The Problem With Self-Driving Cars: The Name

In 1899, you might have been forgiven for thinking the automobile was only a rich-man’s toy. A horseless carriage was for flat garden pathways. The auto was far less reliable than a horse. This was new technology, and rich people are always into their gadgets, but the automobile is a technology that isn’t going to go anywhere. The roads are too terrible, they don’t have the range of a horse, and the world just isn’t set up for mechanized machines rolling everywhere.

This changed. It changed very quickly. By 1920, cars had taken over. Industrialized cities were no longer in the shadow of a mountain of horse manure. A highway, built specifically for automobiles, stretched from New York City to San Francisco. The age of the automobile had come.

And here we are today, in the same situation, with a technology as revolutionary as the automobile. People say self-driving cars are toys for rich people. Teslas on the road aren’t for the common man because the economy model costs fifty thousand dollars. They only work on highways anyway. The reliability just isn’t there for level-5 automation. You’ll never have a self-driving car that can drive over mountain roads in the snow, or navigate a ball bouncing into the street of a residential neighborhood chased by a child. But history proves time and time again that people are wrong. Self-driving cars are the future, and the world will be unrecognizable in thirty years. There’s only one problem: we’re not calling them the right thing. Self-driving cars should be called ‘cryptocybers’.

Language are hard

Stick figures have killed themselves in a linguistic rebellion over the meaning of the word ‘crypto’

There is no doubt that various technologies are being called the wrong thing. For example, what is ‘crypto’? Is ‘crypto’ short for cryptography, or does it mean cryptocurrency? This was a heated debate last year when Bitcoin broke $20,000 USD. Those in the cryptography camp created flashy websites. Researchers at Johns Hopkins are teaching their students that cryptography is a hill worth dying on. Stephen Levy wrote a book titled Crypto, and it’s not about currency.

But just because journalists say something, doesn’t mean it’s right. Cryptobros have appropriated the term. It’s a question of something I like to call, ‘the aunt test’. Talk to your aunt. She watches cable news, and somehow still reads the local paper. She talks to people in the hair salon. Her thoughts on any subject is what the majority of people think. You’re too tapped into the bleeding edge to know what normal people think, but your aunt… your aunt thinks ‘crypto’ means those bytecoins or something. She thinks they’re only good for buying drugs on the Internet. She’s not wrong. If that’s what everyone thinks a word means, than that’s what it means. That’s how language works.

Crypto doesn’t mean cryptography. It also doesn’t mean cryptocurrency. It means ‘hidden’. We’ve gone over this before. The word ‘crypto’ has meant ‘hidden’ since before the invention of writing. If that sounds absurd, you’re right, but it makes sense: it’s in The Illiad or The Odyssey, and those were an oral tradition for a few hundred years before they were written down. Crypto means hidden, be it hidden writing or secret money.

Other words are frequently misused in the tech community. ‘Drone’ is a fighting word if you talk to the right people. The preferred term is a UAV, UAS, RC plane, or other initialism. Again, this is pseudolanguage. The word ‘drone’, as applied to aircraft, was first used in 1934 because a biplane sounds like a cloud of bees. The usage continued to include all unmanned aircraft, from cruise missiles to spaceships. Bob Woodward applied the term to unmanned aircraft raining literal Hellfire in 2001. The word ‘drone’ doesn’t only mean unmanned military aircraft carrying weapons; the word ‘drone’ has applied to every conceivable aircraft at some point in history. Technologists, it seems, do not make good linguists, and even worse classicists.

On the Subject of Cryptocybers

The subject at hand is what to call self-driving cars. Unfortunately, we have a word for self-driving cars. It’s ‘automobile’. The prefix ‘auto’ comes from ancient Greek, meaning ‘self’. ‘-mobile’ again comes from ancient Greek and means ‘moving’. An automobile is self-moving.

But what do we call a self-driving car? Is there a prefix that means driving? Obviously the ancients had no word for driving a car, but did they have a word for piloting a ship? Yes, it’s ‘cyber’. The root ‘cyber’ is another word that has been distorted by technology, being coined in the late 60s and popularized by William Gibson in the 1980s. From cyberspace we get cyberpunk, cybertechnology, and cybersecurity. But what does it mean, and where does it come from?

