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Volkswagon Shows Off Self-Driving Auto-Pilot For Cars

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the car,-take-me-to-white-castle dept.

Robotics 140

thecarchik writes "The future of driving, in major cities at least, is looking more and more likely to be done by high-tech computers rather than actual people, at least if the latest breakthroughs in self-driving vehicle technology mean anything. Internet search engine giant Google has logged some 140,000 miles with its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet and Audi has had similar success with its run of autonomous cars. Now, Volkswagen has presented its Temporary Auto Pilot technology. Monitored by a driver, the technology can allow a car to drive semi-automatically at speeds of up to 80 mph on highways."

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140 comments

Posting (1, Funny)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554590)

Posting to undo accidental mod

Re:Posting (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554726)

Posting to undo accidental mod

OT: Out of curiosity, how can a first post undo an accidental mod -- what could you possibly have modded?

Re:Posting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555046)

I'm guessing he posted to the wrong story, but possibly he's posting drunk and just wants to rule out the high likelihood of an accidental mod in advance :)

Re:Posting (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555492)

I wish /. had a "you have modded this story" warning. I have accidentally undone mods by posting, sometimes a post you moderate is somewhat unrelated to the main topic so it's possible to forget exactly where it was. The reverse doesn't happen because the moderate dropbox doesn't appear once you have posted to a story.

Re:Posting (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555656)

There is a warning in the web2.0ish version, when you hit preview the first time after you've modded, it will give you a box saying you've already modded and continuing to post will undo your mods. You have to hit preview again to get the preview.

It only appears once, it only appears if you did not check "post anonymously" (note that this does not mean posting anonymously will not undo your mods, it will.)

Re:Posting (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557218)

(note that this does not mean posting anonymously will not undo your mods, it will.)

Which is stupid. So you just log out before posting, and then it won't undo your mods...

Re:Posting (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554902)

am I the only one who read it too quickly and saw this as undo-ing car accidents :)... now that function would be awesome in a car

Re:Posting (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555094)

Considering that most car "accidents" are actually people, it's rather hard to undo them. :p

Re:Posting (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556092)

Well... undoing people is the "easy" part.

Is this based on CARolo? (2)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554604)

I know a VW car was used as a base for the CARolo entrant during the DARPA Urban Challenge, it didn't fare too well in the finals but was one of the few non-US teams to even qualify for it. Did they scrap that technology or is this a result of it?

Re:Is this based on CARolo? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554730)

Well, I suppose we'll know that soon enough. If it turns out not to be, in a sufficiently spectacular fashion, then at least Texas has a good reason to add the big bang to the history books.

Re:Is this based on CARolo? (3, Informative)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554942)

Messy blurb (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554622)

The blurb doesn't make much sense (not counting the egregious misspelling). How is it initially going to be for big cities if the cars that come out are only offering this for highways?

Re:Messy blurb (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555062)

How is it initially going to be for big cities if the cars that come out are only offering this for highways?

The first model will be a bulldozer.

Re:Messy blurb (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555694)

Or a steam roller.

motorauthority.com? (4, Informative)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554668)

strange site, with too many ads...

a more useful link seems to be this one [haveit-eu.org] , the VW Temporary Auto Pilot is part of a quite big European R&D project.

Re:motorauthority.com? (1)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555206)

According to the second article (haveit), they see a use for this being during "monotonous driving" times such as "exceedingly speed limited" sections of roads. I can only assume they mean the US interstate system. I think what's going to happen is that people are going to start taking naps when driving across Kansas and eastern Colorado.

Re:motorauthority.com? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555436)

That's what I was thinking when reading about this. It's nice and all, but if driving down a long boring stretch of road is tedious and causes nod-offs and road-hypnosis... how much more common with those things be when the driver doesn't even have to keep their arms on the wheel?

