The Instigator
Oromagi
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Ragnar
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points

RESOLVED: driverless cars will be the norm within the next 20 years

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Ragnar
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/5/2013 Category: Technology
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,170 times Debate No: 36401
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

Oromagi

Pro

Just looking for a friendly exchange regarding the likelihood vs impracticability of rapid adoption of completely automated drivers. Does anybody think that driverless cars are a long way off?

First round is for acceptance only

Second round for arguments.

Third round for counterarguments and summation
Ragnar

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Oromagi

Pro

Driverless cars made significant leaps to becoming commonplace over the past year. Legal in California, Colorado, and
Nevada, driverless cars have been tested for millions of driver miles and demonstrated dramatic improvements in driver safety over cars driven by people.

Pro's expectation is that a number of market forces will promote the rapid adoption of driverless cars and that demand will quickly exceed production. These forces are:

1) As the gigantic increase in safety becomes apparent to insurance companies, insurers will actively promote driverless cars in favor of people driven cars. Insurers will probably begin with significant bonuses and as popularity increases, will decrease and then eliminate coverage for people driven cars.

2) Shipping and delivery services will probably lead the way. The advantage of a driverless long haul truck that move from destination to destination safely, without stopping or rest breaks are compelling. The average truck driver's salary today already exceeds the present cost of maintaining a driverless vehicle and this gap between is likely to expand as the cost of technology decreases. After trucks, delivery drivers and taxi services will quickly adopt a technology that allows safe and continuous transport.

3) The advantages of driverless cars in the city are particularly evident. A driverless car can manage traffic patiently and carefully. Parking becomes far more efficient as passengers are dropped off at their destination and the car parks itself. As the number of cars on the road increases, traffic jams become a thing of the past as every car on the road proceeds at the same speed and at a safe distance. If every car on the road is driverless and coordinated, traffic lights, stop signs, yields, cone zones, etc all become a thing of the past. Cars can pass each other safely without stopping or even slowing down.

4) Passengers, increasingly distracted by phones, computers, televisions, and conversation would be freed to pursue these interests without increased danger. Pro expects that cars themselves would be transformed, resembling lounges or office space as the hardware of driving becomes internalized under the hood. Without driver preferences, horsepower will become irrelevant and smoothness of ride will become more paramount. Passengers will likely become less interested in car ownership, as the cost of taxi services become more economical than car ownership and as a driverless car will probably be seen as less representative of the status and taste of its passengers than cars do in out present driver society.
Ragnar

Con

Introduction:
This debate is not over the benefits of autonomous cars, but over the period of time in which it will take them to become the standard (or "norm") on the road. First I shall refute Pro's arguments for the many weaknesses it possesses, then I shall present my own limited case about the theorized technology.

Rebuttals:
"Driverless cars ... Legal in California, Colorado, and Nevada"
This information is misrepresented by the word "driverless." The fact of the law in question, is exciting new safety features and a type of autopilot are allowed to be tested, but by law (at least in California and Nevada) a human driver is required behind the wheel at all times [1].

"Driverless cars have been tested for millions of driver miles"
Unwarranted assumption (that would be a request to provide a source). At least a few months ago the research indicated a mere tenth of this figure, with a only a hundredth done without human intervention
  • "So far, the cars have have racked up more than 300,000 driving miles, and 50,000 of those miles were without any intervention from the human drivers, Google says" [1].

On to pro's predictions, numbering shall remain to keep my points organized to his.
1. "Insurance Companies... will decrease and then eliminate coverage for people driven cars."
No. Insurance companies are greedy. They would not willingly surrender such a large revenue stream.

2. "The advantage of a driverless long haul truck that move from destination to destination safely, without stopping or rest breaks are compelling."
Trucks break, they need someone with mechanical know-how. Plus consider that even modern GPS systems guide people into rivers, and other dangers [2].
Perhaps the reason not everyone relies on GPS.

