Like it or not, driverless cars are coming

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Automakers continue to press towards their goal of building autonomous cars, with California starting to issue licences to driverless cars this week.

Driverless cars are already legal in Nevada, but considering that’s the state that also contains Area 51, that’s hardly surprising. But the news of California is far more significant; as goes California, so goes the US. Once the “smart cars” are accepted in California, we’ll doubtless see them offered by manufacturers across our great continent.

The first driverless car licence in California was issued to Audi. According to Gizmag, the company had to put up a surety bond of at least $5 million per vehicle to get this licence, so it’s not likely that we’ll see a lot of these vehicles anytime soon. But, this is just one more indication that this technology is coming, like it or not.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe this technology isn’t so bad. If the car’s sensors are that good and it can detect my motorcycle approaching while the car is about to make a left turn, I’d feel much safer knowing that the car has my back in that circumstance and hopefully many others that a driver may never detect.

    • The big problem is the precedent that gets set with regard to driver safety. It’s a slippery slope from allowing driverless cars to requiring them, all in the name of risk mitigation. Because autonomous motorcycles are really not going to happen, that leads to the banning thereof, all in the name of risk mitigation.

      There are legions of people out there who wouldn’t give banning bikes a second thought. It’s a short-sighted solution to a number of perceived problems.

      • If driverless cars can be built, driverless motorcycles can be built. The question is, who would buy them? Most car drivers are not enthusiasts and would happily turn the controls over to an autopilot, whereas most motorcyclists are enthusiasts who ride for the joy of it and would not willingly give up control to a robot.

        However, I think you are right about risk mitigation; my guess is that in not more than ten or fifteen years, driver controlled vehicles will be banned on public roads. This will leave enthusiasts of both the two and four wheeled varieties with two choices, off-road and closed track.

        • “If driverless cars can be built, driverless motorcycles can be built. The question is, who would buy them?”

          And that’s the $64,000 question. Technically, yes, autonomous, 2-wheel, single-track vehicles can be made, but I do believe it would cease intrinsically being a ‘motorcycle’. I simply cannot imagine any enthusiast (and, face it, any motorcyclist in North America qualifies by that definition) sitting on a bike with fixed bars akin to those found in the rear of a bicycle built for two.

          I think it’s worth taking the whole issue of banning motorcycles quite seriously. Those who love to explore the countryside, highways and byways on two wheels should do so now. It is folly to just assume that we’ll always be afforded the privilege to ride on public highways. Buying bikes now may also trigger a helpful effect of ensuring that the manufacturers fight to keep their businesses alive by pressuring government to keep riders on the roads. If we don’t support the manufacturers, they’re unlikely to support us.

          • Trane, Cam, it would not surprise me to see in my lifetime the only place to ride motorcycles will be on a closed circuit or off-road. All the signs are there.

            The only thing that will save us is developing markets. Motorcycles will always be popular in countries where people don’t have a lot of money. But as we’ve seen in China, even those countries are willing to crack down on motorcycles and ban them.

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