Self-driving vehicles

Waymo Unleashes Real Self-Driving Cars in Arizona

No vehicle is truly self-driving if a "safety driver" is still sitting in the front seat

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WaymoChandler
Waymo

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, has revealed that it is running its self-driving vehicles on public roads in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona without a safety driver sitting in front of their steering wheels. The Verge reports that soon "the company plans to invite regular people for rides in these fully self-driving vehicles." If I were a resident of Chandler, I would rush to sign up for Waymo's early rider program to enjoy the experience of being chauffeured by a robot car.

For now, Waymo's autonomous vehicles are geofenced to roam within a 100 square mile area, but the company plans to expand as its cars collect more data. The eventual goal is to deploy a fleet of robot vehicles as part of ride-hailing services. Right now many Americans don't trust robocars, but I predict that once they are on the roads, a vast and rapid shift in driving habits will ensue. Why? Greater safety and lower costs.

My Reason colleague Jim Epstein reports that self-driving cars will make most auto safety regulation unnecessary. "Basically, the entire vehicle code can be boiled down to be safe and don't unfairly get in the way of other people," says Brad Templeton, an entrepreneur and software architect, who has worked as a consultant with Google on its self-driving car project. Aside from the weather, another big reason that Waymo and other companies are testing their robocars in Arizona instead of California is that the Grand Canyon State regulates with a significantly lighter hand.

And much cheaper robo-rides will persuade many folks to give up owning costly vehicles that sit in their driveways 23 hours per day. As I earlier reported, fleets of shared driverless cars could cut the average consumer's transportation costs by as much 75 percent. In addition, if travelers take advantage of robotaxis, one autonomous vehicle could replace as many as seven to nine privately owned vehicles. Battery-powered self-driving cars could cut greenhouse emissions by 90 percent and free up about 3,000 square miles of urban land now devoted to parking. And they would provide mobility to millions of Americans who can't or don't drive now, such as disabled people, children, and the elderly.

Self-driving will be safer and cheaper; what's not to like?

See Epstein's excellent Reason TV video on self-driving regulation below.

NEXT: Virginia Gubernatorial Race Wraps Up, GOP Tax Plan Might Raise Your Taxes, and Rand Paul Will Be Back at Work Next Week: P.M. Links

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  1. And much cheaper robo-rides will persuade many folks to give up owning costly vehicles that sit in their driveways 23 hours per day.

    Ron, you are too smart to be making that claim. It is wrong a ton of levels. First, every asset you own sits unused most of the time. Why does anyone own plates or cookware? They just sit in your cabinet unused most of the time. What about clothes? Think of all the space taken up by closets. We should go to a system of fleet owned clothes that you rent and are delivered to you every day instead of owning clothes that just sit in your closet. You own the asset for when you need it. The fact that you don’t always need it doesn’t render the asset some kind of net negative.

    Beyond that, your car depreciates by how much it is used not by time. At some point, a car just sitting is going to degrade. But for normal use, your car is used as an asset when you drive it. So it sitting in your driveway doesn’t make it less valuable. And if you used it all of the time or rented it out so that it was used all of the time, it would be used up very quickly. Basically, that car is a set number of usable miles that you are free to use whenever you need to do so. So, the fact that your car is just sitting in your garage not being used at all times really says nothing about its value as an asset and in no way makes the case for not owning one.

    I don’t understand how otherwise smart and reasonable people can’t see that.

    1. J: Thanks for your comments. With the advent of self-driving cars that will arrive where you happen to be in under a minute after you’ve summoned one, I think that most people will no longer view cars sitting in their driveways as “a set number of usable miles that you are free to use whenever you need to do so.” We shall see which of us is right in about ten years.

      1. No Ron they won’t be. The economy of scale and the varying needs and preferences of drivers will mean such a thing will not be possible. What you describe might be possible, if everyone wanted the exact same kind of car. But that is not and never will be the case.

      2. Available in under a minute at 5PM when I and my coworkers are all leaving the office, along with every other office in the vicinity?

        1. Bingo. It is the rush hour problem. There is no way around that. And it means all of the rosy forecasts about the cost and availability of such things are hopelessly flawed.

          1. There’s a way over that. AI-assisted flying cars would add another dimension to the commute. And that has to happen before any mass transport that way is done.

          2. It’s not just a rush hour problem. It’s an ownership problem. I have all kinds of stuff in my car and I sure as hell don’t want to haul it in and out of some car that’s not mine. I also don’t want to smell curry, perfume, or a wet dog when I am going somewhere because of a previous occupant. I also have a roof rack for my bike and kayak, and I have bumper stickers that express my values. Finally, waiting even a minute is too damn long.

        2. DS: Actually, one recent study simulating exactly that scenario for Austin Texas found: “The longest average wait times occurred during the 5PM ? 6PM hour, when demand was highest and 39 speeds slowest/congestion worst, with average wait times of 3.85 minutes.” And remember it’s 75 percent cheaper than owning your own car.

          1. From that study

            Outputs of the model run were generated, including link-level hourly average travel times for all
            21 24 hours of the day. Next, a 100,000-trip subset of the person-trip population was selected using
            22 random draws, and the 57,161 travelers (1.3% of the total internal regional trips, originating from
            23 734 TAZ centroids) falling within a centrally located 12-mile by 24-mile “geofence” were
            24 assumed to call on SAVs for their travel. This geofence area was chosen because it represents the
            25 area with the highest trip density, and would therefore be most suitable for SAV operation, in
            26 terms of both lower traveler wait times and less unoccupied SAV travel (as SAVs journey
            27 between one traveler drop-off to the next traveler pick-up). All trips originating from or traveling
            28 to destinations outside the geofence were assumed to rely on alternative travel modes (e.g., a
            29 rental car, privately owned car, bus, light-rail train, or taxi).

              1. They admit upfront that services will never work beyond the central core of the city. Anyone living outside that core, and if you have ever been to Austin 12 miles is the core, will still have to have their own car. The study assumes up front exactly what I am saying.

                1. Sooner or later, all the death-of-the-car stories end up with people on a leash.

          2. I don’t know about reducing transportation cost by 75%.
            Maybe folks in central cities who have to pay a buttload for parking, and probably a buttload for hazard insurance too might be able to see such a reduction.

            Factoring in everything I can think of (initial purchase price, replacement tires, oil changes (DIY..though even paid this is negligible), Gas, insurance(full coverage at present), registration….and I even added in something I at least would unlikely ever spend, about $3500 in paid repair costs), and assuming its value is $0 once it reaches 200k miles(I fully expect it will exceed 200k with little issue)

            Considering all the above, I put the cost of my bought used Subaru Outback at around 0.34 a mile to get me to 200k on its odometer.

            If I had bought it brand new (I wanted a manual, they don’t make em with manuals any more), paid 38k for a more loaded version, and then kept it till it hit that 200k mark (which is not out of the realm of possibility for me, I kept my first bought new car for 10 years and 140k miles), that does increase the purchase cost per mile by about 25%, at least compared to what I paid for the used one, so in that case, 0.40 a mile.

            Bonus: Because I own it, I can do stuff with or to it that no rental would allow…like tow my small camper around for the weekend camping trips, or throw a bunch of filthy whatever in the back.

            1. Oh, and when checking for ‘cost per mile to own’ AAA seems to think its around 0.60 per mile for new vehicles.

              They seem to expect some (by my standards anyway) very high costs for maintenance and repairs. Maintenance I guess because repairs should be covered for a bit.

      3. “With the advent of self-driving cars that will arrive where you happen to be in under a minute after you’ve summoned one…”

        In other words you are basing that off of a availability that seems unrealistic when you are applying it universally, for all the types of uses people have vehicles for. I rather suspect that you are mostly thinking about what you use a car for, which is probably rather limited.

        1. In places where people use cabs and don’t own cars, a faster, cheaper car that has no driver will be a plus. And this will probably make sense in places where cabs were not economically viable before. Replace all cars? Probably not. But I don’t see why anyone would say there is no market for this.

    2. We should go to a system of fleet owned clothes that you rent and are delivered to you every day instead of owning clothes that just sit in your closet. You own the asset for when you need it. The fact that you don’t always need it doesn’t render the asset some kind of net negative.

      If there was an efficient means of doing it, perhaps. The other thing is whether people would want it. That is also a perhaps.

