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Oxford Tests Self-Driving Cars

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the taking-a-spin dept.

AI 95

halls-of-valhalla writes "Using advances in 3D laser mapping technology, Oxford University has developed a car that is able to drive itself along familiar routes. This new self-driving automobile uses lasers and small cameras to memorize everyday trips such as the morning commute. This car is not dependant on GPS because this car is able to tell where it is by recognizing its surroundings. The intent is for this car to be capable of taking over the drive when on routes that it has traveled before. While being driven, the car is capable of developing a 3D model of its environment and learning routes. When driving a particular journey a second time, an iPad on the dashboard informs the driver that it is capable of taking over and finishing the drive. The driver can then touch the screen and the car shifts to 'auto drive' mode. The driver can reclaim control of the car at any time by simply tapping the brakes."

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Google has done this already. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934669)

Everything is done better when done in private industry.

Re:Google has done this already. (2, Insightful)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934709)

Agreed. Once one company has done it all others should stop.

BTW, Good thing Opera replaced its own engine with WebKit too.

Re:Google has done this already. (2)

William Robinson (875390) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934857)

Once one company has done it all others should stop.

Well, not necessarily. There could be lot of interesting (read creative) ideas one could have missed. And indirectly, it creates a healthy compitition everybody benefits from.

If that was not the case, we would have had only one type of car, only one type of plane, only one type of phone..and the list may go on.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935229)

*whoosh*

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

AlecC (512609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935091)

As Kruschev told Nixon, it is a waste to have two teams of designers for washing machines.

Re:Google has done this already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934759)

Except for serving the public good.

Re:Google has done this already. (5, Interesting)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934907)

According to a TV report I saw on this, the point of the Oxford technology is that it's supposed to be much simpler and cheaper than existing implementations, with the development version costing only £5000, and projected price of a commercial version of just £100.

It would be nice if such the article mentioned the existence of comparable tech, such as Google's self-driving cars, and perhaps did some comparisons, but unfortunately being a science and technology journalist these days means copying and pasting press releases, so the journo in question probably actually does have such little interest in technology that he hasn't head of the Google initiative. Sad.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935011)

P.S. according to this article [businessinsider.com] , Google's self-driving car is probably considerably more expensive at around $250000 (£160000), although G don't release figures.

Re:Google has done this already. (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935513)

Google's self-driving car is probably considerably more expensive at around $250000

That is the cost of an engineering prototype. The cost of massed produced cars would be far lower. I talked to a Google engineer that was demoing one of their cars at the San Jose Fairgrounds. He pointed out a bulky optical rotary encoder on each wheel, about the size of a soda can, and said they cost over $2000 each. He said they were going to soon replace them with a magnetic hall-effect encoder the size of a penny. Cost: $3 each.

Re:Google has done this already. (3, Interesting)

f0rdpr3fect42 (1866122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935695)

While replacing their expensive encorder certainly helps, Google has a long way to go to bring down their pricing. In particular, the LIDAR unit on the top is probably dominating the price. The model in question costs around $75,000 and as far as I can tell, Google isn't getting rid of it anytime soon.

Of note: I expect that the LIDAR unit in the Oxford car is also dominating the price, and expected price decrease in the future would be achieved by going camera-only.

Re:Google has done this already. (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935961)

the LIDAR unit on the top is probably dominating the price. The model in question costs around $75,000

How many LIDAR units are sold every year? Maybe a few thousand? 60 million cars [worldometers.info] are manufactured each year. That kind of volume can lead to huge price decreases.

expected price decrease in the future would be achieved by going camera-only.

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Re:Google has done this already. (4, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936423)

expected price decrease in the future would be achieved by going camera-only.

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Infra-red cameras cope fairly well, better than the human eye sometimes.

Re:Google has done this already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42938979)

Not really, if there's something in the optical path...

Re:Google has done this already. (3, Insightful)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936511)

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Neither do your eyes, as they really aren't anything more than cameras.

Re:Google has done this already. (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937199)

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Neither do your eyes, as they really aren't anything more than cameras.

Yes, but the goal of self-driving cars is to improve on human drivers, not just replace them.

Re:Google has done this already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42937653)

improve on human drivers, not just replace them

Replacing them would be a huge improvement.

