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Driverless car revolution to take decades

Finally a little reality in the discussion!

WE are the problem! We just keep our cars just too long! 20% of the cars on the road were produced before 2002 so good luck gettin’ them 260 Million meat-bag driven vehicles replaced.

Hope I can handle 20 more years of driving a manual (drive car)

THEY are the problem. THEY make them so expensive that we have to drive them forever.


I’m with jt on this one.

I bought my first new car in '72 for $2300. Average household incomes were about $9K. $2300 is roughly 25% of $9,000.

A comparable new car today would cost about $23,000. Average household income is currently roughly $41K. $23K is over 50% of $41,000.

Cars are far more expensive as a percentage of average household income than they were years ago. So yes, we keep them far longer. Fortunately, they hold up far better over the long run. In '72 cars often rotted out, the engines wore out, and the chassis and its systems rotted away all before 100,000 miles. Now well-maintained cars are often in better shape after 20 years than '72 cars were after 10 years.

My car has the high mileage and is 12 years old. But this “meat bag” plans to keep it another 12 years. My goal is to have it outlast me. And I’ll strongly oppose anyone who tries to force me to do otherwise unless he/she is wiling to pay for its replacement. :grin:


Amen brother! My first car, a 1964 Pontiac had rust holes in all 4 fenders at 10 years. The engine was fine. My 1976 car had small rust holes in all 4 fenders at 5 years and that was the last rust thru I’ve had in any car until the rather large ones in one rocker panel in my 13 year old truck. But the truck runs just fine with 126K on the clock.

Cars used to show rust at 3-5 years. In the rust belt, mileage didn’t matter as much as rust. Many cars drove themselves to the scrap heap!

You don’t see that so much anymore.

On the other hand, we’re assuming we have to wait for people to buy a new car before they use a robot car. I don’t see that as being the case. The first robot cars will be (and if you count Uber’s little experiment, already have been) taxicabs.

If taxis decide to go to a subscription model (pay X per month, get Y rides/miles) then even people who own those ancient manually-controlled cars might find themselves using robot cars on a regular basis.

When Ford came out with the Model-T, most people who got one hadn’t been waiting around for the horse to die before they bought it, y’know? The horse stayed in the stable while the T was being driven.

I don’t mind paying a little more for a vehicle that is a lot more reliable.

Much of the problem with the high cost of many new vehicles is the features that many people think they need and is willing to pay for. Manufacturers have really over-inflated the cost of those items. People are willing to pay an extra $20k for features that cost the manufacturer $1.

I am glad congress is using caution. I have an update on a previous post concerning Oregon requiring headlights on when windshield wipers are in use. The law was passed and had an effective date. Long after that date I noticed that more than half of drivers were not complying. I did a search and discovered the law was sent back to the state legislature due to concerns over DRLs meeting the requirement and intermittent wiper setting requiring lights on. I agree that these are valid concerns. I have many more concerns regarding driverless cars.

It is much more difficult than people holding onto older cars. Who is going to pay to replace all your older cars with newer ones? I have several older vehicles that are used all the time. Some of them are really high mileage some of them are not. My older trucks are low mileage and at the rate I drive them I will likely have them for 20 more years. New trucks are insanely expensive.

The much bigger issue in my opinion is that the vast infrastructure in this country was not designed for driver less cars. As the technology advances in the autos, it will also need to grow in the infrastructure. My state can’t keep up with the necessary painting of the lines. My wife’s new rav4 with lane departure only works when the lines are properly marked. It is much more than just that. Signs will need to have integrated sensors, road cones for construction will need to be integrated with technology, there are vast amounts of technology that will need to be retrofitted to make a realistic driver-less car environment. My guess it it will start with baby steps and maybe the big cities that already have HOV lanes. This would be a good place to start but only good for the 20 miles you are on the HOV lanes. The issue is going to be who is going to pay for the infrastructure upgrades when we cannot even afford the necessary upgrades to the existing infrastructure? As soon as you start integrating technology, it will be obsolete by the time it is actually implemented.

I believe that statistic that I last saw was something like 95% of all roads in the states are still unpaved. No chance a driveless car is going to safely and navigate these dirt/gravel roads.

In my opinion, flying cars will be more realistic than driverless cars. Flying cars don’t need roads and they operate in 3 dimensions which will eliminate the 2 dimension issues that we currently have.

It isn’t just the auto companies. Auto insurers have a new crusade. They are testing SUV headlights, and failed almost all of the SUVs they tested. We can expect that the auto companies will all do whatever is necessary to pass this new test, since they always do whatever IIHS/HLDI wants.

This is a safety issue and it is probably good for us in the long run. We will pay for whatever nonrecurring expenses are required to get the improved headlights into SUVs and later into all vehicles.

Hmm, I don’t think so. Cars will need GPS that includes data on speed limits. They won’t need signs, because they already know where all possible destinations are and can plot a course to them without the help of signs.

That side is actually going to end up saving the government money because instead of running out and changing 30,000 signs whenever the speed limit changes, all they’ll do is tap the new number into its field in a database, and that’s it.

Similarly, we won’t need the “Memphis, 90 miles” signs because if you want to know how far you are from Memphis, you just ask the car.

