Camino LS6

Driverless Cars

23 posts in this topic

The mention of this in the ELR thread got me thinking about the topic. Recently, google was licensed to operate their driverless cars on public highways in California. At least, that's the gist of what I heard a short while ago on the radio in the form of a news report. This raises all sorts of questions, and fears.

The way I see it, those fears are somewhat unfounded. Yes, those pursuing this technology like to daydream about magically eliminating traffic jams and accidents in a world without human drivers. But things are unlikely to work out that way. Resistance will come from all quarters (and with good reason), it would be a long and bloody battle to enforce this vision of the future with bitterness and rebellion throughout. I don't think things will happen that way.

To begin with, there would be a long period of overlap with manually-operated cars. This necessitates that the autonomous cars be flawless in their interaction with manually-operated cars. That technology isn't there yet - period. And, what of sudden failure of the systems in such cars? Manual override will be a required feature. And there would be the issue of liability when a system failure causes an accident. What would the exposure be for the car's owner? For their insurance company? For the manufacturer of the autonomous systems? For the manufacturer of the car itself?

In short, it will be a very long incubation cycle. Today, even with the sophisticated autopilot systems in airplanes, we still have pilots. The principles involved are the same. I expect a long period in which the owner/operator of a driverless car will be required to be able, and prepared, to take over if needed.

So, the fears of a mandate from on high that we all become passive passengers are premature at best. The realities of transition make that unlikely. Nor would such policies be very smart, as they would create great conflict where none need occur. Fighting tooth and nail for the absolute shift to this technology would be a fool's errand. It is something that will need to evolve from the challenge of a mixed driving environment with all of its variables. As the technology becomes seasoned by its time in what seems to be an adverse environment, it can only become safer and more reliable. Those chasing after the dreams of a top-down mandate, would serve themselves better by adopting the approach of driverless technology as an augmentation of current systems rather than a replacement. Why spit into the wind?

For those of us who find the idea of being forced into autonomous transportation pods to be abhorrent, we should also take a breath and think it over. What if you are exhausted, but really need to be somewhere at a time certain? What if you want to have just one more beer at a gathering? Or what if you have a medical condition, illness, or injury that inhibits your ability to drive? Wouldn't it be nice to let the computer drive when the need is real? Imagine what continued mobility would mean to seniors who can no longer drive due to impaired vision. The benefits could work for all of us, as long as the technology can be made failsafe. And the only way , in my view, to make it failsafe is to develop it within the crucible of an environment which includes human drivers and all of the variables they introduce to that environment.

Those still seeing a mandated driving utopia, as well as those fearing the same, should consider the necessity of the process I have outlined here before digging trenches, and fixing bayonets. We can all win with such an approach.

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No matter how much God syndrome human beings have, artificial intelligence cannot replace human intelligence it can only supplement.

Because in order to model a perfect artificial intelligence system we have to understand human intelligence thoroughly, we are far away from that scientifically.

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Google also has their driverless cars running in Arizona where the first person to get one of their cars is a blind man. So you do bring up good points about liability in the event the system fails. In this case, the guy could press the breaks, but if the system fails he will not be able to really do anything other than break since he cannot see anything.

Personally, while I like the idea of having the feature to turn on for those days of needing to take a nap, I enjoy my driving and want to do it myself rather than have a computer do it.

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Given the lack of interest in cars and driving in general amongst the younger generations, it's inevitable that driverless cars will take off over time....we have to face it, as car enthusiasts we are are a small minority, maybe about 1% of the driving public..the masses have no interest beyond getting from point a to point b. Most people would rather be on Facebook or watching Kim Kardashian/Justin Beiber/(whatever pop culture sensation of the moment) videos.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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Given the lack of interest in cars and driving in general amongst the younger generations, it's inevitable that driverless cars will take off over time....we have to face it, as car enthusiasts we are are a small minority, maybe about 1% of the driving public..the masses have no interest beyond getting from point a to point b. Most people would rather be on Facebook or watching Kim Kardashian/Justin Beiber/(whatever pop culture sensation of the moment) videos.

