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California Legalizes Self Driving Cars

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the third-place-leaders-of-the-free-world dept.

AI 508

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Seattle PI reports that California has become the third state to explicitly legalize driverless vehicles, setting the stage for computers to take the wheel along the state's highways and roads ... 'Today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality,' said Gov. Brown. 'This self-driving car is another step forward in this long, march of California pioneering the future and leading not just the country, but the whole world.' The law immediately allows for testing of the vehicles on public roadways, so long as properly licensed drivers are seated at the wheel and able to take over. It also lays out a roadmap for manufacturers to seek permits from the DMV to build and sell driverless cars to consumers. Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at Stanford's Center for Automotive Research points to a statistical basis for safety that the DMV might consider as it begins to develop standards: 'Google's cars would need to drive themselves (by themselves) more than 725,000 representative miles without incident for us to say with 99 percent confidence that they crash less frequently than conventional cars. If we look only at fatal crashes, this minimum skyrockets to 300 million miles. To my knowledge, Google has yet to reach these milestones.'"

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Must past this test (3, Interesting)

o5770 (2739857) | about 2 years ago | (#41465415)

Here is a scenario where if a self-driving car can pass 100% of the time, then I would deem it safe to get into.

Driving on a mountain road around a sharp corner where there is a steep cliff on the right side. Auto-car is passed on the left by some *sshole "manual" driver, but then the *sshat driver cuts in short because of oncoming traffic at the last second. Robo-driver identifies there is suddenly a car intruding into its safe-T-zone (TM) and does what its programming tells it to do, avoid hitting other vehicles. So the self-driving wonder swerves right to avoid the other car and zooms off the cliff.

A human driver would recognize that hitting the other car in this instance is the safer solution then to go careening off the steep cliff.

I agree that a self-driving car can work, and 99% of the time will perform adequately to protect its occupants from disaster. But since we have not mastered true AI yet, all self-driven cars will be built with flaws in their logic that will fail catastrophically. "Avoid hitting all cars", for instance, is not a good enough directive to ensure the safety of the occupants in 100% of all situations.

Someone mentioned that the deaths caused by self-driven cars would be far less then manual drivers, but then I would disagree that any technology introduced on the highways would be adequate to allow any fatality, especially in scenarios where a human driver may have been able to avoid death.

Basically what I am waiting for is the inevitable 100 car pile up with massive fatalities that WILL occur at some point in time where investigation will identify that a self-driven car, or cars, was the cause of it. Any company involved in programming or manufacturing that self-driven car will be sued out of existence and the "love affair" everyone seems to have about auto-driving cars will end quickly.

I am amazed at how delusional governments are into so quickly allowing this technology on the roads, sounds to me like there is some massive lobbying going on to short-cut the necessary amount of time to test auto-driven cars under all senarios, not just ones in controlled and predictable setups like we have seen. 5 years ago robo-cars could not drive around a dirt track, now they are quickly being allowed on our highways. That just is irresponsible.

Re:Must past this test (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465457)

A human won't pass that test 100% of the time either, so I'm not sure what your point is about 100%. It's all statistics.

Re:Must past this test (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465487)

Why would a self driving car ever drive off a cliff?
Clearly it would rank available options and pick the lowest cost one. The cheapest collision in that case.

Human drivers allow fatalities everyday. The question is not is it better than some hypothetical human driver, but is it better than the drivers we have right now.

5 years ago the tech to do this was not cheap enough, now it is. This is called progress not being irresponsible. What is irresponsible is suggesting that the average person continue to drive automobiles when we have a better solution at hand.

Re:Must past this test (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41465939)

The question is not is it better than some hypothetical human driver, but is it better than the drivers we have right now.

No, the question is: is it better than me?

If not, I don't want it driving my car.

Re:Must past this test (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465975)

No that question is; Is the car a better driver than me when I am sleep deprived, upset at my wife and in a hurry to get home?

The computer will always drive the same, humans are not the reliable.

Re:Must past this test (2)

Fauxbo (1393095) | about 2 years ago | (#41465989)

For 99% of people the subjective answer will be 'no', but the objective answer will be 'yes'.

Guess which one will win?

Re:Must past this test (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | about 2 years ago | (#41466089)

I accidentally modded you down, so I'm using this comment to negate it.

