Good point "The profit"...Biking can be dangorous due to careless drivers, we have plenty of that in Vancouver...most of my biking friends had accidents due to careless driving of others...I wonder how the Google car behaves with respect to bikers
I tried to bicycle commute for health reasons but I determined that I would be much more healthy if I was out of shape instead of dead.
That was about 14 years ago and it was asian ladies making right hand turns in SUVs that did it (sorry Junko). I've never heard if autonomous cars are bicycle and pedestrian aware.
There are plenty of good reasons for autonomous cars but in the beginning most will be ignored. Drunks getting home from the bar seems like the perfect application but existing programs require a licensed driver at the wheel. Old people would freak out and take over when they see their speedometer move past 20 mph. One friend said he wouldn't get an autonomous vehicle until the front seats faced backward.
If every car on the road was autonomous (and properly programmed), we would certainly have safer and faster commutes but until then there are going to be drivers hitting autonomous vehicles and other problems.
Myself, I enojy driving and I'm good at it (I race a little). I won't be giving up soon. I don't plan on getting a new car any time soon either and I will not retrofit my current car.
Getting to the guns and cars analogy, cars are clearly just as deadly as guns but you wouldn't willingly let a computer point a loaded gun at you no matter what kind of safeguards it has.
Rob you of your pleasure? What the hell! Driving is dangerous to other people and drivers worry about their "pleasure" at the risk of killing innocent by-standers? If you want to "enjoy" driving, do it in a game, not on the road.
The same thing goes for the "380 horses": power fantasies should remain in the virtual world.
Will the 1st autonomous car be less dangerous than a good driver? Probably not.
Will it be less dangerous than most drivers? maybe.
Will the N-th generation of autonomous car be less dangerous than the best human driver? hell yes! Software is improved over time. Humans, however, don't change: they're reckless and are subject to fatigue.
Will the initial generations of autonomous cars "rob" you of your "pleasure"? Certainly not, as they would not be able to drive "everywhere' (only in known places, where the car's maps are up to date), they would need to have some kind of manual fallback (think of the autonomous cars in "I robot")
How will autonomous cars be introduced in our lives and our way of life? Like most things, start small... Probably with taxi companies (they're already "autonomous cars" anyway), make them cheap enough (they can bring in money with almost no maintenance & salary costs, assuming no or little vandalism) to encourage people to stop buying their own cars, and you'll be on your way to changing mentalities.
Once safety statistics come in, end-consumers will start buying them in order to be able to make a phone call while driving to work, in order to "drink and drive", in order to send the car autonomously to the auto-shop for maintenance, or even send their kids to school by themselves (yes, that last one could be pretty bad, but you can expect it will happen). And they'll buy them instead of using an "auto-taxi" mostly because they won't have to wait for it to arrive.
@junko, as a person who paid to have proper neck rests fitted in a car that was manufactured without them and so didn't require them, I have to say that people are in general too infantile to accept what's good for them. That's a bit harsh I know, but the status Quo flies in the face of the world wide experience. The the one exception is Switzerland where a set of unique parameters exist.
So many wail about the number of gun deaths per year but want everyone to carry one because then less people will get shot than if nobody has them (yeah right) and likewise if autonomous cars become good enough to reduce accidents the same people will again rather die than be saved by a machine. It's just the rebelious nature of people.
Personally I think fully autonomous driving may not be viable until all cars are fitted with at least M2M comms because human drivers are just so unpredictable, but when it is proven to be the better altrenative I'll take it up.
@docdivakar... I am almost car-free here in Cambridge, MA. I live two blocks from the T, walk most places, and only use the car for grocery shopping with lots of bags to carry and a yoga place across town. We might be able to get rid of the car completely and just use something like Zip car (rent it when we need it). I am such a better, happier person now that I drive less than a tank of gas per week.
@docdivakar...I remain puzzled deeply about luck of public transportation in densely populated areas in North America...I just spent a month in Europe, no need for car at all (I used planes, trains, boats, bikes, walks and yes, taxi but with the driver that knew where to go instead of my silly navigation system at home that gets lost in all critical situations)
@Kris: I think you will live longer taking public transport, so much reduction in stress levels! Silicon Valley highways are a zoo at rush hours. One would think public transport is ideal for this place but vested interests have made sure it ain't so (except for San Francisco).