Webathon

Why It's a Good Thing That Driverless Cars and Trucks Are Going To Take Decades…

...to become fully operational. Tech change, like social change, is more evolutionary than we think, allowing society to adjust.

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Yesterday, we posted a video conversation with me and Reason Foundation founder Bob Poole talking about the promises and timeline for fully automated cars and trucks to take over America's highways and city streets. Watch that here on Reason's YouTube channel.

Poole's main point isn't that driverless cars and trucks aren't a good thing, but most of the hype surrounding them is just that: hype. It's one thing to create trucks, say, that can drive the interstates in special lanes over long distances. That's a tough challenge, but one that can be handled relatively easily (big emphasis on relatively). But at some point, those trucks need to break bulk and their contents need to get repacked into smaller delivery trucks. Safely navigating city or suburban streets is a massively more difficult enterprise and it's one that needs to be taken into account when projecting the costs and benefits of a driverless economy.

Similarly, argues Poole, who knows transportation policy better than most parents know their own kids, the death of owner-operated cars is probably wildly overexaggerated. You can't take desultory ownership trends from years of the Great Recession and extrapolate forward. Yes, we use our cars for only a few hours a day at best, so the dream of just having on-demand transportation show up when we summon it (Uber! Lyft! Etc.!) is attractive, but we also pay for the ability to get into our mobiles whenever we want. The price is set by our peak demand, not our average demand.

None of this is to say that a driverless world won't happen or that it won't be a good thing. As much as I love driving, if I never had to do it again—or pay for a car repair directly out of pocket—I'd be a happy camper. It's just that the overhyped timeline for the full transition is 30 or more years away, assuming everything goes smoothly. The good news with that? All the equally overhyped fears about 3.5 million truckers being thrown out of work overnight is equally nonsense. Like almost all major changes driven by technology and economics, creative destruction doesn't actually happen in a quick, unpredictable fashion.

FRED

Indeed, to the extent that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump kept harping during the 2016 campaign on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, you'd think factory work disappeared overnight. In absolute numbers, manufacturing jobs as a percentage of employment peaked in the late 1970s. That's 30-plus years ago, so stories about towns being decimated by overnight closures are, for lack of a better word, bullshit. I lived in Buffalo, New York in the early 1990s and people there were acting as if aliens had descended and stripped out all factory and heavy-industry jobs in a 24-hour period. In fact, the city's population (and economy) had peaked in 1950 and industrial employment had been bleeding out for decades. The idea that places get turned into a wasteland overnight is the worst sort of nostalgia that helps no one but keeps whole areas frozen in time. Manufacturing as a percentage of the U.S. workforce peaked in 1943—during World War II!—at about 38 percent. Since then, there's been a long, slow, totally predictable decline in the number of Americans working in factories that everyone could see coming and continuing.

The point of that history lesson? Occupational change, like technological change, takes more time and gives more room to adapt than we normally think. Yes, travel agents have in many ways been superseded by online services. The typing pool is never going to make a comeback. Traditional taxi drivers are almost certainly sunsetting. And long-haul trucking and car-based delivery men and women might not be needed in 2050. But the upside of fully automated vehicles taking longer than Elon Musk predicts is that we'll have more time to adapt to the world as it changes and retool our skills and sensibilities.

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308 responses to “Why It's a Good Thing That Driverless Cars and Trucks Are Going To Take Decades…

  1. I already wasted my thoughts on this matter on yesterday’s now-dead thread. Screw you, Gillespie.

    1. It won’t take decades.

  2. I’m baffled by the assumption driverless cars means Lyft is how you get around. I assume I’d still have a car in my garage I’d just tell it where to take me instead of drive it myself. Seems like a New Yorker conceit getting pushed onto the rest of America.

    1. You do that. I meanwhile will sign up for a driverless carshare plan so I never have to wash, fuel, register, park, store, maintain, insure, repair, or replace my car again. I’ll still be able to go anywhere you can at any time of the day or night, but I won’t have to carry or even have a driver’s license to do it.

      1. I think that’s a very idealized view of what it will look like. I’m not sure the reality will hold up.

        1. See my futuristic vision below.

          Of course it wont hold up, but some of it will be true.

          1. No thanks, you don’t seem like someone I’d enjoy conversing with about this.

        2. I agree.

        3. Me too. Especially the license part. There is not a chance in hell that any American locality will allow that, not in thirty years and probably not ever.

          1. There are plenty of people in NYC who don’t have drivers licenses and indeed don’t bother to learn how to drive.

            1. They’re waiting for those Caves of Steel expressways.

            2. I’m talking about riding a driverless car.

              1. What about riderless cars?

        4. Yeah, you can already ride in a vehicle that you never have to wash, fuel, register, park, store, maintain, insure, repair, or replace. Sometimes it’s up to your standards, sometimes it’s not.

          I like these articles because they seem to be approaching from a middle-of-the-road sensibility. It certainly seems like 2-car homes aren’t going to be around forever and I know plenty of people who, if you pointed out that they could have one owner/operator vehicle and save time/money/effort using Lyft, would jump at the opportunity. Even if only to make room in the garage for their dream car. So, rather than completely driverless you end up with .5, 1, or 1.5 car homes.

          1. The difference between public transit and a carshare is that I have to adjust my schedule to accommodate the former, while the latter competes to accommodate mine.

          2. No, Cars were way more expensive back in the 30s and 40s, and it took longer to get places than trains. It was a hassle, and people still choose them over trains and public transportation, because Freedom

            1. You may be right. I think it’s quite possible the culture has shifted, though.

          3. Yeah, you can already ride in a vehicle

            Unfortunately that vehicle will be driven by some judgemental person with the beady eyes prying into my business and silently criticizing my life choices.

            1. You ride in cars driven by american socialist?

              1. Look, if I want to order up an Uber for a beer run and stop off for a buritto supreme, I don’t need the driver’s help feeling the shame.

            2. Naked riding again?

      2. By anytime you mean minus the X time it takes the car to get to you.

        1. It takes my a few minutes to put on socks and shoes, if I order the car before that, it should be there for me.

          YMMV if in rural areas.

          1. It takes my a few minutes to put on socks and shoes, if I order the car before that, it should be there for me.

            Because that’s how it works now, right? Your carpool every morning is timed perfectly as you step out the front door? Wait times for Uber or Taxis don’t exist?

            Traffic gets more streamlined, it doesn’t cease to exist.

            1. No, its not perfect, but a reasonable wait time isnt a problem either. I am not sure the few minutes I would save by owning a car makes up for the costs involved.

              I mean, it does today, but in the hypothetical future, not as much.

              Plus, the reduction in DUIs is worth something to me (not mine, just others on the road, but the hassle over making sure I dont end up with one is par tof it too).

      3. I’ll still be able to go anywhere you can at any time of the day or night, but I won’t have to carry or even have a driver’s license to do it.

        Yes or no, depending on the ratio of people per car in your plan and the “coincidence factor” of when the people request its use.

      4. No, you’ll just have to wait for it to show up, and wait longer if you go somewhere out of town.

    2. Personal ownership of self driving cars will continue but with the likelihood of their cost rising to more than the median annual income the percentage of people who will be able to afford them will continue to fall and ride sharing will become more and more dominant in both cities and suburban areas.

      Exurbs and rural areas will continue to be dominated by older and privately owned self driving cars.

  3. I think we can all look forward to a brighter future where all cars are driven by animatronic Robert Picardos and all doctors are replaced by holographic Robert Picardos.

    1. …and all realdolls are replaced by sexbot Robert Picardos.

      1. You leave my sick sexual fantasies out of this.

      2. “Please state the nature of your sexual emergency.”

        1. So THAT’S why Captain Janeway wanted to keep him online 24/7 …

          1. I guess she wore herself out on the holodecks.

  4. None of this is to say that a driverless world won’t happen or that it won’t be a good thing.

    Wake me when my car can drive itself to my place of employment and do my job for me.

    1. That actually happens right now. It turns out that IRL, I am an Alt tasked with gold-farming for the main character, who apparently is my wife.

  5. Individuals having cars is one of the greatest enablers of freedom in human history, no wonder progs despise them and try to push people away from cars. The ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want, without getting approval from anyone must really keep them up at night.

    In SF, I know a lot of people who do not have cars. They say muni is great for getting around the city, but you are pretty much stuck in that 7×7 grid. That’s the prog dream.

    1. It’s obviously not for everyone but I love not owning a car. And not because I have some prog dream of being tied down or manipulating anyone. Rather because I don’t need one and I have better things to do with that 10,000 or so dollars every year.

      1. Having mass transit option as a choice given to us by private organizations is a good thing. Asking taxpayers to foot the bill rather than private business because it’s not viable for pure financial reasons? Not a good thing.

        1. Asking taxpayers to foot the bill rather than private business because it’s not viable for pure financial reasons?

          The main reason for that is that “not owning a car” is seen as something that only the poors do. And we can’t charge any more for it than what the poors can afford.

          1. In the case of the bus it’s absolutely true. Well to do folks love them some trains, though.

            1. To FTFY: Well-to-do folks love to say that their city has trains. In almost every case besides the NE/Mid-Atlantic region, they don’t actually use it. Buses actually get far more usage. For example, where I’m from, it’s a great way to transit between Raleigh and Chapel Hill, because UNC is essentially a People’s Republic that purposefully makes it absurdly difficult and expensive to park.

              1. /shrug. I’m in the corridor. Our trains are packed, and the clientele is diverse. Buses though? I’ve been on them in several cities and I’ve only ever seen poor folks and tourists.

                That’s city buses, mind you. Commuter buses are a different beast.

            2. From the point of view of suburban America, perhaps.

              Not true in the cities, though.

          2. They’re ripping up a major thoroughfare in Albuquerque (the old Route 66, now Central) to put in a mostly dedicated bus lane going both ways. It runs through a major commercial/cultural center (Nob Hill), past the university, and through downtown. Even with four lanes and dedicated turning lanes it routinely backs up. So of course they’re going to eliminate most left-hand turns to accommodate revamping the underused bus system famous for its transient problem, vandalism, and harassment. Even on paper it makes no sense: it’s opening up the line to no new travelers, and the residential centers it connects are so far-flung that owning a vehicle is almost mandatory. I know because I once lived at the very edge of town and had to use that line. It involved a two-mile hike through the neighborhood, over an arroyo, up a steep hill, and across a park to reach the stop.

