back to article Waymo van prang, self-driving cars still suck, AI research jobs, and more

This week's AI roundup includes an alarming report from California's Department of Motor Vehicles about how shoddy autonomous cars still are, a Waymo self-driving car crash, and some news from Facebook's F8 conference and its new job posting. Uh oh, not another self-driving car crash It’s Waymo’s turn to be involved in a car …

  1. steelpillow Silver badge

    Dumb drivers

    In the end, it doesn't matter how dumb the mistakes made by self-drive cars are. The only thing that matters is that they cause fewer accidents and injuries per mile than human drivers do.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Dumb drivers

      But the research is showing that even that's questionable. They're like airliners in a sense. Sure, they rarely go wrong, but when they do, they go wrong HARD. Lower incidence is little consolation if you end up with higher consequence.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Dumb drivers

        But the research is showing that even that's questionable.

        It isn't: research shows that automated driving is much safer mile for mile. However, they are still somewhat limited in where and when they can drive.

    2. gotes

      Re: Dumb drivers

      It's a work in progress. There have been a few smashes, and unfortunately one fatality. As with any method of transport, or any situation where things are moving at speed independently, accidents will happen. To say "self driving cars suck" is a little harsh, though this is El Reg so a little rhetoric is expected.

      In my opinion, the tech is already safer than human drivers, and I for one welcome our robotic vehicle overlords.

      1. Joe Werner Silver badge

        Re: Dumb drivers

        Cars? Why on earth cars?

        Do trains first. Should be simpler, right?

        1. gotes

          Re: Dumb drivers

          Autonomous trains have already proved to be quite successful. But yes, I agree.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Autonomous trains are quite successful...

            Tell that to a Central Line driver on a rainy day.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Dumb drivers

          > Cars? Why on earth cars?

          Because the automobile industry is highly competitive and there are heaps of money to be made building the car 2.0. Trains, not so much.

          Autonomous cars are not a solution to some existing problem, they are a means to reshuffle the automobile market.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Dumb drivers

          We have already done trains. The Victoria Line in London was self-driving 50 years ago.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: The Victoria Line

            Supervised autonomy, of course. It only covers motoring and braking, none of the other operations such as PA, doors, CCTV, heating and lighting etc. The various modes such as full ATO, protected or coded manual, slow manual etc describe how either the driver watches the robot, or the robot watches the driver.

        4. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Dumb drivers

          "Do trains first. Should be simpler, right?"

          But can't do the last mile, which is important for many people. Timing is an issue, too. Otherwise, more people would be using trains now.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dumb drivers

          "Do trains first. Should be simpler, right?"

          They did that years ago. Have you not used the DLR? That's fully automated with just an attendant to open / close the doors.

          "Tell that to a Central Line driver on a rainy day."

          We need to replace those overpaid button pushers with automation ASAP.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Dumb drivers

            ""Tell that to a Central Line driver on a rainy day."

            We need to replace those overpaid button pushers with automation ASAP."

            The Central Line very often has to be driven in coded manual or even restricted manual because the automation (full ATO) cannot cope with wet rails and signal loss due to heavy rain or storm conditions.

            https://www.davros.org/rail/signalling/articles/central.html

            Now, take your copy of the Daily Heil and go and shove it down a dark hole somewhere... a tube station, perhaps. Honestly... IT engineers, managers, programmers, eh? We need, ASAP, to replace those overpaid pencil and button pushers with... well... anything would be better really, wouldn't it? Surely we could build computerised systems which are 100% reliable and can cope with every circumstance, and be flexible enough to keep their services running in almost every routine eventuality... then we wouldn't need these people keep holding us all to ransom all the time with their £200 keyboard replacements and £79 battery replacements and ongoing software licensing fees. Oh, they can JUSTIFY that can they? Changing security threat profiles require a rapid response do they? Pull the other one, it's got "communication cord" on it. And just look at the TSB fiasco... it's a public service for goodness sake... people rely on being able to pay their bills you know...

            1. Lee D Silver badge

              Re: Dumb drivers

              Gimme the wages of 1/10th of the drivers on the line, and I'll build you an automated system that is immune to signal loss (why the hell do you LOSE SIGNALS just because of a bit of rain in BRITAIN! Of all countries!), able to cope with any London storm conditions, and where in the wet it will go slower and do a better job than any human could ever do.

