The Good News About Automated Cars

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Automated cars are being pushed on us harder than crystal meth in a West Virginia trailer park – by a tag team of the government apparat (which salivates at the prospect of heightened control over our movements) and a car industry which is becoming indistinguishable from the government, except that it wants to profit from all this controlling.

Automated cars are complex cars and that means expensive cars. It also means ride-sharing/renting of cars (perpetual payments) rather than owning them, which the car industry sees as a new “growth opportunity” for its business. Much more money in that than selling people $15,000 Corollas driven by them.

The good news – if you prefer not to be controlled – is that automated cars are still a long way off. They will probably not be able to force us into them for another several decades and maybe – with any luck – never.

So, breathe easy.

Yes, it’s true that elements of automated car technology are already on the road. Many new cars can park themselves, partially steer themselves and stop (and accelerate) themselves. But only some of the time, under certain conditions and with the ironic proviso that the driver must always be ready to step in.

In which case, what is the point of this automated car technology? Either the technology is competent enough to drive the car all the time or the driver must be competent to drive and ready to drive all the time. 

Otherwise, it’s like sugar that isn’t sweet.

If the driver must be competent and ready to drive all the time, then the automated technology is essentially useless. Worse than useless, actually. Because it promotes incompetent, inattentive driving – as witness the recent several crashes of auto-piloted cars, which either ran into things or ran people over because the person behind the wheel – we won’t call him a driver – was not driving. 

But in such a case, who is responsible for the crash? Is it the automated car – or the person behind the wheel?

Who will pay?

The liability problems are probably more of an obstacle to automated cars ever being more than a technocratic wet dream than the technology problems. In a fully automated car scenario, the car’s occupants – no more drivers, in expectation or otherwise – cannot be faulted for what the car does. Or what it doesn’t do. If it runs into a concrete barrier – or fails to not run over a child by swerving off the road and into a barrier instead – who gets the ticket?

Who gets sued?

It has to be the manufacturer of the automated car – or the software company. Anyone except the people along for the ride. In an automated car scenario, insurance becomes a thing of the past. How can you hold passengers accountable for what the bus – so to speak – does?

If this thought has occurred to the insurance mafia – a likely thing – they know that they stand to lose billions in premiums which will no longer be mandatory for precisely the reason one is not obliged to carry insurance in order to board a bus.

They are also probably aware of the huge payouts that they will be liable for in the event drivers are still expected – legally obliged – to pay attention to what their not-really-automated car is doing. Because drivers won’t pay attention if they don’t have to.

Many already don’t.

Imagine what they will do when they can press a button and let the car drive. It is risible to expect that they will supervise what the automated car does. And when it does something like drive into a tree or over a child . . .

Or, maybe the insurance mafia is looking at all of this from a different angle. They won’t be able to justify forcing individual owners (riders) to buy policies. But they will be able to hold corporations liable for the inevitable “glitches” that end up costing people their lives. This is an appealing idea. A shark-on-shark feeding frenzy. Let’s all watch them bloody the waters, safe in our deck chairs on the pier. 

There is an absurd presumption that automated cars will function infallibly. You know, like laptops and sail fawns do. Plus out on the road, being jostled and shaken and bumped. In winter and summer. In the rain and the snow. After many years and many miles and many potholes hit, too. Always pristine, always perfectly working.

Anyone interested in a time-share deal on the Brooklyn Bridge?

At the same time, there are tens millions of not-automated cars on the road. Millions of brand-new ones are rolling off the line – drivers behind the wheel – right now. These will be on the road for decades to come.

Plus motorcycles.

It is always possible, of course, that the creatures in the apparat will attempt to fatwa off the roads all cars not-automated (and motorcycles, too). And that may finally rouse the old hound to get up off the floor and shake loose the fleas. But if not, the liability and technology hurdles will serve the same purpose.

Our grandchildren may face a future of meat-sackery. But I think we are safe for the present.

. . .