            1. Oh, and it gets better: the bulk of funding for the high-double-digit million dollar project is being paid out of federal tax dollars. So the city council gets to spread the FYTW all around.

            2. over an arroyo

              I learned something today. Yay!

            3. Lastly, you know where the car filled up with the most people, and very occasionally the bus had standing room only? It’s within a ten block section of near-slums near the university. So to provide the same service to low-income travelers who work and study within several blocks of where they live, the city is ripping up close to 14 miles of roadway. Fucking brilliant.

      2. I love owning a car – my wife and I own 3. I enjoy the driving – particularly the car with a manual transmission.

        I wold like someday to have a big self-driving minivan for road trips and commuting in traffic, and a completely manual / non-automated roadster for fun.

      3. “10,000 or so dollars every year”? Do you think every car owner has a Bugatti or something?

        A reasonably priced new car that’s probably maintained and driven at the roughly standard 10 to 12 thousand miles a year is nowhere even close to 10 grand a year, not even factoring in gas, fees, and standard maintenance.

        1. My reaction to that statement was “Do you throw your car out once the loan is repaid and get a new one?”

          1. I tend to donate or trade it in if the mileage is good…..

        2. I could probably sell four or five of mine and still not net ten grand.

    2. Trains themselves aren’t necessarily a bad thing, if they are privately made and run and marketed in dense areas as an alternative to driving (like in Japan). The whole flaw with prog thinking is that they view mass transit as the only choice that consumers can possibly have, because Ecotopia. Hence we need government to give us boondoggles.

      1. They do like to project their desires on other people, don’t they.

        1. Projection is the only mental tool that progs have in their disposal. Well, that and temper tantrums.

      2. There have been many times that I have lamented the lack of decent train service in this country. If only we had privatized trains…

    3. Also esteve7, my private personally driven vehicle has no devices in it to track it’s location. I go where I want and no one is looking over my shoulder. I can drive off of the road (and frequently do). I doubt a self driving, shared vehicle would cooperate with me trying to haul firewood, seedlings or want my dog in the vehicle. No dog? That is a deal breaker.

  6. On flying cars:

    Jon Bois Verified account
    ?@jon_bois

    i love it when cars break down, but i wish two tons of steel would fall out of the sky each time it happened

  7. True but also we must abolish the minimum wage. Because it only accelerates the demand for technology and automation – which is why Silicon Valley loves it. Come the next recession, businesses will retrench and fire workers who aren’t worth $15/hour, and they will plow money into automation. This only accelerates the hopelessness and pointlessness that many workers already feel and which is in fact largely responsible for the opiate crisis and the election of Trump.

    1. Yeah, Trump is not going to bring jobs back without some more radical economic changes than just “trade barriers”. Sadly it doesn’t look like he would be at all amenable to lowering or abolishing the minimum wage.

    2. I can’t tell what you post is serious and what isn’t.

      1. You’re an idiot. Yes I am serious.

        1. I’d like to see the evidence for your asssertion.

          1. I’ve been bullied and insulted mercilessly on this message board, and all you can say is, “I’d like to see the evidence for your asssertion” ??? Seriously you can go fuck yourself.

            1. I’m new to the message board thank you very much. I’m unaware of your past receipt of bullying on this message board. I also don’t particularly care. That is all 100% irrelevant to the topic of my intelligence. I was simply asking if you were being serious or facetious, so for overreacting like a little baby you can go fuck yourself as well.

              1. Grab the reasonable plugin for Chrome (I think Firefox has a similar plugin), and filter its name. It makes no compelling case for anything, even its pet bugaboo. No idea why it posts here.

              2. You got AddictionMyth’d, Mithrandir. We’re not sure what’s wrong with that particular troll, but it’s one of our more-prolific and less-rational griefers. It also posts as dajjal.

                1. We’re not sure what’s wrong with that particular troll, but it’s one of our more-prolific and less-rational griefers. It also posts as dajjal

                  I seem to recall a tiff with Pontiff Headgear, as well.

                  1. I’m new to the message board thank you very much. I’m unaware of your past receipt of bullying on this message board.

                    Let me fill you in on this guy, Mithrandir. “AddictionMyth”, who also occasionally posts as “dajjal” and in the past used to frequently post as “Palin’s Buttplug” (and still does once in a while) and even further back posted as “shrike” is a severely mentally disturbed reporter named Dave Weigel who used to work here several years ago and now works for the Washington Post.

                    I suspect that he’s still bitter about being let go by Matt Welch back then. His job is to troll everyone here while at the same time shilling for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and everyone else in the democratic party.

                    1. Thank you for the information Dissident.

  8. Is clicking on the FRED graph supposed to take one to an Oct. 9 article about the election?

    1. One graph is basically the same as another.

      1. Tell that to Ekins. Wherever she is these days.

          1. She is a doll baby supreme. Sadly, she is another PHD with no actual experience doing anything who gets paid to talk out of her ass about things she knows just enough to be dangerous about. But she is adorable.

  9. If anti-competition regulation and entrenched interests were not able to stymie the acceptance and growth of this tech. I would suppose it would happen much quicker than the author’s estimate.

    1. There’s far more to it than that. Consumer choice based on preference and cost will be a much larger factor.

      1. The price/cost is the biggest factor people continue to miss.

  10. To me, the big advantage of driverless cars isnt even about the cars.

    Its about the change in land use. Parking lots will become passe, or, at least, much smaller. Parking decks go away. Suburban land values plummet as huge amounts of infill spots become available. Ditto urban with the parking decks.

    There will be massive rethinking of what these areas will look too. Grocery stores will become much more like the general store of the distant past where you told the clerk what you wanted and he grabbed your items. Except it will be you picking them out on line and them being bagged for you when you arrive (or honestly, since the car is driverless, just send it without you and let it bring the groceries home).

    Pedestrian friendly areas with car dropoffs at key points. Etc.

    1. Its about the change in land use. Parking lots will become passe, or, at least, much smaller. Parking decks go away. Suburban land values plummet as huge amounts of infill spots become available. Ditto urban with the parking decks.

      That is one of the absurd myths about driverless cars. We are never going to get to a point where everyone relies on driverless cars anymore than people rely on taxis now. The economics don’t work and never will work. You can’t profitably maintain a fleet big enough to serve peak times only to see it sit idle at non peak hours. Moreover, people like and are willing to pay for convenience. Driverless or not, they will want their own car because having one allows them to leave at a moment’s notice without having to wait on someone else to pick them up.

      And BTW, I never claimed automated checkouts were a bad thing. I don’t know where you got that idea but it is not true. And fuck off for claiming it was yesterday.

      1. And BTW, I never claimed automated checkouts were a bad thing. I don’t know where you got that idea but it is not true. And fuck off for claiming it was yesterday.

        I was making an analogy to the driverless car thread. Its the exact same technology.

        Its called humor. Not surprised you are lacking it.

        1. It was a bad analogy.

          1. Not at all. Both are technologies that allow people to avoid tedious time-wasting tasks.

      2. I’m pretty sure it was intended as a joke because you aren’t a big fan of driverless cars. (Which I mostly agree with you on.)

        1. Since Rob says it was, then yes it was. I missed the sarcasm of it.

          1. Get your wife to buy you a fucking detector for Christmas.

            1. He’s married I don’t think that type of detector would be used much. I’d suggest a sarcasm detector instead.

        2. I thought that was obvious.

      3. . . . Moreover, people like and are willing to pay for convenience. . .

        Also, people like to “nest” in their cars too; to make the space theirs.

        And, w/ on-demand autonomous cars, you don’t know what condition the car will be in when it gets to you. The previous passengers might have shit, puked, stroked a snake in it, or otherwise vandalized it. The cars won’t going back to the station to get detailed after every fair.

    2. Its about the change in land use. Parking lots will become passe, or, at least, much smaller. Parking decks go away. Suburban land values plummet as huge amounts of infill spots become available. Ditto urban with the parking decks.

      Does this have to be run over again? No, they don’t. Not without shortages of availability and/or increases in traffic. The cars and, subsequently, the people don’t go away. Cars will either be constantly in use making traffic and general commuting just as bad if not worse than it was or they will still need to be stored. Probably both.

      1. Yeah, the cars will still have to be stored somewhere, even if they are driverless. If they aren’t in some type of parking garage then where?

        1. In the driveways of the people who own them mostly. People are still going to want their own car. It baffles me that people think that will cease to be the case.

      2. There are something like 8 parking spaces per person (or is it car?) in the US.

        The number would be greatly reduced.

        Even if everyone owned driverless cars (as opposed to fleets) and the number was about the same, the parking would be much more efficient, so space would be reduced. If any significant number of people went carless, that reduces the number parked at any time.

        And where they park when not needed dramatically changes, they wouldnt be parked in front of wal-mart, but at a downtime fleet repository.

        And finally, even ignoring all that, zoning and over-large requirements of parking are part of the problem. Even without driverless cars at all, we ALREADY have way too much parking being mandated. In a free market, there would be much less parking available. And what was available would be better, of course.

        1. “And where they park when not needed dramatically changes, they wouldnt be parked in front of wal-mart, but at a downtime fleet repository.”

          No, they would be parked in front of Walmart. Because otherwise what you are describing is a cab service. And we already have those. If people wanted to go to Walmart in cabs, they can do so already. We have big parking lots in front of Walmarts because in general people DON’T take cabs to Walmart.

        2. Why would driverless cars make the parking more efficient? The car is still going to take the first spot it finds. Most people would not want the expense and wear and tear of their car endlessly circling while they are doing something. I don’t see how parking would change at all.

          And where they park when not needed dramatically changes, they wouldnt be parked in front of wal-mart, but at a downtime fleet repository

          Otherwise known as another parking lot. And people will still want their cars parked as close as possible to where they are. Who the hell wants their car parked a half hour away so that you either have to give it warning of when your leaving or wait for it to arrive? That makes no sense.