              Honestly, train automation is not hard. "Only drivers can possibly do this" is just blatant - and false - propaganda to justify extortionate wages backed by union intervention. Other countries, which everything from tsunami to tornado, manage this perfectly well with the same kind of stock on the same kind of rail, and often in much worse environments, and much more cheaply.

              I will HAPPILY trade the current system for one that literally turns itself off in stormy weather if it thinks it's unsafe to continue. Because the savings of £30k+ per shift, per train, per year into perpetuity would immediately pay for everyone to have a personal London taxi in such rare instances. And an INCREDIBLY DUMB computer system capable of doing the job. You don't need AI to operate a train. Nor an always-on Internet connection to every device. Nor an intelligent signalling system.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Dumb drivers

                "Gimme the wages of 1/10th of the drivers on the line, and I'll build you an automated system that is immune to signal loss (why the hell do you LOSE SIGNALS just because of a bit of rain in BRITAIN! Of all countries!), able to cope with any London storm conditions, and where in the wet it will go slower and do a better job than any human could ever do."

                PROVE it, then. Spell it all out or show us a comparably-sized system that can handle everything including a full track break or obstacle.

            2. gotes

              Re: Dumb drivers

              Absolutely flabbergasted at the lack of support for automation.. I'm certainly not suggesting we retrofit all existing rail services with computers, but the bank example? Yes there have been a few high profile failures, a few consumers have been inconvenienced, but frankly the bank doesn't really give a shit about consumers anyway. I'd rather rely on a computer to process my bank transactions, like it has been doing millions of times per day since at least a decade before I was born (not yesterday!)

              Surely what most of us here are paid for is essentially working to automate mundane tasks carried out by humans so they can spend more time doing things which require a human brain. Unless you work in SEO or something, in which case, take Bill Hicks's advice and kill yourself.

              1. gotes

                Re: Dumb drivers

                Perhaps suggesting that anyone kills themselves was bit out of order. I wasn't being serious.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dumb drivers

              "The Central Line very often has to be driven in coded manual or even restricted manual because the automation (full ATO) cannot cope with wet rails and signal loss due to heavy rain or storm conditions."

              So we need to get that fixed, install full automation and fire the button pushers ASAP. £60K for an unskilled job using 1 finger?! They are forever striking over nothing too.

              There is NOT automation on the Central line at the moment - all trains have drivers.

            4. Robert Helpmann??
              Childcatcher

              Re: Dumb drivers

              People freaked out over automated elevators/lifts. It wasn't until there was a labor shortage that automation in that area picked up. It took almost 50 years from viable automation to widespread adoption. It isn't the technology that prevented the uptake, but people's opinion. People haven't changed, so I expect a similar lag in acceptance of self-driving cars.

          2. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Dumb drivers

            Have you not used the DLR?

            No, but I have used the Lille Metro(1). Fully automated trains with no door-button operators, no "supervising drivers" and a sizeable fraction of the line length above ground and therefore in the rain or the snow or the wind or whatever.

            There are locked panels at the two ends of each train that are clearly intended to be able to be opened to reveal train controls, but I have never, ever seen them in use.

            (1) Indeed, I still do, five days a week.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Dumb drivers

              Lille Metro 1 was built from scratch in 1983 and is a rubber tyred metro system, not a rail system. It's a great achievement for sure, but the de novo approach means that you can walk alongside one of the trains down the tunnel on a lit, segregated path in the event of an evacuation, something that you cannot do in the 12 foot diameter metal pipes of the London Tube.

              The fact that LM1 has manual driving provision indicates that drivers are still required. They still have to be trained, paid, they still have to practice the various techniques required. The trains still need maintenance, they still need cleaning. The tunnels and guideways still need inspecting. It's still a controlled environment. There's no getting away from workers withdrawing their labour and causing disruption - the DLR was shutdown by strike action recently after decades of good management/worker relations. It was down to changes made by a new management company taking over. Good relations is what makes a service strike free, not threatening to sack everyone and replace them with robots.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dumb drivers

              "No, but I have used the Lille Metro(1). Fully automated trains with no door-button operators, no "supervising drivers""

              The rail link between Heathrow terminals is fully automated without even any locked off controls and no supervisors.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Dumb drivers

                "Pushing a button to drive a train really isn't any more complex than that. "

                Then I suggest you sign up. They are recruiting at the moment. I hope you make it through the pre-interview questionnaire at the very least.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Dumb drivers

                  "Then I suggest you sign up. They are recruiting at the moment. I hope you make it through the pre-interview questionnaire at the very least."