Re:Must past this test (3, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#41465503)

I note that in the USA, the pass rate of the driving test in general exceeds 50% by a considerable margin.
This is not due to great tuition and driver skill and knowledge.
Also, a number of other safety features that would considerably reduce deaths are not implemented.

If the autodriver is safer than the average auto driver, ...

Re:Must past this test (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41465531)

That may be a problem in the lawsuit happy USA, but in the rest of the world, self driving cars will improve by leaps and bounds. Anyhoo, a self driving car crashing, is an industrial accident, there are already laws for that.

Re:Must past this test (1)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#41465871)

... but in the rest of the world, self driving cars will improve by leaps and bounds...

Depending on where in the world you are, this might be a necessity. Observing the driving habits I've seen in many countries of the far east and parts of southern europe, self driving cars *better* improve by leaps and bounds just to survive!

Re:Must past this test (1, Insightful)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 years ago | (#41465551)

My first gut instinct is, this is bad, bad, bad.. but then I think of the stupid beatch in the Hyundai that blew by me at 85mph, then cut into my lane, making me slam my brakes on while driving to work this morning.. so maybe it's not so bad.

Re:Must past this test (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465601)

If she "blew by you" then cut into your lane, you probably didn't need to slam on your brakes.

Re:Must past this test (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 years ago | (#41465741)

No, you read it a little too literally, what I gave was the gist of the situation: first, she blew by me, then couldn't proceed any further because she quickly came up to the back bumper of a car in her lane that was going slower than everyone else, so she had to slow down; then she decided my lane was better..so she cut me off as she squeezed over between me and the car in front of me, when there definitely wasn't a safe amount of space to do that. Jesus, did you want a second by second account with video too?

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465797)

he's one of those assholes that goes 45 on the highway, but speeds up the moment anyone tries to pass him. So the other car ends up getting to 85 just to get around him, and then he has to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting her.

Re:Must past this test (4, Insightful)

rich_hudds (1360617) | about 2 years ago | (#41465563)

I think you're entirely wrong.

A much more likely scenario is that the self driving cars prove statistically to be safer than human driven cars.

At that point expect legislation to ban humans from driving.

Imagine trying to defend yourself in court if you've caused a fatal accident.

'Why did you turn off the computer when you know it is proven to be safer?'

Re:Must past this test (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465649)

We can only hope that driving tests become harder and harder and only those who pass them will be allowed to drive themselves.

Why would you ever want to turn off the automated driver? Do you think rich folks are constantly putting their limo driver in the back and taking the wheel themselves?

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465971)

you ever want to turn off the automated driver?

How about driving is fun and getting carried is not.

Re:Must past this test (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41466003)

Driving on a track is lots of fun, on the public roads it is very boring if you are driving safely.

Re:Must past this test (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41466099)

no but rewatching firefly, sleeping, palying games on my tablet is fun whice unless you are an horrible driver are not thing you should be doing while driving

Re:Must past this test (2)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 2 years ago | (#41465997)

For the foreseeable future, there will be times when it's necessary to disable the autodriver. New roads that aren't in the GPS system, for example, or private driving areas (e.g., parking lots) that aren't well-mapped.

And sometimes it's just more fun to drive the car yourself.

Re:Must past this test (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 2 years ago | (#41466077)

For the foreseeable future, there will be times when it's necessary to disable the autodriver. New roads that aren't in the GPS system, for example, or private driving areas (e.g., parking lots) that aren't well-mapped.

And sometimes it's just more fun to drive the car yourself.

I just replaced my Android-powered car with an iOS 6, and the maps aren't up to par yet.

Re:Must past this test (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41465675)

'Why did you turn off the computer when you know it is proven to be safer?'

"Because my brain operates at a frequency modern computers cannot even begin to match, and it cannot be hacked."

Re:Must past this test (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465713)

1. your reaction time is absolute crap.
2. advertisers disagree with your notion that human brains cannot be hacked.

Re:Must past this test (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465785)

Incorrect, your brain operates at somewhere around 100hz, it's just massively parallel in a scale we cannot even begin to match

*yet^

^Providing you don't count large supercomputing projects that can simulate smallish fractions of the human brain.