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65 COMMENTS

  1. I would hope for the conclusion to be correct.

    About the insurance issues: I think the insurance mafia will have a problem, and that is that they don’t (yet) have enough data to rate self-driving cars, and thus don’t know how to value the risks. But I see that they would have an issue when it comes to WHO is the insured, since the passenger can’t be responsible for where or how the automated car goes. I do believe the insurance issues are the largest hurdle to overcome before autonomous cars go mainstream.

    On a similar note, police departments are already having issues with this. Since they have constructed a model that’s based upon issuing payin’ papers to drivers for minor infractions (like speeding), these autonomous cars will not operate at excessive speeds. Therefore, they lose a major revenue stream. I’ve been saying for years (not always here) that the police model of issuing tickets for infractions is outmoded, and should be repealed, but that’s (still) going to take a while. In a similar vein: How will “law enforcement” address such issues as drunk driving, when there isn’t a driver?

    Veering down that road, I still argue that the best model for “law enforcement” is to drop the thought of handing out tickets for infractions. Instead, train their traffic officers to investigate accidents, like insurance companies do with their investigators. When investigating an accident, just issue a violations citation to the driver (most) at fault, attach a $200 investigation fee to the ticket, and have settlement work off that, instead of issuing a ticket for failure to come to a full stop before making the right turn on red, along with speeding and driving with a burned-out light bulb during daylight hours, even though two of those three definitely didn’t cause the accident. I know: I’m exaggerating, just to make a point, for anyone still reading this essay.

  2. Think of the poor unemployed Heroes if self driving vehicles become the norm. No more pretext stops, DWI impossible, running a red light will be a thing of the past. Why, they’ll have to invent a whole new set of laws so they can keep the shake down going and the heroes well feed at the public trough.

    • Oh no, Guer…. The piggies’ll just sit behind a desk and eat donuts because their “job” will be even easier. Do a series of random things that your car interprets as “suspicious”? It will quietly whisk you off to the nearest gulag for questioning; a search; brow-beating; ass-whooping; shake-down, and payment of fines for the administration of all of the above.

      • Nunzio, Guerrero,

        Look to the uk for the future of what your Heros will do. As you say, they will eat doughnuts, but they will also sit behind desks policing twitter, Facebook, and youtube videos looking for people who referred to someone by the wrong gender……

  3. from a strictly selfish standpoint…what about the self driving cars that will be obeying the speed limits and shutting down well flowing travel? good god, the mind reels at the prospect of a phalanx of driverless cars four abreast and acting like a beavers dam on an interstate.

    the day they become a burden to the clever…the cars will be hacked. the best part is that the same millennials that cannot change a tire will be helpless like the little lambykins they are

    • Hi Mike,

      I often feel as thoughI have hallucinated myself into a bad sci fi novel. My Trans-Am is becoming an Orange Barchetta, right before my eyes. Maybe not wood and leather, but the 455’ll do!

      • I’m no fan. But in theory (if they work right), automated cars that are communicating with one another wouldn’t accelerate and decelerate as much as human drivers do, so likely traffic flow would be better. On the downside, they may spontaneously combust… so not all roses. LOL.

        • Hi Jershie,

          Leaving aside the technical feasibility issue, the certainty is they’d be programmed at the level of the most fearful, over-cautious old lady. For saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. It would be Hell on Earth.

  4. The same thing was said about automated elevators when they started appearing and none of the wailing about dying people stopped or even delayed their replacement of elevator operators.

    • Hi Bill,

      Elevators go up and down; they’re pretty simple. Cars aren’t. Traffic isn’t. The outside world is very different from an elevator shaft.

      Besides which: Elevators are a convenience for everyone. Automated cars are a gimp for all except the enfeebled.

    • The issue with elevators was the same as many others, people trying to preserve their jobs. Jobs that were already obsolete because elevators weren’t difficult to operate by then. Furthermore elevators weren’t really ‘automated’ the controls were changed to easier to operate. For elevators we are talking the difference between a manual choke an automatic choke. Manual spark advance to vacuum and centrifugal spark advance. Having an oil pump and sump vs total loss and manually pumping it.

    • Bill, you’re still here, I see. How’s it going, you old mongoloid? Still popping off the non sequitors, ain’t you?

