My Car Quest

April 19, 2024

Autonomous Cars – Question No. 5

by Mike –

Wallace Wyss, a frequent contributor, is sending yes his last question about what can we expect from autonomous cars when they “take over” around 2020.


You are a passenger in a fully autonomous car–no steering wheel, no brake pedal–turning left at a four way intersection with electric arrows.

As it becomes your turn to turn left, the arrow is green but there’s a large truck on your right blocking off your view. The traffic that can turn left coming your way is curiously not moving. But the autonomous car says “green arrow, I have right of way.”

It turns with you in it, only to encounter a Highway Patrol turning from Northeast to SW against the light, siren and red police lights on. You collide nearly head on.

The question is: all the normal parameters–green arrow OK–gave the robot permission but what does a robot do when it encounters a human piloted vehicle breeching the rules? Remember when your robot driver was turning he could not see the police car cutting a left turn but a human driver at the wheel of your car would have had a clue that the left turners opposite were not moving when they had a green arrow.

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



The Jetsons - Hanna-Barbera

The Jetsons – Source: Hanna-Barbera

Autonomous Cars – Question No. 5
Article Name
Autonomous Cars – Question No. 5
Another question for the autonomous car world.


  1. ~ The robo-cops, and their Emergency transportation devices, sense the intersections and disable all other vehicles.

    • Trevor Gaunt says

      And that would be automatic and completely failsafe? I don’t think so!
      There’s no doubt overall collisions would decrease if ALL* vehicles on the public highway were autonomous, but accidents would still occur – due to malfunctions of both vehicle and street equipment.
      Surely the question is, “Are we prepared to accept that small element of risk over our own occasionally faulty control?”

      * “ALL” would have to mean any vehicles having access to our highway network, including those arriving from other countries, eg Canada, Central and South America in the case of the United States. Do we really believe the various governments could ever come to agreement on such an issue?

      • ~ I agree entirely, Trevor. It was said facetiously with the intent to express my skepticism. I’m not yet convinced that this trend, this experiment, if you will, won’t become a footnote to transportation history. Much remains to be seen.

        • Raymond Zinn says

          And just why it wouldn’t work? Around here the emergency vehicles control the signal lights when approaching. It would be simple to also override the other vehicles.
          These questions assume an overall common usage of state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles. At least that’s the way I read them.
          The questions the writer poses, are to potential problems to questions that may come up while he’s writing his book. (?) Or not……

      • “Surely the question is, “Are we prepared to accept that small element of risk over our own occasionally faulty control?”
        You’re forgetting that Euroland *is* the land built upon socialism and all manner of public transportation like the *Bullet train* ( without which there is no safe way to go form country to country ) which the USA *still* does not have to offer. Did you see this year’s CES keynote speech by Jensen Hsun-Huang ( of NVidia where he stressed the AI scientists met the GPU lab and the big bang for AI happened ) none other than Audi had announced a partnership with NVidia’s solution to autonomous cars and had one all set to go *that day* in the parking lot of the hotel where CES was being held. Go figure.

  2. Edward Matula says

    AUTONOMOUS CARS (vehicles) will only work in the real world, when all vehicles are autonomous and the roadways that they ride on are specialized to offer control to the vehicles as road conditions change. To think that they can coexist with human controlled vehicles without incident, is a real pipe dream. human emotions and unpredictable action on the road (e.g. road rage), will make it impossible to keep it totally safe.

    • Raymond Zinn says

      Gee what a negative view. /SARK.
      Don’t you know that those who think they are better drivers than you or I will be using flying cars, god forbid, can one imagine the carnage then.

  3. Wayne Watkins says

    Unless all vehicles in the world are autonomous , this pipedream will never work successfully and this will never happen . If it ever did happen what would happen to all of the high priced exotics recently sold like Bob Jane’s ex lightweight E type Jag sold a few days ago for well over 7 million US dollars ? You cannot just hang these cars on a wall like a collectable painting . Believe me it just will not ever happen in the foreseeable future .

    • Raymond Zinn says

      “You cannot just hang these cars on a wall like a collectible painting”
      Of course you/they can; haven’t you ever see any of the collections that many people have if only to spend money. There are a lot of those kinds that simply buy to have and hold. Not many actually drive the cars.
      Correct these scenarios may never happen, and besides, in Bernie’s mind, no one will have anything that does not conform, ergo all thoughts are moot, LOL.

  4. wallace wyss says

    I agree with the critics so far. The trouble is, us guys who still have human driven cars
    won’t be communicating with the autonomous cars around us, so after there get to be
    more autonomous cars than human piloted cars, the do-gooders will legislate the human driven cars off the road as “dangerous” and “incompatible” with autonomous cars. And the collector car market will tank, never to be revived again. I believe autonomous can bring more safety but it’s impossible to retrofit all the common-communication devices to older cars.

  5. Since the others have opened it up from the question (mild apologies here) I’ll just ask why all autonomous car questions assume fully developed roads. There’s a whole lot of back country and barely-identifiable roads in the world, and a lot of people who need to get across an open field with a truck. Just how will they get an autonomous vehicle to do what they need it to do? Tell it “More left!” or “Get away from the horses!” ? And when they’re headed toward more developed roads, are the going to be required to switch vehicles? If this isn’t easily solved, we’ll always have a mix of car types on the roads, and they won’t all be police or firemen with master controls.

    • Raymond Zinn says

      Those roads will go the way of US-66, torn up and discarded like the people and towns of pre “super (slow) highways”. If you are not on the grid you are non-existent, a non-conformance, and dangerous “mountain” – oops – rural off the grid weirdos. You Will Conform, We Have Ways To Make You Conform.

  6. Mike Clarke says

    This about sums it up

    I wish we could embed pics and video like the rest of the sites.

  7. Mike Clarke says

    Utopia can only be had if we all drink the Autonomous Kool-Aid

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