[ExI] self driving cars

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed May 16 06:42:26 UTC 2012

On Tue, May 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> Google and Stanford have shown that controls technology is now sufficient to
> make a car drive itself in traffic at normal speeds.  Here’s your chance to
> work your mind, think deeply and be a techno-prophet by really thinking
> through the question of how this will change how we drive and how we live.

This should be fun, I've been thinking about this one for years...

> I would say the three technologies have had the biggest impact on our lives
> are computers, internet and cell phones.  I expect self-driving cars will be
> the fourth biggie, and perhaps displacing cell phones for third place in the
> list of huge changes.

Of the three you've listed, only Cell phones have produced a
significant measurable increase in worker productivity (according to
an article I read about five years ago, the Internet may have picked
up steam since then) but I suspect autonomous vehicles will also
result in a very high measurable increase in productivity. Now all you
can do in your car is use your cell phone, which is only so
productive. In the future with autonomous vehicles, you should be able
to do reasonably passable video conferencing and computer sharing
(like gotomypc.com) and such that will be way more productive than the
uses we put our time in cars to now.

This requires better mobile Internet, which I think will happen.

It will also likely be very detrimental to broadcast radio... as an
aside. Much of the listening to broadcast radio is now done while
driving... and if you have the choice to do something else, I imagine
you will.

> Impacts: it allows cars to have vastly lower overall performance if the
> human is out of the loop.  If a car is programmed to go no faster than the
> speed limit ever, then there is no need to have the capability of going
> faster than that.  All else being equal, the weight of a car scales as the
> square of the top speed, so cars become dramatically lighter, and more fuel
> efficient.

I think you have this one all wrong Spike. As soon as all cars are
autonomous, the speed limits should go up significantly. If you can do
it safely, why wouldn't you?

> We could have bathrooms in our cars.  That would be cool.

I already have one... you can pick it up at truck stops... LOL It's
basically a cup full of the junk in diapers... pretty much for men
only I'm afraid.

> Roads would need to be smoother, since the robo-car would not be as likely
> to avoid road irregularities.  They will not swerve to miss holes.

Why not? If they can miss pedestrians, they should be able to miss
holes. And report them to the proper authorities for quicker fixing

> Once market penetration takes hold and there are more robo-cars than human
> operated cars on the road, the humans might be tempted to drive very
> aggressively.

I don't think humans will ever drive as aggressively as robo-cars. If
there are still enough human drivers out there to worry about, humans
wouldn't take the chance of running into another human.

> Reasoning: the robo-cars would unquestioningly yield to
> them.

I'm sure this is true. Or at least they would drive within their
capacity to get out of the human's way no matter what the stupid human

> The human in the robo-car would scarcely notice that his is
> constantly being cut off by aggressive assholes, since he might be in back
> in the bathroom reading his tablet.  Driving aggressively doesn’t accomplish
> much, since most of the cars on the road would be going right at the speed
> limit.

Maybe there will be a "car pool lane" for robo-cars for a while... In
this lane they might have a higher speed, and there would definitely
be closer following distances.

> Eventually: way fewer accidents.  Robo-cars do not get distracted, they
> don’t text, they don’t get drunk or stoned, they don’t get pissed off and
> aggressive.  They just drive, faultlessly.  It isn’t that hard to do really.


Here's another thought for ya. I think perhaps the first automated
vehicles might be semi-tractor trailers. There is a huge economic
benefit to being able to drive those 24 hours a day, and humans are
now limited by law to around 8-10 hours a day (unless you pair drive).
They already have the Qualcomm GPS tracking to enforce this sort of
thing. No more truck stops. No more trucks parked with drivers
sleeping in rest areas.

> Although trips generally will take a little longer, they become more
> predictable.  So if you need to leave two sigma ahead of average, the
> standard deviation for any given trip goes down.

Trips will not take longer. One reason is that there will be no need
for traffic lights, and so any city driving will be pretty quick. The
one thing that might take a few extra minutes is if you car share and
the robo-car is delivered late to your door because you didn't
schedule it ahead of time.

> What else?  This is your chance to peer into the future and record your
> musings for future generations to ridicule or marvel at your wisdom.

It makes car ownership optional. You can just rent the car when you
need it, and the car delivers itself at your request. The rental of
the car would be much cheaper than it is today because you've got a
time-share. Once you get to your destination, you can be dropped off.
Electric cars become possible then too, as they can drive themselves
to where they switch batteries... (I believe in the switch out the
batteries method will win over the plug in and recharge method

I know we don't usually send attachments to the list, but I thought
this one was quite appropriate.

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