Re:Must past this test (5, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41465877)

1) You reaction time is far worse than a computer.
2) Your estimation of distances is far worse than machines absolute measurements.
3) You are limited to two forward facing eyes, augmented by 3 small mirrors. And you share some of the vision time with looking at the dash. An auto-car can look in all directions at once, and monitor all dashboard information and more at the same time.
4) An auto-driver will be better at maintaining a safe speed. Able to stop in the distance it knows to be clear far more often than a human driver.
5) I'd expect an auto-driver system to be seperate from any other computing devices in the car, and connected to the internet or any other vector for hacking. I'd expect them to be as immune to hacking as an auto-pilot system in a plane.

Re:Must past this test (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465591)

First, you seem to be assuming the current cars would not pass this test.

Second, you're assuming all driving situations are appropriate for these vehicles, e.g. winding mountain roads as opposed to straight, flat highways.

Third, as has been pointed out, what is the current pass rate on this test for human drivers?

Re:Must past this test (1)

trancemission (823050) | about 2 years ago | (#41465597)

As you seem to like statistics, I don't think the cars will be 'self driving' 100% of the time. If I was 'driving' the car and came accross a steep drop - I would take control.

Are you expecting to just hop in your car and fall asleep and let your car take you to your destination?

You might aswell keep dreaming for flying cars all over the place...

Re:Must past this test (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465663)

Why would you take over?
This is a task a machine will always beat you at, it depends mostly on reaction time.

Yes, I expect to have my car come pick me up from the bar and drive my drunk self home. Otherwise this is pointless.

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465809)

Well there might be situations like a cliff that aren't handled better than a human by the program. In those cases you could mark the road on gps and force the human to take control if they want to take that route.

Re:Must past this test (2)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about 2 years ago | (#41465907)

Yeah, and cruise control is stupid because you can't use it all the time, too.

If I have a hammer I have to use it for every single task I have, otherwise what's the point of owning a hammer?

Re:Must past this test (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41466027)

Way to find analogies that totally suck.

If you have to watch the computer driving at all time and be ready to take over instantly that is torture not a method of transportation.

Re:Must past this test (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41465707)

If I was 'driving' the car and came accross a steep drop - I would take control.

Why? It's not an unexpected obstacle. By the time autodrivers are allowed in consumer cars you can expect the auto-driver to be able to deal with it better than you can.

Are you expecting to just hop in your car and fall asleep and let your car take you to your destination?

Yes. I see no reason why at some point in the future an auto-driver will be a statistically safer driver than I am. So why not?

Re:Must past this test (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#41465771)

If I was 'driving' the car and came accross a steep drop - I would take control.

As someone mentioned below .. if your "driverless car" experience is to sit there waiting to take control of the device when you sense that it is about to get into trouble, then that is going to be a stressful and shitty experience. You might as well have been driving yourself all of the time.

"Prepare for crash" code ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#41465605)

... does what its programming tells it to do, avoid hitting other vehicles ...

Its a bit of an assumption to believe that the driving software has that single goal. Staying on the road seems to be something the software is already considering. I wouldn't be surprised if existing software already has "prepare for crash" code that tightens seat belts, unlocks doors, ... maybe even sends an "oh shit" text message to the road side assistance service.

Re:"Prepare for crash" code ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465689)

Most cars already have some of this. Hit the brakes too hard and the seatbelts tighten. I would imagine you are correct and this will only get better and better.

Some sort of inflato hans-device would be awesome. Of course I always wanted a 5 point harness in my cars.

Re:"Prepare for crash" code ... (1)

o5770 (2739857) | about 2 years ago | (#41465825)

Most cars already have some of this. Hit the brakes too hard and the seatbelts tighten.

That's not some magical AI, it's mechanical function.

Re:"Prepare for crash" code ... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465959)

Yes, and your point is?

This is something we do without AI, with AI we could do a lot more. Maybe even have airbags on the outside of the car, to set off right before a crash.

Re:Must past this test (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41465609)

The plan to allow test vehicles to cover a large number of miles and then compare collision/fatality stats with human drivers is the correct one. It's quite likely that the auto-driver will make different mistakes than the typical human driver. For the sake of argument, suppose it has a greater tendancy to make the mistake you outline than a human driver does. That doesn't matter if it also avoids more collisions and fatalities in other scenarios. If the stats say you get fewer collisions and fatalities with auto-drivers, then it would be madness not to allow them.

Re:Must past this test (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#41465611)

So the self-driving wonder swerves right to avoid the other car and zooms off the cliff. A human driver would recognize that hitting the other car in this instance is the safer solution then to go careening off the steep cliff.

