Q I drive south on Highway 101 from Embarcadero Road to Highway 237, and in the right lanes south of Shoreline Boulevard is where the fun begins. There are so many lane indicators, scraping where lane indicators were and surface material changes making it hard to follow the right lane.
But my question is not about when is Caltrans going to give us better markings because I figure that will come this summer. My question: Could you reach out to the people with autonomous car projects and let us know if their self-driving cars have been able to make sense of the lane during this project or did they just avoid it?
A They’ve driven it, but for now, the word is that if a self-driving car cannot decipher missing lane markings or lane lines covered by snow, an alert will sound to warn the driver to take control of the steering wheel.
Over time the data will be incorporated into GPS systems to give drivers advance warnings of problems ahead.
Q Self-driving cars are coming! But all my friends except one are leery of autonomous cars, or downright opposed. So let’s hear more from you on the subject. Your thoughts? It’s a timely issue.
My view is that autonomous cars are the future, and very desirable for efficiency and safety.
On efficiency, compare cars to public transport. A car driver must be alert all the time, and can’t spend quality time on anything else. The total hours spent commuting are appalling when considered as a complete waste of time.
On safety, we know that the vast majority of accidents are due to human error, which includes slow reflexes, lack of complete information about surroundings, poor judgment of speed or weather or road conditions, distraction, impairment (age, infirmity, alcohol, road rage, etc.) and probably more. None of these would affect a properly configured computer.
I could go on, but you get the idea. We do live in interesting times. Your thoughts?
A That we do. The first self-driving cars to hit our roads are more likely to be able to pass driving duties back to a person when difficult situations arise. A report at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says “driverless is really driver-optional” for the first generation or two of driverless vehicles.
Q What will those discourteous dive-bomber types do when cars go into driverless mode? Seems like many accidents will be prevented by driverless modes not tailgating.
A Oh, we can only hope.
Q The officer who issued the ticket for speeding and for wearing Google Glass noted that he initially wasn’t going to cite the driver for wearing the glasses, however, he noted, “She got a little argumentative about whether or not it was legal for her to wear them.”
A It’s seldom wise to argue with a traffic cop.