Seeking Alpha

Google's next moves for self-driving cars: no steering, pedals

  • Google (GOOG) is building two passenger prototypes that don't have steering wheels, accelerator pedals or brake pedals in an effort to bring the self-driving small electric cars to market.
  • The vehicles are currently being built through partnerships with automotive suppliers and manufacturers.
  • Since 2009, Google has already been testing self-driving cars, helping incorporate some of the technology (such as laser sensors and radar) into Lexus SUVs and the Prius from Toyota (TM).
From other sites
Comments (28)
  • jasonomer
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    I can not wait have my car chauffeur me around while I rest or do productive things.
    28 May 2014, 04:48 AM Reply Like
  • bd4uandu
    , contributor
    Comments (2038) | Send Message
     
    Let's see this thing make it through a MN winter. Does it have pothole avoidance system?
    28 May 2014, 06:21 AM Reply Like
  • Davidoff
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
     
    I'd love to have an option on my regular car so that it would "self-drive", but I doubt that I'd buy a car without pedals or steering. The most important question is not just security, a lot of people love driving.
    It's important to notice however, that this kind of projects are going to hit the employment market very hard. All the public transportation is going to be completely transformed. Professions like bus drivers, train drivers, taxi drivers, chauffeurs, etc. will be replaced by machines. Then eventually, pilots, ship crews, but also postmen, deliverers and garbagemen are going to be replaced by informatics. Low qualified workers are going to be the first to be dismissed and it's going to create a terrible social and economical situation. According to The Economist 49% of jobs will be able to be replaced by computers by 2030 (just 16 years from now). I doubt that the economical profits coming from self-driving cars are going to be sufficient to compensate that loss. We can't go against the pace of the future, but we should move much more carefully, cause at this point we create new problems instead of settling them.
    28 May 2014, 07:11 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    This is a perfect example of the 'skills gap' that is being spoken of. Those low tier jobs require little education (or skill if you will). They are necessary right now, but when they are replaced those individuals will be in a bad situation if they don't go back to school (academic or vocational) and pick up the knowledge or skills for these future jobs... like the technicians who have to fix these cars when they do break down!
    28 May 2014, 08:30 AM Reply Like
  • jasonomer
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    Somebody still has to repair and maintain these machines.

     

    Yes, there will be a transformation. But the important thing is to educate the population for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of today.
    28 May 2014, 08:33 AM Reply Like
  • Estimated Profit
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
     
    We can't afford for the automobile to go mainstream. Think of all those stagecoach drivers that would go out of business!
    28 May 2014, 09:58 AM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4375) | Send Message
     
    Actually, a lot of public transportation already drives itself. Trains and trolleys can't be steered and it's not hard at all to automate their planned stops and starts. But even so, there are drivers in the cab ready to take over in case of an emergency.
    28 May 2014, 10:19 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    Yep, the human factor will always be needed. However, that's one of the reasons wages are low for those particular jobs. They don't require much training (relatively speaking) compared to an engineer, scientist, etc. These are the people that need to start training themselves for future employment if they want to move up in the food chain.

     

    I'm constantly having to learn new software (every year a new version comes out for the software I already know and I there are new programs I have to learn) to stay relevant. It's the only way to guarantee success (and increased pay).
    28 May 2014, 10:36 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    One day most people will not drive and will look back aghast that the roads were once populated with unskilled cowboys.
    28 May 2014, 07:49 AM Reply Like
  • bd4uandu
    , contributor
    Comments (2038) | Send Message
     
    I hope you realize that this won't happen anytime soon. Perhaps not in our life time.
    28 May 2014, 08:40 AM Reply Like
  • Davidoff
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
     
    In 2004 DARPA announced its Grand Challenge mainly for college students and researchers. Just to remind you, US Army offered $1 million to any team that would be able to develop a self driving car, that would be able to drive alone (using GPS) 150 miles in a straight line in Mojave desert without having any accidents. It was quiet terrible, the best car drove about 7 miles before taking fire. In 2005, the event took place again and this time the main prize was doubled. Just one year later, over 20 cars drove farther than the 2004's best car and 5 teams managed to make their cars drive 150 miles. The leap is simply huge, we went from 7 miles in 2004 to 150 miles in 2005. And finally, in 2010, only 5 years after the first self-driving car (in straight line), Google started to test their famous Google cars driving as good as with a driver. They didn't even have one single accident. It took only 6 years to develop a fully autonomous self-driving car out of scratch. It wouldn't amaze me if in 10 years from now, self-driving cars would become a norm, just like self-parking cars are today. By the way, could you imagine 10-15 years ago that cars would start parking by their own? The only thing that amazed me is the fact that no one was even impressed by that innovation.

