Monday, March 05, 2018

What's It All About Then

Being skeptical about self-driving cars used to make some people very mad online. I never quite understood it. It doesn't anymore (I'm not sure I understand that either!). I'm not trying to stop the things. I do worry about public policy being oriented towards a Vaporware product of questionable value even if it "works." If the idealized version works as promised, of course they'll be great even if, as with any new technology, not every single impact will great. But what's more likely is they'll kinda-sorta-notreally work and certainly not work as promised, and we'll be lighting a bunch of public money/resources on fire to try to accommodate them for no other reason than self-driving cars are cool. Cool is different than useful, and if they don't really work, they won't be very useful.

Q: I don’t think that we need out-of-the-box ideas to relieve congestion. The only real solution is nearly upon us — self-driving cars. We should embrace them and replace carpool lanes with self-driving car lanes that will be able to drive at 65 mph without a gap between cars.

Best of all, since self-driving car lanes will use existing freeways the cost is minimal. Some signs and a few buckets of paint. We need to do whatever we can to encourage the rollout of these cars in bulk as soon as possible. Forget the tax credit for electric cars and spending millions on HOV lanes.

Let’s subsidize self-driving cars.

This is just a letter writer, but it's the kind of thinking which will doom us. Even if they work perfectly and the fantasy of a network of self-driving cars that all talk to each other lets highway capacity improve somewhat, they won't suspend reality The thing about all highway lanes is eventually they end. There's a merge, an off-ramp. All of those 65 mph cars exit the highway eventually, somewhere. Eventually the speed limit is reduced. Eventually there's a dangerous curve. Eventually there's a light. Eventually there's a potential for a backup, at which point your AI-enhanced capacity is going to run into reality.

Windshield view is weird and sad.