Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation AI The Almighty Buck Technology

Self-Driving Cars To Transform Insurance and Other Industries 389

MarkWhittington writes: The advent of commercially available self-driving cars is about five years away, but already some are thinking about how they will disrupt the economy and how society operates in general. One industry likely to suffer is that of auto insurance. Since the vast majority of auto accidents are caused by human error, having more autonomous vehicles on the road will almost assuredly result in fewer overall accidents. Further, once we've transitioned to a society that mostly gets around using self-driving vehicles, most accidents will be the result of hardware and software malfunctions. Insurance for self-driving cars would more resemble product liability coverage than the sort of auto insurance we have today. Indeed, the technology will also likely impact diverse industries such as auto mechanics, taxi services, and health care, as well as policing.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Self-Driving Cars To Transform Insurance and Other Industries

Comments Filter:
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @11:51AM (#49867575) Homepage Journal

    Really? As long as liability insurance is mandatory, and comprehensive required for as long as you have load on the car, and as long as it takes action on the part of a state legislature followed by years of court battles to force insurance companies to lower rates, no, insurance companies will not suffer from lower accident rates.

    In fact, in most states, they will probably use the changing market as an excuse to raise rates, knowing they will continue to sell the same number of policies while paying fewer claims.

    Anybody who believes that the legal requirements for insurance will change for self driving cars is smoking dope.

    • We must demand no-fault insurance... It is the only correct solution

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        Yea, no-fault regions generate pretty sexy levels of revenue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 )

        We must demand no-fault insurance... It is the only correct solution

        Shitty driver?

        You realize that "no-fault" really translates to "everyone pays," right? Why should I have to pay because some dumbass was texting and crunched my ride?

        • Nope, record's clean.

          You're paying anyway. I want to make sure I get paid if my ride gets crunched. No-fault is the closest thing to a guarantee that I'll get.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            No. Uninsured/underinsured insurance is how you take responsibility for your own assets. Should a careful driver of a very cheap used car pay to insure a Rolls in case someone uninsured hits the Rolls? No - that's the Rolls's owners problem.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:44PM (#49868207) Homepage

          More than that ... if we have self driving cars, why would I pay for insurance at all?

          So that some company can sell me a product which mostly works, and when it fails will throw control over to me and make it my liability?

          Yeah, sorry ... but no.

          Your car is either autonomous, and whoever made it/is responsible to maintain it pays the liability .. or it will hand back to me when it runs out of options, in which case I'll just drive the car myself because I don't trust it.

          Either we trust the autonomous cars, or we don't. But I'm not taking any liability for it, and I'm sure as hell not paying for liability for it.

          That's just companies wanting the best of both worlds.

          You want autonomous cars, fine, then I'm a passenger with no controls. At which point these things are only economically viable in a rental model ... because why the hell would I pay to own one?

          • by zlives ( 2009072 )

            i would pay to own one (if i had to go autonomous, i actually like to drive) for the same reason i prefer my own bathroom to public toilets.

          • by mlts ( 1038732 )

            A good example of this is what my dash cam has on video: The light changed, a subcompact stopped at an intersection. It got rear-ended by a larger vehicle, pushed in the intersection, and then got hit again.

            Where I live, the subcompact's insurance is responsible for the wreck, even though the vehicle's owner/operator had nothing to do with the collision.

            So, even with self-driving cars and a 100% [1] wreck avoiding rate, insurance will still be needed.

            [1]: I'm sure there will be people who will deliberate

            • Why was the subcompacts insurance responsible in that scenario?

              In the UK that would be a clear cut case of the larger vehicle that rear-ended the subcompact being in the wrong (driving without due care and attention, failure to maintain a required stopping distance etc) - in the UK, cases of rear ending are very hard to fight in court from the aspect of the person doing the rear ending, you have to have some very good evidence to prove that you were not doing anything wrong (eg you were driving along as nor

          • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

            Don't you seem to want it both ways too. You have to have some responsibility for your car. Ever see someone have a suspension collapse? That does not just happen, that happens because the dipshit could not be arsed to either look at or have someone look at the suspension to make sure it was not dangerously corded and that rubber bushings were not failing etc.