          1. And people will still want their cars parked as close as possible to where they are

            Follow along, that was in the part talking about fleets, it isnt their car, its the fleet companies, and they will put it in cheap out of the way locations BUT near the shopping districts so it can pick up where needed.

            Why would driverless cars make the parking more efficient? The car is still going to take the first spot it finds.

            A driverless car can park in tighter spaces than humans can. Hence, less space.

            1. Follow along, that was in the part talking about fleets, it isnt their car, its the fleet companies, and they will put it in cheap out of the way locations BUT near the shopping districts so it can pick up where needed.

              Follow along here. Fleets will not work because you can’t afford to have a fleet big enough to serve peak demand and then have it sitting idle not earning money every other time. Moreover, and for the second time, people like the convenience of having their own car. You can call a cab and go anywhere now. Its expensive but a lot of people have the money to do it if they wanted to. Yet, they don’t because they like having their own car and not having to mess with calling a Taxi and waiting for it to arrive. So people are still going to own their own cars, unless the government makes such illegal.

              1. There will be a mix. Cars exist for long distance trips (plus cabs are unreliable where I live), and once you own one, it makes more sense to use it for short trips too.

                Give me a driverless car for road trips and reliable driverless cab service and the need for a car is minimal at best. And not justifiable at the price.

                1. Give me a driverless car for road trips and reliable driverless cab service and the need for a car is minimal at best. And not justifiable at the price.

                  For you but you are not typical. The people who have the money to hire cars to go anywhere as a general rule don’t do so. The people out there buying $100,000 sedans and sports cars could definitely afford hiring a car to go everywhere, yet few people if anyone do that.

                  You assume everyone hates driving when in fact most people don’t. You also assume sitting in a car being driven is any better than driving and for most people it is not. For a lot of people it is worse. I would much rather drive than be driven. i am not alone in that.

                  1. I was thinking about what I would do in my current situation if I OWNED a driverless car (lets assume you are right about fleets, which may be the case).

                    I would ride to work and get stuff done during that 20 minutes. I listen to podcasts now, but would read to, or comment on reason or something.

                    And then I would send the car home for my wife to use during the day. I would reduce our car costs by 50%. Yes, the gas bill would go up a bit sending the car back home, but that is more than offset by the cost of owning a car.

                    There might be some times when having two cars would be handy, but we were a one car household for about a year, and it isnt a big deal.

                    1. I spend more on gas and insurance every year than my entire fleet is worth. Doing something like that would only increase my costs.

                  2. For a lot of people it is worse. I would much rather drive than be driven. i am not alone in that.

                    While I tend to agree with your overall point, I’m not sure status quo conditions are comparable to “driverless car world”. I’m inclined to think the “cars” will have significantly different interior setups geared improving riders’ use of time. You might see a rolling office or a rolling theater. So, I don’t think the comparison holds.

                  3. “For you but you are not typical. The people who have the money to hire cars to go anywhere as a general rule don’t do so.”

                    That is you and our generation (I am assuming you are a GenX’er like me and not a Boomer but even if you are a Boomer it works out the same), how many Millenials do you know, especially younger ones?

                    When we were teens we couldn’t wait to get drivers licenses because it meant freedom, my kids and their friends are between 14 and 17, none of them has really ANY interest in getting a drivers license,

                    Now fast forward 30 years, the Boomers are mostly gone, Us Gen X’ers are mostly retired, MIllenials are running the show and the Post Millenials are the ones we’re telling to get off our lawns.

                    I’d be willing to put money that the urge to own your own car will be a fraction of what it is today

            2. and they will put it in cheap out of the way locations BUT near the shopping districts so it can pick up where needed.

              I’d suggest “near the shopping district” kind of negates the entire “cheap out of the way” part.

              1. Not necessarily. For one thing, the cheap out of the way land may be the former parking lot of the mall that isnt needed anymore.

              2. Not necessarily. For one thing, the cheap out of the way land may be the former parking lot of the mall that isnt needed anymore.

        3. There are something like 8 parking spaces per person (or is it car?) in the US.

          The number would be greatly reduced.

          Even if everyone owned driverless cars (as opposed to fleets) and the number was about the same, the parking would be much more efficient, so space would be reduced.

          Unless you physically change the size of the vehicle, you fundamentally don’t change it’s footprint, in motion or at rest. Equal or greater availability fundamentally means equal or greater numbers of cars means equal or larger footprint. Full stop. Presumably, driverless cars would also handle minors, blind people, the elderly, etc. that were previously not accommodated.

          Driverless cars could be made smaller or collapsible but then the efficiency comes in because of the physical design state of the car rather than the lack of a driver and is already achievable with existing technology and has, repeatedly and despite onerous ownership and storage costs, failed in this country.

          You fully acknowledge more spaces than drivers as the norm now. You justify it as, at least partially, the result of regulation. You do so despite the fact that a significant portion of the market is sitting here telling you that they want their cars, they want them big, and they want spaces to park wherever they fucking go. The idea that the system will get more efficient and lead to some parking land reclamation utopia is greenie nonsense.

          1. Moreover, as I was saying, the *overall* efficiency doesn’t and won’t really change. You could reduce parking, however, you’ll have to roam vehicles or park them in motion. Which will complicate traffic, consume fuel, and affect availability.

            None of which should be construed as a reason to ban self-driving vehicles. Rather, it should explicitly serve as an antidote to the self-driving idolatry that would easily and readily be co-opted by any one of legions of control freaks.

            1. All of that Mad Casual. It is not that these things are bad in themselves. It is that people are way overstating their benefits and way underestimating the potential for the various legions of control freaks to use them as a tool for control.

          2. “There are something like 8 parking spaces per person (or is it car?) in the US.”

            Depends on where you are. In Marion, North Dakota perhaps, but visit Seattle for a counter example.

            1. In Marion, North Dakota perhaps, but visit Seattle for a counter example.

              Be ready to cash in on the driverless parking boom.

              That photo’s actually pretty funny because if you google ‘car on cinder blocks’, you get thousands of images < ~1% of which aren't in a designated/paved parking space. We appear to have such a glut of parking spaces that we're more than willing to fill them with undriveable vehicles.

        4. The only place real estate would be effected is at shopping malls and airports with sprawling parking lots. People aren’t going to tear down their houses and move them closer together because they don’t have a car in the driveway regularly.

          1. And strip malls and any other places that literally never fill their parking lot but are required by law to have N spaces per X sq ft of space.

            1. Have you read “Door to Door” by Ed Hume? It’s not great, but still an interesting read for transportation changes, especially for shipping.

              I’m with you on the long distance thing. My dream is to take off right after work on a three day weekend, wake up in the mountains on Friday morning, leave Sunday night, and arrive at work on Monday after a car sleep. I walk/bike most everywhere in the city, and do all my shopping online. I love my Honda, but I hope it’s the last car I drive.

    3. Agreed. So much space is wasted on car storage. Parking lots, often due to regulation, are sized for worse case scenario. For example, both my office and the church next door have massive parking lots, yet we use both facilities at different times and could share without issue.

  11. And Poole couldn’t possibly be wrong?

    We’ll see. I wouldn’t bet against innovation. Three decades sounds like a long time to perfect a product. Ima go out on a limb and say 10-15 years till fully autonomous.

    1. I have no interest in fully automated vehicles for two reasons:

      1) A vehicle that I do not control myself will be subject to the controls of the state. Movements will be restricted, and you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

      2) Such vehicles will be prey for hackers.

      1. Sorry, that was meant as a stand-alone comment, not a reply.

      2. Amen to this.

        You can already see what is coming with the new cars already being produced, with the automatic sudden stop feature, the automatic lane guidance feature, the automatic cruise control speed adjusting feature…. it is only a matter of time that these types of things will become mandatory in all new cars and regulated remotely by the state

        1. Why not put a governor on them to keep them from going over 70 MPH? Why not network them with stop lights to ensure they can never run one? You know, for the children.

          1. Why not indeed. In 10 years’ time these types of regulations will be commonplace and crazy whacko libertarian people will advocate removing them, in the name of freedom, in response to which horrified “sane people” will respond “what, you hate children?”

          2. What about the possibility that there will be a lane on the freeway for driverless cars that lets you go 100+mph? Not only could you go way faster with driverless cars on a freeway, but you could draft in a convoy and get super good gas mileage as well.

            Would that change your mind? Do you think others would change their mind?

            Also, I see the day when people who want to drive their own cars will pay much higher insurance premiums. And like now with riders to protect yourself against uninsured drivers, there will be riders for being hit by manual drivers.

            1. What about the possibility that there will be a lane on the freeway for driverless cars that lets you go 100+mph? Not only could you go way faster with driverless cars on a freeway, but you could draft in a convoy and get super good gas mileage as well.

              Only if they are networked, which makes them vulnerable to hacking. And the benefits of a convoy are wildly overstated. Go run in a big formation of people sometime and you will see what I am talking about. Any convoy of vehicles no matter how well networked will necessarily accordion as the front vehicle changes speed to account for changing road conditions the following vehicles have not yet encountered.

              And we have something like that, they are called trains and buses. How is this that much of an improvement over those?

              1. It can be meshed networking. You don’t coordinate with a central server. You link with the cars in front/behind you. That technology works just fine. No one can boss you around. In fact, a localized mesh network will be the preferred architecture for any autonomous cars.

                Drafting could save at least 5% on fuel which is a lot. It could be even more if you increase the number of cars and decrease the interval.

                I work for a company that does a lot of automotive sensors. The things that they are doing are insanely cool right now. For instance the things that cameras can see and “predict” is really cool even if it is still more prototype than product. Some of the demos I see are one of the reasons that I am bullish on what cars will be able to do in the future.

                I have no idea what the final product that the general public will want will be. I also do agree with you that there is a significant risk that the govt will want to use this to control people. There is also a good chance that the free market will provide more freedom for people than we had before because of this.

                1. You link with the cars in front/behind you. That technology works just fine. No one can boss you around. In fact, a localized mesh network will be the preferred architecture for any autonomous cars.

                  And it will be just as vulnerable to hacking as any other network. Once your car opens itself up to talk to other computers, it can be hacked.

                  There is also a good chance that the free market will provide more freedom for people than we had before because of this.

                  I can already drive anywhere I want. How much more free can I be? What am I getting for taking the risk of the government being able to completely control my movement?

