Driverless cars to have a tremendous impact on our cities

By on July 8, 2013, 5:00 PM
google, driving, driverless, driverless cars, automation, self driving car, parking spaces

Many experts believe self-driving cars will become the norm within the next decade. It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem when you consider Google is already testing driverless cars on the roadways of California. Such vehicles will no doubt be a huge convenience for drivers but little thought has publically been given to how driverless cars will change the environment around us.

Harvard University researchers point out that about a third of the land in some cities is used for parking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 30 percent of driving in business districts is devoted to looking for a parking space. What’s more, nearly a billion miles are wasted each year as people hunt for somewhere to park.

It’s metrics like this that self-driving cars could flip on their end.

Driverless cars could drop users off at their destination and wait at a predetermined location. Parking tickets would become a thing of the past as cars would be programmed to follow the rules. Air would be cleaner because humans wouldn’t be wasting time trying to find a parking spot. Streets could be narrower as automated vehicles would be more skilled drivers.

Fewer parking spaces and narrower streets would equate to more space for businesses while home prices could drop as there’d be more room to build new houses.

Ryan Calo, a specialist in robotics and drones as well as an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, believes vehicle automation is going to allow for repurposing of parking spaces in cities as well as the car itself. The vehicle could become an extension of the home, allowing the rider to get work done, relax or consume entertainment during a commute rather than focus on and waste time driving.

It’s an interesting proposition and one that we appear to on the fast track for. It’s no flying car but perhaps it’s the next best thing… or even better?




User Comments: 43

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cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

When everyone else has one, I will consider buying. Until then I will maintain my skepticism. After all, I don't want to be the guinea pig in this futuristic innovation.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

I must be a minority among my peers (20-25yr olds), because I find the lifelessness of most modern vehicles and an "always connected" culture to be the furthest thing from appealing. The prospect of a vehicle that further cements those things is just depressing.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So will we have to have driverless cars or can we choose to drive one. And will a driverless car know I'm actually looking for a space and fget out of the £&@&ing way?

Guest said:

'Extension to the home...' I don't think so!

The real revolution happens when we no longer need to own cars or take taxis, trains or busses. When you tell an app where you want to be picked up, and where you want to go and for arrival at what time.

No need to park. No need to buy. No need to maintain. No need to insure. And no need to waste time sitting behind the wheel anymore than needful. That'll be a really big revolution.

The only thing better would be the Star Trek transporter

SirGCal SirGCal said:

Guess I'm weird. Being disabled, and seeing all of the @#$%&*^%$ out there with a hangnail that get a parking permit and/or illegally use someone elses placard. This way at least I wouldn't have to deal with it. Take me to the door, let me and my wheelchair out, go do your 'car' thing. Plus I could get stupid when I'm out and not have to worry about finding a ride home. Drinking & driving should be punishable by death IMHO. No joke... I will never do it and because of that I don't imbibe when I'm out. This would solve that problem very nicely.

Personally, I'm all for it. But only when they are 100% auto. I don't want to be responsible for when it messes up, etc. It's all on the car. Not "well you were behind the wheel, or the only one in the car, so it's your fault". None of that crap...

General Sam General Sam said:

This is really revolutionary, imagine an 18 wheel hauler which never gets tired and can transport goods all day and night! They would always be on time too (except for traffic/road works).

It's a big prospect for hauling companies.

What if people keep walking in front of this car though? Obviously it will stop, or if its obeying the law, will it obey it's right of way and knock the poor granny right off her zimmer frame because the lights turned red as she was crossing?

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Self driving cars may become fairly common within a decade, but they certainly won't be the norm on the roads. Unless, of course, somebody is going to make cars incredibly inexpensive and/or foot the bill for retrofitting or replacing the 200+ million cars on the roads today... Or are they just supposed to suddenly become obsolete, and everyone forced to somehow afford to buy a brand new car? It's going to be a much harder and more involved changeover than most of the techie dreamers realize.

On the plus side, I think ride sharing and other ingenious methods of reducing the number of cars on the roads might see a boost. And smart self-driving cars should be able to mitigate much of the rush-hour gridlock we suffer through today. Also, wouldn't the cost of car insurance plummet if the cars are all state-of-the-art and driving is automated? Although, then accidents would be the fault of the manufacturers or coders, not the drivers, right? Anybody else think those big auto manufacturers are going to be racing forward to take on that liability?

