The Unintended Consequences of Self Driving Cars

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | 21,111

I'm sure most of you caught the news a few days ago that every Tesla coming off the assembly line now has full self-driving hardware. That was the headline. Almost as interesting was this gem buried in the fine print: you're not allowed to use your Tesla for Uber, Lyft, or any other for-profit ride sharing program. That's right kids, Tesla is going after Uber. We'll save that for a bit later.

There's no doubt that we're on the cusp of autonomous vehicles taking over the roads. Trust me: the insurance companies will insist on it. They'll throw their considerable resources at getting the legislation passed sooner rather than later. Inevitable fatal glitches aside, machines are already better drivers than people could ever be. What I want discuss today are the unintended consequences of this seismic shift in transportation.

Impact on Municipal Budgets

I was driving my kids home from school the other day when a cop pulled up beside me and gave me a shitty look. 25 years ago I would've given it right back to him with a defensive, "What?!". These days it's no longer worth the hassle.

I'm a middle aged white guy with money, so I'm not worried about getting shot. But getting pulled over for any reason these days is going to start the meter around $300 and it goes up from there. Now that cops are in the asset forfeiture and revenue generation business, it's best to avoid them at all costs.

Of course you wonder what you did to draw the attention in the first place. Did I have a taillight out? Did I change lanes without signaling? Was I speeding?

Then I thought about all the ways self-driving cars are going to impact the municipalities who finance their budgets through police extortion. A huge percentage of law enforcement activity (tickets, arrests, convictions, fines and forfeitures) begin with the simple traffic stop. All sorts of convictions, up to and including murder, have come as a result of a cop pulling someone over for a traffic violation.

Now imagine everyone getting from point A to point B in vehicles incapable of committing said traffic violations. The justification for the traffic stop goes out the window, and probable cause along with it. City revenues are going to take a massive hit. How massive? The following chart illustrates how dependent some municipalities have become on fine and forfeiture revenue:


Self-driving cars are going to change the way policing is done. I, for one, can't wait for the day I can sneer at a cop as I drive by chugging a cold one and smoking a fatty. The problem with that fantasy is that there won't be many traffic cops left at that point.

More to the point, how are these municipalities going to replace that revenue? They'll either have to raise taxes or cut spending. It's an unintended consequence of autonomous vehicles, but it's better for everyone in the long run.

The Attack on Uber

The interesting part about the "ban" on using your Tesla on other ride sharing platforms is that Tesla now has their own. It's called the Tesla Network, and details about it are coming next year. I think it's pretty easy to figure out what they're up to right now, though.

Sign up for the Tesla Network and you're hiring a robot employee you never have to pay. In short, your Tesla is going to work while you sleep. When you're stuck at work all day, your Tesla is going to be out hustling rides for money. With no need of a human driver, no need for fuel (courtesy of free Tesla filling stations), and no engine to wear out, there's no reason your Tesla can't be working every idle moment.

Uber's single largest expense is their drivers, and they're pressing hard into the autonomous space for that reason. But Tesla appears poised to beat them there by putting a fleet on the road right now.

Ride sharing isn't the only segment of the economy this will affect, either. I wouldn't want to be in the parking lot business once this happens. Why would you ever pay to park again, when you can just have your car circle the block until you're done in the store? Why not just have your car drop you off in the morning and then drive itself back home until you're off work? I know I'd save a fortune on parking downtown.

And what about deliveries? I started using Uber for pizza delivery years ago in Paris, because it was cheaper to have my driver walk in and pick up my pizzas than it was to have Pizza Hut deliver them. Think about it: your car can now go fetch stuff without you. And not just for you. It can be out delivering boxes all night long while you sleep.

Disruption Aplenty

When we think about autonomous vehicles, most of us just think about being able to drive home after having a few. Or how nice it'll be to kick back and read or watch a movie while we're on our way to work. Or maybe how much safer it'll be to drive.

But it's the unintended consequences that I find most interesting. We covered a few of them here, but I know there are more that I'm not thinking about at the moment. What have I missed?

This is going to be one of those things that people look back on 50 years from now and say, "Were you guys insane driving yourselves around? Why did it take so long for you to create autonomous vehicles?" So it's definitely a cool time to be alive and witness this transition. I know there's going to be a lot of pushback from the various industries affected by autonomous vehicles, but at this point they're an inevitability.

