1) Not only are touch screens a very poor interactor in the first place , but why do you think planes and other complex machinery have stuck with physical controls? For operating complex vehicles/apparatus, you just cannot do better than tangible controls. Knobs, switches, sliders can be operated without looking at them while giving rich tactile feedback, they have no modes = 0 risk for confusion, you know where they're going to be located on your dashboard regardless of what you're doing, etc.
2) Self-driving cars cannot come fast enough, and every single innovation in the car industry that does not go towards electric self driving cars is just useless fluff at this point.
Seriously- then you'll be able to fiddle all you want with your phone, drink, travel while sleepy, arguing your spouse, whatever you want- we'll be saving tens of thousands of lives every year , and the secondary social benefits will be fantastic (less cars produced since they don't have to sit on a parking lot 99% of the time, people won't have to spend a year's worth of wages just to buy a car (and then a significant chunk to maintain it), etc.). If society were a game of Civilization, I'd be putting all of my resource points towards the "Self driving cars" achievement.
Of course the insurance companies, car manufacturers, oil companies, etc. don't want that to happen- but seriously, fuck those guys. The benefits on human society at large here are so significant that there is no room for caring about the feelings of greedy old white men.
(the views in this post are a bit on the extreme side- but that's how interesting conversations get started :-)
This reduces distraction.
You have to remember to take into account human behavior. In the real world, people get into their vehicle and use their phone's map application, as well as text, phone, and music applications. Not only do they do this, they do it in overwhelming numbers.
This product takes common behavior that people engage in (and will continue to), and makes it safer and less confusing to engage in while driving.
Vehicles have knobs and touch-screens now. This tech doesn't change that dynamic, -it works with the UI elements already present in order to reduce fumbling around with your phone and tiny touch-targets on your mobile device.
>2) Self-driving cars cannot come fast enough, and every single innovation in the car industry that does not go towards electric self driving cars is just useless fluff at this point.
That's besides the point. They aren't here yet, and they won't be in the immediate future. Making driving safer in the meantime isn't fluff.
> there is no room for caring about the feelings of greedy old white men.
What a terrible, low-value comment to make in this forum.
When you say "This reduces distraction." you mean compared to holding the phone and doing those actions, right?
The way I would account for human behavior is to intelligently disable certain functionality as the car is moving. Compared to someone else's life, how important is that text message? Even dictating a text message takes some cognitive load.
Let's not mix the word "safer" and "distracted driving".
This is about the only way to enable intelligent control over device functionality. Absent this additional link, a modern cell phone can't tell a driver from an occupant.
With this, Apple and the car companies offer people a carrot so that they pair their device  and now they can limit the distractions: you can control the apps that are available on the car interface, you can pare down the notifications they're receiving (enable DND mode by default while driving), you can disable direct use of the paired device while the car is in motion, etc.
 The carrot being GPS and music-selection features already available on many modern car dashboards.
Thereby ensuring a situation where the person takes their eyes off the road and looks at their seat for their phone, picks it up, and starts reading and replying to texts while barreling down the road in a high velocity chunk of steel.
That's what happens now. Apple's technology aims to prevent that.
>Even dictating a text message takes some cognitive load.
Yes it does. It also is much safer than doing it on your phone as people can and will continue to do, even in states where it is illegal. Apple isn't a legislature. They can't tackle unsafe driver behavior by crafting laws, but they can do so via software offerings.
Sure, people have already picked up bad habits, but that makes it ok to encourage that behavior if they are going to do it anyway?
Maybe Apple does make certain activities less dangerous, but it's still making access to distractions easier and I think that's a bad thing.
If you can't talk while you drive, then you shouldn't have passengers either.
The obvious difference between a phone call and a conversation had with someone in the car is that the person in the car is also placing their life at risk. Unlike the person who isn't there, they can (a) see and (b) intervene when you're starting to drive like an idiot.
It's not that a live conversation is any less distracting. It's just that it comes with a built in safety mechanism.
That figure should be normalised to make the comparison fair. Presumably, there were more cars on the road in 2011 than in 2010.
But this is a minor quip compared to how MS implemented Sync Services. It's 2014 and they use a voice(!) line from a pre-registered cell phone to connect to their services.
I assume you're American (or British), because voice-based systems are nearly useless for non-native english speakers.
I'm a fluent english speaker, but due to my non-american accent, and the fact that my language is not one of the top 10 used in the world I still cannot operate Siri (or other voice systems) properly, and the dictation feature is nearly useless to me.
Google's voice recognition system, and of late, Siri both work fine for me. Sync, iPhone 'voice control', etc. are next to useless. In certain cases, I've tried to adapt. For example, my immediate family, rather than have their names or what I call them in my other native language, I've named them using common English words. So I can just say "Call Dad", and the speech recognition system works.
When I say that OEMs and auto-makers should work on improving voice recognition systems, I mean the entire processing system: sound acquisition, signal conditioning, and machine-learning based speech recognition.
