Questions about the self-driving car bubble


Artur Kiulian comments on Frank Chen’s 16 questions about self-driving cars:

The major assumption is that “Everything that moves will go autonomous”, and we are not only talking about cars, all the trucks on our roads, drones in the sky, shopping cars and even toys will move by itself to the extent that our involvement will become rudimentary, undesired or even illegal.

CB Insights: 33 corporations that are working on self-driving cars


Kelly Blue Book May 2016 survey of 2,264 US adults 

80% believe people should always have the option to drive themselves and 64% agree with the statement “I need to be in control of my vehicle.”



Rodney Brooks:

There is a serious question about how safe is safe. 35,000 people in the US are killed in motor vehicle accidents per year, with about 1.25 million world wide. Right now all these deaths involve human drivers. They are both horribly large numbers. Over the last 120 years we, the human race, has decided that such high numbers of deaths are acceptable for the usefulness that automobiles provide.

My guess is that we will never see close to such high numbers of deaths involving driverless cars. We just will not find them acceptable, and instead we will delay adopting levels 4 and 5 autonomy, at the cost of more overall lives lost, rather than have autonomous driving systems cause many deaths at all. Rather than 35,000 annual deaths in the US it will not be acceptable unless it is a relatively tiny number. Ten deaths per year may be deemed too much, even though it could be viewed as minus 34,990 deaths. A very significant improvement over the current state of affairs.

It won’t be rational. But that is how it is going to unfold.

But Brooks, ever the techno-optimist (and for a good reason, in his case), goes beyond his excellent sociological analysis to predict that technology will eventually triumph, human “irrationality” notwithstanding and the challenges of machine-human interaction all overcome:

That is where we are today. People are overestimating how quickly level 5 autonomy will come, and even over estimating how widespread level 4 autonomy will be any time soon. They are seeing the technical possibilities and not seeing the resistance that will come with autonomous agents invading human spaces, be they too rude or overly polite. But things will march on and at some point every single car will be level 5 autonomy and we’ll no longer let people drive. Eventually it will creep up on us and we’ll hardly notice when it does happen.

Eventually manual driving disappear in all but specialized entertainment zones. But by then we won’t notice. It is inevitable. But, that day will not be soon. And the flying cars will be even later.