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China Catches Up With Google's Driverless Car

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the OK-but-it's-just-following-the-wall dept.

AI 258

mikejuk writes "While Google makes headlines with its driverless car and even manages to lobby Nevada to legalize driverless cars on the public road — China quietly pushes ahead on its own. A driverless car navigated 286km of expressway all on its own. Using nothing but a pair of video cameras and laser rangefinders, i.e. no GPS, it managed to arrive safely even through fog. The computer vision based approach means that at the moment it can only drive during daylight hours. Google might need to speed up ..."

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ethics of experiments involving humans (-1, Offtopic)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37063238)

Heres what psychologists have to do before they do an experiment involving humans:

"8.02 Informed Consent to Research
(a) When obtaining informed consent as required in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, psychologists inform participants about (1) the purpose of the research, expected duration, and procedures; (2) their right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun; (3) the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing; (4) reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; (5) any prospective research benefits; (6) limits of confidentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and (8) whom to contact for questions about the research and research participants' rights. They provide opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers. (See also Standards 8.03, Informed Consent for Recording Voices and Images in Research; 8.05, Dispensing with Informed Consent for Research; and 8.07, Deception in Research.)"

etc etc etc. (from APA website)

nice to know that the robot car people have, basically, no ethics whatsoever, considering that automobile-travel systems have killed more people than terrorism.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (3, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 3 years ago | (#37063326)

Hello, roboticist here. I'd like to ask you a question: how were power steering, cruise control, anti-lock breaks, fuel injection and collision avoidance radar tested before it was introduced to the commercial car market? When you've answered that question, I'd like to ask you how robotic cars are substantially different in terms of 'experimentation'.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37063470)

Im pretty sure they didnt just throw them on the highway with other cars prior to testing.

Driverless car with human backup driver (3, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#37063624)

I'm sure the Chinese research team didn't send their robot car out on the public highway without having tested it a lot in the lab and on closed tracks first, and that Google's robot car team didn't, and that the people who developed power steering etc. didn't either. My guess is that none of the DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Challenge competitors did either (or at worst, not many of them :-).

And you don't send a robot car out to drive itself without a human along to override its decisions, any more than a responsible adult would send a young human out to drive unsupervised in a public road for the first time. (Some of us humans learned to drive in "driver's-ed" cars that had an extra set of brakes in the front passenger seat so the instructor could stop the car if he had to, while others learned in cars that didn't have that, so the instructor was limited to yelling a lot and grabbing the steering wheel if needed. And lots of us learned to drive in mostly-empty parking lots before going out on the street.) Presumably the Chinese car had a human backup driver who could override the autopilot if necessary.

It's more fun if you can have the backup driver in the right-hand seat and a large dog or a Terminator mannequin in the left-hand seat, but that's strictly optional.

hello, kell bengal (0)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37063526)

power steering: human is in control, power steering augments that control. if it fails, the human can still control the cars direction

cruise control: human is mostly in control. if cruise control fails, the human can still control the cars speed

if the anti-lock brakes fail, you just have normal brakes. the human can still stop.

if the fuel injection fails, the car rolls to a stop, as it would with most other kinds of show-stopping engine failure.

if the collision avoidance radar fails, nobody even notices.

in a robot car the human is not in control, the robot is. if it is going at 60 mph, that is 88 feet per second. if the robot malfunctions and jerks the car into the left lane, then the human can take over... but it takes a good portion of a second for the electrochemical message to get from the brain to the hands. in that time the car has have traveled a good portion of that 88 feet. maybe under the wheels of a tractor trailer, maybe into a bus full of nuns.

is the government watching over these robot experiments, to make sure they are done properly? maybe in the united states, but i can assure you that in China, scant attention has been payed to safety, and any whistleblowers have been put in prison (google Xiao Lianhai).

Re:hello, kell bengal (3, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | about 3 years ago | (#37063716)

You're using the nice failure conditions on one side of the argument and the nasty ones on the other. That's not fair.

power steering: human is in control, power steering augments that control. if it fails, the human can still control the cars direction

Not if the failure locks the wheel in the wrong orientation. You hit a bus full on nuns in the other lane.

cruise control: human is mostly in control. if cruise control fails, the human can still control the cars speed

Not if the cruise controls locks up at full speed and does not turn off. You rear end a bus full of nuns.

if the anti-lock brakes fail, you just have normal brakes. the human can still stop.