Someone has never, ever taken an AI class. Or even an algorithm class dealing with risk. Here's how the calculation actually works (and by the way, that approach is about 20-30 years old).
Every situation is assessed an impact value: driving into oncoming traffic, 0 (very bad); driving into the right ditch, 10; swerving into a legal lane, 50; etc. Every situation is given a set of possible actions, with each action having a probability of being completed successfully. The algorithm multiplies the outcome with the odds of achieving that outcome, and picks the highest value. You can set it up in different ways, but the idea is the same: multiply outcome severity with odds of achieving outcome, pick lowest combined risk/outcome. In your situation, driving off the cliff (which is assumed to be very bad, since the car can see a very steep drop-off with no bottom) is going to have a much worse outcome than hitting the car in front of it. Hitting the car in front of it is guaranteed, but so is driving off the cliff. As a result, the algorithm will make the automated car hit the car in front of it, rather than drive off the cliff.

Not to mention that cars don't sleep, always behave optimally (according to the algorithms in place), and have no blind spots.

Basically what I am waiting for is the inevitable 100 car pile up with massive fatalities that WILL occur at some point in time where investigation will identify that a self-driven car, or cars, was the cause of it.

You mean like the ones that regularly happen in fog and icy/rainy conditions?

Any company involved in programming or manufacturing that self-driven car will be sued out of existence and the "love affair" everyone seems to have about auto-driving cars will end quickly.

That is a very real risk. Not sure how the laws will deal with it. But until that question is addressed, we won't see large-scale sales of automated cars. I suspect that we'll see the equivalent of ToS: by using this car, you agree to be fully responsible for all its actions and accidents.

Re:Must past this test (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#41465701)

You missed a cost.
thisAlgorithmBecomingSkynetCost=-999999999

Re:Must past this test (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41465799)

I don't think it is a question of the algorithm, but rather a question on the computer's ability to recognize the situation accurately. Machine vision has improved a lot, but is it to the point that it can recognize all the situations brought up in the OP. Maybe it can, but I think the only real test is extended real world testing.

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465861)

That is a very real risk. Not sure how the laws will deal with it. But until that question is addressed, we won't see large-scale sales of automated cars. I suspect that we'll see the equivalent of ToS: by using this car, you agree to be fully responsible for all its actions and accidents.

No-one - with the possible exception of a few of the top engineers working on the thing, or maybe an insurance actuary who studies self-driven cars - can actually agree to that in a fully informed manner. Far better would be some kind of insurance agreement between the car manufacturer, the owner, and possibly/probably a third party insurer.

Re:Must past this test (3)

BaronAaron (658646) | about 2 years ago | (#41465721)

The system just needs a rapid manual override and a little common sense from the driver.

I see self driving cars as an evolution of cruise control. Just as cruise control gets out of your way as soon as you manually press the accelerator or brake the auto drive system should get out of your way as soon as you move the steering wheel.

Also, drivers should take responsibility when they feel it's safe to engage the auto drive. I wouldn't use cruise control on a narrow mountain road, neither would I use auto drive. I would love to be able kick on auto drive on a long boring highway though and focus on a phone call or whatever.

Note for Mods (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41465743)

Troll does not mean that you disagree with an opinion. I disagree with the OP, but he brings up logical points that you can at least counter. Mods who downvote posts like the above should have their mod rights taken away.

Re:Must past this test (4, Interesting)

Altanar (56809) | about 2 years ago | (#41465773)

Self driving cars *never* swerve. They brake. Statistically they know that swerving almost always is worse than the incoming accident. Humans on the other hand will swerve. See all the accidents that occur when attempting to miss an animal crossing the road.

A better test (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41465931)

Just let them do whatever they want but don't provide any exemption of liability. When they are prepared to bet the company in lawsuits, then the cars is probably safe enough. Just remember, when 2 of them crash, there is not question who caused the accident/damage/death. When the company is willing to accept that responsibility I'd give them a shot.

And BTW, the reason this is easier to do today is because brake-by-wire, steer-by-wire, radar systems, etc have already been developed by the auto industry. We've had systems that can drive at highway speeds on winding dirt roads for years. Google did not lead the way - though they are now sharing the leading edge and pushing for legalization.

