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California To License Self-Driving Cars

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the how's-my-driving dept.

Science 301

DevotedSkeptic writes "Californian senators have passed a bill that looks set to make the state the second in the US to approve self-driving cars on its roads. The bill was passed unanimously by state senators, and now hits the desk of governor Jerry Brown, who's expected to sign it into law. It calls on the California Department of Motor Vehicles to start developing standards and licensing procedures for autonomous vehicles. 'This bill would require the department to adopt safety standards and performance requirements to ensure the safe operation and testing of 'autonomous vehicles', as defined, on the public roads in this state,' it reads."

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Not safe (-1, Troll)

Overly Critical Dude (2720847) | about 2 years ago | (#41205985)

With reports of Google's self-driving car crashing left [cnet.com] and right [jalopnik.com] how could anyone want to be in one of these vehicles? They just aren't safe. When something happens when you're driving then it's at least your fault and you could do something about it, but not in self-driving cars.

Re:Not safe (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41206021)

Not safe right now... the difference being is that we can make continually make self driving cars more safe, since driving only requires a set of rules and environmental awareness. Humans will never become more safe, in general, because they are inherently mistake prone due to fatigue, poor judgement, distractions, intoxication, and many other factors.

Just look at the wonders of automated flight. Most airline accidents that aren't due to terrorism or mechanical malfunction are due to pilots overriding the autopilots.

autopilots acting on bad data or coding issues??? (1, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206105)

autopilots acting on bad data or coding issues??? had lead to crashes.

What about that air show crash where you had stuff like

Thus he may not have heard these warnings (and thus any other warning or alarm as they sound in cockpit and not always in the headset).

that black boxes had been tampered with. (maybe to cover up the airbus issues with it's autopilot)

In the month prior to the accident, Airbus had posted two Operational Engineering Bulletins (OEBs) indicating possibilities of anomalous behavior in the A320 aircraft. These bulletins were received by Air France, but were not sent out to pilots until after the accident:

A320 crashes
http://www.airdisaster.com/cgi-bin/view_details.cgi?date=03221998&reg=RP-C3222&airline=Philippine+Airlines [airdisaster.com]
        The aircraft overran runway 4 while landing. A malfunction of the onboard flight computers prevented power from being reduced to idle, which inhibited thrust reverse and spoilers from being used. The offending engine was shut down, and brakes applied, but the aircraft was unable to stop before the end of the runway

Re:autopilots acting on bad data or coding issues? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206545)

I already have an autopilot in my car which is constantly giving audio prompts and attempting to take control, but enough about the wife. I for one welcome our new autonomous car overlords - as at least I can kick the wife out... heh

Re:Not safe (3, Insightful)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 2 years ago | (#41206109)

It's not safe for the simple reason that the automatic cars will drive the speed limit, and cause accidents because everybody else is going 20 over.

Re:Not safe (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#41206129)

Your theory isn't holding up in the face of the data. Googles Cars have logged hundreds of thousands of miles and have one accident caused by human error.

Re:Not safe (3, Insightful)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | about 2 years ago | (#41206401)

Self-driving cars will eventually be the majority.

Driving 20 over the speed limit may make you get there more quickly, but not having to focus on the road for the whole trip will make the trip more enjoyable and will make it feel like you get there more quickly.

Re:Not safe (2)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 2 years ago | (#41206443)

Eventually sure. It's gonna be a trainwreck getting there, though.

Re:Not safe (3, Insightful)

burisch_research (1095299) | about 2 years ago | (#41206419)

If all cars are self-driving, then we can happily increase the speed limit -- and probably by a lot!! We might even get a scenario where one speed limit applies to humans, and another (higher) one applies to computer-controlled vehicles.

Re:Not safe (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 2 years ago | (#41206493)

The problem is, all cars are NOT self driving, and probably won't be in our lifetimes.

Re:Not safe (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41206451)

Even if you were to combine accidents from software bugs, driving the speed limit, or some other factor, I'd absolutely bet that they would total far fewer than accidents by drunk drivers, falling asleep at the wheel, using cell phones, talking to passengers in the car, highway hypnosis, misunderstanding street signs, or lack of knowledge about right-of-way. Pick one.

They don't have to be safe, as nothing, not even laying in bed, is completely safe. They just have to be safer than what exists now. That is a pretty low bar to reach.

Re:Not safe (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41206575)

It's not safe for the simple reason that the automatic cars will drive the speed limit, and cause accidents because everybody else is going 20 over.

