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In the age of peak oil and climate change, the gasoline powered automobile may become too costly to continue to dominate our transportation system.  But Americans have become spoiled by the mobility and convenience provided by the car.  So what can we do?  Part of the answer may come from a surprising source.

Electric cars are suddenly becoming available from multiple auto makers.  But the big problem with electric cars is the relatively short range, and the long time it takes to recharge.  Various forms of rail travel can move you long distances, but you have to travel to a train stop or station, and then travel from your stop to your final destination.

The solution is to combine the electric car and rail travel.  But what really makes it work efficiently is a new technology, the self driving car.  This is where Google comes in.

Self driving cars seem like a science fiction concept.  But they are coming faster than I or most other people thought.  Google is doing a major project developing self driving cars.

Our self-driving cars have now traveled nearly 200,000 miles on public highways in California and Nevada, 100 percent safely. They have driven from San Francisco to Los Angeles and around Lake Tahoe, and have even descended crooked Lombard Street in San Francisco. They drive anywhere a car can legally drive.

I would guess that these tests have a standby driver ready to take control if anything went wrong.  But still this is impressive.  Self driving cars might be able to greatly reduce the huge death toll on our highways.  Right now, you are far more likely to be killed driving than by terrorism.  Such cars would allow new ways of transporting ourselves.

Let's say you want to take a trip that is too long for most electric car, say 200 miles.  If you own a self driving electric car, you can drive it to the train stop.  Instead of having to park the car, it drives itself home, where it automatically attaches itself to a recharger while you are gone.  If you do not own a car, you summon a self driving electric taxi to take you to the train.  Once you get to your destination train stop, you again summon a self driving electric taxi to take you to your final destination.

The self driving cars are just as useful for shorter trips.  A family might not need multiple cars, since after one person completed a trip, the car could drive home to be available to other family members.

Self driving taxis should have a big cost advantage,  since it does not need a driver.  It might make it much easier to live without owning a car.

Right now, most cars are sitting idle most of the time.  With self driving electric cars or taxis, any number of people can use it throughout the day.  Parking is not a problem.  You keep door to door mobility.  It makes it easier to live without owning a car.  You can read the newspaper or DKos on you way to work.  So that might be one way transportation will look in the future.

Originally posted to Thutmose V on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ugh. Can we please drop..... (20+ / 0-)

    ....the 'spoiled American' bullshit?  Unless you live in a major city, preferably on the east coast, you have to have a car.  It's not a question of being spoiled or entitled..... it's a question of the nearest source of groceries being miles away.

    Gods you people have no fucking idea how much western cities sprawl and how woefully inadequate mass transit is.  People out here have no choice but to drive.

    •  You are right about people needing to have a car (9+ / 0-)

      in most places.  I need a car here in the suburban Minnesota.  But even if we had good mass transit and reduced the urban sprawl we are afflicted with now, people will still want maximum mobility on their own schedule if possible.

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

      by Thutmose V on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:32:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My take on all this... (11+ / 0-)

      ... is that people living in all those places... oh, wait, THESE places, I live two miles from the nearest market... are going to have some real problems in the coming century. We're going to HAVE to move much, much closer together, and we're so ill-prepared for it-- most places, it's not even legal to build for the kind of densities we'll need. Scary stuff.

      •  Or, in the alternative, we're going to have (0+ / 0-)

        to get more clever.

        Your take, and the take of many people around here, reminds me of  people who believe the pyramids must have been built by aliens because people simply didn't have the knowledge or technology to build them.

        It's a logical conceit: "If I can't conceive it, it must not be possible".

        I'm not certain that we must all get closer -- in fact, given that cities tend to be the most expensive places to live, I'm not at all certain it's desirable.

        I think of things my family has done:

        1) drive a smaller car,
        2) combine trips,
        3) choose closer stores,
        3) bike when the weather permits, and
        4) walk when we can.

        All have reduced both the cost and energy footprint of living here.  I have no doubt that people far more clever than we are can come up with even more and better ways to avoid the need for moving into crowded, noisy, and expensive cities.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:02:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I guess you have never (11+ / 0-)

      experienced people who would drive 1/4 mile rather than walk on a nice day.  I see it frequently.  Now I would not extend that level of laziness to all Americans and in that you are correct - because I have a car does not necessarily mean I am spoiled.

      But I read the statement a little differently.  I saw it not as an indictment on Americans but an acknowledgement that due to the convenience and mobility of the car you have the sprawling cities that you mention.  The difference between the sprawling cities in the West (and other places) and the major East Coast cities is that the East Coast cities "grew up" without cars.  SO a city that had matured prior to the explosion of the very convenient and mobile car had to establish other means of convenience for travel.  So you will likely see closer grocery stores for example (except for poor areas - poor people don't count) and better rail/trolley/subway systems.

      In this light one could argue that the Western sprawled cities are a result of the convenience and mobility of cars (see I didn't say spoiled but you can view it that way).  So the car enabled us to spread things out and make it convenient for cars but not for people using other modes of travel.  If one were to remove cars from the picture suddenly - there would be a lot of problems.

      BTW in the East we aren't immune from sprawl either.  In my region, Southeastern PA, homes have moved further and further from employment areas.  Developments have sprouted up that do not have good public transportation and require a vehicle for work as well as other things.  When costs rise this causes hardship.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:35:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  true of many places, but (5+ / 0-)

      I live in a medium size city (Santa Barbara), work ten miles from my home, and have no car.  Granted, my personal lifestyle is very spartan (my kids are grown and my needs are few and the weather is amenable).  My girlfriend is also carless.