            You can automate most aspects of something like a car, but this is a high performance machine that operates in a wide variety of weather and abusive

            • Why don't we just have the car's computer check for faults and not operate if any are detected? For non-critical situations, have the screen say, "service needed, car ceases operation in 200 miles" when a worn component is detected, and then count down the miles right up to the turn-off point if the owner doesn't take the car in. If you let that counter go to 0, you're a dimwit, and now you have to tow your car to the repair shop.

              Government regulation is good for this kind of safety feature.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Ravaldy ( 2621787 )

            More than that ... if we have self driving cars, why would I pay for insurance at all?

            The question is more why not? Your car is just as much a liability as any other on the road. The major difference is that the "self driving" part of your car is less likely to be at fault in an accident (I'm assuming here). So that means you should get a much lower premium. Is that how it's going to be initially? Probably not. It will only change as statistics are collected by insurance companies. After all, that's how insurance works.

            Liability covers more than just who is driving. If you fail to properly m

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:00PM (#49867701)

      Insurance companies can only raise rates if they can prove that their losses are higher than their permissible loss ratio. Almost all states require a filing that follows standard actuarial procedures in order to prove it. A lot of states, like California, have strict requirements on how much rate can be taken, and how much your permissible loss ratio can be. Some states are now banning the use of price optimization, which eliminates any possibility of using non-loss information to set rates. Insurance companies can't raise rates due to the "changing market".

      So yes, in the long run the insurance companies will suffer to some degree. But, it just means that they need to change their business model.

    • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:18PM (#49867889)

      Absolutely. As long as the insurance companies keep the lawmakers in their pocket, they will only gain by fewer accidents. If you have liability insurance (the only type that is legally required by most state laws), you are required to have it on each vehicle that you drive (even if there is only one licensed driver in the household). Yet the driver can only drive one vehicle at a time. The industry claims the insurance is on the vehicle and not the driver, but that argument wears thin as soon as you have a teen driver in the household or the driver get into an accident or even gets a ticket. The insurance is clearly on the driver, but the industry is allowed to charge for it for each vehicle. One obvious problem with this is that we claim to want to reduce pollution and improve air quality and have poured millions and millions of tax money into private industry all electric vehicles like the Volt. But because of the limited range, many people who would buy a Volt don't get one because they would have to have a second vehicle for longer trips if they did (particularly in single driver households) and be charged liability insurance on both.

      Personally, I drive a larger vehicle than I would like. I do so because I feel that I need to ability to haul things around occasionally. If I could have a smaller vehicle without the double hit on liability insurance I would also have a small two seat vehicle (or maybe even one, or a motorcycle). The insurance company would win because statistically I could do less damage when I drove the smaller lighter vehicle, but they have their hooks into the lawmakers and they insist that they deserve the insurance payment on each vehicle even when there are more vehicles than drivers in a household.

      • Personally, I drive a larger vehicle than I would like. I do so because I feel that I need to ability to haul things around occasionally. If I could have a smaller vehicle without the double hit on liability insurance I would also have a small two seat vehicle (or maybe even one, or a motorcycle). The insurance company would win because statistically I could do less damage when I drove the smaller lighter vehicle, but they have their hooks into the lawmakers and they insist that they deserve the insurance payment on each vehicle even when there are more vehicles than drivers in a household.

        Plus, as you already stated, they get to hit you twice, even though you can only drive one vehicle at a time.

        I'm in a similar boat - I drive a pickup because I need one often enough to justify having it, but would really like to get an additional, smaller vehicle so I can get decent mileage when not hauling a load. Insurance cost is one of the prohibiting factors.

        • If it is frequent but not frequent enough to drive every day there are better [homedepot.com] options. [uhaul.com] I traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee for a Ford Fiesta and the money I am saving in gas actually pays the car note. If you just need a truck for a few days a month you could easily afford the rental fee in gas savings.
      • Even if the insurance companies weren't in cahoots with government, they'd make more money off the transition.

        Insurance is the art of predicting the total cost of all accidents, and charging slightly more than that in premiums. When things are stable, you can refine your prediction, do year over year comparisons, and whittle down the margin you're charging in premiums to become more competitive.

