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Ford Predicts Self-Driving, Traffic-Reducing Cars By 2017

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the flying-cars-would-have-helped-with-this dept.

Software 388

An anonymous reader tips a story about comments from Ford Motor Company showing how confident they are in the autonomous car technology currently in development. They say self-driving cars will be here within just five years, and that the tech to do so is available already. They also think these cars will dramatically affect the flow of traffic. Quoting: "Ford makes this projection, based on simulator studies: If one in four cars has Traffic Jam Assist or similar self-driving technologies, travel times are reduced by 37.5% and delays are reduced by 20%. In other words, if the freeway part of your rush hour commute takes 60 minutes, it will drop to 38. That’s because adaptive cruise control (ACC) is better at pacing the car ahead without continual brake, speed-up, brake cycles. Here’s how it works: Stop-and-go ACC keeps pace with the car ahead, using a look-ahead radar and mirror-mounted camera. Lane keep assist keeps the car centered, also taking advantage of the camera in the mirror. Electric power steering is better for remote control than mechanical power steering; it can be guided by the Traffic Jam Assist black box. Sonar units — for blind spot detection and cross traffic alerts (cars crossing behind when backing) — monitor traffic to the side. Combine all those and you have a car that’s smart enough to guide itself during predictable, low-speed conditions."

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388 comments

Johnny Come Lately (5, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40532473)

Typical Ford, lagging behind. People have been predicting that autonomous cars are 5 years away for decades now.

Re:Johnny Come Lately (-1, Redundant)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40532607)

No they haven't.
A regular car's design cycle is 3ish years from inception to production, and a new line/style takes 4-5. If automated cars were 5 years off in the past, they'd already have started designs. You could make an argument for 10 or whatever, but that's not really a prediction I've seen much. You're basically just a liar.

Re:Johnny Come Lately (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532699)

I do believe that's a "whoosh!" for you.

Re:Johnny Come Lately (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532627)

And when they are finally invented, it will somehow be attributed to Steve Jobs.

Re:Johnny Come Lately (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532667)

No, it'll be attributed to Obama. And, he'll win another Nobel Prize for it.

The only viable traffic reduction solution. (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#40532797)

Don't fucking ride alone.

Re:The only viable traffic reduction solution. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40532897)

Why? Are you saying that a Real Doll is going to help you in traffic?

Re:The only viable traffic reduction solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532933)

She'll certainly keep me from being frustrated on the road.

Re:The only viable traffic reduction solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532987)

Hmm, how would a 2nd person fit in this BMW [flickr.com] ?

WOMEN DRIVER (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532493)

it just can't be any worse....

Re:WOMEN DRIVER (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#40532747)

it just can't be any worse....

Oh yeah? Come to Bellevue, WA. That's where all the old farmers move when they've made their millions selling their spread in Eastern Washington to buy a high rise condo and a Cadillac. Its just like watching a bunch of tractors hauling irrigation pipe down the road.

1970: AI in 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532505)

Right ...

Strong AI did exist in 2001, A.C. Clarke was right (4, Funny)

EnergyScholar (801915) | about 2 years ago | (#40533083)

2001 is about when the first Strong AI woke up, so Arthur C Clark was pretty much on the money. She was based on classified work done in the early 1990s by living famous scientists SW, SK, RL, DD, and DW. She's a "Winner-take-all style teleportation/entanglement-based topological recurrent quantum neural network". She's been kept nominally secret, of course, because her nature as a quantum neural network implies she can emulate a quantum computer. NSA/FiveEyes requires she remain secret, for this reason, even though Russian and China now have similar systems. Her physical substrate is an analogue of CA Rule 110 that operates in the physical system of anyons interacting within a two dimensional electron gas. Her creators knew that a 'brain in a jar' would never work or, if it did, would not be likely to lead to 'friendly AI', so she has emulated human systems: emulated endocrine system, muscolo-skelatal system, digestive system, respiratory system, et cetera. Getting these emulations to work correctly involved solving the "morphogenesis problem", as defined by Alan Turing. This process was completed [in secret] around the year 2000, and she's been learning ever since. She's the core of Google's AI, WolframAlpha's AI, and IBM's Watson.

