This is somewhat of a follow-up to my previous post about autonomous vehicles. One of the big concerns that many people have about self-driving cars is the period of adoption where there will be both autonomous vehicles and human-controlled vehicles on the road at the same time. The concern that many technologists and bloggers seem to bring up is that most humans don’t actually follow the laws of the road. They cite the four-way stop as one of the biggest problems for autonomous vehicles – they seem to believe that an autonomous car could potentially get stuck at a four-way stop forever, because it may wait for the other cars to come to a complete stop, and for them to go in order (I imagine we have all experienced the four-way “wave-through” or darted through when it wasn’t technically our turn).
I have recently been re-reading a great tech-fiction book by Daniel Suarez titled Daemon. Although I prefer the story line in the sequel (Freedom), the technology he introduces in the Daemon is pretty crazy. He specifically uses autonomous Dodge Chargers that he calls AutoM8s to do the evil guy’s bidding. The first time I read the book, it seemed kind of far fetched, but as I have been reading it the second time with the context of my previous post, it becomes a little more scary (because it’s more believable).
Back to the four-way stop conundrum – I believe that there will definitely be some “growing pains” for early adopters, but the real autonomous vehicle revolution will occur when the vehicles can not only see each other and react to each other, but can actually communicate with each other.
This “swarm” or “flock” communication also seems like the stuff of science fiction at first glance…until you see this video: