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Who 'Owns' the Google Driverless Car IP?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the patent-lawyers-are-already-salivating dept.

Google 129

theodp writes "Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently revealed that he is now leading Google's efforts to ready a driverless car for the consumer market, but one big, publicly-unanswered question is: Who exactly owns the intellectual property behind the highly-touted vehicles? To develop the Google Car, the company said it tapped 'the very best engineers from the DARPA Challenges,' a series of autonomous vehicle races organized by the U.S. government which provided university teams with millions in development funding and millions more in prizes. Last year, Carnegie Mellon reported that 8 of the 15-member Google Car team had current or past ties to DARPA Challenge participants CMU and Stanford. Whether Google's sponsorship of the Stanford Racing Team and CMU Tartan Racing entitled it to the IP is unclear. Clouding matters further is that key Google Car Team members are listed as inventors of autonomous car technology in pending patents assigned to the likes of General Motors and Toyota, and it was reported that the credit (and liability) for another key team member's successful robotic, autonomous Prius project was his-and-his-alone, not Google's. Could another party lay claims to the technology, or does Google have all of its IP ducks in a row on this one?"

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Skynet (1)

broginator (1955750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900842)

Don't worry, I hear they're not really the litigious type.

won't find the answer here (1)

MichaelKristopeit353 (1968162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901162)

Who Doesn't Know Who 'Owns' the Google Driverless Car IP? theodp, and the rest of the members of this internet web site chat room message board.

slashdot = stagnated.

The other question should who wants own the rights (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900846)

The other question should who wants own the rights?

As all it will take is 1 death or serious injury for the some one to get sued and maybe lose millions + there may also be some criminal liability that may also fall on the people who coded, run the systems, build the system, linked this system to the car and so on.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900886)

I am not a scientist nor a statistician, but I am fairly certain more than one person has died in an automobile accident. In fact some died in accidents that were the result of poor car design.
How would this be any different?

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900920)

Because in this case it would be Google's fault if someone dies. If someone dies because of his own hand then he can only blame himself, but it's much worse if you kill someone. Of course, this only applies if it wasn't some other person that caused it, but the point still stands.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900956)

You missed the part about deaths occurring due to poor engineering in automobiles. This has already happened and the company involved still exists.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (-1, Flamebait)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901356)

Oh look, it's h4rr4r once again defending Google. Stop being such a Google-bitch and a crybaby.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (-1, Offtopic)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901380)

Says the MS fanboi.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901428)

Yeah because not wanting to suck Brin's and Page's dicks at every waking moment of the day clearly makes someone an "MS fanboi".

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904644)

Yeah, it's even more than poor engineering. It's poor engineering that the company knew about and then calculated how many people would likely die due to it [and how much they would have to pay out] versus how much it would cost to fix for everyone, and found it was cheaper to let a bunch of random people die than fix the problem.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901006)

Flip side: With these cars, any accidents that occur have extensive telemetry data recorded including stuff like throttle, brakes and steering, but also data from cameras and laser data.
So in the court room the data can be played back in 3d with complete accuracy.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (3, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901680)

In the case of an accident, Google would do what most other companies do. Offer a reasonably large settlement offer now to avoid the prospect of a 2 decade long court battle to possibly win more. Besides, chances are good that Google's car will likely cause far fewer accidents than human driven cars would, so they wouldn't need nearly as large of a settlement budget that conventional car companies do. Also, in the case of an accident, there is a huge flood of data available to the engineers to determine the exact cause of the problem and implement a solution to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future. The patch can then be applied to ALL of their vehicles currently on the road without requiring an expensive recall action.

