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Tesla, Ford, Amazon Hint At Cloudy Future For Cars

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the where-the-processor-meets-the-road dept.

Google 231

Nerval's Lobster writes "The automobile, once the most analog of technologies, is rapidly becoming a smartphone on wheels: Amazon announced Feb. 13 that Ford SYNC Applink-equipped vehicles will include the Amazon Cloud Player, allowing drivers to access their music libraries via voice command or dashboard controls. Ford isn't the only automotive company seeking to integrate cloud computing into the driving experience. Tesla Motors' Model S electric sedan boasts a 17-inch capacitive touch-screen in place of the usual dashboard buttons and dials. And who could forget Google's self-driving car? This isn't a future everybody wants—there are more than a few wannabe Steve McQueens who won't feel complete unless they can stomp on a pedal connected to an internal-combustion engine, flick a physical dashboard knob to the radio station of their choice, and peel out their driveway in a cloud of burning rubber. But as the latest technology migrates into automobiles, it could well be the future we're going to receive."

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Cloudy future! (3, Funny)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892635)

Oh! I see what you did there!

Cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892637)

The more things you add to a car that distract the driver the less safe they'll be.

Entirely unrelated: the more digital cars get the more unreliable they will become.

Re:Cognitive science (5, Insightful)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892789)

It already costs a good amount to get, for example, a basic replacement temperature control knob thing, whatever the hell the proper name for it is. I don't want to know what a 17" touchscreen will cost, even a decade into the future, just to get your fan/heater/AC controls working again. I really do not like the way cars are heading; even without the cost, who says I want all this bullshit? Seriously, the more computerized they make cars, the more revolting they get.

Re:Cognitive science (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893105)

well.. that depends..

the 17" touchscreen instead of proper controls is actually a cost cutting measure. less designing, less tooling, less commitment early on in the design phase.

so a 17" touchscreen should be easier to source than exotic lever systems.

Re:Cognitive science (4, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893349)

It's not just the touchscreen either as it'll be a whole assembly, which certainly will not scale in the consumer's favor 10 years after the car was built.

Re:Cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893417)

But really, touchscreens for dashboards? this is dangerous.

I can just feel my way through the dials and buttons and find the correct one without taking my eyes off the road.

With a touchscreen there is no choice.

Add to this the inevitable tendency of makers to cram loads of tiny buttons on the touchscreen and one will need whole seconds of attention on the touchscreen for the most basic tasks!

Re:Cognitive science (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893635)

It will be more expensive. Mercedes asked me the equivalent of $150 to replace my side mirror. Only the glass - no enclosure. And I have to give them my details for the privilege of buying it. You'll be paying $2000 if your 17" monitor cracks.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894515)

Mercedes asked me the equivalent of $150 to replace my side mirror. Only the glass - no enclosure.

Just use an independent garage. Even better, get a Haynes manual (are they available in the US?), buy the glass online, and fit it yourself. It shouldn't be a difficult job; I once replaced an entire wing mirror (on a Fiat, not a Merc, but it shouldn't be too different), and that was easy. Took less than half an hour.

It shouldn't affect the warranty either, assuming it's still got one.

Re:Cognitive science (2)

umghhh (965931) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893317)

Indeed. I think however that as with any trend it will evolve. I think cars becoming more sophisticated (well ....) become also more and more expensive. It may be that automation of driving experience may be at t he same time expensive for a common owner and cheap if used as a service. If these things can drive by themselves why not let them drive the whole day long instead of two commuting drives a day plus some odd shopping, cinema, massage parlor drives a week? I can imagine that you live in a metropolitan area this may be a good choice and one enforced by raising prices. I do not mind if that were the case. OC car companies would not appreciate that this much as such new trend would mean less cars sold but if I look at our streets and park lots I see too many cars not too few and frankly owning a car is a nuisance unless you live in a countryside. I have already met people leasing cars: one for commuting and common needs and another for holidays etc. Moving this direction would be perfect for me and I think plenty of other folks that do not want to bother having a car and caring for its maintenance etc. Hell if I had real brains I would patent the idea the hell out of public domain.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893371)

I was really interested in the Tesla S, until I saw the interior and found that everything is operated from the large touch screen display.

No thanks. I will only buy a car with knobs and buttons for radio and climate controls.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893451)

Yeah. Could you imagine driving one summer evening as the sun begins to lower behind you, and it's shining with all its brightness right onto your screen? How are you supposed to do anything... adjust fans, temperature, radio, and whatever else if you have to rely on that now-useless LCD screen? Waiting until I turn off or just hoping you'll get lucky that thick enough clouds cover it don't exactly sound like very good options. Very, very bad design.

Re:Cognitive science (2)

donstenk (74880) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893683)

Touch screens are a really bad and dangerous idea in cars if not coupled with very good voice control. I briefly used Pioneer's App Radio and found it a good idea but utterly dangerous to even change radio channel whilst driving.

Knobs and buttons all the way!

Re:Cognitive science (2)

jackherer (82221) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894137)

I'm currently repairing my friends car made in 1999 that has the heater controls on a 7" LCD. It's not touchscreen, it uses physical controls but the setting is shown on the screen and it is impossible to even demist the windows without it.

The replacement is prohibitively expensive but used units are available from end of life cars, however they may not last very long and the labour involved in fitting them is very lengthy.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894341)

Not entirely true. If some of these components are standardized, then the cost of producing a few thousand mechanical airconditioning control systems for your 97 saturn might be higer than the cost of producing 10 million capacitive touchscreens.