                  I'm sure at least I would spell the form correctly which probably beats most of the incumbents.

                  Existing railway staff that are recommended get priority. (So basically it's a typical union closed shop):

                  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11730449/Want-to-be-a-Tube-driver-Well-you-cant.-Heres-why.html

                  Yet another reason why automation is needed to replace this model.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: Dumb drivers

                    "I'm sure at least I would spell the form correctly which probably beats most of the incumbents."

                    I don't think they need to you write the form for them. I'm pretty sure they have one all ready-prepared for candidates to fill out.

                    As for the union arrangement, well there is an agreement that driver vacancies are offered internally first, yes. There are basically three manual labour "camps" on the Tube; stations, trains and depots. Most stations are RMT, most drivers are ASLEF and depots are a mix of RMT, Unison etc. So there's no one union that is set to gain by internal transfer priority arrangements, is there?!

                    So why would unions and TfL agree to recruit drivers internally first? Well, firstly stations and depots are all certified with the basic competencies mandated by law for working on the railway - track walking, evacuation, platform operations etc. That's 12 weeks worth of training and testing required there already. The re-evaluation process is much quicker than the full training, so basically it shortens the time you are paying a driver not train instead of drive. Secondly, this training process is quite arduous and the drop out rate is quite high, even higher amongst non-railway-exposed trainees. Dropouts waste money.

                    Secondly, it allows a staged recruitment into driving. Want to be a driver? Best bet is to get into stations or depots first. Get to know people, find out what the job is really about. It's not a bar on the general public - apply for a CS role first. 6 months in, apply to train operations.

                    Honestly, there's no telling some people, is there?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Dumb drivers

                      "I don't think they need to you write the form for them. I'm pretty sure they have one all ready-prepared for candidates to fill out."

                      I am referring to filling out the form. As I would have thought was obvious. You are either a bit dim or some sort of pedant.

                      "So there's no one union that is set to gain by internal transfer priority arrangements, is there?!"

                      No, there are 2 that stand to gain.

                      "It's not a bar on the general public"

                      That's exactly what it is. And if you did join for six months in a menial role and dont join the union, you won't be getting a driver job.

                      1. TRT Silver badge

                        Re: Dumb drivers

                        "I am referring to filling out the form."

                        Well make sure you fill it out correctly then. Don't want to jeopardise that gold plated job over a silly little mistake.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Dumb drivers

                          "Don't want to jeopardise that gold plated job"

                          As per the above there is not really a job to jeopardise. External driver hires are close to zero.

                          Anyway, AI is coming to replace them. Thank god.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do trains first. Should be simpler, right?

          Then we can have trains running on Southern whether the company F*** up again, or regardless of whether the staff can be arsed to get out of bed.

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Dumb drivers

        There have actually been 2 deaths.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb drivers

      " The only thing that matters is that they cause fewer accidents and injuries per mile than human drivers do."

      The only thing that matters is if they cause fewer accidents and injuries per mile than human drivers do.

    4. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: Dumb drivers

      You'd better bone up on your Ethics 101 and Liability 101. It's likely that they'll need to be at least an order of magnitude safer than humans. Perhaps even two.

      Even then, the concentrated liability is still going to be ruinous.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Dumb drivers

      "In the end, it doesn't matter how dumb the mistakes made by self-drive cars are. The only thing that matters is that they cause fewer accidents and injuries per mile than human drivers do."

      And yet the most common faults seem to be GPS and sensor errors. The sort of things that should already be a done deal, unlike the AI components.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Dumb drivers

        I wouldn't expect a train driver to understand the complexities and reach of the jobs of programmers or computer specialists or financiers etc etc etc.