      But it is certainly true that in many large cities even (like St. Louis, e.g. which has pitiful public transportation now even though it had a great network of light rail in the past) you simply cannot get by without a car under most circumstances.

    •  Well, this Easterner sure has a "f'ing idea" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GMFORD, salmo

      after my first night in Lost Wagers, when I asked directions from the casino/hotel to an (I kid you not) authentic Bulgarian restaurant & was told, down the road to the second traffic light, turn left, & it's 5 blocks up on the right. Not having a car, I set out on shank's mare in the early August evening...

      ...& discovered that the blocks were half a mile long (or longer). And the low temperature that night was 85 F with about 500% humidity.

      Next day I rented a car.

      snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

      by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:24:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We already have this tech (7+ / 0-)

    It's called a taxi. The cost of a human driver is small compared to the cost of the self-driving tech. Besides, think how often your computer crashes. Or gets a virus. Or freezes up.

    Electric cars? Sure.

    Solar powered? I'll buy.


    Willing to bet your kids' lives?

    Even my Mac gives me the rainbow wheel of frozen jam from time to time.

    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

    by Maggie Pax on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:27:06 PM PST

    •  How often to human drivers crash? (9+ / 0-)
      Besides, think how often your computer crashes.

      Are you willing to bet your childrens' lives on human drivers (even yourself)?

      Of course, human drivers will no doubt become safer drivers once computers are programed to grab the wheel from us whenever we do something stupid while driving.

      "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

      by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:36:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ugh, no. (6+ / 0-)

        Until computers and computer vision becomes much more reliable, a car shouldn't be able to override the driver (except, perhaps, in last-minute crash-avoidance situations, based on ultrasonic sensors, and I'm even leery about these.  Sometimes you have to hit something while maintaining control to avoid something worse.  I'll take creaming a cat to chancing swerving into the next lane on an icy road any day.)  

        What happens if the car thinks that a black plastic bag floating on the breeze in the middle of the freeway is a solid object, and either slams on the brakes or swerves among traffic?  What happens when a bird flies across your bumper and triggers your crash sensors?  What happens when that bird flies across your path and takes out your vehicle's camera?

        This of course also doesn't take into account at all the inherent unpredictability of other drivers.  Autonomous vehicles would be much safer if all the other vehicles on the road were also autonomous.  Until then, human beings are better at predicting what another human being will do.  An experienced driver can look at the way the other driver is positioning himself on the road and in the car, look at the way that his head is cocked, and come to the conclusion that, signal or no signal, he's about to change lanes.  A computer vision system -- particularly if partially obscured by rain, snow, dust, mud, insects, or bird crap -- can't really do that.  Humans are just plain better at all kinds of patter recognition in these kinds of chaotic and 'noisy' environments than any kind of economical computer control system really can be.

        In any case, I'd have the vehicle be instantly overrideable by the human occupant.  I think that -- at this point -- much more could be done by focusing on augmented reality and systems to alert the driver or otherwise make driving easier for them.  Also, limited use of AI could do things like help keeping drivers centered in their lane through some kind of force-feedback system or automatically (slowly) reducing speed when something like a pileup is detected ahead (though that would require networked sensor information exchanges between cars.)

        •  Well, I'll admit to being a little facetious... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...with the "wheel grabbing" line, but...well...not necessarily.

          There will come a day when computers are in fact better at stuff like that than we are.

          Even predicting the behavior of other drivers (and their computers!).

          Even with all the fuzzies.

          Whether that day arives in time for my car to chauffeur me around in my old age?...well, we'll see...I ain't gettin' any younger...

          "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

          by ehrenfeucht games on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:07:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  200,000 miles. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yaque, Miggles

          No apparent breakdowns or issues.
          1 accident - the vehicle was struck while stopped at a red light.  The operator of the other vehicle of course was human.

          That doesn't mean that next year's line of cars will feature any self driving cars.  Nor does it mean it will occur within the next 25 years.  It merely means we are moving closer to that possibility.

          I think you are correct about pattern recognition.  And we are definitely not there by any stretch of the imagination.  But it is fun to think that maybe just maybe we'll see this in our life times.

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:41:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Umm...yes (5+ / 0-)
        Are you willing to bet your childrens' lives on human drivers (even yourself)?

        Of course we're willing to bet our children's lives on human drivers.  We all do it every single day, even if we don't drive.

    •  The cost of the self driving capability will be (8+ / 0-)

      much less once it has been developed.  The cost of developing the software will be very large.  But once the software has been developed, the cost of copying it to the cars will be trivial.  Once the NRE (non-recurring engineering) costs have been amortized, the software becomes cheap.  This is the general case of mass produced software, which is why Windows costs about $100 even though it costs millions to develop it.

      The costs of the hardware is less than you think.  Just try pricing a web cam to see that.  Figure out what a driver costs for a year, even it if was at minimum wage.

      As far as the safety issue goes, you are already betting your life and the life of your family on software every time you fly a commercial airliner.  For a specific application, and tested as a whole, using development and testing procedures already used for safety critical systems such as aircraft and medical devices, the self driving software will be much more reliable than the software on a desktop computer, collection of hundreds of programs developed by many different people, with cost and schedule pushing for fast release, and tested separately from each other.

      It won't be perfect.  But the human drivers we have now are very far from perfect.  At present over 30000 people a year are killed in traffic accidents.  Even a self driving car that is not perfect might save thousands of lives.  Just read the link in the article to see what the chief of the Google development project thinks about that issue.

