Driverless cars are not the future we expect it to be

At this point many of us have probably accepted that driverless cars will encompass every corner of our lives in the near future. Research firm Strategy Analytics and Intel have concluded that by 2050 economic activity generated by driverless cars would exceed $7 trillion. $203 billion of this number comes from new business markets in tourism or healthcare; some new predicted new use cases include mobile hair salons and rolling restaurants. The only problem is it might not be the kind of future we are hoping for.

The Problem

It's also worth pointing out a deep contradiction of transportation innovation that may complicate the report's conclusions. Rather than simply reducing the time and effort we spend moving around, every new form of transportation from tamed horses onward has reshaped society in such a way that people wound up spending more time and effort traveling - one aspect of an economic phenomenon known as the Jevons paradox. The most recent manifestation of this is the "induced demand" that often instantly clogs newly-built highways.

While the new report claims driverless cars will eventually save 250 million hours of commuting time per year, other have argued they could instead become the mother of all induced demand events. Though the current global trend is towards urbanization, driverless cars could actually encourage some people to live even farther away from workplaces, or to take even more daily trips, because they can spend the time in their car working, entertaining themselves, or getting a robotic pedicure.

Personally, I have always been a huge supporter of the future of autonomous vehicles. This report has filled me with immense optimism for massive effect this will have on our lives, however, I have begun to worry that the lifestyle change may not be the one many dream of.

Monkeys, I'm curious what you have to say about this report. Do you believe the driverless car market will be $7 trillion large? Are you still welcoming of the autonomous vehicle future?

Driverless Cars Will Be Part of a $7 Trillion Market by 2050

Comments (57)

Jun 8, 2017

https://www.fool.com/podcasts/motley-fool-money/20...
Tony Seba talks in the podcast above about driverless cars becoming a 10x disruptor. Points out that L.A. has parking structures that account for the size of 3 San Fran's.

I agree with your point/article's point, probably won't cut down traffic.

Also, how long before a self-driving car gets hacked and blows something up.

Jun 9, 2017

That's probably a large reason Elon Musk is focusing autonomous vehicle developments in LA. As for self-driving cars getting hacked, I think self-driving cars won't be fully available to consumers unless they simply cannot be hacked, otherwise they pose potentially catastrophic issues. However, in the case that they will eventually get hacked, I doubt it will reverse much progress toward the future of autonomous vehicles once most individuals are on board; consumers will be convinced that security and safety must be sacrificed.

Jun 9, 2017

Well, since 90% of traffic accidents and/or fatalities are driver error related, it stands to reason that when we transform entirely to automated vehicles we'll cut down on about 90% of accidents.

I see your frustration with the author, but much of what he says will probably come to pass. I can't "prove" it, but since Google and others have mentioned it, this is the kind of stuff they've mentioned--self parking, the ability to drive safely at very high speeds, communication between cars that will allow the computers to run the math when coming to intersections, etc. There's actually a pretty cool animation of this online.

Jun 9, 2017

How difficult would it be for a hacker to drive your car into the Hudson from his laptop?

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Jun 9, 2017

I read about this. The car has traveled thousands of miles across the country and it only had one minor accident. The accident happened when the driver inside the car decided to take over control from the computer and he ended up rear ending another car. Perfect example of driver error.

Jun 9, 2017
TeddyTheBear:

I read about this. The car has traveled thousands of miles across the country and it only had one minor accident. The accident happened when the driver inside the car decided to take over control from the computer and he ended up rear ending another car. Perfect example of driver error.

For what it's worth, hundreds of thousands of miles. ;)

Jun 9, 2017

We have partially autonomous vehicles today. They aren't on an open computer network. We're 20 or 30 years away from them running on an open network. At least at the beginning these vehicles will run on a closed network and a GPS.

But we'd probably be in as much danger of a hacker as we'd be in danger of someone cutting your breaks.

Jun 9, 2017
DCDepository:

But we'd probably be in as much danger of a hacker as we'd be in danger of someone cutting your breaks.

Really? A hacker in complete control of your car is equally dangerous as one's "break" (brake) lines being cut? You'd notice a lack of brakes before you even got going. So...

That small argument aside, am I the only one who likes driving and would prefer to drive myself in most cases? Sure, it would be nice to have a fleet of automated taxis running around town for convenience, but I like having my own vehicle. Lately I've been disappointed by the slow disappearance of the option to equip a manual transmission in new vehicles. To picture an all driverless car transportation system is depressing.

Jun 9, 2017

Congestion would be reduced because cars would be able to communicate with each other and accelerate in unison. I hit slow-downs in traffic all the time that are not caused by accidents or closures, but by thousands of drivers punching the gas and slamming the brakes just to move up a few feet. All of those inefficiencies build on each other and create a jam.

Jun 9, 2017

a lot of congestion is from idiots hitting the breaks instead of just taking their foot off the gas, drives me mental

Jun 9, 2017

I can explain how it will reduce accidents and fatalities, actually, because I've been through this once before.

