Sunday, December 9, 2018

Robot Cars In Ski Country?

Some of you may have seen the news stories on Google's Waymo self-driving car division and the other AI (Artificial Intelligence) cars. One story in particular really brought home how amazing these cars are, and also how they still have a way to go.
A Tesla. Nice electric car that drives itself?
Cops noticed a man behind the wheel who appeared to be asleep. He was in a self-driving car, which I think was a Tesla. They tried to pull it over, but the car wouldn't stop. (Oops, the software designers hadn't yet made the car able to recognize when the cops were pulling it over.) It took several miles for four cop cars to surround the car on all sides, trapping it and forcing it to slow to a stop. At that point, they discovered that the driver was indeed asleep, drunk at the wheel, taking a nap.

The incident shows just how far self-driving cars have come.

Then came a story about Waymo, a self-driving taxi. Kind of like Uber and Lyft. Except Waymo's program has no human drivers.  It is apparently going to launch soon.

A Waymo self-driving taxi.
Like most people, I'll have to witness it to become convinced. Especially in snow country. But how nice would it be - when you are eating out and you want to have a glass of wine or two but not drive to or from in the snowstorm - and along comes a robot car with all-wheel-drive. How cool would that be?

Anyway, Wall Street analysts think that Waymo could be doing 100 billion dollars a year in business in just a few years. Whoa.  Google already controls much of the internet and our knowledge world. Soon they'll control much of what goes on along the highways.

Things have changed... 

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