Robots are unable to meet DARPA's Grand Challenge

Desert challenge too tough for robot racers

Robot race ends without a winner

From the article:Lots of people wrote to send me links like these, and the gist of the message was, "See, humans have nothing to fear from robots taking over the workplace -- robots will never be able to drive trucks."

These folks are missing the key feature of the Robotic Nation: incremental improvement.

The first article makes the point this way:As of March 13, robots can now drive 3 times faster and one mile further than they ever have before.

DARPA plans to rerun the Grand Challenge in 18 months, and it plans to double the prize to $2 million. Think about what will happen in those 18 months:So in 18 months, DARPA will run the race again, and lets say the winning contestant goes 14 miles. 18 months after that the winning contestant will go 28 miles. Then 56 miles, then 112 miles, and then finally a robot will complete the course. On that schedule, we have autonomous robots able to drive 150 miles on their own in just 7.5 years.

But the robots won't stop there -- they will keep getting better and better, just as computer chess machines did. In 15 years or so, robots will be driving trucks better than human drivers can. The robots will be safer and more reliable. They won't get lost. They will cause a lot less accidents. They will always follow traffic laws. They will never drive while drowsy or drunk. They will also cost a lot less than human drivers, and they will run 24x7. At that point, more than a million truck drivers will be out of work. The transition to robotic truck drivers probably happens in 2020 or so. See Robotic Nation for details.

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