Not if the brakes all lock shut and cause you to lose traction at highway speeds. You swerve into an oncoming bus full of nuns.

if the collision avoidance radar fails, nobody even notices.

Not if the failure is to trigger the brakes due to an "imminent collision." Bus full of nuns hits you form behind.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063328)

which is why the driverless cars have to date been involved in only one minor fender bender which was covered by the driverless cars insurance and *gasp* this is such a evil experiment for the helpless human drivers of the other cars on the road.
no doubt this evil experiment will one day kill all humans on any road everywhere. it must be stopped. where do i sign up ?

its about the principle of the thing (0)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37063392)

its experimental by its very nature. you dont experiment on people without their consent.

Re:its about the principle of the thing (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about 3 years ago | (#37063764)

It's a stretch to call experimenting with driver-less cars on public roads experimenting on people. Any experiment that could affect the lives of others could fall under such a loose meaning. Does experimentation on viruses require the consent of everyone on the planet because they could possibly be affected if things go wrong? Should we have not ever attempted to launch anything into space without the unanimous consent of the planet? Do you think all drivers on the road should have to consent before allowing an experimental human driver (ie student driver) on the road?

I suppose as long as you announce that you are doing it ahead of time you could argue that people are giving consent by choosing to drive on that road or not. At any rate I would worry more about the hundreds/thousands of texting teens, drunken drivers and distracted drivers than one experimental robot. I also seriously doubt there wasn't testing before hand on closed roads or that there weren't any safety precautions. If nothing else safety precautions help protect investment in the vehicle itself.

So did China's car crash too? (0)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#37063500)

Google's driverless car was just in the news for crashing into a Prius - I was assuming that this headline meant that China had a robot car that had done the same, but I guess this is /. and not Fark.

Besides, Google's car can also look up Sarah Connor when it's planning its route...

Re:So did China's car crash too? (2)

Macrat (638047) | about 3 years ago | (#37063882)

Google's driverless car was just in the news for crashing into a Prius

A human was driving the vehicle.

Re:So did China's car crash too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37064028)

Google's driverless car was just in the news for crashing into a Prius

A human was driving the vehicle.

That's a cover story, insurance does not cover cars driven by no one and tickets can not be written to driverless car. Google sure as hell doesn't want to look embarrassed. No one takes out the driveless car to drive manually, that's like pushing your roomba robot vacuum cleaner around with a stick.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 3 years ago | (#37063356)

Is this a reference to the research vehicle sharing the road with unsuspecting motorists? If so, I agree that could be a problem.

On the other hand, those fatal "automobile-travel systems" are fatal when humans are behind the wheel. One factor was cited in the article: reaction times. Human motorists also tend to violate traffic laws at whim and make judgement calls that are contradictory to best practices. That isn't a lack of ethics (as in the case of a machine), it is contrary to ethics.

so why not use the train (0)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37063570)

or a bicycle path or a number of other transportation solutions? why pour more money into a system that has proven to be so destructive, not only to safety, but to the environment and human health?

Re:so why not use the train (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063978)

Ah, your posts make more sense now. You're really against cars in general. Ok. Consider, robots will make vehicle drafting more practical and thereby reduce fuel consumption. They may also be able to provide better driving habits to reduce fuel consumption. For example, they are unlikely to punch it when the light turns green only to slam on the brake at the next light. In fact, once all cars are automated there won't be a need for traffic lights or starting and stopping more than the one time for departure and arrival. You're unlikely to get rid of fueled personal conveyance any time soon, but at least automation will save tens of thousands of lives per year while reducing fuel cost and lowering cars environmental impact.

Consider the offshoots of this technology that could enable very high fuel efficient 'gopher' vehicles. A lightweight vehicle designed for running errands. Such a vehicle would not need the extra weight to protect and transport people. This vehicle could go to the store to get your groceries and return them. Take and pick up your dry cleaning. Light-weight and with a limited range such a vehicle might be cheap and easily electric.

BTW planes and trains at least are highly automated. Cars will be the very last transportation method to be automated (not counting bicycles and walking)

Re:so why not use the train (1)

russotto (537200) | about 3 years ago | (#37064014)

or a bicycle path or a number of other transportation solutions? why pour more money into a system that has proven to be so destructive, not only to safety, but to the environment and human health?