That's pretty short sighted. As much as I enjoy driving my car myself, I imagine automatic cars getting their own lanes and higher speed limits within the next 10-20 years, it's one of the few things I like about their coming (that, and less idiots to contend with on the road.)

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206587)

It's not safe for the simple reason that the automatic cars will drive the speed limit, and cause accidents because everybody else is going 20 over.

That already happens,example here [wordpress.com] !!

Re:Not safe (1)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | about 2 years ago | (#41206673)

Well then, people should be driving the speed limit and not an arbitrary speed over because they feel entitled to break the law.

I fail to see the problem.

Re:Not safe (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#41206507)

Most airline accidents that aren't due to terrorism or mechanical malfunction are due to pilots overriding the autopilots.

[citation needed]
Hint - there is a difference between "pilot error" and "overriding the autopilots". There innumerable factors, input and output, that contribute to a safe flight, only a small fraction of those are handled by an autopilot. Arguably, the same holds true for automobile travel. Then again, I live in a city where the humans regularly demonstrate that machines are better drivers.

Re:Not safe (1)

joelsanda (619660) | about 2 years ago | (#41206529)

... since driving only requires a set of rules and environmental awareness.

If you replace the word driving with any verb your statement is true. I can't imagine the mayhem this will mean - in part because I don't think anyone knows how 'autonomous cars' will be implemented. In the simplest since we are talking about putting our safety into the hands of something engineered. Fair enough - we do that every day of our life - most of it unwittingly. However, engineering it seems to me, is best when solving a specific problem we're having with a conflict between our sets of rules and the environment. Homes and bridges were probably the first things experienced, if not hunger or thirst, solved by engineering. I can't for the life of me think of a problem solved by 'autonomous cars' that won't create more problems requiring more engineering.

Re:Not safe (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41206563)

I disagree - human driven cars have become more, and less, safe with engineering, and other, advances over the years.

Collapsible steering column, steel belted radial tires, seat belts, crumple zones: more safe

Crowded roads, mobile phones, multi-hundred horsepower engines: less safe

Anti-lock brakes, air bags, tougher DUI laws, better roads: more safe

Texting, e-mail, twitter and Facebook on mobile phones: less safe

Re:Not safe (5, Informative)

njfuzzy (734116) | about 2 years ago | (#41206029)

Oh come on. Both articles you link to are full of nothing but conjecture and opinion, and both are about the same accident. Plus, anecdotal evidence tells us nothing. What I want to know is: how many accidents on average do Google autonomous cars have per mile, and how does that relate to the average for human-driven cars?

Re:Not safe (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#41206055)

I'm glad I didn't have to be the one to Catch that both articles were talking about the same accident, and the first article even links to the second.

Re:Not safe (2)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 2 years ago | (#41206137)

They have well over 300k miles.

Source [techcrunch.com]

Re:Not safe (2)

graphius (907855) | about 2 years ago | (#41206249)

Hell, I have driven well over 300K miles without an accident....

Re:Not safe (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41206489)

So you are an outlier, among the thousands here on slashdot that didn't respond the same. I've read the average person gets into an accident every 6.5 to 10 years depending on location, or 78-120k miles.

Google cars have had over 480k miles accidents-due-to-system free. There was one accident when one was rear ended while stopped at a redlight, and another when a human tester decided to override the automatic driving and drive it himself.

Not enough data. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206217)

how many accidents on average do Google autonomous cars have per mile, and how does that relate to the average for human-driven cars?

not enough data. Sample size of Google autonomous cars too small.

Re:Not safe (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41206641)

And what evidence is there that proves the safety of those cars, other than taking Google's word for it?

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206043)

If a self-driving car crashes while not self-driving, I would blame the driver, AI which isn't running.

And either way, would you rather have more accidents, which you could "do something about".... or less accidents, which you can't really do anything about? Although humans like to have full control, they always end up in more accidents.

Re:Not safe (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41206111)

If a self-driving car crashes...

Make sure to get the breathalyzer sample from the tailpipe... that corn alcohol is powerful stuff.

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206057)

Two articles referencing the same incident! My god these aren't safe!

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206065)

ITT, Microsoft shill tries to discredit Google yet again.

This was a single incident caused by human error. Go shill elsewhere.

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206069)

Left, maybe. Right, maybe not!

Re:Not safe (5, Insightful)

wintersdark (1635191) | about 2 years ago | (#41206089)

With reports of Google's self-driving car crashing left [cnet.com] and right [jalopnik.com] how could anyone want to be in one of these vehicles? They just aren't safe. When something happens when you're driving then it's at least your fault and you could do something about it, but not in self-driving cars.

Was this meant to be sarcastic? Both of those posts referred to the same accident. These cars have logged hundreds of thousands of miles, with ONE accident(which may well have been human error). That's far, far safer than the average human driver. If you're in the drivers seat of the self driving car, you CAN take control of it should you feel the need, too.

However, realistically that's not going to be useful. The car will be better at accident avoidance than you are - it's not that big a programming challenge to achieve that. People don't like to admit it - it bruises their delicate little egos - but the car knows *exactly* how fast every car around them is moving, their acceleration, and can put itself exactly where it wants to be every time. No delayed reactions due to inattention, no slight overreaction due to panic.

Yes, self driving cars will be involved in accidents, and will be at fault, from time to time. This does not make them less safe - it's inevitable, particularly when human drivers are involved as well. Human drivers, on the other hand, are extremely unsafe. Everyone wants to think that they are special, and unlike everyone else they're awesome drivers, but the reality remains that human drivers are in accidents extremely regularly.

Don't get me wrong. I'd hate to be in a robotically driven car. Logically, I know I'd be much safer than with a human driver, but I'd be enormously squirrelly about the whole process. And, of course, I love driving - I'd never be comfortable giving that up to a machine. I consider myself a good driver, too (like everyone else), and I've never been in an accident for which I'm at fault, but I can acknowledge that there have definitely been times I've driven with far less than ideal circumstances. Distraction, emotional distress, tiredness, ill health, the list goes on an on. In all those cases, I'm less than 100%.

Re:Not safe (4, Insightful)

Atryn (528846) | about 2 years ago | (#41206141)

These cars have logged hundreds of thousands of miles, with ONE accident. That's far, far safer than the average human driver.

Where are you getting that the average human driver has an at least one accident every few hundred thousand miles? I wouldn't call this "far, far safer" yet. It has the potential to be.

Also, most of the tests have been in still fairly controlled environments. Meaning, the car wasn't woken up in the middle of the night to get a pregnant woman to the hospital quickly over dirt roads, past nighttime street-racers, etc... Loads of "special cases" exist in the world of cars. It will be quite a long time before we have a really solid understanding of their viability. Right now, a "typical commute" is probably the safest use, or even for standard-route delivery vehicles without a high time sensitivity. Even better if certain roads / routes / lanes get set aside for autonomous vehicles only, which would make them even safer and more efficient.

Re:Not safe (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41206179)

It will be quite a long time before we have a really solid understanding of their viability.

Not at all. Airline statistics tell a big story. They are incredibly safe now. Not too many computers are flying the plane into a mountain.

Re:Not safe (1)

graphius (907855) | about 2 years ago | (#41206285)

yet EVERY airplane has a trained pilot waiting to take control....

Re:Not safe (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41206369)

Yes, waiting... But the numbers speak for themselves. Pilot error still is and always will be the biggest killer. The driverless car will make riding in them almost as safe as the airliner. I would wager that the death toll will be less than 1000, maybe even 100, per year when these vehicles become ubiquitous.

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206425)

It used to be the trained pilots who drove the planes into mountains, while these days they do it with much less frequency, thanks largely to the autopilot technology.

I would think that normal people without such rigorous training will be benefited more from the autopilot technology if they drive airplanes or cars.

Re:Not safe (5, Interesting)

wintersdark (1635191) | about 2 years ago | (#41206609)

Well, 300,000 miles, one non-fatal accident (with, again, a human at the wheel - but we'll ignore that for now).

Now, I pulled these numbers of a set of google searches. There was a fairly wide range of stats, so I took a bit of an average:

Insurance industry assumes one accident CLAIM per 17.9 years (lots of minor accidents go unclaimed, but we'll ignore them too). Average of 15,000 miles per year per driver. Thus, an average of one accident per 268,500 miles per human driver.

Of course, while the human driver stats are numerous (and this is why insurance is expensive!) the self driving car stats are not. Only one accident with new, unrefined technology in 300,000 miles... and that with a human in control of the car.

That said, your example? That's where a self driving car is much, much better than a human. A human driver with a pregnant woman giving birth, woken up in the middle of the night is going to be tired, highly agitated and distracted and definitely not at his best. The self driving car isn't tired. It doesn't care what time it is. The self driving car will be aware of the speeding racers - and know their exact speed, trajectory, and likely path - sooner than the human driver will, as these are very simple computations to make. The self driving car is indifferent to the passenger; which is also important. It's not distracted, worried, or anxious.

Of course, there certainly are cases where that's just not good enough, extreme emergency cases. That's why all these self driving cars can be driven in manual mode. You've always got that option if need be.