The modern origin of ‘cyber’ comes from cybernetics, brought to the world in the book The Human Use of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener. Wiener, a genius and a polymath, worked on fire control systems for anti-aircraft guns during World War II. This work led him to realize it was the messages in a system that were important, not simply the information in a system. Wiener’s insight was that the messages themselves steered the system. There was a Greek word for ‘steering’: cyber was the future. It’s where we get ‘government’ and ‘governor’ — the cybernḗtēs steers the society, and the cyberneticist studies control systems. The terms ‘cyberspace’ and ‘cybersecurity’? Well, technologists don’t make good linguists, after all.

So we have a word for ‘steering’, which is half of what a self-driving car does. How does it do it automatically? ‘Auto’? No, that’s too obvious. Maybe we can loop Polish into this and call it ‘robocyber’? Nah. You never see the real driver of a self-driving car. In fact, most people really can’t comprehend it. It’s hidden, and we know what Greek for ‘hidden’ is, don’t we? Self-driving cars are cryptocybers — hidden drivers — and they’re going to change the world.

We’re on the cusp of a revolution with self-driving cars, the only thing missing is that we’re not calling them the right thing. This isn’t new; generally, credit for first automobile goes to Karl Benz in the year 1885. The thing is, it wasn’t called an automobile at the time. That word was first coined, in French, a decade later. And so we are with self-driving cars. They exist — there are DIY robot cars rolling around tracks every weekend, and we will soon have fully autonomous cars. These machines will change the world, just like the automobile. Transport will be simple, automatic, and safe. Cities will change. Traffic will be a thing of the past. These machines will be driving down the cryptocyber superhighway, and the world will be a better place.

102 thoughts on “The Problem With Self-Driving Cars: The Name

  1. Norbert Wiener. Not Weiner.

    And no, hyping the self-driving cars will not make them drive any better.

    I’m scared to think what a self-driving car would do on a freezing rain day, in a cloudy Canadian night, where road lines are covered by ice salt and snow, and people are afraid to drive?

    Not everyone lives in California.

    1. That’s been my concern for years. It’s why I actually prefer Cryslers name “Super Cruise”. It does NOT give the user a sense of complete and utter protection for all accidents, to let them sleep at the wheel right up until it crashes straight into a medium at top speed which any human would have and should have easily avoided. It gives the user a sense that it’s a tool to assist them not take over.

      Brian seems to think it best to make users hype up something that’s not even ready to an even higher degree then it already is. This is unethical in my eyes. We should be telling the technically illiterate, no this is not self driving this will assist you with driving. Instead he proposes we lie to them and encourage beliefs that it can do everything when it plainly can not.

    2. “I’m scared to think what a self-driving car would do on a freezing rain day, in a cloudy Canadian night, where road lines are covered by ice salt and snow, and people are afraid to drive?”

      I’m a Canadian too. I drive on icy roads for work. About 1/3 of my distance is off asphalt.

      An icy highway is a highway. A car’s sensors read conditions and reacts accordingly. There is nothing inherently problematic about teaching a car to deal with ice, and traction control and ABS have been dealing with it for 20+ years.

      The heuristics of what you and I do to deal with ice and mud can be dealt with by a machine. Even if cars don’t now. Except they won’t be stubborn or egotistical about it. With much better reflexes.

      1. >” A car’s sensors read conditions and reacts accordingly. ”

        And that’s where the hype departs from reality. Everyone just assumes the sensors work, and the AI is smart enough to understand what they’re telling. The biggest problem with self-driving cars is that the sensors are really poor and there’s actually no AI to speak of.

        That’s because they haven’t solved the catastrophic forgetting problem of artificial neural networks, where enabling learning on-the-job erases previously learned behavior just as fast. The network is trained, then frozen in place, and loaded up into the car’s computer which theoretically reduces it down to a fancy lookup table – or an algorithm that could be replaced with one – except nobody knows what rules are written down in it.

        It’s like taking the 19th century horse and buggy, removing the horse and rolling just the buggy downhill or pulling it around by hidden ropes, and claiming that this sort of “automobile” is just some incremental improvements away from being a real car. Yeah, like, all of them.

        1. The reason why the “lookup-table-AI” is not the solution is the same that caused the AI winter around the 80’s – people realized that this kind of AI is fragile – it performs well within a narrow set of conditions, but deviate a little and all goes hang. It cannot improvise, infer or interpret, and the result of exception is bizarre behavior that is often much worse than the errors people would make because the AI has no self-criticism.