                  1. How about not having to drive your gramma around everywhere? With driverless cars she can stay in her own home longer and live a more independent life. She won’t have to bug you to come over and drive her because she is no longer physically able to do so herself?

                    You may not mind driving her everywhere, but she may resent having to ask.

                    1. How about not having to drive your gramma around everywhere?

                      That is her freedom not mine. Again, unless you can’t drive or are too socially maladjusted to be able to drive, this technology does not make you more free.

              2. As a person of well above average height running in a formation is one of the banes of my existence. It’s supposed to be a run at an 8 minute mile. Not alternating between a full-out sprint and a 12 minute mile shuffle.

                1. I had a 1SG yell at me for walking during a ‘run’ more than once. I’m 6’5″ and we were strolling along to the pace of a 4’11” nome. Free the runs, eliminate knee surgeries.

            2. I see the day when people who want to drive their own cars will pay much higher insurance premiums.

              This is how they will “convince” all the naysayers. (myself included) The bastards right-thinkers will just raise the price of insurance, raise the gas tax, raise parking fees, etc., until all the “Luddites” conform to society’s wishes.

              1. Don’t worry, John will still be out there blowing through stop signs with his face painted blue and yelling “FREEDOM” 😉

                If insurance rates are adjusted due to market forces (driverless rates drop because they never really have accidents) I’m fine with it. If the rates change because of govt meddling, I’ll howl with you and John.

                1. If the rates change because of govt meddling, I’ll howl with you and John.

                  And it will be too late by then. You are being warned what is going to happen and choose to believe in a fantasy where everything will work out.

                  1. Because the govt has done such a bangup job on regulating the internet?

            3. because the speed limit has yet to change to match new safety now.

      3. Technology advances but the laws of economics remain the same. Driverless cars will not go into wide use until the marginal benefit they create over regular cars exceeds the marginal cost. Time and again proponents of this and any other new technology over sell the benefits by analyzing the total benefits versus the marginal benefits.

        Driverless cars don’t provide that much marginal benefit to most people because driving isn’t a difficult task and some people actually like doing it. Most people wouldn’t mind having a car that can drive itself in some circumstances, but they are still going to want to drive themselves most of the time.

        So who is going to buy them? Taxi companies mostly. But that is only a small part of the market. The only way these things go into wide use is if the government mandates them. That of course is exactly what the manufacturers are going to demand. You don’t need a desirable product if the government requires people to purchase it.

        1. I wouldn’t mind having a driverless car for long (several hour) trips. Because at that point it’s basically like my own personal train.

          But for daily commutes around town, I think it would be too much of a hassle.

          1. Yes. Since these things are never under any circumstance going to violate a speed limit or so much as roll a stop sign, using one in city traffic would be maddening. It is one thing to set it at 70 mph on a long open road and go to sleep. it is quite another thing having it drive like the worst cautious driver when you are trying to get somewhere in town.

          2. I like the idea of putting my car on autopilot…..when I want to. The key point to me is that it be MY choice.

            1. I think you are in the big majority on that. it is absurd to think that people would want to give up the autonomy of driving and owning their own car to adopt a fleet of on demand echo penalty boxes. That is just not how people think or operate.

              1. Especially in America where the car is often considered an extension of home. Someone made a point in the other thread about stuff and it’s totally accurate. Especially for those of us with kids.

                1. Yup, that too. I have a bag of stuff in the trunk for each kid with a complete change of clothes and other such items. Have a bag of clothes myself in case of sudden weather changes or an unexpected overnight stay somewhere. I have a toolbox. I have a shovel for snowy weather. Etc, etc.

              2. Owning your own car and driving are two separate things. A large number may choose to still own their car, but I think many will happily give up day to day driving.

                1. A large number may choose to still own their car, but I think many will happily give up day to day driving.

                  Not if it comes at the cost of never violating the speed limit or any traffic law. And that will be the cost of giving up driving.

        2. John,

          I’d buy into a driveless car timeshare or an actual driverless car so fast it would make your head spin. I can’t stand driving. Can’t stand it. I also go to enough rural places that I go long distances at a crack.

          I get you and others like to drive. Cool. Keep driving. On the other hand, don’t tell those of us who hate driving that we don’t exist. I think there are lots of people who would love not owning a car.

          My big caveat is that what shakes out of this technology isn’t clear yet. Neither of us knows for sure what the end result will be. As long as it evolves naturally based on the market, I’m fine.

          1. Everyone must be like John.

            Plus he is a pessimist about government/free markets.

            1. That is the point I’m trying to make. I think there are tons of people like John who will have to have their cold dead hands pried off the steering wheel of their Oldsmobile. There are also tons of people who hate driving and would be happy to give up some autonomy to get back all that time that they consider to be wasted on driving.

              1. So long as there’s that choice, and not the techno-utopia that I’ve seen proggie types fapping over where human driving is outlawed, then go nuts. I don’t want my movements to be at the whim of the state, period.

                1. As the results of the last election should tell you, you are in a very small minority in this country. 97 percent of people disagree.

          2. get you and others like to drive. Cool. Keep driving. On the other hand, don’t tell those of us who hate driving that we don’t exist. I think there are lots of people who would love not owning a car.

            I am sure there are. But that doesn’t change the economics of it. You could hire a driver right now. You don’t because that is too expensive. Well driverless cars will not be free. They will come at the expense of convenience and control. You think you would buy into that, but I bet you would reconsider when you saw how the thing actually drove and realized how horrible it is to never violate a traffic law. And if it is a shared car, it won’t always be available when you want it. The question is when you consider all of that, is it really much of an improvement over what you have? Sure, if you loath driving or are unable to do it. But you would have to really hate driving to make it an attractive option. Would some people say yes? Sure/. But the numbers would be low. This is not a transformative technology.

            1. I suspect that it will be transformative when the option becomes ubiquitous. But that’s a long ways off, which was kind of the point of the article.

              1. There is also the psychological aspects of it. Positional goods are real. Right now having a driver is a real show of wealth. If were ever to become the case that self driving cars were so cheap and convenient that they were cheaper than owning and driving your own car, people would still own and drive their own cars as a sign of wealth and prestige.

            2. I’m putting my faith in the greed of a lot of smart people who will figure out the best way to deliver some sort of driverless car to me for a price I want to pay.

              You seem to think that these folks will only deliver a shitty product and no one will adopt it.

              My guess is that if this doesn’t take off it will be because there is some technical hurdle that can’t be solved at this time. Or because the govt steps in and overregulates the industry.

              1. The liability issues will make it shitty. The thing about a self driving car is that it will make every accident a product liability suit. And product liability is strict liability. And not only that, it is strict liability for all foreseeable misuses. So no automated car company is ever going to allow one of their cars to violate a traffic law or make it possible for its customers to alter it to do so.

                Think of it this way. Imagine if I went out driving but you were responsible for any accident I both caused or failed to avoid. How would you want me driving? Well, the autonomous car manufacturer will be in the same position with their cars.

                1. Bingo. The people who are all-in on cars seem to want to completely skip or ignore what’s required for the intermediate step whereby they have to interact with human drivers on a regular basis.

              2. “You seem to think that these folks will only deliver a shitty product and no one will adopt it.”

                The internet has been around for how long and we hear about a large scale hack of sensitive information every month or so. Software vendors send out bug fixes and security patches for their products years after they were introduced.

                I’m going with “shitty product”n until shown otherwise,

          3. I get you and others like to drive. Cool. Keep driving. On the other hand, don’t tell those of us who hate driving that we don’t exist. I think there are lots of people who would love not owning a car.

            The issue isn’t that you don’t or shouldn’t exist, but that you (robc, Elon Musk) shouldn’t lie to us and yourselves to advance your position.

            Own/rent a self driving car. Own/rent two of them. Hell, own/rent two and keep the two old manual cars for all I care. Just don’t own four cars, tell me that every man woman and child on Earth will have at least one available, on demand, and then tell me that there will be fewer parking spaces, fewer commuters, less traffic, efficiency will go through the roof, and the market will be unequivocally better because of it.

            1. Whoa. I think I said that I (and others) really have no idea what the final product will be.

              Absolutely agree that there are a lot of folks overselling the wonders of this technology. Like all IoT stuff there will be good applications of this and dubious ones.

              I was just pushing back on John’s assertion that no one at all would ever give up their car for a driverless solution.

              Can’t we all just admit that the end result is going to be somewhere in between what the Luddites and the Hucksters are proclaiming?

              1. So long as we’re all free to choose the transportation we prefer, I have no problem with that at all.

                1. Well I also need to be free to have a driverless van I can use for a mobile clinic for abortions and circumcisions. We’d also deliver deep dish pizza.

                  Anything else I can add to make this a better and more inclusive discussion?

                  1. When you aren’t driverlessly delivering abortions, circumcisions and (disgusting) deep dish pizzas, let STEVE SMITH use it as a rape-mobile

            2. How am I lying to you?

              1. Parking lots will become passe, or, at least, much smaller. Parking decks go away. Suburban land values plummet as huge amounts of infill spots become available. Ditto urban with the parking decks.

                Even calling it a remote possibility is a rather intentional deception. Like implying the nation’s infrastructure would irrevocably collapse and we’d revert to an agrarian society if, tomorrow, all air travel became physically impossible for some reason.

                Not only will the absolute or relative amounts of parking go not go away, take all the driveways and parking lots out of suburban properties and you end up with *more* of exactly what attracts people to the suburbs in the first place. A more likely scenario just based on explicit intent and SNAFUs; thanks to faster-reacting, more intelligent cars, traffic is able to flow faster and more densely. As a result cities become entirely unwalkable vertical mausoleums or even greater centers of bike-friendly, tail-wagging-the-dog, epicenters of FYTW. Driverless cars will be mandatory for safety, however, because gridlock, environment, and the blight of parking, will need to be taxed in order to subsidize bikes and public transportation.

                1. Considering we only have the amount of parking we do in the suburbs due to regulation (and subsidy), a free market approach (with or with driverless cars) would lead to less parking. Driverless cars would only accentuate it.

                  There is no deception involved.