That out of the way, my VW will duplicate much of what appears on the nav screen into a small display between the speedometer and tachometer. Having used a few heads up displays in cars I am not if I really want to go that route.
Still, when moving the car should be displaying relevant information only. I would much rather have a talking car than one trying to show me
Avionics has been moving away from tangible indicators and controls for some time. Honeywell has already announced that is working on "touchscreen-enabled avionics for the next-generation air transport and business aviation cockpits" . I also believe SpaceX runs a largely virtualised command centre.
>Self-driving cars...every single innovation in the car industry that does not go towards electric self driving cars is just useless fluff at this point
Imagine a bond that pays, into perpetuity, 100% of the profits earned by auto manufacturers worldwide on non-self-driving cars. How much would you be willing to pay for this bond? Likely a non-trivial amount.
Wanting to get to Mars doesn't make a Moon mission "useless fluff". The incremental steps add to our learning and help finance, even if indirectly, more ambitious goals. One could interpret Apple's move as an incremental step towards a future where a car's value is inside the cabin, not under the bonnet.
And in the air, you have a little more time to look at the instruments without risking crashing into a meeting car or driving off the road. I suspect (hope) that the current trend with touchscreens in cars will be a fad, and that manufacturers will realize that some features (climate control etc) are best implemented with traditional controls.
It's sad when my 10 year old car has a UI on that part that allows me to use it without taking the eyes off the road.
There was a collision on a runway a while ago that we passed around the news article for, because it could have very easily been prevented by features we had, but were not certified for the airframes that had the collision. It's understandable that we want to ensure that the new glass works just as well as old instruments, but it's frustrating when customers very clearly want functionality that we're not allowed to provide.
I believe there are efforts underway to change the rules to avoid this "making the perfect the enemy of the good" effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Airplane_Revitalization_A...
For instance, laptop PCs running Windows and iPads are certified for EFB use now (I would assume for approach plates as well), but I'm not sure what the limitations are, or what certification level that is.
Btw, what did you work on in avionics, and what made you move to a different area of work?
Nothing to improve road safety like elaborate arguments with a speech recognition engine...
So insurance, oil and car companies are filled with stodgy, greedy, old men who we are not to care about, but I guess SV is filled with cool, hip, innovative people?
Get your head out of the sand. I'll take the innovation of Ford and Toyota over Facebook and WhatsApp anyday of the week.
'greedy old white men' should justify dead on its own, but it also completely misses the point.
Not to discuss your other points, but who are you to say the human brain has evolved or not to deal with X or Y ? The human brain is actually very capable of dealing with multiple sensory signals, and the fact that most people can drive cars on motorways without crashing in each other's every 2 seconds suggest that the human brain is perfectly up to the task.
But to say that human behavior evolved to meet a specific environmental requirement isn't a purpose, it's an outcome that allowed the genotype to procreate. It's a gray area and one must be careful speaking of goals, but if one is addressing a specific adaptation to meet a specific environmental requirement, it's all right.
After the driver reacts and presses on the brake pedal, on dry, level pavement, a car requires about 20 feet to stop at 20 miles per hour, 80 feet at 40 miles per hour and 180 feet at 60 miles per hour (all approximate distances).
Simple equation (reaction time not included): y = v^2 / 20
v = velocity MPH
y = stopping distance in feet
Another reason to learn some mathematics and science (it's based on the kinetic energy of the moving car). :)
Not saying that speed is a factor, just that stopping distance isn't the thing. Perhaps you should discuss kinetic energy instead?
Only when a misjudgment of stopping distance is a factor, in one way or another. I'll bet that the car driven by actor Paul Walker's friend -- the car that crashed and killed both of them -- was an example where the friend thought he had enough distance for a safe stop. But at the estimated speed -- "more than 100 MPH" -- more than 500 feet would have been required and just wasn't there, before a sharp turn they didn't manage.
> Most fatalities are not because the car drove straight into a stationary object directly in front of them on the road.
Yes, but all such accidents involve cars hitting each other or objects along the road, or rolling over during efforts to stop them, and similar causes. All these examples involve energy management, and in each case, the driver couldn't safely dissipate the car's kinetic energy.
> Collisions mostly happen because of the actions of car drivers who are going roughly the same speed as you.
Not in any number of cases, like crossing over the center divider, or hitting a roadside object, or losing control in bad weather, or fog collisions, etc. etc..
And even if two cars have a relatively low-speed collision while both traveling at high speed, then the problem becomes controlling the cars after the collision and avoiding hitting other cars or obstacles, many of which are are stationary.
> Not saying that speed is a factor, just that stopping distance isn't the thing.
Of course it is. If you want to avoid crashing into another car, you have to maintain a safe distance. If your car is carrying too much kinetic energy, you can't dissipate the energy in advance of getting intimate with the other car, or a tree, or a center divider through which you roll your car uncontrollably.
> Perhaps you should discuss kinetic energy instead?
