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On The Road To The Self-Driving Car

Now cars talk to each other. Next they’ll drive themselves. We’ll look at the road ahead.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gets into a self-driven car in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. The Cadillac SRX that was modified by Carnegie Mellon University went along local roads and highways operated by a computer that uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras as it made a 33-mile trip to the Pittsburgh International Airport. A Carnegie Mellon engineer was in the driver's seat as a safety precaution. (AP)

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gets into a self-driven car in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. The Cadillac SRX that was modified by Carnegie Mellon University went along local roads and highways operated by a computer that uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras as it made a 33-mile trip to the Pittsburgh International Airport. A Carnegie Mellon engineer was in the driver’s seat as a safety precaution. (AP)

No more dumb cars, the Federal government decreed this week.  Or at least, no mute cars.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it will soon require all new cars to talk to one another.  Share location, speed, direction and more, electronically.  Vehicle-to-vehicle – “V2V” – communication.  Right behind that comes the next frontier:  self-driving cars.  First they talk to one another, next they drive themselves.  The auto industry, Google, and the law are all gearing up.  This hour On Point: on the road to the world of the self-driving car.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tom Costello, correspondent for NBC News. (@tomcostellonbc)

Burkhard Bilger, science, nature and technology staff writer at The New Yorker.

Bryant Walker Smith, fellow at the Center for Internet and Society and the Center for Automatice Research at Stanford Law School and Stanford University. Lecturer in law. (@bwalkersmith)

John Absmeier, director of the Silicon Valley Innovation Center for Delphi Automotive. (@johnabsmeier)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: Auto Correct — “While other drivers are gawking at him, he is observing them: recording their maneuvers in his car’s sensor logs, analyzing traffic flow, and flagging any problems for future review. The only tiresome part is when there’s roadwork or an accident ahead and the Lexus insists that he take the wheel. A chime sounds, pleasant yet insistent, then a warning appears on his dashboard screen: ‘In one mile, prepare to resume manual control.’”

CNN Money: U.S. unveils plan for cars of the future – “Various automakers have been working on the technology for years. The safety benefits have been demonstrated under both real world and controlled test conditions, NHTSA said. The technology could also improve traffic flow and thereby save fuel, the agency said.”

NPR: Putting The Brake On Who Can See Your Car’s Data Trail — “A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that many companies collect those data and provide them to third parties for traffic instructions or research. It also found the companies’ privacy practices were unclear, making it difficult for consumers to understand privacy risks.”

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  • margbi

    Isn’t this really public transportation but with everyone in his/her own little bubble? Is this the way to go? And how about the older cars – will they be retrofitted? I think I heard that the average car on the road is 10 years + old.

    • Floyd Blandston

      I suspect what we’ll have initially is a development of ‘closed roads’ accessible only to autonomous vehicles. This fits in well with a meta-approach to our nations low levels of investment in existing road infrastructure- new spending will be public/private toll roads providing high speed transit within existing hi-traffic areas.

    • O[b]ama

      “Public transportation” indeed…
      If you visit the official website of Manhattan’s WTC, you will see that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is developing “future transportation services” at NYC’s Ground Zero.
      Self-driving cars are that service.

  • Coastghost

    Chauffeurs, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and traffic cops: technophiles are coming after YOU!
    Technophiles are not responsible for devising employment alternatives, though, are they?

  • creaker

    Blue screen of death will take on a whole new meaning.

  • creaker

    “A chime sounds, pleasant yet insistent, then a warning appears on his dashboard screen: ‘In one mile, prepare to resume manual control.’””

    And when the car in front of you blows a tire? Or you do? And you’ve only racked up a few dozen miles a year in driving practice because the car almost always does the driving for you?

    I’d like to see a car trying to drive itself in NE today.

  • DeJay79

    I think its a good thing that Technology is moving forward to make the road a safer place. However, How about we finish perfecting the technology that is as old as the first automobiles that could truly save the planet, the electric car!?!

    I love the idea of computer assisted driving but I don’t like the idea of full control and GPS tracking. I see the efficiency and safety that could be added by a fully automated roadway but that will come at a great lose of freedom and human reasoning.