Re:Google has done this already. (5, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42938261)

No. Just making it non human is already an advantage in some respects. I would gladly replace myself with a self-driving car if it was as good as myself. I might even be willing to pay double for a car with that feature. I mean leather seats, climate control, wood paneling interior, crazy powerful engines, are features I wouldn't pay an extra dime for. Luxury for luxury's sake is stupid, imho. As is speed for speed's sake. But give me a car that drives itself, I 'll buy one right now for twice the price that my existing car is.

Re:Google has done this already. (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42938747)

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Neither do your eyes, as they really aren't anything more than cameras.

A lot of that is fixed by the information processing equipment attached to them, but that's something you really can't expect to emulate in silicon in near future - the lidar would be cheaper than that.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42940901)

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

LIDAR doesn't deal well with other LIDAR units in the same area.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935321)

Yeah, but this is being developed in Oxford, and whilst we have things that look like roads around here, they're not actually designed to be used by cars. All a self driving car around here needs to do is say: "I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave. Have you considered using your bicycle? Be sure to avoid being hit by a bus!".

Re:Google has done this already. (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935729)

100 quid? Sounds a bit on the low side: we're talking several camera's, lasers + sensors, a control unit, and actuators for pedals & steering. Even £1000 seems too low... compare this to what you can expect to pay for factory installed cruise control.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937219)

It's going to have to be more than 100 pounds, but you're not going to need the actuators by the time we really have self-driving cars, because the majority will have electric power steering, and modern ABS can already activate without the driver pressing the brake, which is used for TC and ESP.

Re:Google has done this already. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about a year and a half ago | (#42948409)

Everything is done better when done in private industry.

Would you like some beef with your horse-burger?

I hope they spell better at Oxford (5, Insightful)

lophophore (4087) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934675)

on your car, you have "brakes". if the brakes break, then you have big problems.

Kindly consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

Re:I hope they spell better at Oxford (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935103)

No, it is not misspelled: initially they put the iPad on the hood, then tried the procedure of "simply tapping the breaks".

Talking of the Oxford English Dictionary (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935985)

No, it is not misspelled: initially they put the iPad on the hood

Hood? That's the leaky fabric bit you get on top of convertibles. Perhaps you mean "bonnet"?

Silly Americans naming the metal flap that covers a car engine after a type of headwear... oh, wait... :-)

Meanwhile, if they're going to test these things in Oxford I hope that they're fitting the car with an industrial strength bike-catcher and an AI that can cope with one-way systems designed by M.C. Escher.

Re:Talking of the Oxford English Dictionary (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937667)

Silly Americans naming the metal flap that covers a car engine after a type of headwear... oh, wait... :-)

says the people who load all their groceries into their footwear to carry it back home.

Re:Talking of the Oxford English Dictionary (3, Funny)

Frnknstn (663642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42938107)

Says the people who load it into the nose of the nearest passing elephant?

Alternatively, the torso or midsection of the car, because that's where the 'trunk' obviously is?

iPad =! Critical embedded system (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934681)

For a prototype it's OK but I wouldn't bet my life on anything running on consumer-grade devices.

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934737)

isn't a car a consumer-grade device to begin with? I'm sure if there's a failure in the iPad the car just gives control back to the driver, i doubt it's meant to work with the driver sleeping or anything.

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934845)

i doubt it's meant to work with the driver sleeping or anything.

But that is exactly the reason why people want and precisely how they will use self-driving cars - so that they can take their attention off the road. Like the poster above said.. it's good for a prototype, but not for a consumer product.

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935003)

I'd be incredibly impressed if they managed to get the driving system is on the iPad.* But I'm sure the iPad just provides the display. There will be another box somewhere that does the driving.

* Impressed by the technical achievement, not the safety.

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934963)

i doubt it's meant to work with the driver sleeping or anything.

Then what's the point?

Why would I want a 'self-driving car' that can't drive itself without expecting me to instantly take over when it's about to crash?

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934941)

For a prototype it's OK

Actually it's a great idea. If the car crashes, you can just blame the driver for holding the ipad wrong.