Say what? How did you miss the kinetic energy equation I included in the post to which you're replying? I even included the words "kinetic energy" to avoid any possible confusion.
- a driver in foggy weather crashes into a traffic jam
- a car crosses an intersection at a red light, is hit by a car from the other direction
- car hits a child running on the street
- driver looses control, hits a tree at 60mph
- reckless driver tries to overtake, hits car coming their way
These types of accidents are the most lethal, and they are all due to stopping distance (and could be avoided by driving at a lower speed)
This is a particularly dangerous and often misunderstood case, because staying several car lengths away from the car ahead won't do any good if that car suddenly collides with a stationary car in front of it that's hidden by the fog. When the car you're following comes to a sudden stop, all the rules about safe following distance go right out the window. This is why professionals sometimes recommend just getting off the road when fog prevents a reasonable amount of visibility.
> These types of accidents are the most lethal, and they are all due to stopping distance (and could be avoided by driving at a lower speed)
You can't say "brain evolved to do X", you can at best say "brain is well suited to do X".
The second thing on the page:
Control with a word. Or a touch. Or a twist.
CarPlay features Siri voice control and is specially designed for driving scenarios. It also works with your car’s controls — knobs, buttons, or touchscreen. And the apps you want to use in the car have been reimagined, so you can use them while your eyes and hands stay where they belong.
It'll work with the knobs/buttons in the cars that have them and integrate them with whatever functionality they have (I have an old boss who had a Porsche Cayenne with a large screen controlled entirely with side buttons and a small scroll thingy, which was super awkward as the device's interface seemed designed with a touch screen in mind), but it seems that the car industry is largely moving towards touch screens in cars, with brands like Tesla leading the movement. I wouldn't be surprised if innovations like these encourage an even faster move towards touch screens in cars- Apple sure loves its touch screens.
I am almost 100% certain that we won't see that kind of thing even within the next few decades, if ever. Self-driving cars have way too many hurdles to overcome before they reach that point. I mean, Europe hasn't even moved over to automatic transmission yet.
That's because automatic transmission is the worst and invented by the devil.
More seriously, using an automatic transmission results in trade-offs, for instance fuel usage was the historical number 1 sticking point with automatics guzzling up the petrol compared to manuals. Modern engineering has closed that gap but there are still issues related to control - ironically a move to fully autonomous cars would solve most of them (principally in non-autonomous cars drivers in manual transmission cars can use knowledge of future road conditions to make gear selection decisions that an automatic transmission cannot make as they have only a limited input set)
In terms of fuel economy, isn't it just a matter of time before automatics become as economical (then probably more economical) than manuals? Even without anticipating future events? Driving efficiently feels like something a computer could optimise for and that a human has no natural advantage doing.
My go to example is the insanity of junction 15 of the m8, that loop onto the west bound motorway is a 270 degree corkscrew rising 30 feet with a diameter of 55 yards onto a 5 lane motorway where I need to go from the left hand lane to the right hand lane (as there are entrance and exit lanes on both the inside and outside of the motorway at that point). A current automatic engine wouldn't know what was the right thing to do in that situation ( https://email@example.com,-4.2358853,374m/da... )
To determine all of that you'd basically be at the level of self-driving car. Which would be awesome.
Latest Rolls-Royce Wraith does exactly that - it uses the GPS map data to change gears in advance as it is approaching a turn in the road. I am sure that this technology will be available in ordinary cars soon enough.
Manuals have better fuel usage then automatics is a myth for recent cars, no fancy self driving needed.
Now in a high-end car with a sequential gearbox this is different, but for a small town car when you'll be doing a lot of starts and stops you'll see the losses on the hydraulic coupling.
To preempt the "but you have to own a porsche for that!" responses, I'm not saying this is cheap, I'm just saying it is not limited by the available technology, just cost.
Waze-style technology + GIS + networking with other vehicles + weather data (if you look, there is already tons of small weather monitoring stations all over major).
I mean many vehicles within the last handful of years have automatic traction control that can react faster to a real time change in road conditions than any human could ever hope too. A lot of the stuff I mentioned above is just extending that foresight out further so as to not be so jarring.
Bear in mind I drive a 6 year old 1.3L diesel Fiat van converted to a people carrier which is as aerodynamic as a shed. It also has 3 children, a buggy and a pile of crap in it.
Perhaps a computer could optimise this better but I doubt it. The computer and automatic box just goes when you push the pedal down. The driver isn't connected to it and feeling what it's doing and understanding the power curves.
You sure about that? Because I easily get about 70 mpg on my Prius (C class) when I'm supermiling in the city. Granted it's not as efficient on the highway, and unfortunately I do have to do a lot of highway travel. I can sustain a good a 55mpg average at the end of the month though. I plan to start borrowing my wife's whenever I'm on the highway, I think this way I can average mpg in the 70s overall when I do this.
The number for a Prius-hybrid you'd really care to look at would be the city driving numbers as that's where you get all the advantages of regenerative breaking. Running a Prius at 100+ km/h it just turns back into a standard petrol fueled vehicle carrying drained batteries.