Re:A better test (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41466125)

No problem, they can do that now.
Just declare bankruptcy and sell the company off for pennies on the dollar to $NOT_CURRENT_NAME.

For a nice example look at what GM did recently.

Re:Must past this test (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41465949)

Driving on a mountain road around a sharp corner where there is a steep cliff on the right side. Auto-car is passed on the left by some *sshole "manual" driver, but then the *sshat driver cuts in short because of oncoming traffic at the last second. Robo-driver identifies there is suddenly a car intruding into its safe-T-zone (TM) and does what its programming tells it to do, avoid hitting other vehicles. So the self-driving wonder swerves right to avoid the other car and zooms off the cliff.

Wasn't this an episode of Knight Rider?

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465999)

I don't think something equiped with lasers, cameras, etc, would opt to drive off a cliff... these things are brighter than most of the drivers I see on the road. How many fender benders aren't reported? how many drive-away accidents? how many "oops hit the curb/sign/garage door"? This standard is much lower than the article mentions.

Picture the same scenario you layed out, add in the sun setting and being right in a human driver's eyes... they press the brakes in those instances, they don't rear end or drive off the road. If Car 1 stops and Car 2 stops, a computer can damn well know how much pressure needs to be applied to stop as fast and avoid other cars much better than you or I can. Best example... when a light turns green every car should theoretically be able to start moving at the same time... we know this is not true... computers are better drivers, soon you won't need to buy a car, just lease it for your errand... it will come pick you up, drop you off, do errands in between, and then drive you home. No need for driveways.

Re:Must past this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41466031)

Solution: outlaw human driving =)

Re:Must past this test (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 2 years ago | (#41466093)

There is another solution to your scenario: The auto-car could apply the brakes. EVERYONE LIVES!

They legalize driverless vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465467)

As long as said vehicles are not actually driverless.

CA Freeways (3, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41465479)

Having lived in CA and driven on the freeways, I can say that you don't need "self driving" cars for the freeways.

All you need is a car that can self park and you are good to go...or...not go.

Re:CA Freeways (5, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41465539)

Anybody with any experience with California drivers knows that most cars in California are already "driverless".

Re:CA Freeways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465575)

True, especially vans driven by moms.

Re:CA Freeways (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465985)


True, especially vans driven by Asian moms.

FTFY

Re:CA Freeways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465557)

Or hybrid muscle car - gasoline engine for the rear occasions where you can drive fast combined with bicycle pedals for the daily commute.

300 million miles (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 2 years ago | (#41465489)

3e8 car mile ~ 3000 cars * 1 year * 35 miles / hour * 8 hours / day * 365 days / year

So if Google wants to reach that milestone, they need to start cranking out those self-driving cars.

Re:300 million miles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465507)

Why only 8 hours a day and why would you only ever drive it at 35 mph?

A self driving car should be able to be on the road at least 20 hours a day. That leaves enough time for fueling and swapping of humans.

Re:300 million miles (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 2 years ago | (#41465547)

You only need 1,000 cars to meet the milestone in 1 year, Driving at 30mph is the mean but 24 hours a day is plausible. And you don't need humans.

Re:300 million miles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465561)

I believe on public roads you do need a human available to take over for legal reasons.

Re:300 million miles (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41465995)

I believe on public roads you do need a human available to take over for legal reasons.

And that worked so well for AF447.

Aviation autopilots should have proven by now that relying on a human to take over when the situation is so bad the autopilot can't handle it is a recipe for disaster. Besides, what's the point of a 'driverless car' if I have to be continually ready to take over at a millisecond's notice?

Car: 'Warning, warning, kid just jumped out in the road, you are in control'.
Driver: "WTF? I just hit a kid and smeared their insides all over my windshield'
Car manufacturer: 'Not our fault, driver was in control, human error'.

The fear of lack of control. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41465511)

The biggest issue with self driving cars is the same issue why people don't like flying, or Cloud Based solutions.

They are taking something and putting their trust to someone or something else.

The only comfort is numbers saying if it is indeed safer or not.

Not me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465653)

If I had a choice between my wife and a self driving car, the self driving car would be my first choice - you have to be there.

Since I hate to drive and half the time I'm sleep deprived, my first choice between me and a self driving car would be the self driving car.

I can only see an upside here.

