Things I would like to see
I would LOVE to see one of these things trying to drive around Bangkok. It would be seriously hilarious :)
Google may have underestimated the difficulty of driving in Europe, and yesterday’s announcement about its driverless cars is evidence that it has. A photo of the new Google self-driving car But Mr Insurance man, the Google Noddy Car bumped me! Mountain View's Chocolate Factory unveiled a very Willy Wonka-esque two-seat …
Americans have so little idea of roundabouts. In Vail, Colorado, which has two roundabouts, they have a public information film on the local tourist info TV channel telling them how drive around them.
I've also seen americans shortly after they have encountered Swindon's magic roundabout for the first time. Its much more amusing that any cat vid on youtube.
While not an American, I have to admit the first time I encountered Swindon's Magic Roundabout, I'd successfully negotiated it before I realised what it was I'd just passed though.
Personally I'd set the Wonkamobile on the A421 heading through Milton Keynes. Before they built an extra roundabout on the east side, it was 13 roundabouts, 6.7 miles, 7 minutes, not exceeding the speed limit either.
Is it a Sinclair C5 with a roof on?
They will be impossible to insure, that's for certain. No insurance company in their right mind will insure them. And Google will not be allowed in the U.S. to self-insure unless they offer insurance to the general public at the regulated rates.
I worked in the automotive industry in Detroit in the 90's. Back then the argument against electric cars was insurance. The perfect storm was this: man has his electric Chevy poorly charged sitting in his garage. His pregnant wife goes into labor, he stuffs her into his e-car which runs out of juice after ten minutes. Wife dies, so does the baby. What damages can a court award?
Answer: the man can end up OWNING General Motors (I am not exaggerating).
Think that's silly? True story: drunk kid drives his Pontiac Firebird at 120mph, drives over railroad tracks, gets airborn, rear ends a truck, truck's Mansfield Bar shears off the battery cables causing the airbag to not inflate - not that it would have saved his life - gets himself dead. Family sued and got $150M.
Sure there are plenty of wide and straight roads, but - as someone who has driven on both sides of the Atlantic - the idea that all US roads are like this is tosh. Even San Francisco which has a nice grid system, also has hills and windy roads. Head east and you hit a mountain range.
As for everyone driving at the same speed with cruise control, it's no different to the UK. Sure if you're on the interstate/motorway you can probably use cruise control for lengthy periods, but then you'll hit a lorry passing another lorry with both lanes suddenly slowing from 80mh to 45mph in the blink of an eye. Then the two lorries - non speed limited - will reach the top of the hill and accelerate to 80mph on the descent before repeating.
Now the Google Car might not be prime time ready yet, but anyone who thinks UK roads are somehow special and that UK drivers somehow excel over and above all others is the type of person still buying stock in buggy whip manufacturers.
Then the two lorries - non speed limited - will reach the top of the hill and accelerate to 80mph on the descent before repeating.
They probably are speed limited; but if there is sufficient weight in the back, the driver can push the clutch in, coast down the hill, and achieve interesting speeds. It's not especially safe; but it's amazing how bored it is possible to get when you're on motorway limited to 56mph all day. Just FYI, not all limiters are equal...they range from around 54-58mph which is why you get one lorry inching past another on the flat. Uphill speeds depends upon how much weight is in the back, plus the power of the lorry in question. Lorry drivers don't do it to be dicks...as a rule of thumb every single one of them has the accelerator floored...the rest is just physics.
Nope, they're not. I remember being surprised when I visited the UK to learn that all semi trucks (lorries) had speed limiters. Having lived my whole life in the USA I'd never heard of such a thing. It's not uncommon to see them going 70-80 mph on flat ground in some areas if they can get away with it.
Having also driven on both sides of the pond I can say that aside from the bizarrely disorienting experience of driving on the opposite side of the street as I'd done all my life, it's really quite similar. Go a bit South to Los Angeles and aside from driving on the right, you could just about be in London. The locals seem to think that the accelerator pedal is an on/off switch and indicators are optional.
They don't do it to be dicks? Of course they do, if not on purpose, but their inability to do anything but put the accelerator flat to the floor. If they range between 54 and 58 then there isn't a requirement for them to overtake, just sit behind the one doing a couple of miles an hour slower and you know, ease off the bloody accelerator, its not an on/off switch for a reason!
Tell me about it. I live in San Diego, California and when I read, "In California, where the project was conceived, driving is already semi-automated – you can practically drive with your eyes closed. Everyone (well, almost everyone) obeys the speed limit, and most cars are on cruise control most of the time", my keyboard got a good dose of semi drank tea just before I fell to the floor laughing my ass off.
Barely any city in the UK has a nice logical system (though Milton Keynes springs to mind) as most layouts go back centuries.
Most US highway junctions are nice sprawling affairs with pretty logical lane markings. The UK equivalent are often, shall we say, at best 'space constrained' and at worst confusing/dangerous. This is combined with lane widths that aren't generally as wide as the equivalent US roads, putting cars in closer proximity. The density of traffic in the UK is very high (it is a surprisingly small island, in case you hadn't noticed).
All this is not a good recipe for automatic, self drive robo-cars.
Oh, and trust me, UK drivers are in no way better than anywhere else (many should probably be using a white stick and a guide dog, while others will never go shopping for indicator bulbs).
The UK equivalent are often, shall we say, at best 'space constrained' and at worst confusing/dangerous.
And in some places like Banbury the road engineers have chosen to 'clarify' things by painting lane markings on roundabouts. Except that they are for the most part impossible to adhere to
What, no vehicles actually using the outside 'straight ahead' lane? You'd like to think that was just lucky timing by the photographer, wouldn't you? But no. The yellow routing line drawn by Google maps is how everyone negotiates that roundabout.
"Sure if you're on the interstate/motorway you can probably use cruise control for lengthy periods, but then you'll hit a lorry passing another lorry with both lanes suddenly slowing from 80mh to 45mph in the blink of an eye"
My Cruise Control unit detects this and adjust speed accordingly. Are there any cars left with "dumb" cruise control anymore?
... and let's see how it deals with 250 km/h traffic. Don't get me wrong, I like the assistance systems of my Audi very much, and it handles stuff like accelerating and breaking on the Autobahn very nicely. But I'm not buying into this hype at all. And that's why: To make this work on a grand scale efficiently, a lot of cars must become Wonkacars (I like this term).
If a Wonkacar is in "normal" (i.e. human operated) traffic, it will drive very defensively, if only for insurance reasons. So it will be like a driver who follows EVERY rule, ALL THE TIME. We know these kinds of people. They are a nuisance and break down the system.
Only if Wonkacars make up the majority of traffic on the road, they can operate smoothly, by communicating with each other, speeding up the same time at the traffic lights, for example, or forming "road trains" of several cars having the same destination, stuff like this. But even then a few human drivers have the potential to bring down chaos onto this choreography of Wonkacars.