-Restil

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902030)

Conventional car companies don't have to pay for accidents resulting from driver error.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37903094)

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37903602)

Except some crashes are impossible to prevent. There will be some ambulance chasers that try to cash in on these crashes, regardless of whose fault it actually is. A likely outcome is that the lawyers trying to get money from autonomous car makers will change the question from "whose fault was it?" to "Why didn't your car prevent the crash?". Even if none of the lawyers win, the makers still have to spend a lot of money defending themselves.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901048)

There is no links to make between responsability and IP rights. If Google decides to produce, market and sell a driverless car, it doesn't mean they need to own all the IP rights on the technology inside the product. Most car manufacturers don't own all the IP rights for the technology they include in their cars. The main point here, they are selling these cars, so they are making money from them and then they are responsible. It has nothing to do with IP ownership. You are responsible for what you sell and because you selected technology X, Y, Z to produce and include in your product. Many cars are including embedded computers these days and the OS and other software components IP rights are not owned by the car manufacturers. Same thing for software in avionics and so on. No, sorry, because you are selling a product including technology X doesn't entitle you to claim IP rights on it. You just have to pay the royalities to the owner. And it doesn't engage the responsability of the owner neither in regard of eventual casualities. Only the manufacturer that make and sell the product is liable. It is up to him to negociate with the IP owner for the royalities.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901400)

But, hey, this is Google. They probably declare the car a "Beta"-car, and don't really *sell* it, but make it available on a invite-only advertisement-sponsored basis.

The 32'' flat screen that displays the ads can then also be used to display the EULA that tells the driver... eeehhhh. passenger that if something happens, tough luck, he is on his own.

EULA will not cover others hit by car an criminal (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901522)

The criminal part can't just be pushed away by a EULA.

And in a auto drive car that will billed as you don't need to pay attrition to the road, cars can move in packs bumper to bumper at high speeds.

What if a auto drive car things a kid on the road is just a skunk or other road kill like squirrels, raccoons and others and just drives on.

That kids family will sue the deep pockets of Google.

Also auto insurance will have to cover the auto cars and they may want go after Google or others who made the software to cover there pay outs.

Re:EULA will not cover others hit by car an crimin (2)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901932)

Insurance companies will do what they always do. Try to avoid every major payment that they can and, in the future, when they have a statistically relevant sample set on these cars, they will set the rates in a way to ensure that they make money.

Google would have to weigh the potential litigation costs of these auto-cars against the money they could make selling them. They would then make them or not depending on if they see a net positive to the operation financially.

Personally, I don't see any way that driverless cars or auto cars or whatever you want to call them will ever be sold to the public without some legislation being passed concerning them. Either limiting damage claims, or having governments take a major role in the systems.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902288)

oh dear.. what spoils an otherwise fine post.....?
Well "there is no links"......
# then we have "responsability" which should be "responsibility"
erm.. that should either be "there are no links" or
"there is no link"
then, again we have "responsability" which should be "responsibility" and then at the end "It is up to him to negociate with..."
which should be "It is up to him to negotiate with..."
might i suggest that perhaps a spot of spell-checking and also a touch of brushing up on grammar?
As i said, good post, good points all marred by shitty spelling and awful grammar

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904574)

This is /. it's becume the home of that sort of thang.

Who care whose fault? You get sued anyway. (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901184)

Any accident related to this will result in a huge fishing expedition for deep pockets. Even an unsuccessful fishing expedition will bankrupt all the graduate students in the crosshairs.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901706)

Because in this case it would be Google's fault if someone dies. If someone dies because of his own hand then he can only blame himself...

For now perhaps, but once the technology matures we could just as easily hold manual car manufacturers responsible for any accidents caused by human error. Seat belts and airbags are required safety features now, I imagine one day automated driving will be as well.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901100)

Because human error car deaths are understood and expected. We live in a culture where the media see's a story, that will sell if they blow it out of proportion, followed by a wave of ambulance chaser lawyers etc... It dosn't matter if the cars are less then 1% as likely as a human to mess up, what matters is the 1% of situations where they might mess up that a human would probably not have. People were well adjusted to the risks and problems of normal cars, back when lawsuits over stupid crap were much less frequent then they are these days. The good old days when paint was lead and every product didn't have to have 500 warning labels about why you shouldn't stick your dick in an electric socket or eat rat poison or whatever other things a few idiots tried.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901178)

Except this kind of thing has been dealt with in the aviation industry before. There are many, many incidents where pilots override the autopilot and cause a crash. The same will happen here - many incidents where people who "know better" try to do something stupid and crash the car, when an automated system would have protected them. If an accident occurs, the telemetry can be used to determine why it happened and prevent it in future. If something really horrendous happens, then a recall will be issued while a software update is made. Eventually, the technology will mature to the point where it is factually safer than human drivers and I, for one, cannot wait. The usefulness and benefits from these automated cars cannot be overstated. They will be safer, they will be more efficient (both in terms of congestion and fuel efficiency as they can maintain specific speeds to help both) and frankly, they'll be more comfortable.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901232)

You left out the best part, we can start drinking in cars! No more expensive taxi rides, just have the car take you home after a night at the bar.

Think of all the lives saved by DWI no longer being a problem.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (2)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901290)

WTF are you talking about? The best part is that we can have actual working JONNY CABS! Pay the fare or it'll TRY TO MURDER YOU. That's the future I want to live in.

I also presume it'll somehow lead to women with three breasts. Definitely the future I want to live in.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901390)

I also presume it'll somehow lead to women with three breasts. Definitely the future I want to live in.

Three? Breasts in mammals are always symmetric. I demand we got straight from two to four!

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

Baseclass (785652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901628)

Three? Breasts in mammals are always symmetric.

Not on Mars.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902724)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newslet^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmemory implants.

but who will pay for the software update will that (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901568)

but who will pay for the software update will that be dealer only? with a big fee? What about if you need a new Computer? only the dealer can swap the system out?

Will they find a way to lock out jiffy lube, non dealer repair shops, 3rd party radios?. Updates need to be free and if a system part needs to be changed make it a recall and make so it is free to swap it out.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901322)

I am not a scientist nor a statistician, but I am fairly certain more than one person has died in an automobile accident. In fact some died in accidents that were the result of poor car design.
How would this be any different?

You prove to be a fucking useless, ignorant git with every post you make.

What's different is that "driver error" is the fault for 99.99% of all other automobile fatalities.
Mechanical, electrical, or software failure is far, far, far less common, and when it does happen, there are typically warning signs and fail safes in place.

The most major manufacturers do for automated driving is that auto parallel park system, and there are big ol' disclaimers about you having to maintain control and what not. The system works, but it does it at about 1 or 2 MPH and requires you to set it up in a cherry spot and tell it to go, while maintaining control.

Automated driving, in traffic, with other cars, driven by bots and people, and in inclimate weather, etc. etc., is an infinitely more complex problem and the first time one of these crashes into something it's going to be legal chaos. Manufacturers are going to approach this very fucking slowly and carefully. Ages of development, small pilot programs, endless disclaimers and liability waivers, fail safes out the ass, blackbox logging of everything, always ensuring the driver can override the car manually, etc.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901418)

You prove you can't fucking read, how you can type is a wonder for the ages.

Just to see if you catch it this time;
I did mention poor car design, which would include a self driving car that crashed. That would be pretty poor fucking design.

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

iiiears (987462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902042)

Time for a 'shrink wrap license"?

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900952)

You can't sue. You broke the seal on the EULA when you opened the car door.

EULA Rule Number One: "No suing!"

"The producer of this vehicle is not responsible if it starts driving like someone out of "Death Race 2000"

"You bought it, you used it . . . it's your problem now . . ."

Re:The other question should who wants own the rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901120)

Pffft. Rookie.

Rule #1: We can change the terms at any time and you must accept them or cease using the product you paid for.
Rule #2: No suing.

I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900890)

It is almost like Google designed this car to be the epitome of the worst patent law could do. That it has ties to every company possible. I mean, what next? Google throws in a built in iPod to drag apple in?

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (0)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900936)

Google didn't design it. They just stole it from students and bribed them by offering them some money to be quiet.

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901086)

Students that were funded by your tax money!

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901336)

Everything DARPA did in the distant past was very expensive/.mil - and has been understood in some legal way by Google.
Everything that is now in the wild that is useful has been touched by Google.
Any future tech will be prior art or pay to drive to Google.
Think back to Xerox Prac and the consultants - the only thing that mattered was Xerox and the Xerox/Apple gui deal.
Beyond the feel good students/gov/PR - if you want to sell a car with any self drive/park/nav options in the US or any country the US has a treaty with, pay Google.

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (-1, Troll)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901164)

It is almost like Google designed this car to be the epitome of the worst patent law could do. That it has ties to every company possible. I mean, what next? Google throws in a built in iPod to drag apple in?

Google has run roughshod over everyone else's IP. Some of it may be legit but it is a consistent pattern. For example, who would deny that YouTube is built off of loads of clips from copyrighted materials? google profits from this immensely even if they did not upload the copyrighted material themselves.

Google news completely rips off and sublinks to copyrighted news content without compensation or even requesting permission.

Their android runs afoul of Microsoft and Apple IP. Don't take my word for it: manufacturers and courts have voted with their pocket books and injunctions. Google profits enormously from adoption of android since it enhances user adoption of the google ecosystem.

You can quibble but the pattern here is clear; take first and apologize later. make all assumptions about IP in the most favorable light for google profit.

As a consumer I of course benefit from all this. But producers of content are getting hurt.

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901206)

Google has run roughshod over everyone else's IP. Some of it may be legit but it is a consistent pattern. For example, who would deny that YouTube is built off of loads of clips from copyrighted materials? google profits from this immensely even if they did not upload the copyrighted material themselves.
If they did not upload it, it is not their problem. They remove when they are asked to.

Google news completely rips off and sublinks to copyrighted news content without compensation or even requesting permission.
If the news websites did not like this they could easily change their robots.txt to avoid google spidering their site.

Their android runs afoul of Microsoft and Apple IP. Don't take my word for it: manufacturers and courts have voted with their pocket books and injunctions. Google profits enormously from adoption of android since it enhances user adoption of the google ecosystem.
In the current world of bullshit software programs all non-trivial software infringes on someones bullshit patent.

As a consumer I of course benefit from all this. But producers of content are getting hurt.
Producers seem to be doing fine, stop worrying about them.

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901264)

In the current world of bullshit software programs all non-trivial software infringes on someones bullshit patent.

That was supposed to say:
In the current world of bullshit software patents all non-trivial software infringes on someones bullshit patent.

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901704)

It would be hilarious to see if this gets slammed with injunctions from all over. Then Google can go to Congress and go, "So, what's this 'spurring innovation' crap? See this? Autonomous car. Pretty innovative, huh? Oh well, off to the crusher cause it can't get out of the red flag lap of legalese."

Wouldn't happen, but I can dream...

Re:I swear this sounds like bait for a trap (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901766)

No, they will put an Android tablet into it and get sued by Apple and Microsoft through those means...

And thinking of Microsoft, does Microsoft have patents with their Microsoft Sync thing that could bring this in even more?

P.S. I actually kinda think this is cool in a science-fiction way, but am otherwise completely neutral about most of anything to do with it until it actually becomes realistic to get a car like this...

I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (1)

fche (36607) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900904)

"does Google have all of its IP ducks in a row on this one?"

How on earth should we know this?
And why should a customer care?

Re:I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (4, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901142)

Because there's nothing worse than disorganized ducks.

Re:I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901144)

"does Google have all of its IP ducks in a row on this one?"

How on earth should we know this?

By asking?

And why should a customer care?

So the company that implements your $50,000 driverless car isn't sued out of existence by the company that holds a key patent to the system.

Re:I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901566)

I am pretty sure that once I am driving my car, nobody is "implementing" it any more. It is quite thoroughly implemented.

Re:I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901614)

If you're driving your driverless car, then I'd say its not as thoroughly implemented as you thought.

Re:I diagnose excerpt-closing silly-questionitis (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901736)

I am pretty sure that once I am driving my car, nobody is "implementing" it any more. It is quite thoroughly implemented.

And you expect this complicated software/hardware control system to never need updates? My non-driverless car has needed more than one software update.

no reason to thing one entity owns all this IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37900928)

Patent thickets are common occurrences. Here's a nice post from a law-professor's blog on how industry has historically resolved them: http://volokh.com/posts/1241493210.shtml. No reason to think this is any different.

Re:no reason to thing one entity owns all this IP (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901008)

Patent thickets are common occurrences. Here's a nice post from a law-professor's blog on how industry has historically resolved them: http://volokh.com/posts/1241493210.shtml [volokh.com] . No reason to think this is any different.

The link in glorious HTML [volokh.com]

Re:no reason to thing one entity owns all this IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901306)

And the point of your post was...?

Re:no reason to thing one entity owns all this IP (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901660)

So people could click it and go there, asshole. These things called hyperlinks -- they're not just a way to make your text blue and underlined.