Can't happen soon enough as far as I'm concerned.

Mod Note (Andy): This week we're reposting the top content from 2016, this one ranks #49 for 24 of silver bananas.

Comments (107)

Oct 25, 2016

You had me at Uber for pizza deliveries, wow

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

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Oct 25, 2016

It was ridiculous, buddy. They had a two-for-one deal if you came in and picked it up (so EU14 for two pizzas), but they would charge full boat for delivery (EU28). I could get an UberX from there to my house for EU4, and never have to leave home. No brainer.

Best Response
Oct 25, 2016

More importantly, the industry for traffic-stop themed pornographic films is going to crater, having lost its narrative relevance

Oct 25, 2016

Probably the biggest industry upheaval to be honest

Oct 25, 2016

bravo

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Oct 25, 2016

lol +1

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

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Oct 25, 2016

I'm curious about how self driving cars will impact urban design. Its possible people move even further from city centers due to a self driving commute. Also possible that self driving will lower the cost of driving so much that it will be cheaper for a much greater number of people to not even own a car and live closer to city centers without the worry of paying for/finding a parking spot.

Oct 25, 2016

The end of car ownership is one of Uber's stated goals and I think it's shared by the self-driving car community pretty broadly.

Oct 26, 2016
Eddie Braverman:

The end of car ownership is one of Uber's stated goals and I think it's shared by the self-driving car community pretty broadly.

It will be a cold day in hell before I give up my cars.

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Oct 25, 2016

i was waiting for you to mention this news story from today https://www.yahoo.com/news/driverless-beer-run-bud...
Uber already has autonomous trucks delivering beer!
Talk about disruption, there's millions of truck drivers hauling cargo across the continental US. Millions will be out of a job within the next decade.
That's further pressure on federal tax revenues.

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Oct 26, 2016

This is already happening! Rio Tinto is using dirverless dump trucks in their Pilbara mines.

Oct 25, 2016

Science is amazing.

We're going to see changes in urban planning that no living person has ever witnessed.

The environment is going to significantly improve.

Competition is going to drive the cost of autonomous vehicles into the dirt.

Housing will be plentiful and location will become less relevant.

Initially, we'll be working on our computers, whilst our autonomous vehicles drive us to work.

Soon after, VR technology will reach a point where we will spend most of our time working from home.

Productivity will go through the roof.

We Martians now.

Did I mention that science is amazing?

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Oct 27, 2016

Watch "Surrogates" with Bruce Willis. Not a great movie necessarily, but a great concept. The path you are laying out is taken to its extremes and it doesn't exactly work out perfectly. I think self-driving cars will surely take some market share, especially in city-centers, but I do not think everyone else will give up their Mustangs and F-150s in favor of a fancy Camry with "autopilot." Even if they add the tech to sports cars and pickup trucks, the people in those markets are not very likely to give up their steering wheel to a robot, in my experience. I certainly do not think your VR world sounds appealing. While the telecommuting would be good for certain people, it isn't the best option for everyone. "Surrogates" actually explores the idea quite thoroughly, and comes to the right conclusion, in my opinion.

Oct 27, 2016

I actually loved that movie, lol.

Oct 27, 2016
tylerkolethomas:

Watch "Surrogates" with Bruce Willis. Not a great movie necessarily, but a great concept. The path you are laying out is taken to its extremes and it doesn't exactly work out perfectly. I think self-driving cars will surely take some market share, especially in city-centers, but I do not think everyone else will give up their Mustangs and F-150s in favor of a fancy Camry with "autopilot." Even if they add the tech to sports cars and pickup trucks, the people in those markets are not very likely to give up their steering wheel to a robot, in my experience. I certainly do not think your VR world sounds appealing. While the telecommuting would be good for certain people, it isn't the best option for everyone. "Surrogates" actually explores the idea quite thoroughly, and comes to the right conclusion, in my opinion.

I disagree.

In the past, I'm sure there were plenty of people who enjoyed riding horses and carriages. Even so, when the first automobiles came out, they were ALL eventually forced to use automobiles. History doesn't always repeat itself, but it always rhymes. This situation is analogous to every other innovative event in human history. Whether people like it or not, they will switch to self-driving cars. That's not to say people can't drive their cars (ride their horses) on a track (paddock/ranch/field/etc.). However, it is insane to say that human populations will not overwhelming transition to self-driving cars. Every historical innovative event in human history is precedent to what we're experiencing with self-driving cars. Anyone who's betting against this and thinks people will continue driving themselves will at least know that investment management is not a career for them.