Obviously, routes being set aside for autonomous vehicles will be safer, but routes mixed will be safer than pure-human routes, because autonomous cars are simply safer than human driven cars overall.

I've been rearended while stopped at traffic lights six times in the last twenty years; every time due to an inattentive driver. None of those would happen with an autonomous car.

Finally, yes, mechanical/electronic failure can result in crashes. Just like it can with human drivers - sticking accelerators, for example, failing steering linkages, brakes, etc. Software problems? No different than a human driver having a heart attack, stroke, seizure, getting stung by a bee, etc - those all happen all the time. There's no real difference there.

Re:Not safe (3, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206207)

the self diving cars better have the same level of code review that autoplot software get's.

and even if that you can still get errors like this

http://www.airdisaster.com/cgi-bin/view_details.cgi?date=01201992&reg=F-WWDP&airline=Air+Inter [airdisaster.com]

        While on approach into Strasbourg the aircraft impacted the side of a mountain. The cause of the crash was found to be a faulty design in an autopilot mode selector switch which led the flight crew to inadvertently select a 3,300 foot per minute descent rate on the approach instead of the desired 3.3 flight path angle.

or this

http://www.airdisaster.com/cgi-bin/view_details.cgi?date=09141993&reg=D-AIPN&airline=Lufthansa [airdisaster.com]

        The aircraft skidded off the end of the runway during landing. The aircraft touched down with sink rate low enough that the onboard flight computers did not consider it to be "landing," which inhibited thrust reverse and brake application for nine seconds.

http://www.airdisaster.com/cgi-bin/view_details.cgi?date=03101997&reg=A40-EM&airline=Gulf+Air [airdisaster.com]

        A flight control failure at V1 caused the crew to abandon the takeoff, with deceleration beginning at V1+8 knots. The aircraft overran the runway, causing the nosegear to collapse. The flight control problem was traced to a faulty microchip in the aircraft's Fly-By-Wire system.

Re:Not safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206257)

Perfectly safe is a stupid metric to even consider given it's ill-defined, and would be a bad metric even if it were well defined.. They're safer than human drivers.

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206593)

You are incredibly right about the drivers egos. There are plenty of psychological studies made for various reason, but they all show this, that most drivers think they're better than they really are.

These cars WILL have accidents, but I guarantee, 99% of the time, it will be caused by a driver in a normal car.

I don't drive, I don't even own a car, hell, I don't even have a license. But that's my choice. I'd rather switch from bus to subway and back again going to work, than waste even more time driving and getting myself stressed out.
When those smart cars start having a solid presence though, that will change. It will be like having your own personal driver. No, better than that, a personal driver that doesn't cost you anything and doesn't get tired or makes mistakes.
That means the hours spent in transit can be turned into useful time, when I can read, browse the news, or just work.

Right now, for me, driving is scary in the big cities, or just stresful and tiring everywhere else.

Re:Not safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206103)

Are you kidding? Maybe we should have given up on everything that just wasn't safe at the time.

Strapping a combustion engine to a frame with wheels?
Rockets used to launch astronauts into space that have a chance of blowing up?
Medicine and procedures that had higher failure rates once upon a time?
We shouldn't have even tried! I am sure if I had time I could name two dozen more.

When this technology is mature it will save lives. Human distraction and lapses in reason kill, and this will eliminate that. If these can have 10% less, and I think that is a vest underestimate, crashes than their human counterparts isn't that reason enough?

Re:Not safe (2)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 years ago | (#41206119)

Left and Right you say? It's the same incident in both links (indeed the C|net article is based on and points to the Jalopnik post).

Also, from your own source:

Updated 3:51 p.m. PST: Google would only give me a further one-line statement. A spokesman said: "The car was in manual mode at the time. We have confirmed it in our logs."

That's 3:51 pm August 5th, so it was cleared up by the time you got the link.

I'm just as concerned about this, but your post is downright deceptful.

Re:Not safe (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 2 years ago | (#41206133)

300k miles.
1 (non at-fault) accident.

A driving recod like that would probably rank in the top decile of all drivers in America. Stop spreading FUD (seriously, what did autonomous cars ever do to you?).

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206203)

Google has not proven it does not tinker (read - assist via local or remote operator) with the software to pass qualifications. NHTSA should have more controls over this, namely up to the level of FDA regulations. Considering NHTSA's record with Toyota "unintended accelerations" where they had to recruit NASA engineers, the necessary qualifications are not there yet.