    • sickofthechit

      You want to really get sad, watch the movie about the Chevy Volt (I think that is what it was called) We lost our chance at all that when Carter lost his bid for re-election.

    • DeJay78

      Daddy Finger!

  • Jeff

    I for one welcome our robot overlords.

    • Floyd Blandston

      The problem with this analogy is clear; How do we ensure ‘aircraft levels’ of maintenance, inspection, and repair within the public fleet without onerous controls of public ownership and operation?

      • Jeff

        If a car breaks down on the road today there’s a big problem…it’s not much different. The big issue is that this technology will become a luxury option on some cars within the next 5-10 years; not much of a problem maintaining a car for those people. In my view, the self driving car will be much, much safer than letting people who are texting, eating and distracted by all sorts of things drive down the road.

        • Floyd Blandston

          I don’t think you understand the complexity that full automation requires. A partial approach, available in luxury models, already exists, with only legal issues yet to be decided. Regarding safety, any technologist would agree; operator error is a much more common event.

      • HonestDebate1

        I think they have cars now that send you an email if their sensors detect a problem developing.

        • Floyd Blandston

          That doesn’t guarantee inspection or repair unless that data becomes a ‘ticket’ requiring driver response- big privacy issue…

          • HonestDebate1

            They’ll email the highway patrol too.

    • Paul Meade

      I have the same concerns as Floyd plus how much initial testing will be done before something like this rolls out?
      Braking is one thing but we’ve already had the Toyota/Lexus fiasco with runaway acceleration (stuck floor mats, remember?)
      I also have visions of my car slamming on the brakes to avoid a collision and a technologically inferior car behind me slamming into my car’s backside!!

      • sickofthechit

        If your accelerator sticks, turn the ignition off
        and be ready to steer to the side of the road. I proposed an instructional video along these lines to Toyota years ago and they weren’t interested. I even suggested they have their President do the instructional video because he is an experienced test driver. charles a. bowsher

      • Jeff

        You do realize that the vast majority of Toyota runaway acceleration cases were due to human error when reviewed by multiple sources…the news didn’t report that because it wasn’t as “sexy”. Most people swear they hit the brakes when in fact they hit the gas instead…the guy who was on the highway (with his Prius), claiming he had the runaway acceleration in fact was lying and hit the gas the whole time. There were a handful of cases where the gas pedal was getting locked down due to the mat/pedal interaction; which was fixed with the recall.

        Even still I’d rather have a computer analyze the situation in milliseconds and determine that the brake needed to be applied immediately, shifting the car into neutral within a second instead of a human taking 15-30 seconds trying to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

        • Paul Meade

          However they did settle as late in December 2013:
          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/business/toyota-seeks-settlement-for-lawsuits.html?_r=0
          Agreed that most of the cases were probably due to operator error and/or the floor mat problem but there must have been some reason to settle.

          • olderworker

            I own and drive a Prius and can confirm that it does jump forward unexpectedly at times — granted not at 90 mph, but it is a bit uncontrollable.

    • olderworker

      One big difference between aircraft and automobiles is the relatively uncrowded sky vs the sometimes very crowded highways. Not sure automated driving is the way to go — look at the recent photos of the frozen highways in Atlanta!

      • Jeff

        Take a look at O’Hare if you don’t think aircraft deal with traffic jams and crowded spaces.

  • Jacob

    lawyers will have a field day with this

  • Shag_Wevera

    Well, at least it will serve as a solution to distracted drivers playing with all their tech devices.

  • MarkVII88

    How do the guests believe these very “smart” cars will interact on the roads with the “dumb” cars we currently and historically have had? Will the smart car slamming on its brakes to avoid hitting someone who has run a red light result in a rear-end collision by the dumb car behind it that didn’t get the memo???

    • Floyd Blandston

      Standard liability law would cover this. What would need to be developed is ‘who’(?) is the more credible party, the data recorded autonomous vehicle, or the analog vehicles operator?

  • nj_v2

    “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

    • brettearle

      “Daisy, Daisy Give Me Your Answer Do
      I’m Half Crazy, all for a Chip or two…”

    • Steve__T

      Kit turbo boost NOW!