Downside is, if the touchscreen breaks, all your controls break. Its a bit of a tradeoff. And if you want a basic basic car, get a Tata Nano.

tactile feedback (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894411)

I don't want to know what a 17" touchscreen will cost, even a decade into the future, just to get your fan/heater/AC controls working again.

More than that: I can work the controls on my 2003 Golf TDI without taking my eyes off the road. The folks at VW did their homework enough that most knobs and buttons having a unique enough feel and movement that I can adjust settings (audio, HVAC) with my right hand while keeping my left hand on the wheel, and my eyes on the road because of the tactile feedback.

I cannot see how the same thing can be done with an all-screen control panel.

I wouldn't against a large screen for information display, with touch functionality, but I also want (properly designed) knobs as well.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894677)

Companies who get much of their revenues on massively overpriced, ah excuse me "high margin" proprietary spare parts.

Re:Cognitive science (5, Interesting)

capaslash (941889) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892827)

I agree. Cell phones and texting and all that jazz is making crashes more common. It's killing people, literally. It's as bad as driving drunk, some people have said. I just bought a '12 Civic Si and I plan on driving it for 10+ years, so I don't have to worry about tech ruining my ride. Stick shift n' clutch all the way, baby. Electronic doodads are just a sideshow anyways. The real advancement in automobile tech will be whatever energy source dethrones these godawful fossil fuels we use to power vehicles.

Re:Cognitive science (2)

korgitser (1809018) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892959)

commenting to remove my accidental -1. mod parent underrated.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893167)

Funny, i passed on the Civic partly because the instrument cluster was too hi-tech. Went with the '11 Corolla with a more standard instrument cluster.

Re:Cognitive science (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892851)

Entirely unrelated: the more digital cars get the more unreliable they will become.

You realize cars have been almost completely computer-controlled for about a decade? Digital isn't to be equated with unreliable, bad design is.

Re:Cognitive science (1)

The Snowman (116231) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894089)

The more things you add to a car that distract the driver the less safe they'll be.

Distractions aside, let's say it is the middle of February and I am trying to operate this thing at 6:30 AM, like I will be in a few minutes from now when I leave for work. Let us also assume the touch screen has similar tactile properties to my smartphone.

I doubt this will work with gloves on. If I take off my gloves, my fingertips will be hard as rock and that also does not work. In my experience, touch screens require fingers that are not too dry, not too wet, not too cold/hard. Winter could make these things nearly impossible to use, which would create a catch-22 if these things control the heater and defrost.

I will take my old school knobs any day. I can operate them by feel, increasing safety. They work the same regardless of what the weather or season is.

Another thing that will annoy me the next time I buy a car is crap like putting an iPhone port in it. Great: my family uses Android. Even if we did use iPhone, you know the next version that Apple shits out will change the connector anyway. Why not focus on the technology under the hood and stop feeling compelled to add the latest buzzword to the dashboard?

Cloud (1)

trdtaylor (2664195) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892643)

Just what I need, the reliability of Amazon cloud systems in my vehicle.

Re:Cloud (3, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892661)

To be honest I would trust amazon more than the average driver.

The main issue is probably privacy, but the internet is doing a good
job of getting rid of that anyway.

Yea, I like a physical knob (5, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892649)

it doesnt move depending on what mode my screen is in or require me to look to change the volume

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892695)

I agree with this 100% and it's one of my biggest pet peeves about modern head units, onscreen displays are really unsafe. The one thing I want more than hardware buttons though is a single hardware button that tells my smartphone over Bluetooth to listen for a voice command, I don't want a head unit with built in apps that will be dead long before the 10-12 year typical car life, I want a standard way to use my more or less disposable smartphone.

On a related topic, when do we get voice control of Amazon cloud player for Android/iOS?

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892831)

I agree with this 100% and it's one of my biggest pet peeves about modern head units, onscreen displays are really unsafe. The one thing I want more than hardware buttons though is a single hardware button that tells my smartphone over Bluetooth to listen for a voice command, I don't want a head unit with built in apps that will be dead long before the 10-12 year typical car life, I want a standard way to use my more or less disposable smartphone.

This, this, a thousand times this.

Touch screen units require me to take my eyes off the road.

Also, I drive a car built in 2006, the stock head unit doesn't even have a USB port, I have to use this archaic device called a "Compact Disc" to transport music. I'm half surprised I'm I dont need a stone tablet.

How the hell do Ford/BWM/GM et al know what technology I'll want in a car 10 years from now. With my 2006 Integra, I can replace the head unit with minimal fuss (well as soon as I find a wiring loom for it) but BWM are integrating the head unit into the car. With BMW you dont have to worry so much as they'll keep making updates (and installing them onto old Bimmers for a not so modest fee) but the likes of Ford and Hyundai? Hyundai dont give a shit about the i30's they sold last week, let alone an Elantra they sold 5 years ago.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892979)

BMW is the biggest ass rapist in the auto industry. Their cars are shit and their customers are sniveling little cunts.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894001)

I think you mean Audi, mate.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (1)

feld (980784) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894529)

Quattro is great. Audi's might have their warts but they're head and shoulders better than BMWs.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893165)

My '12 Challenger R/T has a USB port, in the center cubby, not in the dash though... It's also a 1.5 DIN unit, though not that common, is a pretty standard size, though double-din or single-din would have been preferred. Never used a CD.. though I did get the version I wanted as it had the best engine available without requiring leather seats (I'm in AZ), or sat-nav...

Would love to see the stereo have very basic functionality, but when paired with a smart phone simply be a screen + voice command interface for said device....

