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California To Join Nevada With Rules For Autonomous Cars

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the looking-forward-to-autodrafting dept.

Transportation 194

thecarchik writes "As of now, the only state where self-driving cars are legal on public roads is Nevada, thanks to its vast expanses of open space and lightly traveled byways. California, recognizing that autonomous cars are an inevitable progression of technology, is moving to establish its own rules for driverless vehicles. A bill proposed by California Senator Alex Padilla would set guidelines for the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles within the state. As California is home to Google, Stanford and Caltech, all of which have active autonomous vehicle programs, the state is positioned to be a leader in driverless car development. It stands to reason that self-driving cars will be allowed on California's roads, probably in the near future."

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194 comments

meaning their government's in an ideal position (0, Troll)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308173)

... to be bought?

Re:meaning their government's in an ideal position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308603)

California has one of the more liberal (and I mean that in the non-political sense), public participation constitutions in the US.

If enough their people can be bought, you can get whatever laws you want passed.

so it begins (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308185)

This is just too awesome. It looks like we're solving the parking, traffic, and driving death (drunk driving and otherwise) issues in my lifetime. The microchip is the gift that keeps on giving.

Re:so it begins (4, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308261)

Those things aren't going to go away. Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill. And driving death will still happen until EVERY car is driven by an infallable AI. Which won't happen for at least a few generations after the AI is developed, since people are much to attached to driving cars.

Re:so it begins (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308297)

Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill.

Sure, but driver's skill can certainly reduce both issues, and computer driven cars even more so.

Re:so it begins (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308417)

Parking is a much smaller problem if when you're planning to stay put at a certain location for a few hours, the car can simply drive itself to another parking location.

Also, self-driving cars are a major boon to car sharing services; which should reduce car ownership; for the user, there's a big difference between having to go to a parked car somewhere and then leave it there again than just have it parked outside his home and then leave it anywhere.

Re:so it begins (2)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308721)

And with the invention of the "stack em and rack em" automated garages, this could really solve some downtown problems.

Re:so it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308833)

Actually, given the price of parking, for short visits, I would be apt to tell my car to go around the block until I signal it to retrieve me. I may save a six-dollar parking fee by spending a buck or two for gasoline. ( Yeh, I used to believe in "Peak Oil", but it looks like we have more natgas than we can burn, according to the latest reports I hear from the broadcast media ).

Actually, I welcome discovering what it will be like to have a few of these automatic cars on the road, whose prime ambition is to avoid accidents rather than get there the fastest, no matter what.

I have this old toyota, and quite frankly, cannot keep up with the newer cars.

I figure if I can get in behind one of these on the freeway, it would drive sensibly without all the unnecessary acceleration and braking human drivers, driven by the need to never let open space appear ahead of them, do.

The disadvantage I see is most human drivers do express "courtesy of the road" and deliberately open up space for others trying to get in or change lanes. I wonder how that can be implemented in robotic drivers.

Re:so it begins (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308929)

What I see happening are some roads being auto controlled only, and cars being spaced apart by a central road computer. Easily twice as many cars can be packed on a road because there isn't the reaction time a human requires. To boot, cars can be spaced where longer distance commutes can take further left lanes.

Heck, even four way intersections can be changed to not require any signals... just slow up one set of cars so another gets through without smashing.

I'm all for this. It not just allows cars to be moved around autonomously, but it opens up the ability to borrow cars. Not just like Zipcars or Car2Gos, but for people to allow others to "rent" their vehicle at times they don't need them in use.

This is arguably the most effective solution in the US, especially the suburban areas to handle the higher traffic densities where rail, even bus stops are just plain economically not doable. Of course, more urban areas are better served by subways, trams, light rail, and bicycles, but for areas where a commute may be 50+ miles, autonomous vehicles and roads that can space/maneuver vehicles would be ideal.

Re:so it begins (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309575)

"Actually, given the price of parking, for short visits, I would be apt to tell my car to go around the block until I signal it to retrieve me. I may save a six-dollar parking fee by spending a buck or two for gasoline."

Rest assured, laws will be passed to prevent you from benefiting from this possibility. They will be passed under the pretext of 'public safety', but the effects will be that this technology will somehow not save you money.

Re:so it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309611)

and before you say 'but that's stupid' that never stopped local and other governments from passing ridiculous (parking and other) laws.