  • Jasoturner

    This is nothing but public transportation made private. Way too much technology being used to navigate an infrastructure not designed for autonomous vehicles. I know the tech people like it, but this is a dumb expenditure of engineering talent. On the other hand, I do think accident avoidance assistance for drivers would be great to see added to our cars in the future. But a car that literally drives itself? Not needed, and highly unlikely to catch on.

  • brettearle

    Maybe we’ll get to the point where the Automobile will choose who’s going to buy it–rather than the reverse.

    “Sorry Buster…. I ain’t taking your check. You look reckless and unkempt.”

  • Jacob

    so who is responsible when 2 self driving cars crash. hackers are going to have a lot of fun.

  • MaxBTV

    What about speeding? If your vehicle is telling other vehicles speed, will cops even need radars to give a speeding ticket or will they just quote your own car’s speedometer?

    • Gary Welch

      Interesting legal point – without independent verification by the police that you were speeding, does this conflict with your legal right to avoid self incrimination?

      • sickofthechit

        I think that will be covered in the “User Agreement”!

      • Floyd Blandston

        Your vehicle will be considered an impartial witness, your right to question its data merely technical, and you’ll be told that “driving is a privilege, not a right.”

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    If the NHTSA is willing to make this change, I want 2 more. Both related to safety, medical and repair costs:
    1) ALL vehicles on the road should have bumpers at the same height as currently mandated for passenger cars.

    Everyone is safer when a bumper hits a bumper, or a bumper hits the steel beam in the doors. Vehicles with higher bumpers ride over those on cars destroying them and the people inside.

    2) ALL vehicles on the road should have headlights at the same height as passenger cars.

    I can not tell you how often I have been blinded by oncoming SUV and pickup trucks. There is NO REASON they can’t have headlights lower on the body.

    • sickofthechit

      How else can they feel dominate?

      • homebuilding

        ….dominant, I believe

        I also liked the VW superbowl ad with the two German men standing at the urinals–one had MUCH BIGGER wings than the other! (….the myth in the ad was that somewhere in the world, a German engineer gets a set of wings when a VW turns over to 100,000 miles)

        The SUV–big 4WD (with or without suspension elevation) is ALL about ‘mines bigger than yours.’

  • Gary Welch

    A question that wouldn’t have been asked a year ago:

    What access will NSA have to your car’s data?

    • ToyYoda

      The police can have access to your data.

  • Ivan

    What I am nervous about are cyber attacks. A hacker could spoof V2V communications and cause accidents. Or take over a self driving vehicle completely, potentially causing chaos. Are there any defenses against this?

    • sickofthechit

      Only if we adopt the European version.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    How about slamming the brakes on the car with the red light runner? This is a serious problem I see at least several times a week.

  • ToyYoda

    Who will get sued when the driverless car gets into an accident? In Nevada, the human-driver is still liable. If it is the human driver, won’t that defeat the point of having a driverless car? If I know I can be sued, I would be attending to the car’s behavior and not taking full advantage of having someone or something drive me.

  • Jacob

    sorry i can’t come into work today. my car caught a virus.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    My car drops me off at the office. Then it will text me once it successfully found a parking spot.

  • seszoo

    Self driveing cars ,I don’t think so I’ve been driveing 44 yrs and still enjoy it , Also when they tell you it’s for your own good it usually isn’t and only benefits the govt. Also have always enjoyed working on my own vehicles which is getting harder and harder ,Think I’ll stick with my old vehicles ,The ones that can’t be hacked .

  • Jacob Lindsey

    This is a fantasy from the 1950′s. People are moving back into cities, young people are buying cars in record low numbers, and we should be focused on making walking, biking and transit more functional–not continuing our car fascination.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Jacob, this is an effect- not a cause. NO ONE ‘fascinated’ by cars wants one of these, it’s the neutering of the technology. Chances are that they will improve the environment for cyclists and pedestrians by increasing their safety! :)

  • Jacob

    so will buses still need bus drivers? what about taxis? can my car drive itself home to pick up my girlfriend?

