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Ready to Be Chauffeured by Your Car?
11/21/2011

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications will augment and, in some cases, replace the multitude of sensors that would otherwise be needed by autonomous vehicles. 
Image courtesy of GM
Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications will augment and, in some cases, replace the multitude of sensors that would otherwise be needed by autonomous vehicles.
Image courtesy of GM

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Beth Stackpole
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Not ready to be a back-seat driver
Beth Stackpole   11/21/2011 7:05:03 AM
I suppose stranger things have happened and there's no doubt the technology will get there. This is clearly one of those situations where the technology is likely ahead of consumer's comfort zone for entrusting their safety to some computerized, autonomous vehicle system. Even the idea of cars chugging along with people in the backseats doing other stuff is creepy to me, however inevitable.

Alexander Wolfe
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Insurance rate angle?
Alexander Wolfe   11/21/2011 8:24:02 AM
I'm wondering how the Allstates of the world are viewing the increase in automotive computing capability and if they will factor it into their rates at some point. (I mean in terms of REDUCING insurance rates.)  I was shocked recently to find out that my six-year old Sentra cost more to insure than a newer car, and the agent told me that one reason is that newer cars have all those airbags. By analogy, I wonder if a car with some demonstrated autonomy via computer control will be similar safer and thus qualify for reduced rates, at least at some point when this all shakes out and becomes more mainstream.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Insurance rate angle?
Beth Stackpole   11/21/2011 10:15:14 AM
That's an interesting point, Alex, and really turns the notion of autonomous driving on its head when you really start to think about it. Of course, the goal is to eliminate driver distraction and increase vehicle safety, which is sort of hard to get your arms when envisioning cars driving themselves down the road. But I suppose as the technology matures and the vision systems, sensors, and embedded software systems become more powerful and refined, driving will likely be a much safer business and perhaps will garner the early adopters some whopping discounts on their insurance premiums.

Rob Spiegel
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This could increase on-board infotainment
Rob Spiegel   11/21/2011 12:38:04 PM
Self-driving cars could boost the use of infotainment aboard vehicles. While many of us may see this as a way to work on the way to work, I would imagine the freedom of attention inside the bar would increase the consumption of videos and TV. In a self-driving car, a robust infotainment center would be a must.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Autonomy of the Auto; has a nice ring to it.
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   11/21/2011 11:46:51 PM
They’ve already commercialized the hardest part – parallel parking, now available from the very high-end cars all the way down to the Ford Focus. And as the article eludes, most (if not all) of the remaining sensing technology is already developed and ready.  It was about 2005 I toured the M.I.T. Media center and saw a presentation on the autonomous vehicle in a highway environment.  The constant distance and constant speed sensing completely eliminated the “rush-n-brake” situation that causes stop-n-go in the passing lanes.  I dream of the day when it’s a reality.  2020 seems realistic.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Autonomy of the Auto; has a nice ring to it.
Beth Stackpole   11/22/2011 6:51:04 AM
Eliminating the "rush-n-brake" situation that leads to "stop-n-go" passing--now that has to be THE salient sales pitch that can get skeptics like me rethinking their openness to embrace an autonomous vehicle system. Any one who's crawled in traffic for hours and hours on end will likely feel the same.

Lauren Muskett
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Re: This could increase on-board infotainment
Lauren Muskett   11/22/2011 7:14:13 AM
That's a good point, Rob. The infotainment in cars could increase and will not undergo the discussion of "it is is a distraction" because there are no drivers to distract. I am curious to see how the self driving cars will play a part in car accidents and wonder if it would increase/decrease driver safety.  

mrmikel
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Re: Not ready to be a back-seat driver
mrmikel   11/22/2011 9:27:03 AM
The best part of all is you can say, "Officer, give my car the ticket, I wasn't driving."

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Not ready to be a back-seat driver
Rob Spiegel   11/22/2011 10:38:12 AM
NO RATINGS
That's a good one, mrmikel. That brings up a huge question -- what happens when the car breaks the law -- turning too soon or too late in a left-turn situation with oncoming traffic? Those are tough calls under any circumstances. Even if the oncoming driver is at fault, what happens when that driver lies? The driver-less car can tell its side of the story. Or would video cameras be necessary?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Not ready to be a back-seat driver
Beth Stackpole   11/22/2011 11:07:51 AM
I would think if the car is driving itself, video cameras and sensors will be standard features throughout the vehicle and will be able to deliver the video play back of the real story behind the accident. But you raise a really good issue.

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