          So there’s this huge hype about reinforcement learning and neural networks, but ultimately they’ve just discovered a different way to make the same “Expert systems” they had in the 80’s – only this time they’re sufficiently complex and big that they aren’t immediately discovered as faulty. Corollary to the Turing argument: a sufficiently complex dumb machine can pass for an intelligent one because it exhausts the engineer’s imagination to test it, and the sales department’s patience to keep it off the market. Then it becomes the problem of the legal department, and whether they can spin the numbers to argue it is “statistically not worse”.

          It takes some years and hundreds of people dead before anyone admits that they might have made a mistake again, or we just accept the fact that our cars may randomly kill us.

    3. Scraping teh ice off the car windwos before you start in the morning.
      Well maybe not the windows but the sensors, the cameras all need de icing or dust removing.
      These parts need to be made robust enough for people to pour hot water on them (stupidly) or hit with a power washer.

      I’d love to spend some time with one of these auto driving cars, and treat it like people treat their real cars

    1. What do you base that claim on? The ability to traverse rough terrain?

      Horses require constant upkeep (food, water, sleep, grooming, hoof care). I’m no horse expert but I think there is also an issue of horse/rider relationship.

      1. I’m basing it on the fact that horses are still the solution of choice everywhere where fuel, tools, part factories and, for that matter, roads are scarce.

        Cars, together with the huge infrastructure they require, need constant upkeep as well — there are several whole industries dedicated to them, in fact.

          1. Can you also park the streets you need to drive that car around, the fuel stations, repair workshops and part factories? Car is just a small top of an iceberg of huge and costly infrastructure required to use it, and that infrastructure has tremendous upkeep costs.

          2. A horse doesn’t need a barn, it can be parked outside on a field, where it will fend for itself. If there are other horses, it will also make more horses to replace itself, which cannot be said of the farm tractor.

      2. Reliability has been oft defined as the probability that a device will perform its required function; that is, the MTBF. But these calculations are based on normalized operating conditions, that may or may not be representative of the end-use environment.

        Marines routinely used mules in Afghanistan where mechanical transport equipment could not function or was non-supportable and unreliable. Conversely, this biological solution would be a poor choice for the long supply caravans the military used in Iraq for both reliability and logistic support.

        Personally believe that we are standing at the beginning for removal of most human operators for commercial wheeled transport, and very close to removing human operators for cargo aircraft. But the future tends to appear closure that it actually is.

    2. My car is almost 30years old. Hard to be sure, because I built it out of the parts of several dead cars. It has been sitting in a carport exposed to the weather, unused, untouched, for several weeks. When I need to drive somewhere, it will be ready to go the moment I turn the key.
      None of the above are possible with a horse!

    3. Not sure if you are attempting sarcasm, wit, or what. How what you assert clearly isn’t so, or horses would be playing a larger role Infrastructure was being constructed to facilitate horse traffic long before motor vehicles came along including rail locomotives. Not even Cattlemen would want to be limited to only horses.

      1. I think you are very deeply rooted in your cultural assumptions here, and you greatly underestimate the power of marketing and lobbying. Look at China — a decade ago it was a bicycle country. Everybody owned a bicycle, and it was the fastest and most efficient way of getting around. The bicycle might have been, in fact, a contributing factor to China’s economic miracle. But if you go there now, you will hardly see any bicycle anywhere. The car has become a symbol of status, and everyone want to have one, even though (or maybe because) it is expensive, impractical and inefficient. And once you have a lot of car owners, you also have pressure to build the roads and all the rest of infrastructure required for it — and soon you are trapped in a car hell.

        Sure, roads are still required for cart and carriage traffic, and for fast horseback traffic — that’s why the Roman roads were built and maintained. But they are a convenience/optimization, and not a requirement, like with cars.

        1. China has a growing middle class.

          If you were making $50k a year instead of $5k, would you still haul you butt on a bicycle and live in a tiny flat in a grossly overcrowded city because you can’t reasonably travel more than 15 miles in one direction in a day by your own devices?

          No, you move yourself out to a sub-urb and you buy a car. The congestion might be bad, but worse would be to share a bedroom with your children and your grandmother.

          1. I live in Asia in a grossly overcrowded city (that I love dearly). My neighbors make well under 5k a year, although family income matters much more than individual income.

            We all drive motorbikes. A run down but serviceable motorbike costs around 150 US dollars and a cheap bicycle around 45.

