• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Will Autonomous Vehicles Lead To A Ban On Human-Operated Cars And Trucks?

Google Self Driving Car

While they remain largely in the experimental stage, it seems readily apparent that the self-driving car is where the future of the automobile is head. Google, of course, continues to be among the best known companies working to perfect the technology and has had self-driving cars on the road for some time now, albeit typically with a human passenger capable of taking control of the vehicle if necessary. Elsewhere, Elon Musk says that Tesla will have self-driving cars on the road within two years and Uber is known to be working on the technology itself with the idea that, eventually, the car you order on your Uber app will pick you up and take you to your destination without human assistance of any kind. There are even companies working on autonomously driven tractor-trailers, a technology that could revolutionize the way that goods are moved across the country. One interesting statistic from the early testing of driverless cars on the roads has been the fact that driverless cars seem to be more likely to be involved in accidents that cars driven by humans, but this finding has several caveats, the most important of them being the finding that these accidents are, generally, minor accidents such as fender-benders that have not resulted in serious injuries or property damage and, more often than not caused by human error rather than computer error. In many cases, the accidents appeared to be caused by the fact that the self-driving car did not act in a way that the human driver anticipated, typically because self-driving cars are prohibited by their programming from doing anything other than strictly obeying all applicable traffic laws. When you look at the numbers, though, the actual number of accidents involving self-driving cars is fairly low and barely proportional to their presence on the road, facts which reinforce the idea that these cars are, in the end, far safer than vehicles driven by humans.

All of this leads Kevin Drum to ask an interesting question:

[H]ere’s a more interesting question: after driverless cars become widely available, how long will it be until human-driven cars are made illegal? I say ten years. It will vary state to state, of course, and there will likely be exceptions of various kinds (specific types of commercial vehicles, ATVs meant for fun, etc.). Still, without a special license they’ll become broadly illegal on streets in fairly short order.

I tend to think that Drum is overestimating things here just a little bit, both in terms of how quickly self-driving vehicle technology will become available to the public and the rate at which the law and the culture will change based on the monumental change that autonomous vehicles represent. In the first respect, even with the success that Google has had with its autonomous driving project, there remains much work to be done before a car with no driver can be said to be ready for general use. For example, as anyone who drives on a regular basis knows driving means regularly encountering the unexpected. This can include everything from vehicles in front of you that stop quickly for some unknown reason, pedestrians who don’t obey applicable laws about where and when to cross a street, bad road conditions, construction, obstacles in the street such as a truck that is double parked in order to make a deliver, and any other number of situations that require quick action on the part of a vehicle operator. Obviously, there could likely be a technological solution to these types of situations, and much of it may involve programming these vehicles with systems that have the ability to learn and adapt quickly to road conditions. Until that technology is perfected to a greater degree, though, it seems unlikely that autonomous vehicles are not going to become common on America’s roadways.

Beyond the technological issues, which as I said can probably be solved, there are other reasons why Drum’s projection of the seemingly imminent end of human-operated vehicles in the near future seems unlikely. For one thing, it seems to me unlikely that people are going to be willing to give up their cars as he seems to think. In many respects, we still live in a culture where having a car, and having the freedom to go wherever one wishes at the turn of a key is something that people still take seriously. If you dwell in a major city where mass transit is widely available and one can walk, or take an Uber car, to night life or other activities, perhaps the transition to autonomous cars won’t take so long. In other parts of the country, one anticipates it will take a lot longer and that the idea of actually banning people from driving on public roads will be a hard sell to say the very least. Additionally, we’re still at the point where it’s unclear where autonomous vehicles will fit into the economy. Will people actually own their own autonomous car? Or, will everything become like Uber where you summon an autonomous vehicle via the Internet and take it where you need to go, perhaps renting it or some extended period of time? If it’s an individual ownership situation, then it seems clear that it will be some time before autonomous vehicles become ubiquitous and even longer before we reach the point where the idea of barring human operated vehicles from the roads would be something that could be discussed as a public policy option. Finally, even if we reach the point where autonomous vehicles are proven to be cheaper, safer, and more convenient than vehicles driven by humans there will be some significant portion of the population that will still want the freedom of being able to drive on their own represents. As long as that’s the case, the idea of banning human operated vehicles is going to be a hard sell politically.

