Stanford self-driving cars: roundtable interview

I just listened to the 40 minute audio podcast of a fascinating roundtable discussion. The key people are Sven Beiker, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, and futurist Paul Saffo, managing director of foresight at Discern Analytics. There is also video of the Reporters’ Roundtable discussion.

Paul Saffo contributed several new insights on how robotic cars are likely to evolve. Already in Japan and German the twenty-somethings do not want to own a car. E.g., consider the emergence of a vastly larger market for shared cars when they become all electric robots with predicted lower insurance rates. Google might see this as a great way to create almost real-time Street View coverage by adding the camera to all these cars.

Paul also predicted that the US military will be an early adopter for convoys: human driven lead vehicle followed closely at high speed by the robot vehicles. Consider the implications for countering attacks on the convoys.

Show notes and talking points

Overview: Where are we on the road to the autonomous car?

Talk about current autonomous solutions and driver aids.

What’s in robocars for Google?

Problems yet to solve, like legal and insurance issues. Who gets the ticket? Who’s responsible for a crash?

What happens when the first robot car crashes and kills its driver or a bystander?

If the human is ultimately responsible, how are you going to keep them alert when the car is doing all the work?

Will we need new roads? New driver education?

Talk about how contests, challenges, and racing move innovation forward. See the Grand Challenge (PDF).

Talk about Pikes Peak car at Stanford. What’s the difference between it and the DARPA Challenge car, Stanley?

How will robocars come to real-world car buyers? When can we buy them?