        When things are in transition, there's greater uncertainty and thus greater risk. You're now trying to hit
      • If you have liability insurance (the only type that is legally required by most state laws), you are required to have it on each vehicle that you drive (even if there is only one licensed driver in the household). Yet the driver can only drive one vehicle at a time.

        But, with autonomous vehicles, this is not quite true anymore. You can "drive" to work, then send the car home driverless.

        Which also means that your wife won't necessarily need her own vehicle, since your car will be home for her to use right u

        • But I don't see law allowing an unoccupied vehicle on public roads any time soon. There's too many issues. If there is some sort of incident, there's too many legal requirements that a human being be available to deal with it. Whether that's the vehicle at fault for an incident, being damaged in an accident, or a policeman wanting to pull it over for expired plates or something. There's a whole lot of laws that would need to change to enable the scenario you describe, without much upside. You describe

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        While I totally agree it would be nice, I'm seeing loopholes all around for car pooling roommates, live-in girlfriends, kids technically "moving" to an upstairs/basement apartment and whatnot. And very difficult for those who very rarely drive a car, do you get an expensive driver's insurance or save the money and drive uninsured in a jam? Because you can't prove that 95% of the time someone else was driving, unless you make an Orwellian system to surveillance that.

        I guess you could tie the insurance to som

      • Liability insurance on my motorcycle (1000cc sportbike) is $14 a month, in Los Angeles. Is it really enough to weigh heavily on your decision?
      • One obvious problem with this is that we claim to want to reduce pollution and improve air quality and have poured millions and millions of tax money into private industry all electric vehicles like the Volt. But because of the limited range, many people who would buy a Volt don't get one because they would have to have a second vehicle for longer trips if they did (particularly in single driver households) and be charged liability insurance on both.

        Highly incorrect on the Volt. Unlike most EV's the Volt has a gasoline engine that kicks in when you run out of battery power. It is one of the main reasons why I was attracted to the Volt in the first place. Unlike most EV's it won't leave you stranded when you run out of power.

      • Personally, I drive a larger vehicle than I would like. I do so because I feel that I need to ability to haul things around occasionally.

        Don't get it. When I need it, I hire a truck. 7.5 ton truck for a day is quite cheap. And that's something I'd never want to drive on a daily basis.

    • In fact, in most states, they will probably use the changing market as an excuse to raise rates, knowing they will continue to sell the same number of policies while paying fewer claims.

      Totally...but it can be a win-win situation where insurance companies lower rates significantly, and yet still make more profit due to orders of magnitude reductions in claims.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      If you're going to have a ton of metal travelling at 50+ MPH it's going to be insured, no doubt about that. But if somebody is offering me a self-driving car, I expect them to also provide insurance themselves or in cooperation with an insurance company. After all I have fuck all control over what the car will do and what accidents it will get into. While they on the other hand have a near uniform risk profile, if they got a weakness in the driving AI it's in all the cars. Unless they're all hit by a leap y

    • You're assuming there will be the same number of insured cars on the road. Self driving cars can be utilized much more efficiently so families may need less cars on the road. Also, car sharing models like Car2Go may also become more common resulting in even less ownership and far few auto loans.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        Self driving cars can be utilized much more efficiently so families may need less cars on the road

        I doubt this will be realized remotely any time soon. For one, the technology won't be able to handle all probable scenarios for some time. Even if that time came, laws wouldn't be changing at a breakneck pace to enable anything beyond what can already be done. Besides, a scenario enabling a family to utilize a single vehicle more also leads to more fuel usage (basically doubling round trips).

        Also, car sharing models like Car2Go may also become more common

        Due to the same situations precluding occupant-free operation above, I don't see car sharing models getting any m

    • We are a long way from having all cars self driving. For that reason alone there's no reason to be alarmed about immediate change. Like any industry, when one disappears resources are shifted towards another industry. A few industries that noticed major increase in output per man are: Agriculture, mining, wood processing plants and wood cutting. There are many others, some which even disappeared from existence (phone switchboard operators, milk man :) ... )

      What I would expect to see as most vehicles become

  • Five years away? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @11:52AM (#49867585)

    Is that the same kind of years that are used by a lot of other technological advances? Because if it is, we won't have commercially available self-driving cars before 2040.

