back to article Nissan CEO: Get ready, our auto-wagons will be ready by 2020

Nissan's CEO has said the company is on track to deliver its driverless cars by 2020, although he expects government regulation to be a stumbling block to their usage on public roads. Whether driverless car technology will achieve any sort of road-worthy licensing from different regulators around the world is still a cause for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One day I suspect the thought of driving a fossil fuelled car to work will seem as retro as riding a horse and carriage to work. Likely reserved for the ultra rich, sports and, the enthusiast. If you think about it we've only been using cars as a common transport mode since the 50s/60s once something more convenient and cost effective the cars of today days will be numbered.

    1. LucreLout

      once something more convenient and cost effective the cars of today days will be numbered.

      Yes, and no.

      The third leg of that particular stool is flexibility. Motorbikes are faster, cheaper, and more efficient than most cars. They also get through traffic a lot better. The problems come principally from safety concerns, wet weather, and load capacity.

      I'd love a self driving JohnnyCab to take me to work. I still don't see it happening in my working lifetime though (another 25 years!!)

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        I'd love a self driving JohnnyCab to take me to work. I still don't see it happening in my working lifetime though (another 25 years!!)

        Don't worry, thanks to pressure from life assurance companies, you working lifetime might be another 45 years! If you live that long that is...

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Motorbike safety...

        "Motorbikes are faster, cheaper, and more efficient than most cars. They also get through traffic a lot better. The problems come principally from safety concerns, wet weather, and load capacity." -- LucreLout.

        Perhaps there will be fewer safety problems when most of the cars are bots?

        1. nkuk

          Re: Motorbike safety...

          I doubt it seeing as most of the motorbikes I see on the roads are driven by Kamikaze lunatics that have no patience or respect for other road users.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Motorbike safety...

            That's because you don't notice the majority of careful, patient, safe bikers.

            You notice the ones that rip around making max noise and speed.

    2. JP19

      "convenient and cost effective"

      The 60 times higher energy density of chemical fuels over batteries is what makes vehicles powered by them convenient and cost effective.

      That isn't going to change one day.

  2. LucreLout

    Where first...

    ... I was thinking the other day that automated car developers may be missing a trick in looking at the western world for their test bed. Surely they should launch these cars somewhere that driving is truly woeful (no, not the M6) and life is, for want of a better expression, cheap. So much of the third world then.

    Now before the groaniads get upset, I'm not suggesting lives in parts of, say India, are worth less than ours, only that they cost less in compensation when things go wrong. And that anyone who has ever driven there will know, as with parts of Africa, that the computer almost couldn't do a worse job of the driving.

    So why not launch here first? Well, idiots, frankly. The cars won't be allowed to run "full auto" initially and will require a meatsack be ready to take over control. Those meatsacks won't be paying attention, they just won't, and so carnage will ensue; carnage they will likely sleep through. And that, that will set back full automation by decades. So start out somewhere with a low health & safety threshold and work up the value chain.... same way AI researchers would try to model a chav before recreating Einstein.

    1. JamesPond

      Re: Where first...

      "So much of the third world then."

      Think you mean developing economies...

  3. Snowy Silver badge

    Yes but no, okay maybe...

    Except a vehicle which does not accommodate for human control is not something the auto-maker is considering at the moment, which to me means they are not developing a driverless car!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes but no, okay maybe...

      I don't see the point of anything less than a fully autonomous car (from both technical and legal perspectives). If I've got to be awake, alert and sober to take over at any time, then I might as well drive it myself. In fact if I don't drive it myself then I'd probably be so out of practice when the automatics do go "what the hell is that? I've no idea - over to you!" that I'd stuff it up anyway!

      1. phil dude
        Boffin

        Re: Yes but no, okay maybe...

        as I have posted before, it would seem logical that insurance liability will be connected to who is at the wheel.

        Auto, $RATE1

        You grab the wheel, $RATE2

        $RATE2 >>> $RATE1

        P.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Yes but no, okay maybe...

        In fact if I don't drive it myself then I'd probably be so out of practice when the automatics do go "what the hell is that? I've no idea - over to you!" that I'd stuff it up anyway

        Good point. Pilots operate near autonomous aircraft and spend their time monitoring and managing.

        In order to be ready for the stuff that goes outside the auto's field of knowledge, they have to attend regular simulator training and pass some tough simulator testing.

        Can't imagine drivers practising emergencies in their own time.

  4. Anonymous Blowhard

    "duplicating in the vehicle the experiences a person has at home or in the office"

    Is this supposed to be a good thing?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Is this supposed to be a good thing?

      Yes, heaven forbid people have a variety of experiences.

  5. NorthernCoder
    Boffin

    Have they tested it in...