  • ToyYoda

    If the robotics gets perfected, why bother with a traditional looking car having windows? I want a rolling black box as big as a large van, with a nordic track, a flat panel tv, a hot tub, and a bar. I will finally enjoy my commute to and back from work!

  • skelly74

    The reliance on machines is a failure of logic that humans constantly unconsciously ignore. Machinery and computational mathematics are the new symbols of divine power.

    Lets not forget about the fallibility variable.

  • Lilicat

    I hope your guests will address the issues of data privacy (NSA knowing our every direction) and cyber security.

  • sickofthechit

    The designers of these self-drive systems would do well to incorporate Uncle Charles’ instructions to each of his nieces and nephews as he helped them learn how to drive safely. He has three rules for new drivers (all drivers!) he developed after thousands of hours driving school buses. Here they are.
    1. DON’T USE YOUR BRAKES!
    2. DON’T USE YOUR BRAKES!
    3. Use your brains!

    The point he was trying to get across was that by looking ahead, looking behind, and side to side you can anticipate and correct for the other drivers behavior and avoid difficulties. When driving a school bus, large truck or large tractor trailer it is all about preserving and balancing your momentum to the conditions. Bonus is, you get better gas mileage and you arrive less frazzled. charles a. bowsher (Uncle Charles)

    • Floyd Blandston

      This is what the autonomous vehicle advocates claim as an advantage. Autonomous vehicles ALL drive like ‘Uncle Charles’!

      • sickofthechit

        My dream driving world!
        Uncle Charles

  • truegangsteroflove

    It might reduce the threat posed by impaired and distracted driving. A problem would be in the case of road ragers, who will want to override the system in order to harass, intimidate and threaten other drivers. You would need to keep in mind that this isn’t a nation of intelligent, decent people. It is becoming increasingly misanthropic and stressed out. A self-driving car might improve things, but the human element will always play a part.

  • J__o__h__n

    Why not make one that cannot override the computer so the drunks can use that?

  • jonny

    I think it will take just one deer jumping out of the woods to throw the whole shebang into failure mode. How can you plan for that??

    • sickofthechit

      The laser would detect it and shoot it before it got to you. Now, as for mounting it and dressing out the meat, that is another app……-Uncle Charles

  • Jamison

    I cant believe how much push back to this there is. This is a good thing for us all! Much better then FaceBook in out cars.

    • ToyYoda

      Agreed. The number of man-hours commuting to and from work is staggering. That time is better spent doing something else.

  • ToyYoda

    OT: When will we have a robot to fold our laundry? :)

    That’s about the only manual task about my house that I hate doing.

    • sickofthechit

      Solution- learn to accept wrinkles. -Uncle Charles

  • ThirdWayForward

    I predict that the Google car will recognize where we want to go and bombard us with targeted ads.

    We should listen again to “We’re all Bozos on this bus.” Firesign Theater saw the future decades ago.

    • J__o__h__n

      Amazon will have already drone shipped the products before we knew we wanted them though.

      • sickofthechit

        They’re not going to ship them, they are going to “drone” them to us. I swear, that is their intent!

        • Floyd Blandston

          ‘Skeet shooting with prizes!’

          • sickofthechit

            Dear Floyd Blandston, Funniest comment of the year! Thank you. If they are in my airspace, I say they are fair game. charles a. bowsher

          • Steve__T

            This little alien lookin’ thang come wizzing round my house n, I give em both barrels lil piece o’ crap blew up n rain lil pieces uh alien er’where.

          • Floyd Blandston

            …’n crayped out a Tom Clancy novel!

      • ThirdWayForward

        We’ll have implanted electrodes in our brains and the Amazon orders will be made before we consciously realize that we want something. Then a decade later they will fully automate and close the loop and put in stimulating electrodes that make us want what we’ve ordered. It’s a perfect system!

    • Floyd Blandston

      Autonomous ‘car share’ within closed urban circuits is a definite possibility, with costs partially defrayed by the passengers captive value!

      • sickofthechit

        I’m screwed!
        Uncle Charles

  • Reason

    Not to be a naysayer, but, as a person who suffers significant motion sickness, I would not be comfortable as a passenger to a machine. Has there been research on having humans in charge and having automation be the 360 degree eyes and ready to jump in when there is a safety concern?