Because cars work so damned well compared to everything else. Sure, bicycles are safe. They're also slow as hell, can only be practically used by a relatively small portion of the population, suck in bad weather, are terrible when hills are involved, and require a lot of effort to use.

Trains aren't quite as bad; just about anyone can get on them and use them, and they aren't so bad in bad weather. However, unlike roads, they don't go everywhere, not even close. They aren't so good at hills either. Train systems tend to be vulnerable (even more so than automobiles) to single failures causing delays throughout the system. And they're incredibly expensive on a per-passenger-mile basis.

Re:so why not use the train (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37064070)

Sure, bicycles are safe.

Actually, when we looked at this a few years ago cyclists killed about as many people per passenger mile as motorists. In the UK, anyway, I don't know whether cyclists in other parts of the world are as dangerous as the 'red lights don't apply to me and get off that pedestrian crossing because I'm not stopping' lycra loons over there.

Re:so why not use the train (2)

MacTO (1161105) | about 3 years ago | (#37064112)

I can tell that you've never commuted on a bicycle. They can be remarkably faster than cars under common traffic conditions, and exceptionally dangerous. (Never forget that a significant amount of engineering is devoted to automobile safety, virtually no consideration is given to bicycle safety.)

There are also hybrid methods of transportation: motorized bicycles are becoming more common, to tackle the hills; transit systems facilitate cyclists on both busses and trains; park-and-ride lots for motorists who can do part of the commute on trains; and so forth.

The final consideration is that cities are unfriendly to alternative forms of transportation because they were designed for the private automobile, and things aren't really going to change because the lobby groups that support the automobile (including people like yourself) fight tooth and nail against accomodations being made for other modes of transportation.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063456)

It would be pretty frightening to have a machine steering a car, instead of a good old reliable human who never gets drunk, tired, angry or distracted, and never has a heart attack or a sudden seizure.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37063466)

nice to know that the robot car people have, basically, no ethics whatsoever, considering that automobile-travel systems have killed more people than terrorism.

This is China; I haven't been there in a few years, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to build a machine that drives worse than the typical driver I saw on the roads there.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 3 years ago | (#37064002)

Relevant reference videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPxinqO3f8o [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D36eisnZ3A4 [youtube.com]

If they really do manage a robotic driver to deal with that mess it will be a miracle of modern engineering to rival anything in the history of mankind.
=Smidge=

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | about 3 years ago | (#37064034)

Which makes the tech actually quite impressive, if it managed to survive the horrible, horrible general traffic behaviour there.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#37063506)

First of all, killed more people then terrorism? Are you from the US government because I'm pretty certain terrorism is a pretty low bar for deaths, On a national scale america had one big one, and next to nothing for almost all of it's history, on a global scale there's probably 15 different illnesses that can surpass terrorism. Secondly we already are risking our lives due to poorly tested and poorly manufactured systems driving our cars. Humans, we give each new human 30 hours in a classroom, 15 minutes with an instructor, and if they pass that test, good to go. No consent from every driver on the road needed. The high death rate of automobiles is exactly why figuring out something better is a goal. 2 fender benders vs 140,000k miles of drive time is far better then the average human being clocks in when it first learns to drive, and unlike humans as the computer based cars gain experience and intelligence, what they learn is automatically implanted into their next of kin. While humans have to re-learn from scratch every generation.

we have something better already (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37063584)

its called trains, subways, bicycle paths, etc etc etc.
all it takes is the desire to put down the kool-aid and stop throwing money down the car-hole.

Re:we have something better already (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37063820)

its called trains, subways, bicycle paths, etc etc etc.

All of which suck ass unless you live in a city so poorly designed that driving becomes even worse.

Re:we have something better already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37064110)

At the extreme... vehicles are still more useful for things like ambulances, fire trucks and farming. It's not really practical to take a train out onto your property to feed cattle (likewise public transportation the needed infrastructure may do more harm in rural areas than cars. There's are many reasons people use cars besides 'drinking the kool-aid'. I agree there should be more investment (from whoever) for trains, subways etc. but I think more people will listen to you if you promote those systems rather than attack cars. In other words, explain why trains etc are better not why cars are worse. It is also counter-productive to attack improvements in cars just because they're not 'perfect'. It's hard to take someone seriously when they've decided cars are the boogie man.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 3 years ago | (#37064088)

First of all, killed more people then terrorism? Are you from the US government because I'm pretty certain terrorism is a pretty low bar for deaths

And yet look how much time, money and effort we spend trying (ineptly) to protect ourselves from terrorism while practically nobody seems to give two shits about traffic safety.

