“Meanwhile, LIDAR units, the things that give self driving cars visibility and depth perception, cost ten times less they did four years ago and have shrunk from the size of large paint cans on the roof to cigarette packs that you can put inside fenders or mirrors.”
Er, ah — we have a grammatical/logical error here: the correct comparison should be written “ … cost a tenth of what they did four years ago …”
Apparently a lot of people STILL don’t appreciate and/or otherwise properly understand the implications of Moore’s Law.
No argument, autonomous vehicles have both great appeal as well as potential.
At the same time, the processing requirements are at least exponentially greater than aircraft autopilot systems given far close proximity of a whole lot more risky things that need to be monitored AND avoided.
Savvy personal injury attorneys have to be licking their chops.
Additionally, can Fail Safe performance be guaranteed? To this point, ponder what will happen with roadways when something akin to how air transportation all but shuts down when there is a but minor subsystem hiccup.
Similarly, there is the not insignificant issue of working out things so that autonomous vehicles can defer to emergency vehicles.
Are autonomous vehicles coming soon? Probably — but be sure to note that when I was a kid more than a decades ago Popular Science was touting the impending arrival of personal flying vehicles that would eliminate much of the need for to rely on roads. This big kid is still waiting.
In the meanwhile, just thoroughly working out AUGMENTED driving control systems would be an extremely significant accomplishment.
For that matter, so too would be eliminating detracted driving and which is within striking distance of supplanting Operating Under the Influence as the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities.
And as for electric vehicles, chatting with first responders is highly informative. Basically, they are experiencing different sorts of problems with hybrids and electric vehicle accidents as opposed to lesser ones.
That and faster charging techniques do virtually nothing about the often problematic sources of the electricity.
Also be sure to keep in mind the efficiency loss incurred when converting electric power line power into stored battery energy.
Finally, for paradigm shift aficionados, be sure to keep in mind that Newtonian calculus is STILL the mathematics behind all manner of things and as was noted 55 years ago by the author of the notion of paradigm shifts.
For but one example from among many: civic engineering.
That and how hammers are still very widely used as well as in many situations still the most efficient tool to use to drive a nail.