[Nfbmo] California tells Uber to shut down 'illegal' self-driving car ...

DanFlasar at aol.com DanFlasar at aol.com
Sat Dec 17 04:57:08 UTC 2016

I certainly do understand the appeal of new  technologies, but I'd put the 
brakes on a national system of driverless  cars.   Not a surprise that Uber 
is spearheading it - it's the perfect  solution to their burgeonging labor 
issues contesting the companies unfair labor  standards - get rid of the 
     Several  months ago I sent out a post that advised against using Uber 
or Lyft, but after  spending a lot of time looking into the real condition 
of local ride services, I  urge all who use Uber to tip their driver - 
they're being driben to bankruptcy  by the companies overhiring and capricious 
mileage rates.  At one time,  ride-share drivers could do fairly well, but 
overcompetition from 'contract'  drivers is driving up costs and cutting into 
available riders.  Give the  driver a tip - you may not have him for long.
    The idea of  'smart' highways has been in tech news for  years, in one 
form or another,  but whatever the plan, it will involve very high changes 
to the roadway  infrastructure, which we taxpayers will pay for but which 
will benefit a few  monopolies like Uber and Lyft.  At least the interstate  
highway  system was a public utility, paid for with our taxes, but without the 
added  costs of private control of the roadways.   Anyone remember the days 
 when cell phone roaming fees were so high because some tower owners could 
charge  whatever they wanted - sometimes $10/minute or more!  
       Why  not take the money and improve our mass transit system, 
especially in  rural areas, as so many other countries have  done?   
    It's one thing  to write computer code that might cause problems with a 
database or a  spreadsheet but putting your life at the mercy of 
algorithms?   In  addition to eliminating a significant component of the labor force 
(or in plain  terms, jobs), we will also find ourselves unwitting alpha- and 
beta-testers for  an impossibly complex new system.   There is as yet no 
agreed upon  legal framework to identify who pays what in the event of an  
      The  number of variables involved in driving is enormous - even 
trains, which at  least can only navigate limited railways, still have to have an 
 engineer.   Incorporating road conditions, traffic, pedestrians,  weather, 
visibility and other drivers is staggering.
    There was a joke  some years ago about technology:  if cars evolved as 
much as computers  have in terms of cost, size format and power, we will all 
be able to buy a car  for $5,  drive 1000 miles per hour, can fit one in 
our pocket and crash  twice an hour.
    So you really  want to ride in a vehicle run by Windows 10?
    Polemics aside,  much of the country has no decent transit system - 
especially outside of large  urban areas, which overburdens those who for one 
reason or another cannot  drive.  But what, exactly, is the benefit of a 
driverless car, really,  other than to eliminate labor issues.  Though your per 
trip cost may be  cheaper (always a good thing), we will still bear the 
costs in terms of various  taxes and fees, only to benefit a few very large 
    There's a reason  San Francisco stopped Uber as fast as they did.
Dan Flasar
PS:   I still regret that  I didn't buy a $25 ticket for a commercial 
suborbital flight offered by a coupon  on a bottle of Tang.  
However, the placement of the homes is not consistent with the  address 
sequencing.  So,  one would have to know which house that is  being looked for 
by description.  It is not possible for these companies to  map everything 
accurately, and so, I wonder how they are going to address  it.  In my 
employment, I have gone to some very isolated areas that were  confusing to find 
for a human who could think through what appears to be an  illogical 