     

    Things move extremly fast in the IT field. It's not just about iPhones or Galaxy or whatever. Most of the innovations aren't even revealed to the public. The issue is that innovation isn't controlled at all and our society isn't even ready for these concepts. We wouldn't even be able to use their full potential and we don't even have the needed time to think about how to integrate them in the best way. Our institutions need decades to adapt themselves, while technologies become obsolete in a matter of years, or even months in some cases. It would take at least 20 years for governments to fit the educational system to today's realities, so we could most certainly expect decades of employment mismatches and structural unemployments. The same happens in the IT security. Governements can't even figure out how to protect the governmental software or data, while hackers find new ways to breach the security each week. But even if they could figure that out, they don't have the necessary funds. We are talking in terms of trillions in new investments and perhaps only 95% of these funds would be used correctly. When corporations started to adopt computers in the 80-90ies, about 80% (don't remember the exact rate) of the funds were completely wasted, so we could expect at least the same for governements.
    28 May 2014, 09:42 AM Reply Like
  • bd4uandu
    , contributor
    Comments (2038) | Send Message
     
    Huh?
    What I am saying is infrastructure, legalities and just the social acceptance won't happen any time soon. GM can't make a car that doesn't get recalled. Municipalities can't seem to fill potholes and repair bridges. Half the people in the country don't work. Their driving habits are not the same as a commuter. There are millions of autos that are still operational. Are we to abandon them for a more conspicuous leisure? At what cost?

     

    The world is not ready for the Jetsons.
    28 May 2014, 11:30 AM Reply Like
  • oscarsolus
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
     
    A Googomobil or Googlemobility, interesting!
    28 May 2014, 09:04 AM Reply Like
  • rsbduff@gmail.com
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    May be an April fools joke:

     

    This reminds me of a joke, I once wrote for Jay Leno.....

     

    "Chevy announced that its Cavalier was not selling well in Japan, even though GM moved the steering wheel to the right for Japanese drivers."

     

    "Engineers figure...sales will pick up....next year.....when they figure out....how to move the pedals over."

     

    Sorry for that.........But, why wouldn't you have controls in a self driving car?
    Hubris is a dangerous condition.....

     

    Wait.....maybe this is part of Google's attempt to take over...........
    We are seeing our world divided into two worlds......one for the rich....one for the rest of us........Could it be that we are heading to .......a freeway for Google cars (kind of like Google buses in San Fransisco) and then the packed jammed freeways.... for the rest of us?

     

    Think about it.....money will buy the express lanes....for Google cars only.....That's it.

     

    My insight is worth what I charge for it (Apple bulls say less)
    RSBDuff
    28 May 2014, 09:32 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    why? For the same reason cars no longer have starter cranks or carburetors.
    28 May 2014, 10:16 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    You may be right, but more likely it will be only the rich who drive.
    28 May 2014, 10:50 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    US traffic accidents cost 300 billion a year. Then there is the issue of gridlock in many cities. Self-driving cars will greatly improve both.
    28 May 2014, 10:43 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    Self-driving cars would definitely reduce congestion, cost, etc. However, there should be more investment in mass transit. It's far more efficient to move people around with mass transit than it will ever be with self-driving cars.
    28 May 2014, 10:53 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    Why assume the two are mutually exclusive? Self driving cars or minivans that you summon using your cell phone (or kiosk) would bring passengers to the door step of where they want to go not, as is often the case, blocks away.
    28 May 2014, 11:01 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    Sorry, I wasn't clear. They aren't mutually exclusive, but there is lack of interest in mass transit in this country. A specific example would be Seattle where they voted down on funding King County Metro so they are going to be undergoing massive cuts to service. They will be removing 70+ routes. With a city that is nearly impossible to drive or park in, I can't imagine this making anything better.
    28 May 2014, 11:05 AM Reply Like
  • genomegk
    , contributor
    Comments (564) | Send Message
     
