GeekNights Thursday - Cars

Tonight on GeekNights, we talk about cars. In other news, if you have a good idea for a Thursday show, let us know. ;) We're done with cars. In the news, all-you-can-watch movie theaters, don't look at the sun, vacations from work are complicated in the US, Applebee's is awful, and Chuck E. Cheese's is changing.

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Things of the Day

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I love driving. I love the act of driving a car, and while I will definitely enjoy the conveniences and advantages of self driving cars I feel like when that time comes I will really miss driving myself.

Car notes suck. But I love our new car.


Holy fuck guys, I mean I don’t mind the preamble, but 40 minutes of preamble.


Arcades: I’ve spent… a lot of money on Sound Voltex at Round 1 in the past year. It’s about 1.25/play, and I put $50 on my card every month and make it stretch.

I’m up to the equivalent of 9 footers, pre-MAX300.

Actually, there’s a remix of MAX300 in Sound Voltex but the chart is really easy for some reason.

Bah, humbug! I remember the old Geeknights, back in my days before the war, where the preamble was an hour and a half and covered 3 episodes worth of materials, with dick jokes sprinkled to fill in the gaps! The main bit was 5 minutes only, and we liked it that way!

Which reminds me to set up M. D Geist and Odin for bad anime night. :sunglasses:


I just got to the actual episode part. You guys both sound terrifying to drive with, though I agree with your conclusion that people should not be driving cars.


We listened with onions in our belts. It was the fashion of the time.


Worst Pixar movie but best Pillar Man.


In an ideal world, only highly trained specialists probably should be driving cars, and then just to supervise automation in case something unexpected happens, akin to what happens with modern day airliners. Airline pilots are extremely highly trained and need to go in for regular recurrent training, but for most routine flights the autopilot does the majority of the work (although good pilots will also hand fly when safe to do so in order to keep their skills up). Most of the time they just monitor the instruments to make sure that the autopilot is working as expected. Every once in a while, though, they take over when something like a Captain Sully situation comes up.

You say that, but don’t forget - An aircraft is a small, small thing, flying through a big, big, sky, in a mostly straight line. Autopilot works so well, because there’s a hell of a lot less than can go odd when all is situation normal. You miscalculate by a bit, you’re still just in the empty sky(well, hopefully it’s really bad if you’re not.) Any situation even a little out of that - heavy turbulence, takeoff, landing, it’s all pilots, it’s not just emergency situations, it’s anything more technical than pointing the nose at something far away and making it not be far away. The reason Autopilot works so well is because there’s literally fuck all happening that they need to do - long, straight lines, easy curves with nothing to run into.

Pilots are also trained not to trust the Autopilot entirely, to monitor it, to make sure. Multiple crashes have been caused by pilots putting too much trust in Autopilot systems. The pilot isn’t there to take over when the Autopilot can’t. The Autopilot is there to save the pilot from doing all the boring, tedious, and exhausting bits in the middle that could practically be handled by tying the stick in place with a bit of string.

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I have been thinking about something regarding self driving cars. What about situations where a vehicle must drive on the road and also off road or on unimproved roads where you can’t really just stick in an address and let the gps and car sensors figure it out. I’m thinking about construction vehicles and dump trucks, forestry and logging, farming, etc. Will there have to be special vehicle classes and driver training will be a special case?

Interestingly, that’s where autopilot systems have been doing some of the best work - you can buy farming equipment, combine harvesters for example, that effectively drive themselves. Logging isn’t yet possible, mostly because while the rows in tree farms and the like are dead straight, but the environment and terrain isn’t so uniform. Plus, at at this point you get better yields with computer-assisted human control than full automation for a number of reasons too - let’s be honest - fucking tedious to get into here, and they’re often trucked from place to place anyway.

Less to do with car safety/automation, and more to do with the pain of vehicle ownership: my radiator fan exploded last night while I was sitting at a red light. Luckily isn’t only a $50 part, but it scared the everliving shit out of me when it happened.

Oh, yeah, I thought I stated that in my post, but maybe I wasn’t clear.

And yeah, they do monitor the autopilot to make sure and true, it’s there to prevent the pilot from boring, tedious work (although if you ask Airbus, they seem to really want to make it so that the pilot does nothing at all and leaves it all up to automation. At one point their CEO said his goal was to make a plane that his grandmother could fly or something along those lines).

Autopilot for planes is a much easier solution than the equivalent for cars for all the reasons you did mention. I was just trying to make the point that we may also want highly trained drivers for AI cars for similar reasons as to why we still have highly trained pilots in planes.

I would like to think that as cars start to drive themselves, you’ll see more driving tracks popping up for people who still want to have fun driving themselves, but just in very controlled circumstances and not on the open road.


I think you can do a lot of things. You could have organized rides, just like we have for bicycles. You could close roads for special driving events. There will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy driving for pleasure or sport. It just won’t be a skill that almost every single person is forced to learn. It will be a specialist skill.