Re:no reason to thing one entity owns all this IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901546)

As near as I can make out trying to follow those 80's (un)formatted html pages:

1) a few people owned patents that kept anyone from making sewing machines because they wanted a slice of the pie but there wasn't enough pie to go around.
2) shit sucked for years
3) someone finally went around and convinced everyone to put their patents together and license the whole chunk at once for a smaller slice of the pie so that people could make sewing machines and still have a little pie left over for themselves.
4) everyone raged over it but life went on

Right now, we're at step 2 in the software world. You want to write a game? It shows videos, that's 3% of your gross to the MPEG. It plays music, that's 1% of your gross to Fraunhoefer, It has an online chat, that's 2% of your gross to... it goes on and on. By the time you've paid off everyone that your program touches, there's not much left (assuming the demands don't add up over 100%).

We're going to be stuck at step 2 for a while. Sewing machines were blocked by a few patents, held by a few arrogant people, but any given piece of software touches hundreds. And every single one of those patent holders thinks their patent is so important that it's worth 3%, no wait, FIVE PERCENT!!1! of the gross. It doesn't matter that their patent is less than 3% of the whole product, it's their pride and irrationality that counts, and to create a software patent combine is going to require thousands of patent holders to back down.

Why wouldn't they? (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900930)

If the team members are working for and/ or with Google on the project, Google can use their work on the project. Unless Google is using technology from peoples' work outside the team, there is no way a problem should arise. So, unless someone has proof that Google is in fact using work from people outside the development team or work that the members clearly state falls outside what they are doing for Google, where is there a problem?

For that matter, is this just Slashdot speculation or does one of those links actually point to a TFA (full of speculation)? Because I couldn't find one. Seriously, summaries are summaries. Don't try to turn them into not-quite-full articles themselves please Slashdot.

Also, is this actually a question someone is answering? Again, I skimmed all the links and couldn't find it. Even the last link didn't (seem to) say anything about Levandowski (the unnamed "key" team member) claiming the IP was his-and-his alone (although I may have missed it.)

Re:Why wouldn't they? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901384)

You want want to wait until you have another http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoebus_cartel [wikipedia.org] for car electronics.
Best to name, think and talk about the ip issues before any new (import or local) car you look at has a Google tax.

THAT'S the big question? (5, Insightful)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900948)

Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently revealed that he is now leading Google's efforts to ready a driverless car for the consumer market, but one big, publicly-unanswered question is: Who exactly owns the intellectual property behind the highly-touted vehicles?

In my opinion, it's a sad, sad reflection of our current technological atmosphere that "Who exactly owns the intellectual property behind the highly-touted vehicles?" is the big, publicly-unanswered question, far ahead of, say, "How is it going to work?", "What infrastructure will need to be in place for it to work?", "How much will it cost?", "What sort of services and/or functionality will it supply?", or "What's the underlying technology?", each of which are either vital considerations to the actual functioning of the car or just would be really really interesting and cool to know.

Hell, the fact that it even rates above "What are the legal ramifications of such a device?" or more specifically "How are road laws going to change with these devices on the road?" paints a picture I don't think anyone commissioned.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901130)

Driverless cars just want to be free. Even more so for flying driverless cars ... free as a bird.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901192)

I'd say it's an accurate reflection of where society is. Focusing more on imaginary goods than on the next stage of human movement.

That IS where we're going, btw. Autonomous travel will be implemented. Sorry to say though, the legal and corporate battlefield to get to that point is gonna be very, very ugly.

This is just the beginning.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

lgarner (694957) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901214)

Only in the Slashdot summary is this the "big" question.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901650)

Thing is, all those questions are secondary to the case of "Can this be brought to market or will it be injunctioned against for eternity by the courts as the patent quagmire is traversed?"

If it never goes to market, who gives a toss what current road rules need to be changed?

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

im3w1l (2009474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901968)

Sci-fi authors? Their readers? Nerds in general?

Re:THAT'S the big question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901970)

I honestly can not wait.

I am a mediocre driver I admit it. I have my moments of what the hell am I doing. Everyone wants to think they are 'above average'. Most are not. If it puts everyone in the same boat of risk and removes the slow ass in the fast lane and the dude who thinks he must get there 3 seconds before everyone else I am for it.