Re:so it begins (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308671)

Computerized cars could be a lot smarter than humans and reduce traffic. Take a simple traffic light. If there's 5 cars at the traffic light, it takes about 10 seconds for the 5th car to start moving (people really are this slow). If computers were driving, all the cars could start to move in unison. Also, take highway driving. People slow down to look at something interesting on the side of the road. Traffic piles up behind them. With a computer driving, this wouldn't happen. Automated cars will be able to make traffic much less of a problem. If you cut out accidents and stupid drivers, the amount of traffic will go down significantly.

Re:so it begins (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308913)

I would like to see an AI driver compensate for a slippery ice covered road or how about a moose standing in the middle of the freeway.

Re:so it begins (3, Informative)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309067)

slippery ice covered roads already are quite covered by the computer in your existing car.

Re:so it begins (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309401)

I drive a 95 neon and a 06 Dodge 3500 does not apply also I live in northern Canada where the option is hit the ditch or oncoming vehicle.

Re:so it begins (3, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309119)

An automated vehicle would be able to detect the moose and apply the brakes far faster than any human possibly could. There already are rudimentary collision-avoidance systems in some cars, and they'll only get better over time.

Re:so it begins (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309421)

You have to be very alert to see two glowing eyes running toward the road at 30 km/h. computers might be able to see stuff on the road but not what is going to be on the road. I live in the Canadian wilderness not Cali.

Re:so it begins (3, Informative)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309551)

Computers are perfectly able to see what is going to be on the road, all you need is more sensors and better shape recognition.

Better than humans, in fact. Humans can't see infrared so well, and it's going to be a heck of a lot more useful in the Canadian wilderness than normal sight. Your concerns are a design problem.

Re:so it begins (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309633)

You forget the cost problem. I can not afford a half million dollar car and people in canada have to drive rediculous distances all the time so our cars do not last very long.

Re:so it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309215)

I would like most drivers be able to cope with those too. But most drivers don't appear to be able to.

Most people would not want to use elevators or robotic cars if they were as unsafe as cars driven by humans.

There'd be lawsuits and the blame game if some tried anyway and "stuff happened".

Re:so it begins (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308801)

> Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill.

Traffic has to do with the number of cars on a road plus the space each car allocates itself on the road. As traffic speeds up, we spread out to give ourselves time to react to the driver in front of us stopping unexpectedly. A robot doesn't have to do that as it's reactions are faster and the robot can talk to other robots up the road. The net result is that instead of 70 mph traffic requiring 7 car lengths between cars, you can have cars traveling within inches of each other. You've suddenly multiplied the carrying capacity of the freeway by sevenfold without laying any concrete.

Parking has to do with finding a place that's out of the way of other cars and convenient to your destination. If the car can self park, it can drop you off and trundle off to some location miles from where you are. Or better yet, it can hire itself out to carry someone else somewhere else and then come back and get you when you're ready.

Re:so it begins (1)

blitziod (591194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309483)

Robot cars will also use radar so they can react to the car in front of the car in front of them much better than a human. I think you guys are missing the point though. Even if self driving cars where a little slower, the fact that you can sleep, read, play WOW , answer email, watch porn and masterbate, shave, work, etc on a long commute will make that driving time more valuable.

Re:so it begins (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309691)

Robotic cars would still greatly lower the accident rate and anyone with such a car would be much safer. Assuming the technology is sound.

A robotic car will never get distracted, will never tire, will never drive unsafely, will never get frustrated, will never get bored and so on. It has near perfect situational awareness and reaction times. All the time.

So if the guy in front of you slams on the breaks, the robotic car will react half a second sooner than any human could and probably a few seconds sooner than the average human. It'll know if the guy behind has enough room to stop and it will know every path to avoid an accident. Near instantly.

in the words of al swearengen (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308253)

how the fuck did that come to be inevitable?

As California is home to... (3, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308257)

...some of the worst drivers in the world.

I've lived in Boston, New York and Chicago. And Northern California easily takes the cake for worst drivers. They hesitate when they should commit, they never use turn signals, roll through stop signs, drive until 7-8pm without their lights on (or just use their parking lights).

So I would welcome driverless cars, because it can't get much worse than this.

Re:As California is home to... (4, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308271)

Clearly you've never travelled. Try Italy or India for example.