In 2001 alone, traffic related fatalities outnumbered terrorism related fatalities by about 14 to 1. If we include all the years since it's over 130 to 1.
=Smidge=

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063592)

look mommy, an equivocator!

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37063612)

Heres what psychologists have to do before they do an experiment involving humans

This is exactly why the Google car doesn't ask other drivers about their feelings while stopped at lights. The psychologists said it wasn't ethical.

Other than that, the driverless car has as much right to be on the road as any young learner driver just starting out. And how else would this technology ever get tested under real world conditions, because requiring informed consent from all the other drivers is obviously impractical.

Re:ethics of experiments involving humans (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 3 years ago | (#37063724)

I share the road with unpredictable humans every day. Sharing the road with a predictable computer should be no challenge. Some people worry to much. Computers never worry. I think I prefer the computer over you.

Trains (2)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 3 years ago | (#37063246)

Apparently they already have driverless high-speed trains.

Catches up? Yeah right... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063282)

It's pretty well known that China has been sending spies disguised as academic scholars/PhD students to appropriate information on research projects conducted in the US (professors in my school had been questioned by the FBI and were advised to be careful of these disguised "students"). I wouldn't be surprised if some of the technologies used were stolen from research projects conducted in the US.

They catch up all right, whether by their own effort, I don't know.

Re:Catches up? Yeah right... (0)

hansraj (458504) | about 3 years ago | (#37063330)

You are an idiot. Any research available to a chinese scholar (any non-citizen for that matter) would be publicly - or for a small fee - available to anyone. It is not called stealing; that's how research is done.

Re:Catches up? Yeah right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063354)

Work in progress is available to anyone? Guess I oughta drop by Livermore Labs sometime soon...

Re:Catches up? Yeah right... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 3 years ago | (#37063560)

In many cases yes, it is. If you request it. Depends on the research, your relationship with the researcher and so on.

There are probably 40-50 graduate students from Chicom where I am, (In ontario Canada) and we have about 120 grad students... Just in computer science. Google can take the best and brightest all it wants, it doesn't get them all, a lot of them are chinese and will work on similar projects from the same starting points.

Building a driverless car is not a radical departure or great leap in technology from all of its constituent parts. Integrating that all together is of course a challenge, but there's been a lot of public research on the topic, it's just a matter of being the right persons student.

Of course chinese researchers in china don't have worry the same way google does about liability. What we don't know is how many driverless cars crashed and killed people in china. One google vehicle gets in one fender bender and it makes the front page of /. In some ways their way is going to probably be faster, real world data and all that. But well... causing accidents and the liability associated with is bad.

Re:Catches up? Yeah right... (4, Insightful)

i_b_don (1049110) | about 3 years ago | (#37063896)

LOL.... I got my masters in engineering from USC about 10 years back... I looked around the room and typically I was the only blond person there. I'd estimate that 75% of the people were of asian decent (Indian, and various asian countries). They're not coming to steal the research, they're coming to do the research!

d

probably more of a social/political problem (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 years ago | (#37063306)

Automatically driving a car isn't easy per se, but it's not anywhere near the hardest AI problems we have. In particular, if we were to take a realistic bar for safety--- beating the average human driver--- the bar is actually pretty low, because the average safety record of human drivers is pretty shitty. A robot driver could just not speed and drive relatively defensively, and that alone would give it a big built-in accident-rate advantage, even if its raw skill was worse than a typical human driver.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

microcentillion (942039) | about 3 years ago | (#37063366)

Even if its raw skill was worse than a typical human driver.

It's worth noting that the 'typical human driver' has no measurable 'raw skill'. However, an AI system would have no emotions (in theory), and therefor would have no minuses to it's driving saving-throws.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#37063422)

On top of emotions, a lack of almost every other weakness of humans, in addition to emotions that vary our abilities widely, our skill also varies greatly on sleep, food, blood alcohol level, drugs, who's in the car. I'd have to say it is a miracle we make it to work every day.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37063550)

Or driving isn't as hard as MADD would like you to believe.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37063890)

Or driving isn't as hard as MADD would like you to believe.