All of that being said, there are some situations where banning or restricting human operated vehicles could happen as quickly as Drum anticipates. The downtown areas of major cities such as New York City, for example, would seem to be one area where an ‘autonomous vehicles only’ policy would be seen as a means of reducing traffic congestion and increasing public safety. Similarly, designated lanes for autonomous vehicles on interstate highways and similar roads is something that could be adopted rather quickly, and which may be advanced largely as a means of adapting to the idea of autonomously driven tractor trailers. Beyond these limited cases, though, the idea that we are fast approaching a day when the only vehicles on the road will be autonomously driven vehicles ignores several complicating issues such as those noted above. The day may come when we’re all zipping around as passengers in computer-controlled cars, but it’s going to be awhile before we get there I think.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. It’ll take more than 10 years from when the technology becomes common because it’ll take that long for it to trickle out to everyone. Too many people out there – including affluent people who could afford otherwise – drive their cars for ten years or more and will greatly resent being forced to buy a new one.

    But 20 or 30? It’ll come. My grandkids won’t know any other way of life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. grumpy realist says:

    I can just imagine what a Google self-driving car would do among a pack of Boston drivers…..Snicker.

    Heck, I want to see a Google self-driving car deal with the traffic cycle where Charles Street meets the Longfellow Bridge. I suspect instant paralysis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Pch101 says:

    I doubt that truly autonomous cars will ever happen — we’ll ultimately demand that a human is responsible, which will necessitate having a driver behind the wheel. It will be more like cruise control on steroids than a set-it-and-forget-it technology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. James Joyner says:

    I speculated on this very thing in an October 2013 post titled “Self-Driving Cars Better Than You-Driving Cars.” The tech ain’t there yet and the cultural change will take quite a while to catch up with the tech. But, yeah, we’ll get there eventually. My guess is that we’ll essentially have a robo-Uber system, with hardly anyone owning personal automobiles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  5. Assuming technology gets to the appropriate point I could see a move to a) require it for trucking and even b) in dense inner city areas. Even once the technology is perfect (well, close enough to be acceptable, as nothing is perfect) it will take a generation of people being used to driving with self-driving trucks and riding in self-driving ubers before it becomes the norm enough that it could be required. (and the cost factor is important).

    The shift will come when people start to realize how much time it gives them to be driven (time to read,work, nap, eat, watch TV, etc). I commute about 50 minutes each way (longer when I take the kids to school). There are days when it would awesome to be able to close my eyes for a few while I head home at night.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    For example, as anyone who drives on a regular basis knows driving means regularly encountering the unexpected. This can include everything from vehicles in front of you that stop quickly for some unknown reason, pedestrians who don’t obey applicable laws about where and when to cross a street, bad road conditions, construction, obstacles in the street such as a truck that is double parked in order to make a deliver, and any other number of situations that require quick action on the part of a vehicle operator.

    And if you’re sitting in a self-driving car and something like this happens you will react way slower than if you allow the car react to it.

    Also, a self driving car will have updated information about road conditions, obstacles, etc from other self driving cars that drove on the same road moments ago.

    A self driving car will be able to see around corners and through walls, something a human can’t.

    Now, the big issue about self driving cars is to make sure that they can’t be hacked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I see you’ve had experience with that area. They ought to take a test flight on Route 128 or the Southeast Expressway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. @PJ:

    A self driving car will be able to see around corners and through walls, something a human can’t.