Re:As California is home to... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308375)

or a little closer to home ... puerto rico

but in their defense, they are consistent, every car has the same dent in the side

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309565)

Preach on brother, San Juan Puerto Rico has the worst drivers I have ever seen. Its a free for all at rush hour.

Re:As California is home to... (2)

s2jcpete (989386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308409)

Bah. I lived in Italy for a few years. Rome may be bad, but I found Boston to be worse

Re:As California is home to... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308471)

Yes, I agree. Rome may be a mad house but, I loved driving in Italy. There are far fewer rules (and often a lack of lanes) but I interpreted it as "We trust you -- just don't crash into anyone." It was a breath of fresh air to not have a million signs like in the U.S. that you simply tune out.

There are some experiments in Germany where they are getting rid of all but a couple signs and simplifying the rules to just a couple rules (like yield to the right). They (last I heard) have found it to be far more effective as people don't tune out the few signs they see.

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308831)

Bah. I lived in Italy for a few years. Rome may be bad, but I found Boston to be worse

There's a reason they call 'em Massholes....

Re:As California is home to... (0)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308463)

You do realize that the worst drivers in India come to Northern California? The only difference is that here they drive SUVs and Benz's, while in India they take the bus.

Re:As California is home to... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308557)

Certain neighborhoods of Northern California are effectively India...

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309509)

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume GP is American. He's probably wondering which state is Italy right now...

Re:As California is home to... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308399)

I'll second that. Maybe not in the world, but certainly far worse than anywhere else I've driven domestically. I swear some people mistake their speedometer for an analog clock, as the particularly type of driving stupidity seems to vary by time of day.

Of course, it doesn't help that CA has some remarkably stupid driving laws that make it impossible to predict traffic. For example if you're turning onto a multi-lane road, you don't have to pull into the nearest lane (or second nearest, if there are multiple turning lanes); as such, it's incredibly unsafe to make a right turn on red coming the other direction if there would otherwise be enough lanes to support it.

Re:As California is home to... (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309635)

Of course, it doesn't help that CA has some remarkably stupid driving laws that make it impossible to predict traffic. For example if you're turning onto a multi-lane road, you don't have to pull into the nearest lane

Wrong, this only applies to left turns. When making a right turn, you are required to turn into the farthest right lane as possible allowed by the size of your car.

Re:As California is home to... (3, Funny)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308923)

Once when I was driving on the 101 between San Jose and mountainview, I saw a guy playing a flute while steering with his knees.

Still not sure if that was an instance of poor driving, or an awesome display of physical and mental prowess. But what I can say is that I haven't seen anything like that anywhere other than california.

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309015)

Clearly because you haven't lived in TX. Houston is the mother of the examples, where people don't seem to understand what the white and yellow lines are for. (Neither the grass on the medians)

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309125)

Wait I thought you were talking about North Carolina for a moment... :)

The light is GREEN please go.... That light is quite red it does not mean speed up.... Why yes I am signaling please let me out like the LAW says you should... Oh I see you are signaling in the turning lane thanks for letting me know considering you havent signaled any lane changes for 10 miles...

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309209)

If a self driving car detects poor judgement, it could kick in. Good, safe drivers might have their driving little affected.

Re:As California is home to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309403)

Are you sure you lived in Boston?

Re:As California is home to... (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309411)

Sorry, but I live in Reno (Nevada) where we are home to some of the worst drivers I have ever seen. I learned to drive in southern California, and I felt perfectly safe with half a car length between a string of 10 cars doing 90mph on the fast lane. Here, I don't feel safe driving the freeway at 65mph because there are still people who are doing 45mph on the freeway!

On top of that people run red lights constantly hear, which isn't so bad really if there's consistency, but there is NOT. Driving here can be downright scary sometimes.

So bring on the auto-automobile, I'm all for it.

New ways (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308301)

Here in Nevada we are are at the forefront of gambling....

Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (1)

aaronrp (773980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308319)

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (1, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308429)

The usual anti-car stuff from the usual anti-car suspects. There's no point in paying any attention to that set; they'll say whatever it takes to promote their vision of how people should live, which generally means people renting tiny places in a rat warren, taking public transit to work and walking everywhere else. The private car is anathema to them, as are low-density suburbs and single family homes.

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308683)

Rats don't live in warrens, rabbits do. The phrase you you didn't quite get right was rabbit warren.

