Driverless cars: the transportation revolution is coming

by Judith Curry

How driverless cars will change our lives.

Rutt Bridges has written a new book  “Driverless Car Revolution,” an e-book available for $2.99 on Amazon.   Rutt has written an op-ed for the Denver Post (originally published June 6), that I have his permission to reproduce in full here.

How driverless cars will change out lives

Some people say they would never trust their safety to a computer-controlled car just as some people said they would never ride in a horseless carriage. Yet we routinely ride in airplanes and “normal” cars that can’t function without computers.

“Self-driving” cars that require a driver to seize control in any emergency are already being tested on America’s highways. Only Google, however, seems to be focused on the direct path to truly driverless cars. After seven years and 1,800,000 miles of testing they have had 12 fender-benders, but no injuries. According to Google project manager Chris Urmson, “Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.”

Google expects to have a finished product by 2020, though widespread adoption may take a decade or more. But driverless cars are coming, and they will change our lives.

Most people won’t choose to own these vehicles. A few button clicks on a smartphone will bring a driverless car to your door in minutes, a car with shared real-time traffic data to quickly get you where you’re going – all for less than 40 cents a mile.

If you are willing to share a ride you’ll pay half as much. The mobility service dispatch software will arrange everything. You can even request a rideshare with someone of the same gender or age group. Plus, your fellow traveller will be well known to and pre-screened by your mobility service.

Ridesharing also means you’ll have access to HOV lanes. Denver’s average of 1.07 commuters per vehicle will jump, and congestion will plummet. Why? Because ridesharing is hassle-free and half the cost. Ten miles for two bucks – just kick back and enjoy door-to-door service with no parking hassles.

By buying miles instead of metal you’ll save thousands of dollars a year – no insurance or car payments, no pumping gas, no parking tickets, none of the many hassles of owning a car. Instead of fighting rush-hour traffic, you’ll be able to read, watch the news, or catch up on emails. Just like a chauffeur-driven service, but for less than bus fare. Marketing wizards call that “a compelling value proposition.”

Here is a glimpse of what life in that driverless car future will look like:

Driverless cars will be far safer than any vehicle currently on the road. Unlike human drivers, they are immune to the distraction, fatigue, road rage, impatience, intoxication, and the mistakes that cause 93 percent of all accidents. In the U.S. alone most of the 250,000 injuries and 30,000 lives now lost every year in car crashes will be avoided.

Remember lining up at the DMV to get your license when you turned 16? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only half of today’s teenagers aged 16 to 19 have even bothered to get a drivers’ license. Many care more about having the latest smartphone than owning a car. Mobility services will drive them to school, sports and social activities, from dates to evenings out with groups of friends.

Parents will save thousands compared to buying and maintaining a car, a lesson not lost on their kids. Have you priced insurance for a 16-year-old lately? Over-scheduled carpooling parents will get their lives back. Politicians will be forced to stop talking about “soccer moms.”

Texting while driving will disappear as the leading cause of death for teenagers. Arrests – or worse – for drinking while driving will plummet. Families won’t be destroyed by a midnight phone call.

Passengers will safely use phones, laptops, or tablets. Some will shop online, socialize, or Facebook with friends. Without the distraction of driving, some humans may actually talk to each other.

People can use their commute to wrap up a report that’s due instead of working late at the office. No one will ever have to worry about parking, and then having to walk in sleet, snow, or rain. They will arrive at work and home free of the stress of rush-hour driving.

When seniors decide to give up their keys, they will not only keep their independence but save money as well. Instead of depending on their kids, they will have more freedom than ever to control their own lives. A lift to the grocery store, the golf course, or their grandkids’ soccer game will be a few button clicks away. And that means many more years of living independently in the home they love.

Disabled customers will enjoy on-call, door-to-door service in specialized vehicles. The working poor will at last have cheap, reliable transportation, making it possible to hold higher-paying jobs. Working single mothers will spend more time with their kids and less time waiting for bus transfers and getting to and from their first and last bus stops.

Driverless cars will provide far better transit service than local buses, and for less money. And by integrating driverless cars with light rail, we can eliminate mass transit’s “first mile/last mile” problem and drive ridership to far higher levels.

Those who drink alcohol will at least travel safely, without fear of the crushing financial and social damage of a DUI and without risking death or serious injuries to themselves or their innocent victims. Judges will be more likely to revoke the licenses of drunk drivers, knowing they aren’t imposing terrible economic hardships on their families.

Unless gasoline drops well below a dollar a gallon, for economic reasons these cars will mostly be electric. Burning less oil and using more electricity from renewables and from the new lower-emission natural gas generators will have a positive impact on Colorado’s air quality.

In his comprehensive analysis of the automotive industry, “The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future,” Levi Tillemann observed, “The transition to electric and driverless cars will usher forth a step-change in both quality of life and economic productivity, and potentially be the most transformational social development since the World Wide Web. It will change the way we live and many of the fundamentals of the global economy.”

If you truly love cars, mobility services are definitely not for you. For many people, their car is an important expression of who they are. But if you just want inexpensive transportation to safely take you from here to there in the least time and with the least hassle, driverless car mobility services will be a godsend.

There is, however, a darker side to this disruptive technology. Since each shared mobility vehicle can replace at least five personal vehicles, there will be far fewer cars sold and maintained. While families will save thousands of dollars a year, the auto industry will see a major drop in sales. An oversupply of used cars will cause prices to fall as more people make the switch. The oil industry will be hard-hit, as will insurers, personal injury attorneys, and a few other employers.

But for most of us, driverless cars will mean lower stress, more disposable income, and a major improvement in our quality of life.


Rutt kindly sent me a copy of the book, which I very much enjoyed reading.  The book has 12 reviews on amazon, all of them 5 stars.  Some excerpts from the reviews:

“The Driverless Car Revolution: Buy Mobility, Not Metal consists of three basic parts. First, the book delves into the tech and economic drivers that make the shift to driverless “mobility services” seem almost inevitable. Second, a series of vignettes show how these changes will benefit seniors, teenagers, commuters, and pretty much everyone. (Besides automakers and a few others–those folks could be in serious trouble if they underestimate this trend.) And finally, the book provides detailed and extensive appendices with the data to back up every claim from the first two parts.

Throughout, The Driverless Car Revolution manages to convey the enormity of this “revolution” with humor and ease. The revolution is not only inevitable, but downright appealing. As is this book.”

“This book takes an extremely deep look into the impending and immensely disruptive technology of the driverless car. It sounds intimidating, however, the book remains very accessible to a layman such as myself. In fact, the majority of it is a very easy read. The book is thought provoking and I find that I am still thinking (and talking) about the upcoming Driverless Car Revolution.”

“Mr. Bridges provides a clear and concise overview of the impacts that technology will have in our lives. I particularly liked that he addresses both the challenges and benefits of driverless cars. He intersperses humor on what could easily be an arid subject, making the book enjoyable to read while educating me about how driverless cars will change mobility and our world.”

JC notes

Rutt Bridges has previous contributed two posts to Climate Etc.

Also, I just spotted this news article:  Two rival self-driving cars have close call in California.



275 responses to “Driverless cars: the transportation revolution is coming

  1. Judith,

    How driverless cars will change our lives.

    This is a tangent to what’s important. Why not select what posts can be most relevant and influence what’s most important rather than down-in-the-weeds issue like driverless cars?

    Fossil fuel energy combustion is responsible for some 70% of global GHG emissions. if it’s important to reduce global GHG emissions, why not put up posts about what can have the greatest impact on reducing global GHG emissions. Apply the Pareto Principle – put most of the focus on the solutions that can have the greatest impact and earliest impact.

    There are many CE denizens and contributors that know and can contribute constructively. But continually selecting to post on virtually irrelevancies is not helpful, IMO.

    • Read the book and let me know if you think it is irrelevant.

    • Peter, the book has a chapter dedicated to these issues. Economics dictates that unless the cost of gasoline drops to about 50 cents per gallon, most of these vehicles will be electric, with a few hybrids until range gets up above 250 miles or so. As I’m sure you know oil is a major CO2 source, about 42% for the USA. Depending on the source of electricity, in the extreme case if all light vehicles were switched to renewables-sourced EV’s, US CO2 emissions would fall by about 0.79 gigatonnes.

      • Emissions will fall provided the driverless car customers considerately only use the service while the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.

      • Depends on the grid mix.
        in certain areas the grid mix an electric vehicle will impose higher forcing.
        in california it beats gas and hybrid

      • good to see you show up rutt.

        I pulled up this post during the commute and everybody in the car
        ( all fans of driverless and Waze!) wanted a link to your book.

      • Ruttbridges, My apologies for my critical comment.

        Thank you for providing some context and perspective with relevant figures:

        oil is a major CO2 source, about 42% for the USA. Depending on the source of electricity, in the extreme case if all light vehicles were switched to renewables-sourced EV’s, US CO2 emissions would fall by about 0.79 gigatonnes.

        However, all light vehicles will not switch to renewable source EV. I’d be surprised if 20% do by 2050 (25 years ago we thought most vehicles (heavy and light) would be running on natural gas by now). Renewables are highly unlikely to be able to provide much of global electricity, and only a small proportion of light vehicles will change to EV.

        So this is a down-in-the-weeds-solution to reducing global GHG emissions.

        Can you tell me how much would US GHG emissions be reduced if nuclear power replaced most fossil fuel for electricity generation, electricity replaced 50% of natural gas used for heat (residential, commercial, industrial), and electricity produce transport fuels from sea water?

      • Peter, please don’t apologize, I greatly appreciate criticism. I learn so much more from criticism than praise!
        The book has a chapter:
        20 Mobility and the environment: When zero emissions are not zero emissions
        that poses three thought experiments intended to frame the discussion on CO2. The worst offenders are the older (>30 years) coal plants. It estimates that replacing them with renewables (or nuclear) would cut 1.19 gigatonnes of the 5.40 gigatonnes of US CO2 emissions. But I haven’t done all the analysis you requested.
        There is also a chapter on nuclear fusion, much to the chagrin of some of my most ardent environmental friends. I argue that it could be a wildcard in CO2 reduction, and a great 24/7 electricity and heating source.
        I would also say that I believe solar could be a contender within a decade. Technical progress has been fairly rapid lately. Coupled with utility scale battery energy storage, it is well worth monitoring, IMHO.

      • Peter, also, if batteries can break through the $100/kW-h level, EV’s will fairly quickly replace internal combustion engines. Musk thinks this will happen within 10 years. I’d say 20 years is more likely. But there is a lot going on these days with new battery chemistries, and the economies of scale are getting better and better.

      • Ruttbridges,

        Thank you. I am very cautious about projections of future rates of growth. Nuclear was progressing fast in the 1970’s and 1980s and was up to 18% of total electricity generation. Now its down to about 12%.

        In the early 1990s. we had the same sorts of predictions about solar as we are getting now. But little real progress. It’s now up to about 0.5% of global electricity generation. the big problem for solar and wind is that they are not sustainable – they cannot produce sufficient energy to power modern socienty and reproduce themselves:

        I was managing energy RD&D programs in the early 1990’s including batteries and fuel cells, (and natural gas vehicles). I my opinion, little has changed. We’ve been developing batteries for 200 years. It is highly unlikely there will be a sudden breakthrough. if ther was a likely breakthrough, it would have been powering our submarines for a t least a decade. It isn’t.

        I wrote the following quickly today for someone else (it could be wrong – I’d welcome feedback):

        consideration of the wisdom in retaining a genuine mix of cost-effective renewables, and the impact of foreseeable technological developments in renewable energy such as the development of solar powerwalls by companies such as Tesla.

        Let’s do a really rough sanity check. The The Australian LRET legislation has recently been changed so the LRET is now 33 TWh in 2020. Assume 30 TWh will have to be provided by wind (for simplicity). For this to be fully dispatchable, reliable power that is fully equivalent to a fossil fuel generator, we’d need energy storage capacity equal to about half the 30 TWh – i.e. 15 TWh of energy storage. Tesla batteries cost about $350 billion per TWh energy storage capacity. So the total capital cost would be: 15 TWh x $350 bn/TWh = ~$5 trillion. That’s to make just 30 TWh of electrcity from wind farms fully dispatchable (but without any reserve capacity / margin).

        The amount of energy storage capacity that would be required to make solar and wind fully dispatchable with no reliance on back-up generators is debatable. However, the purpose is to do a quick sanity check of the claims about battery storage making solar and wind a substitute for fossil fuel or nuclear power.

      • Peter – The times they are a changin’

        Re battery chemistry see my Carlos Ghosn link below:

        Nissan is exploring new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries. We foresee the day when you leave your home with a full charge, and are able to go about your day with no concerns…then return home with ample charge.