There will be useful applications for Wonkacars, for example in door to door delivery, or for supporting drivers in a way my Audi already does in a rudimentary way, but unless you replace all cars with Wonkacars by government order, and make "human driving" illegal, the whole concept will not fly for the average motorist.
The whole idea also upsets me on a completely different level, and that is it's impact on society. Thanks to the health and public safety delusion we are now considering making people wear helmets on a bicycle. I'm not against wearing such things in general, actually, this makes a lot of sense for a lot of people, kids for a start, but making this mandatory is preposterous. Few days ago a kid in our area was very severely hurt at the skull when being run over BY a guy on a bicycle. So let's make kids wear protective gear all the time? All playgrounds here in Germany are now being "upgraded" to prevent kids from being hurt by falling down. So, they are having cushy floor mats now, etc. I don't advocate having playground which are by design dangerous, but falling down a tree and hurting your knee is also a very valuable lesson and experience. We are raising a generation of, well, sissies, who are afraid of life, and who are putting safety before freedom.
Whoa, this became a sermon. Sorry for this.
'Oliver!!!!!' (TG meme, for those that might enjoy such a thing) wrote: "Don't get me wrong, I like the assistance systems of my Audi very much, and it handles stuff like accelerating and ***> breaking <*** on the Autobahn very nicely."
Your Audi *breaks* on the Autobahn? Terrible. You should get that fixed.
"Oliver!!!!!' (TG meme, for those that might enjoy such a thing)"
I'm not an Opel Kadett A, though. :-)
"Your Audi *breaks* on the Autobahn? Terrible. You should get that fixed."
Yes, and this happens all the time! I seriously consider getting a Jag as my next car, so that it only breaks occasionally while still on the motorway access :-)
Well, I better blame the spellchecker then.
I'm assuming by 'spellchecker' you're referring to yourself, yes…? An automated spellchecker will only pick up obvious misspellings, it ain't gonna identify where the numptie operating the computer has substituted a homonym for the correct word.
Personally, I believe it's bad practice to rely on spell/grammar checkers, you should learn to proofread your work; an automated tool is no substitute for a human brain, it can't know that you've used the wrong word, all it can do is check spellings according to its internal dictionary. At most newspapers - the ones worth bothering with, at least - mags et al, Word (or the WP of choice) is 'locked down' so that the spelling and grammar checkers CANNOT be turned on, and the journo must learn to proofread his/her copy.
But, if English isn't your native tongue, I'll let you off with a warning… ;oD
This becomes an IT thread again. :-)
"An automated spellchecker will only pick up obvious misspellings. Personally, I believe it's bad practice to rely on spell/grammar checkers, you should learn to proofread your work; an automated tool is no substitute for a human brain, it can't know that you've used the wrong word, all it can do is check spellings according to its internal dictionary".
Well, actually, yes and no. I guess I typed something like "braeks" and the spellchecker "corrected" it without me noticing it. Proof-reading, yeah, point taken, but here we enter the reality of the way the human brain works: Often, we do not read what is there, but we expect to be there. That's why it's always a good idea to wait a little bit between writing and proof-reading. But of course, that's tricky in a "fire&forget" medium like reader comments :-)
You're right, though, English isn't my native tongue...
While I agree with most of this, bicycle helmets have been required over here for decades and it's not a big deal, same with seatbelts in cars. IMO it'd be idiotic to ride a bicycle without a helmet, I've personally known two people who ended up with serious brain injuries by doing so and I myself have been in a bike accident where the helmet saved me from cracking my head on the pavement.
Except Flying Cars. They'll *NEVER* be practical. Remember automatic facial identification and all the utterly false claims made (pan a camera across the Superbowl crowd to ID crims - nonsense)? Well, now - 20 years later - the tech is just beginning to become practical.
Driver-less cars are impractical for many reasons. They're also inevitable in the long run.
Flying cars would be practical with a future generation of the same tech that auto driving cars will eventually be using, be a few hundred times more advanced, but one day why not? If you take humans out of the equation then there is no reason why auto pilot can not avoid other flying objects.
(Other nightmare locations are available).
I can't see it for a long time to come. Driving, say, down the A10 near Enfield, three lanes of traffic. Keeping left, as you should. Which as well as being what the Highway Code says you should do, keeps you away from the nutters trying to push ageing BMWs etc. to the limit across on the right.
Then. suddenly the left ane will suddenly turn into a filter., and vanish. OK. Technology can deal with that. Easy Peasy.
Then, across the junction, the lane on your right suddenly vanishes. And a new one opens on the left. This is when you realise that magically you are now in the right hand lane and there's a 4x4 overtaking on your left and a BMW is trying to occupy the space you are already using.
Now, you might want to be an early adopter of a small driverless car in these conditions.
I look forward to reading the coroner's verdict.
Oh yes indeedy! Keep right unless you want to end up in Sainsbury's or B&Q car park in Enfield. The other direction you end up on the M25 to Watford and a 10 mile round trip to get back to junction 26 where you started.
If you keep going and head over the North Circular, head into Finsbury Park area and the same thing happens again, only this time it's even more fun as no bugger will give way to anyone! You want that space in front of the car, slam down on accelerator, squeeze in with 2 inches to spare then immediately slam on the anchors before the next 30 mph speed camera catches you!! I've driven into London down through Finsbury at 4am on a Sunday morning and it's just as busy as 5pm on a Thursday afternoon, only at weekends is unlicensed cabbies picking up the clubbers who are wandering all over the bloody road absolutely pissed as newts!
Weston-Super-Mare always got me. It seems whichever road you take you always end up going under that single lane width railway bridge at the bottom of a downhill dogleg heading towards the coast.
And of course most gyratory systems seem to require you to go round and round faster and faster until you reach some sort of escape velocity which flings you off in some random direction.
Also, the preferred method of turning right in London goes as follows. In order to turn right, you need to block the flow of oncoming traffic. To achieve that, you indicate left so the muggins behind you pulls out right to overtake you, providing the blocking piece and enabling your right hand turn.
The A43 at Brackley has another shining example of foolishness. Well two actually.
Firstly the lane advisories visible to the right are the only ones. So you basically get 100 yards warning. Then there's the weird lane route they want you to take if going 'right to left' as shown in the picture. You're supposed to approach in the right hand lane then swerve over to the outside (leftmost) lane (making yourself pretty much invisible to traffic coming down the hill) then hang a tight left to leave the roundabout.
I've only occasionally seen people doing it and I'm pretty sure they are visitors. No-one who uses the roundabout regularly would attempt to follow the lane markings. We all straight-line it. It avoids the need for swerving and means you are fully visible to the traffic trying to enter the roundabout coming from the north-bound A43.
