Phoenix, an area bigger than greater London but 1/5th the population. So basically driving around on half empty roads ?
Google stablemate Waymo has begun testing its self-driving cars on the mean streets of Phoenix, Arizona, without a single driver at the wheel. The organization ultimately wants people to request these fully autonomous vehicles on demand from an app, Uber-style. Chief exec John Krafcik today told the WebSummit conference in …
And the issue is? Would you rather start first test in central New York/London/Tokyo or in somewhere with much lighter traffic? Lighter traffic would seem to be preferable as vehicles will be more likely to actually travel at speed rather than just being an expensive brick. Also more dense situations do require stronger hardware, so would be easier in a less dense area for testing while hardware is still being developed.
Would you rather start first test in central New York/London/Tokyo or in somewhere with much lighter traffic?
Start with London. A disgusting, overcrowded s***hole, which needs a severe culling of the peasants and knobs alike. Absent a suitable plague, I'll settle for self driving cars to reduce the humans.
Greater Phoenix driver here, and I can say 'Well... Sort of."
The central Phoenix area (aka downtown) is pretty jammed during business days during the start of rush hour (~5 am or thereabouts) to early evening (~8-9 pm) most days, unless there's a sports event or something else going on. then it can be moderate traffic until midnight.
The outer cites (Tempe, Socttsdale, Glendale, Mesa, etc.) each have a similar downtown area with similar traffic density issues. (Mesa is especially egregious because they plonked a bloody rail line down the middle of it for our mass transit system.)
During the day time outside of rush hour, the feeder streets are largely empty, and the main thoroughfares have light to moderate traffic on them.
The freeways combine the 'fish in a barrel' density of California roads, the 'devil may care' attitude of New York drivers, and the 'I'm too old to be driving but I'll be safe in the leftmost lane' insanity of seasonal drivers and tourists. I don't think a machine would stand a chance in that zoo.
The main strength we have is that our streets are laid out in a mostly grid arrangement, with a few exceptions for topology and the odd railroad line that existed before the city became a sprawling metropolis.
I know that Waymo's main competitor, Uber, has been driving their little fleet of autonomous cars in a set pattern around the Tempe area. I've not really been paying attention, but the code that runs them seems to be competent enough, and the drivers appear to be largely polite or at least disinterested around them.
Right now, it appears they have someone inside during trips – either a passenger, a Waymo engineer, or both – but it's hoped they can be truly human-free in the near future.
The purpose of cars is to haul humans around. What's the point of hoping cars will soon be "truly human-free" (IOW sans passengers)?
Autonomous cars are based on deep learning, an old, annoyingly inadequate, baby-boomer technology from the last century. Just one little unsupervised learning breakthrough can force deep learning to become obsolete overnight. Suddenly, a bunch of highly paid AI experts are about as valuable as horse buggy mechanics. Not funny, I know. But life can come at you faster than you think.
"Two years ago, the biz completed a fully self-driving trip on public roads, when a blind man traveled from a park to a doctor’s office without anyone in the driver’s seat."
If he was blind, how did he know there was no one in the driver's seat? The driver could have been mute. ☺
And worryingly, if it was driverless, was the blind guy originally intending to go to the doctor? Or had to go after the accident? ☺
Kidding aside, would it have hurt to include a link?
I still think that the killer app for driverless vehicles is gonna be trucks with a driver that pilot out of the depot sign off on the digital taco and start reading a book until their final destination or next port. All the tricky stuff done by a human. Makes no sense in the U.K. but anywhere truck journeys are over 8 hours long this application has got to be a money earner for everyone. Even truck drivers.
Drivers will probably sit at the wheel in that cumfy chair anyway so accident rate will be low.
Taxis is just publicity.
When they switch to no Waymo engineer, so just passengers only, there might need to be a cleanliness check between rides.
Given some of the amorous behavior that goes on in taxis with a driver, scope for all sorts of mess when no driver to put a stop to passenger hanky panky (or alternatively accept a few quid to "turn a blind eye").
Big drawback of driver less taxis is inability to pay via gash machine after a night out when you have run out of cash
I think we need more than just hope here. What if it doesn't? Will it slam on the brakes wherever the car might be, say, in the outside lane of a busy motorway? Then what? Wait for someone to turn it off and turn it on again?
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