Re:Not safe (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | about 2 years ago | (#41206163)

Ew, that Cnet article reads like a gossip magazine, or a script from Glenn Beck. Isn't there anything more... credible?

Re:Not safe (1)

belgianguy (1954708) | about 2 years ago | (#41206219)

Nice trolling, don't know why you're at 2, as you reference the same article twice and when looking at its contents, it brings no meaningful facts to the table, only conjecture and opinion, ergo, they do not support your conclusion that these cars aren't safe.

You might be writing history, joining a certain individual who proclaimed: 'The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.'

The fact that an AI doesn't fatigue, doesn't text, doesn't lean over to grab a water bottle and cause a head-on collision, doesn't fall asleep, doesn't drive drunk, doesn't run red lights on purpose, doesn't forget to signal, doesn't speed and has 360 degrees of vision and laser-radar object detection and processing all this information at once where a human has to rely on his eyes and brain and reaction speed, all of which are affected by his physical condition and which deteriorate when he gets older. The AI will sooner or later replace a human driver. If you will, you could consider the current form a very sophisticated version of cruise control, where a human supervisor is still required.

But I could see driverless taxis in Vegas taking you from your hotel to a casino (and back), by just stating your destination, confirming it and paying with your NFC enabled phone.

Re:Not safe (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206307)

why have driverless taxis when they can build the monorail to the airport and have a downtown link.

Re:Not safe (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41206361)

OTOH, I don't have race conditions and can reboot myself if needed. My MTBF is about 50 years - better than pretty much any computer based device I've ever used.

Upgrades are a bitch though, I'll give you that.

Re:Not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206539)

They still are better than a woman driver.

Re:Not safe (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41206659)

Crashing left and right? Both of those stories talk about the same incident where a human was driving.

Should be done in upstate new york, too (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41206001)

Considering half the drivers there don't seem to be paying attention to their driving, self-driving cars would probably be a huge improvement.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (4, Insightful)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41206075)

Considering half the drivers there don't seem to be paying attention to their driving, self-driving cars would probably be a huge improvement.

I got a ticket about 10 years ago and had to go to driving school. Maybe 50-60 people packed into a room. First two things the guy asked were questions on how close you could legally follow another car, and who had right of way in a simple merge situation and in a lane change. About 75% of the people, by show of hands on a multiple choice answer set got the wrong answer. Which means 3/4 of people on the road don't understand the simplest of rules regarding driving.

Couple that with being able to get a handful of questions wrong on the driving test, and rarely if ever re-testing, throw in some distraction since driving a two ton killing machine just isn't that interesting after you've done it a couple of months, and you have driving problems and accidents.

The car knows the rules of the road. It isn't distracted. It wont change lanes every 5 seconds when there's heavy traffic and all lane changing does is increase the likelihood of an accident. It wont tailgate. It won't drive drunk. Its not texting continuously. It wont speed 20mph over the speed limit so as to arrive home 1.5 minutes earlier. In short, it won't do any of the 95,000 things that human drivers do, usually at considerable risk and low to no gain.

Maybe if people actually read and retained the rules of the road, and didn't drive like they were playing a video game with no downsides and no risk, along with unlimited lives...we wouldn't need this.

But...we do.

Good on California legislators for reacting quickly to a potential source of licensing revenue. While they may go for years without addressing serious problems and safety issues, or doing complex things like resurfacing roads...they're pretty quick to respond to an increase in the revenue stream that allows them to continue spending billions on pork every year.

Now I just have to figure out how to trick them into thinking its fun to spend money on roads and schools.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (1)

Atryn (528846) | about 2 years ago | (#41206147)

While they may go for years without addressing serious problems and safety issues, or doing complex things like resurfacing roads...

Why can't they have autonomous vehicles resurface roads? That seems like an ideal situation for efficiency... controlled environment since the lanes are usually blocked off anyway, repetitive and standard task, etc. Its always been something done at a bad time of day for humans anyway and you might reduce union problems (once you get over the obvious initial ones to implement it to begin with)...

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206261)

don't you need to keep mixing and reloading the assault or concrete and you need people to look over the work as it's going as well.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41206509)

don't you need to keep mixing and reloading the assault or concrete and you need people to look over the work as it's going as well.

I don't think anyone is assaulting the roads, I think they're just old.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (2)

dalias (1978986) | about 2 years ago | (#41206275)

Actually it means 3/4 of the people who were either stupid enough or unlucky enough to get caught by a cop don't know the basic rules of driving. If your sample is people in (remedial) "driving school" for having lots of tickets, you have a huge selection bias towards bad drivers.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (2)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41206559)

Actually it means 3/4 of the people who were either stupid enough or unlucky enough to get caught by a cop don't know the basic rules of driving. If your sample is people in (remedial) "driving school" for having lots of tickets, you have a huge selection bias towards bad drivers.