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (4, Informative)

kombipom (1274672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892971)

Those kinds of controls have all moved to on-the-steering-wheel buttons. And presumably most of the controls are going to be voice activated soon, via all this fancy computing you seem so opposed to (on /. FFS).

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893121)

you either have the physical buttons or you don't. if you move everything to steering wheel then you still have them, they're just on steering wheel.

but the 17" touchscreen is useful only when you're parked or if it's being used by the passenger.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (1)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893003)

Don't worry, they'll have the logs to prove it was your fault.

Re:Yea, I like a physical knob (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893273)

Yea, I like a physical knob

That's what she said.

I hope they figure it out (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892677)

This stuff has a ways to go. It's a major software undertaking to get it all to work. As an example, we recently bought a Prius with some web-enabled computer thingy in the dashboard. It's supposed to talk to the smartphone via Bluetooth and do all sorts of stuff. However, according to a list published by Toyota, only half of the integration features work properly with our iPhones. Basic things such as MP3 song time display are missing.

Re:I hope they figure it out (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892815)

You bought the worst cuntmobile ever made and you're worried about your iCunt integration? Your problem is that you're a cunt. Fix that and everything else will take care of itself.

Re:I hope they figure it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892839)

...we recently bought a Prius

Well, aren't YOU special ?

Stay the FUCK out of the fast lane with that ugly pile of shit,
you trend-following sheep.

Re:I hope they figure it out (1)

kwerle (39371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893019)

we recently bought a Prius with some web-enabled computer thingy in the dashboard... with our iPhones. Basic things such as MP3 song time display are missing.

That sounds wrong. Certainly our prius and iDevices communicate track information correctly.

Dude (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892685)

Until that key moment when the Royal American Federation prohibits manual control that you'd actually lose your freedom, & that's not due for another 50 years. Besides, road deaths account for 1/50 of all deaths; we COULD undo that cause of death almost entirely, but no, let's just let them die because people might end up too stupid to know how to turn the governor off & then can't play IRL Mario Kart.

Re:Dude (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892861)

Besides, road deaths account for 1/50 of all deaths;

Road deaths are a GOOD thing.

Road deaths happen mostly to idiots, and this is cleaning the gene
pool, which is badly in need of cleaning.

Re:Dude (4, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893095)

Road deaths happen mostly to idiots and whomever they hit, and this is cleaning the gene

There fixed.
On another note, how about we start this cleansing with you?

I didn't think there was anything worse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892693)

I didn't think there was anything worse; but in the rush to jam inappropriate technology into everything, they've outdone themselves. I'm going to have to replace my canonical, "I can't use my word processor, the network is down" with "I can't start the car, the network is down".

Yet another thing to update (3, Insightful)

HWguy (147772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892699)

Except most of the manufacturers won't want to expend the effort to keep their old products up-to-date. Look forward to drive-by hackings of your buggy car firmware. And new web technologies relegating your $60k+ car to the status of a 5 year old PC.

New cars suck (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892705)

The golden age of automotive technology was 1946-1965. Plastics and electronics ruined them. The snot-nosed little cunts who need ABS and traction control should ride a short bus and wear a hockey helmet.

Re:New cars suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892903)

The golden age of automotive technology was 1946-1965. Plastics and electronics ruined them. The snot-nosed little cunts who need ABS and traction control should ride a short bus and wear a hockey helmet.

The guy who posted the above is correct.

That the post was modded down just proves what
kind of fools inhabit this place.

The world has been dumbed down so the weak, stupid,
and inept have been able to survive when 1,000 years ago
they would have been dead very quickly.

When society collapses, we will go back to the old ways, and
tech-loving nerds will become either food, fertilizer, or slaves.

Re:New cars suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894053)

The golden age of automotive technology was 1946-1965. Plastics and electronics ruined them. The snot-nosed little cunts who need ABS and traction control should ride a short bus and wear a hockey helmet.

Cars are only for the snot-nosed little cunts who are not able to use and maintain a standard horse buggy!

Re:New cars suck (2)

Drethon (1445051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894581)

I've got an 05 car without anitlocks or traction control and an 08 car with both. Guess which one I drive in heavy winter weather? Just because the last fifty miles were cleared perfectly doesn't mean the 500 ft when I want to be able to stop aren't pure ice. I want all the "oh shit where did my dry road go" gizmos on my car I can get since I can't spot ice a few hundred feet ahead of me in the dark.

Re:New cars suck (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894663)

I am an experienced mechanic who loves old cars. Your post is bullshit.

Those cars were simple, pretty, unreliable, maintenance-intensive, and did a fine job of killing their passengers in a crash. Their brakes were garbage (front drums, single master cylinders) which is why brake shops in mountainous areas were a common sight.

Your post is nonsense and deserves no respect. I grew up working on those rides. It's no accident that many modern owners update them so they actually steer and stop.

Feature bloat is not necessary, but sells cars. I can and do work on my modern vehicles and don't pay anyone else to wrench them. The way to repair modern vehicles reasonably is the same as ever. Use good parts from salvage with a few new bits as needed. I've built many cars and trucks for a used car lot where we did this. It's standard. I'd rather bolt on factory parts as assemblies to save time and labor, so salvage rules.

I'm disgusted with "mechanics" who won't learn modern systems. Modern hot rodders take full advantage of improved ignition control and fuel management, so there is no excuse for snivelling.

Modern CNC production methods are what make TODAY the new Golden Age of performance. It's cheaper and easier to maintain your beloved antiques than ever before. The aftermarket has plenty of support for whatever you want to do.

I'd get off your lawn but I can't find it and suspect it's located in Atlantis.

