Tuesday, March 27, 2012

autonomous vehicles

google is running an entire fleet of autonomous car in california, logging 100,000+ miles.
these are cars that drive down california freeways.  there is a hands off driver behind the wheel.
larry page, a google founder, has a great interest in autonomous vehicles.

an autonomous car drives itself.
in early research, it was universally accepted that smart cars would need smart highways.  this was the great barrier.
we don't have enough money, now,  to rebuild our interstate highway system.

google has proven that you don't need special freeways or roads. LIDAR imagery builds a 360 degree image completely around the car.   the computer recognition technology recognizes, cars, fixed objects, moving objects,  animals, etc., and in real time, thousands of times per second, and can do a  much better job of calculating  where to go, what to do, and how fast to go.

autonomous vehicles are now ready.

autonomous vehicles are safer.  humans are bad drivers.  30,000 annual highway deaths would be sharply reduced, it is anticipated.

americans love to drive; autonomous vehicles may never be accepted.

if this scares you, commercial aviation is already highly autonomous. if you've flown recently, the computers likely landed your flight.  of course, we won't anytime soon get rid of pilots.

we won't a commercial aircraft to be flown entirely by computer.

these systems will incrementally get into cars by adding curve control, the bliss system, blind spot recognition.  audi now has a pedestrian avoidance system.   night system, which shows pedestrians,  is common in high end models.  lane assist now can retense the seat belt, slow the vehicle down,  and sound an alarm if the car drifts.   it won't steer back into the proper lane yet.

we don't have autonomous cars for legal reasons, but mostly for cultural reasons.

this idea terrifies folks.

traffic jams would be a thing of the past;  distracted driving is an increasingly serious issue.

there are other benefits you may not have thought of.

we no longer need to own cars.
expensive autos wouldn't be owned, but available on demand.
a car could be ordered, driven to your location to pick you up, take you to where ever, and drive back to base.
if you need an rv for a week, order one with no need to buy and maintain an expensive model.
car ownership is a huge financial burden and also on the environment.

in big cities, autonomous cars could solve many traffic issues.
owning a $50,000 car, that is idle 95% or more of the time  makes little sense.

we could save money, the environment, and time.

(my notes  from a discussion of march 18, 2012 remarks by technical commentator leo laporte)

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