SirGCal SirGCal said:

What if people keep walking in front of this car though? Obviously it will stop, or if its obeying the law, will it obey it's right of way and knock the poor granny right off her zimmer frame because the lights turned red as she was crossing?

TBH, I'm for running her over for not following her rules and using a crosswalk. People just let rules go willy-nilly till it suits them... So many have no clue it's illegal to change lanes in an intersection... They turn left and go to the far right lane in the process without signaling, etc after the turn... Just 'poof', they're there... Sad...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Do you even drift bro???

On another note: automatic cars won't work until the entire environment is automatic. Outside unaccounted-for occurrences ( e.g. a bird) are no easy task to navigate with AI.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Warning, this day is coming!!

Driverless Tesla Cars spending 24 hours a day, watching for people texting/talking and driving. All made possible by people paying insurance, making the highways a safer place to be.

Guest said:

Check and see how much of America's GNP is insurance (auto and health). Also, the size of the auto body repair industry (multiple billions). Oh, and how many cities rely on parking tickets (indirect taxes) to keep politicians well-fed!

It's a big ripple...

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Check and see how much of America's GNP is insurance (auto and health). Also, the size of the auto body repair industry (multiple billions). Oh, and how many cities rely on parking tickets (indirect taxes) to keep politicians well-fed!

It's a big ripple...

I was going to bring this up, but "lost revenue" from automated vehicles is an excellent platform from which to launch a far more lucrative milage tax.

Guest said:

I heard that in America when people started driving more economic cars such as the Toyota Prius, for the obvious reasons of a cleaner footprint and saving money, the American Government, in their infinite wisdom, felt that if these new age hippy types were going to not buy fuel, and thus not pay enough tax as with their previous weekly fuel bills, then they would have to undergo some kind of extra tax to make up for it.

Which should be frankly illegal for them to do, as it comes under the who the f--- do you think you list of all douchey rules set by those in power.

Anyways I love the fact that this as pointed would be a collosal lost of money in some respects, so, what super tax will have to come into place ? And in the article it mentions how roads can be narrower and more space can be used for businesses. Wow, how moronic. Seriously if that happens which it probably would, seeing as the human race is moronic. So you design something thats going to lose a lot of money, meaning a loss of revenue, businesses will probably go under taxes will increase to pay for all the extra doll benefits not to mention the huge hike in governmental wages for they have just introduced a huge cleaner smarter traffic system into the world so they deserve this futuristic pay increase to go with their new future. Well who is going to pay that ? At best you will want to use the extra space for homes and housing for all the refugees your government will let in, the more people they let in the more taxes come in right ? Well no the refugees cant find work you just shut down plenty of income areas in the job market so more taxes to pay for the refugees hands outs on top. So rich and poor classes get further apart and then a civil war breaks out as things need to change.

Good luck tho with this idea, all the best

Guest said:

What about people who like driving and cars?

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

So post to be driving FCV by 2030 and at this rate what going to happen self-drive option in the next gen of vehicles or more of the same with current Gas Engines. We have NGV some 100% Electric roaming around not a lot of but some and the rest are Blue Drive by Hyundai (aka Hybrid Gas/Electric motor).

Where is the Power by Fusion System so we can throw anything waste by-product into to power the vehicle.

Timonius Timonius said:

Bring out the pedestrian insurance. Seriously, I am concerned about the law-abiding pedestrians who will get 'nicked', run-over, or killed.

Guest said:

In the next decade? The next 10 years. Not the next century. What are you talking about. Why am I even reading this?

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I'd rather have a surrogate (like the movie) and never leave home.

1 person liked this | spencer spencer said:

Government controlled transportation....Orwellian??? Michael Hastings was murdered by his car...he said he had a newsbreaking story and said he was being followed next thing you know he "crashed" as if it was normal for the entire engine to fly 100 feet from the crash.

Guest said:

Clearly the perfect place for a large scale pilot program would be: New Jersey. The whole state. Then expand it to completely replace Jersey drivers in other nearby states.

Finally, for the most successful implementation nationwide possible, let Google cars replace all women drivers. These two steps will remove 90% of all traffic accidents, parking lot collisions, hit and runs and fender benders.

(ducks for cover)

:-)

Sunny87 said:

Guess I'm weird. Being disabled, and seeing all of the @#$%&*^%$ out there with a hangnail that get a parking permit and/or illegally use someone elses placard. This way at least I wouldn't have to deal with it. Take me to the door, let me and my wheelchair out, go do your 'car' thing. Plus I could get stupid when I'm out and not have to worry about finding a ride home. Drinking & driving should be punishable by death IMHO. No joke... I will never do it and because of that I don't imbibe when I'm out. This would solve that problem very nicely.