Most of you guys are probably too young to remember, but mid-air collisions used to be a BIG problem with aircraft, and it was almost always (and I'm being generous there - it was always) pilot error. Somebody zigged when they should have zagged.

I was consulting for a small regional airline in 1995 when the FAA made it mandatory that all FAR Part 121 carriers retrofit the TCAS system into their aircraft. TCAS stands for Traffic Collision Avoidance System and it basically takes the pilot out of the picture. When the aircraft senses a nearby aircraft the TCAS kicks in and the two aircrafts' TCAS systems decide among themselves who is going to do what. Mid-air collisions are now a thing of the past.

The Google cars that are on the street presently obviously have some sort of TCAS installed, only two decades more advanced. That's how they keep from running into shit. It doesn't communicate with other cars yet (because there aren't enough driverless cars on the road), so my guess is that it's high-speed RADAR based at this point.

Now, to the point that there will be increased collisions in the transition to everyone going driverless: I can see that happening, but I can't imagine it will be worse than current accident stats. On top of that, once everyone is driverless accidents will pretty much be a thing of the past and your drive time will actually become a lot more predictable and productive (yay! more work!).

Jun 9, 2017

Good point, Eddie. We have "autonomous" aircraft and commercial aviation in the United States is nearly accident free. I'm not sure there's been a single death since September 11, 2001 in the U.S. on a commercial passenger airliner.

Jun 9, 2017
DCDepository:

Good point, Eddie. We have "autonomous" aircraft and commercial aviation in the United States is nearly accident free. I'm not sure there's been a single death since September 11, 2001 in the U.S. on a commercial passenger airliner.

American 587 crashed a month after 9/11 and was one of the deadliest crashes in U.S. history. But, of course, that was due to... wait for it... pilot error.

Jun 9, 2017
In The Flesh:

How exactly will having a driverless car result in a 90% reduction in accidents and deaths? I get that removing the human element from driving is supposed to cut it down, but how will that work in the interim period between all-human drivers and all-driverless cars? Won't there be more accidents, not less, as we shift between systems? Automated systems aren't foolproof by any means, and somebody still has to monitor it and repair it.

Automated systems may not be "foolproof", but they are a hell of a lot better than humans driving the car. On the contrary, I find it hard to believe that, in the long run, there wouldn't be a 90% reduction in auto crashes.

"Come on Flesh, it's Google--it won't need that much monitoring," I can hear the fans interject. "It'll just work." Really? Can you explain how?

There is great explanation that has been provided by Google on this matter. There's even an entertaining video where a news reporter is asked to walk in front of the car while it's driving to prove that it would swerve and stop. The reporter was scared to death and barely stepped off the sidewalk and, sure enough, car stopped well short of her. I think human beings are just inherently skeptical of the proposition that a machine could do something better than they.

Another extrapolation from the series here is that we won't have to purchase our own cars anymore. "The car will just come to you," the article promises. How?

Imagine a fully autonomous taxi fleet that could be queried on demand via an app. Instead of driving a car to work, you simply have enough cars in an area to meet peak demand and people pay to use a more efficient system of transportation. The average car spends 95% of its lifespan parked - that's incredibly inefficient. Imagine increasing that rate by even a few percent and it has tremendous effects on the cost of transportation.

Another claim is that the driverless car will dramatically reduce congestion, eliminating the need for traffic lights. How? Will the car be smaller? Go faster? Be driven by satellite? What about parking? Pedestrians crossing?

The vast, vast, vast majority of traffic is caused by inefficient driving patters. If you're really interested in this subject, I suggest you read a book called Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, who goes into great depth about how these phenomena occur. But to keep a long story short, most traffic occurs not because of too little road capacity, but because of the accordion effects assocated with unnecessary braking.

When you're driving in closely connected traffic on the highway, human drivers need to give a significant amount of clearance between their front bumper and the rear of the car in front of them. When the car in front of them taps on the brakes, they do as well, and this filters back through all of the cars driving by that point. These create ripples in the system which ultimately lead to traffic. Moreover, human drivers are inexplicably inefficient at managing traffic flows: one highway might be completely packed with traffic while alternate routes are moving smoothly.

With autonomous cars, traffic can travel near bumper-to-bumper, can navigate around congestion, eliminate unnecessary braking, and significantly reduce one of the prevailing causes of traffic: car accidents.

And also since the Google car will be able to see in the dark, there won't be any more need for streetlights. How, and why? Streetlights and their early counterparts, gaslights, weren't developed with cars in mind--they were installed to reduce crime and enable people to stay out later, so that the workday didn't have to end with sunset. Just because the car doesn't need outdoor lighting doesn't mean we won't, unless we plan on spending our entire waking lives in them.

That we would eliminate street lighting admittedly sounds farfetched - not sure I agree with that.

Jun 9, 2017

If you guys have driven in any recent luxury cars like an s class or a8, you'd know they already have much of these technologies in place.

You can merge on the highway, set the cruise, and never touch the break even if you have to come to a complete stop. The car detects another car in front of it and will never collide.