        It's clear that there are a vast number of people who don't drive trains that are very happy to relate their expertise on the job they don't do, loudly and forcefully. And if anyone tries to tell them different, or even point out that there may be room for ignorance in their view of it all, they'll get really defensive and irate about it.

        If you refuse to listen when someone says "actually it's more complex than that..." then I really don't want that kind of know-it-all building the transport systems which will be taking myself and millions of others around the capital. Thanks, but no thanks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dumb drivers

          "actually it's more complex than that..."

          Pushing a button to drive a train really isn't any more complex than that. Yes you have to have a few weeks training to stop at red signals, know what to do in an emergency, etc, but its basically unskilled manual work.

          And because they have London over a barrel, it's overpaid unskilled manual work that is unreliable as they strike for any reason they can think of. For instance incompetent and dangerous staff being prevented from driving trains (and not even fired or disciplined!):

          https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/tfl-tube-strike-2018-fury-as-district-line-staff-walk-out-in-support-of-driver-who-went-through-a3812231.html

          It needs to be fully automated as soon as possible.

    6. Terafirma-NZ

      Re: Dumb drivers

      Accept people keep saying that and not doing the math.

      Waymo 5 million miles 30 crashes humans are just over 4 per million so about 21 crashes for the same 5 million miles.

      Don't get me wrong I am for it in places it makes sense, but lets not tout it as successful before it is out of R&D or praise its promise before it is delivered.

  2. JimC

    and if you are an ethical AI thought leader

    Do you want to work for Facebook? Might be a very uphill struggle...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: and if you are an ethical AI thought leader

      "All you need is a PhD in Machine Learning, AI, AI ethics and Alchemy, law or policy and some good research experience."

      FTFY

      It's interesting to note that Zuckerborg is keen on replacing his 20.000 moderators with a bot to moderate a Social Media site that depends on humans for it's product, anyone would think he doesn't like people.

      Or paying them money.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    The brain drain has left people worried about who will be left to educate the next generation of AI engineers.

    Given that the current trend is to utilize AI/ML to design the next generation of devices, there might not be much of a need for the next generation. Engineers, or humans for that matter.

    Okay, harsh yes, but this is something on trend I've seen since the 1980's when I was operating in the field. As I put it, I've been trying to automate myself out of job since I was a teen.

    1. gotes
      Terminator

      Isn't that what all programmers/engineers are trying to achieve? Replacing humans with machines to make our lives "easier" (it totally does). I don't see this as a bad thing, as long as we're not so good at it that the machines take over.

      We automate the mundane stuff so we can concentrate on automating the more complicated stuff, and so on.

      ROTM icon obligatory.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Isn't that what all programmers/engineers are trying to achieve? Replacing humans with machines to make our lives "easier" (it totally does).

        Does it? Seems like we're always racing to keep up with changes and replace obsolete systems. It's a fashion-conscious field. Maybe that's inherent in the malleable nature of software. We tweak it to death because we can.

        1. gotes

          Seems like we're always racing to keep up with changes and replace obsolete systems.

          Like replacing the scythe with a combine harvester? Them combines are totally in vogue right now.

          If you prefer to grow your own wheat, harvest it by hand, separate the grains, hand mill the grains, hand knead the dough and bake the bread (which is by no means a bad thing) - cool.

          1. gotes

            I suspect jake does this every day, and makes fancy lasagne sheets with a punched card press.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      As I put it, I've been trying to automate myself out of job since I was a teen.

      Don't worry. The future is full of incomprehensible JavaScript coding horrors that need to be re-engineered into staid and boring Java code. There is lots of work out there yet.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Elementary coding

        The future is full of incomprehensible JavaScript coding

        Shirley, these days it is not classical music that is being played to the unborn foetus, but audio courses on elementary Python?

        Baby's first words...

        print("mama")

        print("dada")

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Baby's first words are surely...

          print("Hello World!")

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Baby's first words are surely...

            print("Hello World!")

            Surely that after looking at today's world and all the computers running it, the tech execs, etc., those have to go down in history as the scariest words in the world. Hell, FB alone gives me the shivers and not a product.. err.. user.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Crux of the matter

      And this ultimately is the real problem that no one is prepared to address. Automation the removes jobs with NO REPLACEMENTS is going to cripple society. Everything at the moment is about short-term gain and mega-profits for the few, usually already very rich corporations. Once the bubble has burst and there is no longer a majority to consume, use or whatever, they are stuffed. At that point all the mega rich will be on their yachts, islands or whatever without a care.

      What happens when the working population is essentially menial jobs that cannot be automated (and do not contribute to tax) and very wealth corporate types (who also do not pay tax)?

      Automation as it stands is going to destroy the so-called civilised world. The divide between the "haves & have not's" is going to get ever larger and recent history has already shown us that those in the new generation of "haves" have not a jot of concern for the outcome of any decision/action they take if it does not directly benefit them.

  4. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Kalman Filtering

    "[Glorified] Cruise [Control] said some of the data incoming to the car’s many sensors did not quite match, giving conflicting information and causing the car to behave erratically."

    Are these people so unedumakated that they're unaware of the work of Stratonovich, Bucy, and Kalman?

    Apparently, Kalman filtering was knitted into the Apollo computer.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Kalman Filtering

      You are thinking like a control engineer.

      They are thinking like a computer AI start-up - throw loads of data at the AI training and hope it can deal with all consequences of system faults, including those not in the training data.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Kalman Filtering

      Apparently, Kalman filtering was knitted into the Apollo computer.

      I dunno. A trajectory control problem where there is not even a beetle around, just gravity, an engine and a fat fuel tank, is something different than navigating the jungle that is a road where humans roam and you can get arse-crazy news from the lidar at any moment.

      1. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: Kalman Filtering

        DAM admitted, "I dunno..."

        I have failed to make myself sufficiently clear. As Fermat noted, these damn margins are too small...

        Kalman filtering is an optimum method of combining noisy data inputs to achieve a unified solution. Aircraft use it to mix GPS, Inertial and other data to provide a single navigation solution that is reliable.

        The point is in response to the following issue.

        Slightly expanded extract [this issue->]: "...'localization errors', where... ...the vehicle was unable to really work out its position in relation to its environment... Errors included... ...not braking hard enough for a stop sign."

        Clearly the designers of autonomous vehicles can't even get the basics correct. .: They're utter morons.

        The mention of the Apollo computer was intended to convey that Kalman filtering is an old and well established technique, and doesn't require GBs of software.

        Kalman filtering is non-trivial, but it's the sort of thing that should have been included on the Requirements spec from Day 1.

        These people are clowns. Governments need to get a big bucket of Roadworthiness Regulations and dump it on them.

        The AV industry clearly needs some Adult Supervision.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Kalman Filtering

          The problem is that control systems engineers (or good engineers in general) are A: hard to come by, B: Expensive, C: Don't care for the politics, bullshit and general chaos that seems to describe 99% of the the "silicon valley startups" like Waymo and thus steer well clear.

  5. niio

    Clickbait headline

    The headline juxtaposes "Waymo crash" and "Self driving cars suck", but doesn't say that humans suck harder. The article doesn't know who is a fault but the video clearly shows the human driven car jump the median and cross two opposing lanes of traffic to hit the Waymo van. The humans that suck in this case weren't just driving the car.

    1. VicMortimer
      WTF?

      Re: Clickbait headline

      Wow, no kidding.

      That video makes it pretty obvious that it wasn't the self-driving car's fault, I'm not sure how it could have avoided being hit. Maybe a quick cut to the right and full throttle, but it probably would have still taken a hit. Braking would definitely not have helped.

      Bad headline, Reg.

      1. gotes

        Re: Clickbait headline

        It was mentioned in the article that another vehicle hit the waymo van to avoid hitting something else. I guess if you're gonna smash something, go for the autonomous vehicle with billions of dollars behind it. Looking at the photo it's clear it was hit side on, so unless it ran a red light or sailed through a stop the other driver was at fault.

        1. gotes

          Re: Clickbait headline

          Just watched the video, apparently "self driving cars suck" because "the Honda entered the intersection during a red light and careered across several lanes directly into the sucky autonomous vehicle. Yeah Waymo, you should'a seen that coming.

          1. handleoclast

            Re: Clickbait headline

            Yeah Waymo, you should'a seen that coming.

            My father's sage advice was this: "Always drive as if the other guy is an idiot." Implicit, but unspoken, was "Because he is."

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

    I use Waze and basically give that free rein on my smartphone, including of course GPS location., and it does not inspire confidence in industrial-grade GPS navigation. Driving around downtown San Francisco Waze too often jumps locations around by a few hundred yards. So one second you will hear "turn right at such-and-such street" then immediately "turn left" or something like that.

    While I expect the GPS receiver on autonomous cars are probably better than my smartphone, I would hate to be on one of San Francisco's scores of one-way streets when autonomous GPS location jumps around and starts thinking that it is now going the wrong way on a nearby one-way street that runs in the opposite direction.

    (Icon chosen because it is possible that Skynet is assuming control of all traffic navigation so that it can kill off all puny humans without the fuss and cleanup of a nuclear exchange.)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

      I strongly suspect GPS can't help in your base because you're constantly losing the signal. San Fran has the double whammy of very uneven terrain (it's very hilly even downtown) and concrete canyons. Accurate navigation in heavily-built-up cities calls for a more-terrestrial solution, but who's going to pony up?

      1. handleoclast

        Re: The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

        Accurate navigation in heavily-built-up cities calls for a more-terrestrial solution, but who's going to pony up?

        I'm old enough to remember the days before GPS. When aircraft relied upon Inertial Navigation Systems.

        According to an earlier comment here, aircraft still do. They combine GPS and INS through Kalman filtering.

        Amongst all the spiffy gizmos on your smartphone, it probably has a compass, gyros and linear accelerometers. Actually, the "gyros" might be simulated by combining compass, rotational accelerometers and the linear accelerometers (the linear accelerometers to figure out which way is down). Whatever, I figure out there's enough in a smart phone to implement at least a crude INS platform. Enough to continue to figure out where you are during a brief loss of GPS signal or those (frequent) times when the GPS accuracy is 10m or worse.

        Actually, for all I know, mobile phones already do something like this but they're shit at it. It certainly ought to be not just possible, but damned-near mandatory, in an autonomous vehicle.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

          "According to an earlier comment here, aircraft still do. They combine GPS and INS through Kalman filtering."

          They're also on very predictable pathways that leave plenty of chances to catch sudden deviations. Same for submarines (where it's basically the only way to go when on a long undersea tour): courses at sea are generally much more controlled.

          Now, a car on land, can you say "momentum killer"? You just can't trust inertia in a car because it's often fighting inertia with stop-and-go driving and frequent turns and inclinations (turns on the vertical, IOW).

    2. Price04

      Re: The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

      The Gps receivers in these cars are ten times better than the ones in your car. They are accurate to a couple cm instead of several feet. They also don't use Gps to get there location within the lane, they use lidar. They can use the lidar to get the distance from objects such as lanes to get there exact location within the roads.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The GPS/localization issue is potentially pretty serious

        "The Gps receivers in these cars are ten times better than the ones in your car."

        About the only way you can achieve that is with a dual-frequency GPS receiver, which is mucho expensive and usually reserved for professional applications. This also doesn't account for misreads due to concrete canyons. As for lidar, how well can it read a road that is very crowded (like in rush hour) with landmarks concealed or otherwise not where they should be?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2000 GPUs

    If i had that many spare GPUs they would be mining crypto currency, not playing games (with themselves!)

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: 2000 GPUs

      If I had that many GPUs I would sell them to cryptocoin miners before the resale value crashes any further.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Er... Reg... let's not be idiots here:

    "It’s not entirely clear who is at fault, though. Police say the Honda Sedan smashed into the Waymo motor after trying to avoid hitting another car on Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, Arizona."

    Quite clearly the Waymo is hit by an oncoming car which rapidly ends up on the wrong side of the road, at speed, and strikes it smack in the front.

    There is nothing any system, autonomous or not, could do. And that car swerved because some other idiot has pulled RIGHT OUT in front of it at the last second. So wording it as if there's some doubt, especially as to whether the Waymo van that *gets hit*, is just disingenuous.

    I'm the first to jump on the "stop putting this stuff on the road" bandwagon, but there is literally nothing any device or person could have done to prevent an accident in this case.

