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    • I am used to Waymos and had no worries, but as Addy eventually headed for the sidewalk I noticed the Waymo car never slowed down like most drivers would have with a kid on a scooter in the area. I felt myself getting a little bit mad about it.

      This is a really interesting point.

      When I'm driving in a residential area and there are kids in the street, I slow down not just to be safer, but also to communicate to everyone around, "Hey, I see the kids in the street and I'm being careful. Don't worry!" I also give cyclists lots of extra room for the same reason — to help them feel safe.

      Those Waymo cars probably do see pedestrians and cyclists and are probably perfectly capable of not running into them, but since they're not communicating that fact like a human driver would, it makes people worry. Waymo should fix that!

    • I was paying very close attention and I'd be very surprised if my judgement was wrong. I thought the Waymo was closer than 3 feet to the cyclist and didn't slow down.

      Truth is not only the car's reactions need to be accounted for, but also the pedestrian or bicyclist may unintentionally swerve and then the Waymo has no error margin. I think roads aren't safe shared with such vehicles and they should test them in controlled environment, not risking real human's safety, for their faster advancement of profit.

    • We'll have to decide what reasonable risk is. How many deaths are acceptable per so many miles of driving. If it's twice as safe as humans would be accept it? 10X safer? At what point should we allow it on the roads? If one company's approach is 100X safer than a human and anothers is 120X safer, should we accept 100X? Questions that we'll have to decide on.

    • I listened to a huge debate about this. Some people, like Elon, think the number we need is to show that self-driving is twice as safe and then people will accept it. The other point of view I know some people have is no, it has to be like airlines. There will be rage if there are any accidents where self-driving is at fault.

      I was in Elon's camp until @jpop mentioned the Tesla that didn't see the tractor trailer in clear skies and then I was like, hmmm, maybe it's twice as safe as other drivers, but it's not as safe as me. What is the number? 80% of American male drivers believe they are above average?

    • I certainly would trust the car over my own driving and in 32 years of driving I've never hit another person. I think I trust technology and science much more than the many mistakes I know I make while driving. I think the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to drivers. We get tired, we are distracted, we are slow to react, we don't know how to do slides and so on. Humans simply suck at a lot of stuff and computers can do it better for the most part. I've watched a video of a robot driving a street bike around a race track and humans can certainly outperform the robot rider but even that won't last. It'll be something to see a robot back a street bike into a corner and pass a pro. I want autonomous driving yesterday.

    • Related fun fact to this conversation:

      Today in 1912, construction of a stadium in Brooklyn was announced for the Trolley Dodgers.

      Apparently, it was a regular life and death struggle in early 20th Century Brooklyn to avoid getting hit by a trolley.

      The DC powered motors (unlike the AC models)  jerked and bucked when started.  Trolleys could jump 20 to 50 feet, posing threats to  pedestrians and horses alike.

    • i'm not sure who will "win" this, but my personal preference is that they ALL lose. talk about an answer for a question that didn't ever need to be asked!

      the self-driving car is proof of the failure of efficient transportation. the last thing the environment needs is more complicated ways to have personal transport. self-driving cars will NOT help the environment; if anything they will harm it, as the infrastructure needed to support this will be more energy-intensive. i could possibly see self-driving vehicles for mass-transit, but no one needs self-driving vehicles for personal transport. except that maybe the future cab companies want to cut back on labor costs, to serve those who want personal transport occasionally? it's a disaster for the environment, tho...

    • Hi Doug, and welcome to Cake. 🙂 What if it turns out that self-driving cars become significantly safer than human-driven cars? Might it be one of those things where it's rude to have a self-driving car in the beginning but later if they are safer it becomes rude not to have one?

    • it won't happen. and even to get as safe as human-operated cars, it will be prohibitively environmentally costly. the planet simply cannot afford to continue squandering its resources in its present manner. to have a complete infrastructure overhaul to support driverless personal vehicles would be a massive undertaking, further destroying our ecosystem. how safe is *that*? better to invest in mass transit systems. that would increase safety *and* reduce the environmental impact of human beings.

      my estimate is that the earth cannot support more than 1-2 billion people at its current use of resources. mother nature is a harsh mistress, and she *will* self-correct... *no* species is immune form the j-curve...

    • Thanks, very fascinating. I feel like I'm in a very unique position because I see perhaps a dozen autonomous cars in our neighborhood on most days. When I talk on the phone, I'm out walking. I run, ride my bike, drive walk the dog, and skateboard around them all the time. Kids are always out in the street playing hockey or basketball.

      I'm not complaint-free about them, but generally I've come to trust them more than cars with humans at the wheel. Some humans drive extremely aggressively, which the self-driving cars never do, and you see the humans not always paying attention.

      I have a sense that in certain areas where the weather and roads are good, like ours, it won't be long until the data shows conclusively what my intuition tells me, that they are safer. And then we'll have some very serious debates.

    • Those Waymo cars probably do see pedestrians and cyclists and are probably perfectly capable of not running into them, but since they're not communicating that fact like a human driver would, it makes people worry. Waymo should fix that!

      Hmm, perhaps not the fix you had in mind but ...

    • A few days ago we had to take our dog on a harrowing 2-hour freeway ride in a deluge to the vets for a special operation, then 2.5 hours home. It would normally take 60 minutes each way but accidents, overturned cars, pile-ups.

      The whole way there were aggressive drivers dodging lane to lane and one guy clipped a car in a tight, aggressive maneuver, causing the car he clipped to lose control and plunge down a hill and into a tree. The Asian 20-something woman whose car got clipped didn't survive.

      At times like those, I think that at least self-driving cars don't get drunk, distracted, tired, or drive aggressively.

    • What about the GPS system(s)? As far as the car knowing where it is and where it needs to go, and the most efficient route to get there. My money is on Google (Waze) for that. They have the most comprehensive maps, street views, addresses locations, android GPS location and so on. Somehow I think that technology will be needed to interface with the vehicle, and that gives Google a significant edge, if they can get their vehicle set up right.

    • Welcome to Cake, rtcoker. 🎂 I am completely stunned at how far Google has come with maps & traffic. I simply can't fathom how big the computing job is to retain current traffic patterns in so many roads around the world. MInd. Boggled.

    • I suspect Google will profit the most from self driving. Being able to calculate the optimum route to the location you requested, while knowing the probability of you being hungry, thirsty or in need of something, puts them in charge. Imagine McDonalds paying Waymo to increase traffic.

    • Yeah, Tesla has its super trolls and Anton is probably the most infamous.

      Elon did say on the call that Tesla is 98% there but traffic lights are currently the most difficult thing. They need to be in the high nines.

      I wonder how much of this is natural human behavior. I live in a neighborhood swarming with self-driving cars, and a few years ago we were all afraid of them. Now that we've seen so many every day as we walk our dogs, ride our bikes, skateboard and drive our cars, we feel so much safer around them than human-driven cars.

      Don't get me wrong, none of us believe they are at 99.999% safe and we have our complaints, but they reliably stop for stop signs, they don't speed, don't drive home from parties after drinking, don't text, get distracted, aggressively pass or get road rage.

      I think the numbers over the next few years will show that they are definitely not safe and their only saving grace is they are safer than human drivers.