      1. They wouldn’t want it for a couple of reasons. First, it would skeeve the hell out of most people to walk around in rental clothes. Second, people like a variety of clothes that cannot ever be supported by a rental system. And people’s desire to have their own clothes as they like them more than makes up for the cost of buying and storing them.

        The same thing is true of cars. Cars are really not very expensive. If they were, so many people wouldn’t own them. Ron assumes that even a 75% reduction in cost makes giving up the convenience and freedom of owning your own car. And that is a faulty assumption for most people.

        1. They wouldn’t want it for a couple of reasons. First, it would skeeve the hell out of most people to walk around in rental clothes. Second, people like a variety of clothes that cannot ever be supported by a rental system.

          You say that, but do you have any qualification for that beyond your own opinion and perhaps anecdotal evidence around you? Because clothing rental does exist, tux shops exist for instance. This is a case where a piece of clothing is too expensive to justify for rare usage. If costs could be brought down extremely maybe some people would like this.

          Also, your second statement seems silly as a large distributor would be able to support a larger variety than any one person would own.

          1. Sure Tuxedo rentals exist. do underwear rentals exist? Tshirt rentals? Clothing rentals exist in a very small niche involving a very expensive and rarely used piece of clothing. But go ahead and start that business renting underwear. Good luck with that. I am sure my preferences about that are just mine.

            1. J: What happens when you can manufacture bespoke clothes on demand and then just recycle them when you’re done wearing them?

              1. Then clothes become disposable. That doesn’t mean I won’t own my own. It just means I will throw them away once I have worn them. Beyond that, I think the hassle of picking out clothes and getting them will make such things less appealing than you think. Some people will love the idea of only wearing clothes once. But a lot of people will hate it and prefer the other extreme of clothes that never wear out.

                1. When manufacture-on-demand clothing is available, you’ll put in your sizes and download a pattern from iThreads or whatever, but you’ll probably still use them multiple times, since it’s less energy-intensive to clean something than to remake it.

              2. “What happens when you can manufacture bespoke clothes on demand and then just recycle them when you’re done wearing them?”

                You will have a tremendous waste of energy, when energy is expected to get more dear.

                1. Ron’s forgetting the Dark Age austerity we must endure to slightly delay the extinction-by-drowning of the polar bears.

            2. do underwear rentals exist? Tshirt rentals?

              Is this an issue purely of efficiency, you say that the one is an expensive and rarely used piece of clothing, which is true. So it is cost-inefficient for many people to own their own tux. If one could bring the cost down sufficiently so that it was cost-inefficient to own most of your wardrobe it very well could work. Also, used clothing stores are super popular, so for most outerwear that’s less a concern than you assert.

              1. Even if it did, the savings in cost would not be worth the lost autonomy. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it is more attractive. There is more to it than that.

                1. J: …the savings in cost would not be worth the John’s lost autonomy…

                  As the old saying goes – other people’s mileage may vary.

                  1. This is true Ron. I am not saying no one will use these. I am saying fewer people will than you think.

        2. people like a variety of clothes that cannot ever be supported by a rental system.

          Clothing rental would let you wear a greater variety of clothers.

          You probably would have mocked people for saying Amazon would one day be delivering stuff to your doorstep a few hours after you ordered it.

          1. No. That is people buying clothes not renting them

      2. Also, not everyone lives in a city or a densely populated area Ron. There won’t be a car just a minute away if you live in the outer burbs or the country, which millions of people do.

      3. B: Yes, drastically lowering transaction costs (perhaps using blockchain implementations) will reshape how people acquire and use various kinds of property.

        1. Have fun with that clothes rental business or that spoon rental business. Ron. I don’t think people are going to give up having things of their own. There is more to life than being efficient. People have other values. Your arguments on this are a classic example of the old maxim that psychology fails because psychologists are lousy economists and economists fails because economists are lousy psychologists.

          1. He said “will reshape how people acquire and use various kinds of property.” You then jump to a ridiculous conclusion of people renting individual spoons. Do you believe this is an intellectually honest argument?

            1. It is perfectly honest. Maybe things will be reshaped. But that doesn’t mean it will be reshaped in the way Ron is claiming.

          2. You’re too entrenched in the “own stuff” culture. Millennials aren’t. Younger people will be even less so.

            1. You are delusional. Millennialist are not renting their clothes and still want to own things

        2. It is unlikely to change it that drastically in that short a frame even if it the rosiest scenario of availability comes to fruition. Especially since many people do not want to live in dense urban areas.

    3. John, I do think you make some good points, but there’s no denying that a car (even sitting in the driveway) depreciates in value. Low mileage 10 year old cars are still worth less than a low mileage 5 year old car on average. Cars show environmental wear outside of pure run time. Rust, UV deterioration, plastic breakdown are all independent of the number of miles driven. Furthermore, a car sitting in the driveway represents a substantial amount of capital tied up in a depreciating asset. And it’s an asset that many people finance.

      I think the cost savings of 2/3rds is wildly optimistic. But when you factor in higher usage optimization, lower cost financing and the likely lower insurance rates of an automatic car, they should be significantly cheaper. Even a 25% decline in total cost of ownership of a vehicle is a large savings for the average American family.

      In the long run, I think the average American family will drop down from the current 1.9 per family to less than 1 per family.

      1. Even a 25% decline in total cost of ownership of a vehicle is a large savings for the average American family.

        It depends on the family. A 25% reduction in the cost of transportation is significant but it is not something that people can’t afford. They afford it now. And that is assuming that these things ever become as convenient and available as claimed, which due to the peak use problem is extremely unlikely. That 25% buys you a car whenever you need it, as long as it is not at a time when a lot of other people need one. That is not a very appealing deal for many people.

      2. 5 years of technology is also a big deal.

    4. To be fair, Bailey is also someone who thinks genetic engineering technology is going to replace natural conception. He is sometimes a bit daft when speculating on his tech enthusiasms.

    5. Why does anyone own plates or cookware? They just sit in your cabinet unused most of the time.

      Because your plates and cookware can’t drive themselves to your kitchen when you need them.

      1. They can be delivered via drone or autonomous car

  2. So in an accident who’s liable? The non-driver, the robot car, the manufacturer, the taxi service?

    Tort lawyers are going to have a field day if these things ever go live.

    The future Ron describes sounds a lot like more efficient public transportation. That doesn’t sound very libertarian unless you think everyone is going to voluntarily give up individually owned non-autonomous vehicles.

    1. Unless the law changes, the manufacturer will be liable for all injuries on a strict liability basis. It has been the law for decades that manufacturers of a product that causes injury, even for foreseeable misuse, are strictly liable for such injuries.

    2. S: ….unless you think everyone is going to voluntarily give up individually owned non-autonomous vehicles…. That’s what I think.

      1. You’re crazy. People who use public transportation, cabs, ride-sharing or who already consider vehicle ownership a burden might go for it but that leaves multitudes who won’t.

        Of course nearly all proponents of a universal adoption of autonomous vehicles see a glorious future of mandated use, bans on non-autonomous and centrally-planned public transportation.

        I can’t wait for helicopter sports-mom summoning an autonomous mini-van to take the kids to early morning practice right after it finished ferrying a load of puking and copulating late-night partiers home.

        1. The self-driving cars will be self-cleaning too.

  3. Oh man I hope some internet randos show up and tell Ron and the engineers developing them and the companies spending billions on R&D that autonomous cars are as foolish as that internet fad or those ridiculously expensive mobile phones or powered human flight or the ability to travel speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

    1. On the one hand, I could just wait and observe what companies and consumers do in the real world with the actually existing technology. On the other hand, the point of being an internet rando is to explain why everyone else is wrong using as many words and insults as possible, and that requires me to adopt an ironclad position here and now.

    2. Exactly. We don’t want them newfangled things, so no one else will either.

    3. While I think the idea that people will not want to own their own cars is foolish, self-driving cars are coming and I can’t wait to own one. I am really surprised at how many libertarians are being Luddites about this. I think may be many libertarians are scared of not being in control, but how is that different from other types of automation? This fear of self-driving cars is silly, especially coming from a usually pro-technology and pro-innovation crowd.

      1. I suspect much is the plain simple knowledge that government will muck it up in one or all the following ways

        Make them cost more by over-regulating
        Delay implementation by over-regulating
        Make their use mandatory
        Tracking of vehicles
        And of course, some way that government can disable cars from the individual vehicle all the way up to preventing cars within a certain area from operating at all under the notion of there being some sort of declared emergency (snowfall, Christopher Dorner/Tsarnaev situation)

      2. I am really surprised at how many libertarians are being Luddites about this.

        There is a legitimate privacy concern and autonomy concern. Once self-driving cars become ubiquitous expect the government to add regulations giving them access to travel logs and even override capability; they get a notification that Chipper Morning Truthjammer just got in his robo-car and they remotely trigger a script to lock the doors and redirect the unit nearest municipal jail-garage.

  4. As I earlier reported, fleets of shared driverless cars could cut the average consumer’s transportation costs by as much 75 percent.

    Let’s break this down, Ron. First, not everyone needs the same car. Some people have these things known as children. Hauling Children around requires something more than a two-seat electric echo box. So, a lot of the economies of scale that you count on for that estimate are not going to materialize because it assumes that everyone can get buy with the same car. If all cars are not fungible, the ones that are in less demand will either not be available when you need them or will sit idle sometimes and raise the per hour cost of renting them.

    Also, people use cars for things other than transportation. Mainly, they store things in their cars. Exactly what are you going to do with junior’s hockey equipment or the toys and other stuff that make transporting small children bearable when you don’t have a car to store it in? Do you really want to take the child seat and the DVDs and all that to work with you?

    Fleet owned rental cars are not going to replace the personally owned vehicles. And anyone who understands why central planning fails and sees the glories of the market and its ability to meet individuals’ choices and preferences should know that.

    1. Let’s break this down, Ron. First, not everyone needs the same car. Some people have these things known as children. Hauling Children around requires something more than a two-seat electric echo box. So, a lot of the economies of scale that you count on for that estimate are not going to materialize because it assumes that everyone can get buy with the same car.

      I don’t see why that would be assumed at all. Using your economy of scale argument it’s illogical that more than one type of car exists period. Why you assume every autonomous car is going to be a coupe is beyond me.

      If all cars are not fungible, the ones that are in less demand will either not be available when you need them or will sit idle sometimes and raise the per hour cost of renting them.

      The question is can that be done more cheaply for people than owning a car themselves. I don’t know the answer to that, but you assume no.

      Fleet owned rental cars are not going to replace the personally owned vehicles

      Probably not for everyone, but there’s a big range between everyone and no one.

      1. I don’t see why that would be assumed at all. Using your economy of scale argument it’s illogical that more than one type of car exists period. Why you assume every autonomous car is going to be a coupe is beyond me.

        I don’t assume that. I assume the opposite. The point is the more specialized the car, the higher the price or the less the availability. Ron’s ideal of a car within a minute that is 75% cheaper than owning a car, assumes a level of use that is not consistent with a wide variety of cars. Basically, you can have availability, low prices or a wide variety, pick any two but you can’t have all three.

        The question is can that be done more cheaply for people than owning a car themselves. I don’t know the answer to that, but you assume no.

        No. Cheaper isn’t enough. They have to be so cheap that it is worth it to give up the convenience of owning your own car and being able to store things in it.

  5. J: …sees the glories of the market and its ability to meet individuals’ choices and preferences… This is precisely why I think that ride-hailed self-driving vehicles providing substantially less expensive personal transportation services will outcompete private automobile ownership for most folks.

    1. And you are wrong about that. Ultimately, they are a centrally managed function. And that can never replace a system where people can choose their own preferences. Its the same reason why banquet food is never as good as restaurant food.

      1. J: Why do you think that there will not be competing ride-hailing services for self-driving vehicles?

        1. Patent protection on autonomous vehicle technology, as just one extremely obvious answer. Why sell the technology when you can just control the whole market by fiat?

          1. And, notably that is exactly what Google, no sorry Alphabet, no sorry Waymo is doing.

            1. B: And yet, there are at least 12 companies working on their hardware and software versions of self-driving vehicles.

              1. I wanted to come back around to it, even though no one will read it:

                Assuming that all 12, or even 1, will be successful is not a safe assumption in my book. The government is likely to only hand out one patent in my view. This becomes even more certain, in my opinion, due to the fact that conflicting systems are actually a disadvantage unless they share each others source code with each other (super unlikely) so that each system can accurately predict what each individual system will do in every given scenario.