  5. Sorry Said that wrong.
    I meant people are going 10 miles over the speed limit or more. One I encountered had to be going about 90 miles an hour.

  6. Have yet to operate a computer that did not have some programming errors built into it.
    Hate the automated answering machines businesses put in front of answering a phone. Not everything can be anticipated. Usually a human is needed. Especially in the medical field.
    The many problems one encounters on any highway cannot be programmed away.
    A lot of people are going 10 miles an hour or more on our interstates and they do tailgate a lot.
    You are completely right. The computerization of the highway is not feasible at this time.

  7. Hey Eric — take it easy on the “insurance mafia.” Remember that there are two types of insurance companies out there — the Berkshire Hathaway Geico types, which are in the business to make a buck, and the mutual companies (Liberty Mutual, Bear River Mutual, Mutual of Omaha), which are owned by their policy holders. Any “profit” that a mutual company makes is paid out in an untaxable “dividend” to its policy holders whereas the profit that Geico makes goes straight into the hands of the shareholders. So while there are definitely insurance mafia types out there, don’t think that every insurance company is out to force you to buy its product in order to line its pockets.

    • Hi Elias,

      I use the word mafia for a very specific reason: Mafias use force. Any insurance company that uses force – either directly or by proxy (i.e., government mandate) is a mafia.

      I don’t sugarcoat it because it’s important to state the truth as plainly as possible, without euphemism, when it comes to the use of force. Never hedge on this. Force – the use of violence against peaceful people – is the essence of tyranny. It is the fundamental evil. Original sin, if you like.

      I have no problem with insurance when it is voluntary; when one may say “no, thanks” without having to worry about Luca Brasi (i.e., the government) showing up to make me an offer I can’t refuse. That’s the point. The insurance mafia won’t let me say “no, thanks.” I am forced to buy car insurance and now health insurance.

      Or else.

      Soon, no doubt, the mafia will force me to buy life insurance and gun insurance, too.

      I desire none of these things and so prefer not to spend money on them. My money.

      Think about it. Imagine I managed to get a law passed that forced you to buy a subscription to EPautos – because I think you need the services I offer. Would you resent this? And what would I be, if not a mafioso?

    • Not for profit often means it is a jobs program. There is a lot of personal gain to be had in the not-for-profit sector. Salaries, benefits, bonuses, and so on are all costs. Don’t believe me? Ask the Clinton foundation.

    • Elias, what I don’t like is that insurance companies, all of them, describe what they do as protection, when it’s actually just making a bet. You bet them that your house is going to burn down during the term you’re putting up your money to cover, and they are betting it won’t.

      When you win the bet, the insurers have a long list of ways to welsh on the bet. This is all covered by federal and state law, btw. If you try to defraud an insurance company, that’s a felony, called insurance fraud. If the insurance company defrauds you, that is a civil court matter, referred to as insurer’s bad faith.

      If the insurance racket isn’t a mafia enterprise, it might as well be.

      • Hi Ed,

        Well said!

        That plus the force they use to compel you to obtain “coverage.” I loathe the insurance racket even more than the actual mafia, because at least the actual mafia is honest about their shakedowns!

        • True, eric. I was reading an article awhile back which made the case that government and corporations have taken over almost all of the mob’s rackets: shylocking, protection, numbers, casino gambling, etc.

          That’s just the list of rackets you can see easily. More could be hidden from view like prostitution, narcotics and murder for hire.

    • The mutual companies support mandatory insurance laws just as much as their for-profit brothers do. Non- profits are money grubbers just as bad, in some cases even worse, because some people will never believe a non profit can be greedy and evil.

  8. If this technology were truly ready for prime time, there would be an automated lawn mower in my garage by now. Im sure many people would be willing to pay a good buck for one. Closest I’ve seen is those robot vacuum cleaners, and we don’t know how many have run over the dog or cat. Cars are a big leap from there, yet here they come, shoved on us with all the force government can muster.

    • Excellent point, Spkrman!