Really the only places we will need signage is in areas that have pedestrians.

Obviously, this transition will come as we reach a tipping point where the vast majority of vehicles are auto-drive.

As for who is going to pay, as I’ve said several times, cab companies are going to foot most of the bill. With robotic cars that can drive themselves, we won’t need to all have a car. A robo car can pick me up, take me to work, then go back and get my neighbor and take him to the store. We could cut the number of cars per-capita by a huge amount, and end up with more transportation efficiency than we have now.

Your flying cars idea is interesting, but I’ll point out that there are no lane markers painted in the sky, which means if you’re saying that automated flying cars are possible, then so are automated ground cars. If you’re suggesting human-piloted flying cars… Erm, have you seen drivers lately? I certainly wouldn’t want to be flying if the idiot who was weaving in and out of traffic while listening to noise-cancelling headphones this morning is given the keys to a flying car that he gets to control!

Right now it’s hard to get out of the mode of thinking that says “a driver looks around and reacts to information painted on the street and written on signs,” but robots don’t need that. Check out one of the robot-staffed warehouses some time. The only markings on the floor are where humans go - the robots don’t need them. All a robot needs is to know where it is, where its destination is, and the path to take to get there.

Now just add visual sensors to detect obstacles (kids running in front, oncoming non-robot traffic, etc) (many warehouse robots lack these sensors, which is why humans are never allowed in the robot area) and as a rough backup to the positioning system (I see corn ahead - this probably isn’t a real road. Safe-mode stop and transmit an assistance request) and you’ve got the basics of robot cars that don’t need all the stuff humans need to drive safely.

After all, we wouldn’t need lane markers either, if we had positional accuracy on the order of microns, and we weren’t a species of selfish apes who need clearly-spelled-out rules in order not to descend into chaos.


GPS is good to about a meter, and that isn’t accurate enough to keep accidents from happening. I saw a TV show about trucking in the great white north. One episode showed how some of them drive in a whiteout. They have enhanced GPS along with other sensors to keep them on the road when they can’t see anything. GPS alone, even enhanced, wasn’t enough.

The driver also mentioned that the system was very expensive. If they are extremely expensive, the only place they will likely get used is as robo-chauffeurs. I can see it now, for just an additional $50,000 each, I can factory equip my wife’s Rolls Royce Phantom and my Bentley Mulsanne Speed with self driving systems. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

A whole lot of people are not in a position to do so. Millions, in fact. Many are barely in a position to keep their current cars running. Perhaps I should rephrase that: many of US are barely in a position to keep OUR cars running.

Your statement sounds good in writing. But it isn’t real-world. :relaxed:

And computers never fail (crash). You are obviously a tech addict who does not accept reality. I would never consider using an autonomous cab. “Your flying cars idea is interesting, but I’ll point out that there are no lane markers painted in the sky”. You are obviously totally ignorant of aviation requirements. Aircraft flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) are following “lane markers painted in the sky” and are not allowed to deviate more than 5 nautical miles from that “aerial highway” and are also required to maintain altitude authorized by Air Traffic Control. “After all, we wouldn’t need lane markers either, if we had positional accuracy on the order of microns, and we weren’t a species of selfish apes who need clearly-spelled-out rules in order not to descend into chaos.” You are most likely to still be alive 40 years from now when your fantasy may become reality. I’m actually glad I will most likely be long dead and gone by then.

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None of that will be required. None. Vision systems already identify these features and the car can react to them. Over 20 years ago Carnegie Mellon developed a driverless car system that followed the lanes without painted lines. It used the oil stain in the middle of the lane, the dirt/grass at the edge of the pavement, the position of the car ahead and behind all identified, quantified and analyzed for quality of signal and concurrence with the other signals. These techniques were used in the DARPA challenges to navigate through a city with autonomous military vehicles.

Nope, again. All proven possible by the DARPA challenge that required navigation across the desert and the previous description of the Carnegie Mellon solution.

Autonomous cars use GPS only for gross location, the current batch use 3-D scanning lasers for detection of hard obstacles and fine location.

AGV forklifts have used scanning 3-D lasers for this function for a long time.

You are.

Your personal transportation, your money. Driverless taxi? The taxi company. Driverless trucks? Trucking companies.

Of course there will always be people who can’t afford a new car…but who says you have to buy a new car. A car that’s designed and built to be made reliable has the potential to be reliable for the 2nd and 3rd owners. I know I’m one of the few who keep their vehicles past 300k miles.

And if you buy a good reliable vehicle and keep it for hundreds of thousands of miles you’ll be far better off financially then buying a vehicle every 3-5 years because it’s worn out.

It’s worth mentioning that ALL GPS users are merely “piggybacking” on the Dept of Defense’s system; we use it as it pleases the DoD; and the DoD can, at a moment’s notice and for any reasons they see fit, degrade it, or terminate it indefinitely.

Any autonomous navigation that relies on GPS as a standalone is unacceptable, and foolhardy to boot.

My point was that the Americans are broke. Over half of the population does not have $500 for a car repair or any emergency item. Their wages are stagnant and prices keep creeping up. My point was that many of the older cars will be around for a really long time because the majority of American’s cannot afford to just go out and buy a self driving car.

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