One current roadblock is the price of the system: the LIDAR (the thing on the top of the car in the picture) retails for ~$75K currently. There should be significant volume to drive the price down. But a lot of people would buy them for prestige, too (e.g. many early Prius adopters), so if the cost of the system can be reduced to perhaps $4K-$5K levels people will seriously think about this.
Liability is the part that's legally required in the US. If the numbers showed that self-driving cars were much less likely to cause an accident, it would be considerably cheaper for them (a much more dramatic version of how anti-lock brakes can make your liability coverage cheaper).
Comprehensive (mainly stuff that happens while you're not in the vehicle) would remain unchanged. But it's also the cheapest part.
Collision is what covers repairs to your own vehicle if you're at fault or if someone at fault isn't insured themselves (you can also skip the first part and just get uninsured motorist coverage). The uninsured at-fault driver case doesn't change until there are enough self-driving cars on the road that accidents as a whole go way down, but the first case (damage to your own vehicle that was your own fault) should be much less likely and thus cheaper to insure.
Insurance covers much more than drivers running into other things
- theft of vehicle, parts of vehicle, or damage to vehicle and theft of contents
- fire + natural disasters (flood etc)
- damage to the vehicle by other drivers, both moving and parked
- personal liability for damage while using the car
- damage to the car from accidents
Note that in multiple vehicle accidents sometimes 'blame' is shared out between insurance companies as a way of sharing costs.
As to the fiction that accidents will never happen with autonomous cars, this is simply false. Of course there will still be accidents. The accident rate should decrease but this will take a long, long time to happen.
Take this example : workers have a self-driving pickup, but don't secure a ladder on the roof properly. While driving along the freeway, the ladder comes off and smashes into self-driving car behind. Neither self-driving car can prevent this. Same goes for self-driving cars failing to detect black ice on the road and skidding into railings/trees/other traffic.
Liability for accidents with self-drive vehicles will fall on the owner of the vehicle, possibly with insurers pooling 'fault' when one or more self-driving vehicles are involved.
"PriusBot has detected you are not authorised to use this vehicle. In accordance with law XYZ-00A, you are now being driven to the nearest police station as a precaution."
"PriusBot has detected you have been classified as a public menace. In accordance with statute XYZ-00N, you are now being driven off the nearest bridge."
But a self-driving car would almost inevitably be connected to a network: an central computer could algorithmically control where all the cars are, where they're moving, how fast they're doing it, and basically make accidents nonexistent; such a system would be enormously beneficial to society at large. Yet, the downside is that all the cars are connected to a network, which an attacker could use to, as you say, send the target "off the nearest bridge".
Our investigation shows that an implantable cardioverter
defibrillator (1) is potentially susceptible to malicious attacks that violate the privacy of patient information and medical telemetry, and (2) may experience malicious alteration to the integrity of information or state, including patient data and therapy settings for when and how shocks are administered. Moreover, standard approaches for security and access control may not always be suitable for IMDs due to tensions between security (e.g., access for pre-authorized parties only) and safety (e.g., access for previously unauthorized parties in emergency circumstances)
Nsa will have e911 equivalent and warrantable backdoor to anything DMV/govt approved, though one would think.
 Some physical design limits were cpu and power, plus other operational concerns.
Apr 19, 2012 – A bill passed in the U.S. Senate would require black boxes to be installed in all new cars sold in the U.S. by 2015
It depends on what you pick for coverage and what car you are driving, but for me roughly 50% of my bill goes to liability and 50% goes to comprehensive coverage.
In a world with self driving cars, your liability wouldn't be 0 but it would be lower. The 50% that goes to comprehensive coverage would remain. That covers theft, falling trees, flooding, fires, etc.
Because of that, you likely wil have to pay a premium on top of the 'real' costs of such a car to the seller of the electronics, either as a lump sum, or as a per year and/or kilometer contribution.
Yes, it should be. However do you think that insurance companies are going to allow that? They'll form the insurance-equivalent of the RIAA before that happens.
Besides, insurance companies make money on the difference between rates and claims. If claims fall significantly, rates can, too, yet the insurance companies can still take home the same sized paycheck.
This isn't true, but is a common misconception.
Insurance companies make money by earning an investment income on the retained premium (the premium earnt between when a policy is paid for, and a claim is paid out). You can easily see this by reading analyst reports on publicly-listed insurance companies, which will analyse in detail the return on the retained premium.
An insurance company collecting more premium than claim costs is overpricing itself. An insurance company paying out more claims than premium is underpricing itself.
