Saturday, July 4, 2015

Driverless Cars: Does Google Have Answers?

Lou Frenzel who writes and teaches about electronics and communications recently opined Just Say No to the Driverless Car. His article includes 15 questions and the 16th one is Does Google Have Answers?

I have an answer for Google, but first, Frenzel's 15 questions for driverless cars:

  • Can driverless cars operate as safely at night as they do during the day?
  • Can driverless cars handle rain, fog, and snow?
  • Once a driverless car gets you to your destination, can it find a parking place in a parking garage or on the street? Can it navigate your garage?
  • What if you want to go for a casual Sunday drive with no particular destination? Does the car have a “browser” that lets it just wander in a highlighted area, or what? Or will that even be allowed?
  • Will drivers get frustrated in navigating around slower, more-cautious driverless cars?
  • Can a driverless car ever make a left-hand turn across traffic, make a right turn on red, or merge into heavy traffic? In many cases, some risk is necessary to make any progress.
  • Can a driverless car find a toll lane, navigate road construction, or find a detour?
  • Can a driverless car operate in New York City traffic?
  • Will the driverless car really improve a person’s productivity if relieved of driving duties, as proponents claim?
  • Will there be an increase in the incidence of motion sickness in non-drivers, as some expect?
  • Whose insurance company pays in case of an accident?
  • Will driverless cars really reduce deaths and injuries? Supporters say yes, but this has not been proven.
  • Will driverless technology come to 18-wheelers? Scary thought.
  • Will driverless cars really be affordable, or just too expensive like electrics?
  • Why not just apply all the good technology to regular cars or make a driverless mode an option?

  • The last three questions are easy to answer.
    18-wheelers? Yes, for testing purposes: Daimler’s Driverless 18-Wheelers Approved to Cruise Nevada’s Highways
    Affordable? No. Driverless cars: 15 things you need to know. System costs start at $70,000 (plus the car.)
    Optional driverless function? Yes. It has started with intelligent cruise control, lane keeping, and other piece-meal components available now in mid-range priced vehicles and above.

    So, does Google have answers to all these questions? Google rarely published or debates the merits and demerits of their current state of the art.  My guestimate is Yes, a Google Car can do all of the above with over 99% reliability if, and it's a big if, all traffic is limited to 30 mph or less.

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