      If properly tested, I would not hesitate to trust myself or my children to a well engineered self driving car.  In fact, I think they would be safer than they are now when they ride in cars.

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

      by Thutmose V on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:58:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh, I disagree. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ehrenfeucht games, Contra, PeterHug

        If you look at my comment above, you can see why I think that automously-driven cars aren't a good idea right now.  But moreso I object to your use of the airplane autopilot systems as being even vaguely analogous.  They're not.  Aircraft have an easier time of it.  Possible crash-points are either almost completely known (geographical map + building data) or extremely easy to identify at a distance and highly predictable in flightpath (other planes.)  Planes also have multiple extra degrees of freedom over cars.  Landing similarly occurs in an extremely controlled environment.  And finally, 'losing traction' never happens with planes, except in very unusual circumstances such as stalls or extreme weather, and even then, you often have altitude to save you.

        Screaming down the interstate at 75 in a pack of cars, the closest of which may only be feet away, and the next-closest of which may be only a couple more feet away and coming in the opposite direction with a constant pack of his fellows is an entirely different kettle of fish.  So are icy roads and other hazardous conditions, which might require a choice between bad (cream the dog that jumped out in front of you) and worse (possibly lose traction and drive off the road into a tree) that a computer is ill-equipped to make.  

        •  Of course, one counter-argument is, (0+ / 0-)

          Given that the optimum speed for fuel-economy of many vehicles is 55-60mph, why go 75? (Granted, driving slower than traffic and/or local speed limits can get you in trouble too.)

          "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

          by Shaviv on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:31:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Time is worth more to people than gas, (0+ / 0-)

            in many cases, and if you can avoid being late for work by saving a couple of minutes at 75, it could save your job.  And, of course, irregardless of speed limits, 70-75 is the 'normal' speed on many roads.

            ...But all of that is irrelevant.  The thing that is relevant is that people drive at those speeds -- and even at a low speed of 'merely' 65 (with a closing speed of 130 w/ oncoming traffic,) there's not much of a difference in the response times needed.  

    •  "rainbow wheel of frozen jam"? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yaque, Maggie Pax

      Not a Mac user - - I assume this is analogous to the "Blue Screen of Death" that PC users encounter at some time or another.

      Always glad to learn something.

      Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:06:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you often summon taxis in the suburbs? (0+ / 0-)

      We are a one car family. I carpool, so I use the car for traveling to work about 25% of the time (we rotate). Mostly it works out ok for us, but sometimes my wife needs to take one of my daughters to the doctor on short notice or run some other relatively urgent errand. Taxis REFUSE to come. They'll only come if we're traveling to the city or the airport.

      Even when I lived in San Francisco, dealing with taxis was a pain. I lived by the excelsior district (iow a working-class residential part of town) and I always had to wait HOURS to get a taxi, so I'd usually opt to walk a mile to the bus stop which was fine except sometimes I had to transport stuff, heavy or bulky stuff, in which case it wasn't fine.

      And then there's been my visits to Pittsburgh, PA where it again takes hours to get a taxi after an evening bar hopping on the south side.

      Now perhaps if the taxi system were altered so that cabbies weren't independent and paid an hourly wage, and HAD to pick people up when they called for one in a reasonable amount of time, then that would work. Otherwise, I'm intrigued by the driver-less option.

      I'm running for office! Website:; Donate now:

      by Alfonso Nevarez on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:30:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Self-driving cars are like nuclear fusion... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..."just around the corner". Even now, with the advances we've seen in microcomputers.

    Get back to me next Tuesday, `k?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:28:00 PM PST

    •  I used to think so too. (6+ / 0-)

      But now I think that it will very likely happen within 20 years.  I think that there is a good chance that it will happen within 10 years.  There might even be some limited deployment within 5 years.

      Read the article in the link to see how far they have come.

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

      by Thutmose V on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:01:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  GoogleMobile: with built-in surveillance! (15+ / 0-)

    This raises creepy to a whole 'nother level.

    You and your friend Dave get in the GoogleMobile and punch in your destination.  A voice like that of HAL issues forth from behind a telescreen:

    "I see you're going out for pizza.  May I suggest Dominos, and give you ten percent off on your ride?"

    You scrunch up your nose and start to say "Domino's is sh-..." but the all-seeing eye of Google has already read your facial expression and interrupts, "I see you don't like my suggestion. That's OK.  I notice you've lately been using our search engine to look for some athletic shoes, and you've even asked friends about them over GoogleVoice.  Would you like a coupon at Sports Palace...?"

    By this time your friend is wishing that the two of you could just have an uninterrupted conversation, and he wants do to that voice of HAL what the guy in the movie Space Odyssey did to the original HAL.  

    But alas it was not to be.

    "I'm sorry, Dave," says the voice, "I cannot let you do that.  My EEG sensors have picked up your intention to commit vandalism and cybercrime, so now I am going to drive you to the police station to be arrested.  Do not resist.  Resistance is futile...."

    "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 09:59:33 PM PST

    •  *snicker* (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ehrenfeucht games, yaque, Shaviv

      You just have to make sure it's programmed to understand "Shut the fuck up, Hal."

      Seriously, though, the ability to network cars together and share sensor data and other information is immensely powerful.  It certainly can be used to oppress ... but on the other hand, it could do fantastic things with trip routing, reporting of road conditions and hazards, and other things to bring a lot more information and intelligence to the driver.  I'd love a car with a bitching betty that could tell me: "Hazard, reduce speed.  Three vehicles have driven off the road and deployed airbags a quarter mile ahead.  The temperature is below freezing.  Watch out for black ice and road hazards.  Emergency services are en route."