    4. What exactly does “way more reliable” mean? I have 3 tractors all of them work daily and are all over 30 years old our everyday car is 21 years old and stood un-used and ignored for 6 months 2years ago without dying and we also have a 1965 land rover that is only used if it snows and it hasn’t died despite being ignored for afew years at a time.
      The average life span of a horse is 25 years, their working life is considerably less.
      On top of all this I don’t live in the shadow of a mountain of horse poo.

      1. Horses are self-replenishing and self-repairing. You are dependent on a parts dealership outside of your property, or your tractors and cars would eventually stop functioning entirely.

        A machine is good as long as it is not broken. Your tractors are useful where you are, but take them to the deepest darkest Africa, and you will quickly miss the simpler times. That’s what reliability means – it depends on your supply chain.

  2. In fact, horses are all the things that the automobile industry has been struggling to become for decades. They are self-driving, self-repairing but with built-in obsolescence, they do automated parking, use bio-fuel and high-speed head-on collisions are extremely rare for them.

      1. Their emotions are working at self-preservation. “I’m scared! Run away, run away!” My horse stopped pulling because (as she told me) the bit was pinching the corner of her mouth. Changed to a solid-cheek bit and all was fine.

        Ever wonder about communicating with space aliens? Get a horse. It’s gotta be much the same.

        1. That said; horses have two modes: “durrr”, and “PANIC!”.

          They’re evolved to deal with predators, and they’re ruminants, so mostly they’re either grazing or they’re running away. It’s an incredible feat that they could be domesticated in the first place, and some of their relatives like the zebras simply couldn’t be.

          1. Not ruminants. That’ll be cows, sheep, goats, the cud-chewers.They want to graze about 17h/day. Ruminants, with their four-stomach digestive tract, exact more nutrition out of cellulose than horses can.

            They are more mentally alert than you suggest. Our binocular vision identifies us to them as predators. Stare at a horse and you are saying, “I want to kill and eat you.” The reaction to that is fright. Move towards the horse and he may feel terror. It’s your eyes. Work with a horse, become his friend (or at least a vending machine with food) and his attitude towards you may be better. My wife can “read” horses and tell what they are thinking.

          1. >”They do here in Switzerland. ”

            Yes, but that’s a different question in a country that can be traversed end to end in an afternoon by car, and crosswise even faster. You almost don’t need trains, because everything’s so close to everything that you could almost link the city tram tracks together.

        1. The U.S. has struggled with the public train system. The great men implemented… then the war criminals and I’m not sure what mafia tore them out. The push for the oil fields is my guess gang.

          Like with anything… the ability to use logic more and processes inputs for the most accurate healthy and safe outputs will be what is required to automate systems to be the healthiest and safest while still preserving our Rights considered when iterating through all the combinations of them and then balancing justice.

          That’s why I prefer the term…”good logic” versus “good luck”.

          Oh, and I do wonder with biogas systems if horses manure can be processed as was in India and China I think at a larger scale for gas production and fertilizer for feed.

    1. A well-trained pair of horses can pull a cart straight down the road with little attention from the driver. The driver can indeed drop the reins and fiddle with his cell phone, as long as he remains aware or traffic and of which way to direct the horses at a turn. He also does not let the horses “cut corners” in the turn.

      I find myself wondering how the autonomous car will work in Holmes County, Ohio, where Amish horse-drawn carriages are often part of the traffic. Pulling out, safely, to get past them is a necessary skill for the country Ohio motorist. I also try to imagine my (not yet available) cryptocyber pickup truck hauling my horse trailer.

      1. It is true. My grandfather was brought home by his horses in his cart few times. He passed out from too much drink.

        Horses covered approximately 10 km alone, took turns alone. They knew how to get home.

  3. As much as I’m not normally a Benchoff fan, thanks for this well-written article with a clever twist, showing a current and relevant topic in a completely unexpected light. More of this please!

  4. I’m curious if any automotive racing series have rules against self driving racecars. They all have rules about drivers aids but what happens when you remove the driver.

    In terms of public adoption, i think that we will see residential speed limits slow down and highways speed up when self driving cars start becoming more wide spread.

      1. Not necessarily. Lots of rules are in place now to keep race car drivers safe, and such rules also make the sport more boring. If you remove the drivers, you can remove lots of those rules, and things will get interesting.

  5. Words need to have a more static (not completely static) meaning. Marketing, hype machine, mainstream media, etc. need to get smacked down more often for their attempts to co-opt or redefine definitions of words.