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Oct 25, 2016

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Oct 25, 2016

"So what did you do before self-driving cars?"
We drove them ourselves!
"Wow, nobody died that way?"
Oh no, millions of people died.

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Oct 25, 2016

From another thread I posted:

I was watching a documentary on autonomous cars and one of the engineers said this sort of scenario is one of the very real moral issues we would need to address if autonomous cars really are the future of driving.

Could the car make moral decisions on behalf of its occupants if it meant sacrificing the occupants life to save for example a school bus full of children?

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Oct 25, 2016

Mercedes-Benz actually got into trouble for stating that their own driver's safety would be priority #1 without regard to any other potential victims that could occur from a car crash.

Oct 25, 2016

please let this be true

Oct 26, 2016

But what if the car tried to save, let's say a child walking out in the street, and the only optimal option to save the life was to swerve into a restaurant with 15+ people?

Oct 31, 2016

Right, who dies if the brakes go out? Passengers or pedestrians? Or which pedestrians if not passengers? MIT created a scenario simulator for this: http://moralmachine.mit.edu/
And who will be the responsible governing body that writes into the vehicle programming which action the car should take?

Nov 1, 2016

Not for nothing, but it's my understanding that Teslas don't have brakes. They reverse thrust.

Oct 25, 2016

That video shows how humans may make humans useless by creating robots that do everything we need them to and then those robots will be able to create more advanced robots. In a way, this is fascinating but it is also very scary. Part of me thinks that the pilgrims had the highest standard of living.

Oct 25, 2016

You think the Pilgrims had the highest standard of living? Does that part of you think that disease / starvation / truncated life expectancy / back breaking labor was cool?

Sorry if I'm sounding like a dick, but genuinely interested how you came to that conclusion?? Specifically, what made you say the Pilgrims? Super confused.

Oct 25, 2016

I think he means the pilgrims enjoyed life more than we do now because robots have gradually been eroding our quality of life

Oct 26, 2016
hockey34:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU That video shows how humans may make humans useless by creating robots that do everything we need them to and then those robots will be able to create more advanced robots. In a way, this is fascinating but it is also very scary. Part of me thinks that the pilgrims had the highest standard of living.

Imbecile.

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Oct 30, 2016

He isn't talking about what you think he's talking about.

Oct 25, 2016

Interesting take on the the munis and budgets in regards to tickets. Never really considered that one.

Job loss is gonna be substantial with millions of truck drivers, in addition to the delivery drivers and cabs.

Oct 25, 2016

I don't know if someone else has mentioned this but there are millions of truck drivers in the USA who are making good money. Self-driving trucks would demolish a huge industry with high union pay for low-skilled Americans.

Oct 26, 2016

That will suck (for them), but the trade offs seem totally worth it at the societal level.

Oct 26, 2016

Completely agree, but they will be the next 'coal miner' problem for politicians.

Oct 25, 2016

The automotive insurance world will be largely phased out

Also my drinking will probably become a massive problem

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Oct 25, 2016

I predict this self driving car movement will turn out to be a shitshow. Wait until a few people die because of these autonomous hunks of metal and watch the ensuing legal explosion as everyone tries to figure out who exactly should be blamed. This would create serious ethical conundrums that have no easy answers

I firmly believe this is a dangerous idea. For full disclosure I'm kind of a neo-luddite

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Oct 25, 2016

Tesla already solved this problem by assuming liability. Frankly, if the technology is as good as these autonomous vehicle producers believe it is, the profits will far, far outweigh liabilities associated with deaths.

Oct 25, 2016
Virginia Tech 4ever:

Tesla already solved this problem by assuming liability.

That is shocking if true. Source?

There was a guy that died a few months ago while in a self-driving Tesla car and hit a tractor trailer. Looks like Tesla deflected blame

Oct 29, 2016
Going Concern:

I predict this self driving car movement will turn out to be a shitshow. Wait until a few people die because of these autonomous hunks of metal and watch the ensuing legal explosion as everyone tries to figure out who exactly should be blamed. This would create serious ethical conundrums that have no easy answers

I firmly believe this is a dangerous idea. For full disclosure I'm kind of a neo-luddite

You're not at all alone in this matter. I don't know where this source of optimism is coming from when nobody has an idea how this will pan out on a massive scale. How will these automated cars detect drunk driving behavior? This optimistic behavior is dangerous.

Oct 29, 2016
coffeecloser:

Going Concern:I predict this self driving car movement will turn out to be a shitshow. Wait until a few people die because of these autonomous hunks of metal and watch the ensuing legal explosion as everyone tries to figure out who exactly should be blamed. This would create serious ethical conundrums that have no easy answersI firmly believe this is a dangerous idea. For full disclosure I'm kind of a neo-luddite

You're not at all alone in this matter. I don't know where this source of optimism is coming from when nobody has an idea how this will pan out on a massive scale. How will these automated cars detect drunk driving behavior? This optimistic behavior is dangerous.

There will be a time where it will no longer be ethical and then legal for humans to drive. It is inevitable.

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Oct 25, 2016

I haven't owned a car in 3+ years and I don't miss it even a little - but I'll buy the first self-driving car that's less than $100K without thinking twice. Super excited for this shit.

Oct 25, 2016

For those that didn't see the video from Tesla to see how close this actually is:

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Oct 25, 2016
WallStreetOasis.com:

For those that didn't see the video from Tesla to see how close this actually is:

Coolest. Shit. Ever.

Oct 26, 2016

very cool, let's see it do that on 5th ave

Oct 25, 2016

Think about how this will change productivity. Each person with an hour commute basically will gain two hours per day of productive time back.

The income inequality gap will only continue to rise between the educated and uneducated. Millions of displaced truck and taxi drivers, parking staff, valets, will be left looking for employment along with the millions of workers whose jobs got automated when minimum wage gets pushed to $15/hour. The amount of low-skill displaced workers will far outweigh the supply of low-skill jobs. These people will cry to the government for help leading the populist movement over the edge and causing us into a welfare state. Bye Bye Capitalism...... Sometimes I wish I was born 20 years earlier.

But for real, what will happen to NASCAR???

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Oct 26, 2016

Income/wealth inequality is likely to rise anyway. But I've argued this for awhile--you can't compare wealth today to wealth from yesterday because new technology and new advancements (that cause income/wealth inequality) will improve the quality of life for everyone. For example, where in 2000 only the super wealthy could afford a personal driver, in 2020 the upper middle class (or lower upper class) will have a personal driver, and in 2030 or 2040 even the poor will likely have a personal driver. This has been true for most kinds of society altering advancements, from electricity to refrigerators to smartphones. The middle class of today, in reality, live better than Saudi royalty in the 1970's.

Also, the silver lining to millions of people losing their careers in trucking/taxi services is that their human capital can, at least in part, be redistributed to other economic needs.

Oct 26, 2016

Redistributed to other needs? What good or service (that can't be produced by robots) are we lacking in today? This sort of technological shift is going to put people out of the workforce permanently, as the workers in this sector have typically been less skilled/educated.

Oct 25, 2016

I look forward to relaxing during my commute, but even more than that I look forward to my commute being 20 minutes (as it should be) instead of 40 min because some idiot played bumper cars trying to merge on the highway.

When I think of disruption, I primarily think of shipping. Between drones, automated trucks and eventually automated boats it would be a massive change. As stated, MILLIONS of blue collar workers would no longer be needed. Also, with no need for breaks or sleep, shipping could take place 24/7 with no pause and deliveries would be even faster. Due to the availability of middle of the night truck runs, I could see government banning trucks from 630-830am and 4-6pm to alleviate traffic congestion (if that even matters anymore).

If traffic becomes more manageable I could definitely see a decentralization of civilization. I know I'd look at moving from my suburb to a little further out to get some more land and a new/more affordable house.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Oct 25, 2016

Tesla is smart--it's just launching this stuff as soon as it can. Google has been talking about its autonomous technology since AT LEAST 2009 and has tested it ad nauseam. Tesla is just launching it and saying "F it"--after all, there's nothing illegal about it...yet. There are almost no rules or regulations governing autonomous technology, so why not just launch it and get it into the real world and to where people are associating autonomous with your product?