Once it gets good enough it will be required. I have no doubt about it.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902636)

As much as I agree with the prevention of accidents / bad drivers, I am more interested in (1) a car that can drop me off and pick me up and handle its own parking I-don't-care-where, (2) moving around drivers (who may or may not be good drivers normally) that have been drinking, and (3) moving around young people (either too young or drive or too young to drive in their parents' opinion). I am aware taxis exist; just getting humans to drive taxis is [relatively] expensive. Driverless cars could make something like ZipCar strictly more convenient than a taxi.

"Most" aren't above average? (2)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902916)

Everyone wants to think they are 'above average'. Most are not.

I'd say pretty much exactly half of everyone is (or isn't) 'above average' :-)

And yeah, not seeing the big problem here. Insurance will take care of accidents and liabilities, as it has for public transport, taxis, aviation etc, and as soon as self-driving cars get demonstrably better (on average) than the average human driver, the insurance will be cheaper than driving manually.

Re:"Most" aren't above average? (1)

rachit (163465) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904508)

Sorry, half of everyone is "above the median".

Depending on your distribution, there can be more than half the people having below average intelligence. Take for an extreme example of everyone having exactly the same intelligence, except for one guy not knowing his statistics. At that point, nearly everyone is above average.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904554)

>>Hell, the fact that it even rates above "What are the legal ramifications of such a device?"

From people I know that work on driverless cars, liability issues are actually the #1 issue. I.e., who pays for Timmy's brain surgery when the first driverless Prius gets into a high-speed crash.

As you say with our terrible IP laws, our society really is set up to not be able to think on the grand scale any more.

Re:THAT'S the big question? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904638)

Ok. If a driverless car causes an accident, then the owner of the IP should be liable for the accident damages though...

Another question is who's responsible for the car. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900992)

Suppose a driverless car is caught speeding or running a red light? Who gets the ticket? The owner? The person who programmed the route? The manufacturer who programmed the car itself? Or do the standard laws of the road not apply to these vehicles at all? If I'm hit by one of these cars, do I get to sue somebody or am I responsible for all the medical bills myself?

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901040)

you don't have to sue someone to get your medical bills covered, that's why people have insurance.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901124)

you don't have to sue someone to get your medical bills covered, that's why people have insurance.

the first thing you sign in an insurance policy is the right for the insurer to sue on your behalf. Insurance companies foot the bill for insured parties who are at fault, they rarely pay for insured parties who are injured by non insured parties.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901154)

Presumably if the car is speeding or running red lights, either the owner of the car has tampered with it and is liable, the company intentionally built the car to break the law and is liable, or it is a bug in the system and would be handle much the same way it would be handled the stop light equipment had a flaw that caused all of the lights to turn green at the same time. This would be a notification of the bug and someone fixing it if no one was injured, and a lawsuit if someone is.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901202)

It's actually illegal to drive above the speed limit or below the speed limit in the US. The only exceptions for civilians are when conditions dictate that one must drive more slowly or when the flow of traffic is over the speed limit.

The case of a car speeding or running a red light is almost certainly going to be less common than with drivers. The car would know ahead of time if it has time to stop for a yellow light and would push through if it didn't. Providing the cars aren't being hacked by the end user, running red lights should be rare.

Same goes for speeding, a car would know where the other cars are, otherwise it shouldn't be on the road without a driver. With a few sensors and you could probably have it slow down if conditions dictate that, although with radar, fog would be less of a hazard than it currently is.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (1)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902298)

"It's actually illegal to drive above the speed limit or below the speed limit in the US"

This is incorrect for two reasons.
1. The US doesn't have uniform driving laws
2. I don't know of any state with such a law.

An example from california law:
http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc22400.htm [ca.gov]

It is illegal to impede the normal flow of traffic, but it is not illegal to drive below the speed limit.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901242)

Suppose a driverless car is caught speeding or running a red light? Who gets the ticket? The owner? The person who programmed the route? The manufacturer who programmed the car itself? Or do the standard laws of the road not apply to these vehicles at all? If I'm hit by one of these cars, do I get to sue somebody or am I responsible for all the medical bills myself?