    And by then, I hope they're freakin' flying cars, too.

    • Right now, we already have cars with cruise control that can go from 0-highway speed-0.
      We also have cars with "lane assist" which will steer you back into your lane if you start to drift.

      All that's left is figuring out lane control during shitty weather.
      Though I'm really interested in how self driving cars on all-season tires will handle unplowed streets/highways.

      • by jamesborr ( 876769 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:43PM (#49868197)
        These cars might work out fairly well in sunny southern California -- but the NorthEast during significant parts of our driving season? I drive an AWD drive sedan with studded snow tires from November to April, and when one gets into not too atypical conditions (snow/ice covered highways, no lane markings visible, snowing/reduced visibility, etc.) -- driving becomes almost a black art. You can forget about cruise control in these conditions -- unless to have a strong desire to end up in a ditch. Nuance is the rule, and the expectation that your vehicle will go where you steer/drive/stop to -- well, you are more hopeful then I am in these conditions. Turn down the radio, turn off cruise control, light touch on the wheel, paranoia re: other cars on the road -- assume the worst, etc... My suspicion is that self driving cars will resolve this issue by significant slowing, which then presents is own set of danger issues (i.e. everyone else on the road expects traffic moving 50+ even in fairly bad conditions, and cars going 10 or 15 in limited visibility on divided highways -- well, I wouldn't want to be around for the resultant carnage...
        • by Ravaldy ( 2621787 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @01:47PM (#49868917)

          It all comes down to having the right sensors and the right algorithm to handle the situations. The fact is that the computer can process far more road condition data than a human being. I too drive/drove in rough conditions (used to live far north in Canada). Based on my experience I'd bet the a well designed self driving car would do much better than most drivers.

          Visibility (possibly limited), steering, 2 pedals, g-force are the only elements most drivers use to drive their vehicle. For most of us this feedback is often responded to late resulting in slight over compensation.

          The computer has unlimited visibility and 4 wheel traction control not limited by slip diffs and other slow response technologies. Instead all 4 wheels are controlled independent (I'm assuming these cars will all be electric by then). The computer is much quicker at responding to change in road conditions and is able to adapt much quicker.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      I have a mostly self driving car right now (I put on the cruise control and it won't hit the car in front of me). Does this give me ANY reduction in my auto insurance rates? I keep on waiting, but so far no.
    • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:33PM (#49868061) Homepage Journal

      Is that the same kind of years that are used by a lot of other technological advances? Because if it is, we won't have commercially available self-driving cars before 2040.

      And by then, I hope they're freakin' flying cars, too.

      I like how the article is written, "Unsupported and extremely unlikely assumption is true. Based on that unsupported assumption, everybody will start behaving according to another unsupported assumption. Once this happens, the only accidents will be due to a third unsupported assumption. Given all this, how does this affect the insurance industry?"
      Well, I say who cares? The first assumption is not likely to occur. The second one presumes that everybody will accept this and completely change their lifestyle to not own a car. The third one assumes that only hardware and software errors could possibly cause a crash. Once you pile conjecture upon conjecture upon conjecture, it is not even worth talking about it.

    • It probably takes 5 years just to sort out the safety concerns of minor technology added to cars. If we have a general autonomous car today (which we don't), I really do hope they test the hell out of it for several years before offering it to the general public.

      • And even then, features tend to be available on more expensive model cars first before they work their way down to cheaper models. Let's say that all major self-driving car bugs are worked out in 5 years. In 2020, the first real commercially available self-driving car comes out - but costs $150,000 to purchase. Needless to say, most people aren't going to buy one, but enough richer people buy them to keep the technology progressing. After 5 years or so, the cost of a self-driving car might come down to

        • Commercial trucking, long-haul as well as delivery seems likely to be impacted before I can afford to buy one as well.

          Which is a real pity because a lot of folks got licenses over the last decade because of the huge growth in the trucking industry.

  • Drunk Driving (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tom229 ( 1640685 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @11:54AM (#49867613)
    If I can pile into one drunk and it will drive me home, sign me up. My hunch is that the our current nanny-state way of thinking will never allow this. We will be required to be sober and attentive even if not driving. You'd probably get a ticket for merely reading a book or sending a text message.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      We will be required to be sober and attentive even if not driving.

