Self-driving cars

I’m in Long Beach at the BIL Conference. Yesterday my favorite talk was Brad Templeton’s talk on self-driving cars.

Brad shared some interesting ideas beyond what I’d already read or seen elsewhere:

Self-driving cars will facilitate sharing and mobility on demand. Right now, we buy ourselves big cars because we need them on occasion. With self-driving cars, we can summon from a pool of shared cars that can come to us, using “the right vehicle for the right trip”. (This builds on an idea I’d heard earlier: cars usually sit unused, and we’d share them more if only it were easy to get them to where they were needed. For instance, I leave my car sitting at work all day because I need it to be there when I’m ready to drive home–but it would be far more efficient if it could be lent out. Similarly, we’d need fewer cars if they could be used without us as drivers, like if my car could do separate runs to take me and my husband to our respective workplaces.)

Taxis cab companies will love these cars. Taxi cab drivers will not.

Lots of car makers (Mercedes, BMW, VM, Toyota, Nissan) are current working on modest self-driving features: traffic jam autopilot, acceleration (meaning acceleration when needed?), lane-keeping, temporary auto-pilot, parallel parking, and valet mode, in which your parked car comes to you.

He also had some great quips (paraphrased):

“Some people think self-driving cars will enable us to reach our goal of zero driving fatalities. But I think people will be having sex in their self-driving cars, so we’ll actually end up with negative fatalities.”

In response to a question about the cost of the lasers used: “The lasers are like $75K right now, but everything eventually costs $10 at Fry’s.”

In response to a question about when these cars will be available for purchase: “Wednesday, September 17, 2019, at 2:18 PM.” (To which an audience member shouted back, “What time zone?”)

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