        3. Driverless cars will not go into wide use until the marginal benefit they create over regular cars exceeds the marginal cost government decides they are easier to control you with safer than driven cars and mandate their adoption.

          FIFY

      4. 3) The government agency who controls the cars will have a continuous record of your whereabouts.

        1. Something that only concerns about 5 people if you exclude the Reason commentariat. See cellphones, Facebook, for example.

          1. 3) The government agency who controls the cars will have a continuous record of your whereabouts.

            Something that only concerns about 5 people if you exclude the Reason commentariat. See cellphones, Facebook, for example.

            Until the government starts using that information hijack the controls of autonomous cars and redirecting fugitives passengers to the nearest police intake garage…

        2. “sevo went to the strip club, then a gun shop.”
          *adds to list*

  12. On the plus side, the MSM saw their business model hollowed out in a heartbeat when Craigslist stripped away most of their ad revenue, leaving them to go into a quick decline.

  13. I lived in Buffalo, New York

    *Develops new-found sympathy for Nick*

    1. Buffalo is a lot nicer than most people think. If one is a pussy who doesn’t like real weather, I suppose. It’s a damn site better than several localities further west in that region.

      1. “isn’t” a pussy

        1. Real weather? You mean, Antarctica?

      2. Meh, I was there in the early 90s and it seemed a pretty ugly place to me. Caveats:

        1. It was for half a day.

        2. Haven’t been back since.

        OT: needless provocation. AFC Bournemouth

        1. I went there in 2009. It was ugly and the service was terrible.

          I did like Orchard Park. Bills fans know how to have a good time.

        2. Swansea City AFC

          1. Looks like they’re doomed.

        3. AFC Bournemouth

          Fuck off.

          It depends greatly where you are. The nice parts of the city are great. I lived there for 8 years so I could easily point them out to anyone. OTOH, the bad parts are really, really bad.

          1. Fair enough on Buffalo.

            Liverpool: don’t follow it in detail, but I think Klopp was a great hire for them and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t bring them a title.

            1. Agreed. But it won’t be this year. And it won’t happen until the owners drop a lot more money.

              1. Well, FSG learned how to spend money on the Red Sox so they should be able to figure it out.

      3. Like, oh, say, Erie? My wife’s from Erie, so we have to endure trips up there every other year or so. What a shithole.

        1. It does seem to get steadily worse the farther along you go on the route from Buffalo to Chicago.

      4. Buffalo is the armpit of New York.

  14. On the topic of transportation:

    http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/0…..ne-boeing/

    I’m shocked, but this might be the first sign of fiscal restraint that I’ve heard from Trump’s mouth. Hopefully the streak continues.

    1. That’s fantastic. Good on him.

    2. It doesnt matter what he actually does he will still be worse than Adam Lanza with a Hitler mustache.

      1. If you read the comments in the local rag regarding the story, you’d think he’s far worse than that.
        Lefties still whining; such a pleasure to read!

        1. I’m not saying that the decline of the left is irreversible, but if their strategy for the next 8 years is “prog harder”, they will even start turning away minority groups from their fanaticism. You’re even starting to see a little bit of that now, though in small percentages.

  15. The world’s cabbies are going to need a whole lot of subsidies to get along with this plan.

  16. driverless cars a great idea except that when you send your car back home to take another family member to where they need to go at a different time will actualy use more fuel than if they had two cars. and we know some will let the car wonder the streets if there are no parking spaces available. i see more congestions not less congestion on our streets with driverless cars.

    1. and we know some will let the car wonder the streets if there are no parking spaces available.

      Bingo. Why send it to park when it can circle and be right there. It is funny how the Libertarians who love these things throw out the law of unintended consequences and assume they are going to be all good and usher in vehicular paradise.

  17. always the idiot jonny cab and not the more sophisticated and realistic John Cleese character in Pluto Nash.

  18. Once automatic cars are a thing, I’m investing in bars. People stopping on the way home to have several before heading home will once again become a thing.

    Of course MADD will attempt to pass laws to make it illegal to be drunk and in a driverless car for some reason. Actually it will be for the kids.

    1. “People stopping on the way home to have several before heading home will once again become a thing.”

      “Once again”? You mean it stopped?

        1. +1 drinking on the job

      1. My job moved from the city to the suburbs in 2008. I think I’ve been to two happy hours since.

    2. And people like John dont consider this enough of a benefit to outweight any negatives he can think of.

      1. Well John likes the chubbies, so beer goggles aren’t the necessity for him that it is for others.

  19. ITT: John continues his tirade against the inevitable and ignores economics (repeating the word “marginal” does not actually make it true) because he doesn’t like innovation.

    The reality: labor is the most expensive cost for shipping. Of course it is cheaper to replace humans who make mistakes and damage vehicles and other property, get tired, neglect vehicle maintenance, require expensive insurance, etc. Labor is the most expensive cost for practically all labor-intensive industries.

    He’ll probably repeat the 1950’s-era car commercial claims that personal transportation is the greatest freedom we have in America. That completely neglects the freedoms that we’ll have when we no longer have to drive. Cars can go pick up our groceries for us and bring them home. They can park themselves, saving us the irritating wasted time looking for a spot. We’ll be able to read, sleep, entertain ourselves, etc. while going to work. We won’t need a taxi or beg a friend/relative to pick us up from the airport. We’ll be safer because all those distracted and intoxicated people around us will be hedged in by driverless vehicles acting as two ton barriers to them killing us.

    1. Cheer up, John. I’m sure that there will be a Ludditesville in Wyoming or something where all automated cars are banned and old fuddy duddies you can live with.

    2. I realize John is quite often an ass around here. (Heck, sometimes I am too.) But I don’t think it’s Luddite to point out that driverless cars will have some downsides too and won’t suddenly change Americans’ driving habits or one major reason why we have cars in the first place – the freedom to come and go as we please and not be dependent on others to dictate our schedule, whether the “others” are Uber/cab drivers or centrally planned mass transit schemers.

      1. All the “downsides” he claims… aren’t. Nobody has said that we’ll be losing the power of having a personal conveyance. That would cause a revolt.

        It’s Luddite to insist that these things should be blocked by laws, that they will never work, that they’re economically unfeasible (the most ridiculous claim), etc. It is ridiculous to claim that they won’t increase safety and that safety is not a concern. It’s absurd to make up statistics that are lies because you don’t like something. We can all look up the stats for vehicular fatalities and it’s appalling. We all have had brushes with death on the road because of dangerous drivers.

        And it doesn’t matter. The tech is coming. Once it has a certain market penetration, the tech will landslide because it’s mostly software. The safety benefits will come even earlier than full market penetration because many of the vehicles on the road are commercial and those vehicles will be enforcing traffic safety laws because they’ll have to, and that will insulate a lot of drivers from the worst behavior of others. The institution of vehicle insurance is going to have to change, radically. The cost savings of not having to pay so much will entice a lot more people.

        1. And let’s be honest here for a moment. The real reason anyone squawks about the tech at all is because:

          A) They believe they’re better drivers than they are.
          B) They break traffic laws (especially speeding) all the time and fear losing that “freedom.”
          C) They believe in a John Henry “rugged individualist” ideal that somehow tech can’t replace them and do a better job. Maybe they’ve forgotten how the story of John Henry ended.
          D) They’re simply fearful of putting their lives into the hands of a machine – to which I can only point out that pilots rely on autopilot a ton more than people must think they do.
          E) Luddism.

          1. F) A vehicle that I don’t control myself can be controlled by someone else who then has the power to restrict my movements.

            1. This is probably the most unfounded fear of all. If you believe that anyone is ever going to give up autonomy without revolting against the government, you’re crazy.

              Just look at the amount of hyperbole that goes around about any thread about driving anywhere on the Internet. Being able to drive your own vehicle anywhere you want to has more staunch believers than the Constitution and Bill of Rights has in this day and age. If only we could get people to fight for all our other freedoms as hard as they’ll be willing to fight for this one. It may well be a true universal belief in America given its popular support.

              Probably the only legitimate fear: that governments will spy on where you go if the cars are all networked. That isn’t a problem with the tech itself, of course, but with our willingness to submit to a massive domestic spying apparatus.

              1. If you think the state won’t aggressively push to restrict driving in some way, *you’re* crazy.

                1. They will try. Of that we can be certain. You just watch how batshit people will turn if they succeed anywhere. There are a lot of things the American public will put up with, but a loss of autonomy is not one of those. Heads will roll, and could be a literal statement.

              2. This is probably the most unfounded fear of all. If you believe that anyone is ever going to give up their privacy and let the NSA record every phone call made in the country without revolting against the government, you’re crazy.

                Zero Sum Game in 2005.

                How is that working out for you?

                1. Now you’re just being a jackass, John. I said it was a legitimate fear. You can’t just splice together parts of my comment to change it into something I didn’t say and pretend otherwise.

                  Is your Luddism leaking? Should we give up our computers, our e-mail, our smartphones, etc. because our government can’t obey the Constitution, or should we fight the actual problem and let the tech be?

                  1. Should we give up our computers, our e-mail, our smartphones, etc. because our government can’t obey the Constitution, or should we fight the actual problem and let the tech be?

                    No. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hook everything up to the internet or that we should totally eliminate things like paper money, which a lot of control freaks want to do.

                    You argument is nothing more than “just because it was worth it in other areas, it must be worth it here”. Sorry but that is not an argument. It is an assumption.

                    1. I didn’t imply that we should hook the cars up to the Internet and I am very wary of all of the “Internet of Things” nonsense because most of them are extremely insecure. I wouldn’t own a car that could connect wirelessly to the Internet simply because of the risk of being hacked while my life is in the hands of a two-ton projectile I happen to be riding in. If my phone gets hacked, I don’t die. If someone fucks with the car’s computer while it’s in the garage, well that could happen to a modern car right now. It doesn’t even need to be autonomous for tampering to be a threat and it really does not happen.

                      Fortunately, even if they did come with a wireless connection, it’s easy enough to use a Faraday cage to block the signal. Then the privacy problems will have to come down to getting a warrant, which they’ll rubber-stamp, but that’s the same problem we already have with in-vehicle GPS.

              3. F) A vehicle that I don’t control myself can be controlled by someone else who then has the power to restrict my movements.

                This is probably the most unfounded fear of all.