    I am sure there are a number of tricky situations that prevent a really self driving car for quite some time.

    The first one to spring to my mind is the north of Sweden (and neighbours of course) during winter, where the entire road and the road banks are white except for the occasional 1.5m tall, 350kg moose lurking by the side of the road waiting for a chance to jump in front of your car and subsequently through your wind screen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they tested it in...

      Citation please.

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Have they tested it in...

        Citation please.

        Here you go.

        http://jalopnik.com/this-horrible-accident-is-why-the-swedish-moose-test-ex-1587775040

        Airborne all the way! Hmm... no, that's unfair, the average moose is way smarter than the average paratrooper.

        And, for those who are in dire need of a sleep aid: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.76.4.460

        It does have some diagrams. Just boring ones. And not nearly enough. And no flying mooses.

        1. Bassey

          Re: Have they tested it in...

          In my (limited) experience of driving north of the Arctic Circle there is also a major problem with reading road signs - and not just because they aren't in English. There are often covered up with snow. I remember driving through Northern Finland, following written instructions (Ah, the days before SatNav) with such directions as "Follow the sign for flokensterklufen" (might have just made that place name up) and having to stop by the side of the road every time I saw a sign, get out, run over to the sign with a brush, remove the snow, compare what was written on the sign to what was written on my sheet of directions, get back in the car and carry on. That was a loooong night.

          Assuming the same thing happens to temporary speed limits, road works etc. then Autonomous cars aren't going to stand a chance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they tested it in...

      SHould be easier than for a human. As it will have depth imaging sensors then it will see a terrain map to allow it to stay in between the road banks.. The moose can probably be seen quicker by the car sensors than a human and its progress tracked. The computer may well be able to notice tell tale signs that the moose will run out in front of you or away from you.

      The point with all of this is that a human starts off as a learner driver with little to no experience and manages to work out these situations quite quickly. Although computers won't have the same cognitive functions as a human it can have a number of other advantages - better sensors, stricter protocols, unemotional responses, etc. The best adavntage is has for this learning style system is that where as it may take a human 10 years to get 300,000 kilometres of road knowledge and experience a large deployment of automomous cars could get that every day. Every autonomous car that drives around will be able to feed back its data into the neural net and unknown situations automatically (or manually) accounted for and sent out to every other vehicle immediately.

      Right now there's thousands of people having to reverse to a passing place that only driving experience can tell you is the correct protocol or best way to do it. Feed the experience of those thousands of people into the system and now the computer can learn the best way of doing the same and when to do it. Any time the driver is "required" to take over control to complete a maneuver the results and reason can be fed to be reviewed either automatically or manually and fed straight back to the control system of every vehicle next time they connect.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avs have a lot of potential

    Unfortunately not ready for prime time development AVs are being allowed on roadways even after reports of numerous accidents in both manual and auto modes. There is no logic what so ever in allowing AVs to operate autonomously on roadways until a lot more development work has occurred to insure no accidents or system malfunctions when a driver is simply monitoring the vehicle as it drives along on a closed course where other people are not endangered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avs have a lot of potential

      What reports are you referring to? And do these reports say there was any failure at all in the automated system that caused this accident?

      The only reports I have seen suggest a third party driver drove into the vehicle. It would be interesting to see a report detailing how many accidents an automated vehicle has so far prevented.

      1. BornToWin

        Re: Avs have a lot of potential

        Google for one has reported eleven accidents so far and several of the accidents were from the vehicles driven in full autonomous mode. This is just the beginning. There are major obstacles to overcome before any AV is remotely viable for street use. What many people don't understand is that a fully autonomous has to have 100% reliability of all systems all of the time in addition to being able to make the right decisions when some electronics fails or there is an accident directly in front of them or an emergency vehicle is approaching or when someone is going to crash into the AV. There will be cases where the AV must decide who dies in an unavoidable accident. This is some pretty serious stuff to resolve.

        BTW there is a big difference between a car running down the road with a driver sitting at the wheel just enjoying the ride and a vehicle that has no steering wheel, brakes, etc. and no means for a passenger to take control of the vehicle in an emergency. The later presents a lot more challenges than a "cruise control" style AV with manual override by a driver.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Avs have a lot of potential

          But the report was right here on the register only a few days ago:

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/05/11/robot_cars_involved_in_four_fender_benders_since_september/

          Where did you see your contradictory version?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Avs have a lot of potential

          "Google for one has reported eleven accidents so far and several of the accidents were from the vehicles driven in full autonomous mode"

          The question was whether the accident was a result of a failure or inaction of the autonomous system. If you are in autonomous mode sat at traffic lights and a car rear ends you then the fault is with the third party driver.