      Also, please do not vomit on the upholstery.

    • If I can pile into one drunk and it will drive me home, sign me up.

      Too bad there's not some sort of existing service that has guys in cars waiting for drunk people to call, then the guys in the cars could go pick the drunks up and take them wherever...

      • If I can pile into one drunk and it will drive me home, sign me up.

        Too bad there's not some sort of existing service that has guys in cars waiting for drunk people to call, then the guys in the cars could go pick the drunks up and take them wherever...

        I would even watch a TV series based upon such a service so long as it starred Danny DeVito and Tony Danza.

  • With self-driving cars and collision damages gradually becoming insignificant, legally mandated insurance should end. This would be a huge boon to the economy, as a parasitic and unneeded cost is removed.
  • Bars thrive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @11:59AM (#49867681) Homepage
    Bars would thrive.

    Police in small towns would lose a ton of money - much fewer speeding and traffic tickets.

    Similarly, the elderly would participate more in life - go out, party, and socialize a lot more.

    Movies ( and a bit of books) will increase - think of all the stuff kids do while you drive them around.

    But all of this will take 10-20 years, after the first sale, not immediately

    • Bars would thrive.

      Police in small towns would lose a ton of money - much fewer speeding and traffic tickets.

      This I see happening. I also see municipalities scrambling to find new ways to bilk residents out of their money, since speed traps will be defunct.

      Similarly, the elderly would participate more in life - go out, party, and socialize a lot more.

      Not sure where you're coming from on this; how? Do you think the automated cars are going to be free/cheaper than existing taxi cabs and public transit? Or are you basing this claim on some rationale I have yet to consider?

      • Re:Bars thrive (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @01:04PM (#49868415)

        Similarly, the elderly would participate more in life - go out, party, and socialize a lot more.

        Not sure where you're coming from on this; how? Do you think the automated cars are going to be free/cheaper than existing taxi cabs and public transit? Or are you basing this claim on some rationale I have yet to consider?

        Just as an example, my parents are getting into their 80's now. They can no longer handle long drives to visit family, and are increasingly worried by flying.

        Autonomous car means "take me to CrimsonAvenger's house", go to sleep/read/whatever instead of watching traffic for ten+ hours.

        As to public transportation, not all of our parents live in cities. Some, like mine, live out in the boonies (about 40 miles from the nearest city, in their case).

        From my own POV, it means a few more hours per week doing what I want instead of "peering through a dirty pane of silica glass" watching out for lunatics who are doing the same.

        And the whole "you can stay out a little later, since you don't have to be 100% awake to drive home from the party/whatever" is appealing. Or get off on trips a little earlier, because you don't need your coffee to kick in before you can drive safely....

        • Even in daily activities, self-driving cars would be great. My morning routine is 1) drive my son to school, 2) drive into the office. During that time, I could talk to my son/listen to music, but most other activities are precluded by needing to focus on the road. With a self-driving car, I could rest my eyes (if I had been up too late the previous night), talk to my son (without needing to stop because I needed to focus on the road), or even safely use my smartphone to check on e-mails or play a quick

      • Not sure where you're coming from on this; how? Do you think the automated cars are going to be free/cheaper than existing taxi cabs and public transit?

        A rent-on-demand autonomous car would absolutely compete with existing taxi cabs. Have you paid for a twenty-mile cab ride lately? On top of that, you wouldn't have to worry about being cheated a dishonest cab driver (particularly a problem with elderly passengers).

        Cheaper than public transit? No, but certainly much safer than the public transit in most

    • This seems pretty reasonable as it describes a lot of urban cores with good transportation. So it also seems to mean more suburban sprawl.
    • Movies ( and a bit of books) will increase - think of all the stuff kids do while you drive them around.

      I want to see a self-driving car with swiveling seats (so Mom and Dad in the front seat can face the kids in the back seat) and some kind of table so families can play board games on long car trips. Who's up for a Settlers Of Catan road trip?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In this case, the legal industry will welcome the plethora of deep-pocketed targets available to be sued when an accident occurs with a self-driving vehicle.

