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How Would Driverless Cars Change Motoring?

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Transportation 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that as Nevada licenses Google to test its prototype driverless car on public roads, futurists are postulating what a world of driverless would cars look like. First accidents would go down. "Your automated car isn't sitting around getting distracted, making a phone call, looking at something it shouldn't be looking at or simply not keeping track of things," says Danny Sullivan. Google's car adheres strictly to the speed limit and follows the rules of the road. "It doesn't speed, it doesn't cut you off, it doesn't tailgate," says Tom Jacobs, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Driverless cars would mean a more productive commute. "If you truly trust the intelligence of the vehicle, then you get in the vehicle and you do our work while you're travelling," says Lynne Irwin, an engineer and director of the Local Roads Program at Cornell University. Driverless cars would mean fewer traffic jams. "You could get a lot more people moved at a higher speed on an existing road way," says Irwin. "Congestion would be something you could tell your grandchildren about, once upon a time." Driverless cars could extend car ownership to some groups of people previously unable to own a car including elderly drivers who feel uncomfortable getting behind the wheel at night, whose eyesight has weakened or whose reaction time has slowed. Finally car designs would change. "When you get to a technological change, the first thing we do is we mimic what people are familiar with and comfortable with," says Sven Beiker, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University. "People like to look out the window so I suspect we'll keep windows in some shape, but maybe they don't need to be quite the way they are now. If cars aren't going to hit each other, maybe we don't need bumpers.""

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2 comments

Motorcycles and uncommon cognitions (1)

TorrentFox (1046862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967127)

I want to know how driverless cars react to uncommon occurrences - for example, in the UK and in California, lane sharing and filtering are very common. As a motorcyclist who once in a while will filter up to the intersection for a quick takeoff, I am very interested in knowing how these new vehicles will react to occasional semi-chaos. It would also be helpful to have an easy way to pick them out so I know in advance how I should approach them.

Also something I've wondered about - what's the design and rationale for speeding? If you've displaced legal responsibility to a machine, can you be held responsible if your car speeds to maintain the flow of traffic? Perhaps this will be a motivation for a realistic re-baselining of speed limits to reflect what actually happens, rather than assuming people will be ten over and adjusting down to compensate. This is at least the case where I live (southeastern Pennsylvania).

Faster commute? (1)

netwarerip (2221204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39968481)

Well, not for me at least.

Not if they always obey the speed limit.
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