    An interesting point. It is amazing how something like Waze, which uses real time information to help a person navigate bad traffic actually can make a huge difference (especially if one is in an unfamiliar setting and therefore lacks local knowledge about alternative routes). A self-driving car would have those types of advantages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: The MIT Solar Car Team used to test its chassis construction by drag-racing through the back streets of Cambridge (complete with all the potholes and police escort) at 2AM.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. grumpy realist says:

    The other “good test” for a self-driving car would be one of those back roads in Maine during moose season. Or the Outback in Oz with all the kangaroos.

    As said, it’s not the deer that you see jumping in front of the car that you worry about. It’s the one right after him that’ll crash through your windshield….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Sorry I missed it. I wonder if the guy with the sail-powered bicycle (I don’t know what else to call it) is still tooling down Memorial Drive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Tyrell says:

    I remember the predictions that people would have flying cars way before now.
    The big problem with sd cars would be control by the federal and state highway departments. They would be deciding where we get to go and how often. I can imagine some bureaucrat not allowing drive through stops: “sorry, no super size drinks and fries !” Also, no burning rubber, glass pack mufflers, and getting the jump at the lights !
    How about buses ? I don’t think people are going to crowd onto a bus that is controlled by a micro chip ! Who would get on a plane that doesn’t have a human pilot ?
    NYC ? Those cab drivers are not about to give it up !
    What is needed is the upgrading and modernizing of the highway system. Have separate lanes for trucks, imbedded lighting, heated surfaces in cold weather areas, blowers that dissipate fog, better surfaces that resist cracking and potholes. And eliminate all rr crossings – dangerous and time wasting.
    Most people enjoy driving their cars. We like just going on a nice country drive to nowhere. We want our Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, Scions,
    and Vettes !
    “She’s real fine, my 409 !” (Beach Boys)
    “We build excitement !” (Pontiac)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I can just imagine what a Google self-driving car would do among a pack of Boston drivers…..Snicker.

    A transition problem. Once self driving cars become the norm and the Masshole drivers go away, no longer a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Programming a car computer to go to certain locations could be complicated for most people. I guess it could work with a gps. Compare it to instrument flying. The pilots have to program a lot of complicated numbers and directions in. And you have to depend on the car not having a mechanical or computer problem. There would have to be a manual override.
    I, and a lot of other people, don’t care for all the computerized operations of the cars now, and those pesky check engine lights. Give me a carb any day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  15. WR says:

    We can’t get rid of the guns that kill thousands of people in this country every year despite the fact that we no longer live in a hostile wilderness fighting a guerrilla war against an indigenous people who are willing to kill us to keep from having their land stolen. Because the fantasy that we are all completely self-sufficient gunslingers who don’t need none of that there fancy civilization is so strong in our culture that we decide it’s tyrrany to keep people from marching down the street with semi-suotmatic weapons whose only purpose is the murder of children at an elementary school.

    So sorry if I can’t bring myself to believe we’ll outlaw driving…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  16. WR says:

    @Tyrell: “NYC ? Those cab drivers are not about to give it up !”

    If you ever decide to step outside of 1973, you should check out a phenomenon called “Uber.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. WR says:

    @Tyrell: “What is needed is the upgrading and modernizing of the highway system. Have separate lanes for trucks, imbedded lighting, heated surfaces in cold weather areas, blowers that dissipate fog, better surfaces that resist cracking and potholes. ”

    And wage three wars and cut taxes all at the same time!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    My guess is that we’ll essentially have a robo-Uber system, with hardly anyone owning personal automobiles.

    I’m a car guy. I’ve done some sports car racing. I drive a super fun Mazdaspeed3 to work. That doesn’t change the fact that my half hour commute each way is essentially dead time, my driveway is otherwise wasted space, and my garage could be useful any number of ways, If a driverless Uber type system evolves that is not significantly more expensive and can handle rush hour demand without undue delay, I’m in. It’ll likely be multi-passenger vans. Computer generated efficient car pools, with Keurigs and nukers.