  • It doesn't matter, I just saved 15% on my car insurance . ..

  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:11PM (#49867813) Homepage Journal
    ...what is going to imagine: some insurance company is the first to come up with cheaper insurance for self-driving cars. The others follow. Murderous competition follows, until prices settle at a new, much lower level. Plus: we lose a couple of insurance companies as road-kill. Minus: the survivors may form a cartel.
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      The old, big companies buy up the innovative new companies and raise the prices. See Allstate buying eSurance, Farmers buying 20th/21st Century, etc. When Farmers bought 21st Century, my rates were going to practically double for no additional coverage.
  • Private Ownership? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:11PM (#49867817)

    My bet... insurance companies will make it nearly impossible to own a human driving car. Since humans create accidents and they do not wish to pay out, liability coverage for a human driven car will increase greatly while robotic cars will drop. Eventually it will be nearly impossible to own a human driven car because of the costs.

    • Insurance regulations only apply to vehicles driven on public streets.

      That said, one has to wonder if this concept could give rise to a cottage industry of "private road" providers, who charge build roads on their property for human-controlled vehicles and charge a premium for their use...

      Also have to wonder if this will mean an end to toll roads. My guess is, not likely.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:18PM (#49867893) Homepage

    The alternate vision of the future is that, as usual, futurists are all hot and horny about how their technology will revolutionize the world, but it will continue to be far too expensive for society to change over and it will never happen on the claimed scale.

    So, like when I see things about how we'll have smart cities in which the roads are interconnected and technology will be everywhere .. I'm forced to conclude we're not going to tear down the world and start over to build this shiny stuff the futurists keep telling us is inevitable.

    At the end of the day, these are products someone wants to sell us. And if the world doesn't feel like it has billions or trillions of dollars to rebuild everything for your shiny new technology, then either it will never happen, or it will be rolled out in a few limited places for the wealthy.

    Take the average age of a car in North America .. hell, take the average age of a car in the world.

    Now, ask yourself who is going to replace all of the cars on the planet with your super awesome technology?

    From there you can pretty much realize that this stuff will never 100% replace what we have, will only ever benefit a very small amount of people, and likely won't be able to coexist with what we have now. In which case it sounds good on paper, but will never come to fruition.

    Technology is cool, and it does move forward. But the economics of technology often means it will never be as practical or achievable as claimed by its proponents.

    The world isn't going to rush out and buy self-driving cars just because the people who want to sell self-driving cars tell us how awesome they'll be. It just doesn't work that way.

    As usual, I'll believe it when I see it.

    • It won't take a lot to achieve critical mass on this. Once people have electric, self-driving cars, the behaviors of the owners (for better or worse) will influence others. The self-driving cars will observe speed limits totally changing traffic patterns. People will be willing to commute farther at lower speeds. If we want real speed enforcement just have a barrier of self-driving vehicles go down the freeways at the posted limit. Of course we will also see special "high speed" lanes where only self-d
      • It won't take a lot to achieve critical mass on this. Once people have electric, self-driving cars, the behaviors of the owners (for better or worse) will influence others.

        I agree. And I think if a competent self driving car really happens (a big if), that shit will sell itself. A significant percentage of the population will jump at the chance to spend the time driving watching movies or playing games or doing work instead. Also a significant percentage of the population buys/leases a new car frequently (3 year leases are the most common).

        Also, if a majority of new cars sold are self-driving, the dynamics of luxury and performance cars will change. Who needs that 500hp turbo

    • by timholman ( 71886 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:57PM (#49868349)

      The world isn't going to rush out and buy self-driving cars just because the people who want to sell self-driving cars tell us how awesome they'll be. It just doesn't work that way.

      Thirty years ago, you could just as easily have written the following:

      "The world isn't going to rush out and buy cellular phones just because the people who want to sell cellular phones tell us how awesome they'll be. It just doesn't work that way."

      Back then, Ma Bell ran the U.S. telecom industry. Nearly every home had a landline, with regulated rates. Public phones were everywhere. What possible motivation could people have to buy a $400 smartphone every two years, and pay $50 or $100 a month in connection fees on top of that? Yet here we are today.