WARNING! DANGER!

Rationalization in progress.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 3 years ago | (#37064004)

The freeway itself should be able to know where every automobile is located on the freeway. Every car should have a Wi-Fi system so that it can broadcast its speed and location to every car within a half of a mile of its location. Every car would be on cruise control so that if the car was in a particular lane its speed would be a certain speed in order to maintain a safe separation distance. Turning on one's turn signal would control the speed of the cars in the desired lane so that one could safely get in their desired lane. If there were a sudden occurrence of fog or ice than everyone would receive instructions on their speed to safely decrease everyone's speed. Every car should have a gps system and programmed for its desired destination so that when it must change lanes to exit every car around it would be notified and could respond to its need.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37064080)

Oh boy, think of the hours of fun that hackers could have with that system.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (3, Insightful)

danlip (737336) | about 3 years ago | (#37063396)

Even if the robot car is 100 times less likely to be in an accident, the first time someone gets hurt by one there will be a huge outcry and a lawsuit.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 years ago | (#37063510)

The fact that large numbers of people are self-centered, greedy, and stupid is no reason to stop the progression of technology.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about 3 years ago | (#37064166)

The fact that large numbers of people are self-centered, greedy, and stupid is no reason to stop the progression of technology.

I agree but it does tend to slow things down. Oh well, at least nothing has stopped the progression of technology so far.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063534)

In the US, in the rest of the world, they'd do the proper forensics a few investigations and impose new standards for the manufacturers. Twenty years later they'd be adopted by the US as well.

If driverless cars succeed, then does that mean speed limits will be completely removed?

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37063564)

Why? It won't be any different then any other accident. How is this different then say, brake failure?

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37063806)

I'm guessing that this is going to be like when Toyota was having problems with unexplained acceleration a while back. The matter took on a life of its own due to incompetence on Toyota's part in how they handled the programming.

They did ultimately get a clean bill of health on that aspect of it, but I don't think the problem was ever really solved. Which is different from break failure which is fundamentally a much easier to investigate problem.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (2)

Macrat (638047) | about 3 years ago | (#37063948)

Why? It won't be any different then any other accident. How is this different then say, brake failure?

It makes a better headline on Faux News.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063630)

My exwife was a poor driver. More than half the time she was involved in an accident the insurance company handed the other drive a check for "medical". Often these accidents only scratched the paint and didn't even bend the metal. However, there was never a lawsuit. The insurance companies just ignored obvious fraud, because it was cheaper than fighting it. It always will be. It doesn't matter how many valid lawsuits against doctors and big corporations you stop.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063410)

And when they grab you with those metal claws, you can't break free.. because they're made of metal, and robots are strong [jt.org] .

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37063496)

In particular, if we were to take a realistic bar for safety--- beating the average human driver--- the bar is actually pretty low,

You are approaching an intersection with a stopsign, and arrive at the same time as someone to your left. By the law, you have the right of way. However, the person to your left has started drifting forward.

Will the computer system catch that? Or what about when someone is attempting to merge and has indicated by glancing your way?

Its not as easy as youre making it, either, there are a lot of cues on the road that need to be followed so long as other falliable humans are on the road. A good deal of safe driving is anticipating other's actions when they are driving in an unsafe manner-- for instance, car in front of you is following far too closely, and it is misting-- you may want to start tapping your brakes so that when he suddenly stops due to collision you dont cause a pileup.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37063576)

Those problems have been solved, do try to keep up.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (2)

cheater512 (783349) | about 3 years ago | (#37063644)

Yes the robot car could catch someone moving when they shouldn't be.

And in Google's implementation, the car knows what a merging lane is and where it is so it could very easily allow in another car as it would be expecting it.

Now if robot cars become the norm it gets easier still. The computers can just talk to each other to say 'can I merge?'

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37063840)

This is one of the bigger limitations with human drivers. We can't simultaneously be looking where we're going and looking to see that we can safely change lanes. We have to settle for looking back and forth, which also gives momentary stretches where we aren't looking in either direction.