Re:motorauthority.com? (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556312)

one possability would be an obligatory dead man's switch for such systems. how is this problem solved with current types of cruise control? (never drove a car with this feature)

Re:motorauthority.com? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556834)

Lots of questions about it still. Will there be a "kill switch" for law enforcement? If automated, how soon before we start seeing car bombs use this tech? What are the safety protocols in case of "LOOK OUT HERE COMES A TRUCK IN OUR LANE" type avoidance or even something like weather conditions. What kind of protections will the gov give to auto mfg's? If mandatory implementation to the point where it's always on, will performance and style still be the trend or will they become shoeboxes to get around in. And if so, will car pooling become more widely used?

Drivers No Longer Wanted? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554684)

I guess VW got all the drivers they needed...

Re:Drivers No Longer Wanted? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554722)

Does that include GPU drivers?

Liability (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554702)

When someone is injured by a self-driving car, who is liable?

Re:Liability (1)

cskrat (921721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554784)

The owner of the vehicle and his/her insurer.

Re:Liability (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555384)

Yeah - That seems pretty straight-forward. If I buy my own ED-209 [wikipedia.org] and put him to work trusting that he's been programmed correctly, but he guns down some businessman, the responsibility is going to be on me for turning him on and failing to control him.

Re:Liability (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554786)

As always, the one who can't buy top lawyers.

I would think that the car companies will have extra liability waivers you have to sign to activate this feature. My guess is that you would have to prove that it was the car that was at fault, not the driver. Just like you can claim that the steering malfunction or the car gassed by itself, you can claim that this system did something strange too. But can you prove it?

Re:Liability (2)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554974)

They're already putting black boxes into cars. The assumption would be that it would be recording the actions of the autopilot, too.

Re:Liability (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554818)

I'd be willing to be that, considering the disclaimer that the autopilot must be monitored by the driver, the human operator is still liable. It's a reasonable constraint but also unfortunate, it'd be nice to be able to catch up on reading in traffic. I guess I'll have to continue relying on the old-school version of this technology: the bus driver.

Re:Liability (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556148)

I'd be willing to be that, considering the disclaimer that the autopilot must be monitored by the driver, the human operator is still liable.

Like the way that when an aircraft autopilot shuts down because it can't work out how to fly the plane, then it crashes, that's always due to 'pilot error'?

It'll be great fun when you're driving along reading the newspaper and suddenly the car autopilot shuts down. Good luck.

Re:Liability (1)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554860)

The guilty car will be tried and sentenced to life in rental.

Re:Liability (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554936)

Driver - unless the car manufacturer REALLY wants to pick up the enormous tab for every potential liability in every single car they sell (and these car's price tag would then reflect that).

I wouldn't even want to imagine the carnage that an auto-run car can cause at 80mph, even with the best systems in the world. Even planes have mile-wide exclusion zones around them etc. and still "the autopilot was on" isn't an excuse to get out of a pilot not doing his job. When you're doing 70mph and there's a 2-second gap between you and the car in front, it's hard enough for a human to interpret the best action quickly enough (and 99.99% of the time that action is "brake!"), let alone a computer that can't really "see" at all.

Ordinary roads are just not good enough for automated cars. You're going to get these thing grinding to a halt because there's a cardboard box in the road, or a plastic bag, or a pothole. They're going to steer off the road or take an exit unintentionally because the lane markings are obscured or worn. They're going to take out wing mirrors because the system couldn't see the true width of the nearby cars quickly enough. They're going to return control to the human at odd times.

People already don't pay enough attention to the road. Don't give them any more gadgets that allow them (whether illegal or not) to take their eyes off it even more. If you want automated cars, build an automated road (We have them. They are called train tracks).

Right... (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555154)

Have you tried driving on these "automated" roads of yours? It is hell on the suspension I can tell you. And the other drivers? No regards for other drivers. I just parked on the road for a while to take a leak and did the driver behind me stop? NO! Sirreee, well not until after he had dragged my car for a mile or two down the road. And then he got upset at ME for using the road in the first place, why didn't he just steer around it I asked but he just looked at me like I was mad.