                Not really. It is a near certainty.

                Once autonomous cars become mainstream (heck, maybe even before then), government will demand (read: pass a law requiring it) that the government have access to the location data of autonomous cars and remote access ability to either shut them down or lock the passenger(s) in and redirect to another location (police garage?).

                It’s already beginning. How many times will police use On-star or similar service to stop a stolen car / high-speed pursuit / car involved in an amber alert / etcetera until the government decides that’s a damned good idea and every car should be similarly equipped (w/ government access)?

          2. A) They believe they’re better drivers than they are.

            They often are much better than you (or the state) are willing to give them credit for. This is the reason for B. When laws are stupid they get ignored.

            The rest of your post is just smug idiocy. “How dare you mouth breathers have a different set of priorities than me? Why can’t you morons just see that I’m right and you’re wrong?”

            1. They often are much better than you (or the state) are willing to give them credit for. This is the reason for B. When laws are stupid they get ignored.

              No, they really aren’t. Traffic accidents are very common. Most often it’s only property damage (though that has an impact on the economy too). What doesn’t make it into statistics is all the near misses that could have turned ugly very fast. An accident that didn’t happen gets recorded nowhere, but that by no means made that driver safe. Then there’s the mess that even a single accident can make of the entire traffic grid. People late to work is lost economic output. People stuck in traffic is more pollution, more wasted gasoline, more time engines are running and shortening their usable lifespans. Those things are all hard to quantify.

              Admit it: you don’t like traffic laws, despite being required to follow them as a condition of the privilege of being able to drive. When one in ten cars on the road are autonomous, you won’t be able to speed anymore but on the open highways. I bet that the thought of that is what boils your blood.

              Finally, if autonomous vehicles develop road rage, do we get to watch Battlebots played out live on the highways? Who would want to miss out on that?

              1. You’re assuming traffic laws are designed to keep you safe, rather than designed to generate revenue.

                1. rather than designed to generate revenue

                  I’m not making that assumption at all. However, look at the reality: what justification will a cop be able to make for pulling over an autonomous vehicle that obeys all the traffic laws unquestioningly? How long will open container laws last for people who own them? How about anti-window tinting laws, given that nobody will actually need to be able to see out of the vehicle? Well, then they can’t get people for “driving while black” if they can’t actually see the passengers to profile them.

                  How much revenue do you think they’ll be able to extract when all their pretenses for stopping a vehicle are shut down in court because there is a full record of how the car was driving at the time and all laws were followed? How can they justify stealing your money in a civil asset forfeiture case or pretending they smelled weed in order to search a car they had no justification for stopping to begin with?

              2. An accident that didn’t happen gets recorded nowhere, but that by no means made that driver safe.

                If the accident didn’t happen, you were safe.

                Then there’s the mess that even a single accident can make of the entire traffic grid. People late to work is lost economic output. People stuck in traffic is more pollution, more wasted gasoline, more time engines are running and shortening their usable lifespans. Those things are all hard to quantify.

                You don’t get those improvements in safety without banning human drivers. Sorry but “its more efficient” is not a reason to take away people’s freedom. If it is, you need to reconsider a whole lot of your positions. If we just made everyone wear a video camera and recorded all our movements, crimes would never go unsolved. Think how safe we would be and how much more efficient society would be. Are you on board with that?

              3. Admit it: you don’t like traffic laws, despite being required to follow them as a condition of the privilege of being able to drive

                I think we have located your problem. Driving isn’t a privilege any more than walking or moving anywhere is asshole. it is a right.

          3. traffic laws are dumb because they have no victim.
            speeding is arbitrary. the speed limit in my home town has not changed speed limits in over 20 years, even though cars can handle much better.

            1. The speed limit being kept as it is may be absolute horseshit in a lot of areas, but it’s not because the cars can’t handle it, it’s because of the perception that the drivers can’t, and that is debatable but there is no doubt that accidents at higher speeds are more likely to be fatal. Taking the human driver out of the equation shreds that justification. Eventually there will be so many of these vehicles on the road that it will be hard for all the human drivers to break the law because they’ll be hedged in by autonomous vehicles and somewhat isolated from being a threat. Then the populace will start pushing to change the laws and let the cars go much faster. It will start as you’d expect: designating some lanes that are machine-driver only (like HoV lanes, but for robots) and permitting them to drive much faster.

        2. I don’t think John is saying that they should be outlawed (correct me if I’m wrong). Rather, he doesn’t think that they will really be viable as a replacement for most private cars (especially for people in rural areas). And I largely agree. I think a lot of people like driving better than being a passenger. I also think that there will be lots of regulations to take the fun out of everything. And I’m still skeptical that the technology is quite as ready to go as they say. Sure, they work great in some cities in good weather. How do they do driving 30 miles in a snowstorm (which is something I regularly do) with human drivers all around?

          I’m not saying that these problems can’t be solved (well, maybe not the regulation one). But I don’t think we are that close to really being able to really replace regular cars with self-driving ones outside of certain urban and highway environments.

          1. That is exactly what I am saying Zeb. People are just pretending I am saying something else because they don’t have an answer the points I am actually making.

          2. I think a lot of people like driving better than being a passenger.

            That may be true, but I’d be willing to put a hefty wager on people liking money a lot more. When insurance markets start to get distorted and human drivers are always at fault, the costs of refusing the tech will eventually grow too great to bear.

            I also think that there will be lots of regulations to take the fun out of everything.

            Like the cars being required to gasp follow the laws we all agreed to follow when we got a license?

            And I’m still skeptical that the technology is quite as ready to go as they say. Sure, they work great in some cities in good weather. How do they do driving 30 miles in a snowstorm (which is something I regularly do) with human drivers all around?

            It isn’t, yet. However, it’s pretty silly to insist that a species that has managed to overcome all the technical hurdles of landing rovers on Mars will never get the tech right for terrestrial autopilot.

            There’s a simple reality. It’s software. It only needs to be gotten right once for everyone to benefit from it. The market will take care of the rest, as far as adoption of the tech is concerned. The only thing that can get in the way of that is government, but what else is new?

            1. When insurance markets start to get distorted and human drivers are always at fault, the costs of refusing the tech will eventually grow too great to bear.

              You really need to familiarize yourself with something called products liability law. It won’t matter if the humans are at fault. The car will have a duty to avoid the accident and the manufacturer will be responsible for all injuries to the owner that occur while using the product. The car insurance companies are going to have a field day suing car manufacturers and sticking them with the costs of all accidents. You really have no idea how these things work and your ignorance is showing.

              It isn’t, yet. However, it’s pretty silly to insist that a species that has managed to overcome all the technical hurdles of landing rovers on Mars will never get the tech right for terrestrial autopilot.

              Driving on Mars is a thousand times easier than driving in heavy traffic. The two problems are so different that one really has almost nothing to do with the other. Driving is really one of the higher mental functions that we engage in. The interaction with traffic and other drivers is an example of the hardest problems associated with AI. Will we get there? Maybe, but it is going to be a while and we will get a lot of AI functions in other areas before we do.

              1. Driving on Mars is a thousand times easier than driving in heavy traffic.

                As is flying an airplane (minus the takeoff and landing maybe) or navigating a ship. A lot of people don’t seem to get what a hugely complicated problem this is. I think you are right that driving is (or can be) one of the most complicated tasks we perform when it comes to attention, reaction and coordination.

                1. A lot of people don’t seem to get what a hugely complicated problem this is

                  It is a hugely complicated problem.

                  It is also a reducible problem. It’s a problem that people can break down and solve one step at a time. This isn’t about artificial intelligence as some of you think it is. It’s about the human intelligence that goes into engineering a solution.

                  And also, spaceflight is a hugely complicated problem. “Driving on Mars” is not what I am talking about, and I think you know that. I’m talking about the entirety of mission planning and technological advancements and creative solutions to problems that made it all possible. The EU just found out that it’s actually all still pretty difficult. Firing a vehicle loaded with sensitive instruments into the sky using an explosive device, sending it through an unforgiving vacuum filled with damaging radiation, controlling it by remote with a time lag, and landing it unbroken on a planet that has a negligible atmosphere to slow its descent when the damned thing weighs almost as much as a car is a pretty hard problem.

                  1. I’m talking about the entirety of mission planning and technological advancements and creative solutions to problems that made it all possible. The EU just found out that it’s actually all still pretty difficult.

                    Yes, we can do big things. That doesn’t make this problem any less difficult. This is just a variation of the old “we put a man on the moon why can’t we cure the common cold” fallacy.

                    1. Defeating evolution of a thousand different constantly mutating biological organisms isn’t the same thing as making autonomous vehicles.

                      Solving problems of spaceflight are physics problems, mathematics problems, and programming problems. Those problems are all on-par with the same kinds of problems in designing autonomous tech.

                      You’re being a fool. Stop it.

            2. There’s a simple reality. It’s software. It only needs to be gotten right once for everyone to benefit from it.

              You have no idea the scope of the problems involved here. You really don’t.

            3. Like the cars being required to gasp follow the laws we all agreed to follow when we got a license?

              I have a strong suspicion that when you’re driving people cut you off all the time.

              It isn’t, yet. However, it’s pretty silly to insist that a species that has managed to overcome all the technical hurdles of landing rovers on Mars will never get the tech right for terrestrial autopilot.

              Driving is a social activity and will remain so for the forseeable future, absent some intrusion by the government that you guys are insisting will never happen. You know what autopilot is going to be a good enough driver (read: as quick and as safe as oneself) in this environment? One that can pass the Turing test.

              It only needs to be gotten right once for everyone to benefit from it.

              Oh boy. You sad, naive bastard. I don’t have enough time to point out just how dumb this statement is.

              1. One that can pass the Turing test.

                Yeah, because solving problems that involve physics and input from sensors is totally as difficult as developing a computer program that has enough depth to convince people that it has an artificial mind on par with the full range of human thought. It’s the same problem, really. You got me, I guess it will never happen.

                1. Yeah, because solving problems that involve physics and input from sensors is totally as difficult as developing a computer program that has enough depth to convince people that it has an artificial mind on par with the full range of human thought.