          "has to have 100% reliability of all systems all of the time"

          No it doesn't, it just need to make sure it doesn't do anything that causes you harm which isn't too hard and then secondly make sure that the decisions it chooses would have been better than a human on most occasions. If it just reduces accidents by 90% that would be a good start and entirely possible with today's technology.

          " an emergency vehicle is approaching"

          This keeps being mention but it is ridiculous. It is very easy to program a car to deal with an emergency vehicle approaching and I'm pretty sure emergency vehicles would be fitted with transmitters to let cars know they were approaching a long way in advance and so any autonomous cars could clear a path well in advance for it. However, as a member of the emergency services I would say that *most* drivers do not react correctly to an approaching emergency vehicle, they are prone to panic and pull over immediately, often in an inappropriate place causing a danger to the driver of the emergency vehicle and other road users. If they just carried on driving at a reasonable speed and then pulled over or slowed down as soon as they came to an appropriate straight or passing place that would be great.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Avs have a lot of potential

            " three of the four recorded fender benders involved Google's fleet of converted Lexus SUVs, with the other involving a car run by Delphi Automotive. Only two of the accidents happened when a car's autonomous systems software was in control, and none occurred at speeds over 10 miles per hour."

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Avs have a lot of potential

              "The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor – “light damage, no injuries” – and happened over 1.7m miles (2.8m km) of tests, including nearly one million miles in self-driving mode.

              “Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” Chris Urmson wrote.

              “Cause” is a key word: like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google said it was not at fault."

              "The Google cars have been rear-ended seven times, often when stopped “but also on the freeway”, he wrote. In other collisions, the cars were sideswiped or “hit by a car rolling through a stop sign”. Eight of the 11 collisions were on city streets.

              He also described instances in which Google’s cars avoided hitting other cars or cyclists as they drove on streets near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters."

              http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/12/google-acknowledges-its-self-driving-cars-had-11-minor-accidents

              https://medium.com/backchannel/the-view-from-the-front-seat-of-the-google-self-driving-car-46fc9f3e6088

  8. ItsNotMe

    "With Gas Prices Less of a Worry, Buyers Pass Hybrid Cars By"

    From today's Wheels section of The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com

    "Affordable gasoline is making hybrid car owners rethink their loyalty.

    With bargain gasoline prices putting more money in the pockets of Americans, owners of hybrids and electric vehicles are defecting to sport utility vehicles and other conventional models powered only by gasoline, according to Edmunds.com, an auto research firm.

    There are limits, it appears, to how far consumers will go to own a car that became a rolling statement of environmental concern. In 2012, with gas prices soaring, an owner could expect a hybrid to pay back its higher upfront costs in as little as five years. Now, that oft-calculated payback period can extend to 10 years or more.

    And I would venture to say that their collective attitude towards these ridiculous driver-less vehicles is probably the same. Don't want to drive a car? Then how about calling a TAXI.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "With Gas Prices Less of a Worry, Buyers Pass Hybrid Cars By"

      EVs have always been less affordable, because the premium costs involved over an equivalent conventional cars can buy a shedload of fuel.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Emergency vehicles?

    Often wondered how these autonomous vehicles will know to pull over to let emergency vehicles pass.

    And how we can 'Raspberry Pi' the tech to pass the 'google mobiles'?

  10. Leeroy

    Staying awake

    I must be the only person that finds it hard to stay awake when I'm a passenger in a car. Actually driving the thing takes a lot more concentration and effort compared to sitting there and watching the scenery go past.

    I would rather have full control to keep me awake than struggle to stay awake for hours on end as a passenger and be expected to take control without notice to avoid a collision etc. Not for me until it is responsible for is own no claim bonus and can drive me home from the pub etc.

    I have to admit though the Honda collision mitigation system is quite impressive, I had to try really hard to hit the cardboard boxes in the car park. Took 4 goes and a lot of throttle to eventually hit them lol.

  11. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    I can see the future already..

    .. I'd have to go and find the &^% car because it drove off by itself.

    I just realised that this is going to introduce an entirely new type of car theft: some hacker in China activating your smart home's garage door, then telling your car to drive itself to the nearest mechanic to be stripped down for parts.

    Just when you think you'll pay less insurance because of an (apparently) lower risk of accidents, up goes the risk of theft.

    Oops.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Among the other qualities Nissan believes younger drivers will prefer are "connectivity and zero, or very low, emissions".

    Really? I doubt younger drivers care one hoot about emissions.

    As for a vehicle where you can sit back and play on your phone while you are taken to your destination that is called a bus/taxi.

    I'd much rather see car companies concentrating in something else other than driverless cars.

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