I've found diesel engines and vehicles to be considerably more reliable and therefore less expensive. Fuel is between 5-7% more expensive here in the UK so things are good there.
The city driving numbers are about the same I found. I regularly drive right into London's congestion charging zone - at least 1-2 times a week.
51 is the expected MPG in city driving scenarios. I can achieve that with no particular effort in London traffic. I don't drive like a crazy person and hang back regularly - that is all.
My vehicle doesn't have piles of expensive electronics, batteries and things to go wrong either (look at recent threads about Toyota stack overflows for example).
The most expensive thing on a Diesel that can go wrong is the particulate filter, EGR valves and timing chains and these are cheaply regenerated and replaced respectively.
And this is why electrics are eventually going to win. A motor optimized for a single RPM speed driving a generator doesn't need a transmission. Even if the rest of the drive chain was as efficient, the loss of weight would drive the change over time.
Is this really a good argument against automatics though? The worst example of anything is usually going to be pretty bad.
As a matter of current economics, yes, if you have a very tight budget and want a good driving experience, manual is going to be better. But automatics are as fast and as efficient as manuals a little higher up the market. And it will trickle down soon enough.
Maybe in another 10 years the automatic experience at my price range will be better but at that point we're 25 years on from coldtea's period where European cargo-cult bullshit started.
"second worst driving experience" has nothing quantifiable.
I would think my number 1 complaint about the driving experience was the occasional (but not predictable) incredible lag between pressing the accelerator and the car going faster and the ridiculous over-revving when I presume the car got confused about what gear it thought I should be in.
I've never seen the lag (much less "incredible") in any model I've known.
I've indeed seen the over-revving sometimes. That said, how is the over-revving any issue compared to the whole not having to even worry about manual gear shifting benefit?
It's like going to the US on a boat, because airplane food is bad. Yes, it might be, but it misses the whole point of getting there faster, easier, safer and with less concerns.
Check out a Smart fortwo on car2go sometime and be amazed :)
It feels somewhat counter-intuitive as normally you press the pedal to speed up, but when going uphill you sometimes have to really step on it just to maintain speed.
You end up paying a lot more attention to everything, vs being largely on autopilot with automatic transmission. Or at least having the option of being a lot more on auto pilot with auto transmission.
Of course this varies driver to driver, but having driven both types for about 10 years, I personally find mysel way more engaged with the manual vehicles.
Really, and you need control of what and for what?
I have one in my VW Golf!
Come on -- self-driving cars are already legal in California --
"Self-driving cars now legal in California" : http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/25/tech/innovation/self-driving-c...
-- and the military are testing self-driving trucks to prevent IUD casualties in hostile areas --
"Army tests self-driving trucks for the next big war: " http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/army-tests-self-drivi...
-- so your doubts are anachronistic to say the least.
> Self-driving cars have way too many hurdles to overcome before they reach that point. I mean, Europe hasn't even moved over to automatic transmission yet.
Hey -- wake up and smell the Cappuccino. :)
But they already have cars that drive themselves, without human interference. Google (and other companies') engineers have been driving them all over the country on test runs. Obviously if the car will drive itself to a specified destination autonomously, the physical state of the occupant is no longer an issue.
> Ie. the ninety-ninety rule.
Yes, fair enough -- I'm sure there are still edge cases, but the OP said, with respect to this technology, "... we won't see that kind of thing even within the next few decades, if ever."
The turning point will be when the technology's edge cases are less dangerous than a human driver's edge cases. That won't take very long.
The physical state of the occupant is an issue if there are situations where the occupant might need to regain control of the vehicle. Unless the autonomous car can handle all potential situations the occupant will still need to be in a fit state to drive the vehicle.
All I can say is that the goal of self-driving cars is to take the occupant out of the picture entirely. I think a lot of public safety officials will welcome this change. Eventually, there will be two classes of vehicle occupants -- those who are qualified to touch the controls, and those who aren't.
For an earlier social model, look at elevators. At one time, to have an elevator in your building, you had to hire an elevator operator. Then there were elevators that the building's occupants could operate if they were careful and knew what to avoid. Now elevators are safely operated by anyone.
> when the technology's edge cases are less dangerous than a human driver's edge
> cases. That won't take very long.
This isn't the fantasy of "get wasted, get driven home, no matter what," but it seems good enough to ensure people are safe. Maybe you can get home, or maybe you sleep it off on the side of the road, or maybe your car drives you to a motel.
The self-driving car technology is also very viable to use right now. I have seen Google self-driving cars on the freeways driving next to me. It would not surprise me if they were being sold within the next 5 years, commonplace within 20-30 years.
That said, if there's a self driving car, you bet Id rather use that.
Funny how I feel exactly same way when I drive an automatic.
After having a couple of cars with automatic gearboxes (including a 4.4L BMW - so lack of power wasn't the problem) I find that I am much happier with a manual gearbox.