        With this vision in mind, our advanced battery research will continue. But we will not wait for its completion to move forward. Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase EV range.

        For the views of the regulator here in the UK on such matters, and battery storage in general, see also:

        Traditional battery worries have been overcome by technology

      • David Springer

        I pulled up a copy of this post during the commute and my chauffeur was not at all amused.

      • Jim Hunt,

        Peter – The times they are a changin’

        It takes much more that an assertion like that to persuade me. I remember very clearly many such claims in the late 1980a and early 1990s in the lead up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. I remember several RE researchers such as Mark Diesendorf and David Mills telling us that ” solar power is baseload capable and cheaper than nuclear now if the stupid government and bureaucrats would just give us the money so we could demonstrate it”.

        So, claims like yours have the opposite effect than what you want.

      • What “claim” would that be precisely Peter?

        There’s a video recording of Carlos saying what I said he said. As far as I’m aware there’s no recording of the “local energy markets” conference in Bristol, but I have an email from the man from Ofgem confirming that I’m not misrepresenting his point of view.

      • Ignore my estimate of the energy storage amount and cost. I just realised it’s nonsense.

      • Peter, I think most of your criticisms are valid. Renewable energy is unlikely to grow past ~22% in most markets IIRC. Many people simply can’t afford to change over and it would be stupid and wasteful to dispose of most vehicles before their useful life. Without nuclear, it’s unlikely to reduce FF consumption a whole lot for a country and probably near zero for the world (consumption should shift somewhere else.)

        However, while it will take a long time to get an appropriate number of manual vehicles off the road there are major benefits. Reducing congestion, better incorporation of time and fuel efficient driving techniques (quick acceleration prevent backups from forming and clears bottlenecks faster, lower and more steady cruising speed, early slow-down to avoid wasteful braking…). These can reduce fuel consumption 20% while shortening drive times and with enough buy in will reduce congestion and stop-and-go traffic. Studies also show that people adopt these behaviors when they share the road with intelligent cruise vehicles.

        Off shoring our old vehicles and reducing our fuel consumption will provide cheap productive capital for developing countries (vehicles for farmers in SA and Asia) and reduce FF costs which will greatly benefit them. FF costs are more important for their economies.

    • Peter, by the time driverless cars arrive on the scene – quite likely fitted with winter tyres, CAGW will by then be clearly understood for what it is – a pseudoscientific erroneous wolf-cry based on a flawed highly inductive misuse of science. Many will already have forgotten it.

  2. khal spencer

    Driverless cars, if optimized for energy efficiency and combined with urban computerized traffic control systems, could reduce GHG emissions by optimizing vehicle travel and helping eliminate stop and go traffic. Since the car is driverless, there is no impetus for buying 400 horsepower, turbocharged Urban Assault Vehicles.

    Lord knows that humans are the weak link in surface transportation safety, so going taking the human out of the loop might be a great idea.

    • khal you hit the nail on the head. There will be no way to proclaim your superior socio-economic status or compensate for small d**k syndrome.

      • I am not so sure about that. Smal pecker syndrome maybe, but socio economic status will probably stay. Poor people will take the self driving hyundai, while wealthy peeps take the self driving mercedes stretch.

  3. All you have to do is drive with a adaptive cruise control system to appreciate both the technology and its limitations.

    • I agree. “Drivers” are supposed to remain alert and focused on the road. The book has a chapter on “Self-driving” (such as adaptive cruise control) versus truly driverless vehicles. It makes the argument that in many cases adaptive cruise control will lull drivers into inattention. If you think it is hard to stop a teenager from texting while driving (leading cause of death for 16-19 year-olds) in a ‘normal’ car, just wait til they get behind the wheel of a car with adaptive cruise control.

    • khal spencer

      Adaptive cruise control may adjust speeds to match the vehicle in front but does not equal a smart traffic control system. What I was referring to is a computer controlled environment where a vehicle would have both its speed and its route optimized to reduce traffic congestion. For example, if “Route 1”, the most direct route to Home, is highly congested, a centralized traffic control system could re-route some vehicles to Route 2 in order to reach the same destination and even out the load.

  4. Peter, I think you are being a bit hard on Judith here. I see the connection between electric-powered driverless cars and the future of energy management.

    These are dirty words to use, but this “mass transit” solution is simply a way to transition greenhouse gas demand onto the grid where it can be centrally controlled AND to possibly distribute storage capacity automagically wherever there is demand, using transportation demand as a proxy for energy demand, AND to minimize the need for low-return assets (privately owned automibiles).

    These are worthy goals. There are many unanswered questions, not the least of which is how human psychology will affect the experiment. For instance, I’m a bit old to trust such a technology regularly, but too young to need it, as it appears that the most pressing need it aims to meet will be to provide transportation for the impaired and unlicensed.

    • In Atlanta, I see most buses running near empty. They take too long, make too many stops, and don’t take you where you want to go. The people taking buses are mostly economically disadvantaged people. I see this as a way to make transportation available to people who can’t afford a car (and parking fees), particularly in cities.

      Also the Uber taxi system, and its rapidly growing popularity, illustrate a version of this with actual drivers.

      • Prof Curry,

        I agree that driverless taxis could lower the cost and increase their availability. But only if they are cheaper than those with drivers.

        Taxicabs are inexpensive since they are lightly-modified cars. But they cannot be a substantial force pushing the rollout of diverless cars — more numbers reduce the cost — since there are too few of them. There are roughly 250 thousand licensed taxi drivers, and hence fewer taxi’s — while annual car sales in the US are ~1.5 million.

        We have seen that lavish tax subsidies can encourage affluent people to purchase hybrid and electric vehicles. I doubt this can be scaled up soon to facilitate the far greater cost of driverless vehicles. So this might be yet another example of people grossly overestimating the rate of short-term tech evolution (and probably underestimating its long-term rate).

      • ==> “In Atlanta, I see most buses running near empty. ”

        That probably depends on when you’re looking. Lines that are empty at one part of the day can be quite full at another part of the day.

        Why not invest to make public transportation more feasible?

        The issue of adjusting according to usage is solvable with technology.

        Calling the Breakthroughers.

      • I love this blog! It is really hard to find such thoughtful criticism any where else!!!
        Since I have a VC and startup background, the book is built around a fairly comprehensive business plan (tucked away in the appendices). It assumes ZERO government subsidies. Rollout doesn’t begin until 2020, so there is time for battery and electronics costs to decline as they have been. A small two person vehicles’ cost is $26,760, not far off Chevy’s announced $30,000 price for their 4 person, 200 mile range 2017 Chevy Bolt. Operating cost per revenue mile is 17.5 cents. At a 49% pre-tax profit margin, customer cost with 2-person shared ride is 19 cents/mile, or 14 cents/per mile at a more reasonable pre-tax 25% margin. Door-to-door service for far less than bus fare, even with the high subsidies buses receive. The book has 3 chapters on mass transit issues.

      • Busses are good if you have nowhere to go and all day to get there.

        Btw, they are mostly empty here too, but they provide many good paying government union jobs with fabulous retirement bennies.

      • Joshua

        “Why not invest to make public transportation more feasible?”

        Simple: city MTA buys driverless cars.

        Mass transit could actually be improved with a last mile driverless car.

        I’d take BART to work, but for the fact that the last 5 miles are hard to walk… haha.

      • J*shua

        rather than contradict dr. Curry in a knee jerk style

        read more
        comment less
        “MARTA has long had trouble building its ridership because so much of the system doesn’t go to residential or economic centers and is confined to Fulton and DeKalb counties, which makes the falling ridership even more of a threat because it comes from a shallow base.

        Former General Manager Ken Gregor noted that MARTA has been hit by perfect storm over the decade of two recessions, which leave people without jobs to travel to, three fare increases, a short-lived expansion, service cuts and rising capital-improvement costs for an aging system. He suspected the system’s shaky finances contributed to customer dissatisfaction because of breakdowns from delayed maintenance and missed schedules.”

      • Many factories in Germany have an eerie atmosphere. Large halls full of machines working away, and hardly any people.

        Public transport is one of the few branches that still relies on manpower, and is therefore vulnerable to a strike. A small union recently tied up the German rail system pretty good.

        I think that we shall see fully automated trains in the near future.

      • Should see our garbage pickup. One guy to drive the truck, that’s it.

        Next step will be to weigh the containers (RFID chip) and charge by the kilo. Then will come the camera to catch you if you try to dispose of something verboten.

      • When I lived in Portland OR they had bumper stickers that said: “I’m keeping 129 cars off the road”. Later people started putting a counter sticker on their cars: ” I’m one of 129 cars keeping one bus off the road”.

    • Great observations on the shift of potential GHG management to the grid. Austin Energy just signed a big contract for solar at 5 cents per kW/h. With cost-effective battery or other storage, things seem likely to change over the next 20 years. The market is a powerful force.
      There is a lot of discussion in the book regarding the psychology of adoption. Interestingly, teens, millenials, and seniors are some of the most likely early adopters. And at 19 cents per mile (2 person rideshare) and the gained free time for other activities (cat videos!), its value proposition is fairly compelling. And half the 16-19 age group don’t even have licenses.

  5. David L. Hagen

    Terraflop on a chip
    A key enabling technology for autonomous driving is NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 processor providing 1 teraflop of processing power in a 10 W chip. That can process 12 live video streams in real time.
    Stereo Cameras
    Stereo cameras provide the complimentary metrology. e.g. see ZED cameras by Stereolabs.

    Autonomous trucks are being deployed in mining.

    The critical underlying issues for climate/peak oil is availability of transport fuel or energy. Thus replacement transport fuels and cost/efficiency of batteries.

  6. Don’t know about the book, but the post doesn’t mention potential legal issues. Wait till someone dies in one of these cars or is seriously injured, and the claim is made that the car was responsible because of software error.
    Obviously, we can understand that perhaps many more people die in the present system, but I don’t know if that will stop a negligence attorney. I’m not sure what legal framework would allow these companies to grow without becoming major targets.

    • Seems that would largely depend on the rate of accidents. If the rate is low, it could be handled with insurance, just as is liability with accidents today.

    • Great issue, miker613. Both Google and Volvo have publicly stated that if their software is at fault, they will have liability for any accident. Nothing stops a personal injury attorney, but having a 360 degree, 3D ‘video’ out to 100+ meters of the accident scene tends to turn it into a settlement arbitration rather than a trial. So far google has 1.8 million miles of testing with12 accidents. They were rear ended 8 times (they need to fix that with flashing lights and audio alarms), and they have the evidence to prove their cars never caused the accidents. 93% of accidents are caused by some sort of human error. About 33,000 people die every year, the equivalent of a 737 crash every working day. We really have to stop the madness.

    • miker as Rutt points out do you really want to go into court against a guy
      who has telemetry and video evidence?

      It might be a smart play for driverless car producers to vertically integrate insurance companies out of business– same as with a factory warranty

  7. Pingback: Driverless cars: the transportation revolution is coming | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  8. Hard to see this catching on. The idea of having your own car for a quick
    errand or trip to a park or friend, driving kids around, etc., is just too convenient. Then if you have your own car anyway, why would you call up another one for a commute? The commuting part may work for some, but not at the expense of having your own car too. On the other hand, I like the prospect of more electric cars, especially as it reduces downtown pollution.

    • This is largely a generational issue. There is a growing trend among the younger generations not buy cars

    • There are pockets where it will probably catch on fast.
      Think san fran. More an more I see people giving up their cars,
      or moving here and selling their auto, or using these damn “scoot” vehicles.

      For me, I will ditch my car when I can get anywhere in the city for 5 bucks
      flat rate. Hmm, I did some math around it, it’s feasible.

      • ==> “For me, I will ditch my car when I can get anywhere in the city for 5 bucks”

        Sounds like public transportation.

        Whether people use public transportation depends largely on wait times in addition to cost. The thing is, technology exists to make public transportation more feasible if people are willing to change – primarily, dedicated lanes. But the automobile constituency will resist shifting resource allocation (dealing with more traffic to create dedicated lanes for public transportation).

        Plus, when Google and Twitter and Facebook can ship people around in their private transportation fleet, and keep the techies from having to mix with the unwashed peasants, there’s less incentive.

      • Love this thread.
        For $5, riding solo at 39 cents/mile you can get almost 13 miles. If you’ll rideshare (arranged by the dispatch software) you can get twice that far. How big’s your city?
        BTW, China is investing heavily in driverless car technology. Given that cars (in America) sit parked 95% of the time, a shared economy mobility model makes more economic sense. But some people will always want to own their cars!
        Sorry, I’m off to lunch with a transit person, but I’ll get back on later.

      • Joshua

        “Sounds like public transportation.”

        It’s the furthest thing from public transportation.

        Let me give you a clue.