A bit beside the point.

Any shift to autonomous cars will by necessity, be gradual.

And these same folks you reference will have an expectation of safety which will demand co-existence with driven cars.

No need for conflict, nor edicts from on high.

The best changes happen organically.

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Call me stubborn or single minded, but the thought of where we as nation and world are headed truly leaves me with a sense of dread. I'm 30 years old and I fear where cars will be in another 20-30 years. Between CAFE, increasing use of all these electronic systems like blind spot monitoring this, lane departure that etc etc, and now the prospect of driverless cars....Driving to me, is a right of passage, a sign of growing up and becoming your own person, expressing your desire to choose the car you want, drive to the destination you want, when you want. The ultimate expression of freedom. As cars become more and more computer controlled and us as Human's become secondary to the driving process, that freedom isn't so sweet anymore. I took pride in learning how to drive by the time I was 5 years old, I got a great kick out of teasing my friends about it when they still couldn't even master driving their Power Wheels Bigfoot. I again took pride in passing my road test on the first try with no points deducted and teasing friends about it, then came my first time behind the wheel of my own car by myself...there was no greater feeling in the world at the time. That's something it seems future generations will only read about, and that is truly sad IMO.

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Believe me, I share those same concerns.

But it doesn't have to be that way, and we don't have to fight the march of technology.

That is, if those pushing the ideas give up the notion of forcing what would be a natural progression by the use of legal mandates.

They, and we, need not go there.

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I feel that we as enthusiasts or rather gear heads are a dying breed. In this age of what's the latest app to download on your phone, and the newest infotainment feature on next year's car model, I see cars becoming more or less an extension of the home PC. Sure it will take years before driving as we know it is gone, but where as cars replacing horse drawn carriages was an expensive, perhaps even scary idea, a future where we are but passengers in our own cars being shuttled around like mindless incapable sheep is even more frightening.

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Given the lack of interest in cars and driving in general amongst the younger generations, it's inevitable that driverless cars will take off over time....we have to face it, as car enthusiasts we are are a small minority, maybe about 1% of the driving public..the masses have no interest beyond getting from point a to point b. Most people would rather be on Facebook or watching Kim Kardashian/Justin Beiber/(whatever pop culture sensation of the moment) videos.

Facebook and pop culture is a waste of good time. So many better things to do than be into those items. Course Facebook could burn down and I would careless same with Twitter. I see no real value in either of those platforms for driving sales. In fact reviews of companies that have used them have shown more money spent then returned. GM has stopped Facebook and twitter advertising.

They had their day and are slowly fading.

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Given the lack of interest in cars and driving in general amongst the younger generations, it's inevitable that driverless cars will take off over time....we have to face it, as car enthusiasts we are are a small minority, maybe about 1% of the driving public..the masses have no interest beyond getting from point a to point b. Most people would rather be on Facebook or watching Kim Kardashian/Justin Beiber/(whatever pop culture sensation of the moment) videos.

Facebook and pop culture is a waste of good time. So many better things to do than be into those items. Course Facebook could burn down and I would careless same with Twitter. I see no real value in either of those platforms for driving sales. In fact reviews of companies that have used them have shown more money spent then returned. GM has stopped Facebook and twitter advertising.

They had their day and are slowly fading.

Social networks are no place for sales or marketing, IMO. My company is getting ready to start a marketing campaign using FB, Linkedin and Twitter to announce our blog postings...I'm wondering if it will be of any value as far as growing our business (small web consulting firm).

I like using Twitter as a news stream....kind of like the way I used to use aggregators like Google Reader. FB has it's place in connecting w/ people that I know and people w/ similar interests (autos, racing, terriers, politics, etc).

Anyhoo, it's going be interesting to see driverless cars start appearing in traffic and real-world contexts...