                  Judgement and non verbal communication that goes on between human drivers is not the same as having a rover drive across a landscape. It is a thousand times more complex. So either admit you advocate banning human drivers and thus eliminating the problem or stop pretending the problem doesn’t exist and is not enormously difficult.

                  1. Judgement and non verbal communication that goes on between human drivers is not the same as having a rover drive across a landscape.

                    Way to distort what was said, yet again.

                    There’s a whole space program that made the achievement possible. Maybe you’ve heard of it, how many lives it claimed, how many trillions of dollars spent to do it, how dangerous and fraught with peril it still is.

                    Nobody needs to communicate with one another in cars. A vehicle doesn’t need to be able to see you flipping it off to know you did something dangerous. And all the judgment calls about how to avoid mistakes can be made by programmers and engineers and tested thoroughly in the real world. That is exactly how we get rovers to mars too: by dividing the enormous problem up into many divisible parts and investing a lot of brainpower to solve them all.

                    You are not a technical person. That much is obvious. Perhaps leave the tech to people who actually design tech for a living.

                    Finally, nobody will need to ban humans from driving. The market will just make it expensive to do so. The insurance industry is not going to just go quietly into that good night (cronies are going to be cronies for a long time yet), and when there are not as many accidents occurring then the ones that do will have the economic burden shifted to the human drivers causing them. Just because you refuse to believe that doesn’t make it any less true.

                    1. Nobody needs to communicate with one another in cars.

                      You must be the worst driver on earth. Humans communicate with each other all of the time in cars. Haven’t you ever merged into traffic or taken a left turn through traffic coming from the left that is backed up? Doing that is enormously problematic for a robot car. its protocols won’t let it move out into traffic like that.

                      Finally, nobody will need to ban humans from driving. The market will just make it expensive to do so. The insurance industry is not going to just go quietly into that good night

                      You still don’t understand product liability. And the cost of my driving is whatever the risk is. I pay for that now in my insurance cost. Other cars being more safe doesn’t make me any less safe. It just makes me less safe in relation to them. That means their insurance will be cheaper than mine. It doesn’t’ mean mine will be any more expensive.

                      The bottom line is, I and everyone else can afford our auto insurance now. Why would the existence of self driving cars cause that to no longer be the case? There isn’t any reason.

                      So try again explaining how driving your own car will become unaffordable when it isn’t now?

        3. It’s Luddite to insist that these things should be blocked by laws, that they will never work, that they’re economically unfeasible (the most ridiculous claim),

          No one is saying they should be banned. And no one is claiming they won’t have their uses, especially for industrial purposes like mines and farms. And no one is saying they are “economically unfeasable”. The point is they are not going to replace personal owned and driven cars as a general rule. The fact that you can’t see that is a product of your ignorance of economics and misunderstanding of how people actually live. Not every technology landslides and transforms society. In fact most do not. Most technology makes a few changes in a few areas at the margin.

          Short of sending you to micro economics school and a year long tour of the country, I don’t know how else to get this through your thick fucking skull.

          1. Everybody lives in large urban centers and only travels on highways and in the hustle n’ bustle of downtown, it is known. That is why self-driving cars are great and everyone will love them, and the people who don’t love them are just Luddites who want to break the law on a whim.

            I think that about sums it up.

            1. You forgot to reference ‘mouth-breather’, but other than that I think you nailed it.

              Now where do I sign this “Social Contract’ I’ve heard so much about?

    3. The reality: labor is the most expensive cost for shipping. Of course it is cheaper to replace humans who make mistakes and damage vehicles and other property, get tired, neglect vehicle maintenance, require expensive insurance, etc. Labor is the most expensive cost for practically all labor-intensive industries.

      That means these will replace taxi drivers and truck drivers. It doesn’t mean it will replace personal cars.

      Cars can go pick up our groceries for us and bring them home. They can park themselves, saving us the irritating wasted time looking for a spot. We’ll be able to read, sleep, entertain ourselves, etc. while going to work. We won’t need a taxi or beg a friend/relative to pick us up from the airport. We’ll be safer because all those distracted and intoxicated people around us will be hedged in by driverless vehicles acting as two ton barriers to them killing us.

      Driving is already a very safe activity. Your chances of being killed or injured in an auto accident over the course of your lifetime is less than one in a hundred thousand. Again, you don’t understand marginal thinking. “Safer” is a relative term. If something is already very safe to begin with, making it “safer” doesn’t provide very much benefit.

      1. Driving personally may be very safe, but socially it’s very unsafe: there’s a great risk that I, personally, will be inconvenienced due to someone else’s reckless driving, tacking on several minutes to my commute. My minutes aren’t like other peoples’ minutes. I don’t have time to waste getting into accidents like other people seem to have. And their reckless disregard for my time is all the reason I need for championing driverless cars.

        1. Driving personally may be very safe, but socially it’s very unsafe: there’s a great risk that I, personally, will be inconvenienced due to someone else’s reckless driving

          You owning a driverless car won’t prevent that unless you ban human driving. So unless you are willing to go after other people’s freedom, that is not going to be a benefit of these things. Moreover, the only way the make the road any safer is if every car is automated. They can’t and likely won’t ever be able to deal with human drivers as well as human drivers do.

          1. I’m being theatric, but really, you don’t think there are marginal benefits to having 10% of commuter traffic driverless? 20%? Or half of recreational drivers going driverless for the night out? Especially if those taking a back seat are already predisposed against driving, would rather text or nap while the car autopilots them.

            1. I am hoping that the dangerous idiots correlates with the people who hate driving, so that every driverless car eliminates a dangerous idiot from the road.

              1. I hate driving and am constantly distracted, but unlike the rest of those jerks I’m good at it.

            2. No. The people who are likely to do that are likely to be safety freaks who are not driving unsafely now. And these cars get in accidents as well.

    4. And having your car go and pick up groceries is no different than having groceries delivered to you. So if these things become viable, the grocery store will own one and alleviate the need for you to send your car.

      What you will see is more driver aides. Given the liability issues, I doubt you will see true driverless trucks or commercial vehicles anytime soon. And if you have to pay a driver to be there anyway, there is no point in having it be autonomous. The biggest area where this technology will be used is on farms and mines and other places where vehicles move without much interaction with other vehicles.

      Your dreams of a fleet of driverless cars whisking you around the country isn’t going to happen. Be don’t worry, you have that now. There are car services all over America. Call one and pretend it is a robot.

    5. neglect vehicle maintenance, require expensive insurance, etc.

      Oh yes. Because fleet owners never neglect their vehicles. And these cars certainly won’t require expensive insurance, what with their constant ability to get into accidents that somehow are never their fault.

    6. John is apparently on the Wrong Side of History, a Luddite holdout raging at the dawn of the Brave New World where we surrender our individual mobility to the collective because Efficiency, Technology, Safety and Convenience.

      1. I’m with him!

        *revs car and peels out*

  20. Good, I’m not looking forward to the overarching, regulatory happy, techno-utopian state anyways.

  21. There’s two things being conflated, I think:

    (1) Fully autonomous vehicles, and

    (2) Networked fully autonomous vehicles.

    FAVs probably won’t result in nearly the societal changes being claimed. Its just a car that gets used like any other car, only it drives itself. Yeah, you’ll get a few people who rely solely on an FAV service, but that’s basically Uber which hasn’t really changed car ownership or traffic patterns.

    Most of the claimed efficiencies, etc. come from networking FAVs. And that’s where the dystopian stuff starts creeping in – the fact that your travel is being logged and controlled by someone else, for purposes not entirely yours. Oh, you want to commute to work? For efficiency, you are now in a carpool and get to ride around while others are picked up. Oh, you want to commute during peak rush hour? Sorry, comrade, to maintain peak traffic flow, your commute is now scheduled for 5 am. Oh, you want to go downtown for lunch? To ensure air quality, no vehicles are allowed downtown between 10 and 2. Etc.

    1. Bingo RC. The advocates of this technology conflate the too. They try to claim it will be transformative but then claim they won’t be networked and cause human driving to be banned. While I doubt the the first is even attainable, it can’t happen without the dystopia even if it is attainable.

    2. More importantly:

      Oh, you want to listen to music? Too bad the people you’re sharing with don’t like what you like. Oh, you want to put the windows down to get some air? Too bad the people you’re stuck with don’t. Oh, something along the way caught your eye and you’d like to stop for a look? Sorry, we’re on a schedule here.

      1. You didn’t pay for the sole-occupant plan? You ticked off the disclaimer that you’ll be sharing your ride with fellow commuters?

        1. If people are going to push the efficiency point then they need to give up sole occupancy. That is terribly inefficient.

          1. I don’t understand how “societal efficiency” whatever that is has anything to do with it. Who gives a shit if it is more efficient? Efficiency is not some moral imperative.

          2. Like all those airline travelers unable to pay for upgrades no matter how much money they offer. It’s economy or you walk, bub!

            1. I guess I didn’t realize that paying a lot is all it takes to clear up traffic. Any thoughts on where I can go to drop off some money to clear up my commute to/from work?

              1. Well, I don’t think autonomous vehicle services are going to look like the airline industry, either. Hell, Uber already offers an upscale service for all you fancypants travelers who want a Lexus or Escalade rather than a Civic. Market-based services aren’t going to focus exclusively on efficiency, and if whatever eventuates isn’t market-based you won’t have to worry about efficiency anyway.

                1. The problem is, you’re talking about cost efficiency when everyone else is talking about traffic efficiency.

      2. That is really a good point. Also, you want to take the scenic route? Sorry, the cars run on the most efficient routes available and no others.

        Hiring a cab isn’t that expensive right now. It is not cheap but it is not like it is hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you really hate driving, you could likely take a cab everywhere you go in most cities for a couple of thousand dollars a month. That is a lot but it is not an astronomical amount of money. Yet, few people do that even though many people have the money to do so if they wanted to.

  22. Completely off topic: I would like to thank whichever of you mongrels donated and used the moniker “You know who else had support?”

    1. Let me see if I can get this right…

      “You know who else had support?”

      Umm…. Hitler?

      1. Dolly Parton?

  23. If you don’t live in a dense area, I don’t think it will be cheaper to use a rideshare service, either. Maybe if you’re the type of person to lease a new car every three years, but I buy a car to pay it off and hopefully get as much service out of it after it’s paid off as possible. My last car was paid off in three years and I drove it for another six.