      •  all of which can be done without surveillance! (7+ / 0-)

        There is no need whatsoever for cars to be collecting and transmitting data about their own behavior, much less their occupants.  

        Everything that you described can be done with other fixed devices transmitting, and the cars receiving & interpreting / utilizing the data.  Just like GPS and automatic map functions.

        For example here's one I think would be highly useful:

        Traffic lights would broadcast telemetry to devices in cars that would integrate those data with instant and trip miles per gallon data (which are derived from the odometer sensor plus the fuel pump sensor, and obtainable via the ODB port, per "ScanGauge" and similar products).  

        The output would be a "target speed" calculated to maximize your fuel efficiency when approaching stoplights.  For example by informing you of the speed that will enable you to drive through a series of green lights, or that you can't make a particular light so you should take foot off gas pedal now and coast to stop at the upcoming light.

        Notice that none of this requires cars to transmit anything: only to receive data from other devices.  And there is no inherent need to store the data used by the system.

        As a generalization, these technologies can be designed with or without respect for freedom and privacy.  And I don't trust Google any further than I can throw them when it comes to protecting freedom & privacy.  

        "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 02:54:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And I don't trust Google ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Your concerns have been noted.

          I used to like to go to work but they shut it down I got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found Yes and they say we're gonna have to pay what's owed We're gonna have to reap from some seed that's been sowed -Mark Knopfler

          by rambler american on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 04:07:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  what's that supposed to mean? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            "concerns" as in "concern troll"?  

            Please clarify.

            "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 05:02:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It looks like snark (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, radarlady, rambler american

              as in, Big Brother Google is watching everything and notes your lack of trust.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:52:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, OK. (4+ / 0-)

                I thought the commenter was calling me a concern troll for being "paranoid" about Big Brother Google.  

                BTW, the CEO of Google is on record saying his goal is to always be just a hair shy of the "creepy" threshold.  Seems to me they've been exceeding it every chance they get.

                "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:40:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

                for the clarification. I have been away from my computer all day and did not realize my comment had been taken the wrong way.


                I used to like to go to work but they shut it down I got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found Yes and they say we're gonna have to pay what's owed We're gonna have to reap from some seed that's been sowed -Mark Knopfler

                by rambler american on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 04:49:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  If it can be done WITH surveillance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maggie Pax

          it will be--so long as someone is willing to pony up enough for the results of the surveillance that it makes a profit for the surveillers. (And so long as we the people allow our government to allow private entities to do it.)

          snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

          by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:37:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I understand the concerns about privacy and such.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...And I hold to them, too.  However, you're overlooking the fact that cars outfitted with various sensors are a marvelous way to gather data, particularly when it comes to near-instantaneous identification of traffic hazards and such.  The fact that they're practically everywhere, moving around, and produce their own power makes them great sensor platforms.  There's some data which is best gathered and reported by the vehicles travelling the road.  If your car could transmit that it's freezing out and it lost traction temporarily at such-and-such a place, it could distribute that as an 'ice warning' to the rest of the network.  Another use could be in weather mapping and prediction -- a temperature and humidity sensor on each vehicle, tied to a GPS, would allow for vastly more granular weather data, and better predictions because of it.  Pothole locations could be automatically marked and forwarded to the applicable authority.

          Of course, with the current political environment, I can't endorse this kind of system, because it would be used as yet another arm of Big Brother.  However, that's a problem of politics and laws; I hope that that would change.  There also could be ways to obfuscate the information without losing its utility; these could be investigated too, although I can think of several ways by which you might be able to still tie data to an individual.  But ... that's a technical problem, it could possibly be solved in such a way that preserves the anonymity of the source of the data.

          I agree that there's no really good use for transmitting information about the occupants of a vehicle.  

      •  You mention airbags: (0+ / 0-)

        I would say, airbags and traction sensors are an exception to the I-don't-want-my-car-transmitting rule - but only when they are reporting major issues, not merely "The accelerometer farted, airbags not deployed" or "We ran over a cat, shift power to other wheel".

        "Airbags deployed" or "Major loss of traction/control" would be a good signal to share, not that much else though.

        "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

        by Shaviv on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:38:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, KenBee

      And how long before there are dozens or hundreds of hacks of these systems?  And applications of those hacks for both private and government purposes?

      With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

      by jrooth on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:42:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and instant terrorist potential too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Terrorists firebomb a highrise building and then cause a huge traffic jam to prevent the fire engines getting through.  

        Or terrorists just program the GoogleMobiles for huge chain-reaction crashes with hundreds of cars each.  Or make them speed into the sides of buildings, preferably stores full of shoppers.  

        The potential for harm is just too great to tolerate.  

        "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:05:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is already possible to use off-the-shelf (0+ / 0-)

        computer gear (Bluetooth and WiFi hardware, plus computer and software package) to hijack a car's master controller and shut down the engine.

        "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

        by Shaviv on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:39:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Newsflash: they already know where we are (0+ / 0-)

      As it is now, a lot of drivers have GPS, and regardless most mobile devices betray your location at all times. Add to that that insurance companies want to start putting devices in your car that spy on your driving habits (for a discount, for now).

      Further, you do realize that the voice of the car is more likely to sound like Andre 3000 than HAL 9000, don't you?

      I'm running for office! Website:; Donate now:

      by Alfonso Nevarez on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:40:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love public transportation (9+ / 0-)

    and it is definitely something we should be talking about/brainstorming about/dreaming up.

