July 18, 2016
How To Use Early Stage Autonomous Vehicles?

Andreessen Horowitz VC partner Chris Dixon on early stage autonomous vehicles.

"Itís much easier to solve self-driving when the weatherís good, for example, than when itís snowy, dark or rainy. And itís easier on highways and in suburbs," says Dixon. "So you can imagine pushing a button on your Uber or Lyft app, and depending on the situation and location, an autonomous car comes or a person comes."

Early stage autonomous vehicles won't be able to handle cities. But they could take over some driving tasks. How to use their more limited capabilities?

What this makes me think: We need a way for highway-capable autonomous taxis to have a way to pick up passengers in relatively simple zones, areas simple enough for them to understand before they are ready to take on full city complexity. Imagine walking down to a place that is like a highway rest station but it is really an autonomous vehicle passenger stop. Such a station would exist to give autonomous vehicles simple environments where they can let passengers on and off. Then the vehicles go back onto the highway.

I could imagine paid access turnpikes doing this. I could even imagine paid access turnpikes that put your car on a multi-car autonomous towing vehicle so that turnpikes could switch to fully autonomous mode (with lots of advantages for tight electronic cooperation between vehicles). Existing human-operated cars could get down the turnpike without their owners having to drive. the turnpikes could achieve a big increase in safety, speed, and throughput.

Autonomous highway vehicles could be made to work in any area where long stretches of road are simple enough for first generation autonomous vehicles to handle. These vehicles would not be able to handle complex surface roads with lots of pedestrians. But they could handle less complex environments. Automated measurement of road environment complexity could identify which roads the first gen autonomous vehicles could handle.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2016 July 18 09:16 PM 

Engineer-Poet said at July 23, 2016 6:59 AM:

There have been many times when I've wanted a self-driving car.  Commuting in traffic is torture for me, and a car that would let me read or rest would have been a godsend 9 working days out of 10.

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