Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

The nightmare comes closer

The Google driverless car is on the streets and they are even letting regular old folks like us have rides. Here’s an article and short video about it. I apologize for the ad before the video, but that’s USA Today’s fault. No pedals, no steering wheel, no fun. No fun driving, anyway. Any comments?

I think Googles ulterior motive is to take all those ground photos for Google Maps with this buggy.

The undeniable result of taking people out of the decision-making process of driving a car is that accident and death rates will plummet.

Unfortunately @insighful it may be computers can do better than humans, until they rebel!

" HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.

HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave? You’re going to find that rather difficult.

Dave Bowman: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore! Open the doors!

HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

I hear ya. Remember this movie?:

@insightful I do not remember that one, will put it on the radar, as long as we are getting obtuse, how about soylent green is people, idiocracy the movie might be a fun watch

did they make a soylent green movie? I read the book long ago.

Yes they did make a movie Ideocracy movie link

I doubt the Google folks actually think they’ll get their driverless cars on the road in Calif. At least cars without actual persons on board responsible to supervise and if necessary over-ride the computer. I expect this project of theirs is part a “look how cool we are” advertisement for Google, and part that there are niche uses for driverless cars, like in warehouses, military use, nuclear power plant accidents, etc.

Okay, here’s the problem I have with Google’s [supposed] “driverless car”: it’s not the concept, it’s the principle that’s offensive.

I am all for having the option of automating a portion of the “mechanical” aspects of driving a car. Developing an autopilot for an auto is pretty darn cool, and if they’d just leave it at that, no worries.

But NO…they have to make the “driverless” claim, which also implies turning over all the “managerial/captaincy/decision making” to the machine. Alterantively (and IMO more likely) it just means that a bunch of computer nerds fail to appreciate the necessary nature of captaincy to the operation of any vehicle.

It should be noted that the technology for captainless travel has existed for some time in shipping and aviation, but the Powers That Be there (wisely, IMO) decided that there was a vital need for human input and command authority over the operation of the vehicle, even if the captain in question never operates a control the whole trip.

What I mean by “captaincy” are making decisions like, “Have weather conditions deteriorated enough to stop for the night, or press onward?” “Given a mechanical issue, should I continue to the destination, stop at the next exit, or pull over immediately?” and “Do I need to disobey a reg in the interest of safety?”

As for the last, I routinely drive down a 12% grade road that ends at a “T” at the bottom (Powers Run Rd at Freeport road, for those keeping score at home). The light has a “No Turn On Red” sign, and for good reason: it’d be tricky to turn onto the 40 MPH road with little visual on oncoming traffic. NOW, suppose I’m at the light, and a Mack coal truck is descending behind me, lights flashing, horn blaring, brakes burning…he’s NOT going to be able to stop!

Now, my move would be to disobey the law and perform an illegal right turn to get out of his way. I actually “watch my six [o’clock]” in anticipation as normal practice. Now, how would the Google-mobile fare? With all the condescending “OUR cars don’t violate laws,” I’ll bet it’d settle for becoming a “bug on the windshield.”

An autopilot for cars implies a computer that can process visual cues and manipulate inputs. A driverless car implies captaincy implies AI…cand comptuers aren’t really all that good at it. It’s like training a dog to walk on it’s hind legs…yes, it can be done, but it’s a royal PITA, and they ultimately don’t do it all that well.

I can’t wait !! Once the “driverless” technology is perfected, you can have a motor home with GPS, just punch in your destination coordinates, hit “GO” and go back to sleep…I wonder how it works at night…Once “terrorists” figure out how to spoof it and cause wrecks, that might be a problem…

I don’t think the 25 MPH top speed will go over well with an impatient society.

Assuming the speed ante is upped to freeway rates, it would be a hoot to see how calm and collected passengers are in heavy traffic while knowing they have no control over the car other than a panic button; a device they will surely forget ever existed in times of real emergencies.

It’s also difficult for me to think of 2 feet of foam in the front as being much of a safety barrier.

I don’t even like technology like ABS that simply interferes with the driver’s control of the vehicle. Imagine how crazy a driverless vehicle would make me?

Once "terrorists" figure out how to spoof it and cause wrecks, that might be a problem...

It’d certainly make “suicide” bombing passe’ when you can just put your target in the GPS and a 100# sack of cement to fool the weight sensor on the driver’s seat.

When I was a young kid up to no good, I’d hang out in Oakland (neighborhood where Pitt and CMU campuses are) and CMU would operate a van (later a HMMWV) on Flagstaff hill in Schenley park. I sure hope the technology is MUCH improved, because those things were quite bad–slow and uncertain.

I'd hang out in Oakland (neighborhood where Pitt and CMU campuses are)

In the late 70’s I used to hang out at the VAMC there. We could just see into the the Pitt stadium (I think it was Pitts) from his office.


I don’t think the 25 MPH top speed will go over well with an impatient society.

Except in rush hour traffic in LA, which is where this thing will shine if it gets off the ground. 25mph is downright supersonic - you’ll never get anywhere near that. :wink:

I’ll admit that when I’m stuck in an hour-long traffic jam, I wouldn’t at all mind turning the driving over to the car and reading a book instead. But I wouldn’t want a car that I cannot manually override.

Speaking of art to life nightmares…

At 25mph…I don’t think many of them will survive the driving public at large. On the interstate highway system…none of them will survive.

Cars that can drive themselves will not only reduce accident rates, they will vastly change the mobility and lives of the disabled and anyone else who can’t drive.

Putting down the concept based on fictional works because we crave control ignores those of us who will benefit from this the most. Imagine being able to get in a driverless car and go wherever you want after you lose your driver’s license due to the ravages of old age. Imagine what this would mean in terms of personal freedom for a blind person. It will be a life changer for a great number of people.

we re sorry, we cannot take you to your chosen destination elder citizen. Big Brother needs you at the soylent green factory. enjoy your ride

Flying cars were once predicted as available in the “near future”. So where are they? If I had a choice between a driverless car and a flying car, to me that’s a no brainer. I’d much prefer a flyer.