Mad? Not me!

Sadly based on an old newspaper article where a car was hit by a train because the car driver thought he had the right of way on a level crossing...might have been a fluf piece, I was kid when I read it but it wouldn't suprise me.

Re:Liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556864)

That's the thing, automated cars don't have to be perfect, they just have to be good enough in the first instance. Even if they do crash one time out of a thousand, that might be comparable odds to a human. Once we reach a tipping point where these are better than the average human (which is still far from perfect but still better odds for insurance companies to bet on) look to see massive incentives for people to go automated.

Re:Liability (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557548)

5.7 fatalities per billion km travelled, when under human control, according to my country's provided statistics.

So if you have about 32000 of these cars, each travelling 32,000km (that's a billion car-km in total), you should expect about 5 fatal accidents in total, or less, from that number of automated cars over, say, at least a year of driving, to make them "better" than a human driver. To me, that seems a ludicrously tiny number, and even the statistics for your "crash once in a thousand times" are laughable out by orders of magnitude for even the average human driver.

The problem is that to find out how well that statistic carries into autonomous vehicles, you can't extrapolate from the 5-10 that exist at the moment - you can't just run them for 100,000,000 miles each. You have to put 32,000 cars on the road for 32,000km and see how many people die. And THEN, if it's more than 5, you wasted all of that effort. Hence it will take DECADES until the testing is adequate enough to let them loose on the roads even under restrictive legislations. Why should such technology be put on roads quicker than, say, a trial of a new drug, for instance?

And I'm reminded that out of all the "autonomous" vehicle footage I've seen (for several decades, and we still don't have them), I've seen more accidents than successful trials.

There was a clip only last year with two brand-new prototype Volvos with a new technology that should make collisions "impossible". They drove two of them face-on to each other at 30mph in front of the press. About a dozen times, the cars were wrecked. Once, it applied the brakes and avoided a collisions. That was at a press conference to show off the state-of-the-art on an "uncrashable" car in controlled situations, in the simplest of scenarios.

Automated cars have an AWFULLY long way to go before they get close to the average driver level on a "normal" road. Not quite so far if they have their "own" roads but that's an expense that no government will pick up, especially when they can barely afford the transport systems they already have - and no car manufacturer is going to build you a road and have to absorb the liability they would push away in the first instance by expecting segregated roads.

Maybe in a hundred years. Possibly in 50. But it's going to be DECADES or more before automated cars become anywhere near mainstream because they just AREN'T good enough.

Re:Liability (1)

sseaman (931799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555012)

Good point. I think the state will have to take on the liability.

The future is not only self-driving cars, but roads composed of only light-weight self-driving cars. In such a system, where, in order to maximize efficiency, the safety offered by heavier vehicles has been compromised, it may make sense for a centralized agency to ultimately vouch for and maintain the vehicles on the road.

Furthermore, I see no reason why these vehicles can't be shared, like taxis. That eliminates the need to park, which eliminates parking lots. It eliminates public fueling stations, it eliminates the complexities of home charging (especially for urbanites). The vehicles are simply rented for a time, and returned to the herd. In dense urban areas, they can be sitting outside, waiting a hail. In suburban areas, maybe a text from your cell phone will bring one to your location in minutes. In very rural areas, perhaps people will be licensed to buy and keep their own vehicles.

Make no mistake, once the public is more aware of this technology people will demand it. Like cell phones and the Internet, I (and many automotive insiders) expect it to take over in a relatively short amount of time. Liability is perhaps the last major hurdle, and I see no other solution than this sort of transportation being taken over by the state, as has been other shared, ground transit.