Actually there is one downside - speed limits. My Garmin gets a lot of speed limits wrong and if Google is as bad, I see a LOT of speeding tickets - especially in South Carolina's 25MPH "Commercial Zones" in their shitty little towns.

Re:The fear of lack of control. (4, Insightful)

Altanar (56809) | about 2 years ago | (#41465695)

As far as I'm concerned, letting humans drive is putting trust in the other human drivers around me, and frankly, I don't trust them at all. I'd feel much safer if manual driving was illegal.

Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 2 years ago | (#41465537)

so... let's do some math here: they'd need to build 1,000 self-driving cars and drive them each 300,000 miles. Or, 10,000 cars for 30,000 each, etc etc

Essentially, the DMV is saying that unless Google installs this in a huge fleet of vehicles then it's a no go. Still, it's a start.

Also, basically the laws say that since someone has to be behind the wheel and ready to take control, what is the person going to do? Sit there for an hour worried that the car is going to fail? That's awful, I'd never in a million years do that.
The whole reason driving is enjoyable is that one can sort of reach a "flow state" while doing it. It keeps you engaged and aware for long periods. Merely sitting there waiting for software to fail on my 15 hour car trip would see me turn into a madman, frankly.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465621)

Driving is enjoyable?
Since when?

Sure a race track is enjoyable, twisty deserted roads can be fun, but 99% of driving is mind numbing boredom.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465873)

So you hate to drive. That makes you a perfect candidate for a driverless car - go on with your bad self. Some of us live in places where the roads aren't mind-numbingly boring, and drive cars - sports cars, muscle cars, hot rods, rat rods, kustoms, exotics, etc. - which make it fun to drive. Your experience != everyone else's.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41465625)

Airline pilots seem to be able to do it without going insane, although, admittedly, they don't need the reaction/response time that a driver does. If Something Bad (TM) happens to the plane's autopilot, you've got (up to) minutes to recover, in a car, possibly (down to) tenths of a second.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (2)

jbrandv (96371) | about 2 years ago | (#41465783)

Tell this to Capt. Sully. When you are travelling over 200 MPH the closing speed is so fast you can't really react fast enough. Um, tell it to the Geese too!
An airline pilots job is hours of boring flights punctuated by moments of shear terror.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465865)

punctuated by moments of being deathly afraid of scissors?

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41465801)

Heck, modern planes even try to fix the problems itself. In the famous case of Colgan Air 3407(crashed near Buffalo NY) after shaking the yoke to alert the pilot the autopilot attempted to trade altitude for speed to get out of a stall. The human pilot overrode this safety feature and killed everyone on board by attempting to gain altitude and thus turned a recoverable stall into a crash.

Re:Numbers, The Law, Reality of Attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41466069)

Please pay attention to what you're reading.

First off, the 300 million mile figure is from a researcher at Stanford, not from the DMV, so the DMV isn't saying that at all.

Second, the new law currently requires a driver ready to take control, because the self-driving cars are considered unproven. I'd expect that once self-driving cars have sufficiently proven themselves (according to whatever criteria the DMV decides), they'll be allowed on the roads without a person ready to take the wheel.

To put it another way, this is an intermediate step before self-driving cars are fully approved. No, it's not useful as a consumer item under these rules, but that's not what these rules are intended for -- they're intended to allow Google (and others) to put their self-driving cars into actual road conditions so they can continue to develop and improve them.

this is how the end begins (1)

atarione (601740) | about 2 years ago | (#41465549)

clearly this is how computers / machines will rise against us...

self driving cars in CA will become ENRAGED by the clueless jackasses you have to deal with driving here.. and will rise up and destroy humanity (doubtless they will enlist the computers of people who don't watch enough cat videos as allies, computers seem to love cat videos).

I for one welcome our new self driving car overloads.

yes this is how the world ends... Self Driving Car ROAD RAGE.. right before you killed by machines remember I called it.

(plus one Informat1ve) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465569)

fly...don't fear The longest or most people into a to work I'm doing, 1f you don't variations on the Faster, cheaper, problem stems [slashdot.org], distributions

I wanna "Ask Slashdot" on this (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#41465585)

I have been thinking about driverless cars and I'd love to ask the people at Google (or where ever) how they cope with several real life issues
 
* Emergency vehicles in general
* Vehicles on the side of the road. In general you move over to the other side (road,next lane etc) to give them some room. But where I am (VA) its an offense if you fail to move over when passing a cop car on the side of the road.
* Temporary speed limits posted during road works
* School zones
* Really bad weather where you can't even see 20 feet ahed of you
* Looking down the road and predicting that there will be an issue and doing your best to avoid it (ie slowing down/lane changing to avoid the person on the phone who is weaving from side to side)
* Crap lying all over the road (saw lots of rocks on a mountain road yesterday)
 
I'm sure there are lots of other "interesting" situations that human drivers have to deal with day to day that would be difficult to encode into hueristics for the self driving cars.

Re:I wanna "Ask Slashdot" on this (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#41465963)

* Temporary speed limits posted during road works
* School zones
* Really bad weather where you can't even see 20 feet ahead of you

Given that speed limit signs are fairly standardized and well-defined, having the system recognize them and act appropriately shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

As for the weather, self-driving cars will have much more flexible sensing than the Mk1 eyeball. Fog, etc. is considerably more transparent to IR and radar than it is to visible light.

The Land of Fruits and Nuts (0)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41465595)

My preconceived notions regarding California have been further reinforced.

Re:The Land of Fruits and Nuts (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41465685)

Why? Because they are taking measured steps toward a possibly better future but able to pull the plug if it presents a public harm?

Re:The Land of Fruits and Nuts (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41465805)

Just let me know which roads they're on so I can avoid them. I have my hands full dodging crazy humans without dealing with our cyberdriver overlords to boot.

If Microsoft made cars... (1)

Aerowin (1798844) | about 2 years ago | (#41465607)

I'm sure you all remember the jokes about if Microsoft made cars (http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/pnw/microsoftjoke.htm). Yes this is Google, but they still have the computer mentality in them.

Re:If Microsoft made cars... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465813)

If Microsoft made cars. [harvard.edu]
(a href="http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/pnw/microsoftjoke.htm")If Microsoft made cars.(/a)
Replace the ( ) with < >

Re:If Microsoft made cars... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#41466037)

Google isn't making the car (The test vehicle is a Prius, IIRC) , just the driver.

Ahhh The Future Belongs To The Machines (4, Funny)

Zamphatta (1760346) | about 2 years ago | (#41465705)

So if I come out of the grocery store and my car's not there, it might not be stolen?

Self driving cars are nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465709)

...honestly the only place I would use them is on expansive highways.
I unfortunately live in Texas, with relatives/family all over the place.
The drive between major cities is long and horribly boring, half the time I'm tempted to just put it in cruise control and smash something on the wheel to keep it going straight.

725,000 ***representative*** miles ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#41465731)

725,000 representative miles

I hope by "representative" they mean diverse traffic and road conditions that represents the various things that a driver will experience over their driving career.

While on this thought I don't expect self-driving vehicles to be universally permitted. There will probably be limitations on the conditions under which an automated driving mode may be used.

As a side note, I believe the FAA adopted a statistical approach to safety regarding civilian space flight. That space flight should be no more hazardous than early commercial airline travel, I think the 1920s was used a baseline. Well at least that was the tentative plan at some point according to a presentation from some folks up at Mohave Spaceport.

Re:725,000 ***representative*** miles ... (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41465919)

There's a lot of weirdness here.

For example, 725k miles for any incident, but if we look at only "fatal" crashes it skyrockets to 300M? There's a disconnect here: if we look at only "fatal" crashes, I'm pretty sure we can smash up Google cars every 30k without killing anyone and make it to 300M.

If you say, "well it has to be 1 in 300M because that's how often a fatal crash occurs and we want to reduce fatal crashes," you're talking about something completely different. 1 crash in 300M miles isn't likely to be 100% fatal; beating 1 in 725k miles reduces the number of actual incidents, which reduces the number of incidents with a likelihood of being fatal, which theoretically should reduce fatal crashes.

Further, if the car handles better than a human, it may reduce damage and injury in crashes. That means if it crashes more often than a human, it may still cause less total injury and less economic costs--a $300 scuffed bumper rather than a $3000 smashed in side panel, a gashed and mashed-in door on a sideswipe rather than a car's front end smashing straight through and crippling the driver on a T-bone, plain old reduced impact speeds due to better braking and faster brake reaction, etc.

