Techdirt Podcast Episode 29: Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Everything

from the drive-my-car dept

Last week, we were joined by Upshift founder Ezra Goldman to discuss the future of mobility in a world of on-demand services like Uber. This week, Ezra is back to help us fill in the other big piece of the transportation puzzle: autonomous vehicles, and their potential to change just about everything.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 29: Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Everything”

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webster (profile) says:

Autonomous Vehicles

Uber and other services are a start.

1. As the systems develop, fewer people will need cars, but those that have cars will use them each for longer periods to haul more people, i.e. greater efficiency.

2. These cars are already guided by GPS-Map systems for speed and efficiency. Drivers rely on them to fetch their fares, deliver them and then collect their fare. They are much better than cab systems.

3. An automated guidance systems is faster, more efficient, and safer. If you have ever seen a house of drones change rooms simultaneously without mishap, you immediately understand that humans could never do this safely even at a low speed.

4. Robots do not mean a bunch of Lone Rangers. All vehicles will have to be compatible with with the same GPS-Map system. There will also be precautionary, individual, collision-prevention systems, at least for a time.

5. With this robotic-drone-car system, there will be no stop, yield or speed signs. These will change with the traffic conditions and weather. No one will need to stop at intersections; the system will take people quickly and intermittently through the intersections and junctions. Everyone will get around faster and safer. Of course pedestrians will have to be accommodated and guided in the old way with some rigid rules and zones. There had better be no balls in the street.

6. Cities will start with robot/human driving zones, but rapidly change to robot-only zones as the benefits multiply. Quickly cars will be required to have self-driving systems as an alternative. These will become mandatory in some areas. They would even override the human driver. Human-option driving areas will eventually not be as extensive as robot-only areas although they may always be available.

7. The big driver for this system will be cost and insurance. It will soon become prohibitively expensive to insure the human-driven cars and drivers. They will also not be compatible with, or meet the superhuman demands of the area guidance system. This option on the car will allow for human error. Human driving will also be prohibited in some areas, like city centers. Humans can not react precisely to guidance commands as will the robots. Humans also suffer from distractions and road rage…

8. With these inevitable possibilities it is an exciting time. It is like space travel on earth. Our capabilities are far surpassing our imaginings. Amazing change is in store for us.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Autonomous Vehicles

I agree with you up to here:

“It will soon become prohibitively expensive to insure the human-driven cars and drivers.”

There will be little change in the risk factors, the risk premium, and the risk coverage for human operated vehicles. If anything, it might drop a bit because the robots can practice defensive driving around the humans.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Autonomous Vehicles

To be clear, I’m talking about the “transition period” when both bot and human drivers coexist. I expect this period to be a long one, since we’re going to be buying classic cars for at least a decade more, and then the fleet takes a decade or more to age off the road. Even culture is able to change as fast as the car fleet. (Think about how popular Hummers were in 2000.)

Long-term, once the transition is made and infrastructure is redesigned for Type 4 autonomous cars, it will be dangerous for humans to drive.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:


Autonomous driving is an extremely ripe field for naysayers. It just seems so far-fetched.

But the arc of technology is easily tracked. The medium-term capabilities of autonomous vehicles are easily predictable. Complex ADAS systems are here already. Ray Kurzweil warns us that technology is exponential — you can’t predict the next 10 years by looking at the rate of change in the past 10 years without making vast underestimates.

I know many will disagree with us few, and it in 10 years, you will forget how wrong your forecasts were. But the naysaying is on par with IBM’s chief predicting a market for 7 computers in the world. If you just look at your feet, and individual waves, you’re never see the tide flow in.

Anonymous Coward says:

“But the naysaying is on par with IBM’s chief predicting a market for 7 computers in the world.”

There’s a bit of unfair presentism there, (viewing history through the eyes of today). Those words were uttered in 1943, and he was talking about massive vacuum tube computers. Viewed through the eyes of 1943 it is not such a ridiculous statement.

(also it was 5 computers)
(also also He never said it)

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sure, but the thinking in the IBM analogy is:

“Looking at the way things are today, I don’t see how your proposed future makes any sense.”

And that is always the wrong way to predict the future. None of the better prediction methods are accurate either, but at least they don’t make the fallacy of looking at each invention in a silo, assume nothing else will change, and compare how the innovation would fit into the world of today.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Have You Realized This Could Revolutionize The Taxi Service?

Imagine an Uber/Lyft-style service, but without any actual human drivers? Just call up a car on your mobile phone—it would be more like a car rental, but for no longer than a few minutes to a few hours.

At last, a form of public transport that people would actually want to use!

Insured and Licensed to Drive LEGALLY says:

Get the fuck off the road

This wetdream of some very nefarious corporations pushing the autonomous vehicles should stick those cars up their asses. I pay insurance and drive to get where I’m going because I have the fucking right to do that in AMERICA Because I am a citizen with the US Constitution on my side. These dicks with their money in their hands have no right blocking my view on the highways and byways with these driverless cars. And while I’m at it, get the fucking texting dickheads off the road as well. Fuck you very much.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Autonomous vehicles

Let’s suppose we find the car in a situation like this: a collision is unavoidable, and if the car swerves to the left, let’s say, it will collide with a school bus. Let’s say the car computes that several kids will likely be killed. If the car swerves to the right, the passenger will be killed.
I don’t think the manufacturer could decide how to program for that. In the absence of legislation, we would need a switch that let the passenger decide which thing to do.
That would absolve the manufacturer, but then ….

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