Re:Liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555460)

Roads for self driving cars, and only self-driving cars (be it lightweight vehicles or tractor-trailer rigs) would completely help with regards to traffic. In town, it likely would be too dangerous. However, letting a vehicle assume control, guided by a central city computer and what other vehicles around are doing would mean that cars could slightly slow down and make a gap for merging (good luck trying to get a human to do that), move to the proper lane, then move to the exit without impacting traffic flow. Cars could be packed closer together because the 750-1000 ms needed for a non-stoned/non-drunk person to react, move foot from gas to brake, then push down would be eliminated -- it essentially would be vehicle braking distance that would determine the gap between cars, allowing more on the road. To boot, since the human element is factored out, you won't have the wrecks like you do on normal freeways.

Self driving cars are a good thing overall.

Re:Liability (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555132)

When someone is injured by any other piece of machinery, who is liable? The owner of the piece of machinery. They will then probably claim on their insurance to cover the costs. Here, you aren't allowed to drive without at least having third-party insurance, and I imagine that the same would be true of self-driving cars. If self-driving cars show a lower accident rate, then I imagine that insurance costs will be lower for them than for manual cars.

If the collision is due to a fault, then the owner may also be able to get compensation from the car manufacturer, just as they can now if their accident is due to a fault.

This is just great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554714)

When this stuff takes off, all these cars are going to meticulously obey the speed limit. Even if it's 20 or 30 mph slower than what people are actually driving, they'll be chugging along while everyone else is dangerously shifting lanes around them.

Re:This is just great. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554830)

So you admit the lawbreakers will be driving dangerously. Hello!

Re:This is just great. (1)

alien9 (890794) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554832)

So it will become pretty easy do tell who are the real dickhead drivers. Get video, fine them generously, problem solved.

Re:This is just great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556688)

Yeah, the real dickhead drivers will be driving the speed limit. Much easier to photograph them.

Re:This is just great. (1)

BStroms (1875462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554846)

Hopefully, eventually the technology will get good enough that it's far safer than a human driver and they'll require everyone use it. Not to mention that if everyone meticulously obeyed the speed limit, they might be able to raise the speed limit. I know there are people who drive what they safely can in an area, but there are other people who just always drive X MPH faster than whatever the speed limit says.

Besides, as much as some people feel the speed limit is arbitrarily kept too low, if a situation becomes dangerous because some people are following the speed limit and others aren't, it's those who aren't following it that are at fault if anything happens.

Re:This is just great. (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556684)

Hopefully, eventually the technology will get good enough that it's far safer than a human driver and they'll require everyone use it.

Indeed; when you give up responsibility, you must simultaneously give up freedom. Granted in this case the "freedom to control my own vehicle" is perhaps a bit esoteric, but it is indeed a freedom that will be eliminated if people are required to use "automatic" cars.

Personally, I don't like the trend in global society where people are giving up their freedoms just because they don't want any responsibility.

Re:This is just great. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554882)

If people want to go that much above the speed limit they should go into the left lane. 80MPH is about 130 km/h which is the recommended speed on German motorways (which are usually 3 lanes per side), usually the middle lane will go at that speed so there'll be a lane to overtake these cars. If two lanes are going far enough below the limit/recommendation that the autopilot will move into the left lane then you won't be able to drive 50km/h faster than the limit.

Besides, nobody is going to go 50 km/h above the limit as being caught by a speed trap at that speed results in losing your license. Above the recommendation, sure but if the traffic is so light that you can actually pull that off then the autopilot car isn't going to get into your way.

From what I read on here the US doesn't even seem to have roads where you're allowed to go faster than 75MPH.

Re:This is just great. (1)

wootcat (1151911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556164)

There are some stretches in Nebraska on I-80 where the speed limit is 80. Maybe even 85. I can't remember exactly. It was six months ago.

Re:This is just great. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557176)

From what I've read, German highways are built for higher speeds; thicker pavements, wider lanes, grades less steep, etc.

If you want to do 80 when the speed limit is 65, you're a menace.

Re:This is just great. (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557504)

Shall I get off your lawn then?