A robotic driver could be looking in both directions and as you suggest actually asking for permission. Presumably, that would allow the other drivers the chance to adjust slightly to allow for a safer lane change. Which theoretically wouldn't be a problem with human drivers, but folks don't seem to understand what direction signals are for.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37063920)

Yes the robot car could catch someone moving when they shouldn't be.

How does it determine whether the other person is looking at you, waiting for you to go, with his foot off of the brake, or actually preparing to move before you?

Im not saying these are unsolveables, but theyre a heck of a lot more complicated than gp was pretending. There are all sorts of cues that we pick up on that a computer would need to understand.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 years ago | (#37063568)

Speaking of a social and political problem, AI assisted and/or taxied driving won't become mainstream. Not because of technology, but because of liability. So tell me, when one of these units is involved in the death of a fellow motorist or pedestrian, who's to blame? Who do you think the lawyers are going to go after? The group that has the most money, that's who.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063586)

A robot driver could just not speed

It's a myth that speeding causes more wrecks. I won't argue over the fatality rates. But speed itself is not a factor in the multitude of wrecks. People wreck all the time at slow speeds. Wrecks are mostly a matter of not paying attention.

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 years ago | (#37063738)

if we were to take a realistic bar for safety--- beating the average human driver--- the bar is actually pretty low, because the average safety record of human drivers is pretty shitty.

Per mile driven, just what is the safety record of your average human driver in the USA?

Based on a quickie check of the statistics, looks like 0.08 accidents per driver per year, on average. Or 0.00025 fatal accidents per driver per year.

Doesn't look like human drivers are really that bad, when they drive most every day, and average 12 years between accidents....

Re:probably more of a social/political problem (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37063884)

There are tens of thousands of road related fatalities in the US every year and often times the number is similar to the total number of American servicemen that died during the Vietnam conflict. I'd say there's plenty of room for improvement.

What's worse is that those are deaths that didn't need to happen, rarely if ever are those deaths that genuinely couldn't be avoided. They tend to be things like drinking, distraction, falling asleep behind the wheel, running a red light etc.

So, I'd have to say that it's way too soon to suggest that robots couldn't do better or that it's not a worthwhile avenue to research. 40k in a good year is still 40k to many fatalities.

Repercussions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063332)

There are a lot less repercussions of a horrible crash in China than in the US. We're slow because we aren't willing to risk lives.

Re:Repercussions (1)

Macrat (638047) | about 3 years ago | (#37063968)

We're slow because we aren't willing to risk lives.

Nah. Lives are cheap and easily replaced.

The real issue is the compensation payouts that affect corporate profits.

Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (2, Interesting)

codeAlDente (1643257) | about 3 years ago | (#37063344)

I've heard that in China, sometimes richer people drive cars while poorer people ride bicycles. If a car hits a bike rider, the bike rider can sue for damages. Thus, it can be advantageous, and it's allegedly common, for a car driver to accidentally hit a biker, back up, and run him over again to finish him off. I wonder if and when some company (maybe Google, maybe not) will have cars that do this.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | about 3 years ago | (#37063380)

Yes, it can, except in bad weather. When there is a thunderstorm, the robotic car is prone to rear-end other vehicles and then use its manipulators to bury the evidence.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 3 years ago | (#37063598)

I've heard of this sort of thing happening in Taiwan, but specifically with truck drivers. For whatever reason they tend to be a seedy bunch and it's worse in China. My understanding is that the laws pertaining to this sort of thing have been changed. But it all could have been a myth or based on a single incident.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

poity (465672) | about 3 years ago | (#37063754)

Yes, this is because death compensation is capped, whereas a lifetime's hospital fees are not.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

poity (465672) | about 3 years ago | (#37063782)

Sorry, "capped" was imprecise. There's a standard for death compensation -- couple hundred thousand RMB -- and you can either accept it or not.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 3 years ago | (#37064016)

That's bullshit, and a common urban legend told about everyone. The main reason: the courts in China suck. Rich people get away with murder and everything else. There's an exception made if there's a tragedy that requires a scapegoat, such as poisoned milk killing a bunch of suckling infants. But generally, to a degree much more severe than our own, the Chinese court system is skewed to the rich.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | about 3 years ago | (#37064082)

Do you have a source for this? It sounds a lot like an urban legend.

