Friday, June 30, 2017

And 500 Other Things

Self-driving cars fans live in environments which have basically been built for cars and not in somewhat older areas where car-centric environments were retrofitted slowly over time. Roundabouts are hard, but so are hundreds of other non-standardized things.

"Roundabouts are considered to be very challenging for automated vehicle technology," says Helen Kourous, a Ford engineer. "They are very unstructured. No two are alike. You can find many different configurations. Human drivers can sometimes get confused in them," she says.

In geofenced areas, such as the parking lot at Walt Disney World, a gated community, or a college campus, Level 5 self-driving vehicles make perfect sense, and they will work. I can see Level 3 vehicles in a few years where vehicles can drive themselves on highways but must hand off to the human driver if they can't figure out a situation. And that's about really all we can expect in the next 25 years.

This is correct, though I think it also misses the point. While there will be uses for this technology, they'll be so limited as to be almost pointless. Great, self-driving shuttle buses in Disney World to get people from the parking lot to the park gate. I mean, cool, I guess, but...