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Where’s My Flying Car?

Self-driving cars will be cruising Nevada roadways

By Rich_Maloof May 8, 2012 4:23PM

Photo: Courtesy of GoogleOrdinarily, we wouldn’t be writing about the Department of Motor Vehicles unless we had something new to say about the unique brand of torment we’ve all sustained at a local branch. But there’s actually something progressive going on at the DMV offices in Nevada. The state has just issued Google its first license to test three self-driving cars on public roadways.

Google has been lobbying hard to test their autonomous cars, and the Silver State, home to Las Vegas, is primed to roll the dice. As the Washington Post notes, the Vegas strip is just the kind of place where a robotic car could be a great idea, keeping everyone on the street a little safer as one less car swerves hard to the left as its driver gapes at the neon and nakedness and countless Godzilla-sized distractions.

According to Google and other makers of autonomous cars, safety and efficiency are the drivers of the technology. Given that human error is the cause of most car accidents, and given the world’s desperate need to be more fuel-efficient, automated cars like Google’s modified Prius could go a long way toward reducing injuries and air pollution.

With these acknowledgments, can we be forgiven for saying that it just doesn’t seem — what’s the right expression — fun? Sure, nothing says good times like a Prius, and several - shall we say geeky? - test-drivers have been delighted on a closed track as the tires squeal at a breathtaking 43 mph. But, jeez, is this what the future was supposed to look like? Isn’t it here yet? We figured we’d be in hovercrafts by now. We were counting on traveling to the mall by air and beaming our new gravity sneakers back home. Even this band name lodges a complaint.

Nonetheless, there’s a laundry list of significant potential benefits in a car that can (when laws allow) drop you off and park itself, drop the kids off at school, and transport passengers in various stages of incapacity, whether handicapped or just inebriated. Given, there other remarkable modes of transportation that can actually carry many passengers who don’t need to drive or control the vehicle; perhaps you’ve heard of such advances as “the bus” and “the train.” But autonomous cars hold great promise to save lives and Mother Earth when they become publicly available, which could be within three or five years. 

Tell us on Facebook: Would you try a self-driving car?

Photo: Eric Schmidt, Larry Page & Sergey Brin in a self-driving Google car; courtesy of Google.

87Comments
May 9, 2012 12:43AM
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I couldn't help but laugh when I read one comment about GPS directing people to drive their cars into churches and swamps.  I guess if people are ignorant enough to get the wrong directions that lead them to churches and swamps, and those people actually drive into those places; we can't be any worse off letting the car drive for us.
May 9, 2012 12:36AM
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This `telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
- Western Union internal memo, 1878

The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.
- Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford's lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million.

[Television] won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
- Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, 1946.

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.
- Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

To all the naysayers, do any of these quotes seem a bit similar?

Nuff said.
May 9, 2012 12:15AM
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It's pretty funny that every fourth post in this discussion is from an attorney, worried about how their ambulance-chasing personal liability practices will be affected by a shift to undistractable cyber-drivers.

 

As for all the other objections, every one will melt like butter on the surface of the sun when the "Carpools Only" signs on the diamond lane are replaced by "Autonomous Vehicles Only" signs and we find out everyone in that lane goes 120 mph, to the exit just before destination.  Build it, and they will come.  ALL of them!

May 8, 2012 11:59PM
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Moreover, often the companies building these cars tout all the benefits not because they care it will actually make a difference, its because they stand to make a butt load of money being the pioneers of a market they can create. Wake up people, its Google. I'm sure those three in the Prius above can't even play badtmitten nevertheless drive. This endeavor is no more beneficial $$ to anyone but themselves. If driver-less cars are spun the right way, enough techno hipsters like themselves will push it into reality, which will make the builders more money and power. While they say this is ushering in safety, I say its another avenue that is taking away one more pleasurable human sensation plenty of people are competent at doing while enjoying themselves. Next they will take away physical sex because it will reduce the spread of STDs. I suggest everyone pro on driverless cars on here rent "Demolition Man". They did away with physical contact (like sex and shaking hands) because it would reduce STDs and because personal contact was too exciting for people to handle. That movie also had driverless cars and other "social benefits" that eventually castrated the fun of living life. Terribly acted, but very prophetic movie.

 

I can see some actual benefits, but honestly, technology like this is leading to a very bleek future for those uninterested in online connectivity or crappy entertainment.

May 8, 2012 11:56PM
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I apologize for this rant....

 

The only people who are raving about self driving cars are people that can't really drive in the first place. These are the same people that want to regulate every "extreme" sport because they aren't good enough to be apart of them, removed the merry-go-round from playgrounds because their little whiney loser child fell off and cried, and the techno snobs that want to free their hands so they can constantly keep blogging on facebook without the inconvenience of doing something not online like driving. There are some real people that find driving as more of a release than a mundane task. A distraction from the rest of this insane, constantly connected, social sharing cluster f*&# society. Its the people that sit back in a chair watching others have fun with their lives that want to ruin it because they themselves don't have the physical capacity to do it. Those people should be relegated to public transportation.

 

 

May 8, 2012 11:32PM
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No more DIU for some. Safe raods, safe community.
May 8, 2012 11:17PM
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I want one!!!  Can't wait.  I want to lease one by the hour.  I order it online and it shows up at my house.  It takes me where I need to go.  After I return home, it goes on it's merry way.  I can pay the bill monthly online.  While it's driving....I can be using the built in computer and surfing the Internet.  Google...I want to be a test dummy!!  Call me.  Really.
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