Initially, the driver will get a ticket, because these "driverless" cars will be sold as "driver assisted" cars - the driver will still be expected to remain in control of the car.

After years of refinement and demonstrated safe operation, the cars will be allowed to operate truly driverless, but by then the laws will have caught up.

Perhaps by the time these cars are commonplace, having valid insurance will be enforced by the car itself - if you don't have an insurance plan, the car won't move. Making your question of who pays in an accident moot -- the insurance company pays.

Re:Another question is who's responsible for the c (1)

pipedwho (1174327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902848)

Perhaps by the time these cars are commonplace, having valid insurance will be enforced by the car itself - if you don't have an insurance plan, the car won't move. Making your question of who pays in an accident moot -- the insurance company pays.

What's more likely to happen is that the cars will be sold 'pre-insured' (ie. insured by the manufacturer). This is because the probability of an 'at fault' collision being caused by the vehicle is unrelated to the skill/etc of the driver. Also, if the car causes an accident, the responsibility will end up pointing back to the manufacturer anyway - so it's pointless having the end user take out insurance if their insurance is just going to push the cost back to the manufacturers insurer.

Insurance is required at present because people are unpredictable and regularly make mistakes. Some people are more careful than others, and some people like to live on the edge and drive by the seat of their pants. In humans, these factors are variable; in a machine, they are constant.

So Slashdot is a tabloid now? (2)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901038)

Why is Slashdot trying to create the impression of a scandal when there isn't one? What is theodp hoping to gain from his FUD?

Re:So Slashdot is a tabloid now? (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901886)

AFAIK Slashdot has always been an opinion oriented glorified blog.

Re:So Slashdot is a tabloid now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902834)

AFAIK Slashdot has always been an opinion oriented glorified blog.

Not under Taco's watch. When He was in charge, Slashdot was recognized by all as the bastion of unbiased news - on the net and beyond. That's why the powers-that-be forced him to resign.

Real question (3, Funny)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901054)

Who 'Owns' the Google Driverless Car IP?

Google, obviously. Since they have "the" IP address for all these driverless cars, how will drivers' private data be protected?!

The horror!!! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902326)

Who 'Owns' the Google Driverless Car IP?

Google, obviously. Since they have "the" IP address for all these driverless cars, how will drivers' private data be protected?!

...and if you complain, does the Google car just accidentally slam you into a concrete barrier at 200km/hr?

Haven't we learnt anything from films like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Car [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_(1983_film) [wikipedia.org] ..and most horrific of all:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbie#Versions [wikipedia.org]
Man they use to show one of these awful films at school any time they had a film half-day (so the teachers could meet). Once or twice a year. The HORROR. (*They showed the Karate Kid one year but the resulting injuries put a stop to that ever happening again. Imagine a bunch of ferral 8 year olds who think they're special beating each other up)

Re:Real question (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37903908)

silly me, I thought it was the dhcp server that owned the IPs...

Someone said better than I can, way before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901084)

If your understanding of an issue is too confused, you're forcing a model too hard. (I believe it was about the Earth in the center of the Solar System)

Besides, let's think a little, o dumb ones: what will happen when another country (one that starts with the letter C, for instance) has a more powerful structure to put out new ideas? And if by then you're tied to international treaties about patents, will you comply and pay them a hefty sum every month?

No to so funny now, eh?

You may not know it, dudes, but we know you won't comply, so what's the incentive to pay you for something that historically WAS NEVER A PROPERTY OF ANYONE?

Are you dumb to talk about Idea Property for how long?

There's a saying: "If you can dream it, you can do it". You want people to not dream about things, or think about them?

You want people to not do things and just stay put, not using their hands? Well, YOU keep dreaming.

You want to come up and charge others for doing things, just like M$? Don't you have any shame? Go work and get a life, lazy bums... you're so like Monarchy in in 1789!

Glad slashdot asked the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901118)

I wish the "components" were made available.

All I want to see is the steering.
If inventors had that steering-wheel, we could build all sorts of fun projects.

Jim Pruett, Director
WikiSPEEDia.org
Open Speed Limit Database

Ck out Speederaser [goo.gl] app+HW for the hacker in you.

