Okay, So It’s Not Flying Cars …

But still.

Google’s self-driving car has been demoed a number of times over the past few years — “Good Morning America” even took it for a spin in 2010. But the pedal’s about to  be really put to the metal in Nevada.

Nevada’s Legislative Commission has approved regulations that would allow self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways.

Sweet, huh? Near as I can tell from the story, it’s a bit of bracing open-mindedness on the part of Nevada state legislators. They’re willing, basically, to serve as the proving grounds for the concept of a self-driving car.

“These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future,” said Breslow.

But the state is going even further: It is developing “licensing procedures” for companies to test their self-driving cars. Google has already signed on to test-drive its self-driving Toyota Priuses. (Google was behind the legislation lobbying effort.) Car manufacturers such as  BMW and Audi are working on similar vehicles.

Drivers will be able to distinguish self-driving test vehicles by their  red license plates. When the robotic cars actually make it to market, they will have green license plates.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve yearned for a car with automatic pilot. I could write, study, read, eat, relax, think ahead to whatever I had to do at my destination.

You could maybe just catch a bit more sleep on the way to work. Or recline and sleep to save on motels on a cross-country road trip.

On the other hand … I still want THIS:

(Side note: Google “flying car” and click on the “Images” tab. The pics are fantastic and plentiful.)




Hey, there’s also a TED video:

The Dark Side of the Sun
The Book of Good Living: How to Avoid Being Killed By A Train
Race and Culture Again: Bessie and Lois
Neuroscientist: Fundamentalism As Mental Illness
  • Ace of Sevens

    This is big. It’s not just convenient and safe, it eliminates the main reason people need personal vehicles. I only use my car a few hours a week at most, but I need to own it full-time because there isn’t any good way to share it with anyone seeing as it needs to be at my house to use it and anyone who brings it to my house then has to get back to their own house. Also, scheduling would be a nightmare. If cars don’t need drivers, one can just come to your house when you need and you only need enough cars for peak usage, which should save a lot of money on buying cars.

  • Sheesh

    The end-game for this technology is also, imo, the holy grail for Traffic Management. Traffic jams etc are largely propagated by human reactions to human error. Traffic light timing also includes wide buffers for human error. Taking humans out of interstate driving and urban-core driving will have huge benefits in energy savings and safety (less idling around going nowhere, and fewer fatal crashes; extend that out further: more effecient highways and roadways means fewer lanes, less new construction, which means less maintenance cost, less DOT expenditure per person-mile; faster, cheaper overland shipping, etc. The long-term benefits are enormous and far-reaching).

    It’s mind-boggling as someone that works in the sector that people are so widely resistant to self-driving and/or centrally managed autos.

  • Bobbi Moore

    Itwuld be a boun to the blind and the elderly who can not drive any more. the would be less dependent on others to take them places.

  • http://geraigadget.blogspot.com/ maisara

    Sorry nak nyibuk sikit. bila bila lapang tu … jengok 2 la kedai gadget for blog saya yeak ? org baru belajar berniaga ;)

  • Rrr

    @maisara: Yeah, me neither. Hakuna matata. Icecream sauna.

  • kdan59

    I live in New York City, where my inability to drive is not such a liability. But there’s only so much I can carry from Target or Ikea on the subway. A gypsy cab from Target costs 15 bucks for just a little over a mile, and Ikea’s delivery charges are highway robbery. A self-driving car would sure help with local errands.

    But I’d like to see Google’s car survive in Washington Heights, upper Manhattan, where taxis like to make U-turns in the middle of Broadway without signaling, and pedestrians run across four lanes no matter how heavy the traffic. Google: try your car out in my hood. Go ahead, I dare ya!

  • Jim Baerg

    My understanding is that there are two reasons flying cars never took off.
    One is that they are gas hogs.
    The other is that it is much harder for humans to navigate in 3D than 2D & only a small minority can qualify for a pilots license.
    The self-driving car solves one of the problems.

  • The Lorax

    Major props to Nevada for taking the first step! I don’t care what regulations they put on these cars; those regulations will drop like a stone as the technology becomes better and proven reliable, as they always do.

    As much as I would also like a flying car, I’ll stick with an ultralight.

  • JoeKaistoe

    There’s one reason I don’t think self driving cars will be widely used. Liability.

    If a person crashes into someone, it’s their fault. If a self driving car causes a crash, not only is the company liable for the crashed car, but the car it crashed into, as well. It won’t take too long for the insurance rates to pile up for the robot car manufacturer.

    • Rrr

      Yes, liability may be a big differential. Consider the case of the Warship on Windows, dead in the waters fortunately. Suppose it had instead chosen to unleash its missiles willy-nilly… not that teh gubberment keeps insurance, or upholds promises in general.

    • RealityBasedSteve

      For years I’ve seen the demo of ‘smart cars’ on the intelligent highway system (monitoring positions and controlling vehicles), and the Self-driving car. I’m with you, I’ve always maintained that the technology was either there, or very close to being there, but it would be liability / insurance issues that would keep it from happening.

      More’s the pity.


    • Drolfe

      Or, you know, a democratic society could just admit upfront that the benefits of the system/technology outweighed the ossified liabilities involved and just legislated around them. “If a network-managed/robot car results in injury or death, we the people will pay the claim if the resultant investigation reveals no negligence, etc., blah blah blah, good faith, and so on…”.

      The insurance companies don’t have to be the final consideration. See also: single-payer healthcare.

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