    (That said, the Waymo doesn't not appear to take any corrective action whatsoever. You'd hope that something like an alert was going off, or it couldn't move even an inch because of cars in other lanes, but it doesn't seem to brake either.)

    1. gotes

      I've no idea what I'd do if I saw another vehicle heading towards me at speed across several lanes apart from hope that the side impact safety features work.

    2. niio

      The "idiot" that pulled out in front of the Honda that hit the Waymo van was actually entering the intersection on a green and had the right of way. The Honda which "had to swerve" was running a red light.

      So human driver: 1) runs red light, 2) swerves to avoid a car in its rightful place, 3) jumps the median, 4) crosses two lanes of oncoming traffic so that it could 5) crash into a self driving vehicle.

      Human "Director of Consumer Watchdog"?! calls for national moratorium on self driving cars!!!

      I built a self driving vehicle fifteen years ago for DARPA and I thought the tech might never be really ready, but the more I see of how badly humans drive the more I think the sooner the better. Humans kill 30,000 people on our roads every year. How could self drivers (other than Uber's) be worse?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rushed-to-market crapola

    With zero governmental safety, security, design, engineering, maintenance or operational requirements, it's like the wild west for autonomous vehicles. Contrary to popular belief by some, AVs do not have fewer accidents than human driven vehicles. That is a lofty goal not yet attained. Without govern mandated minimum safety and security requirements AVs will never be safe nor practical. Unless the purveyors of AVs can convince the world plus dog that it's totally acceptable for people to die riding in defectively designed, built and operated AVs, these vehicles should not be allowed to operate on public roadways until independently confirmed to be safe. The lawyers will be making billions off of AV deaths from negligent designs and defective code.

  11. Mschribr

    This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

    The driver of the Honda was speeding. He went through a red light. Swerved on to a road going in the wrong direction. Hits the Waymo car. The reporter is totally wrong. It’s entirely clear the Honda driver is at fault.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

      Uhhmm, no, it proves the US needs to have some proper drivers education instead of giving away drivers licences in cornflakes boxes. And if anything it just shows some people are just bloody morons who should be banned from driving cars for life. Way too many of the supposed "saved by autonomous driving" near misses shown in video compilations should have been anticipated for and corrected long before autonomous systems generally intervene.

      Just like bad human drivers ALL autonomous cars I've seen so far drive on a reactionary basis. They observe something happening and when determining it is going to result in a collision they take action. The CORRECT way of driving is defensively and anticipatory. Keep looking around, keep anticipating what others MIGHT do. IE, leave space for someone coming up an on-ramp by either moving over a lane or coming off the throttle a bit. Keep looking at oncoming traffic at an intersection, even if you have a green, slow down when you see brake lights 3 cars ahead, etc, etc.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

        Driving reactionary is the ONLY practical way to drive because of situations like in the article where the Waymo car got hit by a car breaking MULTIPLE laws in sequence and in the end essentially GHOST-DRIVING. Murphy strick, and it's practically impossible to guard against Murphy. Plus, try to drive defensively and trolls will exploit you. Common example: two seconds is well over a car length. Someone WILL slip into the gap.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

          @Charles, yup, someone slips into the gap, you leave some more room. It's not hard. It's not going to slow you down much at all. But when that idiot that slips into the gap rams into the car in front because they are braking and you have enough distance to stop, you'll be laughing. I know I was last time that happened (After I made sure nobody was injured).

          I'm not saying you shouldn't react, but driving defensively gives you much more time to do that reacting.

          @mschribr

          All fine and dandy they've done a million miles accident free, but that's in cherry picked conditions, staying out of difficult situations. I'll believe it when I see it when it comes to actual practical use of AVs.

          Yes, the majority of accidents are caused by humans, the majority of those accidents could be prevented with proper drivers education and better awareness amongst drivers about distractions like phones.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

            "@Charles, yup, someone slips into the gap, you leave some more room. It's not hard."