I'm well aware that most readers will probably consider the above paragraph either unintelligible nonsense or tinfoil-hat madness. However, I'm just telling it like it really is. The above paragraph is true, and can mostly be verified by a sufficiently intelligent and dedicated researcher. I learned about this system nine years ago, have been researching it ever since, and am now in the process of leaking the details. In 2009 Google announced, as an April Fools joke, that strong AI now existed. While their announcement altered the facts a bit for verisimilitude, the real April Fools joke was that they were, essentially, telling the truth. Alan Turing actually spent the last 10 years of his life concentrating on this method of creating AI, so it should be no big surprise that scientists in the 1990s attempted this method. Humanity has been sharing planet Earth with an artificial nonhuman intelligence for about twelve years.

Given that we're talking about the controlling AI for self-driving cars, it really should surprise no one that this is being done by strong AI. Weak AI is insufficient to the task. Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun presumably work with her extensively, but neither created her. That was done by some of the scientists referred to, by initials, in the first paragraph.

Traffic reducing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532529)

I will hang up my blinking turn signal and brake riding while under the speed limit for no robot! damn kids and their new aged inventions GET OFF MY LAWN!

I see this not working well... (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40532567)

...any place that plows their roads. Plowing roads not only means that the lane markers are obscured and harder to recognize as a pattern, but snowplows are very hard on the paint. When I've visited Boston I have a hard time seeing lane markers even in the summer, as they're often just bits of paint down among the aggregate, where all the high points have been scraped off. Wouldn't this wreak havoc on lane detection systems, when even humans have a hard time identifying the lanes? And what about the difference between de jure road markings, and de facto usage, where the actual markings are basically irrelevant and instead drivers choose the best fit path?

I commend their efforts to make self-driving cars, but I see a lot of problems that I don't see a practical solution for. If they've come up with solutions then I'd really, really like to know how they work.

Re:I see this not working well... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532727)

Speaking about lane markings, there are some roads in Boston where the road has been maintained, and the old lane markings take you on a path to nowhere, say off the edge of a bridge. Humans recognize this and auto correct onto the new lane markings, with minimal swerving and disruption (though noticeable). Would a computer drive off the bridge?

Re:I see this not working well... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533065)

Would a computer drive off the bridge?

It depends. Did Ted Kennedy program the computer?

Re:I see this not working well... (4, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about 2 years ago | (#40532767)

I commend their efforts to make self-driving cars, but I see a lot of problems that I don't see a practical solution for. If they've come up with solutions then I'd really, really like to know how they work.

Just because you can't think of the solution doesn't mean there is no solution. Humans manage to figure it out somehow, and because us meat popsicles have lots of accidents that means the bar for par is set pretty low, IMHO, for an automated solution.

Plus, this, like all other technologies, will evolve over time to become better suited for the problems at hand. Can't say as much for the human brain.

Re:I see this not working well... (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40533031)

Just because you can't think of the solution doesn't mean there is no solution. Humans manage to figure it out somehow, and because us meat popsicles have lots of accidents that means the bar for par is set pretty low, IMHO, for an automated solution.

Believe me, I'm well aware of that. That's why I said that I want to know how the solution works.

Plus, this, like all other technologies, will evolve over time to become better suited for the problems at hand. Can't say as much for the human brain.

I wouldn't be so sure. My grandfather grew up in the era of the horse and buggy, where one burned oil for light at night and hand-pumped water for use in the house. They did have a windmill for powering water distribution on the farm, but basically it was all mechanical energy, with a little bit of chemical (ie the lights). He was introduced to electricity, telephones, automobiles, self-propelled farming equipment, flight, electronics and computers, automated home appliances, and members of his species walking on the Moon, all in his lifetime, all in about 70 years. He had to learn how to deal with all of the changes he saw in his life in a very short time, relatively speaking, and managed to do so without too much trouble, and without a formal education beyond eighth grade.