Personally, I'm all for it. But only when they are 100% auto. I don't want to be responsible for when it messes up, etc. It's all on the car. Not "well you were behind the wheel, or the only one in the car, so it's your fault". None of that crap...

Very good point, but you do realise getting drunk and operating a wheelchair is also illegal and classed as a type of drink driving, same thing with a bike you cannot operate a bicycle while drunk it's illegal.

I can't see how they think it's going to improve the environment, 95% of electricity comes from burning oil, burying expired plutonium underground, drilling for gas act, so renewable energy will also need to take a leap into the 90% range in the next 5 years to make any impact on the environment changes and see this claim of self driving cars hit any environment fruition , and I can't see that happening as too many people make too much money out of selling fuel to you, we could be using the hydrogen powered car today without it costing too much as the technology is there we have proved that, but it get's put to the side as too many oil sellers pay off big car companies to not develop a car thats hydrogen powered.

Insurance companies will have to be disbanded by the government and be paid for by the government by use of road tax(finally road tax will have a use) for the self driving car to hit off, as too many crook insurance companies won't update their policies for self driving cars but will pretend to insure you anyway until you crash a self drive car.

Nobina Nobina said:

There is not glamour when you are not driving a car. Same with automatic transmission.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

What about people who like driving and cars?

Those people in my experience usually think they are great driver & untouchable.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I could get so used to this so quickly. I hate driving because of other ill mannered pigs of a drivers who think they own the road that makes driving a miserable chore. If they show so little respect for other road users what respect do they have for themselves? The worlds a better place without them.

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

I wonder if this will change laws on sight requirements for driving, I'm albino and I'm not allowed t D=

Guest said:

Here's a few questions. What happens if one of these cars gets into a wreck? What if it destroys public property? Who pays for the damage? Is the company who manufactures the car sued? What if the driverless vehicle is at fault for say, running into the back of a driver? What if two driverless cars collide? Who pays for that damage? What if a driverless car kills someone on the road. Who is to blame?

People are so fast to accept things when they are "cool" before expecting or excepting the liability.

Guest said:

I drove the WV Turnpike yesterday without touching the brake OR gas due to my adaptive cruise system. I handled the steering while my car handled acceleration and distance. That's the first half of the driverless equation and it's here now. Get an adaptive cruise system and see for yourself. It's amazing!

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

"Member of anonymous hacks self driving car database... creates roads which arent really there, and alters safety functions of self driving cars to drive straight off bridges and cliffs. "

hahaha... not really very funny

RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

Hmmm...what an interesting speculation. Its much like the movie I,Robot except I liked those cars better since not only was it automated, but you could also take over the wheel if you felt like driving.

Guest said:

I like the idea, this would definitely solve my road rage problem. I enjoy driving, but other drivers piss me off too easily. Being able to kickback while my car drives for me would really be great. Plus my insurance would probably be cheaper.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Plus my insurance would probably be cheaper.
One would only hope.

Insurance agent: I'm sorry sir but you are a liability and must pay more, seeing how you are still using Autodriver Version 1.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Member of anonymous hacks self driving car database... creates roads which arent really there, and alters safety functions of self driving cars to drive straight off bridges and cliffs. "

hahaha... not really very funny

When they go from being annoying to causing property damage, injuries and potentially death... I think those hackers would find a world of hurt following them, and much more extensive resources being used to track them down... And you can guarantee their punishment would be severe, public, and extensive to make an example out of them. Plus, most hacker-types I know would completely shun anyone who crosses that line into maliciously causing injury/death.

IAMTHESTIG said:

Vehicle thefts may also go up...

"Hey Mark, stand in front of that car coming. When it stops I'm going to break the window and cancel the driverless system and take it".

*Drives off with car*

Now maybe that is a bit far fetched, and there can be some technologies to counter this type of issue. But anything is possible and some thieves are quite crafty.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Vehicle thefts may also go up...

"Hey Mark, stand in front of that car coming. When it stops I'm going to break the window and cancel the driverless system and take it".

*Drives off with car*

Now maybe that is a bit far fetched, and there can be some technologies to counter this type of issue. But anything is possible and some thieves are quite crafty.

You mean similar to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DshK4ZXPU9o

This is arguably the biggest issue for current and next gen autos as everything from the power steering and throttle/brake input to the transmission and suspension settings is being routed through a computer. Autonomous cars would seem like an easy target, but I'd imagine that manufacturers would actually put some decent security measures on the vehicle computers to avoid the obvious liabilities.