Actually, the reason they have an ipad in the dashboard is almost certainly because a student thought it would be way cooler to have an ipad with an app relaying data over some connection than plugging a small screen into an embedded PC.

Re:iPad =! Critical embedded system (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935709)

I would expect that even in the prototype, the iPad is just being used as an interface to the control system making the actual decisions. iPad crash = no problem: you can still get out of auto drive by applying the brakes. And for a prototype, a tablet makes a cost effective and feature rich user interface (in a production system you'd probably use a custom device integrated into the dashboard).

Knight Rider, (1)

ixarux (1652631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934683)

... a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist...

Re:Knight Rider, (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | about a year and a half ago | (#42939281)

Now all I need is an '82 Trans Am....

"breaks" = "brakes" (2, Informative)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934705)

"breaks" for vehicle brakes keeps coming up here. Is this an Americanism?

But this is a story about Oxford FFS, the cultural heart of the English language, UK version.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_English_Dictionary [wikipedia.org]

Re:"breaks" = "brakes" (2)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934749)

"breaks" for vehicle brakes keeps coming up here. Is this an Americanism?

Just an illiteratism. Like lose/loose; peek/peak, horde/hoard, etc., all wrong more than right here.

Re:"breaks" = "brakes" (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934787)

But "breaks" is a more comical typo than many given that brakes are a safety device that you wish to never break.

Re:"breaks" = "brakes" (2)

idji (984038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934861)

don't you mean peek/peak/pique?

Re:"breaks" = "brakes" (4, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934973)

No, it's just shows the brakes in our education system, after the breaks were put on in the eighties and we started to loose what we had at our peek. No doubt due to the hoards of new students. Whew, well gotta go. I'm beet.

I have enough problems with cruise-control... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934753)

Jeeze, I have enough problems with cruise-control being enabled when it should be disabled, or vice versa. Now it will steer for me too? No, wait, it's not! Gaaahhhh! "Sorry!" "Asssss-hhhooollllleeee...."

This is great, but not very exciting (-1)

blydro (2844535) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934765)

Although it's great that Oxford is testing self-driving cars, this isn't news, at least in my opinion.

Re:This is great, but not very exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934823)

at least in my opinion.

And we are all so much better off for having read your very worthwhile, informative, and thoughtful opinion. Thank you for taking the time to share such a well-argued gem with us.

Re:This is great, but not very exciting (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935037)

It's news because it's a different approach.

Re:This is great, but not very exciting (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935689)

It's news because it's a different approach.

Except that it's not. Other self-driving cars, including Google's, already do route learning and mapping. The difference is that Google integrates that with stored maps, and and lots of other sensory input, including GPS. So these Oxford researchers are not doing something new, they are just doing less. In safety critical systems, removing redundancy is usually not a good idea.

One way to make their system more useful would be to upload learned routes to a server, so they can be auto-downloaded to other vehicles. Then your car could self-drive even on roads you haven't driven on before, as long as someone else has driven them.

Re:This is great, but not very exciting (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936001)

So these Oxford researchers are not doing something new, they are just doing less.

Doing less is a new approach. A sensible one, particularly in robotics. For example see the Roomba, vs the Electolux Trilobyte. The Trilobite mapped the whole room before designing an efficient cleaning route. The Roomba just wanders randomly, with some simple heuristics for occasionally following walls and occasionally changing direction. Result: The cheap Roomba approach is successful in the market, and the expensive Trilobite is a failure.

Here for example you mention GPS. That's of limited use, as the accuracy is in terms of meters. Far too course for self driving. And it can disappear completely in cities. And all it would do is narrow down the initial search space to identify the current location.

One way to make their system more useful would be to upload learned routes to a server, so they can be auto-downloaded to other vehicles. Then your car could self-drive even on roads you haven't driven on before, as long as someone else has driven them.

I suggest you RTFA, then you won't spend time describing something they already have slated for the future.

Re:This is great, but not very exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42939753)

That's of limited use, as the accuracy is in terms of meters. Far too course for self driving.

You're in the wrong thread. The thread on homophones and illiteratism is just above this one.

iPad has a "break" key? (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934769)

Don't have one to check.

What if I need to accelerate to avoid a hazard? How does "braking", which I assume the poster meant but does not understand, help me regain control?