Google had cornered the market on autonomous technology--when the public thought about autonomous vehicles they thought about Google. Now, the public is starting to associate the technology with Tesla. It's brilliant.

Oct 26, 2016

Always easier to beg forgiveness than permission.

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Oct 26, 2016
Virginia Tech 4ever:

Tesla is smart--it's just launching this stuff as soon as it can. Google has been talking about its autonomous technology since AT LEAST 2009 and has tested it ad nauseam. Tesla is just launching it and saying "F it"--after all, there's nothing illegal about it...yet. There are almost no rules or regulations governing autonomous technology, so why not just launch it and get it into the real world and to where people are associating autonomous with your product?

Google had cornered the market on autonomous technology--when the public thought about autonomous vehicles they thought about Google. Now, the public is starting to associate the technology with Tesla. It's brilliant.

Sorry but Google never had a chance.

Autonomous driving only becomes real when you have robust machine learning across a large network of vehicles, and Google doesn't have the manufacturing infrastructure required to build cars in quantity. Furthermore the way they approached the problem was all wrong, as they completely disregarded the economics of automobiles.

That said, Google will still come out ahead from this little science experiment; whatever they learned about computer science will be applied to their core artificial intelligence business and we'll be one step closer to SkyNet...

Oct 26, 2016

Yeah, I love me some Google, but they produced a vehicle that looks like a Volkswagen fucked a Yugo. Tesla is pretty much the baddest ass whip on the road.

Oct 26, 2016

The problem I see with auto-driving vehicles, are in part, that -

1) a driver has been killed in a self-driving vehicle before
2) have they discussed the security protocols governing these machines? What if some hell-bent jerk decided to hack into the car and crash it?

Let's not forget

3) doesn't these cars require local or state laws to operate in the city/states?

It's a great overall concept, and I will get killer naps (and pizza deliveries to work/home) from the vehicles, but technology is always developing, will have to wait and see.

Oct 26, 2016

1) Something like 35,000 people in the U.S. were killed in human driven cars in 2015.

2) Cars can already be hacked and driven remotely (there are videos that demonstrate this). Pretty much most cars made in the last decade have enough computers on board to be hacked. So if that's your worry, buckle up.

Oct 26, 2016
Virginia Tech 4ever:

1) Something like 35,000 people in the U.S. were killed in human driven cars in 2015.

2) Cars can already be hacked and driven remotely (there are videos that demonstrate this). Pretty much most cars made in the last decade have enough computers on board to be hacked. So if that's your worry, buckle up.

Thats why you drive old beaters :)

Oct 26, 2016

Yeah I mean hacking is the biggest safety threat. Otherwise the safety numbers still make sense even if people die in self-driving cars, on average it's going to be much safer.

Oct 26, 2016

I'm not a neo-luddite but am I the only one who actually enjoys driving ?!!!

It'll be years before self driving cars are affordable enough for everyone to buy one - so for a long period of time you'll have a mixture of driverless + manually driven cars... how can I trust my car to protect me from another idiots mistake ?!! (I don't trust other drivers!)

And back on the point of ethics, a post The Guardian wrote recently proved thought provoking ... Will Your Driverless Car Be Willing To Kill You To Save The Lives Of Others ?

Oct 26, 2016

Municipal budgets -- Licensing tax/fee for self-driving cars, which can be annually to prove the driver has all the required maintenance and updates for the safe operation of that feature.

Unintended consequences -- Liability. Who is at fault in an accident?

Oct 26, 2016

I wonder if the key is in wealthy cities like Palo Alto where tesla ownership is much higher than the national average to create this sort of "Lexus Lane" where autonomous vehicles can use existing bus lanes or have their own special lanes away from idiot drivers.

There would be no need to stop at traffic lights.

If feel people saw autonomous cars in actions as they blast past them at stop lights and cut commute times in half it should incentivize them to get on board.

Oct 26, 2016

I feel as though this should be getting more attention. Cars are an instrumental piece of our lives. The implications/ramifications of autonomous cars are immeasurable. I'm excited because I trust a computer much more than I trust the average human driver, but I'm sure there are others who feel differently.

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Oct 26, 2016

Kinda see some issues with people using this. TSLA has excluded themselves from any fault in driving like this. Strict liability issues are the main concern in the US. Not the case in the EU where Mercedes has a self-driving car that they have idiotically opened themselves to more liability.

Oct 29, 2016

Disruption of Municipal budgets? I beg to differ, these babies having pay to play and government over-regulation written all over them. The only thing stopping governments from mandating the time and what route we could drive was the whole "freedom" portion of our society. Now that won't be a worry since every car will be part of a massive queue. Government can profit big time by offering queuing spots to the highest bidder.

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Oct 31, 2016

Has anyone ever seen a breakdown of maintenance costs for a Tesla?

Nov 1, 2016

Not sure if this is a rhetorical question or not.

The maintenance costs are negligible. Aside from tire replacement, there are very few moving parts. All upgrades and software maintenance are done automatically through your home wifi. In those rare case where there was an actual physical mechanical problem, Tesla has sent a tow truck with a replacement car and covered the cost of repairs.

Nov 1, 2016

No, it was an actual question, as I figured something along the lines of what you describe.
Tesla has an interesting service model, as they give the buyer various options.

3 year prepaid service, $1,325
One inspection per year or 12,500 miles (whichever comes first), up to 3 years or 37,500 miles

4 year prepaid service, $2,100
One inspection per year or 12,500 miles (whichever comes first), up to 4 years or 50,000 miles

8 year prepaid service, $4,000
One inspection per year or 12,500 miles (whichever comes first), up to 8 years or 100,000 miles

As for what may actually need to be done:

Tesla Annual Service Inspection

Unlike gasoline cars, Tesla vehicles requires no oil changes, fuel filter, spark plug replacements, or emission checks. As an electric car, even brake pad replacements are rare because most braking energy is regeneratively captured by the motor and returned to the battery. Our inspections instead focuses on checking wheel alignment and tire condition, replacement parts like key batteries, windshield wiper blades, and software updates.

https://www.tesla.com/support/service-plans

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Nov 1, 2016

Solid post. I'm going to do an extensive reply to this after some research.

Nov 1, 2016

Thanks. The news is quite interesting as the market for self-driving cars is growing almost every week. I'm curious if this will be a situation in which the first to release a viable product, will make a majority of the gains before other companies release their products. Also for some odd reason, this reminded me of Dominios' drone pizza delivery system.

Just an Undergrad trying to get a job. Something you disagree or dislike about my posts? Let me know by PM'ing me or commenting constructive criticism.

Nov 1, 2016

Nvidia make a super powerful video card that people are using for deep learning [machine learning] to use a program called CUDA python. With the pace of innovation on autonomous vehicles, yes I think that is a fair estimate.

Cuda python is actually what most hft use as well.

There is an arms race between nvidia and amd right now regarding things like this, so I imagine they are recouping some of their r and d expense.

Nov 1, 2016

Has AMD partnered with any automakers yet?

Nov 1, 2016

After spending most of the weekend on the highway it became more clear to me why Volvo is partnering with Nvidia. My prior comment was pretty much conjecture with no support. The r and d comment.

I think the real reason is that when autonomous vehicles are first rolled out they will primarily be used for commercial driving and delivery. That is until the price comes down. Thus explaining why Volvo would be a prime candidate for Nvidia to partner with. A large majority (it seems, not going to pull stats right now) of 18 wheelers are made by Volvo.

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Nov 1, 2016

Would be good for the stop-start shit in traffic.

In general, even though it may be safer I wouldn't use it - I love driving and getting head at the same time; what's my best girl gonna do now? Suck on its chip or something? Uh-Uuuh..

I am going to call my kids Ctrl, Alt and Delete. That way if something is going wrong I can beat them all at once.

Nov 1, 2016
browniepoints:

Would be good for the stop-start shit in traffic.

In general, even though it may be safer I wouldn't use it - I love driving and getting head at the same time; what's my best girl gonna do now? Suck on its chip or something? Uh-Uuuh..

That doesn't make sense. It should make it easier for you since you don't need your hands on the wheel or concentrate on driving. But thanks for bringing it up.

Nov 1, 2016

^This.

Seriously. Give up manual transmission? Nope. Help the war on speed. Def No. Drive a most likely ugly car? No.

End of story.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

Nov 1, 2016

Hat tip to Sebastian Thrun.

Nov 1, 2016

Really glad I'm not the only crazy evangelizing on behalf of this new technology. This technology is far, FAR safer than human drivers--it's been proven in testing. I sure as hell couldn't go 200,000 miles without an accident, and I definitely haven't. From my understanding, the technology is about 7-10 years away from being good enough for mass production for a national market.

