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Detroit Dethroned?

Original post made by Palo Alto Online staff, Evergreen Park, on Jul 18, 2017

The pursuit of self-driving cars has changed the game in the auto industry, with the focus shifting from the physical development of vehicles to the development of technology that guides how they operate and, yes, event think. Has Silicon Valley, and especially the Palo Alto area, become the new Detroit? Read more here: Web Link

Comments (20)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

One thing that is imperative is to make sure that these self driving cars are obvious to other road users. We know what the Google cars look like and can be wary near them. If a car is showing a sign that says student driver, we can be ready for a rookie driver who might make a mistake. What we need to know is if a car is completely empty of any human beings inside. After all, would you risk your life to go open a door of a burning vehicle after a crash if you could tell that there was nobody inside? I wouldn't want to hear about someone getting killed rescuing the occupants when there were no occupants inside.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Detroit Dethroned?

Not as long as the silicon whizbangery needs wheels, an engine to drive them, and a drivetrain to connect everything together. Not to mention a suspension system to support the body that houses the [gasp] humans that the contraption was sold to serve.

Basically, all these autodrivers do is replace the nut behind the wheel

Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2017 at 10:22 am

Great article here: Web Link

"One solution is to encourage more plug in hybrids to be built and produced rather than all electric. That way you can get away with having a smaller battery for EV Monday through Friday commuting (30 to 50 miles per day) then the gas motor/ range extender for the longer weekend trips."

Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

Please make parking spaces in PUBLIC parking lots & garages larger!! The photos here show roomy private spaces for these cars.

But in fact, public parking spaces in lots and garages have become so small, over the years, we often have to pass up convenient spots as we shop in downtown and around California Avenue.

If we park in the too-small convenient spaces, we risk having to shimmy back into our car later, or we have our doors dinged by others that do not care about cars other than their own.

This is unnecessary and all due to poor planning, regarding how large a public parking space needs to be. Please, think about THAT.

Posted by StanleyS
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2017 at 7:34 am

"It's not just about building cars for people to drive. It's about how we're going to move around as a society."

Uh-huh. And WHO will be making the decision as to HOW we will be "moving around"?

No thanks. I'll keep my personal vehicle and freedom of movement.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm

The Silicon Valley is not the only place where autonomous vehicles are being developed. Michigan has a lot to lose if auto manufacturing leaves that state, so a 335 acre test track for autonomous vehicles has been created:

Web Link

Most of the European vehicle manufacturers are well on their way to putting these vehicles on the road:

Web Link

And Blacksburg, VA Torc Robotics has just road tested its autonomous vehicle on a cross-country journey:

Web Link

Palo Alto should not be so quick to dismiss these companies--because they can easily move somewhere else.

Posted by Bill Barranco
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm

What a slam on Detroit! This Eric He clearly doesn’t know as much as he thinks he knows about what’s going on here.

Google has given up on this enterprise, and the engineers there who are “light years ahead” eventually turned to Detroit when they were lost in their illusions...

What! Detroit DOES NOT HAVE SMOG!!!

Seems like this author works for BMW, based on how much he gushing over this brand.

More bad info: “a few weeks ago, Tesla started selling its Model three….” Hello. Wrong. They stated selling the Model three about a year ago. Yesterday, the first models were delivered….

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2017 at 5:47 pm

"Palo Alto should not be so quick to dismiss these companies--because they can easily move somewhere else."


Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2017 at 9:57 pm

One thing self-driving car systems will do is inexpensively produce in quantity the building blocks for AI systems not in the vehicle area at all. And all the R&D funds will also advance the state of the art, of course. Additional large funding is spent on Industry 4.0 as well. A lot of the drive and money for self operating vehicles comes from commercial trucking - they are very interested in operation without drivers 24X7. And they use publically financed highways, not rails. The press doesn't cover trucking very well.

So the idea that at least 40% of present jobs can disappear in the next generation or two is not idle speculation. Further, the profits from a robot accrue to the owner with little traditional labor in sight. In Capital vs Labor, Capital simply wins. Perpetual low interest rates, countering deflation, are accelerating these changes. This is not a good time for the ultra-right to win, to say the least.

Yet the tech could add hugely to the possibilities of human life and the economy. Main Street, the real entrepreneurial core US economy, could invent tens of millions of jobs. It may not in the US as increases in GDP are going to an increasingly smaller portion of the population.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Every time I see another article about "self-driving cars", I want to puke.
So Silicone Valley greed and megacorporatism means we're *inevitably* going to hand over our independence to robots?

I'm irritated by the assumption they're all making that self-driving cars are a good idea and that they are the "future". No, they simply want to sell a gimmicky new technology. That's all there is to it.

Its not about safety, its about money.

Be careful what you wish for.

If these abominations are inevitably going to take over our lives and roads, then I am utterly thankful to have lived in the generation of HUMAN-driven cars. Maybe because I have more faith in us, than I do in computers?
Is that a bad thing now, because Google says so?

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Resident - I'd be a lot more independent if my car drove me to work instead of me driving the car.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:36 pm


So you could spend even more time hunched over a smartphone screen becoming sclerotic?

Maybe we're just different because I LOVE driving. It keeps my survival instincts sharp and my mind alert. Different strokes for different folks, mate.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

I enjoy driving too, but not inching down 101 at 10mph. I'd rather be napping or reclined with my feet up, on my smartphone, honing my survival instincts playing Real Racing. Or reading a book, or watching the news. Independence means I can choose whatever productive or nonproductive activity I want. [Portion removed.]

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2017 at 11:30 pm

@Resident - I guess your complaints about 'independence' apparently mean privacy, though you lose a lot of privacy just by being here on the Web.

I recall when they started using car transponders to collect tolls on the Bay bridges. The first people to realize the possibilities were divorce lawyers who sued for the records.

We're doomed.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2017 at 5:50 am

[Portion removed.]

As far as 101, the traffic is caused by mismanagement of the bridge construction as well as the ludicrous double carpool lanes south of San Antonio. Take 280, my friend.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2017 at 10:35 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Justin Beck/5th Grade
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 30, 2017 at 9:29 am

A self-driving car sounds boring. Since many cars are designed and refined from the race tracks, can you imagine the Indy 500 or NASCAR with driverless cars? There would be no more crashes and spectators would find these races really dull. If the cars were all-electric, the races would be even more boring because there would be no automotive sounds.

Thinking. Watching a race car being re-charged at the pit would be a lot less exciting than watching the crew pour gas into one. And no driver inside the car would be so weird.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2017 at 8:59 am

BBC article on the topic of licenses. Web Link

Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm

Self driving cars might make suicide car bombs obsolete. A determined terrorist could load it up with explosives and put in the coordinates for the destination-no suicide needed. If you can think about it someone may do it. This could turn out to be a real concern, not just stuff for an action novel.

Posted by Marcus Lowe
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm

I prefer to drive my car myself, but I see self-driving vehicles in the commercial realm. Local & cross country trucking will be automated. A small percentage of the displaced truckers will "move to the office". Big winners will be tort attorneys (ambulance chasers). Instead of suing Allstate for $300K, they will sue the vehicle operating system developer for $300M.

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