    How much of the budget is for driver salaries? Bus routes are hard to use, slow and it takes considerable effort to even get near where you want to go from where you are at. No one uses them unless they have to. A phone app will tell you when to expect your ride (probably shared) which will then take you where you want to go without transfers or delays. What do you think that will do to system popularity? As for additional funding and reduced use of private cars, I assume all cities will go the route of Central London, with real time metering of all private cars on the road during peak hours.
    28 May 2014, 11:30 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    I can't speak to the bus driver salaries, but if they make more than $50,000 I would be appalled (the job doesn't require education). I'm not necessarily stating that buses are the answer. However, there are tons of complaints about light rail coming into their community and there is resistance at any other forms of mass transit. It's the NIMBY crowd I can't stand. People have to remember that living in a city means they will have to deal with the decisions of many others. If they don't like it, leave. Mass transit is for the greater good.

     

    Back to your comment about effort for buses to get from point to point... cars actually are much worse especially in this region. Unless you drive between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM, it's near damn impossible to traverse the city in a car in a timely manner. All of the cars/trucks putting wear and tear on the roads plus the fuel costs add up to much more inefficiency than buses. I know bus lines don't run to every ones street corners, but whatever happened to walking? I remember walking to school (3 miles) every day (rain, snow, or sunshine).
    28 May 2014, 03:54 PM Reply Like
  • Bouchart
    , contributor
    Comments (802) | Send Message
     
    Every now and again you hear some news story about a driver following his GPS too closely and driving into a pond or off a cliff. Something tells me self-driving cars won't be much better.
    28 May 2014, 10:56 AM Reply Like
  • sarichter
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    The first generation would have to have some sort of fail-safe to allow the passenger to take control. I can't imagine having a brand new device like this without some sort of emergency backup.
    28 May 2014, 11:06 AM Reply Like
  • Estimated Profit
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
     
    Yes, I am sure they can design a car that can drive in traffic without any human intervention but can't design an algorithm to make sure the car stays on the road in the case of incoming sensor data not matching GPS data.

     

    Good point.

     

    Every now and then you read some news story about a person falling asleep at the wheel and driving off the road, someone drinking to much and getting on the highway going the wrong way, texting while driving and hitting someone on a bicycle etc. etc. etc.
    28 May 2014, 04:25 PM Reply Like
  • el_pedorro
    , contributor
    Comments (9) | Send Message
     
    Once the safety record for self-driving cars gets the insurance companies' attention, the resulting reduced premiums will get everyone else's.
    28 May 2014, 12:38 PM Reply Like
  • rsbduff@gmail.com
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
     
    Headline: "The internet crashed this morning on the 405......453 dead......"
    Insurance companies raised everyone's premium next day.....
    RSBDuff
    28 May 2014, 04:18 PM Reply Like
  • gmmpa
    , contributor
    Comments (598) | Send Message
     
    What Google is doing is basic research on transportation even if they perfect the self-driving car. It is not the ultimate solution to human transportation needs. To really advance human transportation to a higher level we will have to throw away all forms of public transportation, all forms of private transportation and all the traffic laws and infrastructure that they operate under and that services them and come up with something completely new. Thankfully not is my lifetime. I like to drive 60 year old cars from time to time.

     

    Until then we are just poking around the edges and bickering over which form is better. The biggest obstacle to progress in transportation is our own human nature and the desire for individual freedom and the right to chose whatever form of transportation we want.
    23 Aug 2014, 08:22 AM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Hub
ETF Screener: Search and filter by asset class, strategy, theme, performance, yield, and much more
ETF Performance: View ETF performance across key asset classes and investing themes
ETF Investing Guide: Learn how to build and manage a well-diversified, low cost ETF portfolio
ETF Selector: An explanation of how to select and use ETFs