        From SOMA down to the Marina: by car 15 minutes. parking
        will run anywhere from free to 2 dollars an hour.

        Cab is 15.00

        Public Transportation:
        The trip is 45 minutes and costs 2.25. ZERO wait time
        since I have real time updates of bus positions.

        30 minutes of my time:

        But its more than the time. you have obviously never had to take a bus
        down stockton. if you can find a seat… you have this

        So its: Time, convience, Sanitation, safty, comfort, timing.

        Whether people use public transportation depends largely on wait times in addition to cost. The thing is, technology exists to make public transportation more feasible if people are willing to change – primarily, dedicated lanes. But the automobile constituency will resist shifting resource allocation (dealing with more traffic to create dedicated lanes for public transportation).

        1. We have dedicated Lanes.
        2. near zero wait times as you can get real time updates.
        3. crowding.
        4. safty.
        5. comfort ( think people with phones and boom boxs)
        6. Sanitation.
        7. Timing. I have to be there now

        Currently it costs 2.25 on public transportation. I take a cab
        because avoiding all that crap is worth 12.75. My time alone
        is worth that.

      • Rutt

        ‘For $5, riding solo at 39 cents/mile you can get almost 13 miles. If you’ll rideshare (arranged by the dispatch software) you can get twice that far. How big’s your city?”

        San Fran. Everything is 5 miles away.

        Uber recently did a flat rate trial ( mainly to harm the cab companies)
        Ride share is looking more and more attractive. and that got me thinking about what price it would take to get me to ditch the car completely.
        As much as I hate the dang ‘scoots’ taking up parking spots, they also
        look attractive.

        Since I commute (ride share ) to work, its making less and less sense to
        own the car. More and more the car is for ’emergencies’..

      • Scoot vehicles?


      • The point, again, is that technology and support for public transportation can solve, or at least mitigate, some of those problems. It wont solve the problem of you not wanting to sit among the unwashed masses. That’s true.

        So for you and folks of your SES, other alternatives are available, and newer ones will become available.

        But the question is whether those alternatives are practical and scalable to the point of addressing larger-scale issues. If driverless vehicles become viable, then sure, why not use them in public transportation? But the notion that they will be a technology that will be suitable for addressing the needs and concerns of a wider demographic cross-section (specifically, those who rely on public transportation now), is dubious. Wouldn’t rule it out, of course…

        In the meantime, it would be nice to see less dubious options supported, such as public transportation and yes, congestion pricing. Unfortunately, getting support for public transportation from those who can afford alternatives and/or who are accustomed to relying on private automobiles is a hard slog.

      • This is mostly to Joshua who seems to think that if gov’t pays for it, it is free. For those talking costs, it should be real costs. In Minneapolis a light rail trip costs around $2 or so ( it’s been a while) but the city pays another $11 to $15 for that ride depending on how one amortizes the investment. Because the gov’t collects the money from others doesn’t make it a $2 ride. Public transport is almost always a money transfer from non-users to users which may be something one wants to do as welfare policy but recognize it is welfare.

        In my opinion shared use driverless cars has the potential to totally revamp transportation.
        Another advantage that I didn’t notice in the editorial is that they could revitalize urban areas. I avoid going downtown because of the cost and difficulty of parking. Eliminate that and my trips to the entertainment/ cultural opportunities cities provide will skyrocket.

      • ==> “Public transport is almost always a money transfer from non-users to users which may be something one wants to do as welfare policy but recognize it is welfare.”

        As opposed to what? Private automobile travel?

        There are many positive externalities to public transportation and many negative externalities to private auto transport. Some of those negative externalities may be mitigated with the ideas proposed here. Great. But either way, a opinions should be based on a full-cost accounting.

      • It is absolutely not clear that ride share will in fact improve congestion for the following reasons:
        1) The distance traveled per ride delivered is much higher than the actual transport of a passenger from their present location to their desired destination. The ratio is over 1.5 and may be as high as 2 (in other words, 50% to 100% more miles driven than the passenger actually is transported).
        2) The operating cost of a self driving vehicle in an urban environment is not going to be anywhere comparable to a low wage driver piloting a subprime loan vehicle. The equipment and technologies necessary for self driving cars is well over $100K; depreciation alone more than offsets the removal of the cost of the driver. Throw in the maintenance aspects, and the cost savings being touted is nonexistent. For long haul transportation, self driving vehicle will make more sense although the actual costs are far less clear. The ability of a computer to handle first/last mile of transport in particular is going to be an extremely difficult problem (think of the skills needs to drive 18 wheelers in urban/suburban environments, back into loading bays, etc.
        3) The ability of a self driving car to function at a comparable level to a human driver in an urban environment is far from clear. There are many serious technical issues ranging from (lack of) detailed, quality, up to date maps to the far larger scale difficulty of driving in a city (cross traffic, pedestrians, flying trash, accidents/construction detours, etc), to the unique challenges imposed by urban environments (GPS is not accurate, far more noise presented to ultrasonic/video systems, smaller lanes).
        Thus your dream of a $5 ride anywhere in SF for a flat fee – it is nothing more than that. The economics are quite simple: ride share averages around 2 rides per hour for the approximately 35 peak hours of operation a week (weekday morning/evening rush hours, Friday/Saturday evenings). Averages for rides delivered outside these windows in more like 1 ride per hour, with a complete dead zone from 2 am to 6 am.
        This leads to roughly 175 rides per week for a full time 24/7 vehicle (note taxi drivers average 5 rides per hour for Friday/Saturday evening periods).
        At $5 per ride, this brings a maximum theoretical income of only $43,750 per year (50 weeks operation per year). However, the $43,750 must also pay for the additional costs involved.
        According to Edmunds, Total Cost to Own for a $22K Honda Civic is $39K over 5 years which is for personal insurance, 15K miles/year driving. For a similar $100K car, it is safe to say equivalent TCO would be between $125K and $200K. At $200K – there is zero profit whatsoever in operating the business. At $125K – any significant downtime means operation of the vehicles becomes a money loser.
        Net net: ain’t gonna happen.

    • I’ve driven in SF – absolutely terrifying. Came over a hill slowly, car rotated forward till I felt like I was on the top about to begin a roller coaster ride. I was sure it would roll end-over-end. Let Google do it, I say.

      • I know that place.. there are about 100 of them…

        Try driving a long bed club cab 5.7 liter hemi in the city, or parking it..

        For 5 bucks flat rate I will surrender my vehicle

    • You are absolutely correct. After all, where are going to put all those gore/whatshisname, Obama/Biden, and Billery/afterthought stickers and other boundary markers?

      I think many of those youngsters surrender car ownership because they can’t afford to operate them, their cellular service is too expensive, and they live in a city. Just wait till they have kids. Everything changes.

    • Depending on fuel efficiency, and those standards are improving, you can travel up to 10 miles per dollar with your own car, and these prices won’t compete with that. So, if you have your own car anyway, it won’t make economic sense to use this service. If you have a lifestyle where you can get by without a car, sure, but I don’t see a large number of people doing that. That is, unless they can also implement an annual flat-rate pass system that makes it part of public transport and could be subsidized by local government, which would be an advance, but like I say, it is not for most.

      • Ten miles per dollar??? Jim D, you are a lucky guy… no insurance payments, no car payments, free state and local registration, no car repairs, permanent tires, wow! Where do I sign up?
        Sorry, Jim, that was snarky. I apologize. But a lot of people look at it that way. The total cost of car ownership is a lot more than just gas.

      • That’s why I said if you have your own car anyway where you pay a lot of those costs in addition even if it sits in the garage.

      • David Springer

        I was impressed by Rutt until he shot his snarky mouth off at JimD without bothering to figure costs for suburban commuters who the the people who rack up the big numbers in total driving miles. For suburban commuters who put 25,000+ miles annually on a vehicle it’s easy to beat the single passenger rate ascribed to the driverless vehicles and approach the ride-share rate. My 2015 5-passenger hybrid is less than 6 cents per mile for fuel. Insurance is negligible. Maintenance is about half the fuel cost. The big cost is depreciation but even that’s only about 10 cents per mile.

        Driverless vehicles are probably fine for people who live in big cities and travel 10 miles per day or less but for suburbanites it’s not even close to desirable.

    • Insurance premiums will likely weight towards driverless, which will help the market. However, at a certain threshold of usage there may be cultural resistance too, especially after the first death by a driverless car (there will be such), no matter the overall odds way better.

      • people dont like to be killed by machines or sharks.

      • True that, Andy and Steven. 33,000 can die every year on our highways, but nobody seems to notice. Except of course the victim’s friends and family.
        One airline crash with 200 deaths will get coverage for weeks. That’s about two days worth of highway deaths. As Joe Stalin said, ‘One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.’

      • > people dont like to be killed by machines or sharks.

        Machines don’t kill people. People kill people. No people, no killing.

        In a world without people, sharks never kill.

      • If you combine death by shark and machine— its especially bad

      • ruttbridges | June 29, 2015 at 4:26 pm

        Indeed. But while the numbers should speak for themselves, cultural resistance doesn’t always listen to logic. And such effects are often way underestimated. Too early to tell whether this will be an issue or not.

      • Steven Mosher

        how are you going to get your revenge on sharks or machines..
        how are you going to see them burn in hell?

      • It’s not the teeth that kill:

  9. The other factor almost never mentioned about driverless cars is their cost. People tend to assume the price of large machinery drops with volume like semiconductors. It does not.

    Also important are the cost of maintenance and lifespan of these vehicles.

    The combination of capital and operating costs might push mass use of these out for decades.

    Even *current* new cars are affordable for mass purchase in the U.S. by probably unsustainable credit policies: loans of too-long length to borrowers with too-low credit ratings. We saw how this ended in the housing bubble. Bank regulators have warned about these trends for several years.

    • ” Bank regulators have warned about these trends for several years.”

      Greed is a renewable resource.

    • Folks wont “buy” driverless cars in the beginning.
      Think Uber to begin with ( they have their own development going on)
      think Google itself putting cars on the road for their employees ( they already use busses to cart folks from SF to MV )

      Think Hertz..


      Think Fedex.
      Think the post office.

      You can also imagine cities like SF taking the same approach as Singapore does to cars entering the city.

      As it becomes clear that human operated vehicles are much higher risk and premiums are driven to reflect that you may reach a tipping point that flips the market overnight.

      • Steve,

        I don’t understand your comment. The numbers you imply don’t make sense.

        * Hertz buys cars and rents them to people — it’s a more expensive way to get a car unless used rarely. Few people use their cars that rarely.
        * Uber drivers buy their cars (including the capital and maintenance cost drastically slashes the report “income” of its drivers, even with the unintended subsidy by insurance companies). Uber’s leases are just another aspect of the large and growing subprime auto lending game, probably ending like previous credit bubbles.
        * Google might buy some for employees, But I doubt that would make the even a small dent in the mass production economics of cars. Current car mfg economics make cars affordable at a 1.6 million US run rates (part of an even larger global market).

        Lower insurance costs would offset some of the higher maintenance costs of a driverless vehicle, but are unlikely to radically change their cost to buyers in the foreseeable future. A driverless vehicle seems likely to make fewer mistakes, but might not have a far lower rate of being hit — and have no change at all in the other events insurance covers (e.g., hail damage). So their insurance costs will be lower, but still substantial.

      • ==> “You can also imagine cities like SF taking the same approach as Singapore does to cars entering the city.”

        Not unless political dynamics change considerably.

        Congestion pricing doesn’t go over too well with Republicans and Libertarians.

        So imagining SF taking the approach of Singapore would mean a significant political shift.

        Hmmm. Maybe you’re on to something after all!

      • “* Uber drivers buy their cars (including the capital and maintenance cost drastically slashes the report “income” of its drivers, even with the unintended subsidy by insurance companies). Uber’s leases are just another aspect of the large and growing subprime auto lending game, probably ending like previous credit bubbles.”

        Uber thinks otherwise which is why they are investing in driverless cars.

      • Steve,

        “You can also imagine cities like SF taking the same approach as Singapore does to cars entering the city.”

        San Francisco has a population of ~900 thousand (13th largest in the US), and unusually wealthy by virtue of a combination of the tech revolution and probable stock market bubble. It’s wildly unrepresentative of the US, and far more so of the developed world. Not a good example of likely developments in the foreseeable future.

        On the other hand, these kind of analogies are quite common among those who live there, not aware of how unusual it is.

      • Joshua

        So imagining SF taking the approach of Singapore would mean a significant political shift.

        Hmmm. Maybe you’re on to something after all!


        there are 4 main entries to the city.

        GG bridge: a toll is collected
        Bay bridge: a toll is collected


        It’s not that hard to imagine.