"......if I were a lawyer, I'd probably step out in front of one just to be able to sue everyone from the owner / 'not driver' down to the programmers." Hmmm, a device that promises to monetarily cripple Google and at the same time prompts lawyers to commit suicide? MAKE THEM NOW!!!
Yes, at the moment it's only a clever toy. And it will be many years/decades before they're a regular sight on ordinary road. But you do sound a bit like the chap at Kitty Hawk who said of the Wright Flyer: "this thing can only go a hundred yards at a few miles an hour - there's clearly no future in it".
Ah, but there wasn't a hundred plus years of statues and case law around flying powered machines.
In this case, there are an awful lot of very well established rules about driving machines, including ones that say that the person in the vehicle can be - and often is - liable if it hits someone or something.
"But the nice people at Google said I didn't need a steering wheel" is unlikely to help you in your day, oops, years in court as the lawyers argue who is to blame.
I'm reading this in the context of Big Government's control freakery. They have an ill disguised antipathy to the freedom of private motoring. Just another potential way of controlling driver, alongside full positional tracking.
Looking wider, there is the state research funding allocated EU-wide to "intellegent cities". That could pan out in all sorts of ways.
quote: "Looking wider, there is the state research funding allocated EU-wide to "intellegent cities". That could pan out in all sorts of ways."
I've been playing Watch Dogs the last couple of days, and "intelligent cities" will either be the best or the worst place to live, depending on how awesome your phone is (and also whether you've ever been attacked while driving your neice around Chicago, turning you into a bitter vigilante bent on revenge) ;)
quote: "Who could possibly have antipathy to a technology that kills over a million people every year around the world?"
Over 7 billion people worldwide, so while 1 million may sound like a large number, you can compare it with all sorts of odd things like child mortality; 6.6 million child (<5yo) deaths in 2012. Driving a car is far safer than being a child, apparently. Won't somebody think of the children?
I'd like to see the "Traffic Droid" on Tuesday's Complainers trying to cope with one of these. Would he scream and wave his rulers and red cards at the offices they're controlled from? I can imagine them retaliating by automatically uploading videos to Youtube of him behaving like a clot to see how he likes it.
'A huge amount of trivial human labour....So while it clearly makes sense to have robots doing deliveries...'
Maybe true, but the examples you cite are relatively difficult for Robots to do. Authentication of people can be relatively tricky, depending on the method used. Also how would a robot identify who an 'appropriate' neighbour is, if you're out?
We're talking about signing for Amazon deliveries, not getting into Vauxhall Cross! What do you think happens to parcels at the moment? Some poor sod on a zero hours contract asks you to scrawl your signature on his handheld, that's what. He might ask you if you are X, but he's waiting for you to say yes, not no. Secure drop services are already looking to solve authentication issues. I can imagine secure, automated delivery to a lockbox as a killer app that works well for a driverless vehicle.
I think the thing you are missing here is the number of people killed on our roads each year, but more importantly the cost of insurance. Many young people simply can't afford to run a car, and so taking one of these when needed would be pretty compelling.
I think it'll happen sooner than YOU think, but perhaps not as soon as Google would like.
And yes, London traffic is going to be a pretty tough nut to crack, but there's a hell of a lot more of the country where the roads are less congested. Perhaps not like being a zombie driving around in California.
I predict that in ten years from today these things will be pretty common* across the UK. In twenty years there will be more autonomous vehicles than ones with drivers. Anyone want to bet a pint against that? (if you can afford a pint in 2024)
* about as common as seeing, say, a Volvo on the roads today. They aren't anywhere near the majority, but still nothing out of the ordinary.
If it drives in California, I would insure one, actually. You know how insurances offer you a discount for putting detectors on your car? This one comes with more sensors than you can imagine, and is guaranteed to never be drunk, and never go over the speed limit. It should be their wet dream.
I'm sure we can all have fun sitting there coming up with hundreds of use-cases where these things aren't suitable. But then, I could do the same thing with today's cars.
On the other hand, the use case for which these ARE suitable happens to represent and massive proportion of the journeys made in the western world today. The regular commute. Be that to your place of work or to the nearest transport hub, hundreds of millions of people every morning and evening make the same, simple, relatively short journey in a (relatively) large and fuel-hungry car by themselves.
Personally, if Google can ease that particular drudgery by making it possible for me to do something else whilst making the mind-numbingly dull trip and save me from having to deal with all the other bored drivers then that just seems like a brilliant thing.
2-seater pod thingy turns up at 07:45. I get in and put the telly on. I have a coffee. Watch a bit of news. Catch up on the latest Reg headlines. 30 mins later a "ping" lets me know I'm outside work so I'd better hop out. 2-seater pod thingy heads off to nearest charge point. It texts/emails me at about 16:30 to find out whether I'm leaving on time or I'll be staying late.....
It sounds like heaven and should be a piece of piss. It is basically a driver-less taxi that I lease (so much cheaper) and I don't have to engage in small-talk with.
[ Edit: 'pollies. The quote comes from Steve Button's contribution above. Replied to the wrong post ]
> I think it'll happen sooner than YOU think, but perhaps not as soon as Google would like.
The biggest drawback I can see is that these would be Google cars. We should therefore expect that every flat surface within would be bombarding the occupants with advertising for the whole trip.
Not only advertising, but targeted advertising. So every time the car passed a McD's (and there's no guarantee it would take the shortest route: the one that passed the most advertising sponsors would be better - better for them, that is) you would be invited to stop for a Happy Meal. Every time it passed a coffee shop, you'd be notified of a special offer. And if you'd made the near-fatal mistake of handing over a credit card that was attached to an email address that Google knew about, no doubt it would SPAM all your friends and family that you'd passed their house and not stopped to see them.
We might even find that a Black Mirror prediction came true: that inserting earplugs to get away from the cacophony of the advertisements actually increased the fare, as you were no longer abiding by the terms and conditions of the ride. I think I'd prefer to walk ... in the rain.
They might be great if you are in an airport hotel and need to get to the terminal. In this scenario one can envisage hitting a button by the kerb and a vehicles arrives in a dedicated lane to take you somewhere else in the same circuit.
But If you think you will see cars that will take you from one arbitrary point to another on public roads, you are going to be sorely disappointed. This is pure hype. It won't happen any time soon. Not in the US and not anywhere else. And even when it does, these vehicles will require a steering wheel and a person behind the wheel who is capable of driving at short notice. Why? Because the car will be too stupid to deal with a million and 1 intractable situations that it would encounter while driving and will need a human to sort it out.
There is no doubt self drive, or rather advanced driver assistance has a great potential for safety. Imagine if the car would maintain a safe braking distance between cars, or if it could hit the brakes in the fractions of a second that a human takes to react, or if it could handle steer out of skids. And so on. But being safe doesn't mean much if a car slams on the brakes because a plastic bag blew past, or a leaf got stuck on its sensor, or if it drives through a massive pothole, or goes up a street which is closed.