      Driving a car involves almost unlimited, ever-changing scenarios and variables that require intelligence and skill much more so than programming. And that’s just one reason why this will not happen in our lifetimes, if ever. Unless they eliminate the variables; impose rigidity and control and routine analogous to those automated trains they have at airports.

      That is, of course, the technocrat’s wet dream.

      • Hi Eric,

        While I do agree with your points, and your arguments about self-driving cars in general, I do want to point out that these cars are being run on software that performs deep learning. Deep learning is different than “programming” in the sense that there isn’t anyone saying “If X situation, then do Y and then Z.” Deep learning networks are trained on simulations and real life data and the network programs itself given a set of desired outcomes.

        Thus, nobody really knows how the knowledge that the network learns is encoded by the network, and nobody really knows how the car will react in scenario X until that scenario is in front of it.

        • Hi Mike

          Yes, certainly. But in that case, do we want decisions about driving made by a computer? To give over control and become meatsacks?

          Not me!

        • Mike C: do you actually think that is a good thing ???!

          Do you know that software for aircraft is rigorously designed, controlled, and tested to make sure that there are no possible unpredictable or unintended outcomes? IOW, given a set of conditions, DO-178x software must always perform a known and specified response.

    • Sprkrman, I was just watching a vid on Youtube T’other night…. A guy was trying out just that- an automated lawn mower that you can buy at Home Dee-pot and such. You have to bury a cable to define the confines of your yard/area you want mowed. The thing is a total piece of shit…and get this: It costs $3500 !!!!!

      And it’s just a little thing…it pretty much mows all the time (keeping the grass way too short…bye-bye lawn! -And it’s rechargeable- when the battery gets low, it goes to it’s charging dock for a recharge.

      I can just see these things a year or two from now…. They’ll be swimming with the fishies, along with old Betamaxes and pagers.

    • oh man, that is a chilling word picture…a self propelled 2000 rpm blade wielding yard robot that is part of the hallowed “internet of things” and amped up on AI.

    • All a robot vacuum cleaner does is randomly flit about the room, bouncing about in a random pattern which over time SHOULD suck up all unwanted particles from the carpet. Note…SHOULD. Of course, it’s small enough and had a nice, soft rubber bumper to avoid foreseeable damage..by no means is it guided as a road car has to be, and we’re not driving “bumper cars”!

      I’ve worked with wire-guided vehicles about 25 years ago and they were a pain in the ass to track and maintain. The technology was crappy then and I see no signs that it’s improved. I sure as hell don’t want that imposed on the highways.

  9. A little breathing space is a good thing, but you just can’t keep a bad idea down. Whenever any government or bureaucracy proposes some idiotic project or tax increase and it gets shot down by the public, rest assured that the bee is in the bonnet and the idea will return. A nearby city mayor wanted a zoo (cuz every proper city must have one) and proposed a bigger tax to pay for it. The public voted it down. Guess what? The mayor bamboozled his way around that and got the zoo anyway.

    It’s very difficult to drive a fatal stake through a government proposal’s heart, and the voters must rally every time to fight a measure while paid government workers simply push the notion again, and again…

  10. I work on self driving cars. Not the kind that kill people by running them into medians, but the kind that are level 4 and level 5 autonomous and require no human involvement while they’re doing the driving. They’re coming, not as soon as the Musk’s of the world promise, but you will see something L4 autonomous for sale within five years. The key is doing this cheaply and reliably, and not to overpromise what you can deliver. Imagine getting onto the highway for a long drive, putting the car in self-drive, and reading a book or something, without worry of having to intervene. It will be awesome!

    I’m a car guy, I love to race and wrench on cars, and also rabidly libertarian. I’m dismayed that many of my coworkers support banning human driving once the tech gets good enough. They don’t do it for nefarious reasons, but they succumb to the arrogance of intelligent people where they think they know better how others should live than those people themselves. They do the numbers – if we reduce deaths to X per million miles, it’ll save some number of lives, therefore, self driving must be mandatory. This is the most dangerous kind of person, the intellectual yet idiot, as Nassim Taleb calls them. I’m doing my part to resist this idea of mandating self-driving, but there are far fewer of me than of the rest.

