It’s Called a Windshield Wiper

I saw an article talking about how Silicon Valley is a terrible place for testing self driving cars because the weather there is too good.

Of course there is not a whole bunch of snow there, but there are ski resorts about 100 miles away, and mountains, etc.

They also make the point that this is a tremendously difficult problem.

The truth is that it is not a big problem.  The solution is called a windshield wiper.

In fact, I spent nearly a year working on a windshield wiper system for the LIDAR sensor clear on the US Army’s now canceled MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment ) program.

The windshield wiper was complex, because the sensor covered about 200 degrees, and the windows were faceted with sharp edges, and I had to design a linkage to make the wiper follow the profile, and EMI/RFI shielded cabling, and gas tight seals, etc. ………

This is not trivial, but the solutions are straightforward, and California can accommodate pretty much all of the environmental conditions with the exceptions of tropical rain forest and tundra.

The real problem with the self-driving cars being developed in Silicon Valley is that the Silicon Valley ethos simply does not work for things that have to work outside of a computer.

The debacles at Theranos and Juicero are classic examples as to what happens Silicon Valley tries to conquer the real world, it turns to complete sh%$.

There may be self-driving vehicles capable of driving on any road before I die, but they will not come from the minds of Google, or Tesla, or Uber.

It might come from the NSA, it might come from Detroit, but truly autonomous cars are not cute cat GIFs, so I don’t expect them to come from the Randian supermen of Silicon Valley.

Leave a Reply