The rest of what you wrote just as ignorantly failed to reflect what was in the linked article. It just betrayed a similar lack of thought. A knee-jerk reaction.

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308725)

You do realize that accusing somebody of being One Of The Enemy is not actually a form of rebuttal, right?

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308851)

their vision of how people should live, which generally means people renting tiny places in a rat warren, taking public transit to work and walking everywhere else. The private car is anathema to them, as are low-density suburbs and single family homes.

You must have needed a really big truck to haul all the straw to build that man you just beat the shit out of. Did you use the shiny SUV you keep parked at your McMansion, or did you rent a monster pickup truck to make yourself feel even more manly for the occasion?

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308877)

You realize by now I'm sure that this technology would allow for shared cars, or even something like a fleet of cabs. It would be useful just about anywhere that has roads regardless of population density.

I for one look forward to this technology. The only thing that could fill me with pure and abject terror... Horror... would be if Microsoft were responsible for the software.

This post may be marked Funny eventually. I am 100% deathly serious, pun intended.

Re:Atlantic Cities article on driverless cars (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309097)

You realize by now I'm sure that this technology would allow for shared cars, or even something like a fleet of cabs. It would be useful just about anywhere that has roads regardless of population density.

I for one look forward to this technology. The only thing that could fill me with pure and abject terror... Horror... would be if Microsoft were responsible for the software.

This post may be marked Funny eventually. I am 100% deathly serious, pun intended.

behold! "Where do you to go today?" takes new meaning!

Autonomous vehicles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308325)

...are known to the state of California to cause cancer.

I look forward to becoming rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308335)

When I accidentally get in front of an autonomous vehicle, it hits me, and I sue the owner.

Re:I look forward to becoming rich (2, Interesting)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308593)

You can try... Until the onboard video is played in court and shows you staged it, at which point the judge begins to legally sodomize you.

Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308367)

What is REALLY needed is a law to mitigate liability risks for automated cars. Here's how a fair law might read :

All operators of automated vehicles are required to buy additional insurance. If someone is harmed by an automated vehicle malfunction, a panel is empowered to compensate the individual with a FIXED amount of money depending on the severity of the injury and or death. This is how vaccine injuries are handled : if a vaccine harms someone, they get a certain amount of injury depending on the risk.

Neutral, third party laboratories would be paid to examine the 'black boxes' from automated cars after a crash and present their findings to the panel.
The panel would be required by law to make a decision within a certain amount of time (~180 days sounds about right)

Advantages :
    1. Lawyers eat up a large chunk of the money when litigation is allowed. This way, most of the money goes to the victims.
    2. Everyone gets some compensation money instead of most getting nothing and a few hitting the jackpot
    3. Faster decisions instead of lawsuits that take 5-10 years.

Disadvantages :
      1. Panel can be unfair or biased and little can be done
      2. The amounts of money seem low compared to jury awards for successful lawsuits. Lose a hand, it might be 100k not a million, etc.
      3. Legislators who are lawyers have to write the legislation for this.

The reason to do this is the same reason we do vaccines, but it would save a LOT more lives. Automobiles kill far more people than the number who would die if we stopped most vaccinations. Automated cars will occasionally malfunction and kill someone. However, on the aggregate, the total deaths per passenger mile caused by automated vehicles will very likely be more than 10 times or more lower. Automated vehicles have short reaction delays, no need to take risks, ability to see in all directions they have sensors pointing at the same time, can predict a crash is about to occur and take mitigating actions (pre-firing the airbags, etc), activates the brakes quickly enough to avoid pileups, etc.

The thing is, an automated car will have software bugs, and will occasionally make mistakes. Maybe a good model will be as good a driver as the average driver on their best day. EXCEPT, an automated car's systems cannot become distracted, board, drunk, or fall asleep. I suspect that this advantage over millions of miles will prove to be huge. Sure, the average human might be smarter, but we don't give our best effort during every minute of the many hours we drive.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308381)

Oh, also, an automated car cannot become scared or panic. If a skid or spin happens, and the car has the sensors and software to detect it, it will immediately and rationally perform programmed actions to mitigate it. It will turn into the spin, etc.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308475)

Oh, also, an automated car cannot become scared or panic.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

Who exactly is going to program the car to deal with every possible dangerous situation?