    • Hi OP!

      I don’t grok the attraction of the idea (leaving aside the feasibility) of ever ceding control over my car to a got-damned computer. I already loath the nudging which has ruined (for me) most new cars. The seat belt “reminders,” the steering “assist” and traction control that can’t be turned off. The way some new cars will not permit you to back the car up with the door open. For saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. Automated emergency braking that brakes the car when there is no emergency, cue flashing lights and claxons.

      You realize, no doubt, that these automated cars will be programmed in the most peremptory, Cloverific manner imaginable – right? They will always drive the speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed limit and not too faaaaaaaaaaaast for the curves. Complete stops – at every stop sign! No passing. Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety! That if the car judges you shouldn’t drive – because snow or whatever – you won’t be going anywhere

      God it makes my teeth ache!

      • I sure hope that they don’t drive like clovers. Unfortunately, when you make such systems, you have to follow every single law, no matter how dumb, or your business will get shut down in no time. It would be safer to drive like everyone else is driving so as not to create speed differential. Perhaps there is an argument to be made in time which will convince the government to let us do that. A self driving system can have Ayrton Senna’s driving skill and perception abilities that are far beyond human, and there’s no reason that it should drive at your average clover levels. Speed limits allegedly exist to keep things “safe”, but they’re usually set far too low and cause accidents, but they are great at revenue generation. The federal government recommends setting speed limits at the 85-percentile speed on a road; the speed below which 85% of drivers drive, since it minimizes speed differential between cars. Local governments love to set this at about 50%, so half of people are speeding, and put a revenue enforcement officer somewhere nearby.

        You’re right, though. I really hope these things are optional. I’m driving one of the very last cars made which doesn’t nag me about anything (except the seat belt). I live in California, where our local politicians scream bloody murder at the notion of improving roads because it would hurt Gaia, but public transit is non-existent, so I spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. If the car would take care of that drive for me, and allow me to carve mountain roads myself, that would be welcome.

  11. Automatic cars would be awesome if:

    They were created to fill an actual need: A real need, not a government invented one. There are real needs for them for SOME people. Note, I say some, because there is a never fit one size fits all. In fact I don’t think the majority would ever need or want it. I know I won’t want it, until I am no longer able to safely drive myself. For the most part they would be niche vehicles. That means they have to work in all environments, not just one created by banning everything else.

    They were created by a free market: Created to fill the real need, without losing money in the process and not stealing money from taxpayers. And not forced on those that don’t need it or want it.

    They would work in a useful manner for the users of them: They would need to be affordable, available (when used in a rental manner), be in a useable form, and not take away ones privacy.

    End the “need” for “public” (aka taxpayer funded) transportation: Things like uber show even more how obsolete the need is for public funded “mass” transit in the vast majority of places they are at.

    However since the ones being created today are none of those reasons, they will need to be resisted and opposed.

  12. As much as I dread the general idea of a vehicle not being under my control or that of another human in the vehicle, I think the idea of automated cars may have a place even if it is a niche market. There are some people in our society who can’t drive. I don’t mean that they don’t have a driver’s license, I mean that they are incapable of driving. I’m thinking of people like the blind or someone who suffers from seizures. At present, these people are largely at the mercy of public transport. Automated cars could offer them the kind of freedom that the rest of us enjoy.

    That said, I personally will resist as long as possible being forced into owning such a vehicle.

    • I would agree if not for all the completely incompetent people I interact with on a daily basis here in Southern California. I would never want an automated vehicle, but there is pretty significant evidence (miles driven against # of fatalities) that autonomous vehicles drive much better than many of our average drivers. The only options are to make cars drive themselves or to somehow make human drivers not so damn terrible at driving. I would prefer the latter, but since that will never happen, I can see the value in continuing to develop this technology. My hope (yes, I know it’s a complete pipe dream) is that this can be done without fatwa’s from our overlords and without massive cash funding straight from my pocket). I think the technology has value. Just that the technology has a LOOOONNNGGGG way to go before it’s ready for prime time.