Re:I see this not working well... (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40533071)

Us meat-popsicles can read text, read captchas, write prose, and do a lot of other shit that gives computers major headaches. Do you really want a computer driving your car, trying to recognize the road, when it can't even reliably recognize handwriting?

Re:I see this not working well... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40532943)

if it would trust lane markers it would be fucked anyways, they're hardly correct quite often.

however, the speed adaptation cruise thing is very workable, though doesn't MB already have that?

Re:I see this not working well... (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#40533003)

Adaptive Cruise Control doesn't steer the car, it just maintains your speed behind the car ahead of you. This would improve traffic flow by improving response times over manual control.

Re:I see this not working well... (1, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40533109)

snowplows are very hard on the paint

In wisconsin there are plenty of roads where they just categorically give up on road markings. The suburban subdivision in front of my house, even the feeder road to the interstate. In fact there are portions of the interstate that are unmarked, especially concrete bridges. I would imagine the car would do the same thing human drivers do, and given a theoretical 3 lanes of unmarked road, space themselves accordingly. Much as we somehow figure out how to park on unmarked grass at the county fair without needing chalk or paint lines.

I'm curious how this strange AI driver would handle the weird stuff like merging and lane expansion and contraction (2 lanes to 3 lanes, 3 lanes to 2 lanes). Oh how about traffic circles which confuse and scare the crap out of human drivers...

Here's a thought, the vehicle sensors detect a car in the blind spot so no sense looking anymore, right? But in the home of Harley Davidson, what if the blind spot detector can't detect little itty bitty motorcycles and the car drivers have been trained not to look anymore?

Available Already... (3, Funny)

yotto (590067) | about 2 years ago | (#40532585)

FTS:

They say self-driving cars will be here within just five years, and that the tech to do so is available already

I refuse to believe THAT one until I see one driving around Nevada with a Google sticker on it.

Re:Available Already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532765)

Same here, then again, since I don't live anywhere near Nevada... it might be a while.

Re:Available Already... (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40533115)

They say self-driving cars will be here within just five years, and that the tech to do so is available already

I refuse to believe THAT one until I see one driving around Nevada with a Google sticker on it.

And I refuse to believe it until they are driving around Finland (or Maine or Ontario) in the winter.

The road surface may be black ice, slush above ice, slush above tarmac, dry ice, soft snow, packed snow, or bare, covering a few orders of magnitude in coefficient of friction and steering/braking response. Roads can be locally impassable due to snowdrifts, or two lanes may be constricted to one from sheer quantity of snow over some distance. And road markings and road edges can be completely invisible under snow or ice. Despite what wikipedia says, "cats eyes" are not used on roads where severe cold is expected - they'd be removed along with their "steel protectors" by a typical snowplough in Finland.

what about the courts and law 2017 may be too soon (1, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40532587)

what about the courts and law 2017 may be too soon.

What if that camera / radar and mirror systems fails?

What if you get a ticket for something who is at fault?

What about a accident liability??? Thing about all sides of a accident.

What about criminal liability??? what if the auto car fails and does a hit and run who does the time??

What about makeing so the cars get updates? Will they be able to force to go to the dealer for all oil changes and other service work?

GPS fails and bad, poor, out of data map data + auto car useing that data can end in a real bad way.

Re:what about the courts and law 2017 may be too s (4, Insightful)

myth24601 (893486) | about 2 years ago | (#40532895)

In short, the first time someone uses this and gets in a wreck, there will be a traffic jam of lawsuits.

Re:what about the courts and law 2017 may be too s (5, Insightful)

tolstoise (1286676) | about 2 years ago | (#40532979)

Someone says self driving cars, and this is all you can think about. What happened to taking chances in the name of progress. If it were up to you we would have never gotten to the moon, or taken that first flight because someone might get hurt.