I considered that until I realized that I had been stopped for being halfway through a light when it turned red. Which is perfectly legal, but I'm guessing the cop needed some work on his quota.

So its a little less a situation of being the one stupid enough, just the one trailing the pack by too far a margin. Any which way, the relative randomness of traffic violations seems to offset the plausibility of this being a group of people different from any other group of 50-60 you picked at random.

My wife performs about 5 moving violations per minute, and since I see people every 3 minutes tailgating, changing lanes in the middle of intersections, changing lanes without signaling, turning in one lane and changing 2-4 lanes mid turn, etc, etc, etc...that I think ignorance of the rules of the road and attention to driving are fairly endemic.

Reminds me of when Massachusetts changed the "who has right of way in a rotary" from its original "driver in the rotary has right of way" to the driver entering the rotary, which immediately caused a spate of accidents, so they changed it back. After that, nobody knew who had right of way, so it just turned into bumper cars.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (0)

Xenkar (580240) | about 2 years ago | (#41206457)

How fast and how far do you drive? 20MPH over the speed limit in a lot of cases will save you more time than 90 seconds per trip.

From the government's perspective, the downside of computer controlled cars is that they will no longer be able to pad the budgets with fines for speeding tickets, moving violations of all sorts. There will be less work for judges, lawyers, etc as people won't be arrested for drunk driving. Those automatic charity donations included in speeding tickets will dry up.

Once every car drives itself, we can have them drive 20-40 miles above our current speed limits. People fear that the government might be able to override the car and have it drive them straight to a police station or FEMA camp. Cars with OnStar already have a remote engine kill ability. I would rather get our government under control than give up every beneficial technological advancement because of the potential for abuse. Especially one that will screw over many small town governments which exist merely because of the speeding fines from speed traps on highways and routes that go through them.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (2)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41206589)

How fast and how far do you drive? 20MPH over the speed limit in a lot of cases will save you more time than 90 seconds per trip.

I read a study a while back that said that chronic speeders trying to save time rarely save more than a few minutes on their trip, since most time is spent sitting at red lights or in traffic. I guess if you're driving 300-500 miles on the highway, you could knock some time off but most people don't drive that far on a routine basis. Even in that scenario, sitting by the side of the road getting a ticket for 15 minutes that costs you 10 hours of work to pay for is a pretty shitty substitute for ten minutes. I guess if someone were dying at your destination and it'd be the last ten minutes they'd spend with them, or if you get to nail the babysitter if you get home early...then theres some compensation.

My bet is for 99% of excessive speeders who think they're saving time end up dawdling around in the driveway or garage for a while, then read their junk mail, then watch tv. Not really a set of exercises greatly enhanced by all that time savings.

Re:Should be done in upstate new york, too (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41206551)

...self-driving cars would probably be a huge improvement.

For lives saved, of course, it will be quite dramatic, but not for those municipalities that depend on revenue generated by traffic fines it won't. Expect more layoffs of LEOs and bankruptcies, and higher taxes to take up the slack, unless they become more creative in extracting money from the public.

A side benefit will be the dissolution of MADD

Hackers around the world rejoice (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206017)

...and they'll work the security into it after the first major hacker-caused pile-up.

If the car is licensed... (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41206035)

And your driver's license lets you vote in CA, does that mean these cars get to vote? Can they vote themselves "car friendly" politicians? Will we be talking about "vehicle rights" in the next election?

In a panic, will we try and pull the plug?

Re:If the car is licensed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206169)

"Will we be talking about "vehicle rights" in the next election?"

No, that will be PAEDOPHILES asking for 'special rights' in the next election - gay ones, of course...

Re:If the car is licensed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206191)

Can they vote themselves "car friendly" politicians?

They don't have to. We already do.

Driver's licenses for Robots (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 2 years ago | (#41206439)

What did you think the "Motor Voter" bill was about a couple of years ago?

Meanwhile, the DMV seems to have decided that the robots don't speak Spanish, so it's ok to let them drive.

what about stuff like code review and liability? (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206051)

what about stuff like code review and liability?

Now there are 2 big liability parts criminal liability and civil liability.

and no who makes the car and or the software coders who make the code can't hide behind a mandatory arbitration or an eula.

