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Tags: california | volvo

Driverless Cars Meet Calif.'s Terrible Roads

Michael Reagan By Sunday, 10 April 2016 08:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Before California manned the ramparts in the war for social justice and against climate change, state government did much less, but it was done well.

When I was growing up here it was called the Golden State and California boasted great roads, great schools, great universities and great opportunity. Now California struggles to get stripes on the roads, as Lex Kerssemakers discovered to his dismay.

Kerssemakers is the North American CEO for Volvo and he was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a news event described by Reuters as an opportunity to showcase Volvo’s “semi–autonomous prototype” car.

Volvo provided the prototype, but Garcetti couldn’t provide a first-world road. As the car stopped and started, exhibiting all the confusion of a Miami senior negotiating the entrance lane for a freeway, Kerssemakers finally shouted, “It can't find the lane markings! You need to paint the bloody roads here!”

Unfortunately for Volvo, it discovered no California Democrat is interested in building his “legacy” around maintenance.

Which is proving to be a big problem for robot cars.

California drivers have developed an ability to cope with the variables our deteriorating roads throw at us on a daily basis. Machines don’t have that level of coping. In fact, Reuters concludes potholes may be blocking the arrival of the future: “Shoddy infrastructure has become a roadblock to the development of self-driving cars, vexing engineers and adding time and cost.”

Since elected officials won’t make road maintenance a priority, car manufacturers have to keep adding technology to compensate. If roads were adequately and consistently marked, robot cars could get by with a camera, but since highways are not, car manufacturers are adding radar and LiDAR to help the robots keep the car in its lane and off the shoulder.

Mercedes claims its “drive pilot” system in the E Class cars will work with no lane markings. It involves 23 sensors that “[take] into account guard rails, barriers, and other cars to keep cars in their lanes up to 84 miles (135km) per hour, under ‘suitable circumstances.’”

Boston Consulting Group gives a ridiculously low estimate of $4,000 for how much this technology will add to a car’s price.

When one considers replacing a key for a Mercedes can cost $300.00, adding an autopilot will no doubt cost much more than $4,000.

A realistic solution — and cheaper for drivers — would be for California Democrats to spend less on saving the world and more on saving the roads, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime I find it flattering that navigating California’s crumbling infrastructure is something humans do better than machines.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

Unfortunately for Volvo, it discovered no California Democrat is interested in building his “legacy” around road maintenance.
california, volvo
Sunday, 10 April 2016 08:27 AM
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