back to article Safety, pah! Digital Dukes of Hazzard have robot cars powersliding

Last month, Google, Ford and Uber started a lobbying group called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to promote autonomous vehicles on safety grounds, but boffins in Georgia are having far more fun with their hardware. While Google spends time pootling around Mountain View at 25mph, researchers at Georgia Tech, the …

  1. Graham Marsden


    ... they don't go "YeeeeHawwww!" or have horns that play the opening bars of Dixie...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: But...

      That's coming, along with the orange paint and the Confederate flag but probably not until they build a couple of jumps in the track.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: But...

        Plus a few cop cars (or Google cars maybe) to trash and a robot in short-shorts?

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: But...

          They'll need some old barns to crash through too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong solution

    Self-driving cars are the band-aid solution for countries that have f*cked up their public transport on the infrastructure level, such that it can never ever be fixed.

    The cars get so deeply embedded in the culture, that it becomes part of class struggled. Only people from low socio-economic backgrounds take buses, further reducing funding for public transport.

    Developing nations have the opportunity to avoid the trap going into this millennium. Dedicated cycle lanes with proper bridge/tunnel crossings, large scale pedestrianization in urban areas, fibre internet direct to people's homes to reduce the need to commute. Wide-spread light-rail. And most of all public transport is a thing of civic pride, rather than social stigma.

    Enjoy your neoliberal shithole UK/US

    TED talks - why buses represent democracy in action

    1. The Mole

      Re: Wrong solution

      I agree with you that public transport is better than car ownership when feasible, however all the suggestions you have assume a very urbanised population with people who have sufficient mobility to use public transport effectively.

      The fundamental problem with public transport is that it is costly and inconvenient for areas of low population densities. Trains/Trams etc only run on very fixed routes, as soon as you are a few blocks away they quickly become very unattractive to use. Busses are more flexible but their schedules are generally inconvenient outside massive cities, plus the cost of a driver driving round a bus which is empty for much of the day just doesn't stack up unfortunately.

      Self driving vehicles have the potential to solve many of these problems, buses and taxies which are computer driven will be cheaper to run, routes can be made much more flexible with call buttons/online booking to get the bus/pool car to reroute and pick you up where you are - particularly in rural areas, cheaper more flexible public transport with pool cars is where I see the future ending up for many people.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Wrong solution

        The fundamental problem with public transport is that it is costly and inconvenient for areas of low population densities.

        No-one is suggesting otherwise. However, like the postal service and so many other things in life, there are advantages in having the many support the few to at least a basic degree.

        I've got a cousin who is in her 80s yet is still able once a week to take the bus from her village of 100 into the nearest town, where -- amongst other activities -- she can buy a load of stuff from Iceland and get them to deliver it to her cottage half an hour after the bus gets her home. That sort of independence makes all the difference to her. One day she'll end up in a nursing home (like most of us will), but until then it's things like the bus service which helps keep her active and independent, rather than sitting in an armchair all day at a cost of £600 a week to the local care budget. Call me a bleeding-heart socialist, but that seems like a good investment to me.

      2. Oengus

        Re: Wrong solution

        The problem I have is the "convenience". While a public transport trip to a location 5 km away requires travelling on 3 different busses/trains for more than 25km and over 1 hour (plus waiting time for connections) I'll stick with private vehicle ownership.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong solution

      Public transport is not the ideal solution in many cases. It works fine in cities where you have the population density to make it affordable and more environmentally friendly. I will always look at using public transport in places such as London, Melbourne or Singapore.

      However, I have mainly lived in rural areas and public transport doesn't work there. Buses either run often enough to be useful, in which case not many people will be on each trip so they are expensive and terrible for the environment. Alternatively they run infrequently enough to try get more bums on seats per journey in which case nobody will want to use them as they need to be somewhere now, not in 2 hours.

      The last time I caught a train was to get from York to Selby. The train was a stinky old diesel which sat at the station with its engine running for about 20 minutes before setting off. When it eventually left, there was just me and one other passenger on board. It probably used more fuel in that one journey than my car uses in a year.

      1. Ol'Peculier

        Re: Wrong solution

        I put two friend on the York train from Scarborough one evening and they were the only two people on the train.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Wrong solution

      So much fucking nope. Public transportation is a band-aid for the fact that we don't have clean, efficient and reliable individualized transportation. Ideally, something would pick me up and drop me off without having to put up with the hassles of public transportation...and the same should apply to everyone else.

      Public transportation, in otherwords, should be private transportation, insofar as your "pod" is private, and you don't have to wait around at per-determined bus stops and so forth.

      Public transportation is terrible for people with disabilities. It is terrible for people with a huge number of mental disorders. It is massively oversubscribed (pushing people into trains with brooms, etc), and it is useless for the purchase of any but the smallest goods.

      People who believe in public transportation as the solution to everything are generally able bodied, young, with a lot of free time to dedicate to commuting and generally very upset that they can't afford private transportation. The solution isn't to bring those whom you blame for everything down to the misery threshold you have to endure, but to raise everyone up to the convenience that the elites currently enjoy.

      And to do so in a manner which is clean, efficient and affordable for all.

