I heard an interview on the radio yesterday. The person interviewed worked for Google on a team that is creating a car that drives itself. It will monitor traffic, pedestrians, and lane markers. In conjunction with a GPS, it could get you to your destination with no inaction from you, and even park itself. It seems like these systems are pretty far along since the remaining problem is recognizing and dealing with surprises like deer, debris, or people in your lane. He said these cars should start arriving in about 5 years, and he expected that in less than 50 years, the cars will do all the driving and we read, text, sleep; whatever. But we won’t be allowed to drive. And that’s the issue. What about people that like to drive and have classic cars that don’t have these autopilot systems? OTOH, if there are no more traffic accidents due to driver error, more than a million lives will be saved each year. And if the autopilot system fails and there is an accident, the manufacturer is in for a whale of a lawsuit. Anyway, there are pluses and minuses. This might be good for rush hour or on long trips, but there are times that I enjoy driving. Given the nature of our community, autopilot cars should be unwelcome. Still, I’d like to discuss it and see what you all think besides No Darn Way.
I think these systems only work on interstate highways or other controlled access, multi-lane highways. City driving? Not!
Eh…I’m about as interested in a car that drives itself as I am in a piano that plays itself, a woodworking project that builds itself, or a crossword puzzle that solves itself.
Pretty soon we’ll have cars that’ll do that too, and we’ll all be a bunch of fat stupefied idiots unable to do anything for ourselves, like those people in the movie Wall-E.
I hope it is just limited access highways.
A car with an autopilot is a pretty awesome thing, but it is a gross overstatement to call such an arrangement a “driverless” car. Airplanes and ships all have autopilots, and they aren’t “captainless,” are they?
In any event, you’d still need a trained, sober operator to monitor systems and take over in the event of a failure. Also, to make go/no go decisions: do I continue to my destination now that there’s heavy snowfall?
In any event, autopilots can and do crash. There was a pretty nasty crash at a Paris air show involving an Airbus that wouldn’t disengage autoland when the Captain ordered a go around; and an ATR-72 that iced up in an autopilot hold until it spun in. (Google’s car has wrecked, too! Google says it was being hand-driven at the time…but then, that’s what you’d expect them to say, right?)
Save a million lives a year?
I’ll believe it when I see it. Automation was supposed to be the savior of aviation, too…to the point that “flying the computer” overrode “flying the plane” skills…and you get that Asian crash from tech-savvy pilots incapable of hand-flying a 3-degree glideslope!
Degraded automotive skills, that aren’t there for the inevitable systems failure, equals bent metal.
I can countless lawsuits over something like this and wonder if a flashing CEL will throw a code for “Crash Imminent”…
What I’ve learned from this discussion is that we had better not have the same engineers design the cars that drive themselves that designed the Japanese toilets or we will all be wiped out.
I think these systems only work on interstate highways or other controlled access, multi-lane highways. City driving?
You should actually do the research before you make that statement. Right now the systems DON’T work on the interstate. Strictly in the city. The whole design was for driving in the city.
He said these cars should start arriving in about 5 years, and he expected that in less than 50 years, the cars will do all the driving and we read, text, sleep; whatever. But we won't be allowed to drive.
That’s strictly conjecture. Who knows what will happen. Impossible to tell. There may be limits within certain cities or towns and even highways that may limit access. Who knows. If anyone can predict that…they should start their own hedge fund.
I see cars now getting more " educated" if you will as far as driver aids are concerned. At some point I can see highway lanes devoted to cars that will travel a track like a train over a guided surface which would make it more efficient for a large volume of traffic to move over set distances… But, cars that drive everywhere for you ? I would like those reserved for habitual traffic offenders who still have to go to work to support a family.
At some point I can see highway lanes devoted to cars that will travel a track like a train over a guided surface which would make it more efficient for a large volume of traffic to move over set distances
Those I’d like to see…But to have ALL CARS ALL the time driving themselves…especially on a highway…There has be me a LOT of changes to the highway and road systems for that to happen. And I’m sure the cost for this will be very very high.
I can’t wait. There are plenty of people out there who are poor drivers, and a computer could do so much better.
Last I heard, the Google car has never had an at-fault accident when under computer control. I think it was hit once, and in an accident when the driver took control away from the computer. That would be pretty safe.
Even better, a nap on the way home from work.
Google just dropped a quarter-billion on ‘Uber’, the taxi-ish smartphone company, with this in mind (maybe):
“The real potential is for something quite different: ubiquitous taxis – summoned via smartphone or weird glasses – that are so cheap they make car ownership obsolete. That’s the kind of social and technological revolution that could justify the lofty valuation granted to Uber. It explains why the same company that’s invested in the technology to drive the cars is now investing in the technology to hail them. It’s a world in which algorithms for matching cabs with passengers and user interfaces for summoning taxis will become crucial elements of everyday transportation, the way gas stations and parking lots are today.”
Brings this to mind:
The reason cars are so popular is that we LOVE them and we LOVE to drive them…They are the true American religion…
I used to really be into cars in every aspect; washing, waxing, bestowing love and care, tinkering to get some improvement, rebuilding, restoring, refining, re-designing, driving for pleasure and thrills. Then a couple of things happened; I got older and had much less free time to devote to cars and B. I realized what I valued most was the freedom they presented and less about the hardware that got me there…now they are more a means to an end- freedom to go wherever and whenever I want.
I still like to live vicariously through others fascinations and obsessions and do enjoy a spirited ride on occasion. However, that thrill can be had in spades on a motorcycle. Who knows, maybe someday in the future that old love will return, especially if my son continues to be fascinated with them…
The reason cars are so popular is that we LOVE them and we LOVE to drive them...They are the true American religion..
No question there…but there are times I’d rather NOT drive them. Commuting to Boston at 8am is one of those times I’d rather have someone else drive me in. The whole thing about cars driving themselves…I seriously doubt I’ll ever be around when most vehicles are self driven. My kids and their kids probably will though.
Sel-driving cars have been demonstrated for a long time now. In 1997 a demo was done in San Diego. Carnegie Mellon’s car navigated cross-country highways by computers fed by cameras looking at the lane lines, grease track or change between pavement and dirt to define the roadway path. Other cars “platooned” down highways with embedded magnets 20 feet part. Pretty funny when the initial testing played “crack the whip” and the last car pounded the next-to-last-cars trunk (I was there for the demo). They fixed that for the official unveiling.
DARPA challenges have done both cross-country and city driving. The computers and sensors were very sophisticated and expensive. Imagine diagnosing a problem with your “auto-driver” when it fails! Also consider that nearly every state outlaws autonomous driving cars, for now. We probably will get to the point of self driving cars but 5 years is too soon.
My .02, you will need to pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands!
“Last I heard, the Google car has never had an at-fault accident while under computer control.”
So, the car was in an at-fault accident. A company–with (virtually) a googol of money invested in automotive autopilots–asserts “the car wasn’t driving”…and you accept this unquestioningly?
And I don’t undestand those who claim an automotive autopilot would allow unfit motorists to “drive” a car. There are literally decades of case law determining that a vehicle (be it ship, plane, or train) is still, legally, under the captain’s legal control when operated via autopilot. Heck, Cap Hazlewood can attest that even handing over the helm to the first mate was insufficient to save hom from being drunk!
I do think an automotive autopilot is a neat trick, but there is an awful, awful lot of overreaching by people who seem to lack a sense of perspective, or even appreciate the precedent-setting effect of case law.