            And also an ad nauseum because someone else slips into the new gap, and so on and so forth until you're the tag end of a long line of cars...OR you end up slowing down enough you hit the guy BEHIND you. Ever heard of the phrase, "Using your turn signal just reveals your plans to the enemy"? Welcome to the REAL real world, where being timid just puts a bullseye on your back.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

              And it's THAT attitude (and expectation) that causes the average driver to tailgate and for rear-end collisions to be so numerous. If you're on a highway (the only place where this "someone slipping into the gap" is remotely a problem) you're NEVER at "the tag end of a long line of cars". Also, if everybody is going faster than you are (as they would need to be to overtake you in the first place) why would they bother getting in front of you?

              You're clearly a part of the problem because you don't seem to realize your attitude is exactly the problem I'm describing. You're so focused on YOUR position on the road you don't care what anybody else is doing. You are LITERALLY describing other motorists as "the enemy". Getting too close to the guy in front is dangerous. PERIOD. Keeping enough distance gives you time to react and can prevent you from having to go hard on the brakes and getting rear-ended yourself in turn.

              "slowing down enough to hit the guy behind you"???? Really? How does that work? They guy behind you has a Speed style bomb in the car that'll explode if he slows down? If he hits you HE'S at fault. Same as if the guy in front of you slows down.

              Please just stay off the roads, you seem to have the attitude of an asshole when it comes to driving.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

                No, YOU'RE part of the problem because what I'm describing is basically the normal human condition barring a crisis. We compete against each other ("our children, not yours" so it's instinct). Let me tell you about a corner right near where I live. From sunup to sundown, it's bumper-to-bumper. Can't count on the lights to give you a break because if it's not cars going straight, it's cars turning in, nonstop. And they're ALL in a hurry (because it's a major thoroughfare to businesses including a military base--and the military is merciless about punctuality) so they take up any slack that exists. If you don't make an assertive move to turn right, NO ONE will yield to you...guaran-damn-teed. And you can forget about turning left. The last poor sod who tried (apparently from out of state) eventually required police intervention.

                And that's just in my hometown in America. PRAY you do not have to experience the human chaos that is a major southeastern Asian city such as Manila. Cars, bikes, pedestrians, and improvised vehicles share unmarked ramshackle roads constantly under construction and often smog-choked and standing still for hours on end.

                So screw what the book says. Humans just don't work that way. There's a reason for the saying "nice guys finish last".

      2. Mschribr

        Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

        imanidiot, this accident is another example of the truth. That over 90% of accidents are caused by human error. Waymo has not caused a single accident in the millions of miles driven in 2017. To prove they are better than humans, this year they are driving without a human backup driver in the driver’s seat. Waymo autonomous cars save lives.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: This accident proves we need autonomous cars now

          I'll believe it when they ALSO declare that all future road driving will be made in overcrowded cities full of construction, bare of lane marking, and packed with impromptu transportation.

  12. Screwed

    I really struggle to see how mixed autonomous and human-driven vehicles can cope with the narrow country lanes in this part of the world. Not whether the autonomous vehicles could actually guide themselves - but how they will manage the inevitable situations in which they have to cope with the negotiation of passing oncoming vehicles. Especially when you throw in tractors, animals, birds, hedgerows that encroach over the road, and all the other things that make it, umm, different. Humans manage by civil negotiation and sophisticated understanding of facial and hand/arm gestures, headlamp flashing, nature of the vegetation, depth of puddles and over-road flows of water, etc.

    I'd consider it very different to California - and very likely to find shortcomings in what has been developed elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think California has it worse: single-lane CLIFFSIDE roads. No leeway, no mercy, and often no way to back up or turn around. Two cars getting stuck face to face usually requires an intervention.

  13. Havin_it
    Happy

    Waymo van prang

    ...surely has to be the name of a Dutch hard-house DJ.

  14. PunkTiger
    Flame

    Sensationalist luddites

    So, let me get this straight... Human Driver #1 runs a red light and Human Driver #2 has to swerve out of the way to not hit them. Human Driver #2 loses control and drifts into oncoming traffic, striking Driver #3. Driver #3 was a Waymo car,

    So what's the headline? "Waymo van prang, self-driving cars still suck..."

    It's bull-pucky like this that brings out all the luddites yelling and screaming, "self-driving cars will kill us all!! Stop them before they kill again!!" Yes, it was INVOLVED in an accident, but it wasn't the CAUSE of the accident.

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