    @Pch101:

    we’ll ultimately demand that a human is responsible

    We will, for a while. But once we realize everybody’s doing their makeup, pecking at their tablet, or sleeping rather than sitting there alertly scanning for the remote possibility something happens, it’ll go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. Guarneri says:

    “As autonomous vehicles near the point where they’ll become a presence on American roads, are we approaching a day when it will largely be illegal for people to drive their own car?”

    Absolutely. But first that ice age needs to hit in 1975, people need to stop eating and just take a pill, oil needs to run out by 1990, the world needs to become extinct because of too many people by 2000 and everyone needs to get a robot to bang in the night.

    A little too much single malt during the snow storm? Oh, wait, there goes George Jetson……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  20. @Guarneri: While I skeptical, as noted above, about the pending driver-less society, there is a rather major difference between the fantasies of bygone eras and the driver-less car phenomenon and that is the technology in question is well beyond speculation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Slugger says:

    I am an excellent driver and should be allowed to drive, but all the other idiots out there need to be replaced by robots.
    I seem to remember a Larry Niven sci-fi story wherein a character visits Earth and goes to a racetrack where he is shocked that humans are risking their lives in purely mechanical internal combustion vehicles that are piloted by people which is clearly an extremely high risk undertaking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. M. Bouffant says:

    there will be some significant portion of the population who will still want the freedom that being able to drive on their own represents

    But but but FREEDOM!!

    It must be awful to be so shallow that the “freedom” (it isn’t actual freedom) “represented” by driving is so important.

    It’s about the same sort of “freedom” that gun-owners think gun possession “represents”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  23. gVOR08 says:

    Self-driving cars will be inevitable when they’re recognized as technically and economically feasible. It will start with luxury cars and commercial trucks and work it’s way down. But not as quickly as Drum suggests.

    But a timely question regarding current technology. How are they on ice and snow? Not just traction. How do the vision systems do with an all white landscape and impaired visibility?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. cjdavis says:

    It’s not the law that will make the steering wheel extinct, it’s the money.

    Think about a world where self driving cars are not much more expensive, and much, much safer than non-SD cars. What would prevent a class action suit against every single company still building and selling non-SD cars on behalf of the families of every person killed or injured in automobile accidents caused by a human driver. In 2013 there were over 32,000 killed and 2.2 million injured in auto accidents.

    Not to mention the argument to make about automotive insurance becoming completely unaffordable as well.

    I’d imagine nobody would continue building vehicles that can be manually driven over 10 or 20 mph at some point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  25. Liberal Caitalist says:

    OK… I am a technologist and consultant. It’s how I pay the bills.

    1st – Uber wins over cabs hands down. The process work, and can transfer to a self driving model seamlessly. Try hailing a New York cab… compared to calling via app, and there is no question on which model results in customer delight.

    2nd – Auto manufacturers recognize the benefits of self-driving, and those that take advantage of the developing tech (Tesla, Mercedes, GM, etc.) continue to get recognition for the safety features. Collision avoidance and lane management will become standard on all but the least expensive vehicles.

    3rd – Partnerships to deliver on the self driving model is happening already: GM has invested in Lyft ($500 M) and recognizes that the self-driving car on demand model will likely replace the car rental companies that we know today. http://www.wsj.com/articles/gm-invests-500-million-in-lyft-plans-system-for-self-driving-cars-1451914204

    4th – More on GM – they have also purchased Sidecar, and hedged their bet by launching
    “Maven” http://arstechnica.com/cars/2016/01/general-motors-bought-sidecar-gave-lyft-millions-now-its-launching-maven/

    5th – To fast track self-driving standards, the US Government has just earmarked $4 BILLION in developing standards for roadways – http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/14/us-government-announces-4-billion-self-driving-car-program/

    My conclusion: Self driving cars will be here sooner than we all on this board are likely to believe. I would even venture to guess as soon as 5 years for the early adopters.

