My Car Quest

September 28, 2020

Editorial: Let’s Accept Level 5 Driverless Vehicles

by Wallace Wyss –

It is clear that electric delivery vehicles will soon be the norm. Mega billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has ordered a raft of them.

And his competitor Elon Musk wants to switch the US business world over to using electric semis for long-haul tractor trailers. The flaw is that neither plan will began to make real money until they can be allowed to be driverless, i.e., Level 5 autonomy.

Now I’m of two minds about driverless. As a driving enthusiast I hate it. No drifting around corners, no winding out and slamming gears. No, driverless cars will drive cautiously like old ladies.

And then there’s the accidents they will have while they become The New Normal. I still remember that autonomous test car, in, what was it Arizona? An elderly pedestrian crossing the road at night plastered to the windshield? And then there’s at least three Tesla drivers whose Teslas “didn’t see” a large white tractor trailer that blended in with the sky. Their Teslas tried to drive underneath the trailer. In one case the driver was likely playing a video game which was still playing when the authorities arrived.

Yet I think a decision will have to be made, for the sake of the nation’s progress, to allow Level 5 (no driver, no steering wheel, no brake pedal) on American roads because the US is in a trade war with China not only on who can make the most electric cars. The next battle will be in who can get driverless vehicles out on the road in quantity. China being a dictatorship, they can just order it but in the US allowing them might be tied up in court. For years.

Concept of self-driven car from the 1950's

Concept of self-driven car from The Electricity Companies on the 1950s

I accept there will be casualties. Even in elevators there’s casualties. I knew half a dozen people who went down in airplanes. I took a ride in a hot air balloon once. Ancient technology. When it landed, the gondola turned sideways and filled up with sagebrush as the balloon dragged it along. I accept that. I knew it was risky. But I’m glad I had that option still to ride in it.

We could, as a nation, say we don’t want autonomous, but autonomous will make things more efficient overall. Trucks will be able to cross the country driving 24 hours straight. No overtime for working weekends and holidays.

Also a small confession: I once fell asleep at the wheel driving back from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I only had my eyes closed for a few seconds but likely went a mile or two. It was bright daylight but I’d just partied too hardy the night before to stay awake. An autonomous car would have been safer for passengers and those outside my car at that point.

It’s already been proven autonomous cars have a lesser accident rate than human-driven ones. It’ll start with delivery vans, then taxis, then Semis, and then go to passenger cars. As long as I still have the option to drive, I’ll accept them…albeit begrudgingly. Will you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is searching for a publisher who likes the idea of a Bezos vs. Musk book. He can be reached at malibucarart@gmail.com

 

 

 

Summary
Editorial: Let's Accept Level 5 Driverless Vehicles
Article Name
Editorial: Let's Accept Level 5 Driverless Vehicles
Description
We could, as a nation, say we don't want autonomous, but driverless vehicles will make things more efficient overall.
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Comments

  1. Brian Winer says

    You give the downside of autonomous vehicles, but I have a friend, my age, 70, who has poor eyesight, and has worn thick glasses his whole life, but now is considered legally blind and has lost his license to drive. His wife has diabetes and lost a leg from it, was using hand controls, and had a huge accident, and also gave up driving. An autonomous car for them would be a huge benefit, as they could tell the car to go to the hospital, to a doctors appointment, to a drug store, the food market or a restaurant, or a friends house, or just out to, say, a day at the beach. You did not mention this facet of autonomous cars at all… there are some folks that an AV would be a godsend… You do not mention that at all. Do not just mention “Tesla casualties”, and your self driving preferences, without the other side of the equation that would help lots of people. Not everyone is allowed to drive…. they would benefit greatly form AVs.

  2. Wayne Watkins says

    looks like the future holds massive unemployment for delivery drivers , interstate haulage drivers and taxi drivers . Guess that’s progress !

    • Wallace Wyss says

      Let’s add to the ranks of the unemployed diesel truck mechanics, internal combustion parts supplier employees, restaurant employees at the diners that used to feed truckers (what do autonomous vehicles eat? Electrons?(Plus filling station employees. The scary part is that the trucks constantly
      “learn” (add to their knowledge) so we don’t know if they will trade information on shortcuts, where the cops are, or run trucks from competing firms off the road. We don;’t know how nasty they can be. Musk was quoted in Jalopnik as saying artificial intelligence-backed robots will one day kill us all…

      • Brian Winer says

        What in heck are you thinking? Menial jobs gone? What happened when the mass produced Model T came on the scene? Gee, the people that make hundreds to thousands of horseshoes are out of a job! The people that make buckboards, and covered wagons are out of a job! Hay barns have been cut back, and lots of those serving the feeding of horses are out of a job. How about those folks I have seen in very old photos, with a shovel and a cart to pick up horse poo off city streets… those folks were put out of a job by the automobile. Progress is good, and working folks re train for better jobs. Maybe the diesel truck mechanics you are talking about will learn how to fix the systems in Autonomous Vehicles…. etc…. Do not poke your head in the sand……. I’ve worked on diesels, they are stinky, and ultra greasy. I bet that the diesel truck mechanics will be thrilled to work on Autonomous Truck systems, instead of dirty diesels. Should progress be stopped, so that menial jobs can be saved? You wanna shovel up that horse poo in the street????

  3. Wallace Wyss says

    OK Brian, you’re right. Veterans who are amputees should even get big discount and have their autonomous cars maintained by VA. Also blind people, lot less scary for them than waiting for bus or train. And every retirees’ home that takes folks into town for part of the day could use them.I think the makers should do slalom testing with them compared to a human. Some of the software is the “learning” type so it learns from the last run and I think they could beat a human after awhile. Still I got in the way or a robot at a Cadillac factory and slowed him/her (?) up while I crossed in front so think in robot’s shared memory, they are out to get me for reducing their efficiency.

  4. Wallace Wyss says

    Response to this article when posted on Ferrrichat.com from SpiceDriver:

    I see 3 steps.

    Step 1. The autonomous driving assistant takes over the wheel for a human driver. (here now)

    Step 2. Autonomous vehicles without human drivers are allowed on public roads. 2030 ?

    Step 3. Because the autonomous vehicle safety record is so much better, human drivers are no longer allowed on public roads. 2050 ?
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-

    AUTHOR’S RESPONSE
    This takeover of the robots will move stealthily like a cat. The goodie-goodie legislators will set aside a lane for Level 5 (no driver, no brake pedal or steering wheel) cars, say one lane out of a four lanes-on-each-side freeway. The cars will run nose to tail one foot distance apart at speeds up to 90 mph (which will convert some people into boosters for them because then they get to work or get home faster). When they accrue mileage equal to human driven cars but prove to have a lesser accident rate, their lobbyists will demand more and more lanes be set aside for them , until human-piloted cars –those relics of the past–are relegated to regular surface roads. I say 2023 for the first set aside of lanes purely for autonomous.

  5. None of the car makers are anywhere close to having a self driving car. If you don’t think so listen to Matt Farah explain why. He sums it up pretty well.

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