  13. Lol, and the good news about living in a Facist Dictatorship is that it always, eventual, ends up bad for the dictator, but the bad news is that it really blows for the rest of the country and the poor schmucks that have to live with the shit in the meantime!

  14. My brother’s Tesla Model S gets “over-the-air” software updates. He cannot choose to NOT update, and cannot roll back the update once it is installed.

    Thus, when the car was new back in 2016, you could place it in auto-pilot mode on the highway and it would only beep and flash at you to grab the wheel once every 10 minutes. A few updates later, that went down to once every 90 seconds. Now, with the recent spate of bad publicity for Tesla, the latest update has pushed that to once every 10 seconds.

    So, now, tell me what is the point of spending $100K+ on a car where the car company can remove value/features at will over time to conform to will of lawyers/shareholders. Tesla owners are apoplectic over this new 10 second update b/c it renders the autopilot essentially useless.

    The unintended consequence of this update has been an explosion of interest in this device that can defeat the Tesla “hand-on-wheel” torque sensor permanently. So now, because of Tesla’s lawyers, instead of people grabbing the wheel every 5 min, or 90 sec, people will be grabbing the wheel NEVER, because they were tricked into buying a feature that doesn’t really do what it claims to do.

    I’m trying to encourage him to trade the damn thing while it still has any value and just get a BMW 6 series or something.

    • LOL, OMG, the real Mr Tesla would never approve of this company using his name. This company and the entire hybrid fad has got to be the biggest grifting scam of the century. I have no concern over self-driving cars taking over the roads because as a computer programmer and generally common-sense proficient person, I know they will NEVER EVER get the self driving car to work because there’s WAY TOO MANY things to program into the car to get it to drive safely, and a computer radar system can see about as good as a blind person in a snowstorm, sooooo, the writing is on the wall LOL. The entire automated car industry is a big FAIL. And I’m sure they all know it, but they’ll all keep playing along as long as there’s a paycheck coming to them.

    • My Tesla bugs me every time you put it in park to upgrade if an upgrade is available. But you can always postpone it.

      Still annoying though.

      I am in fact postponing the latest Autopilot software because the “hands on wheel” nags have been increased to once every 30 seconds now with the latest software. This is in response to pressure from the recent Autopilot crashes where the driver wasn’t paying attention.

  15. Said it before, computers will never pick up on the social human visual cues that occur millions of times daily that we humans process without a second thought. How will computers comprehend?

  16. Who’d have ever thought that the insurance Mafia and the lawyers would be the heroes of this story – those of us who prefer the drive our own cars.

    Also, how could any insurance company raise anyone’s rate if an accident occurred? Blame the software for the wreck.

    meanwhile, I will tool around in my ’76 911T and my ’72 bug laughing at it all

  17. I think another major factor that will put a damper on automated cars is the policing, traffic enforcement and criminal “justice” industry. Imagine, no more traffic tickets, no more DUI roadblocks, no more phony detentions so they can check for warrants, weapons, drugs, whatever. Think about the billions of dollars that flow through cops, court clerks, judges, probation officers, prosecutors, magistrates, prison guards, administrators, ad nauseum, and a huge percentage of it all begins with a traffic stop. They’re never gonna let that gravy train end.

    • VZGuy, they will just find a bunch of new things to make “illegal”. Plus, things that were already illegal will become even MOAR ILLEGALLER (like felony failure to use seat belts). Yep, they will still manage to get their licks in somehow.

    • I don’t see why that would not continue on in some fashion unabated. If they can control the speed of traffic, they can bring it to a halt and check to make sure any license, registrations or insurance are up-to-date, make sure the vehicle does not show outstanding warranty or maintenance issues, and ensure that you’re not under the influence or engaged in illegal, dangerous or reckless behavior. The only thing that would presumably stop are speeding violations, which at least in my state almost always get plea “bargained” down to parking violations anyways.