    Having said that, with the increased safety of an onmi-aware self driving vehicle, it would be hard pressed to say that our skills can exceed those of multiple processors working at sub-second speeds.

    Still, the tipping point for insurance companies charging MORE for those who insist on driving their own cars will likely come after society begins to stigmatize those who drive and error: The drunk drivers, the poor-attention-span drivers, the elderly.

    However there is no doubt that there will be a point that we will pay a premium price to self-drive. and (just like owning a luxury vehicle today) some will be more than willing to pay that premium.

    Still, for me it falls into the “who cares” category until I can get my valuable time back.

    If I can go from Denver to the ski resorts, and stay productively engaged (even if “productive” is wasting time on pages like this)… well, I’m all for it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. sam says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “I want to see a Google self-driving car deal with the traffic cycle where Charles Street meets the Longfellow Bridge”

    Heh. I got caught in that traffic circle once trying to get to a Celtics game. I wasn’t used to driving around that part of town and made the mistake of getting on the inside lane. Took me forever to get to where I could make my turn (I think I went around three times). I was bitching about it to my wife who worked downtown and was an experienced in-city driver. “Look,” she said, “what you do is don’t try to move in on some shιtbox, he’ll just run you right over. Wait until the Mercedes or Lexus or the Beemer comes up, then cut in front of him. They’ll let you in every time.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Caitalist:

    with the increased safety of an onmi-aware self driving vehicle, it would be hard pressed to say that our skills can exceed those of multiple processors working at sub-second speeds.

    It’s not about our skills; it’s about our performance.

    Driving tests only weed out the people who cannot, even when paying attention, operate the vehicle well. The problem on the roads is people who choose not to give the task the attention and respect it deserves. That ranges from kids texting while driving to long-haul truckers running on meth and adrenaline to soccer moms arguing with 3 screaming kids in the back seat to BMW drivers* weaving at high speed in order to shave 3 minutes off their commute times. Just eliminating those behaviors puts self-driven cars ahead of human-driven cars. The choice of whether we should set policy based on how people ought to behave or how they really do behave splits cleanly along party lines.

    …because WR was exactly right with his gun analogy. Americans will give up their cars when you pry the steering wheels from their cold, dead fingers.

    *This is not a stereotype; it’s empirical data. I can generally tell that a car is a BMW from its trajectory, without having to actually see any physical details of the vehicle. It’s uncanny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Liberal Caitalist says:

    @DrDaveT:

    …because WR was exactly right with his gun analogy. Americans will give up their cars when you pry the steering wheels from their cold, dead fingers.

    and I get that… and that’s fine.

    I’m just saying that for those luddites, there will be a substantial increase in cost associated to do that:

    1) Insurance – the cost of insuring a car that you drive will skyrocket. Progressive insurance will likely have some monitoring system for those who chose self-driving option and lower rates accordingly. If YOU-drive… well, rates go up, as risk goes up. Simple capitalism.

    2) Accidents – the assumption will be, in an accident between YOU-driving and automated self-driving (“auto-auto”?), that the fault lies with the YOU-driver. There is empirical data out today, as google as released the results of their self-driving accidents that show that it’s not the self-drive that causes the accident.. Self-drive follows all laws. YOU-drivers don’t and result in crashes.

    3) You would actually have to OWN a car. If car-on-demand becomes les expensive than car ownership, the three or 4 car family stops immediately Multiple cars are convenience, and nothing beats a car-on-demand.. if you want to own a car, it becomes something of a hobby… much like owning a horse today

    4) You would actually have a driver’s license. Empirical data shows that divers licenses are going own today, per capita. People just don’t care as much to drive as they used to when we were all kids.

    So, likely for the old coots… it won’t be surprising if they get bitter about self-driving cars, they cling to their Mercedes or F-150 or Subaru… they will be paying the penalty for keeping hold of old technology.