    • ToyYoda

      Well if you fly, chances are you alreadyy have been a passenger to a machine.

  • mairelena

    I have an idea, why not have cars and/or trailer trucks with a hook on the front of them, then when they enter the highway, they hook into the vehicles around them. You could even have a track for them to follow and program it to allow you to unhook when you reach your destination. No, wait, we have that. It’s called a train.

    • Steve__T

      Automated Trains are next

      • Floyd Blandston

        Mostly done. Only three people on an ‘x’ mile long train, and ownership wants the third one eliminated as unnecessary. Automated signals, sorting, and traffic control…

    • ToyYoda

      I don’t know of any train that unhooks its passenger cars when a passenger arrives at its destination.

      There have been experiments done in several countries a couple of years ago where cars are outfitted with computer and sensors to follow each other inches apart. The ‘locomotive’ car is driven by a human operator and the train of cars that follow are controlled by computers. When a car nears its destination, it peels off and the other cars regroup and continue.

  • Nancy Crosby

    The car industry proposes sexy technology to draw consumers in. If we can use V to V communication, how about using it to increase carpooling instead of car sales. We should be developing technology to decrease the environmental degradation caused by automobile use, instead of ways to increase it.

    • Rick Evans

      You’re joking, right? The car INDUSTRY is in the business of selling more cars and services and making money. The environment is a societal, policy issue.

      Your suggestion is like expecting Poland Spring to sell less cases of bottle water to reduce the refuse stream and litter.

      • Floyd Blandston

        Don’t underestimate the law of unintended consequences. Remember when the recording industry found a way to sell the same records twice with CD technology? Do you suppose they gave any thought to how it would, in effect, destroy their entire operating model? ;)

    • ToyYoda

      Because the car industry isn’t in the car pooling industry. They are two different markets. It’s like asking why isn’t Ford competing with ZipCar.

      As far as environment goes, I actually see this technology helping the environment. If technology is perfected, cars can crisss-cross each other at intersections. There will be less stop and go traffic which kills vehicle fuel efficiency. There will be less wear and tear on the car because a car will gently accelerate/decelerate much better than a person with a heavy foot. Less traffic accidents means less totaled cars. Cars will find optimal paths to their destination.

      Finally, if the technology is perfected, I think the whole concept of owning a car will be turned upside down. You can rent your car out to people and not have to be hassled with picking up or dropping off your car.

      • sickofthechit

        Roundabouts, roundabouts, roundabouts!

  • Floyd Blandston

    I really appreciate the caller from W. Pennsylvania’s concern with reliability (particularly long term) related to corrosion. Snow belt drivers already suffer a real regional disadvantage due to this, and don’t seem to constitute enough voice in the market to move manufacturers towards addressing these issues- even on existing vehicles!

  • John Zant

    I wish drivers used the “V-to-V” device at their fingertips — the turn signal. Rarely do I see it when they change lanes on L.A. freeways. I’d say most accidents are caused not by driver error, but by driver laziness and carelessness. I hope I survive to see the new era of automotive technology.

    • olderworker

      Turn signals aren’t often used here in Massachusetts, either!

  • Gary Dorst

    I can hardly wait for driverless vehicles. The “V to V” communication system is the fundamental technological predecessor for making this all possible.

    Human vehicle operators are flawed, frequently inattentive, emotional and often dangerous. If you think I’m wrong just look at the traffic death statistics. Look to your own family and make note how many people in your family have died or been seriously injured on the road. Recent crash protection technologies have reduced the number of deaths and injuries, but the technologies paper over the real problem … the driver. Removing the human as the operator will prove to be greatest contribution to traffic safety ever.

    • ToyYoda

      Agreed. But to me, the biggest benefit is in re-couping all the man-hours lost sitting in traffic commuting to and from work.

  • John Larson

    Safety measures such as this one, and all those following the padded dash of the early ’50s, have been instituted, at great expense, to counteract the defective operator. It would have been far smarter to correct THAT defect than to pour money into technological Band Aids. That ill spent money could have been put into mass transit, resulting in greatly reduced automotive carnage, and we’d have gotten cleaner air, fewer and smaller highways marring the land, less trash along the roads, and maybe even fewer fast food outlets as a bonus. Limiting the privilege of driving to those who can actually be trusted to safely operate a motor vehicle would be a good place to start.