3. "As the number of cars on the road increases, traffic jams become a thing of the past as every car on the road proceeds at the same speed and at a safe distance..."
That really isn't how it works, more cars on the road cause traffic delays as the roads are unable to handle the volume.
Consider what happens to the two car length distance suggested, when rush hour hits? Imagine an early driverless car (competing with normal cars) attempting to maintain proper two car lengths in front of itself at all times, and slowing down each time someone cuts in front of it (since it's the perfect driver, and that is what the driving manual indicates we should be doing). This annoyance suffered by anyone relying on one, would create customer dissatisfaction, thus delaying the full embrace of the technology.

4. "The hardware of driving becomes internalized under the hood. Without driver preferences, horsepower will become irrelevant..."
If this section is in reference to greater than the twenty years suggested by the resolution, it is irrelevant. Otherwise...
Shall we apply this line of reasoning to current cars? Since the speed limit everywhere in the U.S. is less than 100mph, there is no reason for any normal civilian car to be able to go faster than 100mph. Has this logic taken hold in car manufacture given the last 20 years? No, Americans still love to buy sports cars. Have we increased investment in schools to improve the reasoning of the next generation of voters? Also no.
No computer will drive like Steve McQueen.

Argument:
There have been many breakthrough safety innovations for cars, that have failed to catch on to become standard. They all raise the price of cars, and people skip them. Not all new cars have power steering for example. Not all have turn signals on their side-mirrors, no matter how awesome and simple a feature it is. Heck they even continue to let men drive, even when we're a proved greater danger on the road to women [3].
Consumer demand is what decides what becomes standard, simple buying power. Many people who live in the city, still love four-wheel drive on their trucks, even if the odds of ever putting it to use are low. During the recent fuel shortages, oversize gas-guzzlers still sell (in the cities no less). Until the minds of people buying cars change, the landscape of the road will not either.
Now the median age of a car on the road is 11.4 years [4], if this trend continues unchanged (it's currently on the rise) it means that unless the new technology becomes all car dealers sell within 8.6 years, there will not be enough time for it to catch up to the numbers pro predicted.

Conclusion:
While it is a hopeful future, it is not the near future.

Sources:
[1] http://www.cnn.com...
[2] http://www.ranker.com...
[3] http://www.cbsnews.com...
[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Oromagi

Pro

Thanks, Ragnar. Please note that I requested arguments in the second round, rebuttals in the second round. By Con's own admission, his argument against the rapid adoption of driverless cars are "limited," so I can understand the temptation to move straight through to counter-arguments. Nevertheless, I hope voters will note the violation of the conditions of this debate.

Con's principal argument seems to be that driverless cars will not be universal within 20 years, a much higher benchmark than the argument of this debate. Con's benchmark sets up a "straw man," arguing against universal adoption to defend against the normalization of driverless cars. By way of example, I don't think anybody would
argue that the adoption of smartphones has been universal since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, I know plenty of people who decline to buy a smartphone. But I also don't think that anybody would argue that the use of smartphones has become commonplace in American society over the last 6 years. This is the sort of benchmark my argument pursues, and I would argue that there are few technologies that achieve universal adoption.

Con argues that there have been many safety innovations that have not become standard and uses the surprising example of power steering. Chrysler introduced the first commercially available power steering system in 1951.[1]
5 years later, 1 out every 4 American cars were sold with power steering. [2] 5 years after that, power steering was standard or optional on every American car manufactured. [3] Sure, there were plenty of holdouts during the first 20 years of power steering, but I am not arguing that adoption will be universal, only that it will be rapid. If every American has a driverless option in the next ten years in the way power steering was adopted, I would certainly see that as the normalization of driverless cars and my expectations exceeded.

I'll assume Con was simply making a fatuous remark in his comments about male drivers and skip the argument.