There are definitely things I like about driving, but there are also things I like about classic cars that we wouldn't keep on modern automobiles. At the end of the day, these autonomous vehicles (AVs) could literally revolutionize this country. Fuel efficiency is far superior with AVs; safety is far superior; speed of safe travel is far superior; and ultimately if/when everyone is using AVs stop lights at intersections will become obsolete as car computers can simply time speeds properly for blasting through an intersection safely (I've seen the simulations--pretty cool).

Anyway, these cars are definitely the wave of the future. They'll start out being used by handicapped persons and then evolve into widespread usage. There's nothing like a manual transmission sports car, but its days as road legal are numbered.

Nov 1, 2016
Virginia Tech 4ever:

Really glad I'm not the only crazy evangelizing on behalf of this new technology. This technology is far, FAR safer than human drivers--it's been proven in testing. I sure as hell couldn't go 200,000 miles without an accident, and I definitely haven't. From my understanding, the technology is about 7-10 years away from being good enough for mass production for a national market.

There are definitely things I like about driving, but there are also things I like about classic cars that we wouldn't keep on modern automobiles. At the end of the day, these autonomous vehicles (AVs) could literally revolutionize this country. Fuel efficiency is far superior with AVs; safety is far superior; speed of safe travel is far superior; and ultimately if/when everyone is using AVs stop lights at intersections will become obsolete as car computers can simply time speeds properly for blasting through an intersection safely (I've seen the simulations--pretty cool).

Anyway, these cars are definitely the wave of the future. They'll start out being used by handicapped persons and then evolve into widespread usage. There's nothing like a manual transmission sports car, but its days as road legal are numbered.

The govt. can pry the 6th speed from my cold dead hands!

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

Nov 1, 2016

What happens when the software malfunctions, or if there is a bug in the system? GPS systems have been known to tell people to turn onto train tracks, so at the end of the day, some human judgment is still needed.

Nov 1, 2016
Nov 1, 2016

Human judgement requirements aside, when the systems inevitably fail, who will be at fault in the event of a crash.

Nov 1, 2016

Interesting point which raises a few issues. A autonomous driving system failure would most certainly be manufacturer liability, same as with component failures (e.g. jammed throttles), as the manufacturer owes duty of care to the consumer. However, the onus of proof rests with the plaintiff, in this case the passenger/owner, and manufacturer negligence is pretty difficult to prove since you need expert witnesses to establish beyond reasonable doubt the inherent design of the software itself was faulty - and given this is such a new technology and the fact that any in-house engineers would be under non-disclosure agreements, there are a whole raft of issues brought about such as whether a subpoena overrides trade secret confidentiality, or whether a common jury can actually understand the design of the system well enough to discern a fault. Legal proceedings would be insanely expensive for a single claimant, and it would probably only happen if there were enough incidents to warrant class action. Even then, you would be going up against some of the world's top legal counsel on the subject matter because your opponent, the world's largest car manufacturers, will throw basically limitless resources behind the case.

So yeah, I would say even if you were to get an autonomous car, you should think twice before you decide to activate the feature.

Nov 1, 2016

The systems aren't GPS based--the systems will be radar and laser sensor based, so they will create their own path and there will be nothing to cause it to get off track. GPS will be used as an assist (i.e. planning routes) but will not be how the computer controls itself. So far, the Google autonomous vehicle has been through 500,000+ miles without an at-fault accident. How many humans can say that? Ironically, the only accidents it's been involved in have been 2 rear-end collisions where humans have driven into the back of the Google car and one incident where the Google car was being driven by a human who rear ended another car. And this is in the early stages of beta testing. The first consumer car will have another 7 years of testing and programming prior to its release (if 2020).

With regard to who is at-fault when the system fails (and it's sure to fail and some point), that is what's holding up the release right now. The technology is already here and is very close to being perfected already. What we don't have is a legal infrastructure in place surrounding who is at fault in case of an accident. As a guess, I'd say the owner would be "at fault". However, the car's owner may pay 50-75% less for auto insurance each month/year and would be subject to probably a lower deductible since the risk of at-fault accident would be dramatically reduced.

Nov 1, 2016

I have a feeling there will be a manual option, at least in the early days of autonomous vehicles.