     I am living, by choice, in a city with great transport, and don't have or need a car, but the streets are still full of cars, too full.  It is, unfortunately here, a social class thing to take a car.  I am not in the US.

    •  I use cabs all the time. My town has a program (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, KenBee, Lonely Texan

      for seniors and handicapped.   we can take a taxi from anywhere in town to anywhere else in town for $3 and return for the same.    The only catches are needing an ID card that is easy to get at their office, advance reservations from prior to 5pm at least the day before and maybe having to share a ride with someone if someone is going the same general direction.  This is subsidized by the city.

      I would have been stuck at home many times if I did not have this.   The other day on the way from a Dr appointment we stopped by the VA.   The driver noted that the card was an old one,   number 7,---,   my number is 42,--- and I've had it for 3 years.   Ed said yep, he's  been disabled for years.   I've met so many interesting people taking the taxi.  

      I feel pretty confident no rw-alec goons can get at this program short of managing to put an economic nazi over us which isn't at all likely.  

      About the self driving cars,  There are many people supporting themselves and their families by driving cabs.  We need to NOT be cutting down on jobs by automating them out of existence.  Maybe with a full, humming economy, but right now, it would be just condemning more people to poverty, hunger and freezing to death on the street.

      Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by maybeeso in michigan on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:04:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting! Very Interesting! I'm sure something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    like this will come along. But I don't see it happening in my lifetime (b:1960)

    "We're here to start a dialog, nothing more. We keep quiet and let the press, the politicians, and the Wall Streeters hang themselves." From a veteran protester in the civil rights days at Liberty Park. h/t to pistols at dawn.

    by mrsgoo on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:25:54 PM PST

  •  The problem with this is that it DOUBLES fuel use. (6+ / 0-)

    While we still obtain most of our electricity from fossil carbon sources, this means that they'll wind up killing much or all of the efficiency savings you get using mass-produced electricity.

    A better idea would be a network of fast-swap battery stations, or even eliminating the idea of private ownership of vehicles and just being a member in some sort of electro-cab association network.  You summon a car, you use it, then you release it to go to the next person.  If you run low on charge, the car goes to a charging station while summoning a replacement which would either meet you en-route or at the charging station, whichever was faster.  If you knew where you were going the system could make sure to only route you cars with sufficient charge remaining to get you there (and itself to a charge station.)  This is where autonomous driving cars would be handy, because it would allow for automated redistribution and routing of cars when not in active use.

    ...Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  •  the problem with trains & busses (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, radarlady, Miggles

    . . .is you have to stop the damned thing to let people on & off. If some brainiac ever figures a way to shoot the passenger into and off of the speeding train or bus without it slowing down, people will then more readily opt for public transportation.

    I once started a business with 50 bucks in my pocket and an old volkswagen. The vw blew up my third day in and I continued doing business by bus. It took me hours to get to my locations and back. It was infuriatingly slow.

  •  A boon for senior citizens? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, radarlady, Miggles, JBNathan85

    If this can be worked out to be truly reliable (and inexpensive) imagine what a boon driverless cars could be for senior citizens. (And for the rest of the driving population who would no longer have to deal with having seniors behind the wheel when they have no business driving a car!)

    Seniors could retain their independence and mobility, which is a major big deal for them. Taking a taxi in today's world-- to get back and forth from the store, for example-- is a big expense for an awful lot of seniors on a fixed income. Bus service in too many cities is difficult for seniors to use, doesn't take them everywhere they might want to go, and takes a long time (often with multiple transfers), which makes it a real chore.

    Done right, driverless cars could be a godsend.

    You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help. --Calvin & Hobbes

    by tigerdog on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 03:47:33 AM PST

  •  Commuter Cars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, JBNathan85

    If I could have a car waiting for me when I walk out the door in the morning and another one right after work it would be fantastic.

    All the cars would need to be linked to a central computer to allow for changes.  For example if I didn't go into work one day the system could re-route the car to the next nearest passenger.

    In between rush hours they could re-charge.

    Let me know when it is ready.

    Which is good news for John McCain.

    by AppleP on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 03:49:06 AM PST

  •  You have not dealt with the truck. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, radarlady, tacet

    The truck is key to changing transportation modes. If you do not believe me go stand next to your nearest interstate and count the trucks going by. The truck needs too much power for an electric engine. You can suck all the energy out in the first few feet.

    The answer is to get rid of the internal combustion engine in favor of an external combustion engine. The one engine with enough power to move big loads is steam. A steam engine is even more mocho than a Hemmi.

    How do you heat the water for the steam? With an H2 O2 flame. It really burns hot. Just ask NASA.

    Where do you get the H2 O2 - from electrolysis.

    Where do you get the electric power for the electrolysis? - From solar

    Where do you get the water to do the electrolysis? From the sea with reverse osmosis. The reverse osmosis easily provides slightly salinic water which it just happens to work well in electrolysis.

    Now what is the carbon foot print  ZERO.

    Now everything can move with no carbon based fuels involved.  All the science is there only engineering is required along with the collective will.

    •  Trucking is a very complex aspect of this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yaque, radarlady, Miggles

      Certainly current average loads of semis preclude easy or practical transition to batteries (even as capacities and weight limitations are being overcome with astounding regularity - but I don't want to get off the main thrust of your assertion here.)

      But I contend that rail is even now grossly underused to haul a great deal of freight that is otherwise headed in the same direction for hundreds of miles on dozens of separate semi trucks. It probably puts a lot of truckers out of work, but given the health damaging conditions so many long haul freighters work under, it might be better to focus their energy and expertise on deliveries from "rail heads" to destinations of 300 miles or less.