Regarding the additional cost argument, I have pointed out that maintaining a driverless commercial vehicle is already less expensive than a manned vehicle. When it comes to personal transportation, my argument is that individual car ownership will drop dramatically as a) non-driving makes car ownership a less common venue for personal expression and b) the ease and price of car sharing and automated taxi services compares increasingly favorably to the cost of ownership. The current average daily cost of car ownership+maintenance is just short of $25. The daily cost of a driverless car sharing program is estimated at $5-10 for city dwellers. Indeed, one team of urban planners led by the former head of R&D at GM analyzed the potential for car sharing programs in Ann Arbor, MI and concluded that car sharers could reduce transportation costs by 90%. [4]The average daily cost for maintaining a car in the US Will it take a few years to implement car sharing programs on city-wide scales? Sure it will. Will there be a powerful demand for these kinds of savings to propel cities to implement programs like this? You bet there will. Think of the third of Americans who are disabled, elderly, or too young to drive. The demand from non-drivers alone would likely propel rapid adoption.

Con's arguments about the current rate of car renewal become irrelevant when the question is less when to buy a new autonomous car than it is when to stop paying extra for the stress and increased danger of driving a personal car and start using cheaper, safer, easier car services. Yes, there will be holdouts. But as human driven cars decline, the holdouts will look increasingly out-of-date, if only because they'll be the only cars on the road having accidents. Think of the social pressure applied when humans are the only ones causing car accidents. How much less forgiving will the public be of the death and destruction by human caused accidents, when a nearly accident-free solution is commonly available?

In response to Con's rebuttals, I agree that all current on-the-road testing of driverless cars in the US requires a person behind the steering wheel to intervene. Google reports 435,000 miles of testing under autonomous control without incident [5] Human driven cars have hit driverless cars, but the driverless systems themselves have not caused any accidents. Con's 300,000 mileage figure only sources Google's test program and does not consider other autonomous vehicle testing by 10 car manufacturers and several universities, not to mention US military vehicle testing over the past 20 years, not to mention European or Chinese initiatives.

I agree that insurance companies are greedy, but how will they justify current rates when accident rates start dropping dramatically? Maintaining high rates will drive more of the insured to cheap car services and increase the rate of decline. Google predicts that widespread implementation of driverless cars will reduce accident rates by 90%, saving 30,000 lives and 2 million injuries in America alone. There is no doubt that the driverless car means massive reduction in revenue for Insurers, but isn't this another argument for rapid implementation?

I agree that trucks and other vehicles have breakdowns. Consider how the overwhelming number of breakdowns are due to human error: driving beyond maintenance due, driving when a check engine light is on, running out of gas, overusing brakes, overshifting, etc. A driverless system could prevent a large number of breakdowns and be programmed to not drive beyond system tolerances. If car service programs become popular and a car breaks down- no problem, another car will pick up passengers. Additionally, driverless cars would respond to breakdowns with greater safety and any stranded passengers on roadways would be safer from driverless cars. Driverless systems are a much better solution to engine failures than human systems.

Modern GPS systems have their flaws and the law of averages demands that there will always be some possibility of failure in driverless systems. However, the rate of failure has already proved superior to that of human drivers and is expected to prove exponentially so [6].

Regarding traffic jams. While car sharing programs reduce the overall number of cars (by 90% if you believe Google), cars can move at higher speeds with less distance since human reaction time is no longer a factor. Most of rush hour congestion is caused by the human reaction of slowing down in response to the number of cars in proximity, not by maxing out road capacity. Con imagines a passenger in a driverless annoyed by other cars cutting in front. I would argue that a passenger would be much more likely to be playing playstation or doing paperwork or talking to friends and would quickly adapt to taking little notice of the minutiae of driving. These little events are only interesting to drivers required to fixate on the road.

Yes, American today love their sports cars and the general expression of their personality via cars, but I think this quality will rapidly fade. Will a sports car really seem that cool when it is the only car with dents and dings or when it becomes of symbol of inefficiency and human error? I doubt it. Human driven cars will increasingly be viewed like Hummers are today, inefficient tanks or like dangerous old Ford Explorers. In 20 years, I expect human driven cars will still be around, legal and tolerated, but there will be a lot of social pressure to get with the times.