  • WardCheney

    Several days ago, driving in my truck, I was thinking mean and nasty thoughts about computers and computer companies. My computer works just fine, but sure as night follows day (at least for the foreseeable future) my computer’s operating system will have to be replaced by another, and, not long after, my computer itself will be obsolete. I said to myself, ‘I wish computers were like cars, where you can drive it ten-, twelve-, fourteen-years. I spoke too soon.

    Listening to this show, I’m thinking “self-driving cars” are about money, if little else. A car like a computer or a smart phone . . . think about it. Upgrading your car’s operating system every year to stay current, to stay safe. Do I really need a car that drives itself? No.

    Self-driving cars — at least to me — is just another way of separating me from my money. I don’t want them, I don’t need them. Someone ought to find out where this idea comes from, or at least ask who is going to benefit financially from these things. Anything that can be sold will be sold. It’s the American Way. I see it as a form of economic totalitarianism. In a world where every thing is a product or a brand, and where citizens are consumers first, I ask myself, who is truly free?

  • George Potts

    Could you imagine having a self-driving car with the Windows 3.1 version?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Law/1104093243 Chris Law

      lol. Still probably more reliable than humans though.

  • olderworker

    What about just putting this technology and money into improving public transit?

  • FrankensteinDragon

    which means the comment above on reduced accidents is questionable. chances are there will be more accidents, different causes anyways. Anti-war activist trying to escape the NSA and FBI and local police hunting him–with orders shoot to kill–activist takes control of vehicle and the police take control of vehicles and all chaos is unleashed because nobody knows how to drive anymore. A truly sheepish society totally dependent on corporate/government structure.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    self-driving cars will make us more dependent on corporate/government structures and authority. NO one will know how to drive anymore. and police will shut down your vehicle whenever they want.

    combine that with new laws that declare–activism–is “terrorism”–(especially animal rights activists, anti-war activists, and environmentalists–all enemies of the corporate/Fascist state). Add the Patriot act, and Citizens United, and NSA spying and the end of net neutrality–you internet experience will now be prescribed corporate experience.

    All citizens tracked not only by smart devices but mandatory implants.

    Conclusions: corporate livestock–beasts. BUt the next generation will be born in it and accept it completely. Protesters will be considered crazy loons–as they are now. Oh you sad sad people……

    • sickofthechit

      Why did I vote for your comment? NOW I am even more on their radar than before. Thanks a lot!

  • David J. Proctor

    what about security? as devices – including cars – are increasingly networked we increase the risk that they will be hacked in some fashion. for example, if I hacked my own car to send incorrect v2v signals I could clear the road of traffic or cause more serious mayhem

  • byliner

    This crash-avoidance technology is in tests with Class 8 trucks in Europe: Transport Topics: http://www.ttnews.com

  • baxter

    Carpool pods!! Video surveilled! Sweet! Free the parents!

  • http://shinyredbuttonmedia.com/ murderofcrows

    I don’t see this getting widely adopted anytime soon. America is built around the car, and so many people love the sense of personal freedom and control that their cars give them. I love driving myself too, but this technology can open up to door to lowering drunk driving and giving many other groups (like disabled/impaired individuals) new found mobility and freedom. It’s not all or nothing like people are making it. You can keep your regular cars!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Law/1104093243 Chris Law

      Yes the safety and productivity these vehicles will present will be very significant. However as time goes on and the technology proves to be safe enough people may be banned from driving cars manually. Though it might not happen right away.

      • http://shinyredbuttonmedia.com/ murderofcrows

        I respectfully disagree. Slippery slope logic. This attitude prevents progress with a whole lot of other issues America has. America is a freedom loving nation. We put up a fight when it comes to healthcare, taxes, and gun control. They’d be too much of a backlash for anyone who actually tried to ban people driving their own cars. It would be political suicide.