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (3, Interesting)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308629)

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I'd trust the car over a human anyday. I've seen to many accidents where someone made a slight miscalculation that shouldn't have been a big deal. Then they end up over compensating and taking out someone in an on coming lane instead of vearing off into a parking lot, just ending up on the side of the road or even just staying on course and having nothing come of a small skid, swerve or bump.

The only issue I see with and autonomous car is there are times here where a person has to guess where the road is. I'd like to know how the car would track the road when it's more or less just a blanket of white.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308769)

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

Unlocked brakes means you still have some ability to steer. Locked brakes have no steerability. Locking the wheels will often result in the car going sideways down the road with no ability to steer into the skid. If there'a one thing worse than not being able to stop, it's the car travelling sideways whilst not being able to stop.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309557)

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

Locking the wheels is not the fastest way to stop because the friction between the tires and the ice is greater when tires aren't sliding on the ice. (as is true for everything, look up static friction vs. sliding friction) Thus, when the wheels lock up, you'll stop faster if you allow the wheels to spin again, then apply less pressure so that the wheels do not lock up.

Computer cars will know things like this, and thus, they'll drive better than you.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308565)

Until $sensor fails or provides an inaccurate reading, and the computer does the wrong thing or doesn't know what to do.

Seriously, we have a hard enough time keeping basic sensors in working order, they fail all the time far before the part they're monitoring does. Self driving cars are great in theory, but the mechanics of the vehicle and the people driving are far more reliable than the electronics. Steps can be taken to mitigate this, but probably won't until about five years after the first mass produced self driving car becomes popular, when its electronics start failing at an alarming rate and causing all sorts of problems.

criminal liability as well (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308597)

and that criminal liability may come down on the coders as well the factory floor even down to the car service center.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308615)

There is arguably one major gap in the analogy with vaccines(unless your plan includes it but simply didn't state it):

The vaccine injury system is designed to deal, as efficiently as messy compromise allows, with the fact that vaccines(as with other drugs and procedures) tend to have risks that show up at the population level that couldn't have been detected in clinical trials of any feasible size and/or are substantially lower than their benefits. The logic is that these cases have victims deserving of compensation; but arise without culpable negligence or malice.

It doesn't, and isn't intended to, cover other risk/liability issues arising in medicine that incidentally involve vaccines. If, say, your doctor stored a vaccine improperly and administered a contaminated or spoiled dose, that wouldn't be a vaccine injury, that'd be malpractice that happened to involve a vaccine rather than some other drug. In such a case, the damages would be partially to compensate you and partially to punish them; because there are both damages and culpable negligence or malice at play.

In the case of an autonomous car, the 'vaccine analogous' set of risks/compensations would only cover the set of risks inherent to the system's operation(corner cases where physics simply doesn't allow for a safe solution on the navigational system's part, system defects sufficiently rare and esoteric to have escaped reasonable diligence on the manufacturer's part, and so forth). It wouldn't usefully cover negligence on the part of either the manufacturer(in, say, corner-cutting on testing or design of safety critical systems) or the operator(operating a vehicle despite sensor or system faults, defeating safety-critical systems in order to achieve faster trips, etc.)

When dealing with small, essentially unavoidable, risks there is a strong logic in favor of efficient compensation purely on the basis of injury(assuming that those risks carry benefits sufficient to justify their broad imposition...); but one must be careful not to immunize negligence and malice in a system designed to handle mere accident...

I suspect that there will be fewer impaired computers than there will be impaired drivers; but I suspect that operators running cars with the sensor equivalent of shot breaks and dead turn signals will hardly be unknown, and corner cutting by some manufacturer or other is just a matter of time.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (4, Interesting)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308771)

What you're proposing is a No Fault liability scheme. Circa 1989-1992, the insurance companies attempted to get a proposition passed that would have established No Fault insurance. Their pitch was very similar to your list of advantages plus they said that since their costs would decline, our rates would have as well.

  Despite the idea making a lot of sense, the personal injury lawyers succeeded in killing it as they viewed the proposal a direct threat to their livelihood which of course, it was. The proposition was aimed at cutting their take out of the transaction.

Your post makes a lot of sense but unfortunately, I think the political climate in California has gotten more bizarre over the intervening 20 years and what makes logical sense doesn't mean too much in California.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308787)

ISTR that Mercedes Benz postponed bringing anti-lock brakes into the US for a few years after they had them in Europe for fear of litigation. In other words, it's cheaper to let people die with a known hazard than to prevent a bunch of deaths and get sued by some bonehead.