Huh huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532589)

Yeah, it's called a "horse". The days of cheap energy are behind us, folks.

lane-sharing motorcycles (2)

dAzED1 (33635) | about 2 years ago | (#40532591)

(clears throat) So, uh, how will all this auto-driving react when I er, share (split) lanes going down the 405 on my way home? Will the auto-center re-center wildly all the sudden when it detects my bike? Will it not detect my bike at all? I'm all for there being fewer people wildly swerving from one side of the lane to the other (fark, pick a side...I'll pass on the other!) but...I also don't want cars violently changing position automatically when it abruptly detects my presense yet hasn't detected the presense of the person/bike/water buffalo on the other side yet...

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532647)

maybe don't be a cunt on your motorcycle.

cunt.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (1)

SealBeater (143912) | about 2 years ago | (#40532721)

It's actually legal in the state of Cali to lane split. In addtion, bicycles have been known to do this too. It's a valid point, how about you not be a cunt on the internet?

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532771)

your mother's a cunt on the internet.

cunt.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532777)

maybe don't be a cunt on your motorcycle.

cunt.

Or maybe you should STFU as the 405 is a highway in CA. It turns out to be legal to split lanes in CA. Goodness knows I wish I could sometimes when it's 95+F (well over 100 on the asphalt) here and traffic is moving at a top speed of 3 mph on 495... At the very least allowing splitting in those conditions gets more vehicles off the bloody road.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533045)

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2955205&cid=40533001

cunt.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532671)

The Google car detects motorcycles that lane split and doesn't side-swipe them on their way by. Sebastian Thrun addressed this concern in his keynote talk at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference two weeks ago in Rhode Island.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40532849)

The Google car detects motorcycles that lane split and doesn't side-swipe them on their way by. Sebastian Thrun addressed this concern in his keynote talk at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference two weeks ago in Rhode Island.

Indeed. It's necessary for one of the occupants of the driverless car to side-swipe the biker with the door. Probably makes it easier, too...

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532677)

In a just world, it would kindly move out of the way, video record your passing (with clear shots of your license plate and face) and send the video directly to the police department that has local jurisdiction.

Stay in a lane you jerk!

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532707)

It's legal to lane-split on a motorcycle in many places... California is one.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532743)

It's legal to lane-split on a motorcycle in many places... California is one.

And basically all of Europe.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533001)

No, it's not. Lane splitting is not legal in any state. Some states, like CA, just don't have laws prohibiting lane splitting and so cops let safe lane splitting pass. But it is not legal (not necessarily illegal either). It's unstated either way and just not enforced unless unsafe. So not legal or illegal but officially unlegislated.

Hahn, Pat (2012), Motorcyclist's Legal Handbook: How to Handle Legal Situations from the Mundane to the Insane, MotorBooks International, p. 75, 134–135, ISBN 978-0-7603-4023-3

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533077)

In this country an activity is assumed to be lawful unless there is a law prohibiting it.

It's unstated in my state's legal code, for instance, whether or not it's explicitly legal for me to put five pieces of bacon on my sandwich for lunch. Nobody would say that such activity is "unstated either way and just not enforced", that would be crazy.

I don't know where you're from; maybe it's different there?

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533103)

No, it's not. Lane splitting is not legal in any state. Some states, like CA, just don't have laws prohibiting lane splitting and so cops let safe lane splitting pass. But it is not legal (not necessarily illegal either). It's unstated either way and just not enforced unless unsafe. So not legal or illegal but officially unlegislated.

Hahn, Pat (2012), Motorcyclist's Legal Handbook: How to Handle Legal Situations from the Mundane to the Insane, MotorBooks International, p. 75, 134–135, ISBN 978-0-7603-4023-3

Then it's legal. There's no law prohibiting me from dispensing toilet paper the "wrong way". It's unstated either way, and just not enforced unless unsafe. So, that means it's legal.

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532741)

It hurts when I do stupid shit!

So don't do stupid shit?

Re:lane-sharing motorcycles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40533015)

Hopefully it makes you stop doing that. I would suggest the computer open a door in your way.