NB I'm not resistant to new technology in cars - my current car has automatic parking and I use it a lot and normally leave the lights on auto as well.
[Note I am in the UK]
and normally leave the lights on auto as well.
Why don't you just leave them always on anyway? Or is that not allowed in the UK?
If you're heading down a long slope, sure, use the lower gears to add control.
If you're just trying to come down from your amazing commute freeway race into the clover leaf... use the brakes for braking. Most people downshift incorrectly and add unneeded wear to their clutch.
There's few enough sticks out there already... don't leave me one with a beat up clutch.
> I mean, Europe hasn't even moved over to automatic
> transmission yet.
Haha. 1) Driving automatic cars is so boring. 2) it makes your body unbalanced constantly since you use a single foot, therefore your back will ache over long periods of driving. 3) You cannot adjust your speed as fast with an automatic car, we are stuck with binary controls while manual cars provide all the flexibility you need in real, and critical driving situations. All serious cars (like sports cars) are by far usually manual.
As for the second point - in critical situations on the road, I would rather keep my eyes on the road and both hands firmly on the steering wheel - not manipulate gears and clutch.
And I also disagree with the notion that automatic cars don't give you control - with enough experience,you can force precisely the gear you want in an automatic by operating the throttle in a right way. They actually give you way more control - if I find myself at a need to suddenly accelerate, I just press the throttle all the way down and then the transmission just drops down two gears,or one, and does it in less than a second. I am pretty sure that 90% of drivers would not be able to do is as quickly/smoothly/efficiently in a manual, selecting the right gear, declutching and starting at the right rpm - automatic transmission does that for you.
I never had an automatic stall, they don't do jarring shifts between gears, and my left leg is not about to fall off from holding the clutch in a slowly moving traffic jam.
And "serious" cars like sport cars mostly come with an automatic transmission without the manual as an option. You know why Bugatti Veyron comes with an automatic? Because no human would be ever able to change gears as quickly as needed with that car.
And interestingly, the entire off-road market is moving towards automatics as well. You know why? Because you can't burn out a hydrokinetic clutch while starting uphill or in difficult conditions.
I've driven many many cars in my life, and while there are situations where I can see how the manual transmission is "enjoyable", automatics are just objectively better, with new ones offering lower fuel consumption, better acceleration, smoother gear changes and relative lack of maintenance in comparison to manual transmissions.
But I reluctantly disagree with you. Almost all serious sports cars -- hardly "boring" -- now come with automatic transmissions:
* All Ferraris are now automatic
* All McLarens are now automatic
* Porsche's top street car, the 911 Turbo S, is PDK-only
* Porsche's top track-ready car, the 911 GT3, is PDK-only
* The fastest hypercars, the LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, and the Porsche 918, are all automatic (I recall all 7-speed dual clutch)
Even Lotus, the one company you'd expect to keep the manual faith, on lightness grounds if nothing else, made the Evora available a few years ago with an automatic transmission. And Porsche has been quoted as saying the manual transmission may no longer be available after the 991 is phased out: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/02/porsche-911-manua...
Unfortunately manual transmissions now make the car slower. A stick is becoming an enthusiast's conceit, C&D's campaign notwithstanding, and I hope they're still offered, but I'm now considering a dual clutch automatic for my next car.
The old-tech viscous coupling was lossy and difficult to control. Even when you can manually tell the trans to shift (as on a 2009 Mazda5), there is a time delay in the shifting, then you wait for the hydraulic system to confer torque and finally drive the wheels/engine brake.
The modern DCT that high-end cars are using is a direct mechanical connection and uses robotic shifting to do so instantaneously. Shifting is faster than a human can shift an H-gate, and the PID controls on gear selection have better programming etc. due to both the high end nature of the cars and the better systems they're being integrated into.
There is a world of difference between what we colloquially term an "automatic" (slushbox torque converter) and the modern DCT.
I have a Golf with a 7 speed DSG gearbox and trust me, in sport mode, you can have amazing and smooth acceleration.
Regarding point 3, is that really true to an extent that would actually matter for ordinary driving?
(Apart from the back ache)
I can even see it being a sort of a 'mini-bus service', for example, noting that you and 4 others are doing a pickup in an area and doing a school drop off, offering to split the cost of the journey.
The point is that individual car ownership doesn't really 'work' in a city too well.
Getting to the point where this is socially acceptable shouldn't take too long. The reduction in cost base and the fact you can sit in the car and work/play should make it very attractive.
Lots of long, straight drives with far less vehicles on the road probably even make it more realistic to accomplish bc it's a less dynamic environment. I know 20+ who drive an hour both ways to work...and on the morning drive you can do it and only see a handful of cars if it's early.
Add adaptive lane assist and your half way there ;)
In many countries in Europe driving a car is considered a pleasure and a skill.
Driving manual vs. automatic is considered the same as playing a guitar vs. playing Guitar Hero.
