Bob you have made a very valid point. Transition to a new technology is always the biggest hurdle. Self-driving cars do exist. But a proper planning needs to be done on how to introduce them on roads. The transition should such that you can safely use the new technology with the old one. Like when internet introduced the IPv6 address, they had to find a way to collaborate it with IPv4, without changing the basic network structure upon which it was operating.
Brainiac, you will note that I did use the word "good", and it was intended to be taken in it's true meaning. Stupid gawkers will always cause a traffic slowdown, and the only solution is a serious ticket for intentionally creating a traffic hazard. Two or three hits of $500 should help reduce the symptom, although the contrary is also true, that "you can't fix stupid". But still, reasojnably good drivers are usually able to handle most exceptions, while the very best that an autonomus car could do would be to apply the brakes. And I still ask what that driverless car will do when a truck passing by causes a large piece of cardboard to suddenly fly up off the pavement. It happened in front of me once and I ran over the cardboard because there was no other option at the time. All three lanes full at 55MPH and minimum headway because it was an open stretch of road and we were all going the limit. A robot car slamming on the brakes would have caused a large disturbance and probably a number of collisions. Of course a panicy driver might have done that also.
By the way, from what I have seen Chicago has more really poor drivers than Detroit has. Plus totally expensive toll roads.
"self driving cars will never be as efficient as a collection of good drivers"
You obviously have not driven in the Chicago area, where the roads are great, but anything on the side of the road (either side) will create logjams from people slowing down to rubberneck and once that happens, it takes forever to clear and the affected band of traffic will migrate miles away from where the problem was and have you wondering what triggered it.
An automated system will not be distracted, may even play nice when it comes to merging. I used to fantasize about selling bumperstickers that said "DEATH BEFORE MERGING" since it seemed to be the mindset there.
I think the 20 year hold up is to improve the tech to make it foolproof. Even though the driver is to pay attention in case the automation fails, we all know they will disingage and either nap, have their nose in a newspaper (er, e-reader), watching a movie, or play a game.
Emergency reaction times will skyrocket and our litiguous society will blame the manufacturer instead of themselves. Why do you think irons have tags telling you not to use them on clothes you're wearing?
I agree with everything you said, Naperlou -- except, Google has already created a self-driving car. It was about three years ago. After testing local trips, the company finally did a test where the vehicle drove from the Google headquarters in the Bay Area down to the Google office in Los Angeles. That pretty much says it all.
Did we not just read on this site about a Tesla being destroyed by a piece of metal on the road surface? Well how is that driverless car going to react? How about the vehicle on either side or in back? How will these driverless vehicles interact with motorcycles? Even if the technology can solve some of those issues, why? I agree with Old Curmudgen, if you cannot be bothered with driving, take public transportation.
I work with numerous people who have a long commute and they all carpool, so three out of four days they do not have to drive. As Creedence Clearwater said back in the 60's: "rushing to the treadmill. rushing to get home, worry 'bout the time you save". I do not mind my commute unless I get stuck on a bridge with an accident up ahead, but big deal. There has to be many more vital things to spend money on.
I think the real issue with making self-driving cars is they will have to compete with driver-operated cars. How much of our highways will have to be reserved for autonomous vehicles? The technology exists today to make a fully autonomous vehicle, as is demonstrated in the various DARPA challenges. There will never be technology sufficient to adequately predict human behavior. Drivers will need more and better skills to deal with the occasional failure of the technology, however with less and less practice, their skills will likely deteriorate. I really think if drivers wish to spend their commute time more productively they should consider public transportation.
Pubudu, I agree, It's clear that the technology is there. I wonder what the 20-year holdup is? Is it acceptance by cities and states? Acceptance by vehicle buyers? I don't think it's the technology that's the holdup.
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