling, will become feasible and provide a more effective outcome.

I don't think it's wise to encourage even more tracking of people/objects moving around in the real world.

it probably wouldn't be that bad if government could track autonomous semis making deliveries to large shopping centers, but I wouldn't want it to have fine-grained data on who goes where and who delivers to their house.

That's easy enough to solve, simply ban advertising on vehicles. We ban billboards or regulate signage in many communities, so there's certainly precident.

Very few communities in the United States put quality of life ahead of the needs of businesses.

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