        ““As South of Market grows in density, I think more and more residents are talking about it and switching from saying, ‘This is a terrible idea” to thinking, ‘This may be the only way I can have a livable neighborhood,’ ” Kim said.”

        SOMA is getting crazy.. but what would I know. I only live there.

      • Steven,

        Uber thinks otherwise which is why they are investing in driverless cars.”

        Neither you or I know why Uber’s senior management does anything. Their announcement did not mention the dollars they plan to invest. It might be small, with the goal of publicity today and possible interesting new technology in the future.

        It’s not evidence that they believe driverless cars are an economic proposition in the foreseeable future, and an absurd rebuttal to my comment about the current economics of Uber drivers.

      • “San Francisco has a population of ~900 thousand (13th largest in the US), and unusually wealthy by virtue of a combination of the tech revolution and probable stock market bubble. It’s wildly unrepresentative of the US, and far more so of the developed world. Not a good example of likely developments in the foreseeable future.”

        True. There are other places that have much higher commuter adjusted populations, where what I describe is more likely to catch on.

        Here is a funny story.

        Long ago when I was working on tiny camera’s my buddy at omni vision
        came to me and asked if people would ever put cameras in phones and would I put one in my next mp3 device.

        Sounded hella cool in the late 90s.

        The question was how to get cameras in phones started. The first attempts were in Japan
        because they love gadgets and the camera was actually an attachable device.

        a few years later ( around 2004)

        Sanyo SCP-5300

        Things really took off after some smart marketers sent attractive couples to NYC, SF and LA.. basically they stopped people on the street and asked them to take a picture ‘with their phone”

        SF, LA, and NYC are unrepresentative in many ways.

        Smart folks know that and know how to use that to their advantage.

      • “Neither you or I know why Uber’s senior management does anything. ”

        Look at the numbers and its clear. Or assume they are ignorant.

        Short them if you think they are wrong

      • Steven Mosher: Think Hertz..


        Think Fedex.
        Think the post office.

        You can also imagine cities like SF taking the same approach as Singapore does to cars entering the city.

        As it becomes clear that human operated vehicles are much higher risk and premiums are driven to reflect that you may reach a tipping point that flips the market overnight.

        I think that you are on the right track. Some day it may look like a revolution has occurred, but going forward will entail a lot of incrementalism and trial-and-error.

      • I think that congestion pricing make sense, but there’s significant opposition from libertarian-types (do you know any of those?), the business community (say, in Chinatown) who fear loss of business, etc.

        Of course, short-term thinkers don’t realize that increased pedestrian friendliness means more economic business…estimates in the area of $70 million generated annually.

        Hey, start talking to some of your rich Libertarian friends. Get them on board. Go for it.

      • “I think that you are on the right track. Some day it may look like a revolution has occurred, but going forward will entail a lot of incrementalism and trial-and-error.”

        When I tie this back into ecomodernism heads will explode at ATTP

      • As long as you limit your focus to the needs and concerns of people of your SES, then your arguments make perfect sense.

        That’s what you have now with the LEAP public transportation systems and the “Google buses.” A segregated system. How well will that solve the existing problems if the solution focuses on the needs and concerns of a small demographic cohort?

        Check this out…

        Poor folks got shut down because they removed wheel chair access to expand their Blue Bottle coffee bar! heh.

      • Joshua

        ‘Hey, start talking to some of your rich Libertarian friends. Get them on board. Go for it.”

        starting in 1972 we libertarians have been fighting to get you democrats and republicans on board WRT the whole gay marriage thing.

        So, we’ll take a 5 minute rest and start working on that congestion thing.

        Congestion pricing IS a form of deregulation

      • Joshua:
        “I think that congestion pricing make sense, but there’s significant opposition from libertarian-types, the business community (say, in Chinatown) who fear loss of business, etc.
        Of course, short-term thinkers don’t realize that increased pedestrian friendliness means more economic business…”
        There are many flavors of libertarians. Roads are commons and are less than ideal because of that. Congestion pricing is a bit down the path to privately owned roads and if it works in practice I can be for that. The opposition will come the status quo defenders. For instance Hennepin County seems to follow a policy of maximum traffic volume through my towns center using traditional methods. That is, round abouts are not an option, and while the speed limit is 30 mph, 35 mph is not uncommon. Pedestrians and bicyclists are secondary considerations. The priority is moving traffic. We might ask who cares about the bicyclists? Many school children bike to school and other places. It gives them some independence. The car is king. Some other options should be considered. I think something that businesses want is to not have to devote a lot of downtown area to parking spaces. This is where alternatives can make economic sense.

      • Steven,

        “Short them if you think they are wrong”

        I said that Uber has announced no dollar commitment, so your statement that they’re betting on driverless cars is unsupported by evidence. I’m saying *you* are wrong, not Uber.

        By the way, to say “look at the number and its clear” when Uber has announced no numbers is a bit odd.

        As for the numbers in the book, business cases based on economics of future tech in 2020 are interesting speculation. Fun guesses at possible future.

      • I was listening to MPR (minnesota public radio) and they had on a google person – they are having trouble figuring out what to do in an emergency in which they need to pass control back to the person in the car.

        I guess if the driver is sleeping or not otherwise paying attention – there might be an issue with passing control back in an emergency – so this might further delay matters.

        It sort of sounds like the passenger needs to be “ready” to take over in case something unexpected happens.

        That isn’t going to work (I predict).

        What is the point of a driverless car if the passenger needs to be ready to take over in an emergency.

        So we will have to see what happens on that front as well.

      • tell it to Travis

        “Taxi app Uber is taking its biggest steps yet towards a driver-free world, launching the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh “to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology”.

        It’s a massive investment in the future from a company still primarily associated with the development of its app and associated back-end technology, but it’s one that Uber has been hinting at for a long time. The company is keenly aware that the majority of the cost of a journey comes from the driver’s salary, and has been eyeing up driverless cars as a potential saviour.

        In May 2014, Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, told Code conference that “the reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car.

        “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away.”

        “Carnegie Mellon University is scrambling to recover after Uber Technologies Inc. poached 40 of its researchers and scientists earlier this year,” the Journal reported this past Sunday, “a raid that left one of the world’s top robotics research institutions in a crisis.”

        According to the report, Uber essentially stabbed the university in the back, luring “six principal investigators and 34 engineers” from CMU’s word-class National Robotic Engineering Center (NREC), including the center’s director, Tony Stentz, and most of its program directors—even after establishing a partnership with the university earlier this year. The pilfered researchers will work in Uber’s new driverless-car research facility, located just down the street from NREC’s laboratories.”

        Do the math

        “Uber was drawn by this incredible constellation of technology and talent. The company established a research hub just around the corner from NREC in January. Since then, it has rapidly expanded its presence, with plans to lease a 50,000 square foot facility still just a mile away.”

        Do the math.

      • Some simple numbers.

        OEMS are now quoting that the markup for driverless will be between 3-5K at mass production.

        Do the math

        “Google and Uber, two companies that have held relatively close ties up until now, have essentially declared war by advancing into each other’s respective territories. Why? Because there’s enormous value in the autonomous taxi industry.

        Consider, for instance, that Uber is already expected to pull in $10 billion by the end 2015, yet 80% of its top line will go to its partnering drivers. That’s a massive bite out of the company’s margins — a problem that could undoubtedly be solved by autonomous vehicles.

        According to, the hourly pay for an average Uber driver is $13 (Uber claims $19.04, but whatever), meaning for every hour on the road, Uber is losing that much money. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, that comes out to $27,040 a year.

        But robot drivers won’t be working eight-hour days, five days a week. They’ll work every day from 5:00 a.m., when the Type-As wake up, until 2:00 a.m., when the bar crowd goes to sleep.

        Considering the fact that driverless cars don’t get tired, they could potentially put an extra $100,000 back in Uber’s profit every year. Of course, the vehicles would depreciate after enough time on the road and would need to be maintained occasionally, but these costs are nowhere near the 80% Uber pays out to its drivers.”

      • It sort of sounds like the passenger needs to be “ready” to take over in case something unexpected happens.

        You’re right there, Richard, it’s not going to work.
        Things happen so quickly on the road – when they do happen – that if the computer can’t handle the situation then there is almost certainly far too little time for the driver to do much.

    • You are correct that ‘big iron’ is slow to fall in price. Actually, batteries have a pretty good cost decline curve and make up about a third of the vehicle cost. The electronics required to implement driverless cars are mostly on the Moore’s Law curve. At least for a two-passenger vehicle, the body and chassis cost (based on a basic gasoline Smart Car) is less than $16K.
      Regarding maintenance, it is far lower than any internal combustion engine vehicle. I now drive a Nissan Leaf, and the service interval is 30,000 miles. Brushless electric motors are remarkably simple and long-lived.

      • Ruttbridges,

        The distinctive part of a driverless car are the sensors, actuators, and computers. They are not cheap (something seldom mentioned by journalist fans). Their ability to run as a system for years in the demanding environment of a car – with minimal maintenance — remains to be seen. Note that they need to degrade or fail gracefully.

        Adding them onto the currently poor economics of hybrid and electric cars and you get a really expensive vehicle.

        Odd that so many on this thread wave away this dimension of the problem. Five years is ambitious time to expect such declines in cost. Are there precedents for such a large fast price drop in a large mechanical device? We are not talking about microwave ovens.

    • From a boring POV, driverless cars are of course the future as regards car transportation.. Simply a matter of adoption pathways and time to market.

  10. While I believe that sometime in the future, driverless cars will be the norm just as driverless elevators and driverless subways/light rail are today, the transition will be gradual and take longer than most proponents admit.

    Will driverless cars be unleashed on the first world all at once or will they, at first, be limited to certain types of roads (limited access freeways for example) at certain times of day and in certain weather conditions?

    Engineers still drive trains, pilots still fly airplanes and farmers still drive tractors. Cars will continue to have drivers for decades. Part-time drivers but drivers just the same.

    • No doubt transition will take time, but the trends toward reduced ownership and driving are already being baked into the cake:

      The trend of urbanization is continuing, probably more so amongst the young and in cities, car ownership is even more of a burden.

      • “… Baked in the cake…”

        Then there’s that pesky planning fallacy. Don’t underestimate the capacity of people to make apparently frivolous purchases in order to display social dominance. We are not Gandhi, if we were we wouldn’t need him, but we do.

      • Also from Michael Sivak …

        Objective: This study examined the recent changes in the percentage of persons with a driver’s license in 15 countries as a function of age. Method: The countries included were Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Results: The results indicate 2 patterns of change over time. In one pattern (observed for 8 countries), there was a decrease in the percentage of young people with a driver’s license, and an increase in the percentage of older people with a driver’s license. In the other pattern (observed for the other 7 countries), there was an increase in the percentage of people with a driver’s license in all age categories. A regression analysis was performed on the data for young drivers in the 15 countries to explore the relationship between licensing and a variety of societal parameters. Of particular note was the finding that a higher proportion of Internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate. Implications: The results of the analysis are consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.
        (my bolds)

        There are some things that can’t be done over the internet. Yet.

    • Usually, but not always, the near future looks like the present – trajectories and all that. Humans are expensive so as machines get cheaper humans will be replaced, especially for dangerous tasks. Driving, on the other hand, can be pleasurable, as it feeds our need for the illusion of control and provides an opportunity to express our dominance over others. The freedom thing too … Make no mistake, it’s a battle out there on the freeway. Don’t even think about merging in front of ME!

      OTOH, maybe Ferrari will go out of business …

      • Justin, as I say in the book, there are people who love cars, and love driving, and for the most part, they aren’t candidates for driverless car mobility services. At certain times I briefly fall into that category. But I’ll rent a car for the backroads drive from Kaanapali to Hana on Maui. Most of the time I’d rather sit in the back and do other things than try to merge in front of JUSTIN WONDER! Everyone knows that’s a bad idea!

    • Rover, better check out those farmers. There are a lot of driverless tractors and combines out there already. And pilots spend much of the trip watching their autopilots. Two got in a fascinating conversation and missed Minneapolis by an hour (it’s in the book). And based on their recent performance, train engineers has better watch their back. But I agree that human-driven cars will be around for decades. Three decades, at least, maybe more.

      • ruttbridges wrote, “There are a lot of driverless tractors and combines out there already.”

        Kinze is testing autonomous grain carts on three farms in Illinois. Case IH doesn’t appear to have any autonomous products for sale as yet. John Deere has a system that keeps the grain cart positioned next to the combine for grain transfer (as does Kinze) but the cart uses a human to drive it to and from the combine.

        John Deere also sells the fully autonomous Tango E5. An electric mower that will cover about a half acre on a single charge.

        I expect penetration of autonomous equipment into agriculture faster than into personal transportation as long as it can make money for farmers. US Agriculture is capital intensive and very sensitive to margins. Farming (especially large flat corn and soybean farms) are a logical place to commercialize the technology.

        My point with trains is that it a far more logical place to put automation than automobiles but it hasn’t happened yet.

        Pilotless airplanes are technically feasible today as long as they don’t have to operate into and out of O’Hare in a snowstorm or someone sets fire to the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center.

  11. All kinds of benefits and also disruptions.

    As mentioned, DWIs would likely plummet.
    The visually impaired, elderly, and teenagers are mobile without driving.
    Much more efficient.
    A large percentage of jobs are transportation, leading to economic disruption.
    What percentage of municipal incomes is traffic citations?
    On the other hand, local police could focus on major crime instead of traffic.

    • Yes, then we can all gawk at our devices non-stop and become even more stoopit…

      I saw a walking texter almost get crushed the other day – the driver had quick reactions, so he lives to play another round of “clash of clans”.

      Amazing how many video games are about war and violence, What’s up with that anyway.

    • Excellent observations, T. Eddie, especially the comment on job losses. A variety of disruptive innovations lie ahead in the not-too-distant future. There will be a lot of pain, and though I talk about it a fair amount in the book I really don’t have a lot of brilliant, or even pretty good solutions. I hope someone figures it out, beyond the simpleton version that “we’ve been through all this before.”

  12. “There is a growing trend among the younger generations not buy cars.”

    Cars are very expensive. They are less necessary and more expensive in a urban setting. We shall see how the trends toward urbanization and delayed career development play out in the future.

    “Wait till someone dies in one of these cars or is seriously injured, and the claim is made that the car was responsible because of software error.”

    This will meet a huge test when “impaired” drivers use the service. I have one DUI which occurred in the 1970s while at college. I ran into trouble not because of difficulty manipulating the controls on the deserted late-night streets of small-town Amarica, but because I decided to stop along the way and pull up a series of newly-installed traffic cones surrounding the town square. Stupid surfaces at the strangest times when chemicals meet chemical computers, and resulting behaviors are predictably unpredictable. Software will have difficulty dealing with riders with various impairments. Courts will likely not be kind to large corporations which own and operate these vehicles.

    • Deep pockets attract lawyers like $&@! attracts flies.

    • Did I say “I have one DUI”? I meant to say “a guy I know has one DUI.”

    • Actually, if the prototype cars get too confused they will pull over and wait for help. One example was when a woman in a motorized wheelchair was chasing a duck with a broom (err… the woman had the broom, not the duck) in the middle of a busy street. Here’s the link, mid-way through the Ted Talk:
      Chris Urmson: How a driverless car sees the road –

      This led me to conclude that there will always be situations that driverless cars can’t resolve. The chapter “Unresolved technical challenges” proposes using crowdsourcing, essentially humans who can remotely takeover the car’s sensors and controls and get it past such unresolvable problems (based on research by Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg).
      That last 0.1% of software is really tough.

  13. Last week I met a robotics guy who has done considerable work on driverless cars. He thought they are a generation away, not 2020. He mentioned the problems created by fog, rain, etc. for the lasers.

  14. If I understand correctly, while Google has driven millions of miles, they are almost all on a very small set of specifically chosen roads, which have been mapped out in incredible detail. They drive over and over those particular areas thousands of times.

    • Miker, not totally accurate but not far off. They have done lots of open-road driving, but that part is really easy. Congested urban/suburban roads are much harder, and that is where they are doing a lot of their testing and learning. These areas are carefully mapped in great detail (half-centimeter resolution). But they claim to be getting much better at creating and updating the maps. They will have to to deliver a commercial product. Again, I know I sound like a broken record, but this and other challenges are discussed in the book.

  15. “Ridesharing also means you’ll have access to HOV lanes.” The really neat part would be once you have lanes, or whole roads, where only driverless cars are allowed. Imagine bumper-to-bumper congestion levels with the cars still all going 65 – since they all react in synch.

    • Travelling bumper-to-bumper at 65 mph is the most important and least credited benefit of “driverless” cars. This alone will increase the carrying capacity of existing highways by two, three, four or more times limited mainly by how many cars the off-ramps can handle. Instead of building more highways (and expensive bridges and tunnels) or adding lanes to existing highways, beef up the off-ramps.

      If you want to get people into autonomous vehicles, make freeways “autonomous only.”

  16. seen them all over.. bro. even on lombard

  17. Judith

    Sorry, but the parts you have excerpted sound more like a breathless press release than an objective guide to the merits or otherwise of a new technology.

    Companies like Google are getting a free ride. They owe Hundreds of Millions of pounds in tax to the UK Exchequer as do other Vast American corporations.

    Before embarking on expensive side shows such as driverless cars they should pay their taxes to the benefit of their host countries. Then for good measure they can use their technology and vast resources to try to undo some of the harm their products are causing in helping to propagate the biggest threat of our time.

    No, I am obviously not referring to AGW (another side show) but the threat to us all from highly violent and rapidly growing groups threatening the West of which the main one is also the name of the River Thames as it flows through Oxford. (banned word)

    Pay your taxes Google! Then do something worthwhile with your technology.

    Nero fiddling while Rome burns comes increasingly to mind of the Wests turning a blind eye to its real problems. Driverless cars indeed!


    • I can’t reproduce all the technical and economic issues in a blog post; I can only open this issue up for discussion and encourage people to buy this very inexpensive book. (so far, 14 readers have clicked on amazon link)

    • climatereason: Sorry, but the parts you have excerpted sound more like a breathless press release than an objective guide to the merits or otherwise of a new technology.

      It is reminiscent of the early hype about fiber optic cables and personal computers. Yet, here we are.

      If I ever enter the market for a new car again, I shall be certain to search out driverless options. With or without Daesh, the driverless option looks valuable.

    • On the upside, they will save far more lives than MM CO2 reductions :)

  18. Lawyers and other greedy people will kill driver-less cars in the crib.

  19. I plan on buying the book and reading it. This was on American Interest a couple weeks ago:

    My gut feel is that one has to buy into the “dense city Blue urban living model” for this to make sense. Great for the elites that may enjoy that but not so much for the middle class trying to make it. See Joel Kotkin’s book on “The New Class Conflict”

    By the way, I just returned from a short visit to Houston (was in Austin last weekend). It’s hard to see driverless cars fitting into those mad houses.

    • Mark, I lived in Houston five years. My favorite view was watching it get smaller and smaller in my mirror as I drove that U-Haul to Denver.
      Austin, though, is a wonderful city. If driverless cars can’t work in those two madhouses, they won’t work. And they will be a godsend not as much to the elites as to the handicapped, the aged, and the poor… and of course the middle class.
      Have you ever tried to keep a job when your car didn’t always crank in the mornings?

      • Rutt, I was based in Houston for most of my 30 yrs. in Oil and Gas. Was always glad to see it in my rear view mirror too. Left for good 9 yrs ago and now live in Santa Fe, NM. Have you been to Austin lately? My 2 boys graduated from UT 24 years ago. One lives and works there now. Austin is becoming like Houston (though prettier) and is growing even faster.

        I have your book on my Kindle now and have read the intro and started reading and skipping around to see what’s in it. I’ve also read (and am impressed with) your bio. So far my initial impression of an urban focus for “Mobility” seems to be reinforced. Can you point me to a section(s) that deals with suburban or rural situations? Not everyone wants to or can live in large cities and as Kotkin points out the Blue City Model favors the elites at the expense of the middle classes.

        By the way, I did a little experiment while in HOU for the past few days and went carless. Took cabs and hotel limo service wherever we went (I didn’t think of Uber). It worked out just fine, and probably saved me a few bucks to boot. Since getting home I have checked out Uber and that would have worked too. However, Uber goes nowhere near Santa Fe and seems to have a real city focus.

        Anyway, I’m working my way through your book.

    • Mark, Santa Fe is a wonderful town. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there, and in the nearby pueblos. I collect Native American pottery.
      Thanks for buying the book. I focused on the bigger city markets first, which is where higher population densities create bigger markets. I suspect that is what the early mobility providers will do as well. If these vehicles work well there they will likely spread to smaller communities. However, rural America has some more unique challenges that I didn’t try to address in Version 1.0.
      However, I do believe that there are very good opportunities in suburban markets. You might enjoy the three chapters on mass transit, one of which deals with some of these issues. One also takes a hard look at Austin, which has a fairly extensive and heavily subsidized mass transit system. It is mostly based around buses, which are especially susceptible to inexpensive driverless car mobility systems. I do love that town, more for it’s music, nearby rafting, scenic beauty, history, and people than for its growing transportation challenges.
      Try Uber next trip to Houston… I think you’ll like it.

  20. Sounds exciting but I would be worried about software failure, car computer hack, GPS satellite failure, and in the extreme, EMP attack by hostile countries.

    • Good issues, Chucker. All discussed in the book.
      Google runs lots of cloud computing centers. I’s trust them (vs. hackers) more than GM or Ford. Book discusses cases of existing cars (many of which have multiple computers) getting hacked. It is an issue for all modern vehicles.
      GPS is only used to locate within the onboard high res map; GPS is too crude for navigation.
      I wrote a bit about the EMP attack issue but it got edited out. There could be shielding, but I’m not sure it would happen. It is definitely a vulnerability.

  21. When someone wants to innovate, let them innovate. The tragedy of wind and solar has been the mainstreaming and clunkifying of what would have been great niche tech. We just need to be wary of people who are terrific at one thing, make shiploads of money for being terrific at it…then decide they must know how to run a planet. Search engine…planet…Where’s the diff? Since Google (Don’t Be Eagle) got into bird-frying we’re starting to see a diff.

    But can a city be really great without an ambitious public transport system? Sydney has recently dismantled its monorail which lead nowhere and is erecting a light rail which leads more to commercial destinations and less to commuters’ homes and destinations. It will stop traffic in the old city and be stopped by traffic (and unused bike lanes, natch). If you’re determined to go cheap, why not just paint the tram lines on the road and run buses powered by LPG? Don’t ask in Convict Town.

    I say sweat the big stuff. First invest in a heart-stoppingly expensive and madly ambitious metro system. (They’re only good if you wince then scream at the projected bottom line.) Take your cue from socialist Paris or capitalist Singapore…but do it. It’s amazing what you don’t have to build once people can easily and cheaply get to what has already been built.

    Then some driverless cars? Why not? But don’t ask me to pay, because my taxes will be going on a metro which moves humans where the sun don’t shine and Google is just a search engine to entertain them for the few brief minutes they spend getting where they want to go.

  22. Way back in the ’90’s I first got involved in debates over “mass transit”. Eventually I realized that proponents are primarily interested in forcing people to cluster together in great big vehicles full of people: this is what they want.

    The great advantage of the private automobile is privacy. You (individual or group) are by yourself, not forced into proximity with strangers whose behavior you can’t predict or control. This is anathema to the “mass public transit” proponents.

    Systems like Uber and driverless taxis are close to the private auto concept: you may be using a car somebody else used an hour ago (sort of like a rental), but your party is isolated. And, of course, you get random access.

    There’s still the issue of getting into a car that’s a total mess, as well as the desire for customized interiors. Seems to me that the whole “driverless car” thing can solve that as well: even if you own your own, it can be dispatched to a centralized parking tower while you’re wherever you were going, then come back with a cell-phone summons.

    Also, consider leased cars: once the much lower accident risk has been demonstrated, costs for leases will probably go down. Especially when you combine the self-driving auto concept with custom 3-D printing of the interior. When the lease is over, the old interior is stripped out, and the new owner can get a new custom interior to their own specifications.

    For the owner/lessor, the resale/re-lease value can be kept up. For the new buyer/lessee, a brand-new custom interior.

    • I love mass transit – for the other drivers. Leave the road for me …

      • Yep, thin out the traffic for the sake of the cars. Pondering whether you need mass transit or individual transport is a bit like asking if you need a back wheel as well as a front wheel on your bicycle. Will you eat your steak with a knife or a fork?

        Living with the Paris metro for a bit when I was young taught me that you don’t need expeditionary grit just to cross town, like you did in Sydney. (Btw, Some time after I left Paris – when a shower in a hotel could cost more than a room – they got themselves a better power system in France. Something to do with nukes.)

        As to the cost of better transport overall, we’ve seen so much money spent on gigantic white elephants in this last decade we can surely open our minds to something that has green appeal (shudder) but actually works. If a raging warmist like Sergey Brin can find a niche for his driverless vehicles in all that, good luck to him. But raging warmists aren’t big on finding sensible niches. In HuffPo world they’re sensible, but I’m talking about the worldy world here.