1. Cars capable of making decisions real-time, on the road, given unpredictable stimuli
2. A network of things, between the cars on the road, to allow optimization and homogeneity of traffic
3. Regulatory environments permissive of autonomous vehicles.
All of this is well under way and I'd say conservatively we'll see robust networks in less than a decade.
I'd say you are being quite optimistic here. Such major changes will be heavily monitored and regulated, and regulations will make it very hard to market any of these vehicles before a long time. 10 years go by pretty fast, I don't think changes are going to that fast and radical. More likely in the scale of 15 to 30 years. But we'll see.
"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."
There are myriad examples of the amazing leaps our civilization makes in a decade, particularly in technology.
I really don't think my prior post is unduly optimistic, given the pace of the last decade in the auto industry, the continual convergence of the various problem spaces, and the incentives to be the first-to-market with the remaining building blocks.
Yes. Without question. It's a process that has an exponential adoption curve to it.
The benefits from self-driving cars are so enormous its ridiculous.
Productivity goes up, so for any entrepreneur, a self-driving car will become a necessity (no more wasting an hour of unproductive work to get to the airport, for example). Pollution goes down because self-driving cars have to be electric. Self-driving cars can go recharge themselves at a nearby central charging station instead of requiring expensive charging stations at every company. Parking can be decentralized (somewhat, eventually you have to cope with self-driving cars causing a mini rush hour when they come get their passengers). You don't need "long term" parking anywhere. You can take your bike to work, but call your car in if it rains.
It might not cause the revolution that the Internet has, but it's gonna be damn close.
Ubiquitous autonomous roving robots will lead to a revolution at least as big as the Internet, but probably bigger.
Like the printing press, the Internet made distances shorter, but in a low-fidelity way since reality has much higher bandwidth. With self-driving cars, suddenly “real” distances become smaller since 12 hour trips become routine†. The differences between, say, a middle-class Oklahoman, Texan, Missourian, Coloradian, et.al. start to disappear, and this scenario will play out all across the U.S. and other large regions (Canada? India?).
†If we raise the speed limit to 120 mph (mostly afforded by a change in energy policy), then I could trek from Oklahoma to NY or LA every weekend.
If anybody cares, here is my theory (at least for Germany, where I am from): Driving lessons are very expensive in Germany and you have to decide if you want to learn automatic or manual transmission. If you learn on automatic transmission, you are only allowed to drive automatic cars. If you learn on a manual, you are allowed to drive both. The prices for the drivers license are the same. So, most people will learn to drive stick. Since they are then only used to driving stick, they are actually more comfortable with than with automatic. I have met quite a few people who I had to explain how to drive an automatic (it's obviously super easy if you already know how to drive a manual). So, I think it's want you learned first that you will stick with.
The more likely cause is that gas in Europe is far far more expensive than it is here, and manual transmissions are historically more efficient than automatics (may have changed with hybrid e-CVT and newer drivetrains).
Also possibly an explanation is that engines in Europe are far smaller than here (to improve gas mileage) and manual transmissions gives the ability for a driver to play with the torque curve and delay shifts to improve immediate speed/responsiveness.
I wonder if there's been a study that looks at the safety of manual vs. automatic transmission vehicles. This coming from a guy who made it a pre-req that his future wife drive stick...
There was absolutely zero tactile feedback on all of them, as their were dedicated buttons that had to be cycled through to reach a state....and the only way you could know if you were getting to what you wanted was if you looked at the tiny little digital display.
Want preset radio station #x? Jam the preset button a few times.
Want to warm the passenger side a bit? Jam a button to select that side, then select heat, the turn it up.
That's on a Honda, a Cadillac & a Toyota spanning a decade in years....so I'm guessing you must be referring to pre-1990 vehicles that literally had dial tuners and manual button to control valves...and 5x less options for stuff that could even be adjusted?? Or did you speak too soon?
Here's an example of a car from ca. 2005 that has simple, manual controls for climate control. If the passenger is too warm, there's a separate button for opening the window :)
Some newer cars also have separate dials for heat on each side: http://static.autoexpress.co.uk/sites/autoexpressuk/files/st...
..but of course they still have pushbuttons for fan speed.
The word for what is missing from these interfaces is "affordances": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance
Your pre-1990 estimate is way, way, embarrassingly off, at best.
Contrast this to the sound system, which only has a volume knob. Jumping to the next track requires you to hit a small touchscreen button that offers no tactile feedback. It's frustrating to do it while driving.
IMO, there's a good middle-ground here. There are a lot of settings and features on my sound/navigation system that I don't need to access all the time, or really at all while driving. Bass is too high? I can wait until I come to a light. That stuff can remain touchscreen driven since it offers more flexibility in the design and allows you to build in a lot more features than you'd have otherwise without cluttering your dash with a ton of buttons and knobs. But stuff that I mess with pretty often, like skipping to the next song, should be a physical button. Other head units get this right.
| but why do you think planes and other complex machinery have stuck with physical controls
They haven't. Most new planes and retrofits are moving to touchscreens. It allows the pilot to display only the important information on screen at a given time. Like the airport map, for example.