The idea is that the risk is managed through actuarial study, so the premium/claim payout is managed, giving an optimal time lag between collected premium and paid out claims.
The ability of insurance companies to create a very large pool of investment funds is why Warren Buffet buys them. He is an expert at investing, and the premium pool gives him the size he needs.
Thus the potential for cars without people driving around. This is inherently worse for congestion than 1-person cars.
He was concerned about GPS jamming though, but thankfully these cars have been designed from the ground up to not rely on GPS (as a signal from a satellite is not reliable). I believe as long as the area has been 3D mapped by Google, the car is capable of driving and navigating without GPS assistance.
The thing about lasers is they use a very narrow slice of wavelengths. Environmental light like sunlight has very little power within that slice, so its easy for the LIDAR to see its own laser. But that makes it really easy to jam. You could probably build a jammer today for a few hundred dollars, which means that in the future every disaffected monkeywrencher will do it. Ergo the approach is not suitable for the mass market.
Besides, using the right modulation would make LIDAR as hard to jam as would be needed.
In case you decide to test your theory about lasers and human eyes, please don't use someone else as a test subject.
1. A traffic light being out and cop is directing traffic? (Would it have to learn hand gestures?)
2. Stopping at a guard booth.
3. Crossing a solid yellow line to pass a stopped car or a garbage truck?
Take the case of elevators, originally they had manual operators who needed to make sure that they leveled out on a given floor so people could safely get on and off. Today elevators function on their own with users simply requesting their desired location. Every now and then they do get stuck, which requires calling in a certified technician to move the elevator, help trapped passengers, diagnose and repair problems before returning the elevator to service.
A well designed control system will have a good fail safe, but having to wait two hours for the closest technician to arrive because a branch has fallen accross the road would be annoying.
Or when coming onto something like a highway where traffic has slowed down to a crawl. Normally you have to be a bit pushy and squeeze into the traffic, otherwise drivers in the other lane will never yield. Will the self-driving car know to do this, or will it wait forever for an opening in the traffic?
That will be amazing, I can't wait!
As long as people can override the function, people will make mistakes and cause damage. And this will always be the case, nobody wants to be stuck on an isolated road, unable to proceed because their lane is partially blocked, but it is safe to cross the lane and proceed.
I'm still waiting to see what the opposition is going to do when they get organized. If you thought Uber was a threat to cabs, they don't hold a candle to a fleet of self driving cars with an NFC payment option.
 Which was of course a challenge for the Segway
That said, it wasn't legislation that made Segway fail.
True, but it was pretty contributory. For much of its 'early adopter' period people had no idea whether or not they would get a ticket for riding one on the sidewalk, and then later the knew that they would in most places. That certainly mitigated sales significantly.
Similarly if self driving cars were available today and you could only 'legally' use them in California and Nevada in self driving mode, and they were "probably" going to be illegal most everywhere else, that would make it hard to sell them.
Sometimes governments actually get it right.
But I can see how in the vast empty sidewalks of some suburbs that riding bicycles on the sidewalk is a good idea, and did so myself when I was a child.
Truth is there isn't enough space for sedgeways over here. Pavements too narrow, roads too littered with parked cars.
My guess is that comfort with this as a concept will be generational, as are lots of things. I like the idea a lot, but I also will miss driving. I doubt my daughter will miss driving in the slightest.
I don't think anybody will miss driving in traffic, but until there's some other way to experience the combined sense of control, shifting G-forces, and the world streaming by, manual driving on sparsely populated roads will always be desirable.
Further, I would submit that this is mostly due to the legislators themselves.
A trucker that doesn't have to 1) eat 2) sleep 3) experience fatigue -- this trucker is vastly superior. There is already a lot of analytics measuring truck performance, metrics which would make autonomous trucks very feasible.
Transport trucks spend hours on interstates between points going in relatively straight lines, at relatively low traffic times.
The trucking industry will be dead 5-10 years after robot trucks start appearing on the road.
EDIT: Sorry "trucking industry" should be in quotes, as yes, by this I mean the idea of people driving trucks, which is 90% of the "industry". The actual industry itself isn't going anywhere, agreed. My fault in the miscommunication.
That said, that "shift" is when it's going to be a really, really shitty time to be a truck driver, as the influx of people competing for fewer and fewer jobs is going to drive prices (wages) down into pits of dark despair.
As chollida1 points out, UPS/Fedex may not be allowed to lift the CLD requirement quite yet, but that will probably come in time.
I'm pretty sure the laws stipulate that a licensed driver must be in the drivers seat.
