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99% of crashes and fatalities are human error. Eliminate the human equation and accidents go down. Insurance premiums go down, cars last longer, hold their value and the commute can be spent playing your guitar instead of drumming impatiently on the steering wheel. Think about the shared vehicle model. Vehicle don't park anymore, they drive around using efficient algorithms, picking up and dropping off people while remaining in circulation. Parking lots disappear, traffic lights disappear, road rage disappears.....
 

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Wait for the lawsuits to begin. When the cars decision making algorithm decides it's better to hit another car, or a building or a pedestrian in order to avoid something it deems worse and it makes a mistake, (at least in human eyes) then you'll see the end of self driving cars, at least for the foreseeable future. As far as I'm concerned, when I'm driving down the highway, I want to be in control, not a computer that was programmed by someone that hasn't driven the 401 (and probably still lives in his mother's basement).
 

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All I think about when I see these, is I better not have to pay for insurance anymore. If my car crashes... ain't my fault mang:)
 
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99% of crashes and fatalities are human error. Eliminate the human equation and accidents go down. Insurance premiums go down, cars last longer, hold their value and the commute can be spent playing your guitar instead of drumming impatiently on the steering wheel. Think about the shared vehicle model. Vehicle don't park anymore, they drive around using efficient algorithms, picking up and dropping off people while remaining in circulation. Parking lots disappear, traffic lights disappear, road rage disappears.....
Not only crashes, but greater efficiencies of infrastructure, cars that communicate so they can travel inches apart instead of feet, better traffic algorithms that can maximize throughput because cars stop and go according to the algorithm not causing gridlocks, running red lights etc.
 

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Governments are (rightly) making driving while using your cell illegal so people want self driving cars so that they can use their cells while commuting?
 

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There is much technology that is really a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. And as I've said on many an occasion, I distinguish between ephemeral technology - which is what makes a 19 year-old proclaim "Kewl!" - and useful technology, which is what makes a guy my age proclaim "Finally! Somebody has done something about that".

While there is a temptation to classify self-driving cars as the first type, rather than the 2nd, it is rapidly emerging as the 2nd category.

Why?

1) Experts who study traffic flow, and look for ways to improve it, will regularly tell you that one of the biggest impediments to efficient and smooth traffic flow is drivers who dart in and out, seeking advantage. Overall traffic flow would be more efficient and problem free if vehicles on a major thoroughfare were synced and stayed in their lane until they got where they were going. We may think in terms of the functioning of a single vehicle when we think "self-driving car", but one of the overarching objectives is to produce vehicles than can coordinate for better traffic flow. You may not be able to gun it and cut in front of the "slowpoke" ahead of you, but then neither will anybody else cut in front of you and cause you to hit your brake pedal, causing a dozen people behind you to hit theirs, and all the folks behind them to wonder what the slowdown is.

2) As housing prices continue to rise, and more people live in urban centres and their satellite communities, more and more people commute longer and longer distances. We know this from census data. Commutes are a source of stress for a great many people. Being able to transform long commutes into simple straightforward efficient drives (where you actually CAN use your phone or tablet) will do wonders for public health (though blood pressure medication may experience a drop in sales). I don't know that it will magically transform the insurance industry (whose biggest challenge these days seems to be floods), but it will help them, so that maybe they'll be a little more willing to cover your flood damage.

3) The number of older drivers continues to increase, and poses a challenge to legislators as to to how a suitable and fair balance can be struck with respect to safety, rights, and bureaucratic efficiency. (If you think it takes a while now to schedule your driving test, imagine if everyone over 65 had to come in every 2 years for an assessment to make sure they were okay to drive.) Autonomous vehicles, and especially coordinated ones, afford the older driver the option to maintain safe vehicle ownership longer, even where their reaction time and/or vision isn't what it used to be.

So there are cogent reasons why many see autonomous vehicles as a useful solution to problems that do, or will, exist. The HUGE hurdle to get over, however, is that, like anything robotic, they deal best with known predictable circumstances and events, and less well with the unpredictable. And since roadways vary in the degree/type of unpredictable events that could occur, that almost necessarily begets a division between best-case roads for autonomous vehicles, and worst-case ones.

Best case is obviously going to be major thoroughfares, highways, and expressways; basically anywhere that cruise-control presently works well. Worst-case is going to be residential streets; and especially those curving streets without sidewalks. Kids, balls, squirrels, dogs dart out, as do cars coming out of their own driveways. Garbage and UPS/Fedex/Purolator trucks are busy doing what they do. All of this complicates the landscape, and imposes much greater demand on the computation capacity of the vehicle. It's like the difference between decent digital delay and digital overdrives. The one has been easy to achieve for several decades, while the latter still pretty much eludes us because it involves considerably more moment-to-moment updating of the algorithm to apply.

So, will cities know how to zone for autonomous vehicles? Will they reach some sort of consensus on how to legislate by-laws for them that are consistent across municipalities? Will they be willing and able to adapt more roads to facilitate problem-free use of such vehicles? Who will be responsible for the mass-coordination of autonomous vehicles? What sorts of security risks might exist with respect to coordinating them? (i.e., if your car is making "decisions" in concert with other vehicles, can that be maliciously hacked?)

Personally, I think we're still a ways away from some Jetsons-like world of autonomous vehicles. Let's just concentrate on more folks driving electric, first (which includes figuring out how to provide economical and accessible charging capabilities).
 

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The problem is implementation. Our entire road network was built around human driven vehicles. We're trying to force self-driving vehicles to adapt to the system we have in place. Ideally, we'd have an entirely new system built around autonomous vehicles. Sadly, there's no budget large enough to accomplish that. At least not for several decades.

On a side note that I find of interest, there's the moral question of self-driving vehicles.

In a "hit a pedestrian or crash your car" scenario, studies have shown that human drivers will avoid the pedestrian and take the crash. However, when those same drivers are asked about the scenario while they're in a self-driving car, they are ok with the pedestrian getting hit if it ensures the safety of the passenger (themselves). Essentially, as soon as people's hands are off the wheel they remove themselves from the moral responsibility of the choice. That is getting into some shady territory for the designers of these vehicles.
 
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So everyone can smoke govt marijuana while the car drives them to the pot store for a refill.
 

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Maybe live music will return to the glory days when people filled the bars and didn't worry about drinking and driving, now without the death and destruction of impaired driving!
As serious as any death is with this or any technology we need to learn to prevent it but keep in mind the same day that person was killed by a driverless car there were likely thousands injured and many killed by cars being "controlled" by humans worldwide. Not that any are or should be acceptable but lets face it, we tacitly accept the dangers of modern technology every day we live in this world.
 

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Wait for the lawsuits to begin. When the cars decision making algorithm decides it's better to hit another car, or a building or a pedestrian in order to avoid something it deems worse and it makes a mistake, (at least in human eyes) then you'll see the end of self driving cars, at least for the foreseeable future. As far as I'm concerned, when I'm driving down the highway, I want to be in control, not a computer that was programmed by someone that hasn't driven the 401 (and probably still lives in his mother's basement).
Here's my billion dollar idea for the US: for-profit prisons for robots that break the law. I'd staff it with robots, too. Profitz!!!111!!1!
 

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Until all the cars are self driving and hooked up to each other there is no point.
 
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Wait for the lawsuits to begin. When the cars decision making algorithm decides it's better to hit another car, or a building or a pedestrian in order to avoid something it deems worse and it makes a mistake, (at least in human eyes) then you'll see the end of self driving cars, at least for the foreseeable future. As far as I'm concerned, when I'm driving down the highway, I want to be in control, not a computer that was programmed by someone that hasn't driven the 401 (and probably still lives in his mother's basement).
Just wait until a self-driving car has to chose between hitting one of two pedestrians. Each of a different race and colour. OMG.
 
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