Re:This is just great. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554964)

They'll also be driving in the right lane.

Re:This is just great. (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555556)

They'll also be driving in the right lane.

Good point. I wonder why those guys who are so meticulous about obeying speed limits absolutely refuse to use the right lane. They complain about tailgaters but see nothing wrong in being too close to the car in the right lane to let anybody pass.

By the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554740)

It's "Volkswagen" not "Volkswagon"

Re:By the way (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554946)

Apparently the editors cannot spell (or fact-check) ... in German, Volk = "people" and Wagen = "wagon; carriage; automobile." Thus, yes, Volkswagen -- the "people's car."

Re:By the way (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555068)

winzigesautoumhitlerglücklichundbekommengutebenzinverbrauchwährenddeskriegeswagen

Re:By the way (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554996)

Or just go all the way and call it People's Car

Hey, idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554750)

It's VOLKSWAGEN, not wagon, dumbass.

Circumventing our autopilot overlords (3, Insightful)

Tsar (536185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554856)

Unless there's some unforeseen (by the general public) future setback in technology, there will come a point in the next few years when you won't be able to legally drive on a public street without this kind of technology--probably always on to take over when you speed, tailgate or just drive too aggressively. What possibilities would then exist for gaming the system? Not myself, of course, but others...

I assume that the firmware on these systems will be DRM'ed to prevent aftermarket adjustments. Some of the basic functionality (speed limits, etc.) would require a GPS signal; perhaps intermittent GPS jamming would cause the system to revert to full manual control. Any other ideas?

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554934)

Any other ideas?

Keep a classic maintained. My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG, carries four full-sized adults in comfort, and comes off the line better than most 5 liter American sedans. You can pick one up for a couple grand and restore it for less than it will cost to buy a total shitbox new. Best part? It is dependent on zero computers to function. Even the cruise control unit barely qualifies. It has an EGR computer but since I disabled EGR (it was leaking soot) that's not in play; the vacuum line is closed off.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555402)

My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG...

Are those US gallons? If so, 30 MPG is pretty poor. My father has a not-very-new Nissan Note which gets nearly twice that (55ish miles per US gallon, depending on how you drive).

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555726)

My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG...

Are those US gallons? If so, 30 MPG is pretty poor. My father has a not-very-new Nissan Note which gets nearly twice that (55ish miles per US gallon, depending on how you drive).

That 300SD weighs 1800kg "dry". The Note is in the 1100kg range (with fuel, oil, etc.) Not really a fair comparison.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555848)

We're talking about a 3750 lb car from the 1980s here. Average at the time would be more like 20. It can run on biodiesel without harm or modification and for what it costs to buy a newer car which gets better mileage you can buy a lot of fuel. Of course, if you live in a road salt state this is a less-viable option... We don't have cars the size of the Note here in the USA for the most part, they don't meet federal crash test standards. There are a couple (e.g. Smart ForTwo) but they are special. If you look at the mileage for the typical car sold in the USA today (including Nissans) 30 mpg is pretty good. Most vehicles which have vaguely close to as much interior room as my MBZ are banging down around 24 highway. Virtually none of them have the same handling and NONE of them, repeat NONE, have the ride quality. Not even any newer Mercedes (since W140 or so) can match the ride of a W126 — and certainly not a beercan Nissan Note that I'd have to chew on my knees to sit in.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556382)

Do you have a citation for the Note crash test reference? I can't find anything (I didn't know it had even been submitted for testing).