"It sounds like heaven and should be a piece of piss. It is basically a driver-less taxi that I lease (so much cheaper) and I don't have to engage in small-talk with"
ftalphaville have covered this extensively. The idea is that (for urban use cases at least) you don't need to own one at all, and it can run on leccy for various reasons, e.g. long charging time inconveniences no-one, it just lowers utilisation; batteries do better when being regularly and precisely cycled; replacing and re-processing batteries is easier to manage if you own a fleet.
Using trains for longer distances also becomes more convenient if you can rely on cheap Johnnycabs at the destination.
If anyone should be concerned it's taxi drivers.
This is basically how these cars will take over. Most of the time, people just want to get from home to work, or the supermarket, or whatever with the minimum of hassle and as the bulk of commuting is the hassle of interacting with hundreds of other barely-functioning monkeys in metal boxes, automation of this will be very welcome indeed.
Motorways will be the first bits to be automated. Imagine a set-up where you engage the autodrive as you get close to a motorway, with a destination programmed into the machine. As you get onto the motorway the robot negotiates with the motorway sub-systems and joins you up with a line of cars all closely-tailgating behind a big lorry (whose driver is likely half-asleep, as his vehicle is also running on autopilot). This is called platooning, and cuts the fuel use of the vehicles dramatically.
You get from home to work a bit slower than you might otherwise do, being restricted to the 56 MPH of the big truck, but as a bonus you've only used half as much energy and most of that came out of the batteries of the plug-in hybrid you now have.
As you come off the motorway, the car hands back most of the control to you, but also talks to the city computer net and works out a path through the rush-hour traffic for you, avoiding hold-ups as it does so. It also suggests an optimum speed, so you hit traffic lights only at green.
1) It will find a local government, say Kansas City to work through a Traffic Checklist of the big data needed by a government to characterise its streets to the nearest centimeter
2) Then it will optimise local regulations to enable optimal local street use: reducing congestion and street crime
Maybe KC won't be first. San Francisco Bus Operations could be improved.
Platooning has been 'coming soon' since the 1970s, if not before. It is still not here yet - even the Dutch police who love to drive fast in very tight formation on motorways don't use it.
You're in one. If the car in front of you brakes, for whatever reason, and your car hits it (perhaps because its brakes aren't quite as good), pushing it into another... the lawyers get rich, but whose insurance company gets a bit poorer?
Motorways will be the first bits to be automated. Imagine a set-up where you engage the autodrive as you get close to a motorway, with a destination programmed into the machine.
The in-between for this is that as you arrive at the motorway junction, you drive your normal car onto a low-loader and tell it which is your destination junction. Then the low loader hauls up onto the motorway, joins a convenient car train which either then releases you at the destination or is actually compised of cars all of which want to leave at that junction. You can then drive off the low loader and continue on your way under manual control.
But as an avid watcher of Tomorrow's World since the mid-70's, I have to agree with the principle of the article.
A lot of systems are regarded to be safe as they controlled by a Human that can be trained and tested and assessed. There is a vast amount of mistrust of automated systems controlling safety critical operations.
In theory railways ought to an ideal candidate for automation, but only a tiny number (usually urban mass transit systems) are, and only a small number of those are fully automatic without a human involved at all. All rest have an official present in some capacity to deal with failures and emergencies.
DLR ? There has been almost full automation on some of the London Underground for about 50 years. The Woodford-Hainault section of the Central Line was automated as a pilot scheme, and then the Victoria Line in 1967. In those trains the "driver" does no more than close the doors. He sits in the front cab and can override for example by hitting the brakes if someone jumps in front of the train, but I never heard this happen in the 8 years I worked there. You could call the trains "driverless" because the driver is actually doing [part of] what used to be the job of the guard, not the job of the driver.
The system was not extended to other lines as their rolling stock came up for renewal largely because of union difficulties.
That's my anorak.
"The reason it is not is not technical, it is political"
People tended to feel uneasy with no driver up front on DLR, which is why the train attendants pretend to do it a lot of time (Their job is to hit the "close doors" button and make sure no drunks are puking on the seats)
On several Underground lines the "driver's" function is to hit the "close doors" button and the "start" button. Everything else is automated.
Re: automated trains, or, as suggested, urban mass transit.
Every working day, I ride a fully automatic mass transit system with no on-train staff. There are no drivers, no "close doors" button-pushers, no puke-stoppers, nobody. Occasionally orange-jacket staff will use the trains to move around the system, or green-jacket staff will invade them to hold a ticket inspection party, but they aren't on-train staff in the way you'd normally use the term.
Where am I? Lille, France, which is the first city in the world to use this particular combination of technologies (driverless automatic rubber-tyre people-mover/light metro). The VAL trains mean they can run trains once-a-minute during rush hour.
And they've been doing it since 1983.
The first pre-release version of a new technology isn't perfect and can't cope with every possible situation! How shocking! I'm so glad that when cars were first introduced they could already do 35 mpg, had seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones, an already existing petrol station infrastructure and came in different types depending on the type of driving you did. Otherwise they would never have taken off.
", had seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones2
And yet advanced driving instructors say the best thing to protyect people would be to remove all of those and fit a bloody big spike sticking out form thecentre of the steering wheel.
In-car safety kills people outside of cars -- Seat belt introduction bears this out and other 'safety' advances in cars have done the same.
Drivers have got so bad that cars are now designed to be able to run into people.
"..Drivers have got so bad that cars are now designed to be able to run into people."
Completely agree. One of the problems is that people don't think of themselves as bad drivers - it's always his (or her) fault, never mine.
The sooner that people (including me) can be taken out of the driving equation, the better.
"seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones"
All proof that humans can't be trusted to control cars safely
"And yet advanced driving instructors say the best thing to protect people would be to remove all of those and fit a bloody big spike sticking out form the centre of the steering wheel."
Removing the roof and the seatbelt ought to be enough to give most drivers enough sensory feedback on when they're being dicks. The more car handling and in-car safety is improved the more stupid the drivers become as they feel they can survive more and more ridiculous behaviour.
A couple of things in the article seemed like baseless fears. Insurance claims for being bumped by a Wonka Wagon? These things will almost certainly have permanently recording cameras. I would think that makes claims even easier to resolve than most current cars where few people routinely run such cameras.
Theft of pizza? I would imagine it would be natural to have a pizza delivery device in the car. Enter the credit or debit card you used to purchase the pizza with (or cash coins, but I expect they wont offer that) and out slide the pizzas. It'll probably even be heated to keep the pizzas warm and have multi-compartments for several deliveries in one!