So yes, unless we curb litigation we won't see a lot of public autonomous vehicles.

Re:Liability mitigation is the crucial rule (1)

Sneeze1066 (1574313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308817)

What happens when the vehicles become self aware and start targeting pedestrians. When will we see the first car on trial for murder?

Wait, Nevada wha? (0)

amginenigma (1495491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308385)

Wow.. Nevada is leading? As a satellite state of the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia usually we follow suite with the good socialists next door, not show them how to do it first. Maybe the world is coming to an end in 2012.

Won't California just fall off into the ocean yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308391)

California lags behind Nevada, as usual.

Florida did this today as well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308511)

"Some bills squeezed through in the session's closing hours. Lawmakers unanimously approved a measure allowing the testing of "autonomous vehicles" to be tested on state roads. The bill was sought by tech giant Google Inc., which is developing a line of driver-less cars." http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-legislature-sine-die-20120309,0,3639070.story

Unusual Road Conditions ???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308521)

I have to wonder how these autonomous vehicles will handle unusual road conditions such as snow patches on the road, black ice, a ball bouncing out into the road, etc. It may be that autonomous vehicles are by far safer than vehicles with drivers -- until the unexpected happens at which point they completely fail.

I can just see it now: You are sleeping as your autonomous car is driving across country and then the horns and bells go off with a voice says: "Quick driver, take over, we are spinning out on black ice at 70mph and you have three seconds to recover or you and this car will die."

what about work zones? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308635)

what about work zones? they come in all sizes and some make it so you have to be on the wrong side of the yellow line to get by.

What about snow I have seen 3 lane each road cut down to as small as 1 lane each way or 2 lane ones cut down to 1.5.

Re:what about work zones? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309123)

Work zones are easier than regular roads. Signs are already put up to handle them. They just need to make sure that the proper signage is up and the car will behave better than a human.

Re:what about work zones? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309199)

not all of them have signs today they where doing sewer work and to get by I had to drive on the wrong side of the line to get by.

Re:Unusual Road Conditions ???? (2)

damm0 (14229) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308645)

More likely the car will be able to detect the dropping air temperature and reduce speed to adjust. It is shocking how many people blithely drive into dangerous situations unawares. People who don't come from cold places never think to tap their brakes and test traction from time to time. Heck, lots of people who should know better don't do it. And autonomous cars do have the advantage of being able to detect collision vectors and respond far more quickly than any human driver could hope to.

The Robot 500 should be fun to watch too :) Everyone wants to see a crash in a car race, and they'll deliver!

Re:Unusual Road Conditions ???? (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308865)

I have to wonder how these autonomous vehicles will handle unusual road conditions such as snow patches on the road, black ice, a ball bouncing out into the road, etc. It may be that autonomous vehicles are by far safer than vehicles with drivers -- until the unexpected happens at which point they completely fail.

I can just see it now: You are sleeping as your autonomous car is driving across country and then the horns and bells go off with a voice says: "Quick driver, take over, we are spinning out on black ice at 70mph and you have three seconds to recover or you and this car will die."

Far better than a human who isn't programmed to deal with every possible situation a car can find itself in. The car can calculate up to the millisecond road and atmospheric conditions, as well as scan the road ahead for patches of unexpected alterations in the road that could be ice/snow/water/etc, and of course know local weather through radio transmission (as well as the position, velocity, and condition of every driverless car nearby). You can simulate and test every possible condition for the car, and train the algorithm to handle each situation in the ideal fashion. Humans, on the other hand, can do none of these things.

So, most likely, the car wouldn't wake you up because it would never need to. It wouldn't travel 70mph in conditions that can result in black ice. It would see the ice well in advance and slow down, not overreact if it began the spin, and recover better once it entered it (humans tend to turn against the spin, which just makes it worse.)

Rosy future, but there will be system failures (5, Insightful)

damm0 (14229) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308525)

I am wholeheartedly for the development of robot cars! I can hardly wait for the day when I can command my car to drive my drunken ass home, or tell it to go to the grocer and pick up my milk and cheese (which the grocer will load into my car for me) while I'm at work. Not to mention the possibilities for car sharing!