Touchscreen dashes in cars (2)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892721)

A touchscreen dash is an absolutely horrid idea. Physical buttons can be accessed via muscle memory. A dynamic control with zero tactile feedback requires you to focus on it for every function. How can anyone in the automotive industry not see this as an enormous liability?

Having a video or computer display in the line of sight of the driver is already illegal in most states (distraction) and having a computer in the front seat of a vehicle is illegal in at least California. I can't help but wonder how a 17" touchscreen with computer controls will be viewed by the police and court systems.

Re:Touchscreen dashes in cars (3, Interesting)

AaronW (33736) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892929)

I have played with several touch screen interfaces on cars. I am most experienced with the one in my 2006 Prius. I have also played with them in the Fisker Karma and the Tesla Model S.

It depends on how the touch screen is implemented. The touch screen in my Prius is actually fairly well designed, with most of the important buttons on the edge of the screen. The distraction caused by it is fairly minimal. When playing with the Tesla model S I noticed that they did something similar. The buttons are also fairly large and generally around the outside edge and many of the controls can easily be assigned to the steering wheel.

I have seen other cars where the touch screen is unusable (i.e. the Fisker Karma). The touch screen on the Fisker Karma is horrible and creates a lot of distraction since the buttons are tiny, inconsistent and the screen is very hard to impossible to see during the day. In order to use it one must spend a lot more time looking at it and the buttons are hard to impossible to hit while driving since they are small and have to be hit exactly. It's an accident waiting to happen.

At least with my Prius and the Tesla there is also voice input as well, though it is somewhat limited in my Prius and Tesla's is still under development from what I understand. My Prius also has good steering wheel support for most common functions so I rarely need to access the touch screen for things like the radio and climate control.

Even the touch interface on the Navigation system on my Prius is generally well thought out. My biggest problem with the touch screen on my Prius is that there is sometimes noticeable lag. When I played with the Tesla there was no lag.

On the Tesla one can easily assign different tasks to the steering wheel with no more distraction than looking at the speedometer since the menus are placed to the sides of it. On the Tesla the navigation map is also displayed just to the left of the speedometer as well so one doesn't have to look at the main display.

As far as cloud support, users have already figured out the interface to use Tesla's cloud services in order to access the car, including downloading real-time data. Users have also started creating web based applications for the Tesla. It also looks like Tesla is using the QT toolkit for their touch screen if the web browser identifier string is any indication.

No one will own cars (4, Interesting)

brillow (917507) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892731)

What they are really afraid of is the fact that once cars become self-driving, no one will need to own one anymore.

Technology is actually upended the business model of the entire autoindustry. They might innovate themselves right out of business.

I mean seriously who cares about cloudplayer in a self-driving car? If it can drive itself I'll just leave my earbuds in.

The most common vehicle in 10 years will be the autonomous Dodge caravan, taxiing us all around. Rich people will have maybe their own auto-Bently's or something, but the rest of us will just share a car.

Re:No one will own cars (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892879)

The most common vehicle in 10 years will be the autonomous Dodge caravan, taxiing us all around.

You are dreaming. Actually, it's not a dream, it's a nightmare that only an idiot
would want to see come true.

In ten years people will be driving cars which are much the same as they are now.

Re:No one will own cars (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892895)

the fuck i'll be sharing a car with most of you... you are SLOBS. your cars are NASTY. from smoking to food to children to trash to just plain nasty people. disgusting is a good 25% of the cars on the road.

A minor lesson i learned back when i was a kid i worked at a carwash for a year... and the nasty gross disgusting interiors i saw... from people who were paying $20-40 for a complete car service. These weren't broke mofos living in their cars... no. These were the middle and upper class folks.

no way am i sharing a car with any of those people. nope. you can't make me.

Re:No one will own cars (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894239)

It's almost as if the people who kept their cars clean and tidy didn't visit the car wash.

Re:No one will own cars (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893555)

I can't wait for this utopian socialist future where you have no control over anything in your environment as it's all owned by the state/corporate oligarc...err I mean 'the people'... Then your first mistake ends up being your last as access to everything is pulled, remotely, effectively ending your life. This is after you're publicly humiliated automatically on the net for the 'transgression.' Since this tech makes it so easy and cheap, you can expect those transgression lists to be long and full of inane bullshit put there just because some committee could get away with it in a cost effective manner.

yeah, if I'm spending tens of thousands of dollars on something, I want to own it, and control it. that means no remote cut off/control, thanks.

Re:No one will own cars... (2)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894083)

What they are really afraid of is the fact that once cars become self-driving, no one will need to own one anymore.

Technology is actually upended the business model of the entire autoindustry. They might innovate themselves right out of business.

I mean seriously who cares about cloudplayer in a self-driving car? If it can drive itself I'll just leave my earbuds in.

The most common vehicle in 10 years will be the autonomous Dodge caravan, taxiing us all around. Rich people will have maybe their own auto-Bently's or something, but the rest of us will just share a car.

...like me, they'll own motorcycles, probably. Riding a bike (full disclosure: I love my Ducati 1098) is about as close to flying as you can get in two dimensions. The subset of the population that enjoys driving cars and riding bikes for the sheer exhilaration of it (vanishingly small, to be sure, but extant nonetheless) are immune to the marketing gimmicks you are basing your argument on. I have a BT-enabled comm system in my helmet that already lets me voice control my phone -- I can drag a knee at a buck-twenty while listening to Moby *and* send a sell order to my broker at the same time. No amount of autonomous vehicle goodness (and it is a goodness, btw) will alter that in the slightest.

Not news (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892777)

Nowadays it's pretty clear that anything with a processor will be connect to some cloud some time in the future, like it or not. What I don't get is the logic in the middle of the summary: how is having a touch screen a hint for cloud computing on the car? Not only having to take the eyes of the road just to change a radio station or increase the AC quite dangerous due to the lack of mechanical feedback, but the Amazon/Ford and Google efforts seem a lot more concrete when it comes to cloud uses. It just feels out of place not being relevant to the article and it's there just for the sake of being trendy.

Re:Not news (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893583)

Nowadays it's pretty clear that anything with a processor will be connect to some cloud some time in the future, like it or not.

just when we thought we had gotten rid of slavery, its chains rise once again from hell...

Why assume a US company will decide? (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892787)

So much of vehicle manufacturing is done in China that it is foolish to assume that organizations outside of China will continue to call the shots. At some point the Chinese market and manufacturing infrastructure will become dominant, and at that point decision making will start to be driven by those organizations, not external demands.

An existing example in another market is the Boeing/Airbus duopoly. In the current world market no one outside of Europe or the US has a lot of control over what kinds of long and intermediate passenger planes are built. (Short range passenger aircraft are a different story.) The Chinese are already working on joining this club, by the way.

The future is cloudy because the manufacturing base is shifting. Everything else is a secondary effect.

Re:Why assume a US company will decide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892969)

It is foolish to assume much of anything about global markets. Not even experts that dedicate their lives to understanding it can get statistically better than a coin toss. If you truly believe in what you say, it would be foolish not to dump your entire retirement into Chinese market dependent investments or Chinese companies. Even if you are wrong about the markets it would be hard not to make money on companies that are backed up and usually owned by one of the largest nations in the world, the one that is willing to cheat and defraud on a global scale to get ahead.

Re:Why assume a US company will decide? (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894691)

An existing example in another market is the Boeing/Airbus duopoly. In the current world market no one outside of Europe or the US has a lot of control over what kinds of long and intermediate passenger planes are built. (Short range passenger aircraft are a different story.) The Chinese are already working on joining this club, by the way.

It is incredibly difficult to enter this market: pretty much everything has been swallowed up and the two major powers are supported heavily by their respective governments. Not saying that China can't do it, but it's a very big uphill struggle since they don't have 60 years experience in building large long range jet aircraft. Even Anatov don't do much by the way of large passenger craft any more, although they are quite clearly capable of mass producing large airframes.

Of course modern airframes are apparently beyond the capability of one company to produce now (never mind the ancilliary parts), so there may be a way in, but it won't be easy, especially as they'll have to go through all the "oh crap my aircraft just fell apart mid air for no apparent reason" moments because they don't have the institutional knowledge yet.

Manufacturing is shifting: consumer stuff has long gone. The high tech, high margin stuff, like precision tools, airframes etc hasn't shifted. The main reason for shifting is due to the cost of labour. If that's not a significant factor, there's not much reason for it to shift. That doesn't preclude a country developing it's own competing industry though.

DoNotWant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892821)

This needs a "donotwant" tag.

This will end badly (2)

jmcvetta (153563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892859)

How long til a malicious person is able to crash (potentially lots of) cars in the real world by hacking into some cloud servers? Or make the cars run over pedestrians instead of avoid them?

This is potentially a really serious problem, that people so far are ignoring. Maybe we need a law requiring physical isolation of a self-driving car's control computer from all networks. They need access to GPS data, but this can probably accommodated with special hardware that does its best to ensure only GPS data is passed in.

Re:This will end badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892927)

They need access to GPS data, but this can probably accommodated with special hardware that does its best to ensure only GPS data is passed in.

Turn in your geek card and leave now.

A standalone GPS unit doesn't need to connect to any network
to work. The GPS unit derives its position from minute time differences
in radio signals it RECEIVES from satellites. It then uses its onboard
processor and software to perform the work needed to help the user navigate.
The only GPS which needs a network connection is crap like OnStar which no one
with a brain would allow in his or her car, or phones which use the cell network to
update the moving map data used in conjunction with GPS software. Of course if
you aren't a dumbass you buy GPS software which doesn't need access to the cell
network in order to function.

Honestly, some of you fuckers are so stupid it is depressing to contemplate that you
are probably going to breed.

Re:This will end badly (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893595)

hi.. these cars also happen to have 2g/3g/4g transceivers in them which are active on the network whether you register for premium services or not.. there is already history to show that this situation can be and will be abused by government authority and anyone else who can get in.. A self driving car will need more than gps to navigate well. it will NEED this access to function autonomously.

It is YOU who needs to turn in his geek card.

Re:This will end badly (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893039)

This is potentially a really serious problem, that people so far are ignoring

Well, it's a potentially serious problem that you assume people are ignoring.

I think any company smart enough to be capable of building a viable self-driving car is probably also smart enough to foresee the possibility of hackers and design their systems as securely as possible.

It's not like there are engineers running around Google right now slapping their foreheads, saying "OMG did you see this Slashdot post? There are hackers on the Internet! And they might try to crash our cars!"

Re:This will end badly (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893617)

... yet they can't seem to keep any of their current, much simpler software secure. Not just google either, but every software company in existence.. Software security is one of those intractable problems that gets exponentially harder as complexity increases..and self driving cars need far more complex heuristics and communication than typical network client software.

When the day comes that every OS and application software is 100% provably secure, I MIGHT consider trusting one of those cars, nevermind a fleet of them hurtling down the highway, but not before then.

Re:This will end badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894641)

Planes are already fully software controlled. Yet I'm not aware of a single time where someone managed to hack into the plane's flight control system and make it do bad things.

Re:This will end badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894665)

With a 5-digit /. ID you should know better.