Also, this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airbus_A380_cockpit.jpg
So no I don't think that every new innovation is bad and useless. There will always be auto racing and fast cars. There's nothing else like it.
They are. I know this is an extremely unpopular opinion on HN, but I would like to drive my own car, thank you very much. I don't mind automatic mode on long journeys on the motorway, but other than that, I want to drive myself - and I hope that automatic driving will not be forced upon us during my lifetime.
It's odd though that the number of auto accidents in the US has not increased with the increased use of in-dash touch screens and SmartPhones. Deaths from auto accidents have also been on the decline. It seems like people are doing a pretty good job adapting.
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
13.4 12.5 18.3 11.8 10.9 10.7 10.4 10.6 10.2 10.8
There's a lot of factors that go into reducing auto accidents, so that correlation doesn't really tell us anything about the danger of driving with touch screens in the car.
What it doesn't tell us is whether or not touchscreens pose any significant additional danger.
Or something else is making it safer
They're not, Garmin has offered not only custom touch screen flight decks but they also have an ipad app that can be flown with.
Please stop doing this
For one, BMW does this right. The large screen is controlled by the iDrive knob in the middle, which rotates with haptic detents, is pushable, and has 4-directions on it. All of the major controls are still present with physical controls: radio volume, presets, dual temp control, fan speed, vents, cruise control, phone, etc. The only time you would regularly use the iDrive is for navigation, which is always going to be kludgy because of the complexity of putting in addresses. I welcome voice and touch here.
Mainly because of technology. But more modern systems are doing away with this.
" For operating complex vehicles/apparatus, you just cannot do better than tangible controls."
You're not controlling the vehicle.
" Knobs, switches, sliders can be operated without looking at them while giving rich tactile feedback, they have no modes = 0 risk for confusion, you know where they're going to be located on your dashboard regardless of what you're doing, etc."
Physical controls in airplanes have caused confusion. Wrong switches have been activated by mistake several times (either because someone bumped into them, or switched the one next to the one intended)
It would would be simple to not allow touch interaction while driving.
So before you start and if you pull over you can text/call/setup navigation which is easy to do on the touch screen and hard to do with a few buttons.
Once moving the touch screen should dumb down to stupid mode with only one valid interaction: hitting the screen hard a few times should silence the navigation voice (a feature I have found missing in most current models).
I'm not joking around here either. I firmly believe we need safer cars, and self-driving cars would be a great step towards that, but the real issue here is how car-dependent our society is. If more trips could be done on foot or via public transportation, the U.S. would be a much safer place.
Our reliance on car driving makes other forms of transportation unsafe too. The risk of riding a bike is not that you'll fall or hit another bicyclist, but rather that a car will hit you (and probably not even be cited). The biggest risk to walking is that a car will hit you in a cross walk or on a sidewalk (will trying to avoid hitting another car), just because. And we're so cavalier about killing people with cars.
We don't need have to wait (or hope) for technology to save us. We can build better places to live today. Places that are safer and healthier. And that largely starts by making towns and cities more walkable.
When I walk and take the train to work, I can send texts, read news stories, listen to podcasts and check Twitter, all without endangering people's lives. And no futuristic technology is needed to accomplish this.
If society we're a game, I'd be putting my resources to building walking neighborhoods and better public transportation. Even if you have self driving cars, cars are still bad for your health from the lack of exercise and the pollution.
By the way, touch screens in avionics are gaining a lot of traction in the commercial aviation market. See one such example here:
I'm curious if Apple will be controlling what apps are allowed to work with CarPlay to keep people from putting millions of Flappy Bird clones on a screen that drivers shouldn't be looking at. My guess would be yes, but all it says for now is "Stay tuned for even more supported apps coming soon."
What I would love to see going forward is real consideration for the optimal mix of buttons, touch-gestures, and voice control. A promising design [1,2] is the combination of mode-selection buttons and a thumb touch pad on the steering wheel. Left thumb holds down one of several modes, right thumb makes a simple gesture (no visual attention needed) and boom, you've got a lot of options for controlling things without taking your eyes of the road.
 graphic representation: http://i.imgur.com/sHhDLKZ.jpg
 pilot study: http://pro.sagepub.com/content/57/1/1643.short
Remember both Microsoft and Apple are using the same voice technology and sound libraries from Nuance Communication . You can change the radio, mp3-playlist, do phone calls, listen the SMS, etc., though the internet enabled services are missing in older editions.
The following product: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NaturallySpeaking
Microsoft Auto uses it http://www.nuance.com/company/news-room/press-releases/ND_00... and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Sync
And Apple's Siri is Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking cloud service.
Carplay seems to be just Apple reinventing the wheel.
To be fair, that's basically Apple's business models. Just add some proprietary standards and some software patents and you are good to go.
Sure, every invention is based on work of others, but Apple has still made huge improvements on multiple areas.
MP3 players were already pretty mainstream when the iPod came around and it didn't really add much. And the iPad was merely an iteration on the iPhone.