Even more so if say the car hit's some thing out side of the car.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#41206067)

There are a lot of interesting legal implications for these self driving cars but all that a side I dream of the day when a drunk can stumble out of the bar and fall into the back of his car and wake up in the drive way of his home the next morning.

Anyone who seriously moves to prevent the self driving car from becoming reality regardless of how safe they are is simply against saving lives. I'm sure most people will wonder how anyone could be flat out against self driving cars but people like that do exist and at some point this will move from a legal issue to a political issue when it starts looking like mass adoption might happen and these people will come out.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 2 years ago | (#41206087)

Liability won't be an issue. If (when) these are truly safer than humans driving, the insurance industry will be falling over themselves to insure the cars. It'll be pure profit for them, and the incredibly rare incidents that pop up will be more than covered by all the other people driving problem-free.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206159)

what about criminal liability the insurance industry can't cover that.

And who will go to jail if say a auto car some how things a small kid on the street is a bird or road kill and runs it over?

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41206399)

Nobody. Same as now.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (1)

Halo1 (136547) | about 2 years ago | (#41206139)

It's not as if cars don't already contain software today that affects how it drives, from anti-lock braking to engine control to powered steering to... It's simply the next (admittedly, big) step, not going from complete manual control to complete automatic control.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (1)

DeathFromSomewhere (940915) | about 2 years ago | (#41206263)

Who is doing the code review on your brain? Serious question. People crash cars all the time and the automated cars have already been demonstrated to be at least as safe as the best human drivers. Are automated cars perfect? No; but so far their record is.

Re:what about stuff like code review and liability (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41206413)

Who is doing the code review on your brain?

From what I've been able to determine, most people seem to be written in an early variant of Visual Basic.

Wake me up when they've been refactored.

Caution! (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41206073)

Don't put any ethanol in the tank! Or you'll see a lot more DUIs...

So who's going to insure these things? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 2 years ago | (#41206099)

I assume that in order to actually have one of these things drive on public roads, insurance is required? And which insurance company will insure this relatively incalculable risk, and at what price?

Re:So who's going to insure these things? (1)

dalias (1978986) | about 2 years ago | (#41206253)

Any smart insurance company would insure them at somewhere between 10% and 75% of the cost of ensuring a human driver, and make INSANE profits since they can just keep all the premiums and never have to pay anything out.

Re:So who's going to insure these things? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 2 years ago | (#41206423)

Nah, I'm sure they'll charge a boatload more than they would a human driver. Not because they're idiots, but because they know anyone who can afford a self-driving car will be able to afford it. They'll just say the newness of the technology and lack of risk history is the reason it's so much.

Re:So who's going to insure these things? (5, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41206269)

I would suspect the first waves of cars would be big companies like Google running tests. In that case, they could meet the legal requirements for insurance themselves. After that, we'll probably have enough data to calculate the risks with far greater accuracy than human drivers.

Re:So who's going to insure these things? (1)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about 2 years ago | (#41206281)

And which insurance company will insure this relatively incalculable risk, and at what price?

Premium cost = average accident rate * average accident cost + insurance company margin

It's the same formula whoever's driving, and the coefficients are worked out in the same way for robots as for humans.

Re:So who's going to insure these things? (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 2 years ago | (#41206291)

And which insurance company will insure this relatively incalculable risk, and at what price?

Probably the same insurance companies which insure the equally (or even more) incalculable risk of human drivers.

Beginning of the end for driving jobs. (4, Insightful)

physburn (1095481) | about 2 years ago | (#41206113)

I'm expect a lot of political trouble from trucking unions etc. Driving is many peoples livelihoods.

Re:Beginning of the end for driving jobs. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206183)

That's a |10-38| Outsider blabbing about auto-drive system

now we need to do to you what we did to jimmy hoffa

Get used the idea, I'm afraid (5, Interesting)

Baldrake (776287) | about 2 years ago | (#41206125)

It's clearly just a matter of time until automomous cars are head and shoulders safer than those driven by people. Once this happens, adoption will be driven by the insurance companies. It will become prohibitively expensive to drive your own car.

I actually look forward to this, and wonder how it will change the interior design of cars. Will we turn the front seat around and go for a more social living room style arrangement? Will we dispense with the view from the front windshield in favour of an immersive large-screen TV? Beds for those long drives? Will we have refrigerators and microwaves so we can get breakfast on the morning commute? The possibilities are awesome.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41206195)

Yes I could see this. You want to do WHAT!!! Drive your own car?? Whoa, way too dangerous!! Step right into the Space-iPod and don't worry your pretty little head about all that driving stuff! Eeewww!

