Sat. May 25th, 2024

Donna Westfall – December 4, 2018 –

Did you know that 90% of all auto accidents are attributed to human error?  I learned that fact from Supervisor 5th District, Bob Berkowitz this morning as he recounted some of the things he learned at the California State Association of counties (CSAC) conference this past week held in San Diego.

Autonomous or self-driving cars invention was motivated to increase safety and efficiency. The leading engineer of Google’s self-driving car project, Sebastian Thrun, wrote in his blog that the goal of developing self-driving car is to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions.”

What would something like that cost?  Projections are between $5,000 – $15,000 added on to the cars price. Is it worth it to reduce the million deaths due to auto accidents a year? If you want to purchase an autonomous car now, what would you expect to pay?  Let’s look at the Tesla Model 3:

It’s got long range batteries, that will take you 310 miles while seating 5 adults.  It weighs over 4,000 pounds and is all wheel drive.  *Prices:  $44,000.  Enhanced auto pilot features:  $49,000; and full self-driving capability: $52,000.

Other companies developing and/or testing autonomous cars include Audi, BMW, Ford, Google, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen and Volvo. I highlighted Google because I didn’t know they were in the car business.  They’re not. They are in the self driving car project business and call it WAYMO standing for “a new way forward in mobility.”

There are all kinds of legal, moral, ethical and insurance ramifications that come up when contemplating putting autonomous cars on the road. Rather than go into those complexities, let’s ponder this; I do believe that within a decade we will see autonomous vehicles on Del Norte County roads. Here’s a picture of the Tesla Model 3.  There are several clubs on Facebook just for Model 3 car owners.  While the WAYMO looks like a toy, the Tesla Model 3 is not a bad looking vehicle.

* Contact Tesla for current pricing as these figures may not be completely accurate.


4 thoughts on “Autonomous cars – will they be in Del Norte County this decade?”
    1. Some say the amount of accidents will diminish substantially since most are caused by human error. Also, car ownership, insurance, maintenance, gas (or batteries)expenses won’t be required since calling up some company like Uber can take you wherever you need to go. Drawbacks, don’t know yet although I suspect it will be difficult to relinquish the key’s to a favorite vehicle, or become a passenger instead of the driver.

      1. There are many people who have to drive due to motion sickness, and can not be passengers. Driver-less cars won’t be as widespread as many predict for a number of reasons, not least of which is motion sickness.

    2. From the The Mercury News:

      PALO ALTO — A Los Altos planning commissioner was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol early Friday after he fell asleep behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S and managed to travel about seven miles on Highway 101 without crashing, according to the California Highway Patrol.

      Alexander Joseph Samek
      It appears the driver had the Tesla driver-assist, or autopilot, function engaged at the time he was pulled over, but the CHP needs to finish its investigation before making a final determination, Officer Art Montiel said.

      About 3:35 a.m., a CHP officer noticed a gray Tesla Model S driving south on Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue in Redwood City at about 70 mph, said Montiel, adding that the officer who pulled alongside the car noticed the driver appeared to be sleeping.

      The officer got behind the Tesla and turned on his patrol car’s lights and siren in an attempt to wake up the driver and pull him over.

      When the driver did not respond, the officer drove in front of the Tesla in an effort to slow down the vehicle. The officer believed that if the Tesla’s driver-assist function was engaged, the car would slow down when it sensed a vehicle in front of it, Montiel said..

      Don’t believe what you read? Here’s a number of YouTube videos that you can see for yourself. The technology is amazing.

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