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Are We Ready to Give Up Driving?

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Bert22306   7/22/2014 9:45:27 PM
Very interesting article. My first reaction would be, Junko married to a luddite? How is that even possible?

Second, people should take a look at this video, to see just how "in control" they really are:

And in viewing it, imagine a vehicle with sensors all around, not to mention V2V comms at work, either automatically determining the best path to take, or at least nudging the driver in that direction.

My third point might be that it probably won't be a question of whether people are willing to pay extra for some of these new features. They will become mandatory. I'm sure that if you asked people, back in the 1960s and 1970s, whether they would pay extra for seat belts, airbags, and catalytic converters, they'd predominantly say no.

I think we're far from truly autonomous vehicles, but I can see that some heavily congested roads, in the future, could mandate autonomous driving. Simply because, if we want to avoid having to build more roads, autonomous driving can make a lot more effective use of roads that are properly equipped.

We've given up a whole host of tasks to automation, over the decades. And just about all of them are accomplished far better this way. Like, elevators (lifts), traffic cops, telephone switches, HVAC systems, the majority of car controls, the majority of aircraft controls, and on and on.

Some luddites complain that when we give up manual tasks, we lose the ability to do them. Okay. So, just how many of us care that there aren't any experts at manually setting the fuel/air ratio and spark advance in their cars? On the contrary, we don't want people doing that job, because they would pollute the air and waste lots of fuel.

That's the way these things evolve. Same will probably be said for manual, unassisted driving. See that video above.

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Cruise Control
Wnderer   7/23/2014 2:57:03 AM
What percentage of cars have cruise control these days? People use cruise control. An autonomous vehicle is like cruise control for sitting in traffic. If the car is driven from a heads up display computer type deal and you have to switch on the autonomous drive feature to be able to use the computer for surfing the web or texting your friends, people will use the autonomous drive. Or how about a breathilizer that turns on the autonomous drive when you're coming home from the bar.

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i already did,
HardwIntr   7/23/2014 3:44:44 AM
I ditched my car and my motorbike; i'm riding a bike ... you can count me as an early adopter! Riding a bike, is  REAL freedom. 

As for electronics and bikes, for your information, Samsung has struck a deal with Trek to enhance the "riding experience". So, all won't be lost for electronic manufacturers when energy will dry up like water in the desert. 

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The feeling of safety
?-??>   7/23/2014 4:51:36 AM
Great article Junko and I think it's more than about automated cars,

You mentionned trust issues concerning machines and automation, why there's so much "no". One more reason is people want to be in control of their own safety. Even if it is be more secure with self-driving cars (way more likely), they will still feel less safe. Planes can auto-land when there's really bad weather so that's not really a technology issue.

I'm waiting for the first accident including a self-driving car for the debate to really begin, during that time hundreds people will be dead in "regular" controlled accidents.


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Happy to give up 90% of the time
KeesM   7/23/2014 5:06:46 AM
Would be happy to give up driving most of the time, as long as I have some freedom to drive myself when I want to (e.g. in holidays). I know that after a long working day on a boring stretch of road, I am not the safest driver around... Not really interested in driving. So if public transportation or by bicycle is not an option, why not? As others already commented, it might actually be more safe than driving yourself. Yes, it will still take some time to get the systems reliable, and to get trust in it. Though for the moment, for everyones safety, I'll stick to my bike for the daily commute.

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Learning from Aviation business
MWagner_MA   7/23/2014 7:40:11 AM
The more you decouple the driver from the task of operating a motor vehicle, you are giving up (potentially) one of the best vision systems in the world (the human eyes and brain).  With all the cockpit automation it is easy for the pilots to lose track of the task at hand and hand over the trip to the auto pilot.  Recall the recent landings at wrong airports?  As a pilot, I like just "enough" automation to help me but still keep me engaged in the process.  I think blind side dection is an awesome technology, but not convinced a completely automated car is a good answer (unless it is at disney on a monorail :-))

Pablo Valerio
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Happy not to have a car
Pablo Valerio   7/23/2014 7:44:23 AM
Moving from Boston to Barcelona we have discovered the joy of being carless!

But you need to live in the city and have good public transport (Barcelona is one of the top 10). When we need a car for holidays, long weekends, etc. we just rent one.

The thing about European cities is they are not suitable for driving, unless you have your own parking everywhere you go.

If we decide to have a car we'll probably get an electric one. They are a bit more expensive but you get free parking, reduced toll rates and free charging around the city. And, with gas at $7.85 per gallon, electricity is cheap.

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Call it a generation gap
prabhakar_deosthali   7/23/2014 7:46:46 AM
The survey results are no surprise to me.


About 50 years back, if a survey would have been taken , asking people whether they trust the on line transactions , the result would have been 100 % no.

In the early days of computers' adoption in the daily office use , many a people still preferred the manual typwriters . I have seen people hesitating to even touch any key on the keyboard fearing that the computer may explode or something "Fatal"

( Remember "Fatal Error" =those days computers used to flash for any kind of silly mistake you would make while typing a comand?)

In the early days of email - people would not be sure whether the email will reach the detsination in time reliably, so they used to phone the person after sending the email to make sure he recived it.


So it takes time for a generation used to haing some technology to adopt new technology - the fear of unknown!


So just wait for today's kids to grow up and be happy sitting in those self driving cars  without any hesitation and worry about its realiability and their safety.


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better question
alex_m1   7/23/2014 7:57:40 AM
The question to ask is : "if i offered you a cheap, automated taxi, to take to/from work at your convenience , would you agree " ?

For that scenario most won't care about emotional ties to cars. 

And even getting 10% of people to say yes is great -those are the early adopters. In every market you first need to sell to some part of the early adopters before everybody starts to be interested. And for such a potentially risky tech 10% is a very good number.

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Re: Reactions
junko.yoshida   7/23/2014 10:08:42 AM
@Bert, as to your first point, ha ha, indeed. But i love having a skeptic built into our household so that I often get tough questions, challenging the very premise we take for granted in the tech world.

As to your second point, boy, that youtube clip you referred to scared hell out of me. It's a good one. I mean, it's a good reminder how badly things could go wrong when humans are in control of driving. 

As to your third point, you wrote:

My third point might be that it probably won't be a question of whether people are willing to pay extra for some of these new features. They will become mandatory. I'm sure that if you asked people, back in the 1960s and 1970s, whether they would pay extra for seat belts, airbags, and catalytic converters, they'd predominantly say no.

I actually agree with your point here. But as to where I put in bold "becoming mandatory," now, I wonder if this might become a political issue in the future.

We may be currenly underestimating the sentiment shared among so many people, particularly in the United States,  who would oppose to any type of regulations, mandates, or controls, no matter how reasonable they may be. Look no further than gun control issues. The government is NOT taking your guys away, and yet, that has become a single talking point for anyone opposing to the idea of imposing background checks.  

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