I don't care if it will save lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901176)

If it saves a half million lives in a decade, I want it, and to hell with the IP. Make it public domain.

They understood everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901252)

The road to success is to let others do all the work, then claim all the credit for yourself. I'm so proud of you Google I'm wiping my tears.

Google's new motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901488)

What's yours is ours, what's ours is ours.

Nobody - no such thing as "IP". (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901618)

Nobody - because there is no such thing as "IP" (Intellectual Property). Just Copyright, patents, and trademarks... now who owns those - is a question you can answer....

this feels like a project (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901958)

that only america could care about. check out the rest of the developed world and most americans will find mass transit is the dominant means of personal conveyance.

TL;DR: i already have a "driverless car." its called the subway.

Re:this feels like a project (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902676)

The rich don't have to use subways. Having a car usually* results in greater options, comfort and autonomy.

The rich sit in dachas and wonder how to herd the masses into concrete tenements. I think the goal should be to raise the standards of living of everyone.

* I realize in some high traffic cities, getting around within the city is best done with public transit

Re:this feels like a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37903370)

that only america could care about.

And? In case you haven't noticed, Google is an American company.

check out the rest of the developed world and most americans will find mass transit is the dominant means of personal conveyance.

Gee, thanks for pointing that out, buddy. I only hear or read that about 16 times per week, so I had almost forgotten. Hey, do Europeans also walk a lot more than people in the US?

TL;DR: I am smug, fashionably anti-American, and have an enormous stick up my ass.

Fixed that for you.

Re:this feels like a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37904142)

There are something like 900 million cars and trucks on the road in the world, most of them used daily, and this number is only growing. Only about a quarter are in the US. Do you really think that 900 million people having extra free time in their day is something "that only america could care about"?

Re:this feels like a project (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905130)

Bang on the point. The real problem is that in America, mass transit is seen as transportation for people who can't afford a car. For the most part, mass transit in America sucks or is non-existent. Where I grew up it was the latter. If you didn't have a car, you were basically dependent on friends and family to take you places. Even sidewalks (for walking!) are very poorly implemented outside of most major cities. In rural areas like where I grew up they are also practically non-existent.

Sadly, I don't see this changing. Tax dollars are needed to fund the infrastructure necessary to have a working mass transit system, and with the current level of corporate greed of American megacorps (and their tax avoidance), this practically guarantees no funding since it would fall on the citizens to accept higher taxes. Until Americans realize that the megacorps are taking everything from the pot and not giving anything in return, it's just not going to change.

I speak this an an American who has lived in Europe for over a decade, and sees a drastically different view than you see from inside the US. Your media and your politicians are wholly owned and controlled by the megacorps, what are you going to do about it?

Takes I"P" for granted ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902126)

I"P" is bullshit. Copyright and patent monopolies need to be abolished. They're certainly not worthy of any further respect.

Exposing the patent system rot (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902646)

If Brin makes this device which could save tens of thousands of lives a year, and cannot bring it to market due to patent issues, it will bring the flawed patent system into the public spotlight.

Right now, the only exposure the average American has to the patent system is from radio ads by patent trolls.

Re:Exposing the patent system rot (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904544)

He didn't invent the driver-less car so unless he bought the patent for it, it belongs to someone else. My best guess would be the taxpayers of the USA since our government has been funding collages millions for quite a few years before Google ever can into existences. How can someone patent something that was invented long before they were born. He might have helped it to be improved but that doesn't make him the patent holder and certainly not the inventor

Not a problem. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904176)

The article linked sounds like whining from CMU. Whittaker never really got over losing.

The Stanford team was mostly funded by Mohr Davidson Ventures and Volkswagen. Volkswagen did all the automotive parts of the project with their own people.

As for Stanford's relationship with Google, there' s no problem there. Google is a spinoff from Stanford, and Stanford owns a big chunk of stock in Google. Stanford University has a business unit, the Stanford Management Company, which runs the endowment and, among other things, does venture capital deals. (Arguably, Stanford is a investment firm which runs a school on the side for the tax break.) The Stanford Management Company has working relationships with all the major venture capital firms, and I expect that some mutually profitable arrangement will be worked out.

Apple (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904960)

Apple will have a picture of something looking like a car somewhere and therefore claim ownership
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