      Self-driving cars aren't going to overturn transportation because they're "awesome", but because they'll be so damned useful to so many people, not the least of which will be the large segment of the population that wants the convenience of personal transportation, but cannot drive.

      Add to that the estimated 250 billion USD cost each year in the U.S. alone due to auto accidents, along with 35,000 deaths and millions of injuries (some permanently disabling), and there is in fact an enormous financial (and humanitarian) incentive to get self-driving cars on the road ASAP.

      Twenty years from now we'll be looking back and wondering how we ever managed without autonomous transportation, just as we now wonder how we managed before the cell / smartphone era. People can kick and scream about the future all they want, but it's coming nonetheless.

      • You know what, 30 years ago I could have also said the same thing about flying cars or Mr Fusion, and I'd still be 100% correct. Because they never lived up to their hype.

        That there exist some technologies which have been successful in no way changes that many of these super awesome technologies of the future are, ultimately, never ever going to happen as pitched to us.

        You argument is meaningless, because you can no more say that a specific technology will be revolutionary than I can say won't. But I can

      • Twenty years from now we'll be looking back and wondering how we ever managed without autonomous transportation, just as we now wonder how we managed before the cell / smartphone era. People can kick and scream about the future all they want, but it's coming nonetheless.

        It'll be one of the stories we tell to scare our grandkids.

        Grandpa: "When I was your age, every person drove their own car down the street."
        Grandkids: "You mean, they told the car where to go and then sat back and let it take them there, rig

    • by javilon ( 99157 )

      You don't need to replace every car for disruption to happen. In fact you only need to replace cars driven by professional drivers.

      - They do the most mileage. Replacing a small percentage of the global fleet would have a big impact.
      - Most of the actual cost is labor, so the incentives are huge to get rid of the drivers.
      - They are replaced fairly frequently
      - As long as you don't have to pay a driver, in many cases it doesn't matter if they go slower.
      - They tend to go through the same route most of the time.

    • We aren't going to replace ALL of the cars on the planet. Hell, we're not going to replace all of the cars in the first world. We don't NEED to. Car ownership is going to decrease as a result of this tech. Car co-ops are already taking off in many major cities, and this tech also eliminates their single biggest Achilles Heel - positioning empty cars for use. With self-driving tech, they don't need to be positioned. A co-op user just whips out their cell and hits the "call car" button and the closest a

  • The main gain with automated cars, even with a gradual adoption rate of say 10 years, are cities with traffic. Productive time will shoot up when people can work while being driven to work, traffic will be lessened, optimal driving habits can lower fuel usage. The areas where we will spend less money would be fuel, possibly insurance, and car maintenance.

    This saved money doesn't just disappear, it will go into other areas of the economy that might have a better impact. After all, if you spend $2000/yr on

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      In decent countries they already have public transport. We have presently a problem with too much traffic. This will not decrease due to self-driven cars. So in future you can either site in a traffic jam and "work" or use public transport and be there in half the time. And you can still work. But the most interesting change in recent years is the increase in bike usage and the increase in closer to home work. Both reduces the amount of traffic significantly and without any extra technology.

    • Have you every tried to do real work as a passenger in a car? Many folks get nausea just trying to read as a passenger, if nothing else it is very distracting to get jostled around at every stop and turn.

      A likely unintended consequence is that if driving to work is less annoying you will see people commuting from even further away to save on housing costs. I see eating, TV watching, and napping on the way to/from work as likely outcomes more than getting any actual work done.

      Many busy people are likely to

  • I'm looking forward to the possible end of traffic jams, which is usually the result of thousands of people making seemingly rational but actually very poor decisions. When you get past the jam the cause is either not evident at all or its something head-thumpingly trivial like a merge or something on the side of the road. "That's it? That's the reason? What the hell is wrong with you people!?