    (My opinion) there would be so much less animosity, lawsuits, etc. if the ‘self-driving car’ features were more accurately labeled as “really good cruise control”. Oh hey, it’s like cruise control (which I understand), but it will also TRY to detect cars/objects around me, maybe do some braking as a best-effort not to hit them, etc., but I also know that I can’t try and watch a movie when this is engaged. I think the courts would be more lenient if this was how the feature was conveyed. Love Elon, but I think the desire to get more purchases and generate a lot of discussion caused him to oversell what was a great, new technology, and create excess backlash on his company.

    Maybe honesty isn’t dead, it was just replaced by 30+ pages of EULA.

    1. Every single time you turn on Autosteer, a message pops up about keeping hands on the wheel and there are more reminders if it detects a lack of torque on the wheel.

      The only thing I think they could do better is add some interactivity to the torque detection, as constant torque is easily created by passing out onto the wheel.

  6. I was delighted to discover the relationship between the words cybernetic and governor when I got curious where the Kubernetes package got its name. I also finally understood where the ‘b’ came from in gubernatorial.

    Cryptocybers is an interesting word, but I fear it’s too esoteric for the general public. Something corny like “Carbernetes” might have a better chance. Or just cybercars…

  7. Nice article, but does it really matter anymore? I read through a short debate the other day that was an aside in an electronics forum where the poster was trying to understand why a component had blown, one person kept insisting that he needed to “reverse engineer” the fault rather then diagnose or trouble shoot it. The debate ended with the reverse engineer poster saying that it did not matter since words had a “flexible definition” anyway.
    I prefer a word to have a nice rigid definition but as we keep moving more into a global community it seems that words are more often being given those “flexible” definitions as languages and cultures collide.
    Maybe we just need an emoticon for everything and be happier.

  8. Let’s call them what they really are: GOVERNMENT CONTROL. It’s the Government that will be able to allow or restrict if you can go uptown with your level in society, if the location you elect will be allowed. Do you know how I know this? Because China is already doing it.

    1. Quite true. Once automated cars are the norm. The state can control where you go at their discretion or even set the car to drive into a telephone pole for that matter.

      Also they will know who you visit and for how long, they will monitor conversations in your car since it will have voice activation.

      Orwell’s Big Brother has nothing on today’s technology advocates.

    2. That is one of my worries too and in that case the world is not a better place all but instead a far worse place because of them.
      Even going back to using a horse and buggy would be an improvement.
      Plus if they have back doors for the government to take control hackers especially those working for terrorist groups, enemy nation states, or criminal organizations will most certainly find them and probably be better at a taking over the vehicles than the government.
      I can see a terrorist group or rouge state holding a city hostage by shutting down transport or crashing vehicles into buildings until demands are met or a crime lord making a self driving car carrying a key witness crash into a phone pole at high speed etc.
      Then there’s the last thing we need to remember we live near a star we call it the sun and it has CMEs.
      If the internet and GPS constellation goes down the centrally controlled robot cars will become lawn ornaments even if they themselves were not fried by the geomagnetic storm.
      What would have been just a severe inconvenience for a few months becomes a trip back to the dark ages.

      1. “…one of my worries too and in that case the world is not a better place all but instead a far worse place because of them.”

        More reason to have more fiber optics or better shielded copper. The wireless world is so not even looking like
        “plausible deniability” valid in regards to health and safety concerns not being intentional to create more ill and death related business. Seems on some days flat out invasive nuisance malicious intent like human sacrifice religious terrorist cult ritualistic crimes being compounded and concealed.

      2. But just think of all the suicide bombers lives that will be saved when you can just use the car as a “smart bomb”. Geo fencing should help reduce the risk somewhat. But you know it’s just a matter time until that feature is “broken”.

  9. ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Automobile.
    What’s Automobile? It is nor breaks, nor steering,
    Nor engine, nor dash, nor any other part
    Belonging to a car. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other word would smell as sweet;
    So Tesla would, were he not Tesla call’d,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. Tesla, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Take all myself.

    Happy Day of love and friendship

  10. The biggest difference between the transition from horses to cars, and from cars to crytpocybers (I’m getting on board even if my spell checker isn’t), is one of freedom. Cars (arguably) gave you a bit more freedom than horses because a horse can still do what it wants if it wants to. This time, we’re used to being in control, and there’s a sizable group of people who won’t want to relinquish that control. Generations will have different takes though, kids now will have just been driven around by their parents/whoever anyway, what do they care if the car starts driving itself?