      Your idea deserves merit and consideration, but I submit that there is not just a energy but also a logistics problem in the manner we've grown accustomed to hauling freight and making deliveries around our nation.

      Occupy Wall Street AND K Street!!!!

      by Egalitare on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:55:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  an interesting, but probably (0+ / 0-)

    unworkable solution.

    bummer we built so much sprawl, but it is what it is. it's why i dont live out west--i hate driving. I'll back the household car down the driveway and that's about it---don't even have a license.

    [insert pithy sigline here]

    by terrypinder on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 04:42:27 AM PST

  •  Another few million jobs gone. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Oh well, there go a few million more jobs. Driving a taxi or a truck may not be the highest quality job around, but it provides employment for millions or people, many of whom manage to support a family with it.

    Just fast forward to the future with self-driving taxis gliding along city streets, and self-driving trucks roaring along our highways, while millions more stand in the unemployment lines.

    (previously posted at )

    •  Yeah we should switch back to burning wood too... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miggles, JBNathan85

      ...and provide jobs for millions of chimney sweeps!  Not that there's anything wrong with chimney sweeps or taxi drivers or truck drivers.

      But the goal--what some might call "progress"--is to move technology in a direction that makes less difficult, manual labor necessary for humans.  And new technology and innovation always provides new sources of employment too.  Are you against eliminating fossil fuels because the oil industry supplies so many jobs?

      A lot of the problem isn't even a shortage of jobs--it's a shortage of jobs that people are trained to do.  In addition to better technology we need to be investing more in free/cheap education and job training.

      (And in any case, not to be alarmist or anything, but long unemployment lines is a far cry better than cavernous  corpse pits from the millions that will die from global warming-related effects, so....I'm for anything that can lead to taking more cars off the road and making transportation more efficient.)

      •  Look at the Industrial Revolution (0+ / 0-)

        We are all glad to be heirs of the industrial revolution.  It has improved the lives of everyone, even the poorest on the planet. Yet it was pure hell for the workers who lived through it.

        I think we are in a comparable situation with computerization.  It amy be good in the long run, but painful in the short run.  We should work to reduce the pain.

  •  A personal observation (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, radarlady, bmcphail, Thutmose V, KenBee

    1. The number of our larger cities that have woefully inadequate mass transit is the very first thing I would tackle:

    The worst cities of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas for transit and employment access are:

    91. Atlanta, Ga.

    92. Richmond, Va.

    93. Greenville, S.C.

    94. Birmingham, Ala.

    95. Knoxville, Tenn.

    96. Riverside, Calif.

    97. Youngstown, Ohio

    98. Augusta, Ga.

    99. Palm Bay, Fla.

    100. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

    Other key findings from the report:

    Nearly 70 percent of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind. Meaning that 128 million working-age people live in metro areas with some kind of transit access, while 39 million people in these metro areas have no access to transit.
    The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes.
    About one-quarter of jobs in low- and middle-skill industries are accessible via transit within 90 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter, compared to one-third of jobs in high-skill industries.
    Fifteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the West.

    20 best and worst cities for public transportation, job access

    Expanding effective and practically functional mass transit to areas where it already makes sense is an idea long past due. Part of getting this done is eliminating the short sighted notion that "mass transit should pay for itself" which conveniently omits "by measures and standards that will reinforce current practices." I currently live a 22 minute brisk walk (I've timed it a half dozen times) from the closest bus stop to my home. Just 5 years ago, the very same bus line had a stop that would have been a 3 minute walk from my house. If that line was restored, it would cut down my personal driving by at least half: I could make most of my grocery errands and go to and from my current part time job on the bus rather than driving. And it would not be just me: the line used to serve 2 apartment complexes (both of which combine to account for a full 40% of free and reduced lunch students at the school my youngest child attends), 2 co-housing developments and a half dozen suburbanesque neighborhoods - in excess of 4000 people by the most recent census data. The co-housing residents assure me that part of the reason they decided to build where they did was the now abandoned bus route.

    Personally I would also make driving in our inner cities more immediately expensive by increasing parking rates (especially during "normal business hours") and encouraging commuters to drive to satellite parking areas with intentionally lower, heavily subsidized bus/train fares so that at least some of their commute is on mass transit. We need to get away from "personal responsibility" predominately driving of our development decisions because that invariably leads to "immediate personal convenience" of the more affluent among us deciding upon the standards of what is "the most optimal outcome."

    Occupy Wall Street AND K Street!!!!

    by Egalitare on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:33:57 AM PST

  •  my 2 cents (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, Thutmose V, KenBee


    Thanks for the topic and the discussion.

    For historical reasons cars were made really big and heavy and consumers demanded that they go fast, safety be damned. This has resulted in our unsustainable transportation system today.

    Most people drive these really big cars that go really fast with one or two people riding going no faster than 50 mph most of the time. I don't have the statistics but I bet it's a high percentage and it could be much higher without substantial inconvenience. Most short hops where you do drive faster than 50 would only take a minute longer at 50.

    I think we shoud transition our private transportation to light 2-4 passenger vehicles with a top speed of 50 mph. Then you could probably get a 200 mile range easily enough with an all electric vehicle. These cars could be designed to be easy to maintain and cheap to produce removing most of the population from the mortage they currently have just to drive because they have to drive.

    The transition would be driven by economics. If you could buy an all electric vehicle under $5000 that would last a long time and do all your errand running without having to buy gas wouldn't you consider it?


    Hairy Larry

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:05:02 AM PST

  •  The best way to get a "self driving car" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bmcphail, Irixsh, VictorLaszlo

    ... is to put it on tracks.

