The Jetzon’s Self Driving Auto Car Drone Aint Here Yet


History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of men.

Yeah, truer words never spoken. Even if in relation to Godzilla. And you can apply that to the relentlessly ballyhooed “autonomous driving automobiles”.

Seriously, this stuff is Henny Youngman type of slapsick comedy. It ain’t happening.

Okay, I am cribbing from Atrios, but dammit, what the hell do you think us conspiracy propagators are supposed to do??

I’m just saying these cars won’t ever (in our lifetimes – sure, eventually the singularity might arrive) really work as hyped and certainly don’t deserve all of the press they’re getting. I also don’t think that even if they did work they’d be a big improvement for all (some) of the reasons people think they will be, but those are more debatable issues which I rarely bother to debate because the fact is the things aren’t going to work. Okay, I’ll define “work.” Basically, you have to be able to tune out 100% over 90% of the time. I’ll even allow for a “last mile” kind of “time for you to drive” thing as long as the rest of the time you can kick back and read your book or whatever. Because if you have to pay attention but usually not doing anything, what’s the point? It’s just better cruise control. A neat feature for some, but nothing more than that.

Ya. I am sure that all of you out there driving their Tesla 3’s will squawk [oh, wait, they are not out yet!]. As I am sure all of you on the waiting list for Tesla 3’s [good luck with that!] that is already years behind technical and production capability at Tesla are oh so defensive of the giant Elon Musk dream. Surely the dream will catch up to reality, it must!

Also, the supertrains between Los Angeles and San Francisco (okay, forget the “cheaper” stuff, that was a joke!) and between New York and Washington DC are totally gonna be ready to roll after New Year’s Eve.

When the candidates talk about their totally awesome “infrastructure and jobs” proposals, maybe ask what the hell they are talking about. Because it is probably bullshit. Hold them to it.

24 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I figure the HyperLoop will be like private jets – only the rich will be able to afford it. HSR – maybe, if they can do it without f*cking up commuter rail and Amtrak, and that’s iffy. They should just have run the ROW for that next to I5, and put in a station every 80 or so miles, as far south as Bakersfield. (No way will they get south of that without some very expensive engineering.)

  2. martin says:

    History shows again and again
    How nature points out the folly of men.

    Yeah, well get a load of this “folly”

    Now that mankind has opened Pandora’s box of AI powered autonomous killing machines I’d venture to say a hacker could turn a freeway full of autonomous cars into a bloodbath.


    Meanwhile, I can see it now. An autonomous AI drone having sexual daydreams while trying to use it’s facial recognition to focus on a target in a stadium full of football fans wearing team color makeup and regalia.




    Autonomous cars? Ha.  Wait till the worlds madmen fill the skies with autonomous killing machines on LSD.

    This brings new meaning to the term..ahem… “folly”.

  3. Ambrellite says:

    Volvo, GMC, Tesla, and several other automakers have plans to sell autonomous vehicles in the next 5 years. It’s hard to claim *all* of them will fail, especially when fully autonomous test vehicles have *already* driven hundreds of thousands of real-world miles with few problems.

    Keep your eyes open. This one is real.

    • bmaz says:

      Rubbish. They have failed to date, and are going to continue failing. In the next five year. And in the next ten years. Oh, and if you have to have a human monitoring the operation, which all this “autonomous vehicles” you are describing do, then they are not really “autonomous”. This is pie in the sky garbage.


    • lefty665 says:

      OTOH it’s equally hard to claim none of them will fail.  While not frequent, events 5-10 deviations out happen.  They are hard to (a) foresee (b) code for (c) test for.  But, put a lot of vehicles on the road and they are guaranteed to happen. The more vehicles, the more low order of probability events will occur. Some of them will be horrendous. Where is the balance between routine good outcomes and infrequent but predictable terrible exceptions?

      In addition, I don’t have a good feeling about an industry that regularly designs defective products that kill people. A simple example is GM who after the better part of a hundred years producing motor vehicles engineered, tested and installed an ignition switch that turned itself off while the car was moving. That has killed and maimed customers and others.VW is another kind of failure. They with malice and marketing aforethought designed software that defeated emissions controls and hid it from independent testing. I’m not sure I’m ready to entrust my life to auto industry competencies and tender mercies like that.


    • martin says:

      Can’t wait to sue the first asshole who so mows down a pedestrian.

      I can’t wait to see the look on a auto manufacturer CEO’s face when a parent of a kid killed by one of their autonomous cars,  rips it off.

      • rugger9 says:

        We already had mall robots (using the same technology) do that last summer at Stanford mall.  The kids weren’t hurt.