I tend to judge cars on how useful they are, and to me being old is only an excuse if you're interested in classic cars, which I'm not. I realise that small cars are unfashionable in the US, but I've just driven 1000 miles round Ireland in one on tiny country lanes, and I couldn't be more pleased: the handling is precise and crisp, it's spacious and really comfortable inside, visibility is mostly superb (the high driver's position gives you a great view at the front, but the two back pillars do give you large blind spots), it holds an incredible amount of stuff, and it's really cheap to run. I think we filled up twice, and it's not as if it has a particularly large fuel tank. I'd be perfectly happy to do a US transcontinental trip in one.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555938)

This is an early 80's smog motor and in a large car [wikipedia.org] , compare it to US cars of the same vintage and size (Olds 98, Ford Crown Vic, Lincoln Town Car) and it gets really good mileage.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556796)

Your father's Nissan Note doesn't share the same chassis as the sweet Mercedes from Ronin.

Traffic? No problem, I've got a rocket launcher I can use from the sunroof.

Oh bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557378)

an 82 300SD is a fine car, but "comes off the line better than most 5 liter American sedans" is total bunk...
cars today are much faster than they were 30 years ago. Then if you made a sedan that went 0-60 in 8 seconds it would be considered sporty, now the automotive press would lambaste its "sluggishness"

GPS has dead zones right now and road sensors (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554972)

GPS has dead zones right now and road sensors will needed as well

Also GPS can not pin point down to the lane level and last thing you want is for to think you are on a side road next to the highway and slow you down to a max of 25MPH

Re:GPS has dead zones right now and road sensors (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556970)

Not to mention there are already enough stories of people driving into ditches because they blindly follow the sat nav, let alone having cars automatically do so. If we're ever going to have inner city automated driving there will need to be a far better system than satellite, or at least than satellite alone.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555174)

It's entirely dependent on an electric power steering assist. Pulling the fuse on that will likely disable it completely - I'd not expert engineering to assume the risk of taking partial control and only over riding some driver inputs.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555540)

No GPS is needed for speed limits. You can already buy cars that have cameras build in to recognize road signs and automatically alert the driver to changing speed limits, or allow you to recall the last limit. This is currently available at least in VW's Phaeton, and I'd suspect in the CC and Passat as well.

If you want full manual control, your best bet would probably be to disable the radar use to gauge the distance to the car in front, either by unplugging it or blocking it with a sheet of tin foil.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555568)

I can foresee a situation in, say, 20 years' time, when vehicles without this technology are banned from motorways; similar to horse-drawn vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

I can't see it happening on normal roads for decades though. In the UK, it would require the tearing up of public right-of-way law. Motorways, and roads with motorway-style restrictions, require special legislation in order to make the rules effective.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

InitZero (14837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556118)

when vehicles without this technology are banned from motorways; similar to horse-drawn vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Point of order, at least in the United States, horse-drawn vehicles and cyclists are allowed to use public roads the same way they did before the invention of the automobile. Roads are very good about being backward compatible.

Cheers,
Matt

Chaff (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555672)

If you really wanna screw with someone, put in a fighter jet chaff system, and blow chaff behind you as you drive... all traffic behind you will probably come to a complete stand still.

FTA: Additionally, stop and start driving maneuvers in traffic jams are also automated.

This would seem to be the most gamed system. You pop the vehicle in reverse, and hit the car behind you, claiming it hit you.

Of course, this is an old insurance fraud trick, and with on-board blackboxes, one that will lead to a quick trip to jail. Of course, insurance companies are good at catching these types of fraud, too.

I think ultimately, any way you can game a computer, you can also game people. The system that prevents it is trust and insurance. Insurance looks for people with multiple claims, and prosecutors go after them similarly. On top of that, we can build trust. If someone is driving, they are likely not gaming the system because A) If they are, they will be caught. B) If they were caught, and are driving without a license or insurance they'll go to jail if they hit you.

You can game any system, but only for so many times. Unlike a hacker, someone actually driving and causing an accident is either an anarchist who drives away (and police will catch) or a con-man, who can't drive away (and insurance will catch).

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555698)

Some of the basic functionality (speed limits, etc.) would require a GPS signal

Why should that be? Cars had speed meters long before GPS existed. Take the spinning rate of the wheels, multiply by the wheel circumference and, presto, you have the speed.