    .
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Exactly. A self-driving car will happily zip-merge all day long, eliminating that traffic problem. It won't jump out of a lane and cause another car to almost crash, eliminating that traffic problem. They won't drive right at the speed limit in the left lane. And so on. It's tons of people doing stupid things that lead to traffic.
    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Many traffic jams are cause by dense traffic and variable speeds. Lets assume in a dense stream of cars one decelerates a little bit. Could be wind or a hilly road. Now if the next car is following too close it will have to decrease its speed as well. In many cases even more then the first. Such waves are then propagated through the stream of cars. If multiple of these waves combine then you have a traffic jam out of nowhere. You can fix that by either reducing the number of cars or reducing the average spe

      • Lets assume in a dense stream of cars one decelerates a little bit. Could be wind or a hilly road. Now if the next car is following too close it will have to decrease its speed as well. In many cases even more then the first. Such waves are then propagated through the stream of cars. If multiple of these waves combine then you have a traffic jam out of nowhere. You can fix that by either reducing the number of cars or reducing the average speed of all cars. But if you just replace the control unit (human vs

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:37PM (#49868113) Homepage Journal

    Right now I have about $50K invested in human-controlled automobiles. These automobiles, with proper maintenance, will last me another 10-20 years.

    The real question is, if you want to make auto-cars mandatory, how are you going to get the millions of Americans who are currently paying for non-auto-cars out of their loans? If non-auto-cars become unusable on public streets, how the hell am I supposed to get enough value out of the ones I already own, to be able to afford to replace them with 2 auto-cars?

    FYI, if your answer involves a government subsidy, then you're already admitting to failure.

  • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @12:46PM (#49868235) Homepage

    The link to the previous slashdot article states that traffic fines collect 300k per officer.
    Strangely no one in the previous article mentioned that based on the numbers given that
    would make there only be 20k officers in the USA. In reality, according to google,
    there are 900k sworn officers which would make traffic fines only account for 7k per
    officer. Still a significant amount but nowhere near the 300k mentioned in the previous
    article.

  • Therefore, the requirement to insure your self-driving car will be the obligation of the owner of the car. So there is no change. In the beginning these cars will drive together with human controlled cars. So there will be accidents. And subsequently insurance claims. If these self-driven cars are indeed able to have less claims the price for the service will drop. However, this will not transform insurance industry. They still sell you insurance and the price includes the real cost of accidents + administr

  • I'd give up my control to an automated system if it saved time driving to and from work. However, I will not give up my privacy as a driver 100% of the time to ever use it. And I'd want to be able to turn off the system on the fly (like the automated system portrayed in the movie "I, Robot").

    Good:
    1) Traffic could improve with increased speeds, etc.
    2) People will be able to use their time in their cars more constructively. Many will just use the time to dork around with their phones, but others will actual

    • Will carpool lanes give way to "autodriver" lanes as a carrot to get people to use the system, or because they are ultimately more efficient than carpooling itself in relieving traffic?

      I suspect that carpool lanes will still exist as an incentive for multiple commuter to pile into the same car. If every morning I whip out my phone and hit the "I need a pickup in 15 min" button, and an options pops up to pay less to carpool, I'll probably hit that, and end up in a car with a few people from my neighborhood. We'll all probably be ignoring each other, but that's okay. Then I might get inconvenienced a little bit as one or two people get dropped off at their work before mine. As long as the p

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @01:26PM (#49868677) Journal

    Nobody who is driving today will see ubiquitous self-driving passenger cars.

  • Self-Driving cars to further enhance continuous surveillance by the Corporate State.

    Even if you do let it drive you to the bar or liquor store and back, your health insurance premiums just went up in real time (doubly so if you hit a fast food drive thru).
  • Taxis become much more economical when you don't need a human to drive it any longer.

    Imagine the social upheaval of all those now unemployed taxi drivers. And will people in the future understand Scorsese's film?

  • by Headrick ( 25371 ) on Monday June 08, 2015 @01:39PM (#49868833)

    A lot of organ transplants come from those killed in car / motorcycle accidents. As deaths sharply decline with self-driving vehicles this will be a grim predicament.

  • Self-driving cars might lower accident rates, but they won't do away with them completely. Equipment, especially complex equipment, does malfunction, and there are limits to what equipment can do. There will still be unexpected icy spots that the computer can't compensate for, and blowouts, and road debris, and so on.

    And then there are the drivers of the OTHER cards on the road. Even if self-driving cars became a reality in 5 years, it will take years, maybe decades, for the cars to become economically p

The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.

Working...