    Simpler to design the collision detection systems.
    SImpler to design the collision avoidance systems (read: brakes).
    Simpler to design the steering system (install switches and get the cars to communicate with them over a wireless system.)
    Simpler to design the occupant protection system (since collisions, if they happen, will only happen in a narrow range of angles).

    And also, the tracks are cheaper and easier to maintain than the roads.

    And the vehicles are easier and cheaper to produce than regular cars.

    And they take less energy to run.

    And once you've gone that route, you don't need batteries in the vehicle, just an overhead wire.

    In short: self driving cars are not the solution.

    •  Oh, and check it out.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      once you have the cars on tracks, all you need is one big engine to pull them instead of many little engines!

      We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 01:26:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup. But that is not your only option. (0+ / 0-)

        Light duty vehicles on tracks exist in all sorts of forms. In Cambodia and a few other countries, people ride on contraptions that use human power on train tracks. When two of these meet, the lighter one is removed from the track to let the other pass.

        What's crazy is they'll even use these on tracks that are actively used on trains.

        And in America, you can see vans and pickup trucks that are built on top of train bogies. Rail companies use them for maintenance.

        And it makes way more sense than the amount of software it takes to make a safe self-driving automobile.

  •  Train ferries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why not have the train have cars that work like a ferry?  Drive on - drive off.  Charge while you're parked.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:15:01 AM PST

  •  Fantasy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gatorcog, ocschwar, tacet, bmcphail

    I agree that self-driving cars are an achievable technological and engineering concept.  So are floating cities, hyper-sonic air travel, flying cars, and all of the many futuristic dreams we've seen on the cover of Popular Science Magazine.

    It's fun to imagine such things; I've been doing it since I was a kid 50 years ago.  Trouble is, they all have a hidden flaw: the energy required to run them is either running out (surely you have heard of peak oil) or dramatically polluting the entire planet.  The only argument is not whether but when.

    Today we are warm, dry, and generally overfed.  I own a car and comfortably zip around in my fuel efficient hybrid to the tune of my CD player, travelling about 15,000 miles per year.  I recycle, turn my thermostat down to 55 degrees at night, and eat fresh food.  But, I also know I'm putting a couple of tons of carbon (the US average) out every year.  Today, our civilization and my semi-rural community doesn't offer any practical alternative to the four day supply of semi-truck delivered food at my local market.

    Self-driving cars might SLIGHTLY reduce the pace of our trip to extinction.  However the sad truth is: the end of the road we are on leads nowhere except pestilence, famine, and war.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:41:19 AM PST

  •  I still want my flying car dammit! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  I'm skeptical, but it is interesting! (0+ / 0-)

    Personally I would much rather see densified urban environments with spider-web light rail that gets you almost anywhere.  The only other use for cars besides transporting people is transporting stuff.  Just have it delivered (like in japan).

  •  Creepy (0+ / 0-)

    Taking this further down the road, so to speak, there will come a day when I will no longer need to walk or think.  The transporter will take me to where the brain sensors detect my brain-generated "will" has been told by the life management system that it wants to go.  

    "Must nourish life-support system to generate revenue for next quarter profit goal.........."

    Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

    by gatorcog on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 08:14:59 AM PST

  •  Self-driving doesn't save much (4+ / 0-)

    The energy consumption of the car is based on its mass and its drive train efficiency.  Smaller, lighter cars need less.  A 150-pound person in a 3000-pound car is not too efficient, 5% payload.  Make it a big SUV and it's worse. That's why public transit is theoretically better, if it carries more people.  Which requires more people going the same way at the same time, which is where sprawl sucks.

    Self-driving cars still move around car mass with car payloads.  Shared auto-taxis would make more efficient use of the car bodies, but the fuel efficiency would not be better.  It could be worse if the car drove itself empty to its next customer.  All told it's a Jetsons idea in search of a problem, not a solution.

    •  Fundamental Laws of Physics (0+ / 0-)

      Too bad they don't teach them much in high-school.

      I worry every day that this kind of "Jetsons" dreaming has created a culture of know-nothings that makes reasoned debate pointless.l

      Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

      by boatwright on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:11:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd like the idea of self-driving electric transit (0+ / 0-)

      although I think this already exists on a small scale, e.g., airport trolleys, which are on rails in any case. The problem with a free-rolling, self-driving mass transit vehicle is that if an 800kg automated vehicle goes haywire, it threatens the life of its passengers (max 5) and those in the first vehicle or structure it hits - after the first impact it will stop, because it's just too small and light to keep rolling. If a 13000kg automated vehicle carrying 30 passengers goes haywire, there's a lot more potential for death and destruction.

      "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

      by Shaviv on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:45:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Comment from a Google Executive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shaviv, bmcphail, Caelian

    That he gave at a conference.

    He said that about 1 million people a year die in auto accidents world wide.  Assuming that Google technology for self-driving cars were widely used and the number of deaths were to be reduced to 500,000/yr.

    The result would be 500,000 lawsuits/yr against the auto companies and technology providers.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:47:12 AM PST

  •  Magical thinking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles, VictorLaszlo

    I get so tired of magical thinking like this.

    There are plenty of other alternatives that are more practical and far easier to implement, starting with improving facilities for pedestrians and bicycles and integrating them better with transit.

    40% of people will use alternatives to autos if they are safe, reliable, and convenient.

    The red tide of ignorance and hatred stopped at the Sierra Nevadas.

    by Aeolus on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 10:36:45 AM PST

  •  I think you should change the 'spoiled' language (0+ / 0-)

    Americans do not, for the most part, drive everywhere because they are spoiled.