    1. If you don’t live in a dense area, I don’t think it will be cheaper

      Yep, I’m a self-employed tradesman living out in the sticks, it will be quite a while before a viable alternative to me owning a truck comes along.

  24. Why won’t reason cover how Driverless Cars might affect the suicide bomber industry?

    1. ha, hadn’t thought of that. Yeah I guess in some sense driverless car is just basically a remote-controlled bomb.

  25. The idea that places get turned into a wasteland overnight is the worst sort of nostalgia that helps no one but keeps whole areas frozen in time. Manufacturing as a percentage of the U.S. workforce peaked in 1943?during World War II!?at about 38 percent. Since then, there’s been a long, slow, totally predictable decline in the number of Americans working in factories that everyone could see coming and continuing.

    Change is always bad. The sky is always falling. The wolf is always at the door.

  26. If you don’t live in a dense area, I don’t think it will be cheaper to use a rideshare service, either.

    No Uber hack, sane or otherwise, is going to drive up the dirt road to my house to pick me up and drop me off. Certainly not a second time.

  27. I would also point out that I have not seen where they have even started to address the problem of autonomous driving in bad weather conditions. That is going to be an enormous challenge. But without solving it, these things will be nothing but interesting toys. No one is going to want a car that can only run safely in good weather.

    1. Especially with freak weather events getting to be, like, everyday now.

    2. Which I mention above.

      Snow and ice (and even fog or heavy rain) are not good for the sonar and lidar sensors that cars use to detect nearby obstacles.

      I think that people in CA must just figure that everyone stays home in a snow storm.

      The last time I didn’t get to work because of the weather was when half of the state had no electricity and there were several large trees across my road.

      On a quick search, I can find some stuff about this. Ford seems to be working on it.

      But it appears to depend on very accurate maps of all the roads you drive on that include things like curbs and signposts that the cars can use to localize.

      1. And the problem with the maps is that there is no way to keep them totally up to date. Would you bet your safety and or life on what amounts to Google maps being totally up to date on everything down to a pot hole? I wouldn’t.

  28. Personal rapid transit is still the wave of the future. Starts shaking fists at clouds again.

  29. the problem of autonomous driving in bad weather conditions.

    You mean like when you turn from a major street which is clear and dry to a side street which is still icy from the last snow fall? Or when you’re out in the mountains and the sun is going down and the runoff from the melting snow re-freezes on the road surface in the shadows?

    1. Yeah. Or how about avoiding potholes and obstructions in the road that have only recently appeared?

  30. The futurist strain of libertarianism turns downright proggie whenever anyone suggests that they would like to retain the choice *not* to jump on board with whatever techno-utopia is being discussed, with much devising of ways to make any choice other than what they would prefer as punitive as possible in order to force the reluctant to fall in line.

  31. All this talk of driverless cars and not one of you old codgers mentioned how reluctant teens are to learning driving these days. Most of the young adults in my neighborhood had to be coerced or cajoled by their parents into finally learning to drive.

    So all this talk of freedom and autonomy is great, but we are in the aging and shrinking minority on this stuff. The next generation is more than willing to sacrifice freedom and autonomy for convenience. What do they care if the government knows their shopping habits? They post this shit on Facebook. They (and not just the real slutty ones) send naked pictures of themselves to each other, and you think they care about privacy? They post very intimate details about themselves on dating sites. They Tweet and Snapchat every waking moment of their lives, and by the time they enter the workforce in a decade, nobody will care about the drunk topless pictures of them on the internet because 80 percent of the people in the office will have drunk naked pictures of themselves available on the internet. They do not care about privacy.

    1. Most of the young adults in my neighborhood had to be coerced or cajoled by their parents into finally learning to drive.

      Your neighborhood isn’t necessarily an indicator of the rest of the country regarding driving.

      HOWEVER, I completely agree with you about the privacy.

    2. I hear much talk of that, but there seems to be no shortage of kids driving around here. Depends on where you live, I’d imagine.

    3. So just lay back and enjoy it?

      My 16 year old son drives a manual transmission and has been up to driving school at BIR. He’s pretty good and he digs the freedom of being able to come and go as he pleases. His car is devoid of all the silly computerized shit and has no fucking tracking stuff on it.

      I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he continues to have the opportunity to drive what, where and whenever he wants.

      The faith in the Gods of Tech, I kind of get. The trust that it won’t be abused to make us less free is breathtakingly retarded. Why do boring sedans cost north of $40K? Why can’t you buy diesels and manual transmissions anymore?

      It isn’t the market. It’s government mandated ‘safety’ and efficiency standards. Cars are already speed governed – not because of customer demand, but because of more mandates. It’s bullshit.

      If you want a self-driving car, knock yourself out – but I promise you it won’t be the utopia some of you envision.

      1. I understand rationally how someone could be as boring and risk adverse as some of the more tech loving people on here seem to be and also value freedom. But, i can’t help but wonder how that really works. How do you value freedom without being a free spirit yourself? It just seems odd to me to hear people espouse the virtues of freedom and then turn around and have worst sorts of utilitarian values in their own life.

      2. Manuals are rare not because of mandates or efficiency issues, they’re rare because fewer and fewer car buyers want them. They used to be cheaper and more efficient than automatics, and now they’re about the same, so buyers opt for the convenience of an automatic.

        The 155 MPH limit is an agreement among auto makers, not a government imposition.

        1. Manuals are worse than modern automatics. Which is why they are going away (But god help you if you need to rebuild one of the modern DSGs). Same way with V8s and V6s. High-pressure turbo 4s are the future.

          Customers aren’t asking for this, Mad, CAFE demands it.

          1. They way the gov mandates they test cars for emissions compliance is a factor in this. The rules say you have to rev the car up to speed X on the dyno and hold it there. The automatic version of the car shifts to a higher gear once speed X is reached. The manual version must remain in the lower gear, despite that the average user would shift at that point. As a result, all the manufacturers do their emission compliance tests with automatic transmissions. The auto itself isn’t more efficient (it actually has more internal friction than a manual) but the rules of the test make it much more likely that the auto car will pass.

        2. I love my manual and up until a few years ago they really did have advantages. But that is no longer true. Automatics can shift faster and make your car perform better than even the best driver with a manual. They are now just a fun toy. Having a manual is like owning a slide rule and knowing how to use it instead of a calculator. Plenty of fun and a nice skill to have, but no longer a beneficial skill beyond the joy of knowing how to do it.

          1. I have 4 cars, 2 of which are manual. I agree completely about the efficiency, but there is a case to be made that the manual makes you much more of an attentive driver.

            1. Living in New England I can say this, manual transmission gives you superior control in shitty driving conditions.

              1. Yep. For years, I drove rear-drive manual Volvos. With decent tires, I could go literally anywhere.

          2. I’va always had manual cars. Automatics are too boring. That seems like good enough reason to have it to me. Normal, boring car with a fun toy is better than normal boring car without a fun toy.

            1. I am with you. That is exactly how i feel about my manual.

              1. It’s a Porsche. You better goddam well have a manual!

          3. The double clutch systems can shift faster, but they’re still crappy at knowing when to shift, and they weigh more. Unless you’re using paddle shifters and telling the car which gear to be in, you can turn a faster lap with a traditional manual transmission.

  32. I was watching an old episode of Fifth Gear not long ago, and they were talking about electronic stability control, and how awesome it is for John Q Public to have a car which is *almost* impossible to spin or flip. Then they talked about how esc is so awesome it is required on all new cars in the Eurozone. I cannot recall the year.

    My assumption is the manufacturers wanted it mandatory to spread the costs over all production. What do you think will happen when “autonomous” tech* hits the showroom floor?

    *It won’t be cheap, of this we may be certain.

    1. It won’t be cheap and it will likely be mandatory. Regulation has already made buying a cheap new car virtually impossible Every car has to be gold plated. People don’t realize how expansive cars have gotten even accounting for inflation. I was watching a History Channel doc on Pearl Harbor this week. In it, they talked about how they had to use Al Capone’s old limousine to transport Roosevelt to the Capitol on December 8th because they didn’t have any bullet proof cars in the fleet. The reason was that the government was prevented from spending over $750 on any one car. That is in today’s money around $12,000. So in 1941, the government could afford to give all its FBI agents and postal delivery people and so forth, a reliable car for no more than $12,000 per car in today’s money. I don’t think you can by a new car of any sort for $12,000 today. Cheap new cars don’t exist because regulation prohibits them from being made.

      1. This.

        I hate the pedantic regulations that are being foisted on auto manufacturers these days.

        I can go on and on about all the safety regs I scorn, but one of them I hate most is the TREAD Act of 2007. That’s the mandate that requires those expensive, failure-prone tire pressure sensors to be installed in every vehicle. Guess what happens when each unit costs $50 and can only be “paired” with your car by an authorized dealer at a one-hour-minimum charge? It becomes just another amber light that the driver has to ignore, right next to the “check engine” light that gets triggered by some useless emissions doodad.

  33. I’m trying to imagine the sort of bodily-fluid related horrors that will befall autonomous ride-sharing car passengers. How thrilled are you going to be when your AutoCar shows up at 6am to take you to the airport and the immediately preceding passengers were a gaggle of drunk business people spending the last night of their trip getting hammered and… ruining… the car. They will be like Vegas-area cabs but without the restraint Vegas-goers feel under the judgemental eye of their cab driver.

    1. I never thought of that. Without a cab driver there, they would become infested with hookers and various other people looking for a place to hook up on the down low. They would disgusting.

      1. Passengers do horrible things to commercial cars when there’s a guy sitting in the front seat telling them not to. When there’s no one there to do anything to stop them? the interior of those cars will look like a Jackson Pollock painting if put under a black light.

        1. Leave to an NCO to point out just how depraved people actually are. You are dead on correct.

    2. They will be like Vegas-area cabs but without the restraint Vegas-goers feel under the judgemental eye of their cab driver.

      It will either be this or all the comfort and luxury of your local hose it down and done, municipal drunk tank (or both). Probably complete with floor drain. Matter of fact, I’m a little surprised floor drains don’t exist in some of these cars already.

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