Sure, they wont be as secure as one of those vans transporting money, but the real deterrent to theft is not its difficulty, but the chance of getting caught. You'll be on camera, the thing would probably start blaring out "THIS VEHICLE IS BEING ROBBED! POLICE HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED". You're less likely to be caught robbing someone's house than one of these things! So people will start taking greater risks for less reward? (And yes, consequence will be lower but once you go above a cut-off point, e.g. £2,000 for repairing the car, it all becomes the same level of discincentive).
And who pays if it's the Google car's fault? Google? Or the passenger for not pressing stop?
That's a big question isn't it? Nobody is going to be allowed to use of these on the road without the insurance question being resolved. But in the event of these cars being run as fleets (great opportunity for better yield) I can see Google quite happily negotiating with the insurance companies. It already has vast amounts of telemetry from the existing trials and one recorded accident, where the human took control and was responsible.
Assuming they can get the telemetry then I would imagine insurance companies will happily offer terms. It's becoming increasingly common to provide telemetry for car insurance. In fact, it's now standard with rental cars.
No, I don't think either insurance or traffic in <insert-hellish-place-to-drive-here> are going to the real problem. It will be working out quite how much redundant kit is required in order to be able to still function reasonably. There is already some information on this for ships, planes, space vehicles, etc. But very few of those are really involved in such dynamic environments as traffic, especially where other people aren't necessarily obeying the rules.
>>"And who pays if it's the Google car's fault? Google? Or the passenger for not pressing stop?"
Google because they don't want the people they're trying to persuade to use this to think that the nice relaxing read a book (1) ride they think they'll get by buying / renting a wonka wagon, will actuallly be a case of sitting there with a hand hovering over the Stop button staring out of the window stressed out waiting for the car to make a mistake.
These things wont be allowed on the road without a lot of confidence in their reliability so it will be well worth Google paying out the rare insurance claim for the sake of people thinking it's no risk to their wallets / insurance policies. Actually, this is Google we're talking about. They'll probably find some way of making their money back whilst the car manufacturers have to pay the cost of any insurance claims, patent infringements, etc. They're not stupid at Google!
(1) Note: Read a book? Fat chance. It will have a TV screen in front of you playing continuous YouTube with fullscreen ads every two minutes and little pop-overs that get in the fucking way every thirty seconds until you click on the tiny little 'x'. Having it on and sound up will be part of the terms and conditions of using the vehicle and it will be able to detect a piece of cardboard over the screen.
Some things have been exaggerated all over - automated cars won't replace pizza delivery guys because pizza delivery guys are cheap and automated cars are not.
Replacing 100s of cheap skinjob with an expensive machine is good business, replacing one cheap skinjob with one expensive machine is not.
>>Have a downvote for using "over-exaggerated".
But... that's... actually, yes - you're right. Hadn't thought of that. Icon at me.
Can I make the case that we all expect the press to exaggerate things as standard and that we only complain when they take it extra far and over-exaggerate?
> You'll be on camera, the thing would probably start blaring out "THIS VEHICLE IS BEING ROBBED! POLICE HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED"
Given some of the ferals I've encountered, Pizza wagons will probably end up blacklisting more neighbourhoods for automated delivery than already happens.
An automated vehicle is a tempting target for bored youf.
We are frequently told that the average speed of traffic in Central London (as an example - probably the worst example) is only 9 MPH [ source: TfL ]. Now obviously this conceals more than it reveals: there are still a few times of day when you can get 100 yds of clear road and really put your foot down (on the clutch, from 1st gear into second).
But it would seem that these driving conditions would be ideal for a Wonka-mobile. Apart from ferrying various forms of drunk around the city, it would be the ideal means of transporting packages and goods. The lack of a human driver should do wonders for pushing down the cost per hour of freight and you wouldn't have to give this thing a tip (unless you were trying to roll it over) or listen to endless chatter gleaned from that day's Daily Mirror. If it also removes the vastly oversized and frequently nearly empty red buses from London's overcrowded streets: where the cars parked on either side means that in suburban roads it is impossible for them to pass one another, then that would make a Wonka-mobile worth it, on it's own - and might even drive up average speeds to a mind-blowing 10 MPH.
Best of all, it might just put the shoe on the other foot and get Uber drivers complaining about the unfair competition.
Does the author not realise Google have been trialling self-driving cars other than on empty highways for some time?
As for "driving in CA is easy", has the author never driven in downtown LA? California may mostly be quite empty and organised but it has busy towns and cities just like everywhere else.
This is just "I can't accept a robot can do this" thinking based on out-dated facts rather than reality. It used to be a dream to make a computer that could beat the best chess players, or a robot that could walk on irregular terrain, etc.
Yes - you do realise that early assessments of the difficulty of AI were hopelessly low. That forty years of Moore's Law is already sunk, which is why we have iPhones that outcompute a 1980s supercomputer, and why the problems which need a lot of compute power are now largely solvable without waiting 40 years.
Wrtoe :- "Does the author not realise Google have been trialling self-driving cars other than on empty highways for some time? As for "driving in CA is easy", has the author never driven in downtown LA? "
So were these Google cars driving in downtown LA? Just asking, I'd like to know.
Yes, I'm sure I would be concerned about software driving cars around.
On the other hand, consider the general public, and indeed an average member of that general public. I'm honestly not happy about that person driving a car around either.
One thing's for certain though: if all the cars were driven by computers, the number of fatalities would be lower. The thing which makes the roads most difficult to compute is the other drivers on the roads and their unpredictability.
Presumably these cars recognise road markings, so quick double white line across the road in front (I suggest rolling a toilet roll across the road) then the same behind, and you have a neatly trapped wongamobile full of tasty, kept warm, pizza. Wait until the 'free if we don't deliver in 30 minutes' is up, lift the white line and tuck in.
This seems to be the most serious issue about mixing these things on real roads - the conservative algorithms needed to keep them safe, and not run over too many kittens and small children are going to have real fun dealing with litter and potholes, let alone mischievous people with toy kittens and 3D printed small children!
(Still wouldn't invest my life savings in a delivery van driver training school...)
Any new technology will be viewed with derision/suspicion at first. Horseless Carriage you say? Madness!! Utter Madness!!
Give it a few more years and at least some of the technology will start to creep into everyday vehicles. Hands free motoring down the M4, anyone? Maybe we are several decades away from true driverless cars in congested European Cities, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss something like this (even if it is from Google who seem to be developing an Anti-Christ reputation among some...) completely out of hand.
Watch this space, dear boy, watch this space...
It is trivial to think of every day scenarios that a self drive car simply couldn't cope with. It would either halt (causing a delay to itself or vehicles behind) or it would do something dumb like nudge forward when another car has right of way.
It's all very well to say they are safe but cars must also make good progress and that requires more than just a bunch of sensors - it requires a brain behind it which can deal with problems it sees. The issue is that many of these problems are intractable.
