This year there will be no robomobiles, no matter what Ilon says.

Original author: Robert X. Cringely
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The “Prediction” by Robert Kringley (real name is Mark Stevens). Journalist, writer, business consultant, documentary director. The author of the bestselling book on Silicon Valley history, “Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date” [Random Empires: How Silicon Valley Boys Earn Their Millions, Fight Foreign Competitors and still not able to stir up with the girl]. Repeatedly published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes and other publications.

We all know people who don’t like anything. These are successful people who, as it sometimes seems, have achieved success by answering "no" to all questions. I'm not like that. I'm an optimist. I even like to take a little risk. But I will not argue that in 2019 we will see something more than beta testing of robomobiles. Therefore, my prediction No. 4 [ from a series of technological predictions from the author’s site / approx. perev. ] will be like this: this year the robomobiles will not appear in retail in any form. We are simply not ready, and probably we will not be ready for this for a few more years.

Robomobile problems are not in the field of technology. We have practically completed this technology in the last decade. We’ll prove there the latest data collected by Google, and especially with all these tesla on autopilot, and it turns out that almost all problems with machines that behave themselves will end. However, this will not be allowed to happen, because otherwise people will die - mainly because of idiotic drivers.

The problem is not in robotic cars, it is in cars that do not behave themselves, and which are driven by idiots like me.

The first time I came across robotic cars in 1995, and I already wrote about it. Then the idea was not that the car itself would bring your children from school, but to push more cars on the Los Angeles highway. They would be controlled remotely, from the moment of entering the highway to the moment of exit, they would travel one meter from each other, saving fuel due to reduced air resistance.

And this system could work if only cars under direct control from outside could drive along the highway. Allow them to travel everywhere at a speed of 120 km / h even during peak hours, and there will be sufficient economic pressure to implement this system.

But today everyone wants to eliminate drivers completely, from door to door, and this is much more complicated. But we would succeed if it were not necessary to interact with the millions of drivers who still control their cars in the old fashioned manner, which often means with barely sufficient competence. Therefore, we abandoned the concept of superhighways and moved on to another form of road warfare.

Cars have always served for 10 years, but over the past couple of decades this period has increased due to a couple of tricks: 1) galvanic coating of steel bodies that do not rot like your father’s Oldsmobile, and 2) a significant increase in car prices, even taking into account inflation. We use cars longer because they do not rot, and we cannot afford to change them often.

As a result, if earlier we could expect dramatic changes in car technology every ten years, now it takes twenty. I have a 2006 GMC Yukon XL Denali with a range of 264,000 km. My next car, if possible, will be the 2006 Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI (if you have a good copy in mind, let me know). Therefore, I will not contribute in any way to the achievement of a robomobile singularity.

She will eventually happen. When they replace half of the fleet with cars that can drive on their own, if allowed, there will be a big financial incentive to remove the other half from the streets. It will be especially powerful if the acceleration of climate change continues further.

I think that most of the cars of the 2020s could become robotic vehicles after updating the software, that's why Elon Musk predicts that Tesla will have full autonomy by the end of 2019. But note that Ilon does not predict that Tesla will be allowed to ride everywhere independently.

First we will see it on the highway, where the interaction between different machines is easier to handle. But a few failures can easily put an end to this undertaking, and only then in the 2030s we will have the feeling that all the machines suddenly became automatic, and this will happen purely on the capabilities of the fleet.

So why is the world so actively discussing robomobiles and complete autonomy? Part of this is the hype around Tesla, part is marketing, because automakers want to give us new cars that can eventually become robomobiles, but maybe not before they have a second owner. Other reasons for such an abundance of conversations are related to the fact that Uber plans to enter the exchange this year.

Uber says they spent $ 750 million last year on research in robotic vehicles. I have no idea if this is true. Maybe the money spent on robomobiles, maybe on something else. Maybe they bought a huge number of delicious dinners for engineers developing a robomobile. I know that they spent a lot, because Uber is going to get another billionin investments from SoftBank and other companies only in order to continue work on the technology of robomobiles, which, according to their hints, may alone cost $ 5- $ 10 billion.

And what will it cost if Uber cannot use it until the 2030s ?

I do not think that the management of the company cares. This deadline is still far away, and they need to worry about an IPO, which will be much better if motorists believe that we will be able to see robomobiles very soon. Uber has a staff problem. If she can convince everyone that uncouth and expensive human drivers will soon give way to electrons, Wall Street will convince. But, as I already explained, this will not be true.

The world has not come to this yet - and Uber, Tesla, and everyone else suddenly at some point suddenly admit it, somewhere a year after entering the exchange.

However, it cannot be said that there was no progress on different types of robomobiles. I recently discussed this topic with a reader named Chris Edwards, who works for Buffalo Automation , a company that develops automatic ships. As for me, this is a much more meaningful task, given that traffic at sea is less and lanes wider. I especially like the idea of ​​automatically mooring boats.

“Personally, I believe in the possibility of solving all the simple problems, but not in solving the problem of idiot drivers,” Chris says. - Huge potential lies in areas such as tractors (I can assure you that Case New Holland employs people with my experience) and mining (I love Komatsu, she is a true pioneer of autonomous vehicles). Please note that in such enterprises, the problem of idiot drivers is completely absent.

At Buffalo, we are also interested in improving the blind spots (sometimes literally) that the robomobile industry has in conditions such as snow and winter (with some exceptions)) I personally have seen many times that idiotic drivers have crashes in the snow, and I can assure you that 99.9% of cases of such accidents stem from a problem that robomobiles have immunity to - namely, too much driving speed. There is enormous potential here if we can overcome this obstacle in the form of idiotic drivers. ”

In a conversation with Chris, I forgot to mention a story that I wrote about 25 years ago for Forbes about an automatic combine harvester from Caterpillar. Around the same time, I was studying information about California studies of highway driving under computer control. Caterpillar, a large agricultural equipment manufacturer, was worried about farm workers leaving, and was looking for ways to make equipment that could drive on its own. They hired an engineer who worked with neural networks and bungled a Macintosh II-based system that really worked. She studied independently, could process any field of any size and shape, and independently calculate how to most effectively harvest from it - usually corn or wheat.

The only reason Caterpillar didn’t bring autonomous technology to the market in the 1990s was because of a problem with the law - and with this problem, robotic car makers will butt for many more years. Lawyers did not allow Caterpillar to sell the combine. They had to figure out what to do with a self-learning crop-optimizing system instead. In a fit of genius, the company instructed the Mac II engineer to remake the system from driving a combine to optimize the income of his retirement fund, which independently brought itself to record profits in the next few years.

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