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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Delta and Camino, I agree with your feelings about where the car industry is going. I have no problem going to cleaner greener forms of energy to move the auto, but the self driving car is not what I see when I look to the future.

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It's coming, dfelt, the question is will it be subordinate to us - or the other way around?

Will it be a bloody fight, or will we be wise enough to let it happen as an owner-controlled option?

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Some of the more extreme collectivist thinkers extrapolate the use of autonomous cars to the elimination of private ownership, and the mandating of a central traffic control system. This is where the real danger is, it is an extreme vision of limited, and dependent, mobility. Such a system would restrict your movements to the well-worn paths of dense population centers which these folks also see as a good idea.

To me, that sort of reality is death.

The freedom to spend time away is something I cherish.

A tight leash on how this technology impacts our society is essential, we must not sign up for such grandiose visions.

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That just sounds like the usual paranoid fear of a totalitarian state that I hear from the crazies on the right, though.

Don't be absurd.

It comes from "futurists" whose political stripe I don't know as it wasn't presented in the articles and shows I've seen on the topic.

The notion is that it is a more environmentally-friendly way for humans to live.

Maybe it is.

But it would be a dehumanizing reality, one which I reject utterly.

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That just sounds like the usual paranoid fear of a totalitarian state that I hear from the crazies on the right, though.

Don't be absurd.

It comes from "futurists" whose political stripe I don't know as it wasn't presented in the articles and shows I've seen on the topic.

The notion is that it is a more environmentally-friendly way for humans to live.

Maybe it is.

But it would be a dehumanizing reality, one which I reject utterly.

I meant your comments come off as paranoid, not the 'futurists'...

Futurists and other forward-looking people are always a bit out there, sometimes their prognostications align with shifts in the views of the public, sometimes they don't. It does seem younger people have less interest in driving and car ownership and are interested in technology and a greener world, so such consumers are more ameniable to trying shared use driverless cars (I can imagine a fleet of google self-driving Priuses from companies like Zip Car in the near future in leading urban areas) than older non-technology focused consumers...

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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My comments are hardly paranoid, there is a pervasive school of thought that embraces the idea of increased population density as a strategy for mitigating environmental impact. This school of thought advocates having "all the essentials of life within a 5 minute walk", high population density, public transportation supplanting individual transportation, and so on.

That I find these ideas repellent, hardly makes me paranoid..

Edited by Camino LS6
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All this technology and innovation, how long before we as people innovate to the point where we become obsolete...

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Technology does need careful observation/implementation in real-world terms, as it moves like kudzu and often for merely technology's sake rather than serving an actual need. Planned obsolescence, perfected.

One of my issues with the relentless push "forward" is that the ultimate by-product is less & less capable individuals (not addressing the operationally-compromised here).

There are limited uses for driverless cars, but I don't see them becoming commonplace inside of 100 years. We've got what- 15 years in on electric cars for environmental reasons, yet only a 3% penetration in the market. I wouldn't consider electrics to be what I am terming as 'mainstream' here until more like 20%... and at this rate we may be looking at a 50-yr span to hit even that. IOW, driverless vehicles will be a rare curiosity in my lifetime rather than anything to co-exist with. I have no issue where they serve a true need tho.

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The 2014 S-class has the ability to drive itself, however Mercedes won't allow it to. The legal issues if that system fails and the car hits a pedestrian are too big. The technology of self-driving cars will arrive soon, but I suspect the legalities and liabilities of such systems is what will hold it back.

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I welcome the technology and the ability to reduce highway deaths and injuries. Every year, 30,000 people are killed and over 2,000,000 people are injured in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., with some sort of driver error being the primary collision factor in almost all cases. The technology toward self-driving vehicles has been deployed incrementally in the last decade and is becoming much more accessible. I can see complete driverless vehicle technology deployed in about a decade, with the driver being there for the manual override.

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