However, there will be system failures. The cars will have to develop "reptile brain" like functions that can make the car pull over and stop in the case of byzantine failure of the controller. Think about car-worms and viruses that command cars to crash into each other, or remote car hijacking. It is going to be *very* interesting to watch all this develop. Consider the people who will drive recklessly in their "classic cars" expecting that most other cars are autonomous, which may make the road more dangerous for those who don't have one.

That said, I'm looking forward to the robot-car only lanes on the freeway where we can have fuel-efficient car-trains and the social benefits of being able to hop out of your robot car in front of your destination and have the car valet itself.

Re:Rosy future, but there will be system failures (1)

aurizon (122550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308657)

I favor the Law of the Sea approach, an abandoned vehicle is salvage...

Re:Rosy future, but there will be system failures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308693)

So... tunnels and underground parking garages filled up with sick or injured cars curled up in the shadows...

Motorcyclists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308909)

Consider the people who will drive recklessly in their "classic cars" expecting that most other cars are autonomous, which may make the road more dangerous for those who don't have one.

...or motorcyclists who will weave in and out of the traffic of robot cars thinking that they will be driving at a constant velocity and screwing up and spilling.

so human error can become cpu, sensor, code error? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308571)

so human error can become cpu, sensor, code error?

Let's say a over flow, bad sensor and so on can lead to the car doing odd things just like autopilot can when faced with bad sensor input. But I would hope that the code will be up to the same level of testing and certifications that the autopilot code is.

Re:so human error can become cpu, sensor, code err (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309047)

Automated cars are so not the same thing as autopilot. Planes don't have traffic, pedestrian, cyclists, and other things of this nature that make automated cars a really hard problem.

Several Points (4, Insightful)

DERoss (1919496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308633)

Padilla's bill is SB 1298 at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1298&sess=CUR [ca.gov]. It has not yet had its first committee hearing.

I was a software test engineer for over 30 years. There is no such thing as a computer system that is completely error-free. While SOME drivers are impaired or simply have poor judgement, other drivers are alert, coordinated, and generally safe. On the other hand, all autonomous cars from the same manufacturer will have the same software errors.

The current leader in developing autonomous cars is Google. I would not drive one of Google's cars unless I knew that Google was not tracking where I went and what route I took to get there. I am concerned that, even if the car does not transmit its location and route in real-time, a mechanic might still be able to download the car's history while servicing the car. That information should be available only to law-enforcement agencies and even then only when a judge issues a warrant after being convinced there is probable cause that the history is relevant to an actual crime.

Re:Several Points (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308755)

There is no such thing as a computer system that is completely error-free.

It doesn't have to be error free. It just needs to be better than humans. That is not a high bar.

On the other hand, all autonomous cars from the same manufacturer will have the same software errors

And when one of those errors causes an accident in ONE car, it will be fixed and patched in ALL the cars. So the number of bugs, and the number of accidents will decline quickly . Autonomous cars already have millions of miles of testing, and are probably already safer than the average human driver.

Demanding absolute safety is foolish, and delaying the introduction of autonomous cars will cause many unnecessary deaths.

Re:Several Points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309211)

"It doesn't have to be error free. It just needs to be better than humans. That is not a high bar."

What are your metrics for "better than"? Because, to me, a system more adaptable to novel situations than the human brain would be jumping a very high bar. I'm getting glimpses of a late-night road washout up by Big Sur, Google Cars periodically hurtling down into the sea for hours before the entire system in that area is shut down and an inferior human-controlled vehicle is dispatched to debug the system...

Re:Several Points (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309355)

Fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. Right now its about 1-2. If the Google car can get below 1 or so then they should be allowed on the road, because doing so will save lives.

cheap chanel handbags (-1)

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Crossing state lines (2)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308707)

I'm a big states-rights kind of guy, and I applaud California and Nevada on taking initiative in a technology that will hopefully become widespread sooner than later, but this is one situation where the federal government should be involved (cars often cross state lines, after all) and at least form a committee/study (insert committee uselessness here) to set a ceiling on limitations for these vehicles. States can relax the limitations as they see fit (open-space areas like Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming might allow a higher auto-speed), but if each state is left to set its own devices you'll get a large amount of different standards that each automaker has to adhere to in order to sell the vehicle on a national or even regional level. The fed is going to step in at some point, but better sooner than later; not only will they create a nice standard for all states (/. likes open standards, right?), but it will make a lot of states that are on the fence about the whole thing (or not even caring) have an extra push to allow the vehicles (assuming the feds don't allow them nationally in addition to standards).