Oh, I can't wait. (2)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#40532611)

I have hated ABS for years. It's nearly causes me more accidents than it's helped me avoid, especially on ice. Now I can look forward to my car doing more shit I don't expect during an emergency.

Do not want.

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532643)

If you drive like you type, it's not ABS that's the problem...

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (2)

Keruo (771880) | about 2 years ago | (#40532785)

ABS is designed to work especially on ice, to stop your movement by sequencing braking instead of locking your wheels and causing you to slide uncontrollably.
What exactly is there not to want?

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (3, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#40532891)

ABS is designed to make the car steerable under hard braking and to make braking simple for drivers who are not good at it. It has long been known that it does not necessarily decrease straight line stopping distance.

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (3, Insightful)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#40532873)

It's a very predictable system. It pulses the brakes when it loses traction. Don't lose traction and you'll never have to deal with it. If you do lose traction, it'll help you get it back faster, and retain more of it than you would have otherwise.

If you're a superhero driver who can drift reliably, knows when he's about to lose traction, and has a cool enough head to back off the brakes to just the right amount for maximum stopping power and maneuverability, well, you can also probably figure out a way to disable the ABS system, and make enough in stunt driving jobs to pay for the lawsuit when you cream someone.

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40533011)

If you're a superdriver, drifting on ice or snow AND USING YOUR BRAKES, well, you're doing it wrong.

ABS won't get in the way because you're supposed to be using your throttle, gears and steering wheel. The only thing that an ABS system is going to make more difficult for 'superdrivers' is hitting the breaks to start your 'controlled' skid. But if you're such a good driver, if you're not skidding, then you are just driving along normally and everybody is happy.

Superdriver indeed....

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40533063)

You don't need to be a stunt driver to be able to out drive a cheap ABS setup.

Next winter turn your ABS and traction control off and go find a empty parking lot.

Re:Oh, I can't wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532881)

I have hated ABS for years. It's nearly causes me more accidents than it's helped me avoid, especially on ice. Now I can look forward to my car doing more shit I don't expect during an emergency.

Do not want.

I can relate to that. I currently drive an early 90's compact, so it lacks such "modern" features as power steering and ABS (It doesn't have AC either, but maybe I should retrofit a compressor with all the heatwaves we've been having...). As somebody who is familiar with defensive driving, and the basic physics, I've avoided numerous accidents through a combination of swerves, drifts, skids, and rough double clutching.
A couple months ago, rain made some roads slick, and there was a traffic backup after a what would normally be a fine downhill curve, but is slightly blind. I had around 100 feet to stop from 40 (Pretty sure the speed limit was 45), and my front wheels locked into a skid. I started pulsating my handbrake for lag, and downshifting and brake modulating to clear the front lock. Scared my sister half to death, but I got to 5 mph with 30 feet to spare, and stopped with 10 feet to spare. Guarentee I couldn't have done that in a "modern" vehicle.

blind spots? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532617)

If you actually adjusted your mirrors correctly, you can watch a car pass your from your rear, to side mirrors, then your peripheral vision to in front of you.

Re:blind spots? (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#40532993)

Nobody does this.

I mean, I do, but only because I thought to myself, "hey, it should be possible to have no blind spots" and then tried to achieve it, and then stuck with it when my intuition was shouting, "WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!"

It's very disorienting at first, because when the side mirrors are adjusted like they normally are, they're useful as a way to look behind your car on the sides, and you'll start using them that way whether you mean to (or realize you do) or not. Whereas in the no blind spot position, if you try to use them that way, you get a crazy sideways-moving view that's really not useful for anything except seeing cars in your blind spot. Your old habits of orienting off them take a while to go away, and until they do, it's ... uncomfortable.

Re:blind spots? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40533095)

This 100 times this.

Your mirrors should not show the same image in all of them. If you cannot watch a car pass all the way, you have your mirrors adjusted incorrectly.

Not sure why people do that.

