Tag: Self-Driving Cars

Ahead One-Half Impulse


Happy Birthday to Captain Kirk, the original and the best captain of the Enterprise. I thought of Star Trek today as I watched this video, linked on Instapundit, of Tesla’s “FSD 8.2 Beta” self-driving software.

I’m not familiar with self-driving technology, so I don’t know how to fairly evaluate the vehicle’s performance. Were it piloted by a human driver, I’d encourage license revocation. But the car is driving itself, and I’m impressed by the situational awareness the vehicle demonstrates.

Quote of the Day: We Know a Hawk From a Handsaw. (And a Cat From Guacamole.)


“One shortcoming of current machine-learning programs is that they fail in surprising and decidedly non-human ways. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students recently demonstrated, for instance, how one of Google’s advanced image classifiers could be easily duped into mistaking an obvious image of a turtle for a rifle, and a cat for some guacamole.” — Jerry Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2018

We have recently been bombarded with stories about AI (Artificial Intelligence, for those of you who live in farm country and think it means something else), and about how our meager human brains will soon not be able to keep up with those super-smart machines. Self-driving cars. Computers that accurately diagnose, and even treat, medical conditions. Robots that perform surgery and manage eldercare. Autonomous military drones. Siri. Predictive applications to “enhance” your Internet experience (Amazon, Pandora, etc.). Chatbots. Legal assistants. And, of course, the omnipresent Google.

So I was strangely reassured by today’s Quote of the Day, which appeared in a WSJ article focusing on efforts to make self-driving cars fail in predictable ways (so that, for example, they do not mistake light reflected back from their camera lenses for truck headlights rushing towards them from the other direction, and run off the road as a result. Or so they don’t perform like the self-driving Uber test vehicle in Tempe, AZ, which killed a pedestrian walking her bike across the road because its algorithms, which did recognize her presence, mistook it for “ghosting” in the poorly-lit night.)

The End of the Auto Era as We Know It May Be Approaching Faster Than You Think


Bob Lutz is a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors. And in this essay for Automotive News, he declares the end of the auto industry as we know it:

It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile. Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules. The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway. . . .

Most of these standardized modules will be purchased and owned by the Ubers and Lyfts and God knows what other companies that will enter the transportation business in the future. A minority of individuals may elect to have personalized modules sitting at home so they can leave their vacation stuff and the kids’ soccer gear in them. They’ll still want that convenience. The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways. The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents. . . .

How Soon Will Self-driving Cars Be Everywhere?


As part of an excellent presentation and recent podcast, analyst Frank Chen of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz takes a crack at answering the question above. First, this from an audio presentation with slide deck, “16 questions about self-driving cars”:

So when will this beautiful world happen? … NuTonomy says 2018 they’re live in Singapore, top ten cities by 2020. Delphi and Mobileye say they’ll have self-driving systems available to the car manufacturers by 2019. … 2020 GM says that’s when it will have its cars. Ford says 2021 they’ll have Level 5 cars available to fleet makers. BMW ships the iNEXT in 2021. Tesla who’s arguably out ahead of this right now says 2023. Uber says that its entire fleet will be autonomous by 2030. And IEEE says that by 2040, 40% of all care on the road are autonomous. So you see quite a range of predictions on when this glorious future happens, and then once it starts we don’t know what the demand curve will be…. But look, it’s going to happen in our lifetime, which is probably not something I would have predicted ten years ago.

Member Post


News item about companies working on technologies to bring us self-driving cars are prolific.  It’s a rare issue of Popular Science lately that doesn’t have at least one article about the exciting future where you will be able to jump in your car, tell it your destination, and it safely drives you there.  Of course […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post


Newt seems to like the idea of self-driving cars. I have to admit that it is an appealing idea that a line of cars could all accelerate at the same time to the same speed and use the drafting of the car in front. Here’s what Newt reports about the experience: The car drove itself […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.