By Blue Bronc, a Trail Mix Contributor
And now we move from a driver flipping us off to no driver.
I write this while my big kitty sneezes and snorkes in the bedroom. A cat with summer allergies.
As we spend our days wondering whether or not America should be spelled Америка, much of the bureaucracy continues to function without dear leader. State agencies are working on how to let driverless cars test and function in the mess which is the U.S. roadway system.
It has reminded me of fifties and sixties optimism of the future – driverless cars. What was envisioned at the time were various forms of radar and laid-in strips in the roadbed which a magnetic sensor in the vehicle would follow, with the radar providing information for stopping or queuing the vehicles to avoid collision.
The concept of completely autonomous vehicles was an eighties and nineties concept. Actually, earlier, like in the twenties and thirties, but those concepts were based on technology so far in the future it included flying cars in cities. The problem has always been the lack of computing power in a package which could be on board the vehicle along with the camera systems to be able to discern between a boulder and a bus.
With the computer hardware and memory issues “solved”, and the “vision” systems now capable of seeing very tiny things in front, side and behind, it became time for the vehicles to get out on their own. This is once again the speed of computing power change. What took almost ten years in the eighties to solve, now has been moved from discussion to function in only a couple years.
As we discuss this issue, agencies in states around the District of Columbia, and the rest of the U.S. are working on bringing driverless vehicles on the roads. This is good. My Mother is almost blind. Not having to worry about her driving is great. Having her be driven to her destination and home again is even better.
Is there an upside to vehicles moving from A to B to C without a driver?
Yes, very good, as it will reduce crashes. Yes, it will allow those not able to drive to travel. Yes, it will be fun to sit back and let a vehicle deliver ME somewhere.
Is there a downside to vehicles moving from A to B to C without a driver?
No, it is the nose of the camel under the tent. Force those wanting to drive to a position that only autonomous vehicles have the right of way. Or zones or locations (for D.C., think Dupont Circle) where only driverless vehicles would be allowed.
Can these vehicles coexist? I think so. But, it will require careful choices by regulators.
More Posts by Blue Bronc