And then there's all the service stops which now offer food, etc for truckers. I expect few of them will successful transition to serve tourists exclusively.
The existing actors, however, might well be unable to drive that transition and they might consequently die and be replaced by other, new actors.
That's enough for a pair of drivers to keep the truck on the road continuously, and maybe almost enough to make it worthwhile to have just a single driver (so the cab owner doesn't have to split his profits with anyone). After gradually raising hours over the course of a few years, you can declare drivers optional. Owner-operators would still ride in the cab so they could handle pickup and delivery of trailers, but fleet owners might just hire drivers on the spot for things like that.
Edit: My (mis)understanding of trucking hours of service was based on a conversation with a truck drive a few months ago. Apparently, you can drive 14 hours continuously after taking 10 hours off. However, I think the point still stands that truck drivers will be less resistant to the introduction of robotic trucks if they perceive the change as a (at least short-term) benefit to them by increasing allowable driving time.
And fix the truck when it breaks down (if possible). And deal with problems when the wrong shipment goes to the wrong place, etc.
And protect the contents of the truck.
Driving is just one piece.
We should have put the tech into the mars rover.
Current bill text: http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1251-1300/sb_129...
What seems to have changed since May:
- The California DMV will set safety rules before 2015 instead of waiting for NHTSA to allow production use,
- The manufacturer must apply to the DMV before production use.
- Cars must record sensor data for 30s before every collision.
What I don’t like about the bill is that it requires an operator to be able to take manual control of the vehicle at any time. I’d imagine that as autonomous vehicles develop in the coming years, this restriction will have to be removed.
I'd feel very strange being in a car without a manual override of some sort. Maybe in 10 years and only if the vast majority of cars are self driven it will be a different story. I can't imagine trying to drive through Chicago hoping that my little robot driver is aware of the two tow-trucks weaving through traffic behind me at 90mph.
In the future, if manual override becomes undesirable or unneeded, it will probably be repealed. Actually, I'm surprised by this many steps forward so soon (I was a bit cynical of them ever being approved)
This will always be tricky because even Toyota a couple of years ago had trouble defending against alleged bugs that turned out to be completely untrue.
The silly conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the excessive media focus on Toyota had anything to do with the government's Detroit bailout. Probably not, but if I were writing a conspiracy novel, it'd be an easy plot point to add.
"California Senate passes bill for self-driving cars"
Senate Floor (08/29/2012), Assembly Floor (08/28/2012), Assembly Floor (08/24/2012), Assembly Committee (08/16/2012), Assembly Committee (07/02/2012), Senate Floor (05/21/2012), Senate Committee (04/10/2012)
The senate approved a version in May, and sent it to the Assembly. The Assembly added some markup. Only in the last week did the Senate and Assembly vote on the same bill, which is the process needed to send a bill to the governor.
(Full history here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1...)
- Not yet signed. So not yet law. Still.
(My GF says I drive too fast and stop too quickly. She's probably right, although 3 of those times I was moving at less than walking speed.)
Yes, what wondrous technology it must be that enables this!
Many cars you can buy today are practically autonomous anyway. You may still feel like you are in control, but the computer systems will take over in many cases. Going fully autonomous is the natural leap. The trick is only one of marketing to get the people comfortable with the idea. These frequent announcements is one way to build that comfort level before the first production units are ready to be sold.
Really... you wouldn't find never having to park again very appealing? Having your car pick you up somewhere, or go get serviced while you're shopping?
So that's why I'm only moderately excited for my personal car - I just avoid using it so much that its not a big deal.
Now, if we could remove SF's rude and navigationally challenged taxi drivers* from SF'd taxi's, then I'd be happy..
* - they arent all rude..
In many situations, you won't have to hunt for a spot. And that'll be great. But for an awful lot of trips, you'll wind up walking just as far due the line-up of cars. Or waiting an awfully long time.
Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely sold on an autonomous car for its other benefits. But the auto-parking/pickup bit is ... overstated in its applicability.
Pretty much anything with a predictable schedule would be quickly swamped and delays will compound quickly.
Which isn't to say it's a non-feature. It's just to say, again, that it's being oversold.
 Fixed schedules alone won't be in trouble. Anything with a 'busy period' will manifest this.
 To say nothing of professional sporting events, concerts, tourist traps and things like theme parks -- precisely the places where parking is such a bummer in the first place.
Politician creates attack ad based on his opponent's support for autonomous cars.
It also doesn't help that traffic seems to be getting worse in the bay area.