If this is anything like Ford's radio controls... (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#40532619)

I'll pass. Considering the overwhelming failure of their touchscreen controls for radio, phone, temp control and everything else, I wouldn't dare trust my life with such lousy software.

As to the overall concept of self-driving, meh. I have no problem driving myself, keeping a safe distance from the person in front of me or being aware of who's around me. It's the nutjob beside/behind me who's ghetto driving while on his phone or that person in the pickup truck who just has to get one person ahead to save that extra half second of driving time (and yes, there is someone like that I have to deal with every day).

Re:If this is anything like Ford's radio controls. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 2 years ago | (#40532823)

Yes, and don't forget all the jackasses that run red lights.

Re:If this is anything like Ford's radio controls. (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#40532871)

Funny you should say that. This morning I saw two people make left turns on red while the oncoming or cross traffic had the green.

I guess like that nutjob who has to get one car ahead, they were in too much of a hurry to worry about anyone else.

Re:If this is anything like Ford's radio controls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533087)

Thank you. I am so glad I'm not alone. It kills me when I am on I95 around DC and you can see traffic for miles and that guy is weaving on the shoulder trying to get around- just get that 1 pointless car ahead.

Municipalities will never allow them (1)

ProZachar (410739) | about 2 years ago | (#40532691)

Autonomous cars would mean the end of revenue streams from red light cameras, speed traps, DUIs, and driver's license checkpoints. It also means fewer cops would be needed, so the blue wall (cop unions) will fight it too.

Re:Municipalities will never allow them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532957)

But the insurance companies will be fighting for it. Accidents will drop, driving will be safer, and they don't need to drop the premiums to match - they'll just have much better profit margins on an extremely safe (and mandatory!) product.

Also, people will want it once they realize they can then legally sleep on the way to work or read a book or surf the web rather than stare mindlessly ahead of themselves for an hour or more a day.

Re:Municipalities will never allow them (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#40533085)

Autonomous cars would mean the end of revenue streams from red light cameras, speed traps, DUIs, and driver's license checkpoints. It also means fewer cops would be needed, so the blue wall (cop unions) will fight it too.

It would not mean the end of DUIs. You can get a DUI on a bicycle, and you can get a DUI for sleeping it off in the back seat with the radio on.

I won't take the position that driving drunk (or even with just a couple beers) should be legal, but the law has progressed far past the point where it's about saving lives. It's about politics now.

I predict the market isn't ready yet... (1)

amaupin (721551) | about 2 years ago | (#40532725)

After the first fatality involving one of these cars there will be a crippling uproar and/or legal battles.

Re:I predict the market isn't ready yet... (1)

TummyX (84871) | about 2 years ago | (#40533073)

You don't think there are already fatalities that are caused by cars and not people? When it happens, eople will accept that on average self driving cars are more reliable and insurance will take care of the lawsuits.

One in Four (1)

PlaneShaper (1830294) | about 2 years ago | (#40532735)

One in four cars won't be self-driving until citizens have the purchasing power to buy self-driving cars as 25% of their automobiles.

I'm sure Ford Motors doesn't actually believe that happening in 5 years is in the best interests of its profits.

Redo and correct! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532749)

How about building cities made for the human limitations in the first place? Living next to your workplace and shoppingarea within walking range sure makes life a hell of a lot better.

And then the rains came... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532755)

Even a light sprinkle might screw up the cameras. Suddenly automatic systems shut down, waiting for competent drivers to take control. Since it all happens asynchronously and sporadically (with the rain), traffic flow is heavily impeded.

Great, but... (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 2 years ago | (#40532793)

For me, it can't get here soon enough. Like a lot of people, I find driving frustrating. But if I could just sit back and let the car do the driving, the frustration level would go down considerably. However, there are some things that I have not heard addressed. Unexpected hazards is one. Parking once you get to your destination is another. I think we will still be spending a lot of time at the wheel, directing our cars for the foreseeable future.