Google predicts that driverless cars will be available by 2017, and most car manufacturers seems to be looking at around 2020. More conservatively, the Society of Automotive Engineers predicts autonomous cars on the road by 2025 [7]. Whether driverless cars become an option in 4 years or 7 or 12, I expect the astonishing advantages in price, convenience, and safety to drive a powerful demand. By any estimate, the driverless car will be a commonplace artifact of American society by 2033. Vote Pro if agree.

Sources:
[1] http://books.google.com...
[2] http://books.google.com...
[3]http://www.brakeandfrontend.com...
[4] http://www.forbes.com...
http://www.economist.com...
[5]http://www.economist.com...
[6http://mashable.com...
[7]http://www.economist.com...
Ragnar

Con

There was no ill intend to refuting pro's points, merely forgetfulness. However such is to pro's benefit, as it gave him a chance to actually defend his points (which does not negate my conduct error).

"Con's principal argument seems to be that driverless cars will not be universal within 20 years, a much higher benchmark than the argument of this debate. Con's benchmark sets up a "straw man,""
Funny to see straw man referenced, inside such a weak straw man argument.
My argument was most clearly not about if they would be universal, but if they would be "the norm ." Norm, commonly defined along the lines of "a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group" [5].
That means for pro to be correct, half or more of the cars on the road would have to be driverless within a mere 20 years. This feeds back to to my Round2 point that pro called a Straw Man rather than properly addressing "the median age of a car on the road is 11.4 years [4], if this trend continues unchanged (it's currently on the rise) it means that unless the new technology becomes all car dealers sell within 8.6 years, there will not be enough time for it to catch up to the numbers pro predicted." That would still not make them universal on the road, but such would make them the norm. Every vehicle sold being a driverless one, in a brief 8.6 years.
Alternatively if they were over 90% of sales at a much earlier point (say 2014?) they could also catch up to become the standard vehicle type on the road. High mindedness does not always best simple logistics.

"first commercially available power steering system in 1951. 5 years later, 1 out every 4 American cars were sold with power steering."
Given that "car manufacturers seems to be looking at around 2020" for driverless cars, if they prove as phenomenally popular as power steering with a rate of 25% of cars sold being autonomous in 2025; that is not nearly early enough to outsell regular cars fast enough to be the norm of cars in 2033 (see my quoted R2 argument above).

"I am not arguing that adoption will be universal, only that it will be rapid."
I need make no points against it being rapid, due to the resolution still being "driverless cars will be the norm within the next 20 years."
This line seems either an attempt to change the resolution, or a borderline concession.

"smartphones has become commonplace in American society"
Faulty Analogy, as commonplace is far from the average. The median phone with over 250-million units sold, is a Nokia 1100 [6]; also known as something you can buy in a gas station, as most consumers don't have much money.
The Norm of phones.

"Con was simply making a fatuous remark in his comments about male drivers"
Calling a line of argument and sources (CBS news) insanely foolish [7], is a low blow.
Each man has to pay a norm of $15,000 more for auto insurance than women [3], not due to sexism, but due to their greater number of accidents. If men simply handed the car key's to the women in their lives to drive for them, the road would be far safer. Even if it were just when they're going to the same location anyway, there would be a marked improvement. Such rarely happens.

"maintaining a driverless commercial vehicle is already less expensive than a manned vehicle."
1. Current autonomous cars are manned any time they are on the road. Yes one sitting there unmanned thus not driving, has almost no maintenance costs.
2. I already addressed that commercial trucks need a mechanic with them. Unless pro has a source that says 'driverless cars will have a new self repair system,' I fail to see the validity of this point. The claim of "Driverless systems are a much better solution to engine failures than human systems," is unwarranted.
3. I was unaware of there currently being any actual driverless commercial vehicles.