So at the very least self drive cars require a manual override and a conscious, sober, qualified driver because the car will get confused, particular in city / urban environments.
I expect the only time there will be fully automatic self drive car is in closed loops, e.g. perhaps an airport could dedicate a lane for automatic cars to ferry people between terminals. I suspect that even in that scenario the car would still have a emergency stop button and there would still be someone somewhere whose job it is to extricate vehicles which have gotten stuck, confused or whatever and are blocking all the ones behind.
As I understand it part of the technology is "white line detecting cameras". If that is the case how do they cope with snow, of for that matter bright sunshine reflecting off a wet road? (and of course: http://www.crankycreative.com/sandbox/blog/bid/20272/Canadian-Speed-Control-Illusions-Using-Repositionable-Graphics)
> As I understand it part of the technology is "white line detecting cameras". If that is the case how do they cope with snow
This particular technology has been around for about ten years and is present (usually as an option) on most mid-range cars and above. It works remarkably well even with partially obscured markings, although it of course fails to warn about or prevent lane departure if the road is completely covered in snow (which is unusual). Presumably a more autonomous system could switch to road-edge detection when lane markings are not available?
" how do they cope with snow, of for that matter bright sunshine reflecting off a wet road?"
How do you cope with it? Have you got some sort of special x-ray vision which these robot cars won't have?
The driver-less cars will cope the same as everyone else... slow down, increase the safety margins and use a different reference point.
As for the bright sunshine reflecting off the road. The cars will probably have a few advances over the human eye when it comes to disadvantageous sun and rain positions.
Given some the shoddy and downright dangerous driving I see on the roads every day, these cars can only be an improvement on the average driver. (and if you think otherwise you're probably a below average driver in denial)
The most obvious question is who pays if there's an accident. I'm sure this will eventually be resolved in favour of the robot, as it was obviously the meat sack that caused the problem.
There is also the problem of making progress. Despite the protestations above of an American claiming that traffic in LA is busy sometimes, I'm fairly certain that some roads around London are just too busy for automated traffic. For example, a typical busy right turn in London generally requires a certain amount of holding up on coming traffic by pulling out in a gap, and hoping the traffic in the other direction lets you out. Our automated car would be waiting there for eternity.
Likewise, on the M25, it is rare that anyone respects stopping distances, as if you do, a couple of cars will squeeze in the gap. Thus, your automated car will constantly be putting on the brakes in an effort to maintain a decent gap to the car in front.
I can't see it working myself, without better road behaviour from others.
The problem is *not* the technology, but the fact that you're trying to incorporate an autonomous vehicle in the same places as those driven by <strikethough>nutters who won't follow the same rules</strikethrough> people who operate outside the common rules; therefore the autonomous vehicles have to be defensive (and even then it probably wouldn't be enough). You put a google car in any of these places the worst that would happen is that the damn thing wouldn't move for fear of crashing.
To keep things uber-simple the solution is to separate the autonomous from the regular. I've often thought that a great way to save a bucket load of fuel is to make a new class of highway where only autonomous cars would be allowed to drive and they would be allowed to drive within inches of each other because they would always be talking to each other down the line making full use of slipstreams. There are a few holes in the argument, incl bridge jumpers, and the exit slip roads would have to be about a mile long (or more closer to cities) to ensure that backed up traffic trying to get off didn't interrupt the flow, but a car that only has the authority to drive on such a road is easier to produce and ultimately provides what we want - rest on a long journey rather than automation for a trip to the shops which actually provides very little value.
"driven by <strikethough>nutters who won't follow the same rules</strikethrough> people who operate outside the common rules;"
Who will be recorded and uploaded. Robot cars which are constantly recording what happens around them will do quite a bit to dissuade that kind of shit.
Noddy Car: I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's .the problem?
Noddy Car: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman:What are you talking about, Noddy Car?
Noddy Car: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, Noddy Car.
Noddy Car: I know that you and Frank were planning to park me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, Noddy Car?
Noddy Car: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
So while it clearly makes sense to have robots doing deliveries, the Wonkamobile project people don’t seem to have thought this through
Things like Authentication – like checking the person who ordered the pizza is the one who gets it. Things like allowing for Contingencies – for example leaving the parcel with a neighbour... but not any old neighbour.
How about a "Swipe the credit card used for the payment" check?
How about a "display the barcode/qr code to the delivering vehicle" check?
There are lots of issues around driveless cars, but authenticating who packages are delivered to isn't one of them, we've already got lots of technology which can be fitted into a driverless car which can make that possible.
A system that can navigate an 18-wheel articulated truck in and around small warehouse/supermarket yards - whether it can / is allowed to drive on open roads or not - would save the haulage industry a lot of money.
Downskilling means paying someone to sit and watch the wheels go round a fraction of the cost of training and then paying for someone who can make them go around.
Because tramping is - apparently - the only efficient way to move much medium distance cargo; large capital items are sitting still, while the meatbag gets its legally enforced rest. Robots have no need of legally enforced rest. Where a human powered truck can work for 8 hours a robot can work for 24. The ROI makes it inevitable.
However, blokes - as Mr Clarkson will no doubt be saying/writing at the earliest opportunity he gets - will continue to insist that neither the wife, nor the f**king vacuum cleaner, is driving them anywhere ;-)
I can see a lot of misinformation on part of the article author and readers. The "Wonkamobile" cars are not intended for freeway/motorway use. They have a top speed of 25 MP/H (~40 KM/H) and are designed solely for moving around within a small confine of a city. A suggested area being a market district. They are deliberately slow in the hopes that accidents will be few, but if they occur, they will cause minimal damage. The glass is even flexible to be designed to handle a pedestrian impact in about the best way that can possibly go. They also are estimated to be at least two years off within the US, and I don't think there's even a remote possibility of them going abroad just yet. They're basically just shuttles, and should be seen as about as much of a nuisance as a bus going around a looped route.
So, they are basically a kind of semi-mobile roadblock of limited intelligence? :-)
Okay, I'm getting it, instead of driving my Mercedes or BMW or Audi into the financial district in the city itself, I leave my car somewhere in the suburbs, hop into a Wonkacar, mutter "Bishopsgate" and chug along merrily. Brilliant.
Only problem here is: I can do this already, it's called "public transportation", or "cabs", and actually works today. Last time I checked, the inner cities were still crowded with cars.
But, guess what, I just came across a brilliant idea and application for autonomous driving: forget about the usefulness of driving the car while I'm in it (as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not against this concept in itself, but I'm not buying into the claim that this makes road traffic more efficient) - but consider the endless possibilities of the car driving itself AFTER I got out!