Jun 9, 2017
BTbanker:

If you guys have driven in any recent luxury cars like an s class or a8, you'd know they already have much of these technologies in place.

You can merge on the highway, set the cruise, and never touch the break even if you have to come to a complete stop. The car detects another car in front of it and will never collide.

The assisting technologies in luxury cars nowadays are a marvel. Drove my friend's BMW 750i once after a night clubbing where he was not in a condition to make it back to his apartment, the thing drove and parked itself.

Jun 9, 2017

Minor glitch -> system paralysis

Jun 9, 2017

Also, just to assuage any fears: murder will still be illegal when the Google car is released.

Jun 9, 2017

Not worried about Google hackers. Far more concerned about the t-rex scene in Jurassic Park.

Jun 9, 2017

I hope there's going to be manual and automated modes. I can definitely see the use after a heavy night of drinking.

Jun 9, 2017

the person behind the wheel will still ultimately be responsible for the car. this rules out the "im too drunk so my car will drive me home" idea that has all of you alcoholics chomping at the bit.

90% reduction is a very long term goal as people will still refuse to let the car drive them regardless of how safe it is. there is such a think as a "no fault accident".

ever time i see this discussion come up it reminds me of the "Asoh Defense". wiki it if you dont know about it.

Jun 9, 2017
RedWood:

the person behind the wheel will still ultimately be responsible for the car. this rules out the "im too drunk so my car will drive me home" idea that has all of you alcoholics chomping at the bit.

Autonomous cars would allow a taxi without a driver to take you home, which eliminates any possibility of you being held accountable for the car.

90% reduction is a very long term goal as people will still refuse to let the car drive them regardless of how safe it is. there is such a think as a "no fault accident".

Yes there is. There are plenty of "no fault" states in the United States already. In a world with autonomous cars, I see no reason why this wouldn't change.

ever time i see this discussion come up it reminds me of the "Asoh Defense". wiki it if you dont know about it.

If your only concern with autonomous cars is that they don't fit naturally into pre-existing traffic laws, I'd say you really have no concern at all. Laws will obviously be adapted to fit a new reality, as they always have been.

Jun 9, 2017

Speaking from the point of view of someone who knows someone who has actually been in Google's driver less car and spoken with their team, the driver less car concept is likely 10 years away from being commercially viable. Everything you read about how it's driven thousand's of miles without accident is true. However, you have to understand that it's not driving by itself 100% of the time. The driver has to take control pretty often since small things such as road construction / lane closures / etc. can't be handled by the car itself. Personally, I believe you will see more and more autonomous functions come online slowly, but not a fully autonomous car for many years.

Also, I'd point out that although Google gets all the attention for having driver less cars, every single major auto OEM has experimented with autonomous cars. The reason it hasn't been implemented yet is cause it's not safe enough. Typical production cycles for cars takes years and testing new parts/functions takes even longer.

In conclusion, although the concept of a driver less car is great, coming along nicely, and has numerous benefits, it's still far away from being commercially viable.

Jun 9, 2017

Hate to say it, but you knew there were going to be accidents as the tech is developed. I'm sure they will make them even safer after the accident.

I'd say both are at fault, but Uber should probably be more at fault, considering pedestrians should always have the right away (we're talking about an unprotected human being - no matter how dumb they are). Uber was over the speed limit and the safety check looked like he was checking his phone or something. How do you defend against that?

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Jun 9, 2017

I think there is a thread with a good amount of feedback on this already. May want to look back a few pages

Jun 9, 2017

In addition, there's a pretty good report from Green Street about autonomous technology changing the RE landscape. If you can get your hands on it, its a good read.

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Jun 9, 2017

We are long ways away from having autonomous cars impact development requirements. Here in Beverly Hills the city is still debating whether or not to utilize car lifts to accommodate parking requirements... A technology that has been around for a while might I add.

100% will impact real estate, just not sure on timing. Decades away - I'm talking many years after the technology has been adapted by society, which we are many many years away from this as is. I could be completely off but just my 2 cents.

Jun 9, 2017

You can't invest in Waymo. They're owned by Alphabet, thus owning a share of Waymo is owning a small share of Waymo.

Jun 9, 2017

My theory is that the vehicle should obey the law first, and protect its passengers second, third could be save the most lives.

My reasoning: If someone were to jump in front of a car holding two people, it doesn't make sense for the car to crash into a post because a) The person jumping in front of the car wasn't upholding the law, b) I personally wouldn't buy a car that would kill me c) You potentially save more people

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Jun 9, 2017

IRobot and Asimov.

Jun 9, 2017

Looks like AI will be creating some jobs for liberal arts majors: ethicists.

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Best Response
Jun 9, 2017

Killing the fat man might be a net benefit to society, but it's unclear at this point.

On one hand, he's already over-consuming precious food resources and will undoubtedly require more medical resources than the average person over the course of his life. That said, his life expectancy will be be shorter, costing the government less money in social security and medicare.

Someone needs to model this and find out where the cost-related body fat percentage inflection point for the benefit/cost of killing the fat person is. The AI should be able to do that calculation rapidly.

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