JC713 JC713 said:

I can't trust a robot just yet.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I can't trust a robot just yet.

As long as people can jeopardize operations with remote logins, I never will.

1 person liked this | JC713 JC713 said:

As long as people can jeopardize operations with remote logins, I never will.

Yup, security has to be improved before this can be a success.

2 people like this | LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Yup, security has to be improved before this can be a success.

Yup. And much, much more. Which is why this could NEVER happen within the next decade. There needs to be (at minimum, just few things that come to mind)

  1. A secure driver database. That includes BOTH secure onboard data PLUS secure real-time updates that must be sent in near "real-time" over the air to all those cars on the road
  2. Guaranteed transmission bandwidth to assure all the info and updates for all those cars are guaranteed to make it over the airwaves.
  3. Area Coverage. Points 2 and 3 almost certainly mean infrastructure investment and build-out including several earth orbiting satellites plus "urban canyon" coverage. (Urban canyons for areas of downtown sky scrapers, tunnels, and other forms of interference and blockage, etc)
  4. Minimum safety standards set by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety). No auto manufacturer would attempt take on liability issues before minimum standards for accuracy, reliability, etc. are set by the US DOT
  5. New laws from Congress regarding liability and meeting minimum safety standards for these new vehicles (and Congress, of course, can't get anything done)
  6. Also consider it takes 3-5 years of assembly line planning and preparation before an automaker can build out the current year car model

And those are just things off the top of my head. So no way this happens within a decade!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yup. And much, much more.

  1. A secure driver database. That includes BOTH secure onboard data PLUS secure real-time updates that must be sent in near "real-time" over the air to all those cars on the road

Thats where a back door could reside for remote access. Any over-the-air feature for controllability would be a security risk. OnStar starting engines and unlocking doors is one thing, but control of steering and brakes is a whole new ballgame.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thats where a back door could reside for remote access. Any over-the-air feature for controllability would be a security risk. OnStar starting engines and unlocking doors is one thing, but control of steering and brakes is a whole new ballgame.

Perhaps we mean the same thing.. but I don't think "direct" control is so much the issue (e.g. starting engines, unlocking doors or "telling" a car to brake) but rather by corrupting the vehicle's sensor data (such as the real-time data and database about road curvature, conditions, speed, lane placement, etc) all of which could result in the vehicle taking in-appropriate and deadly actions... all with the best of intentions!

JC713 JC713 said:

Yup. And much, much more. Which is why this could NEVER happen within the next decade. There needs to be (at minimum, just few things that come to mind)

  1. A secure driver database. That includes BOTH secure onboard data PLUS secure real-time updates that must be sent in near "real-time" over the air to all those cars on the road
  2. Guaranteed transmission bandwidth to assure all the info and updates for all those cars are guaranteed to make it over the airwaves.
  3. Area Coverage. Points 2 and 3 almost certainly mean infrastructure investment and build-out including several earth orbiting satellites plus "urban canyon" coverage. (Urban canyons for areas of downtown sky scrapers, tunnels, and other forms of interference and blockage, etc)
  4. Minimum safety standards set by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety). No auto manufacturer would attempt take on liability issues before minimum standards for accuracy, reliability, etc. are set by the US DOT
  5. New laws from Congress regarding liability and meeting minimum safety standards for these new vehicles (and Congress, of course, can't get anything done)
  6. Also consider it takes 3-5 years of assembly line planning and preparation before an automaker can build out the current year car model

And those are just things off the top of my head. So no way this happens within a decade!

Well said.

Guest said:

You will still have to get insurance. It will still be your cars fault and your insurance will cover it The only change will be they can't blame you and raise your rates. And if lets say the accident rate dopes by 90% then it will not cost as much to get insurance in the first place. If people die they will investigate then go after the company who made the care and system and they will have insurance for this as well on there end. but man the lives this could save will be amazing in the end. I don't see a day go by without hearing about a drunk driver killing someone on the highway.

Guest said:

Sounds a lot like a taxi to me. But that's ok, as long as they don't charge the huge rates they do now.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Hmmm.... One more significant barrier to entry that probably deserves a topic of its own:

Would the public be willing to buy or use autonomous driving vehicles if they came equipped with a black box data recorder? Could autonomous driving be allowed without data recorders? How else could engineers determine what went wrong and what needs to be fixed without them?

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