I've heard that "cruise control" systems allow temporary acceleration, then fall back to the desired speed, while braking puts them into a sort of standby mode which can be resumed. Maybe they should consider something similar.

Re:iPad has a "break" key? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934837)

You're correct on the cruise control. Here's how it works for every car I've driven that has it:
- Accelerating by pushing the pedal allows you to speed up. Releasing the accelerator allows the car to slow back to it's previously set speed
- Braking will automatically unset cruise control but CC will remain on. You can then hit Resume to have it go back to it's previously set speed

It's a pretty good model that's simple and natural enough for people to learn it in about 2 sentences. If you have to accelerate, it's usually to avoid an object or pass someone so you'll almost always want to resume your previous speed. Braking has a greater chance to be in response to an event after which you may not want to resume your previous speed, so the car won't do that automagically. I think it would adapt well to the auto-driver setup too.

Re:iPad has a "break" key? (1)

AVee (557523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935531)

It's mainly a good system because the car responds to user input exactly the same regardless of the cruise control. This makes it easy to explain, but more importantly it means all those reflexes you've developed will still be useful in an emergency situation. When shit happens on the road you don't want your response to be different depending on the state of the cruise control.

As a side note, I've found my car also unsets the cruise control when the ESP gets activated (which makes sense) and when accelerating to speeds above 200kmh (which is kinda lame).

Re:iPad has a "break" key? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935991)

I'm thinking of this as Cruise Control 2.0

It's a nice transition to autonomous cars. The built in redundancy is a human behind the wheel. The advantage is that the human won't have to assume control every time the car comes up on a slower moving vehicle and it could work on surface streets or in commuter traffic.

The learnings from this will only improve the guidance systems for autonomous driving.

You'd think it would be obivous (2)

Chonnawonga (1025364) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934785)

You'd think it would be obvious to the folks at Oxford: if you're building 3D maps, and storage is getting relatively cheap, why not just build 3D maps of whole regions so the car knows its way around? Then the human can pick any route, rather than having to teach the computer.

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934901)

That's actually how OpenStreetMap started, with a a few nerds collecting and sharing route traces among themselves. Then it hit expansion and went awesome.

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934923)

You'd think it would be obvious to some of the folks at slashdot that pontificating about a grand idea is much, much easier than making a simpler idea actually work right.

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (1)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year and a half ago | (#42939329)

We're talking about pre-loading a cache, or pre-computing. This is NOT a grand idea. It's a pretty common thing.

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (1)

Xugumad (39311) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935005)

Time.

Despite what is frequently suggested, there's a much greater scarcity in skilled developers/researchers/whatever than of ideas for them to spend time doing.

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935303)

If it's about time then it's also about money and security. If there were money in fun University research projects like this, then I wouldn't be working for an engineering firm. Students don't really make money..

Re:You'd think it would be obivous (2)

AlecC (512609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935009)

Because the pictures produced by 3-D maps look much less like the real world than the real world. While the 3D map will probably tell you the height and approximate colour of the building, the real world contains ad-hoc signage, discolouration, texture, minor details such as lamps, signs and street furnityre which will be of great assistance in fine location. I would rather a car that was able to drive down the real road that it had driven down before than one which could drive down a computer model of a road whose detail may well not be accurate.

An iPad?? (1)

marcroelofs (797176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934835)

So an iPad is telling me it knows the way and is able to guide me through Oxford traffic safeley? Erm, not thank you.

Embedded transmitters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42934853)

I like how tapping the brakes gives control back, it's like complete cruise control. Wonder what happens when it snows 3 ft (guess what part of the country i live in) or a different situation where the landscape changes. Even after the roads are clear there are still walls of snow that would block any sensors abilities. Maybe we need something up on the phone poles or in the center lane embedded that tells cars where they should go. Seems more reliable that way, but I guess that would be more public in nature than the scope of this project. But anyway you look at it, driving is way too important a responsibility to let any adult that wants to/can afford to do it whenever they want, in whatever condition they happen to be in. Hope this project bears fruit.

Re:Embedded transmitters (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935645)

If we're 3 ft deep in snow then I think I'd prefer to take control myself, thank you. Indeed it applies to any situation where the environment is not what the computer might be expecting.