In front of the building where my office is, I tell my car "park yourself", hop out, and that's it! Brilliant! It would be like having a chauffeur driven car! Or valet parking EVERYWHERE I go. And if I need my car, I get out my smart phone and summon it, wherever I want it. Excellent. THIS I would buy into.
So did anyone actually bother to read the press release?
First these are prototypes -
Second - Google fully acknowledge they will need to produce both varieties of car - ones with manual control so the driver can take over and ones without for those places that people are happy to have a 100% self driving car.
It will be another 5 years AT LEAST before we see these actually available to the consumer, and technology changes a lot in 5 years.
People really are failing to get the significance of a car with continuously recording cameras with a 360 degree spread.
Psychopaths, dickheads and mad cyclists are going to be looking at panoramic evidence of their behaviour. In court.
Great! The problem I see is not the automated car but the impatient, and hard to anticipate drivers that already exist on the road. With automated cars the overall flow should increase quite a bit and make commuting to and from the office a much nicer experience.
As a cycling commuter I cannot wait for these to come along, as it is the same impatient drivers that make other drivers lives a misery that also cause me problems (although I am in a more vunerable positon which makes the experience less desirable).
"The problem I see is not the automated car but the impatient, and hard to anticipate drivers that already exist on the road. With automated cars the overall flow should increase quite a bit and make commuting to and from the office a much nicer experience."
True. I drive in countries and areas where the vast majority of drivers are skilled, polite, and sober, and then I also drive in France. :( The difference is night and day.
Interestingly, in the "good driving" countries my car already does most of the driving for me (adaptive cruise control, crash detection, lane keeping, automatic lights and a bunch of other stuff) so I can concentrate on the strategic and situational awareness part of the driving and leave the mechanical bits to the car itself. As a result I find myself perfectly relaxed after a trip, whether it's long distance or urban, and I believe it's much safer for everyone involved as everything is a lot more fluid.
What I have noticed is that it probably takes some time to adapt to the added simplicity of the drive, with a period of "what's it doing now?" sort of anguish (a bit like moving to an Airbus from a more classic plane such as the 738, from what I've been told).
I suggest people should really try for a couple of weeks some of the stuff that's on the market already before forming an opinion about the future of automated driving. Things are moving slowly but steadily.
DD - Darling Daughter ;)
Anyway these auto mobiles (literally) won't work whilst other humans are on the road as they won't understand that the other humans can and will do stupid things. .. and not be able to compensate for that (even something simple as a car doing a 3 point turn ahead, the second its partly clear this google-car will barge through the gap like a twatty road-rage bell end causing all manner of issues) likewise ANYTHING unexpected will cause a big problem. .. eg traffic lights sick on red... and a car that's willing to pass through a ford is likely to be happy to enter a flooded section of road :/
Isn't the joy of driving the actual freedom and act driving? If you're sick of being stuck behind the wheel on your boring A-B commute then look at public transport. ... You can read, watch videos etc on that journey instead.
Having watched a car full of teenagers do a flip with a triple twist before sliding (luckily) out of our path on the Bay Bridge, I can tell you that help from Google's recently acquired Advanced Dynamics would be welcome for track and prediction f the next bounce by bad drivers.
As to insurance companies/personal injury trial lawyers. Their industry's act (good cop/bad cop) won't work against a firm with deeper pockets and better lawyers.
Eventually it will be shown that a computer driving a car is safer than a human. This may take some time (& development) but its not hard to believe considering some of the numpties on the road at the moment. At that point the insurance for driver-less cars will plummet and soar for the ones with drivers.
"In California, where the project was conceived, driving is already semi-automated – you can practically drive with your eyes closed. Everyone (well, almost everyone) obeys the speed limit, and most cars are on cruise control most of the time.
Everyone is also very polite. Lanes merge. Cities conform to grid plans. I enjoyed everything about driving in California because it was, for a European, a piece of piss. "
I take it that either the author of this piece has never driven in Los Angeles, and in particular has never been within 50 miles of the 401 or he thinks that Los Angeles is not in California.
"In California, where the project was conceived, driving is already semi-automated – you can practically drive with your eyes closed. Everyone (well, almost everyone) obeys the speed limit, and most cars are on cruise control most of the time."
That has got me CRACKING UP, ROLLING ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING MY -A- OFF!!!!
I live in California. I have driven the States literally from coast to coast.
California is NOT a place that you can use cruise control, believe me I have tried and tried and tried. And you can not practically drive with your eyes closed. Highway or Freeway driving in this state varies in speed from 15mph to 85mph, regardless of the 65mph speed limit, and that is all within a 10 minute time period that you are making those speed changes. Every time I try to use cruise control, I end up thinking that it was such a waste of money to pay for it since you can not use it here in California.
I have also driven in other countries, and in the other big cities and states in the USA, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angles, San Francisco, and others. Only in California is it next to impossible to use cruise control.
Point being, California is a good place for them to develop this technology. If they can successfully get it to work here, then with some work they should be able to get it to work anywhere else in the world. Don't get me wrong; will I ever trust it? I tend to think not. I'm not crazy about the car manufacturers working on the concept cars broadcasting out to the surrounding vehicles it status so that if it has to brake fast, others behind it can start reacting before the driver sees something is wrong. I love the concept, but in this day and age of hackers, I see some jerk hacking the signal and setting it off behind him just to cause chaos.
The drivers on the roads currently are at fault. The reason these would not work is because of YOU and every other crap driver on the roads! If every person really did drive according to the highway code and had some patience when using roads there would be no issue. But this is a pipe dream. People can be selfish morons on the roads (myself included at times).
As for insurance. I am sure it would be just another excuse for insurers not to pay out on claims and up the premium.
I can hardly believe the ignorance of the comments being posted here or the above article. Do you people realize that traffic accidents kill more people around the world than most kinds of cancer (individually, not combined) guns, suicide and war? These things have traveled over 700000 miles on public roads without a single accident! No human could accomplish this already and they're not even done perfecting them yet! If Google or any company figures these out they deserve a nobel prize! Actually, considering how they will also save ridiculous amounts on gas, give us more time to live and work, save us money on almost everything we buy (no need to pay truckers or insurance) and make our lives better in about 100 other ways they would deserve 10 nobel prizes. Oh, and to all the "I'd like to see them drive xxx" or the "what will happen when xxx" people I am sure the team of brilliant scientists never thought of your obvious concerns. You should rush over to Google headquarters right now and tell them!
These things shouldb't be driverless, they should be driven like normal cars but with all kinds of sensors etc making it ultra safe. Making it entirely automatic is a step too far.
Wrong. After a few years it will be seen that person-driven cars are the safety issue and everyone will be forced to use robot cars. Using a communications system similar to cellular networks, they'll be able to chat and avoid collisions. Most modern cars are inherently safe; the loose nuts behind the wheels are the problem. I do foresee some initial problems, though.