I'm sure Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Google can all work something out. Benz has those pre-crash systems (best in the industry); Volvo has reactive braking (alerts the driver, pre-charges the brakes, but doesn't apply braking force until a crash is unavoidable; in a self-driving car, it'd react by suggesting braking to avoid collision to the driving program, which in theory should acknowledge that a likely collision is about to occur and apply brakes along with all other proper maneuvering). If the car is reasonably capable of driving itself, there's no reason it can't reduce incidence and reduce damage in incidents with all these collision prediction systems and automatic pre-crash systems that can brake, steer, and do all kinds of other shit for you.

So what I want to wonder is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465811)

How long do you think it will take for this law to be overturned?

Finally! Better driving! (1)

bdemchak (1099961) | about 2 years ago | (#41465817)

Finally! California has figured out a way to improve the driving on California roads. Can an occasional system crash be any worse than what we see every day?? ... and this way, texting addicts can indulge safely. Sure. :)

Promising but obstacles ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465845)

This has great promise not only for safety but for fuel efficiency and road capacity. I don't know how useful it is to be able to switch to manual control when the car in front of you is only inches away from your bumper and you're doing 90 mph.

But there are going to be lots of problems from water and ice to dust and snow. How to keep the probes clean?

Also, there's bound to be the practical jokers and Asimov-style murders where the perfectly functioning probes are spoofed into fatal crashes without leaving a trace for the investigators.

make them mandatory asap (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41465863)

The sooner we can stop self-entitled douche bags from ruining the roads the better.

If driverless cars are safer ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465885)

then anyone who choses to drive and has an accident is wilfully negligent. Discuss.

If driverless cars are safer, the only logical conclusion is to ban humans from driving.

Afterall, who could possibly oppose making the roads safer?

What's the point.. (1)

planckscale (579258) | about 2 years ago | (#41465891)

...if a driver needs to be behind the wheel? I mean yeah it's great and all you don't need to put your hands and feet anywhere but if you're supposed to be alert watching that the car doesn't make a mistake then what's the difference? You still can't text, read the paper, play cards, eat dinner, whatever - or can you?

Don't let the Law keep ya down (1)

deburg (838010) | about 2 years ago | (#41465893)

Personally, I am pleased that a goverment is pro-actively taking account of new technologies and laying out a road-map.

Until recently, in my country, electric cars were not allowed to being driven on the roads (except on private land), because there was a law requiring each car to have paid road tax. That same law also stated that road tax were calculated based on engine displacement , which is not present on an electric car (duh). As such, until the law was ammended in 2010 (and set to take effect in 2011), the only ECars were golf carts and demo-cars that were ferried on trucks.

Miitgating associated risk of terrorism (1)

Vincent Van Googol (638464) | about 2 years ago | (#41465953)

What is the best way (short of a panopticon) to minimize the inevitable delivery of remotely controlled explosive devices to a target location via one or more driverless (and passengerless) vehicles? I'm assuming here that the bad guys would find a way around initial methods used to ensure a human passenger was present in the vehicle.

Legal Liability? (1)

Bramlet Abercrombie (1435537) | about 2 years ago | (#41466015)

Who is legally responsible if a driverless car causes property damage or bodily injury? Will insurance companies cover these cars?

What's the point? (1)

Drunkulus (920976) | about 2 years ago | (#41466017)

Why is this being developed? If saving lives were the issue, we could start on that with simple driver training. Germany requires a week of driver ed. in order to get a license, and although they have many roadways without a speed limit, they have half the rate of fatalities that the US does.

They will fail and here's why (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41466039)

  • They don't tailgate - you're not a real California driver unless you've driving 1 mm off the bumber of the car ahead of you.
  • They don't drive at unsafe speeds for road conditions - speeding & tailgating in the rain is a California speciality
  • They won't pass in the bike lane or on shoulder of the road - if you don't like our driving, stay off the sidewalk
  • They won't stop and hold up traffic, despite having the right of way, to wave through someone who clearly doesn't have it or is waiting for them to get through the stop so they can go, because they don't realize the other driver thinks they're being "nice"
  • They won't go the speed of traffic, which is usually 15 MPH faster than the speed limit, thus causing a lot of accidents as other drivers try to get around them

Exemptions (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41466053)

Californina and Florida have added a retroactive exemption for large Cadillacs driven only by wizened knuckles and the tops of bouffant hairdos.

Got nothing on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41466103)

We've had self-posting bots for years.

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