[ExI] self driving cars

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu May 17 04:31:00 UTC 2012

>... On Behalf Of Kelly Anderson
Subject: Re: [ExI] self driving cars

On Wed, May 16, 2012 at 7:26 PM, Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I think spike was suggesting the speeds go down for engineering reasons
(mostly fuel economy)

>...Economics will push speeds faster if safety isn't an issue. Unless Al
Gore is in the white house, or OPEC starts throwing their weight around ala
1973, I can't see a speed limit for fuel economy because the overall
economics is that the time of the car's occupant is more valuable to the
overall economy than the gasoline.  -Kelly


I do mean we have plenty of applications where slower speeds will not hurt
us much.  Plenty of us have shorty commutes, such as my own, less than ten
miles.  We can imagine software guided cars that have no need to go faster
than the speed limit, and if so, they might not have the ability to go
faster.  If so, the potential weight savings and increased fuel economy is
astonishing.  Assume a car that only needs to go the local top speed limit,
and give it 15 seconds to get to that speed.  Work backwards from just those
requirements, and assume carrying only two apes.  See how light this vehicle
can be?

But your comments and Mike's gave me an idea.  My intuition and every
instinct says that if any two or more devices have motors, there is some law
of nature which requires they must be raced against each other.  I can see
this as a terrific new breakthrough sport: robot racing.

I grew up an hour drive south of Daytona International Speedway, and I
loooved car racing as a kid, motorcycle racing even more, but if you look at
the cars now vs then, the sport hasn't changed much in the last 40 yrs.
Evolutionary changes have pushed the cars faster, sure, but from the
spectator's point of view, not so different than it was in my own misspent
youth.  I am past the half century mark now.

I would buy tickets to watch several identical Priuses (Prii?) racing around
a city-street track.  That would be a kick!  Several years ago, they made a
loop around several downtown San Jose streets for formula 1 cars, which was
a hell of a lotta fun, but it would be even more cool if they raced
robo-cars.  Let the Prii be identical engine and drive train, but let the
hackers mess with the software all they want, and the instrumentation.  It
would be like any other car race except with this one oddball rule: if any
car hits or even touches any other car, both cars are automatically
disqualified regardless of who hit who.  That motivates the programmers to
do something useful: avoid collisions and contact as top priority, higher
than getting there first.

I was present at the first DARPA challenge, robo-cars in the desert, the one
which was a total flop in 2004.  That was a time trial, with cars starting
every five minutes, the fastest cars going out first.  What I have in mind
is a dozen cars starting on a city street loop of a couple miles.  Once the
robo-cars demonstrated they are safe, we could introduce a humans vs
software races.  Would that be wicked cool or what?

When software demonstrates that it can race competently, it can be trusted
to drive.


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