I haven't read up on the various rules put in place (or recommended), but I sincerely hope there's a size limitation on the vehicle. No more than T tons, no more than XxYxZ dimensions to be allowed an autopilot. That way in the case of a catastrophic failure (we'll get at least a handful) the risk to other drivers is far less. Also, energy savings. Maybe even create a standard within the auto industry for censors that can be included in an "autopilot only" lane to enhance the cars capability in those environments. (Ooh! How about extra sensors within parking garages so that the car auto-drives itself to the closest available open spot?)

Self Driving Vehicles (0)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308827)

Your solution advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative () market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to solving the problem of driver error. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) It will be fought by entrenched fishing interests
(*) No one will insure the vehicle
(*) It will be fought by luddites
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(*) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) NIMBY Syndrome will prevent mass deployment
(*) Technology doesn't work that way

Specifically, your plan fails to account for:

(*) Idiots with cars
( ) Nnational reluctance to engage in sweeping change
(*) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
(*) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who vote
(*) A lack of support from famous Musicians and Actors
( ) Conflicting environmental interests
(*) Asshats
(*) Lack of national regulation

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( ) The money could be better spent curing cancer
(*) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
(*) Your solution is expensive
(*) Your solution may be politically infeasible
( ) The money could be better spent implementing [other] solution
( ) It makes life harder, not easier

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(*) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

You've made the next list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308943)

http://listverse.com/2007/10/28/top-30-failed-technology-predictions/

I want to join the list too, I predict things shall be always as they are now, despite new technology; and if you disagree, you're stupid.

That's what you sound like. You could be right of course, but I'll take my chances and make fun of you now.

Re:Self Driving Vehicles (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308975)

FYI threatening arson can be a worse criminal charge than threatening murder. People the say they are going to burn your house down should get life in jail I'm sure you are just jesting but typing stupid is stupid.

Re:Self Driving Vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309061)

It's an old old /. meme
the original is here: http://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt [craphound.com]

lighten up francis

Re:Self Driving Vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309109)

Context is a wonderful thing :)

Any of you Homos touch my stuff, and I'll kill you!

Any of you Homos touch me and I'll kill you!

lighten up francis

do7l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308853)

others what to of Walnut Creek, to this. For And the bott0m 'first post' other members in practical purposes, to place a paper And other party

Free Insurance (2)

michael.j.boldischar (2009560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308861)

Does this mean we won't have to pay auto insurance soon? Computers should be able to drive better than humans, right? Imagine how much extra time we would have if computers could drive us to work each day.

And so the Auto Hacking Begins (0)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309083)

Now if you rely on a computer to drive for you, hackers can pwn your car's computer and drive it.

Seems Nevada's driverless car rules (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309115)

Are actually rules... that autonomous cars can't be driverless

2 passengers required; the human operator has to be able and ready to override the car; which means the human has to have a license, can't be drunk, etc. And the human operator (rather than the manufacturer) is responsible if there is an accident and the vehicle has fault because of improper decisions/failure.

I guess the restrictions "sound good", but they eliminate some of the selling points for the concept of an autonomous vehicle. Probably without making it safer.

You can't be relaxing, chatting on your cell phone, watching TV, or eating while the car drives you.

Makes more sense to require that driverless cars be safe enough and have enough failsafes and instrumentation that a human operator will not ever be required to override; e.g. by ensuring that the safest reasonable response is always what the autonomous car will execute, and facilitated by multiple redundant highly robust systems.

Such that the greatest remaining danger would be that the human erroneously overrides the computer and makes bad choices.

World Cheers As War on Vehicle Deaths Commences! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309263)

Woo Way to go!
 
  Wish it hadn't come during the war on information... it would be a lot more palatable if the precedent was that you are in final control over your vehicle... not Microsoft.

2 Johnny Cabs and a Little Old Lady... (0)

d'baba (1134261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309457)

pull up to a 4-way stop and the little old lady has the right of way. She's sitting in her car waving the other two cars to go ahead.
Add a sociopath (you know, a normal commuter) as the 4th at the stop. Kindly Lil Ole Lady still with the right of way waving like crazy.
If a Johnny Cab can't interact in a reasonable fashion with other (human) drivers, it's not ready for prime time. But keep on working on it.
---
Any discussion of a sufficiently complex subject is indistinguishable from babble.
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