The article at the end of the URL discusses initiatives from Ford, GM, Mercedes Benz, and Audi. While most are for traffic jams, the Cadillac system aims for highway cruising. GM said it won’t be ready until the end of the decade, and I’m not surprised. If the others are for traffic jams only, they might be ready sooner. I’m skeptical of these systems now, but maybe in 5 to 10 years they might be ready for prime time. Still, that’s amazing.
I can’t wait to see the first accident and the resulting lawsuit. Let’s see, who has the deepest pockets? The GPS maker? The Car maker? Forget the driver and his insurance company. Believe me, it’s an accident waiting to happen.
I think the reason that the release is so many years away is the possibility of accidents. The manufacturers want to more than thoroughly test the systems before they let the public have them. This is a dream come true for the those that shave or put makeup on in the car now.
True auto-pilots have been working successfully for a couple of years now…Cars have been driven all over California with no human driver input for hundreds of miles…The big hold-up is getting legal protection for the companies developing the systems…
And autopilots are used in commercial aircraft extensively. The traffic isn’t as heavy, of course. But technology exists to fly the plane and even take emergency actions if required.
I agree it’s the Mother of All Lawsuits in Waiting and will make the runaway Toyota thing a tiny blip on the radar in comparison once a few fatalities start piling up and the media frenzy begins.
Jt, the technology also exists to take the plane off and land it. Heck, a cruise missile can even fly hundreds of miles below radar, diverting around obstacles such as skyscrapers, and land right in your lap…all by itself…without damaging your window sills!
I personally support some of the technologies coming on the market to monitor proximety and take preventative actions such as automatically applying brakes when cars get too close, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea of turning total control of the car over to an automated system. Just as the weather report is not always accurate because the computer models cannot include the countless variables in real life, an automotive control system also cannot. An aircraft pilot stll retains responsibility to monitor his/her systems and aircraft performance and take over of something goes wrong (and things DO go wrong), and so should a driver. The difference is that (with the exception of takeoff and landing) an aircraft pilot genertally has time to react. An automobile driver generally does not.
And the cost of the military systems you mention is prohibitive for automotive use. But it works in certain circumstances. It is up to the auto manufacturers to find a way to make it affordable and highly reliable. That will take time and a lot (whole lot) of testing. I imagine that their test engineers will spend years in everyday traffic even after they complete test track work. Because no matter how many cautions they offer, someone, and likely many someones, will have a 36oz soda in one hand and a big sandwich in the other while they let the car do the driving.
Amen to all of your points.
And it’s that cost thing that bothers me. As more and more technology is added to save us from our own stupidity, the cost creeps up to where it may no longer be affordable to buy or fix. We still need good, basic cars without all the whiz-bang, cars that we can afford.
Even with the vast amount of money spent on aviation avionics and so on, aircraft have been known to smack the ground at high speed and cruise missles veered off into the unknown to hit who knows what because of electronic glitches.
While watching an Air Force Thunderbirds demostration some years ago the pilot of the solo plane had to abort his take-off roll when the INS went out on the F-16 he was flying. That happened PDQ with no warning.
I wonder how an automotive system would react if a tire blew out instantly or someone darted in front of the guided car and slammed on the brakes, pulled out from a stop sign, etc?
Even the subways in major cities have operators that have some control over the train. When the time comes that automobiles drive themselves, I’ll follow the slogan “It’s so nice to take the bus and leave the driving to us”. Maybe someone on the bus will have a bottle to share.
I’m sure that anything we see in the next 10 years will require some driver interaction. It will be quite a while before cars are really autonomous. And in order for that to happen, I think that there will need to be some intercar communications to allow for the most reliable response. Anyway, I don’t see lane changes without drivers turning the wheel. Although, a really smart car could prevent lane changes if another car in the next lane is too close. With electric power steering, that would be easier to do.
Cars have been driven all over California with no human driver input for hundreds of miles
Well, that explains 91 Eastbound in Los Angeles…
I have toyed with an idea for a few years about making all highway cars electric and having them run on rails in the road a la the toy cars at amusement parks and then run a program on a computer where you just enter the destination and the car does the rest. I have no idea if this would even be feasible much lest practical.
“I have toyed with an idea for a few years about making all highway cars electric and having them run on rails in the road a la the toy cars at amusement parks and then run a program on a computer where you just enter the destination and the car does the rest. I have no idea if this would even be feasible much lest practical.”
I don’t think it is practical or feasible. This is essentially repaving the roads.
One issue with self driving cars is that they will follow the speed limit. If you’re already irritated by the car doing the speed limit in the slow lane, how are you going to feel when every car on the road is driving the speed limit?
I’ve been so unimpressed by average driver skill that no matter what comes out, it can’t be any worse than what we have.
Honestly, by the time self driving cars become the norm, no one will really care about how fast they’re going. They’ll be too busy on their social media device to even notice.
I worked for over 30 years for a company which also produced Avionics equipment. Back in the 60’s when I started there, the engineers already had control equipment with the capability of automated flights, from take-off to landing. The reasons given here are the reasons such things have never been implemented.
At that time, there was a joke about it, a joke which the younger folks may or may not understand.
As the plane took off from NYC for Europe, a voice came over the speakers. “This is the first fully automated airplane flight. Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong… can go wrong… can go wrong… can go wrong…”
“Honestly, by the time self driving cars become the norm, no one will really care about how fast they’re going. They’ll be too busy on their social media device to even notice.”
And what will we do with the cup holders if we can keep the cups in our hands all the time?
Wait a minute - condiments! The mustard and ketchup for my hot dog will fit nicely in the cup holders.
Fiat in Europe is introducing an espresso machine designed for the car. Car Talk’s facebook page had the story a few days ago. It said the machine will be in between the front seats and will have 2 matching cups for the machine.