Only Twenty Years Left to Drive Yourself

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Sebastian Thrun should work for GM; he promises a self-driving vehicle within the next twenty years. Actually, perhaps not. After all, this is the same Stanford University scientist whose team actually built a robotic VW Touareg that drove itself 212 klicks across the Nevada desert to win DARPA's $2m prize. As reports, Thrun has no compunctions of removing control from automobilists, to ensure that older drivers can maintain their freedom. The personal side of the story: last May, Thrun and his brother confiscated their father's driving license after their old man caused an accident. Thrun's father faded away soon after. “It was a very sad episode. I caused it by deciding it would be unethical for my dad to drive.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Benders Benders on Jul 23, 2007

    Just because there are automated cars it doesn't mean you won't have the option of driving. You'd just have an overriding control computer that wouldn't let you change lanes into a car next to you or rear end the car in front of you. The question is what happens with non-networked cars? Do you ban them from all roads? Just the interstates? Not at all? If the cars do not rely solely on communication with other cars and have sensors to ascertain the position of other cars, computer and human drivers can coexist. How do you think the first automated cars will drive with humans at the wheel of every other car? And I don't see speed limits increasing much because there are other influences on road conditions like people and animals crossing the road, bicyclists, agricultural equipment, etc.

  • Pete Pete on Jul 23, 2007

    Why bother to allow the humans to move about at all? Just connect the drooling slaves to their home computing devices and let them live out their meaningless lives "online". Grrr!

  • Kevin Kevin on Jul 23, 2007

    Good grief, let me (apparently) be the only skeptic to assert that there will NOT be fully autonomous self-driving cars within 20 years. That's nonsense. I would happily bet money on it and empty your wallets come 2027. It's much more likely that cars in 20 years will still have cassette players, for Pete sake. GM cars anyway. That's the same kind of mentality that caused so many AI researchers 50 years ago to think human-level AI was just a few years away, where it's continued to be ever since.

  • Mullholland Mullholland on Jul 24, 2007

    Cars that drive themselves will happen right after we get those amazing flying cars promised by Popular Mechanics 50 years ago.