Want some numbers? What about tens (if not hundreds) of millions of zombie boxes of compromised desktops and laptops? What about even OpenBSD which, after six years or so of claiming "not a single remote root exploit in the default install in more than x years" had to change their slogan? (a first remote root exploit, then a second... I still wish everybody was paying as much attention as OpenBSD when it comes to security that said).

You *think* engineers designing these cars know anything about security? I don't. I fully expect these autonomous cars to be designed by the same people who got us the latests Windows 0-day, the latest Ruby on Rails exploits (not a week passing by without one as of now), the latest Java exploits, the latest Chrome exploits (yes, they do exist even though Google *did* put thought into Chrome's security), etc.

The engineers designing these cars are not cryptographers nor researchers working on formally verified microkernels like seL4.

We'll have the same old iOS / OS X / Linux/Android / Windows OS underneath which is NOT formally verified and which SHALL be hacked.

Yes, I know it sucks to accept that between the moment I started writing this and when I'll post hit, several various security shall have been used to gain control of various systems.

The famous quote goes like that:

"The only secure computer is one that's unplugged, locked in a safe, ... and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts."

Here we're talking about something that shall be always on, with as much "cloudyness" as possible to entertainment passengers. Oh sure, you'll say that the two systems (navigation and entertainment) are going to be entirely separated and that no-one is ever going to be able to crash these cars.

I'm not even talking about GPS and GSM jammers.

And certainly a black swan like some EMP blast due some weird (but not unheard of) meteorological or cosmical event cannot possibly happen right!?

You live in a dream and I fear that the landing is going to be has harsh as the landing of planes and shuttles who crashed due to faulty software.

   

Re:This will end badly (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893057)

How long til a malicious person is able to crash (potentially lots of) cars in the real world by hacking into some cloud servers? Or make the cars run over pedestrians instead of avoid them?

This is potentially a really serious problem, that people so far are ignoring. Maybe we need a law requiring physical isolation of a self-driving car's control computer from all networks. They need access to GPS data, but this can probably accommodated with special hardware that does its best to ensure only GPS data is passed in.

No need to hack. Just cut one off and force its AI to choose between hitting your car or a pedestrian. Prior to 9/11 nobody thought about flying a plane into a building. I'm pretty sure that the AI in self driving cars can't account for all of the crazy things people will come up with.

Re:This will end badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893383)

I'd be more worried about hackers stealing my car than crashing it!

Re:This will end badly (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893403)

That can be done now to actual drivers. Do you know what the driver will do in 9 out 10 instances? Mentally freeze and hit whatever their car was pointed at, at the time it happened. Do you know why? Because statistically no one practices those situations to turn the ideal reaction into a habit. You can never design any system (or prepare any person) to account for every corner condition. You design (or prepare) for as many things as you can so that it's better than it would have been otherwise, then deal with the rest of the consequences as they come. Right now lots of people die in preventable car crashes. Many of these can be avoided with a properly designed and tuned self-driving AI. You shouldn't discard all the benefits because it's possible the AI might make the wrong choice some of the time and ignore the fact that a real person would make the wrong choice most of the time.

Re:This will end badly (4, Funny)

kwerle (39371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893067)

That's some impressive FUD you've got going, there. But that's all it is.

http://www.usacoverage.com/auto-insurance/how-many-driving-accidents-occur-each-year.html [usacoverage.com]

And if it’s all summed up in a yearly basis,there are 5.25 million driving accidents that take place per year. Statistics show that each year,43,000 or more of the United States’ population die due to vehicular accidents and around 2.9 million people end up suffering light or severe injuries. In a certain five year period, there had been recorded a 25% of the driving population who encountered or were involved in car accidents. It is also affirmed that car accidents kill a child every 3 minutes.Statistics on the number of car accidents taking place in every state or country is normally based on medical or insurance records filed.

But you're right, I'm sure. People are /such/ good drivers. There's no way we could improve on those numbers. It's probably not even worth trying.

Re:This will end badly (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893837)

Self-driving cars are not a bad idea. Self-driving cars that can even potentially be hacked remotely, are a bad idea.

Re:This will end badly (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893953)

How long til a malicious person is able to crash (potentially lots of) cars in the real world by hacking into some cloud servers? Or make the cars run over pedestrians instead of avoid them? This is potentially a really serious problem, that people so far are ignoring...

This kind of scenario has been discussed already in relation to the self-driving car network of the future. I'm certain that once you sign for your new Federal drivers license you will sign away any rights to a lawsuit against the self-drive collective that will literally have an acceptable percentage of "oops" situations built into the system that controls cars in the future. Yes, the concept is scary, but really not any different than most other forms of automation. Acceptable losses in this case just happen to include a human element.

Maybe we need a law requiring physical isolation of a self-driving car's control computer from all networks. They need access to GPS data, but this can probably accommodated with special hardware that does its best to ensure only GPS data is passed in.

OK, now you're just talking way too much common sense here, which ultimately means that businesses will lose out on billions in potential revenue from advertising and other forms of "buy it now" options that I'm sure will be pushed in the future to our cars. Sorry, but greed will always win over common sense.

Re:This will end badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894637)

The problem is one of the most valuable pieces of self driving cars is that they can communicate with other cars well beyond the limited communication between drivers. Kill the network and you lose this benefit.

Ever wonder if a driver with his turn signal on is ever going to turn? Ever wonder if a driver hugging the line is getting ready to merge despite a lack of signal? That would be a thing of the past.