"individual car ownership will drop dramatically"
Less new cars on the road would be a good thing, but is counter to pro's argument. As less cars needing the be sold, only ups the number of years of driverless cars being the only ones sold, for them to catch up in the market.

"The current average daily cost of car ownership+maintenance is just short of $25. The daily cost of a driverless car sharing program is estimated at $5-10 for city dwellers... [4]"
Unwarranted claims, as the source did not actually state such things (If anyone wishes to verify, click the link and search for those numbers he proposed, or even the dollar symbol). It did however have a great quote that is on topic "No matter how powerful a technology is, there are numerous factors that stand between technical viability and widespread adoption—cost, usability, customer acceptance, business models, entrenched interests, regulations and so on."

"Con's arguments about the current rate of car renewal become irrelevant when the question is less when to buy a new autonomous car than it is when to stop paying extra for the stress and increased danger"
Personally I'd keep my car since all the drone-cars would be busy on rush hour when I get out of work, I suspect many other people would agree. Heck even people who wreck cars buy new ones instead of opting for safer public transportation; plus their insurance rates go up, while public transportation remains fixed.
Plus plenty of people do not live in cities, and require dedicated transportation; instead of one they can hail.
Plus for some strange reason people occasionally like to have sex in their cars (not to say that no one would want to pursue such things on public transit, merely strengthening the point that people have illogical attachments to ownership).

"How much less forgiving will the public be of the death and destruction by human caused accidents, when a nearly accident-free solution is commonly available?"
There already being accident-free solutions have not ended drunk drivers; no matter how cheap a cab ride home is (in this instance a highly comparable form of transportation).
This really sickens me...

"I agree that insurance companies are greedy..."
They will continue to be greedy. Consider medical insurance not wanting to give life saving treatments, no matter the moral outcry about it; which gives the mentally of greed a hopeful new technology will have to overcome; as opposed to pro's claim of "insurers will actively promote driverless cars in favor of people driven cars. Insurers will probably begin with significant bonuses and as popularity increases, will decrease and then eliminate coverage for people driven cars." I refuse to believe that they'd ever simply cease accepting money (not even getting into their political power).

"other cars cutting in front"
We seem to have agreement that on average, driverless cars will reach their destinations much slower than competing regular cars (even without the regular car speeding).

"really seem that cool when it is the only car with dents and dings or when it becomes of symbol of inefficiency and human error?"
Hummers still sell.
The symbol of inefficiency and human error.

"driverless car will be a commonplace artifact of American society by 2033. Vote Pro if agree."
Which would be a vote directly against the resolution pro chose. Not even his own conclusion, still supports his original claim.

My original conclusion stands "While it is a hopeful future, it is not the near future."

Sources:
[5] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[6] http://conversations.nokia.com...
[7] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Nice argument, and sorry for the conduct error (as beneficial as it should be to you, getting to defend your case).

I'm on my phone right now, while I await a new hard drive. I'll get my final round in, but with installing and configuring the OS and all that; it may prove close to the last minute.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Dragonfang 3 years ago
Dragonfang
OromagiRagnarTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro and Con have breached the conduct. Pro tried to change the resolution accepted on multiple times, he also seems not to acknowledge his burden of proof. Con broke a rule stated in the first round, he should read the rules in more carefully in the future. Both's grammars are readable, but Con have the edge in that category alongside organization. However, Con's position is arguably easier to organize since Pro needs to prove something difficult. Furthermore, Con messed up with the sources in the last round, makes it really hard to relate them. So it is a tie. Pro's arguments can hardly directly scratch the resolution. The debate isn't whether something should happen or whether it is possible; He must prove the condition is going to happen in the future under normal circumstances. Modifying or specifying what you are trying to prove can only happen before the debate starts or you are conceding the debate and starting a new one. Con's sources were more related to the debate's