    So: Replaced any incandescent light bulbs yet? I hear that they can save you some money !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Oh… and today, I saw my first single passenger drone.

    Same tech as the toys… just larger, with more redundancy.

    That’s a self-driving device as well. Pre-programmed, cleared flight path, no pilot, only passenger.

    Not quite George Jetson, but pretty dammed cool!

    (ps, did you see that nearly 300,000 drones registered with the FAA in the first month? astounding!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Tyrell says:

    @M. Bouffant: “freedom” : Think about this, Bouffant. It is a warm summer evening. You are cruisin’ down a 4 laner with the warm breeze hitting your face. You hear the low rumble from the dual glass pak exhausts. You hit the pedal and feel the instant response from the 429/600 horsepower Ford Boss engine.The perfume of high octane drifts around. You pull into the drive-in restaurant to get a burger and shake, but the real reason is to see the looks on peoples’ faces as you circle around and come to a stop. The powerful engine shakes the car when it idles.
    That is what we are talking about. No feeling like it. Nothing better : Ford Mustang, Chevy SS Camaro, or Dodge Hemi Charger ! 1969 Pontiac GTO: greatest car in US history: da Judge !
    “We’ll be having some fun
    Under the boardwalk, down by the sea ” (The Drifters)

    Ford 429 Boss engine – poetry in motion !
    http://www.wrljet.com/fordv8/boss429.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. WR says:

    @Tyrell: That could be described as many things… fun… pleasure… whatever. It ain’t freedom — not if the word freedom has any meaning at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. JKB says:

    Depends, can NYC, DC, Boston all stand for there to be no traffic for a couple weeks after a storm like is hitting now? Self driving cars need nice clean, hyper-mapped road ways. Piles of snow, oops. Not to mention all that radio communication that is just aching for some terrorist or joker to jam.

    But more importantly, can the economy be reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 as traffic is slowed to the posted limits. Do that in Atlanta and you crush the economy. Not to mention, the local governments losing their lucrative traffic and parking fine revenue streams.

    Now let’s move out of the city and off the interstate. Are voters really going to stand for some politician or bureaucrat who mandate self-driving cars but take months to map a new subdivision, where they just bought a beautiful home, into the auto-drive system? And how does the very sensor dependent SDC handle road construction?

    And please pray tell how will the politicians handle the very angry citizens left stranded in the path of a hurricane/flood/etc. because no cars were available or some bureaucrat cut the system off as they took their chauffeured town car out of town?

    This system will be easy to break and very expensive to make reliable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  33. Franklin says:

    I’m not directly involved with AVs, but let’s just say I’m acquainted with some of the players and these very arguments presented. My guess, if it’s better than anyone else’s, actually largely mirrors Doug’s.

    The rollout itself is probably going to take the better part of a decade, where some actual consumers will be legally using completely autonomous vehicles on normal roads among other drivers. After that rollout, I could see a ban in certain small areas, or under certain conditions in the decade following that. But a ban most everywhere else will take many decades.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. MBunge says:

    How many people are still using a 10 year old computer or a 10 year old operating system? How many are still driving 10 year old cars? How much more expensive are self-driving cars going to be new? How much more expensive will repairs be down the road?

    Self-driving cars strike me as just another thing to throw on the “What White People Like” pile.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. some old white guy says:

    @MBunge:

    Self-driving cars strike me as just another thing to throw on the “What White People Like” pile.

    No Mike.

    I’m making a leap that you are saying this as a statement that implies “white people have more disposable income”.

    So, if I put myself in that perspective, then I believe that you are implying that “people of color have less disposable income”.

    However. if I have less disposable income, and rely more heavily on public transportation, a self driving car will get me from one place to the other without transfers. And without waiting at bus stops.

    If self driving services offer different pricing models (as Uber does today), then “people of color” may actually use it more than “white people” as it will be an efficient and cost effective transport model.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  36. Tyrell says:

    @MBunge: My computer is pushing 10 years and still is sufficient. It has Windows XP. My car is a 2000. It still runs good, and the taxes and insurance are very low. It also has a real spare tire. I do most of the work on it myself. Most people would not want to have a car that they are not in control of. People want to go where they want when they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Kylopod says:

    Well, at least we know who it will help the most!

    https://youtu.be/VumrpkL6RS0?t=3m34s

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. stonetools says:

    Let me repeat my prediction from 2008.

    2028-The first self driving cars hit the road, after the various legal and regulatory issues are resolved.

    2068-the majority of motor vehicles on the road are self driving.

    2108- By law, only self driving cars are allowed on the roads. Human driven cars are allowed only in special parks for hobbyists.

    My timeline is longer than others, because I am building in time for people to adjust, for folks who won’t adjust to die off , and for the infrastructure to be adopted to a car-on-demand system.

    Another big reason for a self-driving car, car-on-demand system: we simply can’t afford the road system. I live in northern Virginia and every day I see the road system fill and clog up with a jillion cars, most occupied by a single driver. Arguing over paying for that road system occupies a substantial portion of the Virginia legislature’s time every year. No one can tell me that’s an efficient system. And of course there’s the problem of building acres of parking for all those cars
    Final reason for the switch. : climate change. Anything that results in fewer energy burning motor vehicles on the road is eventually going to have to be adopted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Tyrell says:

    @stonetools: energy burning vehicles: development of alternative energy cars continues to increase. There is the hydrogen fueled engine, and the natural gas fired turbine that is under development and testing. These are clean energy, non-polluting engines.
    Obviously the highway system needs to be looked at and upgraded with more technology that will make it more efficient, safe, and meet the travel and commuting needs of the public. People will always need to get back and forth to work, take vacations. go shopping, go to sports and entertainment, and just get out and have a good time. Most people enjoy hitting the road and driving around just to see what is out there. We often go out, get off the highway, and take the back roads, the roads less traveled. We have often found interesting and fascinating places that way. America has an excellent highway system. I happen to like driving.
    “See the USA in your Chevrolet”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. @Tyrell:

    Most people enjoy hitting the road and driving around just to see what is out there. We often go out, get off the highway, and take the back roads, the roads less traveled. We have often found interesting and fascinating places that way. America has an excellent highway system. I happen to like driving.
    “See the USA in your Chevrolet”

    On the one hand, I understand what you are trying to say. On the other,you seem to be missing the fact that one could do all of those things in a self-driving vehicle (and, indeed, without having to do the actual driving be able to actually enjoy the view without having to worry about keeping the car in its lane.

    “Look at the deer over at the side of the road!”

    “Can’t. I’m driving.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. grumpy realist says:

    When it comes down to a self-autonomous car vs. Boston drivers, I know who I’m going to bet on. The Google car is going to end up in a fetal huddle at the side of the road. Remember all those Star Trek episodes where Spock freezes the AI by getting it to divide by zero? It’s going to be like that, but with fewer sparks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanks for your comments and reply. Hopefully the speed limits will be a lot higher.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. bookdragon says:

    @MBunge: I think the ‘what white people like’ comment misses the fact that the best counterexample to the idea that human-driven cars will ever become illegal is an extremely white group: the Amish.

    Horse and buggy have not been made illegal despite the commonality of cars. On that basis, I’d say that at worst human-driven cars may be restricted to special lanes or have to broadcast some sort of warning that can be picked up by self-driven cars so the computer knows to give those extra room or latitude in response time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. WR says:

    @JKB: “But more importantly, can the economy be reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 as traffic is slowed to the posted limits.”

    Slowed to the posted limits?

    Bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah.

    Maybe your “business” never actually takes you anywhere near to a major urban center, but any day you can drive through New York, LA or any other big city and do HALF the posted limit is probably Thanksgiving day…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0