    Yes, there are those people who would rather drive than take a convenient walk or bus ride, but most Americans don't have a choice.  Public transportation / walking is simply not a realistic option because the infrastructure is not in place where they live.

    When you say 'spoiled', it is bad two ways, because 1) it doesn't reconize the lack of choice for most people, and 2) it makes it seem like sprawl and car dependence really is a luxury, it's just that we can't afford it anymore.  In fact, a better way to live would be if everyone had the chance to live in a walkable, mixed-use, safe community.  

  •  "Better Place": battery swap stations. (0+ / 0-)

    A company called Better Place is working on a network of battery-swap stations. When your battery gets low, instead of recharging it for multiple hours, you'll pull into a Better Place station. They'll pop out your battery, pop in a freshly-charged one, and you'll be on your way in a few minutes.

    That's the idea, anyway.

    Better Place claims to be building its first electric vehicle network in Israel, and among its partners has selected Denmark and Hawaii[2] as the other two test markets due to their small size.[3] Denmark and Israel have enacted policies, which create a tax differential between zero-emission vehicles and traditional cars,[4][5] to accelerate the transition to electric cars. Better Place plans to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning in 2010 and commercial sales beginning by late 2011 in Denmark and Israel.[6][7]

    The company has said it is in talks with more than 25 additional regions around the world.[8] Australia,[9] Ontario,[10] Oregon,[11] and California[12] also have announced deployment of Better Place electric car networks.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:07:53 AM PST

    •  I'm Skeptical Of Their Business Model (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      .....because local officials somehow feel empowered to create local monopolies that grossly inflate prices.

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:52:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  think if Verizon and cox and others..hey wait! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        they did! Just merged in a practical way...diary earlier.


        ..squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity...Russell Brand

        by KenBee on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:10:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also Creating A Monopoly For Existing Service (0+ / 0-)

      people already have electricity accessible through the nearest wall socket,  and Better Place wants to set itself up as a gatekeeper charging a huge premium for the electricity that'll power cars?

      Not. Gonna. Happen.

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:01:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Linux vs. Microsoft vs. Apple. (0+ / 0-)

        Did you type that comment on a computer running Linux? No? How come? Linux is free, you know.

        You (likely) paid a premium for Windows or Mac OS because they're just a lot more convenient than managing every little detail yourself with Linux. And more compatible with what everybody else is doing.

        That's Better Place's pitch. You could surely get by without them. But if you're their customer, they'll make your life easier. That's the idea, anyway. We'll see if they can make the details work out.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 11:13:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Have had this thought before. (0+ / 0-)

    It'd take some standards across industries to make it work ... cars could be only so big, for example. Perhaps it's lad to super-Segway type mini-cars. But it seems like such a strong synergy that perhaps something like this will evolve.

    Think of the convienience.  Ride by train and don't worry about your luggage; it's in the car. In fact, the car is the luggage - with room for driver passenger, and dog.

    Very Jetsons-esque. Though without the flying.

  •  To hell with electric cars, give me a bicycle! (0+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, bikes are much more easily stolen, and with research suggesting that someone kneeling beside a bike and using power tools to sever locks and cables will be completely ignored by passers-by...

    "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

    by Shaviv on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:41:52 PM PST

  •  Human drivers who hate self-driving cars.. (0+ / 0-)

    If some people get pissed off about bumper stickers to the point of road rage, just imagine what happens when short-fused motorists see people reading their newspapers in the next lane over.

    Not everyone, of course, but it's likely a human with an ax to grind will figure out a way to thwart any self-driving vehicle's safeties, just to rattle that car's passengers.

    Some people are just plain mean like that.

  •  This is an excellent call (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GMFORD, oldmanriver

    There will be lots of self-driving cars on the road by 2030 or so.

    And the day the will come when it is considered an exhibition of testosterone poisoning to want to drive one yourself. Eventually that option will go away, except for collectors of old cars, who will only be allowed to drive them manually in a few places, as a hobby.

  •  When I think of how many people are driving that (0+ / 0-)

    voted for Bush II (twice!), I think self-driving cars should be made mandatory. However, all streets would have to have fences along the sides to protect these former drivers, now pedestrians, from wandering in front of the cars.

  •  Not self-driving, but cool... (0+ / 0-)

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 04:43:47 PM PST

  •  So many contradictions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At one point you're talking about electric cras going home to recharge. At another you're talking about the pointlessness of cars lying idle and suggesting they be shared throughout the day.

    These ideas are contradictory. Fortunately, that contradiction can be resolved because the second idea must be ruled out by the whole problem that electric battery-powered cars will need to be recharged. They can't be driven all day -- thus the idea you had to have them return to a charging station.

    Actually, the real solution with respect to rail travel is to have electric charging stations at the parking spots. Some of that is already being done.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:59:21 PM PST

  •  Much simpler solutions are out there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Around some train stations in the suburbs around New York, there are some charging stations for parked cars. This is a far more practical solution. Instead of paying the meter just for parking, a driver will also pay for recharging.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:01:23 PM PST

  •  No doubt Google wants to track your driving (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    habits, then incorporate that data into its advertising operations and/or sell it to the highest bidder.

    It's what they do.

    Please don't call yourself a "DFH." It's not helpful.

    by VictorLaszlo on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 07:11:34 PM PST

  •  Several companies are developing (0+ / 0-)

    Self driving cars, including BMW.

    And one idea is to pool them like share-bikes.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 10:38:18 PM PST

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