Re:Can it drive like some rich Chinese people? (1)

mathfeel (937008) | about 3 years ago | (#37064142)

I've heard that in China, sometimes richer people drive cars while poorer people ride bicycles. If a car hits a bike rider, the bike rider can sue for damages. Thus, it can be advantageous, and it's allegedly common, for a car driver to accidentally hit a biker, back up, and run him over again to finish him off. I wonder if and when some company (maybe Google, maybe not) will have cars that do this.

Or he gets out of the car and stabs you to death when he notices you eyeing his license plate: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/world/asia/08china.html [nytimes.com]

I'm beginning to think (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37063360)

If Star Trek (TOS) was made in the current age rather than the 1960s, Pavel Chekov would've been Chinese rather than Russian.

Re:I'm beginning to think (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37063588)

Incorrect. He would be mid-eastern.

Useless slashdot title, once again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063370)

Slashdot: "China Catches Up With Google's Driverless Car"

TFA: "However Google's car has logged 140,000 miles with only two minor accidents to its name and one of those was caused by a human driver. It will take some effort to match this performance."

Why can't it drive at night? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063384)

I turn up the gain on my Logitech web cam and I can see at night just fine with only the street light for illumination.

Expressway? (1)

bluemonq (812827) | about 3 years ago | (#37063390)

Let me know when they get to handling pedestrians, traffic lights, cyclists, areas with different speed limits, yields, and turns in intersections.

Re:Expressway? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 3 years ago | (#37063446)

When we do let you know that they've done that, you'll complain that it's old news and that they were driving on expressways ages ago and this is just a small step in the technology and doesn't warrant a /. article.

Re:Expressway? (1)

Uhhhh oh ya! (1000660) | about 3 years ago | (#37063554)

Stow your sarcasm, don't you realize this could mean I wouldn't have to volunteer to be designated driver ever again!

Suddenly I don't think people are giving Google enough support, if China's cars can't drive at night what good are they, I'm not gonna start getting hammered mid day cause that's the only time my car can take me home.

Re:Expressway? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37063904)

You don't have to now. Unless you live in a small town, chances are that there are people that are paid to provide such services. Around here we call them cab drivers.

Kilometers, come on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063394)

They couldn't use miles, they had to extend it by using a unit of measure that makes everyone think it's longer than it really is. We know the truth.

shady rat (1)

frinxor (1635739) | about 3 years ago | (#37063464)

Shady Rat at work?

Just like Chinese bullet trains, no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063488)

Just because it goes fast, doesn't mean it's caught up to anything. Have you seen the recent news about Chinese bullet trains?

I'm sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063494)

If you don't care about the lives or safety of people, a whole lot more can be done quicker! Right on, China, thanks for showing us the way.

Automated driving on expressways (1)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#37063508)

Automated expressway driving isn't that hard. If you have lane holding and radar cruise/braking control, both of which have been sold in production vehicles, that's almost enough. Quite a number of groups in both the US and Europe have done it. It's mostly a sensor problem.

The remaining hard problems in automated driving involve objects that aren't cars. Children, enemy troops, trash on the road, potholes, bicycles, low-hanging wires - stuff like that. That requires more situational awareness and object recognition, which is hard. None of this comes up much in expressway driving.

This is needed in China (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 3 years ago | (#37063540)

Given how Asians drive, I'd say this is a great idea.

aren't highways straight? (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 3 years ago | (#37063544)

Looks like a novel approach to adding a video camera into one of the available adaptive cruise control systems out there.

That's good enough for me. (2)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about 3 years ago | (#37063556)

If an A.I. driven car is capable of navigating Chinese traffic [youtube.com] without incident, it can handle anything the U.S. can throw at it.

Re:That's good enough for me. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37063712)

I'd say that, given China's broader definition of the act of driving, this is actually a pretty trivial accomplishment.

Of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37064124)

If an A.I. driven car is capable of navigating Chinese traffic [youtube.com] without incident, it can handle anything the U.S. can throw at it.

Except parking, merging or keeping up to the highway speed limit.

Its China... (3, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 3 years ago | (#37063662)

For a test like this I'll bet they found a long straightaway with minimal curves, closed the expressway or used one that's brand new and not opened yet, and set this beast free on it.