If you are automating driving, the system should necessarily be able to recognize and read all the traffic signs around, including those posting speed limits. I would never trust a system that couldn't differentiate a 65 mph sign from a "$0.65 off" roadside advertisement.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555814)

Instead of reading the traffic signs, it would probably be easier to use GPS coordinates, and consult a traffic database.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556368)

Instead of reading the traffic signs, it would probably be easier to use GPS coordinates, and consult a traffic database.

There's easier, and there's less prone to interruption. GPS has known reliability issues, and would at most be used as one of a redundant set of systems.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556876)

I would bet that the current state of GPS (possibly augmented with inertial navigation) is more reliable than computers that can read traffic signs.

Also, the reliability of the GPS signal is easily verified. When the GPS error becomes too big, it can alert the human driver.

Re:Circumventing our autopilot overlords (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557206)

I would bet that the current state of GPS (possibly augmented with inertial navigation) is more reliable than computers that can read traffic signs.

Also, the reliability of the GPS signal is easily verified. When the GPS error becomes too big, it can alert the human driver.

Take a look at the digital cameras in the $150 range. They can track faces quite well. Big numbers on a high-contrast sign sounds pretty easy. Besides, there is also the issue of obstacles, road changes, etc., which require at least sonar, as well as image sensing to be reasonable.

Extra O and no E in your headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554918)

It's Volkswagen, not Volkswagon, as your headline states (although, not the article, you get it right there...)

Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

jonescb (1888008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554998)

It wouldn't be hard to set up a self-driving vehicle if you can make the assumption that all cars on the road have some sort of wireless signal that the self driving car can use. For instance, if the car ahead of you is slowing down, it could be broadcasting it's speed to other cars behind it, so the self driving car won't plow into it. There could also be construction signs that tell cars about construction zones and lane closings. You could stick these on stop lights too. For navigation, it could use a GPS perhaps with some electronics on the road to assist with going around curves or marking lanes.

I'd hate to be a pedestrian though. I can't think of a reasonable way for self driving cars to detect people crossing the street without people having to wear bracelets that broadcast another signal. It'd be cooler in my opinion if all of this was done without image recognition which is always a fuzzy issue.

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555250)

Why broadcast signal when you can just have a laser that detects distances. Changes in distance means changing velocity. If a pedestrian walks in front of a car, laser detects the person and brakes.

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555426)

I would very much like a LIDAR+HUD system that would tell me distances, vectors, and velocities while driving. I suspect most people would find it distracting, though.

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555796)

I'd like a camera mounted to a pole looking down from above and slightly behind my car so I can see what the hell is going on around me without having to constantly look over my shoulder when I want to change lanes.

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

jonescb (1888008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555516)

Heh, good idea. You can probably tell I'm a Computer Science major not a Physics one. Real world interactions aren't my style.

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556922)

Of course, you could combine both systems. After all, if you are unlucky, the car in front of you is so dirty that you don't get a clear laser return signal (or maybe the owner intentionally prevented laser reflection in order to prevent the police from measuring his speed with lasers). If you rely on the condition of other people's cars, you better don't rely on just one type of information (indeed, I'd also add a system estimating the front car's distance from camera image, just in case the other types of estimation fail).

Re:Given enough electronics, this would be easy. (1)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557226)

Great. Until mud gets on the emitter.

What about other cars? (1)

mikeru22 (1222780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555084)

looking a bit into the future...So when you decide to take a nap during a trip in your autonomous car you're still in danger of crashing because that weary-eyed or drunk driver that can't afford this technology is still likely to drift out of his lane. How do they plan to avoid this type of thing? Will the car automatically swerve out of the way or screech to a halt while you're sleeping in the back seat? Seems like the only way for this to work is to have networking between cars in close proximity be a required component of all/new vehicles.