I like the approach here though, the human has to teach the computer once but then the computer can contribute as & when needed. I can take control quickly if I need to.

What about change? (1)

berryjw (1071694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934905)

So, what happens if, say, a building gets demolished, or a set of trees are cut, or it snows? If the software is looking for specific topography, which it learned from previous trips, isn't it as likely as humans to get lost when things change?

Re:What about change? (2)

AlecC (512609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935047)

One would sincerely hope that it is depending on more than a single point, or single building, fix. It should have at least two or three major reference points in use at any moment, plus more ahead that it is acquiring for future use and more behind that it has passed but have not gone out of sight. I would hope that at any instant it has at least twice as many reference points as it needs.

And if all else fails, just like a human, it should have enough absolute road sense to come smoothly to a halt however unfamiliar the surroundings.

Re:What about change? (1)

berryjw (1071694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935247)

I agree, but a major construction project could quickly exceed the count. What my (warped) imagination sees is, pull out the drive on the way to work, tell the car to go to work. Now that you're not driving, the day's paper comes out, but half way into the sports section, the car announces it's confused and you should take over, whilst zipping down the road. Or any number of other similar situations. The point is, if there's *any* possibility of the program suddenly demanding a driver, it largely negates most of the reasons someone would want this feature, even if it can transition sanely.

Re:What about change? (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935807)

the car announces it's confused and you should take over, whilst zipping down the road.

Unless the people developing this are complete morons, there is no way this could happen. The car knows its safe braking distance, and if it cannot map out a route beyond that distance with an acceptable degree of confidence, it would pull over to the side of the road, come to a stop, and then alert the driver.

Re:What about change? (1)

berryjw (1071694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935967)

Or, keep driving until you can take over, but this doesn't change my point. There's also the problem of the AI has only learned what you've taught it - missing a turn (for whatever reason) could leave it on roadways it's never seen. I'm fairly certain the coders aren't morons, but don't believe a 'learning' program would benefit most drivers. It would demand much more oversight than most users are willing to give.

Re:What about change? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936163)

Or, keep driving until you can take over

This would require not just an extremely stupid and incompetent programmer, but also a complete lack of any code review, and no system testing whatsoever. It is conceivable that some stupid people are accepted by Oxford, but exceedingly unlikely that they could comprise an entire team of developers. Do you also worry that buildings might collapse because the architect forgot to specify mortar between the bricks, and nobody noticed?

Re:What about change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935223)

From the summary we get "When driving a particular journey a second time, an iPad on the dashboard informs the driver that it is capable of taking over and finishing the drive".
If we extend this it would be natural that it informs the driver that it is no longer capable of finishing the drive and safely slows down to a halt unless the driver takes over. Since it already has to be aware of surrounding traffic it shouldn't be a problem to do this in a safe manner.
The prototype probable doesn't have this function and accelerates to get past the undefined area as quickly as possible.

Re:What about change? (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | about a year ago | (#42968611)

Plus, as soon as the manual drive is done, the car now has an updated map and can drive the modified route automatically again. If cars can share maps, that one person's manual drive can then be re-used by others and nobody else needs to manually drive it.

can it change lanes? can it route around road bloc (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42934927)

can it change lanes? can it route around road blocks? can it stop for red lights with out getting messed up?

Re:can it change lanes? can it route around road b (3, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935069)

To 1 and 3: almost certainly. To 2: probably not unless it has already "learned" the alternative route.On the other hand, one difference between computers and humans is that you can copy the "learning" from one computer in a way you cannot copy from one brain to another. So it would not strike me as unreasonable for a net-connected car to download the images of a detour route within a few seconds of recognising a roadblock.

Re:can it change lanes? can it route around road b (1)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42939627)

So it would not strike me as unreasonable for a net-connected car to download the images of a detour route within a few seconds of recognising a roadblock.

Especially if the workers have a small beacon that broadcasts at, say, 5 GHz the map of the area that shows how to drive around the work area. All cars in vicinity receive that and can act upon these instructions if they are signed and the chain of trust is good enough.