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206239)

Explain why it will become prohibitively expensive to drive your own car? How does the addition of self-driven cars to the roads make human-driven cars more prone to collisions than they already are? My thought is it would drop the price of ALL car insurance because self-driving cars will be better at avoiding collisions, so there will be less total accidents, and companies will drive down each other's rates because of lowered costs. Self-driving cars will probably have lower insurance premiums than today's cars, so that may drive people to buy one. And before someone cries "evil corporations", piss off, car insurance companies love nothing more than undercutting their competitors prices.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (4, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41206289)

Think how easy it would be for a personal injury lawyer to wheel a child who was injured in front of a jury and get them all crying because the driver didn't use the proven safe self-driving mode. What will a few mega-million dollar suits do to your insurance?

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (1)

tstrunk (2562139) | about 2 years ago | (#41206669)

Think how easy it would be for a personal injury lawyer to wheel a child who was injured in front of a jury and get them all crying because the driver didn't use the proven safe self-driving mode. What will a few mega-million dollar suits do to your insurance?

First: I agree completely with your comment.

I just want to say: Maybe once we are at the point, where less manual drivers equates less fatal accidents, the time has come to actually sacrifice some of our freedom and just allow self-driving cars on the road. It's an ethical question and it would be a hard sell politically and definitely not win votes, though.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206353)

You think the insurance companies will DROP the price for autonomous vehicles? You really don't get it. They will gradually RAISE the price of manual drivers so high that most people won't be able to afford it, while leaving autonomous vehicle pricing at current levels.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41206317)

I'm sure there will at least be a market that opens up for drivers who want to personally drive a car. A good stretch of private road and a few boilerplate waivers and we'll all be driving in that same setting car commercials take place in.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206389)

I'd think not. It's an autonomous driving system but if the computer enters into a fail state or some other emergency occurs you still need a perceptive, licensed driver on hand to take over. You can't manage emergencies properly if you're turned around or watching TV. I would hope such behavior would be criminalized as negligence.

If you want to watch TV, ride a train or get on a bus - or sit in the passenger seat.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#41206395)

Minority report had an interesting vision : 4 seats facing each other in front of a small table. The direction of the car is irrelevant.

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206635)

and in that movie there where still manual drive only areas / roads

Re:Get used the idea, I'm afraid (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41206449)

I actually look forward to this, and wonder how it will change the interior design of cars. Will we turn the front seat around and go for a more social living room style arrangement? Will we dispense with the view from the front windshield in favour of an immersive large-screen TV? Beds for those long drives? Will we have refrigerators and microwaves so we can get breakfast on the morning commute? The possibilities are awesome.

An autopilot in your RV and you're already there. In more ways than one.

As a bonus, since they only go 45 mph in straight lines, the system should be pretty easy to set up. Lots of room for hardware and you can use the CPU as a stove top.

I'm gonna write Winnebago right now...

In Soviet California (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206151)

Car drives you!

You know you were all thinking it.

In other news Google announce California to get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206167)

...street view "live" !

And Yet (-1, Offtopic)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41206283)

your going to nanny nag me to death with stupid ass labels on everything telling me its going to kill me

Google WheelDroid RacerX custom firmware (1)

tstrunk (2562139) | about 2 years ago | (#41206293)

Can't wait to jailbreak my Google WheelDroid car to tinker with its firmware and make it go faster by compiling -O9.

Self navigating cargo ships (3, Interesting)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 2 years ago | (#41206497)

Somewhat off topic, I know. But if we're going to have auto-driving/piloting, then wouldn't self-navigating ships be more important, from a practical perspective? (Though I can see the fun and technological offshoots in designing self-driving cars.)

Self navigating cargo ships might need to be be piloted manually when leaving and entering docks (at least to start with), but in the open oceans they could auto-navigate and be centrally monitored.

Open water piracy would take a dent as there would be no crew to kidnap, and there would be no incentive for ship owners to follow pirates' demands to reroute ships. After all, if you're going to lose a ship and its cargo either way, then might as well do it by not appeasing pirates.

It would also mean that ships would not be piloted by crews who try to navigate tricky waters to cut corners.

Good Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206549)

Saftey critical systems require less then 1 fatality in 10^9 hours of continual operation. That's 114000 years of non stop operation. Good Luck.

San Angeles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41206581)

We're seeing the birth of the San Angeles Police Department. By the way, you are fined 1 demerit for violation of the verbal morality statute.

Re:San Angeles (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41206649)

and I will take the verbal morality statute all the way to the supreme court under my 1st amendment rights.

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