    • They’ll find a way. I recall about 25 years ago when the good legislature of the Great State of Californicate debated the ‘issue’ of highway worker S-A-A-A-F-T-E-E-E…so a law was passed to double the fines for moving violations in a construction zone. Great purpose, right? Gotta make those heartless folks that run over those hard-hat wearing flag holders pay through the nose, right? Well, I predicted that sooner or later someone would simply declare the entire roads and highways of California to be by default a “Construction Zone”, with the undisguised purpose of an across-the-board traffic fine increase. This has been attempted twice in the past three years, but enough furor erupted that this bill was voted down…for now.

      What I’m surprised that neither Eric nor any contributor has touched on is that regardless of whether these newfangled vehicles have a self-driving capability, that modern electronics and communications make it possible to not only get data WITHOUT your consent or even knowledge about how your car has been operated, but also, should for whatever reason, the “Authorities” don’t want that vehicle moving, they can just remotely shut it down. While this might be a peaceful way to end a potentially deadly highway chase, it can and likely would be used to deal with those on a “Do Not Allow to Drive or otherwise Travel” LIST. Ergo, lodge a complaint about the local cops being abusive, and Viola! You’re considered a ‘suspicious’ person of “interest, or even a POTENTIAL “Terrorist”, and now your car won’t power up, let alone run…oh, BTW, your Cell service…”We’re sorry…T-Mobile cannot honor your service contract at this time…” …or…per Department of Homeland Security regulations, Comcast cannot provide service to your residence at this time.” Just as rather than overtly just shoot people they didn’t like or even pack them off to Siberia, the erstwhile Soviet regime had ways to render those that they didn’t like as “non-persons”, and it seems that our present “Gubmint” is determined to follow their example.

  18. You are correct Eric. The more you think about it, the less likely fully automated vehicles will ever exist. This is just some food for thought, vis-a-vis comments I posted last year on the topic:

    [dood
    May 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Many questions come to mind regarding autonomous vehicles.

    If the vehicle is fully autonomous (i.e. no manual control allowed at any time):

    How would one park the vehicle in a garage, to load/unload goods, or any other exact spot to be worked on?

    How would one drive off-road, through deep snow, or any other condition where the computer/gps doesn’t know the correct path? This would especially be an issue on farms/ranches.

    What is one to do if he/she needs to stop suddenly if something went out the window, or needs to throw up or something like that? How would one stop to pick up a loved one if they are walking by the road and need a ride?

    How could a situation be averted where a mob decides to surround the car for nefarious purposes (such as to rob the occupants)? In a normal vehicle, the driver could just plow through the mob forward or reverse. An autonomous vehicle would just sit there as a sitting duck.

    If we are all forced into autonomous vehicle sharing:

    What is one to do if he/she is a parent, trade worker, or other person who normally keeps heavy items in the vehicle for regular use? Load/unload every single time (imagine hundreds or thousands of pounds worth of items)?

    How would the vehicle owner prevent the occupants from doing or leaving disgusting things in the vehicle? Unlike a normal taxi, there would be no one to “supervise”.]

    • Good stuff I didn’t think of Dood. I enjoy driving in the snow because most people stay off, especially when it gets bad. Maybe it will be ‘no cars allowed when it snows………haha’.

    • I’ve commented on this before. I believe these vehicles would be widely despised and targeted by many with nefarious intent. If one breaks off the antenna, the car instantly becomes a brick. How about the graffiti décor like we see on the sides of train cars nowadays? And yes, I think there are drunks and people out there who otherwise couldn’t give a damn that would do and leave disgusting things in the robo-car (think mobile porta-potties). If these robo-cars were to share the roads with human-driven cars, think how long it would take for the more aggressive, mean-spirited human drivers to exploit their programming. Maybe the road-rage guy in his pick-up truck might get a bit testy when he’s stuck behind one of these things doing 55 on a stretch of road where one could easily go 70. That might buy an unoccupied robo-car a few bullet holes in the side if it were to happen in a more remote area. Or, maybe, the guys in the neighborhood think they could use some extra tires and wheels, or maybe a computer.
      There’s much more they’ll have to figure out before they can foist these things on everyone.

        • I envision seeing these things toodling down the road completely consumed in flames. I imagine that this occurrence would probably become so commonplace that even clovers won’t bother themselves to summon the second responders.

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