Nov 1, 2016

I completely and utterly reject your claims, diverse_kanga, specifically because the cars will not be released to the public until the legal issues are dealt with.

First and foremost, you are much more likely to crash your own car manually, so the idea that you would be reluctant to use the autonomous feature is logically preposterous, especially since the persons buying the first autonomous cars are industry first movers and are specifically buying those cars when they could purchase other manually operated vehicles.

Secondly, even in the highly unlikely event the car malfunctioned and caused a crash that you couldn't prove, your insurance will simply cover you in the event of an accident the same way it covers you now. You pay a monthly fee plus a deductible in the event of an accident. Even so, your insurance rates will be drastically lower once the safety features of an autonomously driven car are established.

Finally, an autonomous vehicle is basically a robot car. It would be pretty easy to establish recorded evidence of who is at fault since the car itself will be driven with cameras, radar, lasers and GPS. You'd have a much better record of who is at fault with an autonomous vehicle than you have today.

You've definitely way over complicated the situation of who is at fault. We have the same issues today with who is at fault, only we don't have a "black box" recording the incident like we would in the future. 10% of accidents today are not the result of human error but of conditions related to car malfunctions or weather. The legal skeleton will simply be based off of non-human error accidents.

Nov 1, 2016

First and foremost, unless you are a proponent of classical economics, you must agree that humans don't always follow logic in practice. For the feature to actually become profitable for the companies who are sinking in billions in R&D, it must first become mainstream. To do that you need to convince the general public your system is safe enough for them to relinquish control of theirs and their families lives. 80% of people believe their driving is better than average. And I bet if you asked a soccer mom whether she will let go of the steering wheel with her two infants in the back seat, well, good freaking luck. Basically I don't buy the idea the average human is rational enough to cede control of a car to a computer on the basis of statistics.

Secondly, I'm not sure if you've ever purchased car insurance before, but generally you have to nominate a DRIVER on your policy. OK sure, you can just pay the non-driver excess if your mate crashes your car, but what about a non-human non-driver excess? This concept has never before been tested in court. Plus, your insurance only covers you when you are at fault, not when someone else is at fault. Perhaps for simplicity's sake you decide you report an autonomous system failure as driver error, but if you so happen to be outside the bounds of the law, such as a throttle jamming putting you above the speed limit, your policy is void. So the insurance element is a bit more complicated than you make out. There's a smattering of insurance issues I haven't discussed here but I will save you the time.

Finally, simply because you have a record of the driving telemetry, doesn't mean to say proving who is at fault is easy. If indeed the "robot car" is at fault, you're not proving strict liability, i.e. whether or not the system failed, because that much is obvious. You need to prove that a system which has been developed by experts over decades with the sole purpose of not crashing was somehow designed in negligence. I don't think you can overestimate how complicated these systems are.

The tome of case law on autonomous driving systems is non-existent. The closest I can think of is airline crashes due to autopilot failure, but even in the case of autopilot one pilot must in control at all times. Pilot culpability is absolute since the system is always able to be disengaged, hence there haven't been any successful claims against Airbus or Boeing for negligent autopilot system design. The design of a driverless car however is inherently different though, since autopilot was primarily designed to make planes safer rather than make pilots redundant.

Nov 1, 2016

What is the point of buying a self driving sports car?

I'd be ok with autonomous driving as an option but am I the only one who doesn't ever want it compulsory? I don't get the whole "eliminate all risk in life" mentality. What's next? Living through robotic proxies like that Bruce Willis movie?

/rant

Nov 1, 2016

If all of the idiots I see on the road on a daily basis no longer have control of their terrible driving habits then I am all for it.

Nov 1, 2016

I don't think self driving should be government compulsory, but there will probably come a point where all new cars are self-driven with limited manual options.

With regard to eliminating all risk in life, we didn't have automobiles until the late 19th century. Society made it tens of thousands of years without driving and people managed to live fulfilling lives.

Nov 1, 2016

To be fair, 80-90% of the population didn't live fulfilling lives. They led shitty lives and used religion as a crutch to make it seem okay.

Nov 1, 2016
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Nov 1, 2016
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Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Nov 1, 2016
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mbavsmfin:

I don't wear watches bro. Because it's always MBA BALLER time!

Nov 1, 2016