That would be better than what we have now - a mass of cars trying to get by the work area, and nobody can reliably know what path is safe until you see the cones and have to change the lane. If there is a sign "<< RIGHT LANE CLOSED <<" it still doesn't tell you how many lanes are closed, and where are the transition zones, and whether there is a worker with a STOP sign. The broadcast could easily contain all that, tied to the GPS and to local markers.

Re:can it change lanes? can it route around road b (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935293)

It can probably change lanes and handle red lights, otherwise it wouldn't be very usable.
As for road blocks it's no longer "routes that it has traveled before" and one would have to assume that it needs to give back control to the driver for him/her to drive around the road block back to familiar territory.

This + Street View (2)

Arab (466938) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935039)

Theoretically this mixed with a service that has surveyed the entire road network could be amazing. It would remove the need to have travelled the route previously.

Although I do wonder how it copes with changes in road layout/diversions etc.

Re:This + Street View (1)

gameboyhippo (827141) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935427)

If we could get pass being uncomfortable with letting go of some privacy, this could be amazing as it could supplement street view and update it in "real time". Imagine a road becoming under construction. It is would update in Google Maps and thus reroute other drivers. We could also see this construction on Street View as well. And if we export these cars to N. Korea...

Re:This + Street View (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935669)

Always wondered what Google's motives were for their huge investment in Street View...

Note that much of the Street View data already includes a 3D aspect and they have a very basic idea of the location of building surfaces.

TMI Siri (4, Funny)

wynterwynd (265580) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935055)

"I see you are driving down Laurel Ave and I can drive you to your destination. Are you heading to:

- Bosco's Liquor Store (1.73 mi)?
- The Bouncing Pasty Gentleman's Parlor (2.64 mi)?
- The Purple Nurple Tobacco Accessory Shop (1.25 mi)?"

".... Siri, change profile to 'Mom'."

"Okay. Changing user profile settings to 'Mom', please wait"

Re:TMI Siri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935769)

...

".... Siri, change profile to 'Mom'."

"Error. User profile settings already set to 'Mom'"

Fixed that

Re:TMI Siri (3, Funny)

CanadianRealist (1258974) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936203)

"Okay. Changing user profile settings to 'Mom', please wait"

"Are you heading to Kinky Sex Toys?"

and yet.... (5, Funny)

duckintheface (710137) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935059)

All that time and engineering effort. All that programming expertise. And yet.... it still drives on the wrong side of the road.

Re:and yet.... (2, Informative)

xorsyst (1279232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935431)

No, it drives on the right side of the road. Which is to say the left side. Not the right side, as that's the wrong side. Clear?

Re:and yet.... (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936613)

Moded overrated? Someone didn't eat their sense-of-humour flakes this morning.

Edit needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935193)

Where is the "break" pedal?

It's "depenDENT" not "dependant"... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935439)

Who writes these summaries?

I'm assuming it won't get confused... (1)

chronokitsune3233 (2170390) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935507)

Hey, I've been down this road 200 times, and you've went three different ways! Want me to drive the rest of the way? All I did was RTFS, but that's a problem with bad summaries...unless that's what the article implies. How does it know which of the three ways you want to go? That sort of thing could kill this innovative idea if it's indeed the case.

These things are wonderful... (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935735)

...till the first foggy day.

Soon to be known as the Oxford Shark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936341)

"This new self-driving automobile uses lasers..."

Upon further reflection (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937339)

don't drive past The Mirror Store.

Meanwhile, in several cities across the nation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42937669)

Apple Corp. (AAPL) announced that with its wide array of personal electronics, it is now testing self-driving people. Basically it's people walking around cities on autopilot. The test is to see if other people can avoid running them over or colliding with them on sidewalks, etc., while they're busy playing with their toys instead of looking where they're going.

So far, mixed results.

If only it were pre loaded with everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42938415)

the google cars have been.

Self-driving chic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42946321)

Obviously nothing but an iPad would do as a user interface. Considering the tech they've come up with, you'd think that was the trivial bit and they could have saved quite a lot of dosh by creating their own interface. Or are they trying to be trendy (sorry "nextified")?

The Oxford "Comma" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42948499)

The new Oxford automatic-driving car should be called the "Comma".
That would be awesome.

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