I believe that this will be a great  accomplishment for people of all 
abilities.  It is very, very  exciting.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 16, 2016, at  7:08 AM, Gary Wunder via Nfbmo <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> 
>  What is so interesting about self driving cars is the unresolved issue  
> whether they will be self driving or be self driving with a human  backup.
> Some of the companies involved in this research believe that it  is 
unsafe to
> rely on a human driver in the event that the computer  guidance system has
> difficulty. In the meetings I have been in the  companies promoting these
> vehicles say that you can't have it both ways:  if a person is in a self
> driving car, he or she will not pay attention  to the road in the same way
> that a normal driver would. They say that  they are unequivocally opposed 
> putting out systems that can do 95% of  what needs to be done and relying 
> human beings to fill the  gap.
> In the case of one company I have had the pleasure to work  with, they
> claimed that their vehicles had driven over 350,000 miles and  that the 
> accident recorded was when one of their vehicles was rear  ended by 
> I think legislators and regulators need to  think not only about the
> technology but the psychology behind a self  driving vehicle. Not only do 
> want to one day be able to go from point  X to point why without relying 
> someone else, but I want the safety  that can be a part of a computerized
> system that is not distracted by a  noise in the backseat, by trying to
> rubberneck when going by a fire, or  by trying to text and drive. These 
> exciting times. 
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org]  On Behalf Of Daniel Garcia 
> Nfbmo
> Sent: Wednesday, December  14, 2016 8:41 PM
> To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List  (nfbmo at nfbnet.org)
> Cc: Daniel Garcia
> Subject: [Nfbmo] California  tells Uber to shut down 'illegal' 
> car service in San  Francisco
> Source:
>  elf-driving-car-service-to-a-second-city/?utm_term=.0e765e2b0635
> Uber expanded its self-driving car service to San Francisco on  Wednesday,
> but state regulators are calling for a halt. (Courtesy of  Uber) 
> Not even a full day after Uber launched its self-driving  service in San
> Francisco did California regulators tell the company to  shut it down.
> The California Department of Motor Vehicles  threatened legal action, 
> the company that it must first obtain a  special permit to test autonomous
> vehicles on the state's  roadways.
> Uber launched the service Wednesday morning and  acknowledged at the time
> that it might run afoul of state regulators.  The company had declined to
> obtain a permit on the grounds that its cars  require human monitoring and
> thus do not meet the state's definition of  an autonomous vehicle, a
> spokeswoman said early Wednesday.
> The DMV disagreed. It called Uber's program illegal and demanded the  
> cease operations until it received a permit that would require  the 
> to prove that it is financially responsible, has qualified  drivers, and 
> report collisions and other safety information to  state regulators.
> "These requirements serve to build public  trust in the safety of the
> technology and to foster confidence in  allowing autonomous vehicles on
> public streets," Brian Soublet, the  department's deputy director and 
> counsel, wrote in a  letter.
> A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately  respond to a request 
> comment on the letter. Uber said earlier  Wednesday that it hoped 
> would see the merits of its  self-driving vehicle program, including the
> potential to improve traffic  safety, and not create barriers to 
> "Pittsburgh,  Arizona, Nevada and Florida in particular have been leaders 
> this way,  and by doing so have made clear that they are pro technology. 
> hope  is that California, our home state and a leader in much of the 
>  dynamism, will take a similar view," Anthony Levandowski, the head of  
> advanced technology group, wrote on the blog.
>  Uber began matching a small number of riders with vehicles that rely on
>  Uber's self-driving technology rather than human drivers on Wednesday
>  morning. Those vehicles still had a safety driver on board who can take
>  control if necessary, as well as a company engineer.
> San Francisco is the second city in the country to officially  test Uber's
> service, which the company has said will be critical to the  future of 
> ride hailing and urban transportation. Uber first  deployed self-driving
> vehicles in Pittsburgh three months ago.
> "With its challenging roads and often varied weather, Pittsburgh  
provided a
> wide array of experiences. San Francisco comes with its own  nuances
> including more bikes on the road, high traffic density and  narrow lanes,"
> Levandowski wrote on the blog.
> The  rollout in San Francisco started with just a handful of self-driving
>  vehicles, and was expected to gradually scale up as more cars become
>  available, a spokeswoman said. Uber has a partnership with Volvo to  
> the company's self-driving vehicles, including the newly  released XC90,
> which comes equipped with a system of lasers and cameras  for guidance.
> Only users with a credit card tied to a San  Francisco address are 
> for the program. Those who are matched  with a self-driving car will 
> an alert that allows them to learn  more about the program or opt out, a
> spokeswoman said.
>  Uber is the second Silicon Valley company to make self-driving car news  
> week. Google announced Tuesday that its self-driving car project  would be
> spun off into a separate company, called Waymo. The move is a  sign that 
> company intends to bring the technology to market, though  an exact 
> remains unclear.
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