As long as there is a sensible failure mode (1)

jsilver212 (584955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892943)

I really like the idea of abstracting the console to the point where I can customize/control my interface with the car's computers. I'd like to be able to connect my own control device (tablet, bluetooth handset, mp3 player, GPS, ...) to enhance the driving experience. However, the CAR needs basic built in controls to turn OFF all non-essential options and simply drive, especially if an input device/accessory FAILS. If done properly, with open connectivity standards, this is a great trend. There's the problem though: too much integration without open connectivity standards. Cars' computer systems are becoming powerful. They need to be treated like any other advanced tech resource. Think: Security, connectivity standards and graceful failure modes. Happy V-day, btw!

You FAIL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893011)

How about a truly smart car? (0)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893035)

How about a truly smart car? You know, one that doesn't let your cell phone work while you are driving? No, texts, no calls, nothing. Maybe it can also warn you that you are speeding and then automatically slow you back down to the posted speed limit (or ask if you would like to continue and then notify the authorities).

Otherwise, all of these cloud conected cars seem to be one more way to distract drivers on an already overcrowded highway system.

Re:How about a truly smart car? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893689)

On the outside chance you're serious...

No thanks. there's nothing worse than dealing with the unintended consequences of nanny alerts/auto-restrictors. Today's cars are already loaded with them and it drives me nuts (seatbelt beeper, proximity beeper, scrolling text on the instrument cluster, and other stupid bullshit put there by 'helpful' manufacturers and control freak, knee jerking politicians. Leave it to committees to make driving a car a process that rivals the time it takes to walk to my destination..

my ideal car has 3 main gauges (tach, speedo, fuel, water/turbo/oil pres depending), manual transmission, and the three dials (NOT touch screen, physical, touch identifiable controls): fan speed, airflow direction, temperature slider, and an A/C button. A radio/mp3 player, lights, wipers, and fuel/trunk release rounds out the package.. No programmable electronics, no black boxes tied into the ignition or other critical systems. They're not needed, and they don't save nearly as much fuel or emissions as people claim. They're just expensive 'fuses' that ensure the dealer makes post-purchase profit on repairs.

Obsolecense (3, Insightful)

kombipom (1274672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893103)

The biggest problem I see with these systems is very rapid obsolescence. You'll generally replace a phone or tablet a lot more often than a car. There should be a standard port to attach a tablet to and the car manufacturer can offer software for all the major platforms, or you can choose to use something else. Instead we seem to be getting a bunch of built in tablets running code that we have no control over and can't replace. Is anybody sorting this out?

Re:Obsolecense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893599)

The biggest problem I see with these systems is very rapid obsolescence

that's not the problem... it's the *GOAL* of the manufacturers. between forced obsolescence and poorer reliability, people will soon buy a new car every 2-3 years as if it were an old, outdated, 'uncool' cellphone.... and pay a monthly subscription fee (on top of the purchase price) to use, if they get their way.

Re:Obsolecense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894381)

Android itself is already having security problems due to fragmentation and lack of updates. How much worse of a security nightmare will cars become if they have to maintain the lowest common denominator across Android/iOS/Windows Mobile? Not having an always-on Internet connection might prevent real-time hacks incoming from cloud services but not having an always-on connection would prevent software updates to fix bugs and vulnerabilities found. It's a pick-your-poison situation.

When I think of Steve McQueen... (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893163)

he's on a motorcycle.

Re:When I think of Steve McQueen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894187)

he's on Ali McGraw

It's not always smart for the DRIVER.. (1)

cheros (223479) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893173)

The problem I see with more and more electronics is the loss of control, not just of the vehicle but also of your privacy. You are already driving with a black box in most vehicles, and access to that is not restricted to accident investigators - data gets pulled every time you have the car serviced, with you having nil control over how it is used.

A secondary issue is that entertainment electronics is subject to far less security checks than the stuff that makes sure your engine runs best and that steers traction control and ABS, yet they are interconnected. Research teams have already shown it is possible to use the one layer to affect the other by completely killing the brakes of a car on remote - do you really want to make it possible for a script kiddie to do this to your car?

The privacy issue is very current. I can already see Google powered systems enter into some vehicles, without any alternative options being presented. Not only does that require the most expensive wireless connection you can get as a family (mobile/cell), especially if you travel internationally, it's also handing data in large uncontrolled gobs to a company that has as yet to prove it can be trusted with it. I don't want to become part of the Streetview data collection system, thank you - not even if they paid me for it.

a smartphone on wheels? dumb (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893223)

Everyone is going to have a smartphone in their pockets, which they'll change every 2 years. I'm hoping a new car will last longer than 2 years, so let's just leave the smart phone capabilities up to my smart phone.

How about they just wifi up the car and leave me a slot to put a tablet or something?

Tesla can't afford to waste more battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42893343)

Given the recent NYT review, I don't think Tesla can afford to waste the battery life on this.

NYT article showed it was dropping projected miles way faster than actual miles, even though the reviewer had slowed it and put it on cruise control. The most likely cause was that, Tesla told him to turn off the heater (in freezing conditions no less!) and he turned it down to the minimum, as low as he could bear and still function.*

So most likely they don't factor things like heaters, radio, wifi etc. into their distance calculation, and the less of those the better. Until you have spare power you shouldn't go wasting it on unessential things!

* Yes I read Teslas claims, however they didn't dispute the article key points on range.

Just what we need! (1)

some old guy (674482) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893443)

I want my car reporting my rural speed transgressions directly to the cloud-connected police, so law enforcement can be efficiently vectored to intercept me.

Better still, it can be wired to go "driverless" automatically and take me straight to the nearest court-house for doing 66 on a deserted back-country road posted 65.