  • Guest

    If this situation was boiled down to a single household, the choices being presented here are either get out the already overused credit card that we can’t afford to pay down or stop feeding the kids.

  • homebuilding

    For the time being, I’ll enjoy the economy and non-reporting aspects of my 350,000 mile special where computers are limited to proper fuel mixture for the barometric pressure and need for enrichment for cold starts.

    ABS would be nice and airbags, though……….

    but then, again, far better driver preparation and requirements would bring a better world, wouldn’t it?

    Somehow, self-driving technology won’t be solving “Iced Atlanta” real soon…….and the plague of non-skilled drivers slamming on the brakes when something unexpected occurs, such as a red dashboard warning or seat-shaker, will surely continue (to the immediate peril of others).

  • homebuilding

    To speak against better driver preparation and standards, with the expectation of the coming technology nirvana is a special form of fantasy.

    (Please review the number of recent commercial airplane crashes and errant landings that can be traced, most directly, to technological over-dependence–and the specific failure to perform BASIC piloting functions that are taught and repeated, often, in all primary training.)

    There is great value in understanding and knowing what you are doing and how your actions and control can create a perfect outcome–or a disaster.

  • WardCheney

    Wow, that got personal very quickly.

  • WardCheney

    I’m trying to say, personally, I don’t feel it’s necessary and important to “get the best and brightest designs and technology.” That doesn’t make me a cave dweller, an isolated, “fearing, ignorant, old man.” That characterization strikes me as a pretty big leap, Martin.

    Sure, businesses are in the business of staying solvent, of providing products and services people are willing to pay for. I’m just saying, I for one didn’t wake up this morning wanting a self-driving car. Perhaps I didn’t say it as clearly or as rationally as I could have. I basically mistrust the long-term consequences of a society (ours) that seems , to me, to be so influenced by the drive to sell and to buy. I’m not talking the basic exchange of goods and services. I think there’s a lot of good in that system of meeting fundamental needs. What I do feel is that buying and selling is being taken to extremes, and in the process dominates the conversation. The extremes, I believe, compromise much that is good and necessary in our world.

  • WardCheney

    Wow, that got personal fast.

  • The poster formerly known as t

    Meh. Modern life isn’t sustainable by any means. I doubt in 100 years that computers, cars, and other marvels of industrialization will available. I suspect it will be technology free people who will have an edge in how to adopt to a larger world (because distances become larger with less technology available) with less resources.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 16, 2014
A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul, which is expected to add about 25 million newly insured people who will need medical care and prescriptions, as well as offering more services as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

Retailers from Walgreens to Wal-Mart to CVS are looking to turn into health care outlets. It’s convenient. Is it good medicine? Plus: using tech to disrupt the healthcare market.

Apr 16, 2014
Harvard Business School is one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the country. Our guest today suggests those kinds of degrees aren't necessary for business success. (HBS / Facebook)

Humorist and longtime Fortune columnist Stanley Bing says, “forget the MBA.” He’s got the low-down on what you really need to master in business. Plus: the sky-high state of executive salaries.

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Apr 15, 2014
In this file photo, author and journalist Matt Taibbi speaks to a crowd of Occupy Wall Street protestors after a march on the offices of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, in New York. There was a heavy police presence around the 42nd Street area as the demonstration began Wednesday morning outside. (AP)

Muckraking journalist Matt Taibbi sees a huge and growing divide in the US justice system, where big money buys innocence and poverty means guilt. He joins us.

 
Apr 15, 2014
A crowd gathers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot before the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP)

One year after the Boston Marathon bombing, we look at national and local security on the terrorism front now, and what we’ve learned.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
How Boston Is Getting Ready For the 2014 Boston Marathon
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Boston Globe metro reporter Maria Cramer explains how the 2014 Boston Marathon will be different than races in the past.

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WBUR’s David Boeri: ‘There’s Still Much We Don’t Know’
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

WBUR’s senior reporter David Boeri details the ongoing investigation into the alleged Boston Marathon Bombing perpetrators.

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Remembering The Boston Marathon Bombing, One Year Later
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

One year after the Boston Marathon Bombing, we look back at our own coverage of the attacks and the community’s response from April 2013.

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