I always thought that a self-driving car would be great. You can just relax and read the paper on the way to work. I guess that is not ever going to happen unless you ride the train or bus. When driving with cruise control, you still have to steer and watch for obstacles. If the car did those for you, you would stop paying attention. Reminds me of the story of the Saudi prince that came to Texas and rented an RV. On the interstate in barren west Texas, he put it on cruise control and went in the back to get a beer. It rolled 8 times before coming to a stop.
@sheetal, Google has not announced its launch date; let alone where. That said, many leading carmakers have publicly talked about their goals for rolling out their first "autonomous cars" by 2020. While I take it more of their aspirational goal, some told us that self-driving cars become a reality sooner than we think.
I sense we're going around in endless circles. As long as we agreed that the truly autonomous cars have to be able to read signs and road markings, we agree that they need some form of V2I. So: (a) UNTIL you demonstrate that these cars CAN read all the signs, without modification of said signs, and pavement markings also without modification, they aren't ready for prime time. And (b) we can all agree that V2I of one type or another is necessary, regardless of mods needed or not needed.
So, why are we back to questioning the need to V2I? I have no dog in this race, so I have no reason to pretend that an important piece of the puzzle is not necessary.
Another point. Let's say the road is in bad shape, e.g. during a harsh winter. There's no way a radar system will be high res enough to detect these problems. So if some manufacturers decide they will only use radar, as they're certainly permitted to do these days, their solution won't be credible, without some new form of V2I (local road sensors providing RF info to cars about potholes etc.).
mixed_signal asked: How many drivers in the US know that in a car with an automatic transmission you can push forward on the shift lever and it pops the transmission into neutral.
The joke answer is "all those drivers who know how to use a manual transmission" and are thus aware of what "neutral" means. You can also add in "drivers who read the owner's manual" and pick up a couple percent.
Another answer is "all drivers who have used a drive-through car wash", since those establishments require you to put your car into neutral and will show you how if needed.
How many drivers in the US know that in a car with an automatic transmission you can push forward on the shift lever and it pops the transmission into neutral. This requires no buttons or anything special, just slam it forward and it takes the engine out of gear. (This is true of shift levers on the steering column or on the floor.) That allows the engine to keep running so you have full power to the power steering and brakes, as well.
I doubt many know this, but I'd be curious to see comments. For example, even as talented an engineer as Bob Pease wrote espousing that one should turn the key/ignition lock (just the right amount, in a panic situation) to shut the engine off but keep the accessories running(!). Of course, turning it too far toward 'off' would lock the steering column...
Maybe you don't need exhaustive sensors capable of reading and understanding every traffic sign and nuance. Why do I say this. Imagine your car is connected to internet. Now imagine you want to go from point A to point B. You input this into the car's GPS routing system. The car determines the route and accesses all of the available traffic information from an online traffic database, which has all of the road/traffic/signaling information. Since all other cars are connected, the car knows the traffic conditions, weather conditions, under construction conditions, etc. Of course, there will always be special cases (which is a very real challenge and will need to be addressed), but my point is that the car would have most (90%+) of the information, before it even started the route.
The more driver aids there are, the more driver distraction will prevail, maybe just falling asleep from boredom. Drivers will be unprepared to take quick action, especially in the event of a crisis situation. Driver aids should only take over in the event of a crisis beyond the ability of the driver to manage. Google car drivers will have to be carefully selected and trained. Perhaps co-drivers will be required for backup.