But every rule has an exception. I'll grant that Apple definitely redefined what a smartphone was with the iPhone.
That's like saying that cell phones with color screens were already pretty mainstream when the iPhone came around and it didn't really add much.
I think you have forgotten just how different the iPod was.
Let's add the Mac to this party. Do you think that the Mac was just reinventing earlier standards on the market?
> I think you have forgotten just how different the iPod was.
It wasn't very different. Jesus Apple fans talk a lot of shit. The first iPhone couldn't even install apps, stop this ridiculous rose tinted view.
What the iPod added was fewer features (yes, that's a good thing when you do it right) and usability. It did what people wanted, and in a way that regular people could actually use. For reasons I can't comprehend, a large number of technical people continue to be unable to see the value in that, but it does provide immense value, and that's why the iPod was so popular for so long.
In the world of techies, perhaps, but it hadn't made much of a dent per-iPad in the mainstream consumer market. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/1695501/ipod-mp3-player-ad...
"Gaining widespread adoption" was never an area Apple was very good at. They were always good at creating consumer-focused PCs. The initial line of MacBooks and iMacs are good examples of this — minuscule user base compared to Windows, but built to Apple's standards of what a computer should be. Their initial aim for the iPhone was to capture 1% of the market, they hardly expected the success they received.
And sometimes doing things simply in a "more polished" way is revolutionary.
The early, pre-iPod mp3 players were an absolute mess when it came to navigating your music. That doesn't show up on a spec sheet, but "creating the first mp3 player that lets you actually navigate your music in a simple and enjoyable manner" is pretty freaking revolutionary in my book.
It also has really respectable sound quality and volume, which is not always the case (to put it gently) for teeny tiny electronics.
For instance it seems possible to equip a vehicle with, let's say, the Open Automotive Alliance's in-car Android system that can use Project Mode with Android phones and also implement CarPlay for when iPhones are present. After all, CarPlay appears to be dependent on the phone's OS for all displays and whatnot, with CarPlay just being the protocols to link the in-car system to iOS in the necessary manner.
This is just speculation, we can't know for certain until some of the technical details emerge, but it seems unlikely that car manufacturers would limit their systems interoperability to one platform.
So the thing is usable without a phone: GPS, music, etc. You can answer calls for any bluetooth enabled phone. Advanced functionality like siri would only work with an iPhone.
This is a new market with new use-cases. Starting by making the basics work well is a good starting point.
I think that what iPhone (and Android shortly after) did for phones can be done for a bunch of things, including conventional PCs. Apple is uniquely capable of targeting the high end but they are not the only ones capable here. They'll need to execute very well.
All of this on a Windows Phone device that stays in my pocket, connected to a single-DIN aftermarket stereo without a fancy LCD, in a 2000 model Toyota. Recent cars with advanced navigation head units can do much, much more than mine. I think Apple is a bit behind the curve here.
If you really think they are just mirroring the display, then you didn't even look at the linked Apple page.
The point here is the touchscreen appears to be an extension of the phone.
But this is Apple, so perhaps they want to make sure the interface only works with their phones. That makes sense as they are designing the in-car interface in the first place.
I do hope it supports other mapping apps though, or if not I hope Apple gets pressured to support that. And I don't really see why they wouldn't, it makes their product better.
When I'm driving on the highway with spotty coverage, I very often hear "Turn Left in 50 m" when the magic fails and the GPS (mobile phone running TomTom in this case) now thinks I teleported on a side road.
Similarly, you could get yourself lost for hours if you follow your GPS blindly in a small European city. Actually, you would probably get into a traffic accident before that.
When I see people comment on GPS, I can only imagine that in 20 years, you will see headline like "Family had to be rescued after their autonomous car failed to exit Walmart Parking lot for 5 hours and ran out of gas. Google made no comment."
I wondered what sort of international airport can you drive onto the runway of without being stopped so I looked it up:
It's the Alaskan sort secured by yellow lines and red signs. Now I'm not saying Apple isn't at fault here but I would put greater blame on the airport. I would expect if not manned or electronic gates with an intercom at least there should be a barrier the of some sort to act as a warning. I'm not sure signs and lines are enough for something like an airport.
I guess being Alaska manning gates/opening windows or getting out of cars are seriously unappealing activities in the Winter.
I would have expected/hoped that it would be possible to simply silently improve the server-side algorithms because of all the data being sent in and analysed. But so far it's been a big disappointment. Google Now is far better and more useful.
Siri exited beta with iOS 7. As for updates there have been quite a lot but nothing major. They added new more human sounding voices. They added new sources (Wikipedia, Twitter). They added other functions like returning calls, playing voicemail, adjusting brightness. That was just iOS 7. iOS 6 added more I believe.
At least I think that's Google Now. It looks similar though maybe it's missing some features?
Of course with it not being integrated into the experience it's not quite the same. (can't appear on your home screen etc...)
3 Months ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bohfoK-edfU