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Thread: Google's Autonomous Car

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    Post Google's Autonomous Car

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    Yeah, so I'm stretching the definition of "mobile tech" quite a bit here. Hopefully you'll indulge me this one time—I just think this is really cool.

    This past Tuesday saw the unveiling of the first original build of Google's self-driving car. It's entirely electric, with no gear shift, pedals or even a steering wheel. It's currently limited to 25mph and that's probably a good thing, at least for now. For the future it promises a solution to the most irritating and often dangerous aspect of driving: the driver.

    Here's the three-minute demo uploaded to the Google Self-Driving Car Project YouTube Channel:



    Full disclosure: this urban-dwelling, non-car-owning techno-utopian is 100% on-board with the idea of autonomous cars. I firmly believe that the worst part of traffic is the irritable and distracted people behind the wheel, myself included.

    I can appreciate the Big Brother aspects of this technology; it would probably suck if, for example, your insurance company had the power to block your vehicle from starting in the case of inclement weather. But if executed correctly I think that the benefits would be too great to dismiss—drivers in heavy traffic would be freed up to be productive, and also prevented from doing the stupid things that drivers in heavy traffic do.

    In fact, I've really only seen one legitimate criticism of Google's self-driving car project, via this post on Imgur:

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    Can't argue with that. ... Are you ready for a future with autonomous cars?
    My mobile memoirs — free ebook available here.
    My HoFo feedback... is that still a thing?

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    I personally think the widespread use of self-driving cars is a looooong way off for numerous reasons. First, a lot of people in this country love to drive and will resist mightily. They love their cars. The #1 outdoor activity for many people is going for a drive--not so much fun when you don't do the driving. Second, the liability issues are huge. Imagine the lawsuits the first time one of these runs over someone! Lawyers will be swarming like vultures to sue Google and whatever other high-tech companies are involved. Third, what problem does this solve? There will still be millions of cars on the roads, causing endless traffic problems, pollution, noise, etc. In urban environments I would rather see more and better buses, trains, subways, etc. that actually improve environmental quality and quality of life. And, of course so far these things have only safely operated mostly in limited parts of California with perfect weather most of the time. I don't know how many times in the winter around here I have had to stop the car to knock the ice off the front end so the car won't overheat--imagine what conditions like that would do to sensors, radar, etc. Can one of these deal with black ice, a deer darting out of the woods, enormous pot holes, etc? You can't map out those things.

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    I expect these things will replace taxis and other forms of public transportation first. It will be several generations before they will become individually owned. Some companies may provide them for their employees as they could be internet connected and the company could have the employee work "remotely" from their car on the way to work and on the way home. In all honesty, I don't think that pollution should be a concern with these. Why couldn't they make them as an EV and have them park in a "base" that acts as a charger? They could easily just go for the whole apple rather than just a slice.

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    Toronto

    Quote Originally Posted by uncreative View Post
    I expect these things will replace taxis and other forms of public transportation first.
    You may be right: Uber CEO Would Replace Drivers With Self-Driving Cars

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