                I fully admit that 12 autonomous systems would function better, together, than even 1 autonomous system paired with humans on the road. This is why human drivers must be outlawed for autonomous systems to work as advertised by the companies working on them.

            2. Oh, and in case I’m not being obvious enough Google is already in bed with the government and I predict that should Autonomous vehicle technology come to actual fruition despite all the factors arrayed against it than Google will be the defacto car company in the United States. They may produce cars under various names, such as Buick, but ultimately the major part of those vehicles that allows it to actually legally be on the road will be proprietary Google software.

              RE: Microsoft and IBM’s relationship in decades prior.

              I’m not saying it will need to stay that way, but it will almost certainly require an anti-trust lawsuit to divorce those things.

        2. Sure there will be. But the economics of it will make their appeal limited. If you are a single person living in a big city who doesn’t have children and can travel to work in off peak times, they will make sense. The further you are from that description, the less sense such services will make.

          It will make a difference at the margins in most cases. for example, if you have a two income couple with children, one spouse might use these services to get to work but the other would use a personally owned car and take the children places and then to work. But that again would be for people who lived in densely populated areas,

          These sorts of things will never make sense for people in small towns or who live in more spread out suburbs. So, what you will see is these things operating about like Taxis and Uber does today only with a bit more frequency. What you will not see is the end of the majority of people owning their own cars, absent some kind of government intervention that artificially makes owning a car expensive.

          1. If you are a single person living in a big city who doesn’t have children and can travel to work in off peak times, they will make sense. The further you are from that description, the less sense such services will make.

            And if you are an impoverished person with kids who can manage to get by without a car the majority of the time you can use the ride hailing for the rare occasions it is needed and save the cost of purchasing the entire thing.

            1. That is a good point. Perhaps poor people who now are trapped on public transit will use these things. That would be a very good thing. But that would not be replacing the privately owned car. It would just be allowing those who can’t afford their own car an alternative way to get around.

              Now that you mention that, I think that is likely a good guess as to how these services are going to end up being.

              1. Speaking on a personal level, I use Uber more and more to go to ‘events’ in my home town. I find the hassle of parking, looking for parking, walking to the venue, paying for parking to not be worth it. If I need to go downtown, generally, I now call an Uber.

                I’m also increasingly using Uber to get my daughter around town. If she wants to spend the night with a friend at the north end of town, it’s just not worth getting in the car, sitting in traffic etc., I can call an Uber, and she arrives safely (mostly unraped) and I don’t have to make the round trip.

                Public transit is a no-go in these situations. If Uber were self-driving, I’d be good with it.

                1. If Uber were self driving, it would be every bit as unsafe as public transit.

                  1. If Uber were self driving, it would be every bit as unsafe as public transit.

                    So… pretty safe? Not sure what you’re saying here. Uber is the perfect arena for self driving cars. It doesn’t have to navigate (much) into parking lots and find parking, it’s a pickup and dropoff mode of transportation- which lends itself well to self-driving cars, and eliminates all the sticky situations that self-driving cars aren’t very good at– which doesn’t get publicized much.

                    1. Self-driving cars will become havens for hookers, drug deals, vomiting drunks and every other sort of vile human behavior. Talk to a cab driver sometime about how people act when there is someone there to watch them and then imagine what they will do when there is not.

                      That will make the cars gross. If there isn’t a driver, who do you keep someone from walking up and getting in the car? Sure the door can be locked, but you just break the window. The autonomous car won’t know enough to drive off. Talk about easy picking for robbery.

                    2. Well, what about cars with self-defense as a feature?

                    3. “The kids are off to early morning swim practice”

                      In a van with somebody else’s used condoms, bloody syringes, puke, piss and emotional support dog shit.

                    4. That will make the cars gross. If there isn’t a driver, who do you keep someone from walking up and getting in the car? Sure the door can be locked, but you just break the window. The autonomous car won’t know enough to drive off. Talk about easy picking for robbery.

                      This is absolutely true and something that needs to be worked out. The discussion of self-driving buses came up with a friend of mine who was a bus driver. If there’s anything that could be self-driving- it’s a bus– fixed routes, pickup/drop-off system. But both of us were like “Uhh, who’s going to deal with the homeless meth addicts that fill our nation’s bus routes?” That’s when we realized that Bus drivers wouldn’t lose their jobs, they’d just become bathroom attendants.