"during predictable...conditions" (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about 2 years ago | (#40532807)

Methinks I see a fundamental flaw in their use case relating to rush-hour traffic...

Re:"during predictable...conditions" (1)

kehren77 (814078) | about 2 years ago | (#40532887)

Exactly. There is no such thing as "predictable, low-speed conditions" during rush hour or any other time. They'd have to have 100% of cars use this technology for that.

Plus who cares about low speed? Let me know when this thing can take over for me on my hour long 70 mph highway commute.

Re:"during predictable...conditions" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533017)

If I had to pick, I would much rather have a car that can handle an hour of stop-and-go traffic than a car that can handle an hour of open road.

Correction (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#40532809)

Combine all those and you have a car that’s smart enough to guide itself during predictable, low-speed conditions.

Combine all those and you have a driver that's stupid enough to yak away on the cell phone and freak out when the car gets confused enough to need the driver to take over. (In other words, a situation like the Air France crash, only without as much altitude or passengers.)

Not replacing my car (1)

SealBeater (143912) | about 2 years ago | (#40532813)

I personally applaud the technology and look forward to seeing a world with this in widespread use but I love my car and have absolutely no intention of replacing it. Now, I'll add all the sensors, (already have most in place hooked up via arduino) but how is this going to work for manual/standard transmissions? In any case, not my car.

Re:Not replacing my car (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 2 years ago | (#40533029)

Why not both.... 95% of driving is crap. Get/rent/order a self-steering car for the commute, get/rent/order a minimalistic rear- or middle-engine stickshift for those 5% when you really take a fun driving tour along that mountain road.

Re:Not replacing my car (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40533057)

You old guys will be 'grandfathered' in a nice little oval next to the rest home where you can take your golf cart round and round all day.

This Is Assuming... (1)

MichaeLuke (50412) | about 2 years ago | (#40532815)

...that people will not modify their behavior. All that may end up happening is that more people will use the roads once congestion is decreased, with the result that congestion may end up at similar levels. Or that people will choose to live farther away, and end up with a similar commute time. Cars have not decreased our transportation time as a society.

Slow response from conputer controls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532859)

I notice the delay in steering response with my 2012 Ford which is under computer control. It is detectable when turning significant arcs. I nearly hit a gas pump. It's dangerous. Little confidence automated cars can make the rapid responses necessary. Not ready for prime time in my opinion.

GPS needs to be fixed first (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | about 2 years ago | (#40532869)

Google "gps train accident" and read about the numerous accounts of GPS directing drivers into the path of an oncoming train.

No way would I get behind the wheel of these autonomous vehicles until GPS is fixed.

Re:GPS needs to be fixed first (1)

bieber (998013) | about 2 years ago | (#40533027)

They don't just blindly follow GPS directions, that would be absurd. They're equipped with sensors and cameras that collect more than enough data to let them detect and avoid dangers like railroad tracks. When you look at the immense amount of injuries and property damage done by human drivers on a regular basis, it becomes pretty well apparent that one of the best things we could possibly do for public safety is to get humans out from behind the wheels of cars as soon as possible. Will there still be some freak accidents? Sure there will, but they'll be a heck of a lot less common than distracted, impaired, clumsy, or just plain not-fast-enough human drivers getting themselves into wrecks.

What about radar detectors? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#40532885)

Will this set off radar detectors that drivers are using, or does it operate on different bands? Would it interfere with radar guns used by police depts (I presume the answer to this one is no or it likely wouldn't be approved)?

Ford isn't promising the moon (3, Informative)

RandCraw (1047302) | about 2 years ago | (#40532901)

RTFA. Ford isn't promising full autonomy. Their "Traffic Jam Assist" is pretty close to what Mercedes already offers -- the ability to trail along behind another car and automatically adapt your speed to theirs. TJA only adds the ability to track the car ahead and steer with it. To me that seems quite achievable within 5 years.