      But buses? Fuck buses. And fuck everyone who wants to force me to use them. With a goddamned particle accelerator. Made out of merging neutron stars.

      Try to force me to use public transportation and I will fight you with every ounce of my strength, every last dollar, every weapon, thought, voice, platform and tool that I have. I will expend my very life essence itself to end the future you propose, because to me, that is the bleakest of dystopias.

      May your blade chip and shatter.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Wrong solution

        If you get rid of public transport then you can have pod cars, but not everybody can have their pod car.

        One will appear when you want it and take you where you want to go then disappear somewhere else to take someone else where they want to go.

        If you want to solve transport and overcrowding problems then not everybody can have their personal pod car parked near where they are ready to leap into action. There just isn't enough room.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Wrong solution

          "If you want to solve transport and overcrowding problems then not everybody can have their personal pod car parked near where they are ready to leap into action. There just isn't enough room."

          I don't care about a personal pod car that sits in a parking lot. I'd rather push a button and summon my pod car, then have my phone tell me how many minutes/seconds until it arrives. Why would I want to park somewhere then hoof it to my destination when I could have the pod car deliver me to the door, then pick me up from that door? Where it goes and what it does when it isn't driving me around isn't something I care about.

          Now, ideally, the pod cars would be able to detect things like assholes vomiting in them, etc, and head to a maintenance facility to be hosed out. But honestly, how hard is that to do? We can make chemosensors. We can make cars waterproof. Just need a little robot bay to hose out the cars. Maybe swap batteries/charge 'er up while it's at it.

          Way better than the uncomfortable, disgusting, physically painful disease and molestation carriages we call public transport today.

  3. Aqua Marina

    Top Gear did something similar

    "Stig you are SACKED, YOU ARE SO SACKED!"

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Top Gear did something similar

      And look how that all played out in the end...

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: Top Gear did something similar

        How did it all play out in the end?

        Anyhow, here's BMWs progress to date, along with their self drifting BMW from a year ago.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Top Gear did something similar

          Clarkson telling someone they're sacked, given how his tenure ended...?

  4. Rich 11 Silver badge


    That, and the software algorithms developed by Georgia Tech, enables the car to game out over 2,000 projections of where it'll head in the next 2.5 seconds.

    That's certainly a new definition for a Monte Carlo rally.

  5. Oengus

    So the local street racers will still be able to play even after they get autonomous cars...

  6. gerdesj Silver badge

    Magic Roundabout

    When their vehicles get around the Magic Roundabout in Swindon safely and in a similar time to a human, several thousand times without a prang then I might be impressed.

    I won't insult your skills with a direct link: Swindon is in Wiltshire, Southern England, UK and if you have never seen the Magic Roundabout live then use Streetview or similar to have a look at it. If you happen to live in a country unused to roundabouts then you will probably find it a terrifying prospect 8)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Magic Roundabout

      "Magic Roundabout in Swindon "

      The first time I "discovered" the Hemek Hempstead one I was pretty apprehensive and ended up going the "long" way around because I really wasn't sure how to deal with it. But the original Swindon one looks utterly insane by comparison. I'm guessing it was designed when the road weren't quite so congested as nowadays. It seriously looks like it needs to be converted into a standard, if rather large, normal roundabout, possibly with traffic lights at the junctions.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Magic Roundabout

        There's also a smaller one in the spaghetti network of Heathrow (near T4, between it and T5 iirc), which I though particularly cruel given the amount of people in hire cars that would need to tackle it.

        Not to mention the National Express et al coaches, which was how I encountered it the last couple of times...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magic Roundabout

        "Magic Roundabout in Swindon "

        Living there (thank you in advance for your sympathies) I can testify that it works! It looks mad but it is simply a series of mini roundabouts quite close together... Admittedly with another mini roundabout in the middle... There is a football stadium close to one exit and a fire station on another exit but traffic flows, even during rush hour.

        The worse thing you can do is to show it fear and hesitate. If you do that's when the driver behind you assumes you are pulling away and proceeds directly to scene of the accident / your rear end.

  7. The Nazz

    I'm not impressed, at all.

    Not a particularly difficult track to learn is it?

    I reckon my dog could drive the kid's battery powered car around that track given 20 minutes learning time. And sufficient treats.

  8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Many years ago...

    I put track sensors into my Scalextric set and used the computer to control one of the cars. One sensor per track segment, then made "unbeatable" code to race the car. It was fairly primitive in that it was an 8-bit Video Genie (TRS-80 clone) 1MHz Z80. It "knew" where on the track the car was and my code, really just a look-up table, set the maximum speed for that section of track without the car coming off. Hand optimised and unique to each layout. If anyone is interested, it was basically a copy of the keyboard circuit with sensors in place of the key switches, ie a row/column matrix. Each of 8 rows was rapidly pinged through one 8-bit port and the result of the column reads read in through another 8 bit port for up to 1-bit 64 inputs.

    Not as clever as what these guys have done, but when I was 16 that felt like quite an achievement and it (mostly) worked :-)

  9. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    " ... the prospect of [...] bombing around the roads in chipped robo-cars .. "

    But that's exactly what's going to happen, isn't it?

  10. Tom Paine

    "power sliding"?

    Did you mean "drifting"?

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