                  2. An Uber driver robbed a woman down here. I use them myself, though I pay extra for the no-robbery service.

                  3. If Uber were self driving, it would be every bit as unsafe as public transit.

                    Not really. The doors would lock presumably.

                    The main problem with public transit is the other people on it.


  6. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet,…

    Why so much insulation, Alphabet?

  7. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet

    Jesus, I’m going to need a lot of yarn and pushpins to understand these relationships.

    1. That one’s not so bad. Google, for whatever reason, made a parent company for itself called Alphabet. So Waymo and Google are different children of the same parent. Using Tree terminology

  8. Here’s a Vice News story on the self driving cars.

    @2:31 the engineers start discussing the very thing that makes me nervous about self-driving cars: The human capacity for stupidity is limitless, the self-driving car’s ability to deal with it is very finite.

  9. There are two problems I have with driverless cars. Neither will be solved to my satisfaction, but Leviathan will find them appealing.

    We will have to accept autonomous vehicles whether we want to or not. The safety record will eventually be burnished enough so that insurance costs for driving a car will be prohibitive. Government will be eager to get drivers off the road and that will accelerate the process.

    There will also be a loss of mobility and privacy in the transition. The ability to jump in your car and go whereever the hell you want to go will disappear, despite the picture cheerleaders paint. It will also be one more tool for the surveillance state to monitor your every move.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about either. The future will have a lot less freedom than the present. That should concern libertarians.

    1. Ludwig von Mises never had an iPhone XXX

    2. The world you paint is a dystopia. I don’t think you are right about these things taking over but time will tell. There is no reason why insurance will get more expensive. Insurance is priced by objective risk not relative risk. That said anyone who embraces the coming of these things is daft.

    3. I can quite easily imagine route starting point and destination will end up in a government database with the public claim that its for road taxing purposes and traffic studies.

      Of course we all know it will also be mined for other information such as:

      Your car reports you visited the gun shop/range three times this month. Flag that man for an intervention

  10. Two thoughts, off the top of my head…

    1. People generally keep a bunch of crap in their cars that they find useful at least now and then. If you don’t own the car, do you get rid of it and do without or pack it in a bag and carry it everywhere you go?

    2. As noted above, people often have stuff in their car (child seats, sporting equipment, etc.) that they are not necessarily using at their next stop. Will it be practical to carry and store it at their destination? Suppose you don’t have an office where you work. Will your employer have a place for you to safely put your (and everybody else’s) stuff?

  11. I’m curious how the various states will react to the loss of revenue that will result from everyone taking google-mobiles everywhere? Oregon is already talking about taxing drivers per-mile-traveled to make up for revenue lost to decreased gasoline sales resulting from more fuel efficient autos.

  12. Safer and cheaper, until the hackers route your robo-taxi somewhere they can rob you!

  13. Good for Ron!

    What’s not to like about a chauffeur who will never molest your sons or try to marry your daughters?

    But when will Google upgrade to a robomechanician in the safety seat ?

  14. And much cheaper robo-rides will persuade many folks to give up owning costly vehicles that sit in their driveways 23 hours per day.

    a.) People like to “nest” in and personalize their cars, leaving comfort and utility items in their own vehicles and decorating them with stick-figure families, dream catchers on their rearview mirror, and etcetera. They won’t be able to do that with robo-rides.

    b.) People like the convenience and autonomy of having their own vehicles. I, personally, like to be able to, at a moment’s notice, hop in my car and go to the liquor store when I realize I’m out. Or, if I get sick at the office and need to go home, I can do that with my vehicle parked outside. Hailing a robo-ride, however, means having to wait in a queue for the next available ride.

    c.) Barring the highly impractical practice of having every robo-ride cleaned between every fare, widescale use of robo-rides will, ultimately, be unsanitary. People have a tendancy to abuse things they don’t own. I sure as hell don’t want to hail a robo-ride and find someone else’s McDonald’s trash on their floor, or worse, their blood/semen/snot/spit/poop/unine/vomit/etc.

    Robo-rides will have their place, particularly replacing taxis and similar ride services, but you are mistaken if you believe the American Car Culture will abandon self-ownership of cars or readily adopt your pipe-dream anytime soon.

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