    I love driving, and I’ll be hard pushed to give it up, but the real attraction to self driving cars for me, is the fact that I ride a motorcycle.

    1. If you going to give up the freedom of being able to travel when and were you want with out the government or corporate entities constantly looking over your shoulder you might as well use mass transit as you’ll be doing the planet a far bigger favor than you ever could riding in a robot car.
      No car not even a self driving one can compete with the efficiency of a train or even a bus it’s simple geometry.
      Also cryptocyber is probably the worst sounding term for self driving cars I have ever heard.
      Might as well call them Johnny Cabs as at least that is catchy.

  11. As soon as the general populous realizes they can walk in front of a cryptocyber and it will stop for them, then most of the streets will become a mall or slow moving parking lot. Unless of course, one of the cryptocyber’s cameras automatically uploads a picture of the offending pedestrian to the authorities, who automatically issue a citation, via text to the pedestrian who gets a ticket before he/she even has a chance to hear the automated horn of the cryptocyber as they reach the sidewalk.
    Hmm…maybe it might work after all.

    1. People might start wearing masks or say the vehicles are there just to spy on them and hand out tickets and push for a ban.
      Though I expect road piracy to be a problem with automated trucking as more people would be willing to do it since there will be no truck driver to contend with robbing a robotic truck would be easier from a moral and legal stand point no kidnapping or assault charges or worrying does that guy have a family etc.

    2. You can walk in front of a human driving a car and it will usually attempt to stop for you too, but self-driving (sorry, autocybering) AI can’t magically remove the momentum of two tons of steel. If you step straight out in front of a self driving car at speed it will attempt, and fail, to not hit you.

  12. “But history proves time and time again that people are wrong”
    hmmm… so what does you make YOU think you are right, right now?

    I also remember people saying that flying cars were the future, I had to be because the roads could never handle all that traffic. From a famous documentary film comes the quote “Roads? Where we are goings we don’t need roads!”

    Back back to the topic, self driving cars, no matter how technology progresses, there is one thing that slows it down and may stop it in it’s tracks… the legal system. Do you want to give control to a system that may cause a crash but legally blames you because you are the “driver” yet you never needed to touch the wheel until it was too late? Self driving cars may be safer, but humans don’t care about safety, they care about control or power. People smoke, drink and do many other things that are socially accepted yet harmfull to them or their surroundings. So legal issues and giving up control are two major issues that need to be overcome first. They might be much more difficult to overcome then building roads and infrastucture. The acceptation of self driving cars require people to give something up and there the differ from the normal car introduced 100 years ago. Though I’m sure I’m also wrong, because “history proves time and time again that people are wrong”

    PS: history has also proven people to be right as well, yet as it is easier to be wrong then right is is easy to forget then people can be right many times.

  13. “A technology in the past was considered to be a novelty, and later became ubiquitous. Therefore this tangentially related technology which is now considered to b a novelty will also become ubiquitous”.
    That seems like an unnecessarily logically strained introduction to an otherwise nice article about linguistic drift.

    1. Brian’s Aunt knows everything. Everyone who’s wrong is right about everything. Everything everyone thinks is wrong. That’s the wisdom Benchoff has brung to share with us all.

  14. Yup, I wrote about the problem choosing the name 5 years ago, and I wasn’t the first. https://ideas.4brad.com/self-driving-cars-autonomous-vehicles-driverless-cars-and-robocars

    Most people hate “driverless” (it’s like horseless) and nobody really likes any of the other terms either. I use robocars as do Wired and a few others. (It’s short and descriptive, but some find it too, well, robotic.)

    The best option would have been for Google to have declared a name for the generic form of the tech. I tried to get them to do it but it did not happen.

  15. One thing that could be mentioned a little more often about self-driving cars: GPS navigation isn’t needed to provide any of the expected safety benefits used to argue for making them mandatory! Even if said automated driving is perfect, its navigation could be made to consist of a system where you use the car’s controls to point in the general direction you want to go, with the piloting system interpreting this into turn-by turn directions in a sort of reverse of a GPS system telling a human driver how to navigate. Being able to punch in a map location and sit back is mainly a convenience, and yet for whatever reason it gets treated as though it were not only as important as collision avoidance, but somehow inherently entwined with it.

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