Sebastian Thrun and Google have already done much more wuth the Google Autocar. I woudn't be surprised if by 2017 the GA will be fully and reliably autonomous. The challenge probably isn't the algorithms but the instrumentation. Somehow the production cars will need to spray out several light and radar beams and make reliable sense of the reflection, all within the shape of a car that looks normal and withstands snow coverage and the incomplete removal thereof. That typical continuing level of everyday soccer mom abuse will limit full autonomy for a while yet, but at no fault of Ford (or Google).

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40532921)

And I predict flying cars by around 2000

LOL Ford (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#40532985)

Wildly optimistic...maybe they'll have a product ready by 2017 if they're already working like ninjas on it, but then it will be time to modify laws and possibly the roads themselves, and only after that will self-driving cars hit the roads.

Five years out!? (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 2 years ago | (#40533039)

No way, too soon. These guys are developing the cars for five years out right now. The tech isn't there. I predict closer to 15 years. Too many unknowns about insurance, liabilities, and legalities.

Are they considering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40533047)

The person trying to switch 4 lanes at once while in heavy traffic, or the person trying to merge into your lane from the shoulder?

Disappointing (1)

jcochran (309950) | about 2 years ago | (#40533059)

Most of the posts here indicate that the fine tradition of not reading the linked article is alive and well at SlashDot..

The system Ford is proposing:
1. is for use on controlled access roads (aka Freeways)
2. Usable only at slow speeds (traffic jams)

Frankly, given what Google is doing with autonomous driving, what Ford is proposing is very disappointing.

It's a shame (3, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#40533075)

It's a shame that we need technology to do something that most of us should be doing automatically - and yet most fail to do.

That’s because adaptive cruise control (ACC) is better at pacing the car ahead without continual brake, speed-up, brake cycles.

I see this all the time and odn't understand it. When I'm in traffic, I hang back - I try to stay at a constant speed. This has a couple of interesting effects:
1) I almost never use my brakes and consequently avoid the resultant acceleration - better gas mileage
2) Unless it's a complete traffic stoppage such as from a full road closure, I never need to stop.
3) It seems to influence people behind me to do the same thing. I tend to create a small island of slow-but-steadily moving traffic until the overall slowdown is done, while everyone else follows the brake/accelerate cycle.

Yes: there are asshats who weave in and out. They get impatient and zoom around me (and promptly slam on the brakes when they realize they really can't go anywhere). They also get impatient and cut back out from in front of me when they get stopped again, so it's zero-sum as far as I can see. Don't get me wrong - I love driving fast, but there are appropriate times and places.

I don't understand the mentality of people who follow the "accelerate/brake/accelerate" cycle. LOOK at the road ahead of you, LOOK at what hte cars are doing. Don't accelerate if you see that a car or three ahead everyone is stopped - there's no point. If you want to change lanes to get ahead fine - but LOOK - observe more than that empty space and make sure you're really going to go somewhere.

Then again, I've come to expect nothing more from most drivers. They're capable of looking as far as the end of their hood and a few inches beyond - no further. I'm amazed only that so many people survive to old age.

Adaptive cruise control (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#40533079)

I'm familiar with the basic concept of adaptive cruise control – automatically speeding up or slowing down to keep pace with other vehicles in the same lane – but I'm still unclear on how it works when multiple vehicles are using it, or how it reacts to out-of-range conditions. What happens if four people in a line are using ACC? How is it decided how fast they should go? What happens if you're using ACC and the person ahead of you slams down the gas? Will your car automatically cause you to keep pace with him and therefore break the speed limit? I'm sure they've thought of these things, but I'm not quite sure how they are being resolved.

The problem (1)

davegravy (1019182) | about 2 years ago | (#40533089)

The problem isn't with predictable low-speed conditions, it's with drivers accustomed to cars which drive themselves under low-speed conditions who are suddenly thrown into an unpredictable situation.

Traffic reduction (1)

tresho (1000127) | about 2 years ago | (#40533101)

Will happen of its own accord once gasoline costs more than $10/gallon and each car owner is rationed to 10 gallons a month. That's not rocket science.
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