Nothing at all like what DARPA challenge or Google do with robot cars

human brains and anticipation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063742)

Can these robotic systems anticipate the thing I can as a human driver?

That baseball rolling down someone's driveway... followed 20 feet behind by a small boy who is focused only on getting his ball back. I can see what's going to happen, using human intelligence, and deal with the situation in a pre-emptive manner. Will the robot do that? Will it be aware that the car behind me is being driven by a distracted driver, and allow *more* than the usual following distance between itself and the car in front, so that if the car in front brakes suddenly, the one behind will have time to stop through whatever distracts the driver? Will it detect the moods and driving styles of other human vehicles from observing their driving behavior, and adjust accordingly?

Will it detect that the pickup truck in front on the highway has a very poorly secured load ready to come off at a bad bump, and speed up to get around it and avoid driving behind the dangerous vehicle?

There are a million situations where I think my human brain is going to be a better thing to have than such a robot controlled car.

Since slashdotters like to criticize: my driving record is zero accidents of any type in 34 years since I got my license. If the robot can match that, in as diverse situations as I have driven in, then I'll consider it acceptable to ride in one. Until that point, I will continue to drive my own vehicle, thank you very much.

Not very specific.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063778)

it makes sense to be a bit more specific than "China". Was it a government programme, aru university or a company? Saying it's from china almost doesn't add any information by itself, besides that someone besides Google did it

Pure comparison... NOT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063812)

If you honestly think you can compare the two and so easily discount googles system, which really isn't "google's", you are sorely mistaken and obviously have not read a single item about their driving system. The google cars have navigated over 140000 miles without a single accident through day and night, sun and snow and even roads that are not really "roads" by most peoples standards. Its great the accomplishment China has achieved but if anyone needs to speed up its everyone else behind Sebastian Thrun's Teams creation from Stanford University. They all have a lot of catching up to do. The GPS does not help when someone or thing runs out in front of the car and yet that car has no issues traversing even heavy pedestrian traffic or a single deer running in front of it. Its also capable of some pretty amazing high speed race car type driving and car stunts that very few people on the planet can actually do and those that can are typically professional drivers with hundreds of hours of practice.

Implications of driverless cars (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 3 years ago | (#37063842)

I was thinking about all of these futuristic movies with autonomous cars driving on these California like freeways. In reality if all cars were automated and networked you would only need street level crossings of highways. The cars could weave into the cross traffic at full speed without incident. It might be scary for us old timers but not for long.

This just in: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37063960)

China's self-driving car will also feature a voice interface. When it detects an American accent, it drives you off a cliff.

Sometimes doing it quick isn't best (1)

Kagato (116051) | about 3 years ago | (#37064018)

Hopefully the Chinese driverless car fairs better than the Chinese Bullet trains. No one needs another 40 dead.

And who did they steal it from? (1)

GeekBoy (10877) | about 3 years ago | (#37064050)

Just wondering, this is China we're talking about (and it's not a racist statement b/c I'm ethnically Chinese.)

What happens if lightning hits near by? (1)

headhot (137860) | about 3 years ago | (#37064104)

Will it slam into the car infront of it, and then get burried by the government?

No thanks. I'll take Google's approach.

slashdoter sore grape comments (0)

voidness (1900074) | about 3 years ago | (#37064108)

Whenever there is something goes beyond your imagination on China, I see sore grape comments. Sure, China copies cause China lags behind Western technology in past 100 years. It has to copy to catch up first. Now the situation is changing. To tell some ambition projects (if you are willing to believe): - China lunar mission project is not national imaging project like US/Russia did. The real goal is to obtain helium-3 from the moon which can enable nuclear fusion plants on Earth. This will be ultimate human energy solution cause it's clean and unlimited resource. - China is building world’s biggest radio telescope in Guizhou Province. It's a five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). To be expected completion in 2016. - China possess the world largest high speed train network across country. They are in service!. I knew what you would say about recent accident. Think about it. Japan has no accident cause it has one line only. US has none. Plane can crash. Don't complain high speed train only. It's relative new. I believe high speed train will compete aeroplane in future. I used to ride many times. It's comfort, spacious and quite. You go to train station, buy ticket and go, no airport hassle and not that slow compare to flight. - China is building its own GPS system, Beidou, rivals US one. Guess what, its receiver can send message back to satellite. A lots more...
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