Judge Dred meets Knight Rider!

Re:Just what we need! (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894549)

I think they would just wire the cars with a speed limiter based on the current street's speed limit... just so long as the car doesn't suddenly slow down to 25 on a freeway overpass because the road under the bridge has a lower speed limit.

Touch screen (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893495)

Am I the only one who thinks a touch screen is a *terrible* idea in a car, especially if the touch screen device is supposed to be used while driving? With conventional knobs and switches, you can often find what you want to do just by moving your hand to the approximate position and feeling for the appropriate control. I can operate my car radio without looking at it. But you're forced to look at a touch screen - in other words, stop looking where you're directing nearly two tons of metal to fiddle with some device.

Hopefully there will be some statistics taken on crashes as to the accident rate of touch screen equipped vehicles vs non touch screen equipped vehicles. Intuitively, it would seem that touch screens would have a negative safety consequence.

Re:Touch screen (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893765)

This is not a problem, as you are not driven the car. The car drives itself and you are just a passenger. Would be cool to share the car with others. Oh wait, we already have them, they are called buses. Nobody want to have other people in their car.

The Future (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893755)

The future is, where you do not own a car. If you need one you borrow one. Of course it can communicate with your phone otherwise it would not know what you mean by "drive me home". Furthermore, in metropolitan areas, other means of public transport are much more efficient and easier to implement. For example, street cars, underground trains, smaller and bigger buses, which are easy to access and allow you to bring stuff with you, like buggies, trolleys or bikes. Cars supplement that, can be called, like cabs, but without a driver. Wonder where all the aliens will work in future ;-) In some countries the use of mass transport facilities will be (kind of) free, as it is financed through taxes. Some towns already do that, others subsidize mass transport, as it is cheaper than building new roads. Ah yes, gasoline cars will be extinct.

Re:The Future (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894209)

You're neglecting cultural aspects. People will continue to use cars, even when other means are more affortable and practical, because a car isn't just a means of transport. It's a symbol and statement of freedom: The power to go where you want, when you want, bound by no schedule and dependant on no-one. Less so in Europe than the US. Over there, owning their first car is one of the big rites of passage for teenagers.

I'm glad they've thought of safety first. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about a year and a half ago | (#42893917)

In one hand, you have the greed of the entire industry, wanting to put every single communications device they can think of inside a car, and connect it all online, and then sell all the statistics we all will generate to target advertising.

In the other hand, I have the countless deaths racked up by just texting on the road today. I believe if we left it unchecked, it would likely surpass every other killer (including alcohol) on the road, if it already hasn't received this coveted title of dishonor.

Not everyone wants self-driving cars? Something tells me that should be the first damn thing on the mandate list before they start dragging the rest of the internet into the car.

Can't wait until the spoiled 16-year old down the street with a week-old license steps into Daddy's new car and gets online, to pay about as much attention at 70MPH as they do walking and texting.

Gee, I feel safer already.

Re:I'm glad they've thought of safety first. (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894131)

This is all about Money. If Car companies made a basic car, say, '95 style; it would be too cheap and they wouldn't make any money. None of this is about advancing Cars, it's about adding more cost to the Car to turn a profit.

I don't even own a Car anymore, I dislike all the new distractions. I want to get from point A to point B without something on the Car telling me I'm doing it wrong. I want a Basic Car, 4 wheels, 5 Speed Manual Tranny, Gas efficient 4 Cyl Combustion engine with Heat and Air. That's all, no fancy doo-dads, do you read that Ford, Toyota, Dodge etc?.

Has there even been any real research on all these WiFi, and other signals we are pushing out all over the Earth?. If a Magnet can change human behavior by placing it in specific spots on the cranium, then what are all these strong signals doing? Think about it.

Yay obsolescence. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894243)

The engine, body and other car-ish stuff may be good for thirty years, but in five the in-car entertainment and cloudy navigation systems will be as obsolete an eight-track. Time to go out and buy a new car. Welcome to the upgrade cycle: The computer and smartphone industries got there long ago.

What I want.... (3, Interesting)

willy everlearn (82796) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894467)

I just want a plain AFFORDABLE electric car. 100 miles a day on an over night charge. $20000 or less. What is so hard about that?

One death due to a robot is worse than... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42894585)

One single human death due to a robot / self-driving-car is sadly psychologically way worse than 1 000 deaths on the road due to other humans.

If there's one thing that is going to create a mistrust and downright hatred for anything technological (and especially robot), it's that: the first human death due to a bug, a security issue, a "feature" or anything else that shall make a self-driving car hit a kid.

Even if meanwhile 999 other kids have been sparred, nothing is going to make for that loss. The psychological reaction of most humans is going to be scary.

This is going to happen (an autonomous car killing an human) and, no matter if meanwhile a lot of lives have been saved, humans aren't going to like it and I fully expect traditional car makers to lobby like crazy to make autonomous cars illegal.

I don't expect Ford, BMW, Audi, VW, Nissan, etc. to let Google take the market away from them either.

Long battle ahead.

I personally prefer to have the (higher) risk of seeing my kids killed by an honest human mistakes than have a lower kids of seeing my kids dying due to a bug or a script kiddie using the latest 0-day to gain control of autonomous vehicles.

Go Google (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42894613)

I still want a V8, rear wheel drive, manual transmission car but self driving cars are something I want. I may be a good driver (have not damaged a car in driving since I was a teen, even on icy roads) but being able to spend the time going to and from work productively rather than watching traffic would be awesome. On the other hand I want an override as I'm not sure I'd trust a car programmed in California to West Michigan winters...
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