Re:What about other cars? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555886)

I thought of this too. There are occasionally emergency situations where the reasonable course of action is to swerve suddenly into the oncoming lane, on to the shoulder, or suddenly punch your car well above the speed limit. While these maneuvers may or may not technically adhere to the laws of the road, there are situations where they can be life-saving. I'm curious how these cars will handle blatant and sudden violations of road rules in favor of sanity.

Re:What about other cars? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556988)

I'm pretty sure even in your autonomous car, you'd be required to supervise it and act accordingly as soon as you notice some unusual situation. Probably you'd also have to absolve some mandatory manual-driving hours per year in order to make sure that you still can control the car.

Audi = Volkswagen (2)

tulmad (25666) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555184)

Given that Audi and Volkswagen (that's wagen, with an E) are the same company, it's not surprising that they're sharing the technology behind this.

Re:Audi = Volkswagen (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556656)

Mod this guy up. I was about to post the same thing.

Temporary Auto Pilot? (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555256)

I'd TAP that.

badum-clack

Thank you folks, I'll be here all night.

It's time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555404)

Time to UN-PIMP the DRIVER! :)

Cruise Control and dead kitties (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555448)

This seems more reasonable, though maybe not more exciting, than the Google auto-pilot car. Cruise control helps save driver fatigue, so there is no reason that this cannot too. Already, some production cars look ahead to break, some reduce speed when approaching a slower moving vehicle, and others automatically dim bright lights.

This is a nice baby step. After all, if you can't trust your car, then, well, you can't trust the car with a driver either. Though, it'll still scare the public the same way automatic parking kinda scared me... I don't wanna see cars backing up over cats. I want my cats to die naturally, when God kills them because people masturbate... The point being, that technology scares us because of superstition that somehow people are better at everything, when in fact, we are worse. Cats get run over whether a car does it or a person. But a car can be made to look for cats, and people just figure the little walking demons will move.

Volkswagon? (0)

greetings programs (964239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555466)

The submitter can't spell Volksagen?

Re:Volkswagon? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555790)

There's a lot of that going around.

Re:Volkswagon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556798)

Ironic, isn't it?

speeds of up to 80 mph (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555768)

Cop: Do you know how fast you were going?
Me: Talk to the driver.

Blowback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555798)

How long before this technology translates into autonomous Vehicle Borne IEDs?

Re:Blowback (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557224)

Far too expensive. If you want to remotely detonate a moving vehicle you can already set up a remote control system and a camera to achieve the same effect for very little cost with far more precise control (if you're going after a moving target in traffic for instance).

Self-Driving Auto-Pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557560)

As opposed to those crappy auto-pilots that need someone else to do the driving?

That's not just redundant; it's a tautology, too!

Bad idea. Too dumb. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557618)

Semi-automatic driving is a bad idea.

I'm all in favor of full automatic driving. (I ran a DARPA Grand Challenge team.) But it needs a full sensor suite and good situational awareness. This is quite possible now. With devices like the Velodyne scanner, you have a full real-time depth image of everything around the car. (Yes, the Velodyne thing is too bulky and too expensive. There are ways around that. Advanced Scientific Concepts needs to get their flash LIDAR out of the high-end military market, and you need to build up your model from multiple sensors to get rid of that huge scanner on the roof.)

Automatic driving needs to handle the hard cases. A child running in front of a car. Trash on the road. Ice. This is not only feasible, hardware has much better reaction times than humans, especially tired or distracted ones. Google's automatic cars have encountered deer and avoided them. They can even pull off maneuvers that humans can't. There's video of Stanford's autonomous vehicle doing a power slide into a parking space. Repeatably.

Easy-cases-only automatic driving is a recipe for disaster. If you have lane-keeping and vehicle spacing, which is what's being talked about here, you have the illusion of automatic driving. Most of the time, it will work fine. Most of the time.

Expecting the driver to sit there, not steering but being alert, for hours on end, is unrealistic. When something bad happens, they won't react quickly enough.

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