        I love the (ageing) Paris metro and I love long-wheel base turbo-diesel Toyota Landcruisers. Driverless cars can show their form (somewhere in California?) and I’ll be happy to show them some love. But let’s watch out for white elephants, okay? They’re everywhere these days, coming at us on steroidal Segways.

  23. While bold visions are always interesting to contemplate, this one has too many moving parts to be overall very credible, IMO. And those parts do not have to be coupled. Ridesharing infotech already exists. It is an IT enabled option at 303 cab out of Chicago’s Ohare. Uber exists today, using drivers. Autonomous driving technology would work with any vehicle powertrain. Carpooling not only is encouraged by HOV lanes between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, all but the driver already text and email during the commute. And so on.
    As for EV, GM obviously thinks is will have a 200 mile range Chevy Bolt in 2017. But it still a tiny 4 person hatchback costing $30000 after $7500Fed rebate. For $26k, you can buy a tricked out five passender Ford Fusion SE hybrid today getting combined 43 mpg with a 567 mile range on one 14 gallon tankful of regular. At $3/gallon the $4k subsidized difference buys 1333 gallons good for 57,000 miles of ‘free’ driving by comparison.

  24. Just getting the texting drivers off the road is worth it. They are a serious hazard.

  25. Driverless cars should catch on here in Europe. We have very old cities, it’s easy to get lost even with GPS, parking is expensive, and the speed limits are low. The only concern I would have is our crosswalks. We have lots of crosswalks where young girls who are texting jump in front of the car (they have the legal right of way, but they are supposed to use common sense, which they don’t). So these driverless cars will need to locate people near the crosswalks and identify if they are texting, figure out by their pace if they intend to turn and cross. Or we will need some sort of beeper to warn foot traffic that a driverless car is approaching and to signal with their arm?

    • Fernando

      In many European cities The roads tend to be narrow and the apartments tall so will gps get through?

      Also there are many cyclists as well as pedestrians, the former often more irrational than the latter. How will the driverless car cope with all these irrational distractions?

      The biggest problem is surely that our cars tend to be multi functional. They act as a base when we go out for the day. We can put large amounts of people, coats, bags etc into them and once we arrive at our destination can choose to go elsewhere On a whim, lugging all our paraphernalia with us. At other times the car is used to take rubbish to the tip, on shopping expeditions, to take us on holiday, to transport bikes or boats etc.

      So, it seems likely that many of us will already have a very useful vehicle which we will want to use as much as possible not only for its convenience but to defray its costs. Consequently driverless cars will presumably become Mainly a niche product aimed at those currently using taxis or buses for whom this might make a marginally easier journey.

      This really has got a bit of a whiff of the Segway about it. That went well didn’t it?


      • The Segway dude got hisself kilt in Segway accident. The Segway did get spoofed in a movie – a comedy, of course. Other than that, the Segway is as dead as the former owner of said failure.

      • Tonyb,

        “…our cars … act as a base when we go out for the day. We can put large amounts of people, coats, bags etc into them and once we arrive at our destination can choose to go elsewhere On a whim, lugging all our paraphernalia with us. At other times the car is used to take rubbish to the tip, on shopping expeditions, to take us on holiday, to transport bikes or boats etc.”

        We call this “freedom”, and the planners hate that.

      • Climate reason, I don’t use gps where I live, but I didn’t have trouble when I used it elsewhere. I think the phone units use a combination of gps with cell network triangulation, but I’m not sure.

        I think the technology has a future, but they’ll have to teach them to look out for pedestrians, dogs on long leashes, bicycle riders, etc. I think it can be done by having pedestrians trained to make a hand signal and teaching the robot to watch out for texting teens.

        I’m also worried about the potential to introduce malware into a vehicle. The whole issue of killer software coupled to autonomous machines gives me the creeps.

      • Tony, some funny stuff from my previous ‘life’ as a senior exec at MOT. Dean Kaman was a hero of our then Chairman, because of massive contributions to the high school robotics competitions MOT sponsored.
        So I found myself taking our G4 and a lot of bureaucratic baggage to New Hampshire to visit him. Fun part was, as the senior MOT exec, Dean insisted on flying me to his HQ ( 5 minutes) in his personal helicopter while the rest drove. Well, they arrived before we did.
        We got the full Segway treatment. I asked, what about rain and umbrellas. Well, it never rained in Kamen’s world. I asked, what about pedestrian collision liability on sidewalks. Those never happened either, according to Dean, at least not in his Manchester NH test facility.
        Well, I decided not to put in $10 mil ( my limit without higher authorization), got chewed out by the Chairman, and….
        You all can imagine the rest that I lived through. Regards.

      • Tonyb,

        Great points. The elites who live the gentrified life in big cities don’t worry about his stuff.

      • Rud

        I would wonder how a driverless car would cope in snowy conditions, but as snow is a thing of the past there is no need to explore that concern.


      • Since snow is a Viner assured thing of the past, especially around Google HQ in Mountain View, CA, not to worry.
        Oh, you are in the UK and my farm is in Wisconsin northwest of Chicago. Google is not testing these cars in either place yet? Wonder why??? Nah…That hypothesis would be too rational. Regards.

      • Steven Mosher

        Rud should know that Wisconsin is moving ahead.

        Snow problem no problem

      • SM, I am puzzled. The site you link to says Googles stuff will not be offered in Wisonsin, because of snow. Did your Berkeley/ UW Madison connections get crossed? Seems so.

      • ristvan:
        “The site you link to says Googles stuff will not be offered in Wisconsin, because of snow.”
        My son’s have endured many lectures about traction conditions recognition. At times it can be difficult. I’d like to see some dirt track racing experiments.

      • Ragnaar, those who do not learn (slow, careful) winter traction lessons in the upper midwest US end up getting Darwin awards for removing their genes from the pool. Good that your driving schools teach that. We do the same in winter in big parking lots, with old cars and lots of extra student underware.

      • tonyb: I would wonder how a driverless car would cope in snowy conditions,

        Probably better than people, but probably not for a few years yet.

      • ristvan:
        My poor children. Another lecture they get is, You drive as I suggest 99% of the time for that 1% of the time it’s going to matter. For instance snow sticking to the road. I hammer on the fact the truck can roll if you ask it to do what it cannot do. When I was young, snow was the call to find a large parking lot.

      • Steven Mosher: I’m really pleased you called me an “EU” type. Now let’s move on to the technical issue which isn’t addressed by your link:

        I live in a residential area in a medium size city in Spain. We have sidewalks, a 40 to 50 kmph speed limit (with automated radar police units), and significant pedestrian traffic, which ranges from people walking their dogs, to beach goers loaded with plastic chairs, and lots of texting teenagers.

        I’ve observed that teenage girls have a tendency to text about 50 % of the time. Unlike other pedestrians they have a tendency to have a start and stop gait (I think it has to do with the texting needs). They also enter crosswalks without looking up (crosswalks can give pedestrians the right of way). The problem arises because, when they get to a corner they can cross, turn 90 degrees, look as if they want to cross but just stand there texting. We also have midblock crosswalks, they can be walking at a fast pace, then turn 90 degrees and enter the crosswalk without bothering to look up.

        Interestingly this is pretty much limited to the girls. For some reason the boys do look up, and most of them let cars pass before they move into the crosswalk.

        I think the robot car designers ought to sit down and watch how pedestrians behave so they can teach their programs to react ahead of time to this type of behavior. Maybe they just need to slow down to 20 kmph as they approach a crosswalk and sense a pedestrian within x radius?

    • I think the cars will work just fine. But they will get hacked.

    • Also, I think there should be individual compartments, one per rider. The divider could be parted if both parties work the latch.

      • I actually had this option in an early draft, but it got wordy and complicated for most readers, so my editor and I decided to cut it. But it certainly is technically feasible.

  26. “While bold visions are always interesting to contemplate, this one has too many moving parts to be overall very credible, IMO.”

    Yes. Sounds like science fiction. Especially the part about electric vehicles and the costs.
    Can we, please, abstain from pleasant dreams and prophecies and speak about real things? Let’s revisit this topic in 2020.

    • Agree. And tried. Did not even reference some of the deeper scars ‘reality’ has already inflicted. See my comment to ClimateReason, above, for some mild hints. Reality was much worse.

  27. Hopefully not too OT. Traditional transportation network clashes with traditional downtown:

    A town built around an arterial highway will likely see traffic volume grow with increasing local residential development. Pedestrian friendliness will drop which may cause more people to get into their cars and further add to the problem. Poynton got its traffic rounds. They got their downtown back. What we can see with round abouts is conservative resistance, until they actually get built.

  28. ruttbridges

    Here’s a puzzle. I’m at my cottage by the Lake and want to make a beer run 15 miles away. The beer store is located in a town of 800 in a greater municipality of 3200 population and 300+ square miles. Most roads are chip and tar surface as they follow old dirt/gravel roads.

    Now here’s the puzzle: The municipality is always working on one road or another and at some place or another since the winter ice and snow play havoc with road surfaces. Construction work, including blocking off the road completely with equipment or piles of gravel to be redistributed with the implicit expectation that one will take the detour, which in my circumstances will be the now only intermittently use single lane old logging road we used in the past to get to the cottage before the new subdivision road (a work in progress) came through.


    1) Do I still need my own car?

    2) Do I need to actually steer the car?

    3) By what logic will the driverless car figure out where the road is blocked and which detour to take?

    Sitting by the water’s edge, these thoughts popped into my head.

    • “) By what logic will the driverless car figure out where the road is blocked and which detour to take?”

      1. assuming that Googles approach is in play you start with a preloaded
      map of the roads — centimeter resolution ( 10 or so )
      2. The algorithms react to changes versus what they expect to see.
      3. A smart municipality will publish construction work using a standard API.
      4. Inter car coms ( think WAZE on steriods) means that by the time
      you drive the route your system will already know about it. Same way
      I know when there are obstacles in the road 1 mile ahead using WAZE.

    • On construction Zones (WAZE– owned by google ) has been working with DOTs to access the information they send out to maintence crews.

      basically.. construction is scheduled. you communicate that to crews.
      Its a simple matter to push that information to a public repository
      that other apps can pull.

      • Steven Mosher

        Thank you for the update and the possible work-arounds. It sounds neat.

        “1. assuming that Googles approach is in play you start with a preloaded
        map of the roads — centimeter resolution ( 10 or so )”

        Although the Municipality has internet access and I pay my taxes this way, communication to construction crews, especially as most are not municipality employees, rather, local independent contractors, farmers who have some spare time or someone who owns a backhoe and dump truck, someone down on their luck and needs some cash to pay the mortgage, planning ahead usually falls to people squeezing in Municipal work with their other schedules activities including opening of Bass fishing season.

        “Its a simple matter to push that information to a public repository
        that other apps can pull.”

        Not all Municipalities function in the same way in this neck of the woods as the one I choose to drive 300+ miles to, its just that these rural municipalities remain the majority.

        San Francisco is a long way from Tipperary.

      • if you live in the boonies you dont matter.

      • SM, got news for you. My beloved Wisconsin farm is so far out in the boonies that there is no cell phone service, May 2015. Bliss.
        You think folks like me do not matter, please think again. You might have a major attitude adjustment coming somewhen. If you want to eat.
        My humble advice would be to follow the Army’s first rule of holes, and stop digging deeper. Especially where you know not whereof you speak. Like dissing all seemingly rural people. The day you say you have driven a 150 HP GPS guided tractor precision planting a 100 acre contour, I will pay attention to your blather.
        Until then, just keep trying to defend Berkley Earth’s statistical expectation of what the temperature at station 166900 should have been (warmer), rather than what was actually measured at the world’s most expensive and best maintained station, Amundsen Scott at the South Pole.

      • bedeverethewise

      • Steven Mosher

        I’m referring to cars. Not food. I never speak ill of farmers with my mouth and belly full.

    • Rih008:

      1. Yes, you will need to own a 4 wheel drive.

      2. Yes, you will steer the car if you have to when conditions are awful.

      3. The logic will simply say: “Mr 008, the road ahead is blocked, and I’m waiting for further instructions”.

    • It seems that in your current situation you are not a good candidate for an autonomous car. Not everybody is — at least for V1.0.

      If you are not able to drive a car yourself, the only option (other than moving or ordering beer from Amazon Fresh) is a horse.

      A sudden flash … if all you want is a six pack, do you need to be in the car at all? Can’t you just dispatch it to the beverage store with a shopping list? Or maybe the beverage store (and pizza place) would be the owner of a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Not only would they be driverless, they’d be passenger-less.

    • RiHoo8, good questions. I believe that driverless cars will be focused for some time on urban markets, due to the density of customers as well as the challenges they face in rural areas. Like Wille Sutton supposedly said when asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” Hopefully the software will be better at facing the issues you raise after years of operating in cities. I’d plan on hanging on to my 4×4 Jeep for a while if I were you.

