The march for fully autonomous driverless cars marches on. In May, Google announced the Next Phase in Driverless Cars: No Steering Wheel or Brake Pedals.
Google’s prototype for its new cars will limit them to a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The cars are intended for driving in urban and suburban settings, not on highways. The low speed will probably keep the cars out of more restrictive regulatory categories for vehicles, giving them more design flexibility.
Google is having 100 cars built by a manufacturer in the Detroit area, which it declined to name. Nor would it say how much the prototype vehicles cost. They will have a range of about 100 miles, powered by an electric motor that is roughly equivalent to the one used by Fiat’s 500e, Dr. Urmson said. They should be road-ready by early next year, Google said.
Google hopes to persuade regulators that the cars can operate safely without driver, steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedal. Those cars would rely entirely on Google sensors and software to control them.
Google’s cars come equipped with elaborate sensors that can see 600 feet in every direction, are fully electric, and have a range of about 100 miles, perfect for city use, especially driverless taxi cabs. Google plans for 2017 operation.
Last year, Lawrence D. Burns, former vice president for research and development at General Motors and now a Google consultant, led a study at the Earth Institute at Columbia University on transforming personal mobility.
The researchers found that Manhattan’s 13,000 taxis made 470,000 trips a day. Their average speed was 10 to 11 m.p.h., carrying an average of 1.4 passengers per trip with an average wait time of five minutes.
In comparison, the report said, it is possible for a futuristic robot fleet of 9,000 shared automated vehicles hailed by smartphone to match that capacity with a wait time of less than one minute. Assuming a 15 percent profit, the current cost of taxi service would be about $4 per trip mile, while in contrast, it was estimated, a Manhattan-based driverless vehicle fleet would cost about 50 cents per mile.
Driverless Cars on UK Public Streets Starting January
The BBC reports UK to Allow Driverless Cars on Public Roads in January.
The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.
Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed the details of the new plan at a research facility belonging to Mira, an automotive engineering firm based in the Midlands.
“Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society,” he said.
The US States of California, Nevada and Florida have all approved tests of the vehicles. In California alone, Google’s driverless car has done more than 300,000 miles on the open road.
In 2013, Nissan carried out Japan’s first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a highway.
And in Europe, the Swedish city of Gothenburg has given Volvo permission to test 100 driverless cars – although that trial is not scheduled to occur until 2017.
UK cities wanting to host one of the trials have until the start of October to declare their interest. The tests are then intended to run for between 18 to 36 months. A £10m fund has been created to cover their costs, with the sum to be divided between the three winners. Meanwhile, civil servants have been given until the end of this year to publish a review of road regulations.
Taxi, Truck Drivers First To Go
Taxi drivers, truck drivers, and mining operators will be the first to go. I have written about this many times, and was largely dissed.
But the future advances relentlessly. My target of 2020 no longer looks optimistic; it looks pessimistic.
- Cars: Driverless Cars Legally Hit Roads as California Issues Licenses; The Last Mile
- Trucks: Robot Truck Convoy Tests in Nevada; Driverless Trucks Before Cars, and Before the End of the Decade
- Ships: Are Drone, Workerless Ocean Freight Ships Coming? What About Jobs? Insurance? Inflation?
- Parking Robots: Meet “Ray” Your Valet Parking Robot
All of the above will be in widespread usage by 2020. Personal cars will likely be the last affected. Taxis and commercial trucks will be first because eliminating the driver eliminates a huge expense.
Millions of drivers will lose their jobs. Inflationary? Hardly.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock