Driverless cars will accelerate the development of 3D-printed organs. Discuss.


Reducing the number of automobile-related fatalities is a good thing, right? Well, maybe not if you're on the waiting list for, say, a liver transplant. And that's why the advent of Google-style driverless cars, which remove human error from the driving equation, will spur the advent of bioprinted organs. At least, that's how Bre Pettis, founder and CEO of Makerbot, sees it.

Pettis espoused this provocative theory a couple of months ago at a conference in Brooklyn, as reported in Fortune. I missed the story at the time, much to my chagrin, but Fortune writer Erin Griffith revisited the topic last week on the Fortune website. Specifically, Griffith crunched some numbers to see if Pettis' theory would withstand closer scrutiny. It did, at least those parts that are not speculative.

"If 10% of vehicles were self-driving, it could reduce the number of accidents by 211,000 and in turn save 1100 lives, according to a 2013 study by the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, DC," writes Griffith. "If 90% of vehicles were autonomous, an estimated 4.2 million accidents would be prevented and 21,700 lives would be saved."
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