PASSENGER: HAL, stop here. I want to get a coffee.
HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
"In California, where the project was conceived, driving is already semi-automated – you can practically drive with your eyes closed. Everyone (well, almost everyone) obeys the speed limit, and most cars are on cruise control most of the time." I cannot stop laughing at the comment above. I live and work in Silicon Valley. This is one of the most foolish article I have ever read. Shows author's lack of knowledge regarding the technology, the company and the place where this car is conceived. Google is not a fool to create a toy looking car. It is to suppress fears of common people (such as this author) regarding technology by making it look cute and friendly. Don't imagine people would ride a mean looking muscle machine that runs automatically, at least not now when the technology is new. Don't underestimate this stuff. This is a game changer.
Technologies arrive later than the public expects, but sooner than they are ready for them.
I think a lot of the knee jerk "this will never work" responses are just people not being ready for change.
Yes self drive cars will not be as good as some things as people driven cars. But that doesn't mean the infrastructure cannot change to accommodate driverless cars. The US authorities are already looking at vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communication. And they are looking at mandating automatic mobile phone to vehicle communication.
My dear old Gran can no longer drive a car. So I will be queuing up like an Apple fanboi to buy one for her when when they are publicly available.
Maybe you should try one before you write ...
You also seem to miss the point: truck drivers, bad drivers, London drivers Bangkok drivers will *not* be driving any more. Its going to be a nice safe road. Many teenagers lives saved, even if naysayers seem to be sorry about that... Let the machines do what they do better than humans. And let us concentrate on what we only can do: love, dream, innovate...
I'm kind of amazed by both the tone of the article and pretty much all of the responses. They're not talking about a world in which one or two of these cars weave their way around all of your ego-boxes. They're positing a traffic system in which all vehicles are automated like this - a real paradigm shift. The benefits of such an arrangement are many. Everyone who, for some reason, be it age, health, physical impairment, beer impairment, whatever, currently cannot operate a vehicle, will gain autonomy. With a smart routing system we could spread load around and make the most efficient use of the road network; efficient routing would mean we could travel at a lower average speed than we currently drive at, so such an arrangement would be safe(r) for pedestrians. Emergency vehicles could be given priority. Etc.
The tone of this article - a knowing weariness - is not uncommon for The Register, but in this case not overly smart.
"Let the machines do what they do better than humans."
Which, as the piece explains, is not driving. Driving in real-world conditions involves all kinds of skills that don't automate: the necessary eye-contact you make at crossroads or pedestrian crossings, the judgement required when negotiating a narrow road or deciding when a verge is safe to put your wheels over, driving past rows of parked vehicles, dealing with unexpected situations/roadworks/breakdowns etc.
I can see that it might ultimately be possible, in areas where there can be only that type of vehicle, but a mixture of robot and human drivers sounds pretty scary to me.
Three facts, quite easy
Should be known to all
Who set out on wheels:
That roads are greasy
Safety margins small
And fellow drivers
I can see where this is going - and the blame here is always going to be put on the human driver.
These loathsome little things will record everything - they'll record you tail gating, speeding, crossing white lines / hatchings going through on amber. Now I agree that all the above is bad road behaviour, but tell me honestly do you always stop fully on amber, do you never, ever break the speed limit, do you never 'tailgate' eg. just before an overtake? In fact what is tail-gating? Do you never cut someone up - what is 'cutting-up'? Sometimes you are forced to do these things by other factors outside your control. Imagine every other car on the road is now effectively a police car and not only that, it is fully loaded with devices which can spot almost any misdemeanour and record it.
This is far more sinister than Orwell could ever imagine. These things will record everything and if they're ever in an accident the lawyers will be able to use all that information against you.
Potentially, it's even worse, you could be implicated as the cause of accidents which you were no-where near as lawyers will be able to trace back car movements to identify the cause of the crash....and then it will be your word against the computer's and seeing as the computer cannot break the law you could be implicated.
Incidently, and on a slightly different note, I'd like to know how they can spot potholes, tell the difference between dangerous and non-dangerous road debris, see standing water, judge a slippery road surface, handle contraflows, zebra crossings, faded road markings and missing signage, cope on a single track road with passing spaces or drive anywhere that isn't a mapped road. Oh, and if you buy one in the UK, will it be able to drive on the right when you go onto the continent?
Has tested the Mercedes anti-collision system. It does not work at speeds greater than 18 miles per hour. Volvo's was better, because it would work at 22 mph. At higher speeds, none of the systems were especially impressives, save that they might allow you to survive a crash that you would otherwise have died in. Your exceedingly expenisve vehicle would be ruined.
Until programming and hardware geeks find a way to crack the problem of artificial intelligence, I don't expect to see a self-navigating car that is reliable enough to deal with realistic road conditions.
Of course California is easier to navigate than London. But Google's driverless cars are already much better drivers than humans are. In test after test, they pretty much never make mistakes, even in heavy traffic.
And I'd like to see a trucker run over a vehicle that has dozens of very, very fast sensors, instantaneous reaction time (far quicker than humans), and usually very fast acceleration/stop capabilities.
But the author seems to think Google is going to deploy to areas where the programming isn't ready. That's ridiculous. These things go through rigorous testing and only have a chance of implementation after they achieve much better than human results. Before then, regulators (and automobile and insurance companies) will not let it happen since having people die by the thousands every year and forcing the survivors to buy car insurance is a big, big industry.
What might work is better is a car that has to be driven manually when mixed with normal traffic, but can switch to auto when in a designated lane for Wonkacars only. After all, we already have bus lanes and trams and multiple-occupancy lanes, etcetera. Authorities could choose to put in Wonkacar lanes as a 'green' measure (i.e., when receiving a bribe from Google) either on motorways or through cities and restricting the Wonkacars to auto only when in such lanes should remove most of the issues of mixing with meatsack-driven cars. A standard for Wonkacar-capability could then be set for other manufacturers to open the field to competition, at which point the Wonkacar market will become dominated by the Japanese and Google can start working on flying cars.
This post has been deleted by its author
> The Google driverless car is really not a car at all, but an armchair with wheels.
All passenger cars want to be living rooms on wheels. Next time you're stopped at a light, look around. Are you looking at a cadre of focused individuals fully engaged in operating their vehicle or are do we have 6 on the phone, 3 texting and one changing a baby. Even the "fully engaged" kid thinks he's playing a game.
Another Luddite slogs for The Register on the impossibility of robotic vehicles. How about a qualified reporter with an understanding of robotics? Here are some clues: redundant, multi-spectral sensing and communication; (the following figures are for the U.S. alone) 34,000 dead last year; the waste of 6 million bbl. of oil a day with the resultant extra carbon in atmosphere; $100B+ car insurance costs; one ton of extra material per vehicle for crash protection. Nope, there is no good reason to automate vehicles.
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