  29. Like it or not driverless cars are indeed heading your way, from both east and west as well as from California. By way of example here’s Carlos Ghosn at a Nissan shareholders meeting in Japan last week:

    plus a Mercedes-Benz video:

  30. I haven’t seen anyone mention security. There has been cyber espionage on a grand scale with some 4 million highly personal records stolen of US govt employees.

    Jaguar and other car companies are moving back to keys as their keyless entry is being hacked by thieves.

    Wouldn’t those who hate google or those just wanting to cause mayhem or those wanting to target specific individuals find it relatively easy to cause deliberate crashes by hackng into the cars software?


    • There was the recent case, in Denver, of the Uber driver coming back and burglarizing a house of someone they drove to the airport. This could happen with co-riders to the airport too. Security is an issue with unknown co-riders.

      • Jim, this is a good and thoughtful issue to raise. Since Denver is my home and also the basis for some of the financial modeling (since I have good access to local data), I felt compelled to reply.
        Security is a major consideration in the model, and the book addresses this issue in great detail. First, only registered clients can enter the “Autos”, as the driverless cars are called. Since they are bristling with sensors, they can verify the ID of any passenger before opening their doors, using both name voice prints and facial recognition. There is no driver to come back and burgle the house, but if a fellow passenger (rideshare mode) decides to do so they will obviously be a potential and well-documented suspect. Not a wise choice for a criminal. If people object to this level of security, they can choose alternative transportation. Rideshare customers can also set preferences for same-gender companions, an option that some women and a few men (how ’bout them Broncos?) may prefer. Same age range may be a desired preference for seniors and some young people.

    • “”

      • From Mosh’s Guardian link

        “So the attack surface of these driverless vehicles is considerable, and surely someone will find a way to hack it. I just hope it’s a responsible security researcher and not a malicious psychopath.

        Climate change will create an unstable heat to energy attack surface interface that will make the software even more vulnerable.

        Naw. I made up the second bit…


    • Tonyb, having operated cloud centers with extremely sensitive data for some years, Google is better than most any automaker at maintaining secure computing environments. The current Google car software does checksums and other tests on the software a reportedly 1,000 times a second to insure integrity. The system control software is also fairly well isolated, with substantial firewalls. But nothing is impossible. I suspect it would have to be an inside job to hack it.

  31. We hopped into my new driverless car yesterday and I said, “take us to Roberto’s — I’m starved for a good carne asada burrito.” Soon we arrived at our destination. We were so absorbed playing a quick game of Monopoly in the back seat we hadn’t noticed that the car took us to a closer place instead because it was running a special on taco salad.

  32. Self-driving cars will be a joy!
    Nefarious hackers.

  33. Don Monfort

    I have ridden in taxis in places foreign, where I believe that myself and other innocent bystanders would have been safer if the driver had died of a heart attack or something and the car proceeded on it’s own way. In fact, I have had that wish a couple of times. Had to smack one guy upside the head, really hard. Of course, I waited for him to stop before I clocked him. It took a long time as he ignored all traffic signals. Finally a truck blocked his way and he got a stern lesson on safe driving.

    • Had that same experience in Buenos Aires.
      Even funnier, my son had a similar experience on the way into Riyadh SA from the airport, on the way to starting an around the world tour from Kuwait (a different story involving the TransSiberian RR, driving the Alaskan Highway, and rafting the Grand Canyon). So, his cab got stopped by a herd of camels being driven down the same road. The cabby got angry, and issued the usual Arabic epithet, ‘Phatoola’, meaning ‘I spit on you’. Except the cabby forgot to roll his window down before Phatoolaing… Made a lasting impression, as did the rest of the 3+ month trip.

    • Don and Ristvan, I have similar stories of ‘interesting’ taxi rides in interesting places… including some in the U.S. of A. We are often at the mercy of taxi drivers in unfamiliar cities.
      In a sense, I believe that driverless taxis will be a welcome respite from these challenges many travelers face, especially if they are branded Uber or Google or Mercedes, in spite of the hard feelings some of these corporations may engender. Their software is at least far less likely to take you on a grand tour of the city (with an accompanying high fare), or worse still to a dangerous neighborhood with a “pay up or get out” alternative. And driverless car software is designed with safety, for pedestrians, cyclists and passengers, as a heavy priority over speed.

    • Steven Mosher

      take a taxi in Jordan in 1993 as an american with my last name—
      and then we can talk about interesting cab rides..

    • Don Monfort

      Steven, you don’t have to show your passport to take a taxi.

  34. Steven Mosher wrote at June 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm:

    “OEMS are now quoting that the markup for driverless will be between 3-5K at mass production.”

    But then goes on to say:

    “Google and Uber, two companies that have held relatively close ties up until now, have essentially declared war by advancing into each other’s respective territories. Why? Because there’s enormous value in the autonomous taxi industry.”

    Even if driverless transport becomes a great revolution in utility and cost, there is no guarantee of high profit margins for those companies competing in the space. In fact, unless a particular facet of this market is protected by air-tight patents or served by only a single supplier, then you can expect margins to rapidly become razor thin.

    For instance, assume that Google and Uber arrive at usable competing products. If so, then you should expect them to treat the actual hardware as a commodity, and simply provide specs for manufacturers to meet. Why? If each driveless car will replace the utility of four privately-owned automobiles, then car makers will be willing to compete ruthlessly to capture that large part of a shrinking market, and the margins on the hardware will be vanishingly small. Similarly, if more than one company can do the mapping, count on some withering competition for that slice of this huge pie. Etc, etc.

    in the end you will be left with two software companies slugging it out for software supremacy. And two marketing/logistics companies competing toe-to-toe to market, support and deliver a service.

    But it is exactly this kind of optimism, greed and competition which is great for the consumer and why private industry might be able to deliver the kind of flexible and cheap mass transit that government has been promising for over a century but has never been able to deliver.

    Or not. But in any case most of the research capital will come from private revenue streams and willing investors, not from the IRS.

    • SciGuy54, Generally this is a good assessment of some of the challenges.
      I believe that Uber may struggle in making the transition to driverless cars. With a $45 billion or so valuation, and an $80 million or so monthly revenue ‘nut’ to deliver, if their drivers see this coming, which they already do, they may defect to Lyft or others. It is hard to change the wings while flying 350 mpg at 30,000 feet.
      Under the books financial model (Appendix V), at 39 cents a mile riding solo or 19 cents ridesharing, if a company could capture a 25% US market share or 1% worldwide marketshare, they would generate $152 billion in revenues and about $75 billion in pre-tax profits annually. And this is a recurring revenue. Google’s revenues in 2014 were $66 billion, and profits were far lower than the 49% the model allows for. At a more reasonable 25% margin, the cost to consumers would be 29 cents/14 cents per mile solo/rideshare. That is 10,000 miles a year of door-to-door on call 24/7 service for $2900/$1400. That is a compelling value proposition for any business. And I am confident that these companies can do the spreadsheet math far better than I. Thus the surge in interest.
      And it would also bankrupt many of the auto manufacturers.

    • Steven Mosher

      Uber needs to get the driver out of the equation, and they cant rely on google to finish what they start.

  35. In the guardian yesterday; Google cars accident prone, but it’s not their fault.

    • I like the point that drivers often look at other drivers tin making decision on how to drive. And that drivers will be sharing the road for a little my time.

      • Sharing the road for a long time. Damn auto correct.

      • When approaching another car at an intersection, I was taught to always look for the other driver’s eyes. If you can’t see them then assume that they do not see you. This advice has saved my skin many times since I got my first driver’s license in 1969.

  36. For me, I can’t wait for NASCAR to go driverless! And Grand Prixs? But then who gets to spray and be sprayed by the champagne? OK, I am irreverent!

    • You want funny NASCAR, my former cofounder of one of my two present companies is the ‘renewables’ director of NASCAR. He could surely arrange a spritz from POET subsidized cellulosic ethanol. Although that would cost more than vintage champaigne. My personal opinion, stick with grape stuff.

    • Peter, great to have you chiming in! Personally, I suspect that driverless EV’s, with software controlling every move, sensors detecting every skid or slick spot on the track, and no need for any safety cage or even passenger compartment, would not only set track records but also be a hoot to watch! A sort of 300 kph demolition derby, with no one getting killed.
      Except of course for the folks in the trackside stands!
      Maybe battery acid instead of Kristal.

  37. Steven Mosher

    I love the way skeptics who see no problem or risks with dumping c02
    get every imaginative about the risks of driverless cars.

    kinda funny.

    • Experience has taught that developing anything involves surprising amounts of risk, work, time and expense. The final product almost never looks and performs as originally envisioned, sometimes better but usually worse. And it is rarely possible to eliminate the last few bugs before revenue must be generated by selling product.

      The last issue explains why most cars, trains, boats, and planes are painstakingly incremental in design. And why most software is full of bugs and licensed with pages of legal disclaimers.

      • SciGuy54, I agree that the final product seldom matches the design. That is why my book should be read with significant skepticism. It is one model among many, and while it may sound plausible, critical readers will recognize that many other models, both financial and technical, are possible. It was written to encourage serious thought about what very well may be a disruptive technology with a major impact on our economy, our environment and our society. It will no doubt be an evolutionary process, as is historically the case. But I am convinced that it will be here sooner than many people think… first emerging commercially by 2020, and common in another decade or two. History teaches that technologies that are economically compelling manage to find a way into the marketplace.

      • Steven Mosher


        I am merely pointing out that some people are highly selective in their perception of risk.

      • And why most software is full of bugs and licensed with pages of legal disclaimers.

        I doubt the software used for driverless vehicles will be allowed to be “icensed with pages of legal disclaimers.” And a good thing, IMO. This may actually have the benefit of pushing software development in the direction of better QA, even if “driverless vehicles” never make it.

        Not that they won’t. They will. In 20-30 years we’ll be seeing debates over whether people should even be allowed to drive their own. Maybe less.

    • Stupid skeptics. No bank, retailer, or government agency has ever been hacked. Stupid skeptics.

    • I know, right? Only 33,000 US traffic deaths deaths in 2013 and these so-called septics are concerned about careening down Highway 17 in a computer controlled car designed by dweebs who don’t have drivers licenses.

    • bedeverethewise

      let’s get driverless trains down first. I was shocked when I learned that a passenger train was capable of going over 100 mph into a 55mph curve. I mean the train is on tracks, it shouldn’t be hard to put some controls in place that limit the speed throughout the whole route.
      Once we get trains working, then lets move onto buses travelling on a standard route. Once we get that working, then move onto cars traveling on random routes

      • Bedev

        “… I was shocked when I learned that a passenger train was capable of going over 100 mph into a 55mph curve…”

        That train had a driver and he may have been texting. He certainly was not paying attention.

    • Steven Mosher: I love the way skeptics who see no problem or risks with dumping c02
      get every imaginative about the risks of driverless cars.

      Always criticize extravagant claims.

      • Steven Mosher

        I’ll see you on the threads claiming huge benefits from C02…

      • Steven Mosher: I’ll see you on the threads claiming huge benefits from C02…

        “Huge” is your paraphrase. Would you consider “net” benefits?

      • We KNOW the sad, sorry history of the hacking of anything on the internet. We DON’T KNOW of any examples of a catastrophe resulting from adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Apples and Oranges.

      • We KNOW the sad, sorry history of the hacking of anything on the internet.

        When was the last time a properly developed system running on OpenBSD was hacked?