  4. jerryy says:

    I think the fight should not whether or not there will be driverless cars, but instead focus on what energy source powers them and how much autonomy/privacy the car owner has to determine how the car is used.

    In spite of how much progress has been made in automatic transmission technology; I admit paddle shifters are nice; I prefer manual transmissions over automatics (electric vehicle do not have either so that one is moot). These are all though just preferences to technological approaches, not opposition and rejection of technology. Bicycles, carts, etc. are types of tech as well. Essentially anything beyond walking and pulling your stuff along behind you in a travois.

    But the argument for opposition to technology’s advances is considerably muted when you consider that anyone that has ever taken a ride on an airplane or bus or taxicab or hitchhiked or ridden with a friend has chosen to give up control of their fate and safety to someone else’s judgement calls. There is danger in doing that, just like there is danger in choosing to drive yourself.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    James Fallows, writer in The Atlantic, has compared the high speed railroad in California to other investments that were highly controversial in their own eras, like the Transcontinental Railroad, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Erie Canal, and the purchase of Louisiana.  Add another 10 million to 15 million people in California, he argues, and the railroad will then be seen as a necessity that is a heck of a lot less destructive than more highways or airports.  Not to say that it will be done on time or on budget, but it will get done, and it will prove to be the correct project to have undertaken.  Naysayers all of you!

    And go Indians, beat those Cubs!!!

  6. Desider says:

    Wow, you folks are a downer today.

    Double it out to 20 years, and it’ll be here. What was that, Clinton’s mid-term? Sounds about right.

    Lemmesee – I remember when Nokia and Palm and Microsoft laughed about Apple getting into the phone market – after all, Steve Jobs didn’t know anything about IMS messaging framework that’d taken so long to develop, much less business security – how would he even get phone companies to open the door to their walled garden?

    Musk has SpaceX running pretty well. The Tesla S is doing pretty well on the road & seems to manage improvements & repairs pretty quickly for the little I pay attention (yeah, falcon doors are a mixed bag…).

    For automated cars, they’ll eventually make enough assumptions that work for pilotless control, shifting roadways from people-focused infrastructure. Much of that focus will be on trucks and other commercial vehicles, not making sure Ma & Pa Kettle get to market. No, this isn’t like the Jetsons (who’d never survive a blast of bad weather airborne anyway, sorry). It is complex, but not irretrievably so, and it does depend on compute power mostly, along with good sensors, both of which keep on improving. 20 years of improvements? I’m hesitant to say “no problem”, but it will happen, bank on it. Maybe they’ll just paint some reflective line down the middle of the lane and the cars will follow that. We already have traffic lights around the city – those can be adjusted to devices that better communicate with automated cars, including both stop-and-go and updated location data every few feet. Collision avoidance maneuvering & 60-0 deceleration including wet surfaces both seem quite good on the Tesla – imagine there will be improvements, but already doing well.

    Likely will Musk’s hyperloop or someone ripping off the idea. Yeah, we don’t specifically need railroad cars to transport humans in 2020.

    As for humans watching over an “autonomous” system, preumably we’re not talking 1 per vehicle, so it’s a scaling effect somewhat like cloud computing providing increase in efficiency while some fallback methods.

    GM & VW may be gaming the system or cutting too many corners, but I’m driving a Romanian car with a French engine for 6 years and it runs just fine at a nice cost-cutter price point. The complexities of delivering a car are getting less so – even the Chinese may figure it out sooner or later.


  7. P J Evans says:

    Crocodile Chuck says: October 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    It will take decades to depopulate. And everyone will have to move north or east. Rail will help a lot. (Also: not everything in CA will dry up and blow away, even if it lasts 100 years. But your produce section will be a lot smaller.)

    BTW, no one here calls it “Cali” – that’s a city in Colombia.

  8. CTuttle says:

    Speaking of supertrains, in China…

    China has installed over 12,000 kilometers (about 7,500 miles) of high-speed rail over the past seven years, and is planning to double the length of the network by 2020. According to estimates, a train connecting Shanghai with the city’s Pudong International Airport is currently one of the fastest trains in the world — running at speeds upwards of 30o miles per hour.

    And their new ‘Silk Road’ spans the entire Eurasian continent…!  ;-)

  9. Ken Muldrew says:

    How about self-driving trains (not super trains, just the regular ones that still seem to get into crashes far too often)? You would think it would be an easier problem.

    • P J Evans says:

      Check out the “Positive Train Control” that’s being installed (too slowly) in the US. It’s supposed to keep trains from going through signals.

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