… But Then, Who Needs New Drivers If Cars Can Drive Themselves?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
but then who needs new drivers if cars can drive themselves

Just when America’s most promising generation turns up its nose at cars, new technology rides to the rescue of the embattled industry: Cars that do away with drivers. A study by the automaker and union-funded think tank Center For Automotive Research (CAR) and the CPA firm KPMG comes to the conclusion that with self-driving vehicles, “the industry appears to be on the cusp of revolutionary change.” Do you buy that? Jay or nay?

Says a press release announcing the study:

The report points out that the new technology could provide solutions to some of our most intractable social problems — the high cost of traffic crashes and transportation infrastructure, the millions of hours wasted in traffic jams, and the wasted urban space given over to parking lots, just to name a few.”

What do you think? Are they on crack, or are they cracking intractable social problems? And honestly, would you want to be driven around in a car with a giant dildo strapped to its roof?

Join the conversation
8 of 55 comments
  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Aug 07, 2012

    Thinking longish-term... Would you need a driver's license to "drive" a self-driving car? Would the license have an endorsement to allow driving the "old-fashioned" way?

    • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Aug 07, 2012

      This is my only gripe. People are bad enough drivers as is, and I am sure there will be situations where people will have to drive. I would be behind this, as long as it came with some kind of relicensing protocol that required people to demonstrate the could still actually drive. The implications are tremendous though. Forget driverless cars- what about driverless buses? Whoever said "so basically we need trains" actually was onto something- carpooling would actually be a lot less stressful + more efficient, etc, and nobody would have to take the wear and tear if it was paid for by the company I think it could be huge. I would def love to commute in a driverless car

  • Wmba Wmba on Aug 07, 2012

    How would this system avoid potholes? Sonar and radar and lidar, blah, blah, blah. Great, now add a snowstorm and icy roads. Revert to manual control with drivers who no longer know to drive? The system will stop and hundreds will die of frostbite. Will first responders in Chevy Van ambulances and cops in cruisers be in autonomous emergency vehicles? What about older vehicles? What about flat tires, other mechanical problems? We can build wonderful new energy efficient homes, but the average home is decades old. Let's bypass all these steps and go straight to the brain in a jar as the human experience. Think of all the problems that could be avoided then. This idea is about as likely to happen as everyone owning a flying car. And yes, I'm from Luddite Central. We're keeping an eye on Google!

  • MrWhopee MrWhopee on Aug 07, 2012

    I will raise my hat in salute if this can actually work in more challenging/brutal traffic. Most traffic in America are so calm and easy, you know. Most people cooperates, no one cuts you off, infraction from the rules are a minority. But there are places where traffic is more brutal, people cuts each other left and right, lanes aren't clear, no one follows traffic rules, etc. I have never seen demonstrations of this kind of system in the US' more brutal cities, like Chicago or New York City, in rush hours. We'll see how it copes then! But then, who needs automated driving in those nicer places (where we commonly see such system being tested)? Driving is actually relaxing and enjoyable! It's a great stress-reliever. It's in places where driving is akin to hand-to-hand street fighting that this kind of system is most welcome.

    • See 1 previous
    • Econobiker Econobiker on Aug 08, 2012

      Some of the issues you list are more of a traffic design issue than of the drivers. And the actual overload of the system in NYC (and a gas mileage increase) could be alleviated if say NYC gave all motorcycles and scooters free no-toll entry to the city plus free parking (more than 2 in the space of a standard auto parking space dimension). But then toll revenue would decrease, and government would not like that... And do not even get me started on the how, for small local surface streets with low speed intersections, round-a-bouts could help traffic if used in place of the stupid expensive traffic lights now dotting the landscape. Anytime you have to stop and wait for a no car cross street traffic signal gas and time are being wasted. This waste could be mitigated with the round-a-bout...

  • Econobiker Econobiker on Aug 08, 2012

    Follow the money folks. Insurance companies. The insurance companies will love this after all the thorny issues of who is liable for an accident are worked out. Then you will be faced with increased rates if you do NOT use the automatic driving feature on your car.

    • Robert Gordon Robert Gordon on Aug 09, 2012

      "The insurance companies will love this.." You're not thinking it through. Why would you need insurance on a car that can't crash?