      • the password is on the sticky note on the dash…

      • FBI accused of hacking OpenBSD | TG Daily
        Finally breaking his ten year NDA enforced silence, former NETSEC CTO Gregory Perry has revealed that devs (allegedly) helped the FBI plant “a number of backdoors” in …
        Search domain
        openbsd | Hackaday
        UPDATE: Full audio of the webcast is now available. Today Black Hat held a preview webcast with [Dan Kaminsky] about the massive DNS bug he discovered.
        Search domain
        Install OpenBSD from USB stick – TuM’Fatig
        Hello, I found this page while trying to set up the ath0 card on the eee pc 901 using OpenBSD on a USB-stick installation.
        Search domain
        OpenBSD Hacks – CITI: Center for Information Technology …
        OpenBSD Hacks. These are some hacks I’ve applied to OpenBSD here at CITI. Some were supplied by others, and are so credited. The rest are mine. Here is a list of all …
        Search domain
        Hack 34 Firewall with OpenBSD’s PacketFilter :: Chapter 3 …
        Use OpenBSD’s firewalling features to protect your network. PacketFilter, commonly known as PF, is the firewalling system available in OpenBSD.
        Search domain…
        Hackathon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        A hackathon (also known as a hack day, … OpenBSD’s apparent first use of the term referred to a cryptographic development event held in Calgary on June 4, …
        Search domain
        How to Build a Simple Wireless Authenticated Gateway (SWAG …
        Researchers at Tel Aviv University have come up with a clever way to hack into … Home › How to Build a Simple Wireless Authenticated Gateway (SWAG) Using OpenBSD.
        Search domain…
        A Week of OpenBSD Hacking In Slovenia: Developers Report From …
        After that, I started to hack the usb3.0 related cords. … A Week of OpenBSD Hacking In Slovenia: Developers Report From s2k11 (Part 3) (mod -7/23)
        Search domain
        How to enable Broadcom wireless BCM 4313 on OpenBSD?
        Is there any hack/tip/trick to make this specific Broadcom Wireless work with OpenBSD? After digging some FreeBSD-wireless threads and OpenBSD-tech/OpenBSD-misc, I …
        Search domain… Customer Reviews: BSD Hacks
        Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for BSD Hacks at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users./>
        Search domain
        hack – OpenBSD
        OpenBSD Manual Page for: hack (6) — Exploring The Dungeons of Doom
        Search domain results
        Hack 69 Set Up IPsec in OpenBSD – e-Tutorials
        Use IPsec the OpenBSD way. Setting up IPsec in OpenBSD is fairly easy since it’s compiled into the kernel that ships with each release and is enabled by default.

      • Clearly, OpenBSD has vulnerabilities.
        From the article:
        OpenBSD 5.6 errata

        003: SECURITY FIX: October 1, 2014 All architectures
        nginx can reuse cached SSL sessions in unrelated contexts, allowing virtual host confusion attacks in some configurations. This issue was assigned CVE-2014-3616.
        A source code patch exists which remedies this problem.
        004: RELIABILITY FIX: October 20, 2014 All architectures
        Executable headers with an unaligned address will trigger a kernel panic.
        A source code patch exists which remedies this problem.
        005: SECURITY FIX: October 20, 2014 All architectures
        This patch disables the SSLv3 protocol by default.
        Applications depending on SSLv3 may need to be recompiled with

        SSL_CTX_clear_option(ctx, SSL_OP_NO_SSLv3);
        but we recommend against the continued use of this obsolete protocol.

      • AK – certainly, OpenBSD is a better security choice than most. Not arguing that :).

        As someone who knows about these things, I’m sure you will sleep better at night knowing the Navy is still on Windoze XP.

      • Steven Mosher

        None of those examples covers cars
        Plus the benefits outweigh the risks

      • I hope you research the BEST temperature construction better than that.

      • @jim2…

        OK, I should have said:“When was the last time a properly developed system running on OpenBSD was hacked cracked?

        As far as I can tell from your links (most of them are defective) this is mostly talking about “hacks” as clever tricks, such as loading OpenBSD from a USB stick despite the fact it’s not supposed to.

        The FBI story is interesting: Working Link. But technically, it would also count as a social hack/crack. And there appears to be some confusion whether it actually happened. (Although that could also be the result of government silencing of Gregory Perry.) According to Wiki:

        On 11 December 2010, Gregory Perry sent an email to Theo de Raadt alleging that the FBI had paid some OpenBSD ex-developers 10 years previously to insert backdoors into the OpenBSD Cryptographic Framework. Theo de Raadt made the email public on 14 December by forwarding it to the openbsd-tech mailing list and suggested an audit of the IPsec codebase.[62][63] De Raadt’s response was skeptical of the report and he invited all developers to independently review the relevant code. In the weeks that followed, bugs were fixed but no evidence of backdoors was found.[64] Theo de Raadt states that “I believe that NetSec was probably contracted to write backdoors as alleged. If those were written, I don’t believe they made it into our tree. They might have been deployed as their own product.”[65]

        Thing is, with open-source code people are always looking for back-doors, both deliberate and inadvertent. And many of those will work to get them fixed when they find them.

      • The fact that OpenBSD requires security patches tells us all we need to know.

      • Back in the ’80’s., my then-boss bought a modem with a “feature” such that we could dial in and power up/down one of our computers. This was a hard power disconnect/reconnect, not a soft switch.

        I dialed into it and in less than a hour had the master password, which was baked into the firmware, in hand.

      • Steven Mosher: None of those examples covers cars
        Plus the benefits outweigh the risks

        Neither of those propositions can be shown to be true at this time. If a car system can communicate with the world outside the car, then it can be hacked. One of the soundest lessons of the internet world is that complacency about hacking is unwarranted.

      • Matt, hacking is always an issue especially since many cars already can be shut down by wire/satellite already. I doesn’t take much to cause accidents and gridlock.

        I think this is similar to GHG warming, we can’t know whether it will increase or decrease risks. It seems much more likely to decrease risks we know of and very unlikely to increase risk we don’t.

        So much is dependent on electronics now. Our fleet is already very vulnerable electronically, this his hardly relevant. Most vehicle now don’t have a good way to get around the electronics integrated into them. These problems need adaptability and resilience (full switch to mech and fuel operation for “hybrids”). We need to be able to deal with emp and solar events and super hacks.

    • Rutt

      It is certainly a topic worth reading about and contemplating. I am not sold on the idea of driverless vehicles sharing the roads (or skies) with human drivers, but it is a huge field of interest with vast market potential.

      If nothing else, there are virtually unlimited opportunities for spin-offs and niche products galore. For instance, grids of dedicated streets/lanes for isolated medium speed driverless traffic with the ability to wander a block or two at low speed on regular urban streets to the final destination. That could make for a relatively cheap and flexible urban transit system.

      Or flexible factory transport systems. Line up your machine tools and have twenty different products flowing about the factory floor on hundreds of cars, each finding its way to the correct work stations in the proper sequences. The production team would simply need to give each car a sequence of stations and a code for the work to be performed at each station. The cars would be intrinsically capable of determining routes and avoiding collisions and congestion.

      Such spinoffs could create revenue and provide real-world experience. For now though I remain skeptical of high speed opposing traffic composed of driverless passenger-carrying vehicles. Sure, aircraft fly on autopilots, but FAA regulations typically require 1-2 thousand feet of vertical separation and horizontal separations measured in miles.

    • This would be the stuff that over the last 300 years has brought humanity increasing health, prosperity and progress and is still a net benefit?

      When something better comes along I am all in favour of using it. In the meantime get your geeky friends to pay their taxes to European Govts-especially the British- and get them to do something more useful.


    • Huh?
      If they’re not worried about c02 then they’re not worried about co2. Life goes on. Everyday concerns are still concerns. Don’t buy your 16 year old daughter a golf gti.

    • I love when agw hysterics totally ignore the very real benefits of increased levels of co2 and only focus on imaginary harms. I have no problem with the concept of driverless cars, just a problem with the fundamental premise that agw is a problem that needs to be addressed. Only blind ideologues or indoctrinated, lobotomized f o o l s believe in such nonsense.

    • Mosher: I wouldn’t say my comments can be interpreted a skepticism about driverless vehicles. It really helps to look at potential flaws with the technology. On the other hand, when Mention rcp8.5 isn’t realistic your camp simply ignores me.

  38. My driverless car got into a serious road rage incident. The other car was staring at me, so I said, “Don’t look at me.”

  39. My driverless car said I’d better start changing the oil every 3,000 miles if I knew what was good for me.

  40. So sometime in the near fututre we will have no more drivers. Therefore no more drivers license or DMV. A noble cause.

    • I can believe almost anything but not the end of a massive government agency.

      Our last truly great president, Ronald Reagan, said it best, ” the closest thing to eternal life is a government program.”

      I would love to see what he would do about ISIS.

  41. John F. Hultquist

    I won’t see much of this – life expectancy is just another 16 years. The rural area in which I live is filled with 4x4s and pickup trucks. These vehicles are the majority and the profit centers of the auto industry. Such will eventually fade. When that happens a new method of paying for transportation infrastructure will be needed. Electric driverless cars still need streets and highways, and bridges to cross streams and rivers. Real world issues.

  42. As someone who is routinely called out of bed to deal with problems associated with a “fully automatic” building management system, I am not happy with the idea of using computers to control motor vehicles. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “blue screen of death”.

    • David Springer

      haha good one

    • Misha Burnett: As someone who is routinely called out of bed to deal with problems associated with a “fully automatic” building management system,

      Are the non-automated systems reliably better?

      • Absolutely. There is no mechanical substitute for human judgement. Personally I don’t believe that there ever will be.

      • Well, one prime example is fire alarms. In the old days they relied upon a human being to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Unfortunately this was highly frowned upon and a huge number of people died because it’s bad to be an alarmist. Eventually they fired the humans and replaced them with fire alarms. But you could pull them anonymously, one of the few things I learned in grade school. Then they came up with sensors. There have been many iterations. The latest are meant to address the fact that stupid human anti-alarmists were staying in bed until they actually smelled smoke, at which time it was too late. The newest building alarms are so intensely loud that one has no choice other than to run madly out onto the street in the briefest of attire.

      • Imagine the scare when they called the guy who built the robot who killed a 22 year old worker in Germany

        I bet the robot was jealous the victim was getting too friendly with the coke machine.

    • ” blue screen of death”
      Yep, and rebooting won’t help.

  43. Fully autonomous vehicles won’t appear all at once. The change will be gradual. I could imagine features that take the worst drudgery out of driving coming in the near future.

    For instance:
    “Heavy-Traffic-Cruise-Control” which could take the human factor out of merging traffic and eliminate a lot of the Stop and Go in your daily commute.
    “Auto-Valet-Service” which would park the car after dropping you off at the mall, and then pick you up again.

    I don’t see it taking the testosterone off the Autobahn any time soon though.

    • Or a mall that is surrounded with trees and gardens rather than a huge parking lot and autonomous electric vehicles to take you to your car a half a mile away.

  44. The article about the two rival self-driving systems says enough about self-driving cars. It is still way too early to do this on public roads. I wonder who will be sued, the owner of the offending system or the maker?
    In the early 90-ies there was an EU Drive project with a demo on Fiat’s test circuit in Torino. We had a “train” of cars driven close together using communication software, radar and navigation systems.
    The whole idea was quicly binned when people started to think about the liabilities.

  45. “According to Google project manager Chris Urmson, “Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.” – well to quote Mandy Rice-Davies “he would say that wouldn’t he?”

    One hopes the GPS databases will be kept complete, scrupulously updated and incorrect entries ruthlessly purged.

    Oh and all needed equipment included. I saw that the Volvo driverless car ran down some pedestrians because the pedestrian-avoidance option had not been fitted.

  46. russellseitz

    The development of driverless trains seems more germane , given the number of riderless light rail projects in the works.

  47. How they do with pot holes, black ice, deer, traffic cops and detours?

  48. Aging Truck Driver Work Force – A Major Issue in Filling Demand & Empty Seats

  49. I would hazard a guess that the average intelligence of the people who post here at CE is significantly higher than that of the general population. Sometimes interacting with our peers makes us lose sight of the rest of the people on the planet.

    Currently, approximately half the people driving on our roadways have less than average intelligence, yes a tautology, but it bears repeating.

    Of course there is a vast spectrum of intelligence that an individual may be less than average in. There are drivers on our roads that are overwhelmed with the information they are trying to interpret. There are drivers who do not understand that if they are going to turn right they should be in the right lane. There are drivers who are too vain to wear glasses. There are drivers who believe they should text and drive because everyone else is doing it.

    Driverless vehicles on our roads will only improve traffic.

  50. I believe that driverless technology is a field well worth exploring and have little doubt that these explorations will yield valuable results. That said, however, some of the comments ignore the reality that humans do an excellent job of assessing risks and bending the rules where it is prudent, allowing for lots of hidden extra utility.

    “Driverless vehicles on our roads will only improve traffic.”

    When air traffic controllers want to flex their muscle, the first thing they will do is strictly enforce all existing rules. Traffic often comes to a virtual halt in key hubs when they use these tactics. Have you ever encountered an accident, fallen tree, large pothole, etc and passed the scene by using the shoulder? Thousands of commuters do this almost daily as required in the large metro area where I live.

    “Actually, if the prototype cars get too confused they will pull over and wait for help”

    For me, the most important safety quality in any car is its ability to get the occupants home 100% of the time, especially at night and/or if the route includes some remote or dangerous territory. I have no desire have offspring depend on a vehicle which might be stopped by anyone who strings some crepe paper across a dark street in the wee hours of the morning.

  51. This will be like the Uber episode, but a hundred times bigger. The driverless taxi will threaten the jobs of all the world’s taxi drivers at a stroke. After them, maybe even bus, lorry (truck), train and any other commercial driver. As with Uber, France will ban them and an isolationist and backward looking Europe will follow in line. But in the long run, yet another semi-skilled blue collar profession will face extinction.