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Nissan Plans To Sell Self-Driving Cars By 2020

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the still-waiting-on-self-flying-cars dept.

Transportation 333

Lucas123 writes "Nissan today said it will begin demonstrating autonomous vehicle technology on its all-electric Leaf this year, and plans to begin selling multiple models of self-driving cars by 2020. Nissan said it's already building an autonomous drive proving ground in Japan. Its goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations. The car company, which is among several others and Google in developing autonomous driving tech, is currently working with top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford and The University of Tokyo, to develop its self-drive technology."

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333 comments

Good (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44691043)

No more tailgating, left lane hogging, pulling out without indicating, running red lights, drunk driving or any of that other stuff the meat-based drivers keep on doing.

Free up the roads for people who don't see driving as a chore and make an effort to drive properly.

Re: Good (4, Interesting)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#44691143)

Think about the implications for the environment. Consistent easy acceleration saving fuel and safer roads for motorcyclists.

Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction. And, since ICEs are bad about changing power output to meet demand, lots of fuel is wasted idling.

Re: Good (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#44691391)

Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction.

No they are not. That is a myth. Traffic jams are almost a sole function of not enough road for the number of cars. Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

Re: Good (4, Informative)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a year ago | (#44691469)

At highway speeds, human driven cars should be over 150 feet apart to be safe. Autonomous cars can be separated by just a few feet. The capacity of our existing roads would increase immensely.

Re: Good (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44691557)

At highway speeds, human driven cars should be over 150 feet apart to be safe. Autonomous cars can be separated by just a few feet.

Yeah, because nothing could happen so fast that computer-driven cars a few feet apart could cause a massive pileup with thousands dead.

Re: Good (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44691563)

Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

What you are missing is that the "capacity" is not a constant. Self-driving cars can drive much closer together, and can react much faster to changing conditions. They will also operate with more information about traffic conditions ahead. Google has estimated that their cars can increase the capacity of a lane of highway by at least a factor of five.

Re: Good (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44691453)

Think about the implications for the environment. Consistent easy acceleration saving fuel and safer roads for motorcyclists.

I don't know about "consistent easy acceleration" - to the limited extent my 2012 Infiniti is self driving, it accelerates pretty nicely up to the speed I set, though I guess it's still far from full throttle. It also still makes mistakes with motorcyclists - I don't entirely trust it to understand there's a motorcycle in front of me yet, as it's sometimes slow to react, although it's fine about motorcycles beside me (sides are radar, but front is image processing from a camera, which is harder).

Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction.

No, not at all. When all cars in a lane are self-driving, you might pack them in a bit tighter, but likely no tighter than the current (unsafe) spacing on California highways. In any case, in the US we suck at building infrastructure and will just build fewer roads and keep the same level of traffic jams. And don't be so sure about computers driving well either - I expect the first 20 years will be driving a bit better than the average driver, but that's still far from driving well.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691177)

No more tailgating, left lane hogging, pulling out without indicating, running red lights, drunk driving or any of that other stuff the meat-based drivers keep on doing.

Actually, in my automated car that will be the default setting (except drunk driving which is hard to make a computer do unless it is water-cooled).

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691209)

Free up the roads for people who don't see driving as a chore and make an effort to drive properly.

Until the insurance companies and the government conspire to make manually-driven cars illegal.

Always be careful what you wish for.

My prediction (2)

davebarnes (158106) | about a year ago | (#44691381)

"By 2060 it will be illegal for a human to drive a vehicle in the USA".
My prediction made in 2012.
I am a nobody so no one will notice.

Re:Good (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#44691437)

Free up the roads for people who don't see driving as a chore and make an effort to drive properly.

Until the insurance companies and the government conspire to make manually-driven cars illegal.

Always be careful what you wish for.

And that's a problem... why? Removing humans from the equation will just make the roads safer, and allows for all kinds of useful tricks to speed up traffic (like eliminating stop lights/signs almost entirely, except where necessary for pedestrians). Everyone likes to think they're a good driver, and it's everyone else who sucks, but the reality is humans are universally terrible drivers: slow reaction times, easily distracted, sleep-deprived, temperamental: no one is actually above all that (and the more a person thinks they are, the more likely susceptible they likely are). We only allow human drivers because we didn't have computers that could handle it. Now, we do, or very nearly.

Re:Good (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#44691603)

Free up the roads for people who don't see driving as a chore and make an effort to drive properly.

Until the insurance companies and the government conspire to make manually-driven cars illegal.

Always be careful what you wish for.

And that's a problem... why? Removing humans from the equation will just make the roads safer, and allows for all kinds of useful tricks to speed up traffic (like eliminating stop lights/signs almost entirely, except where necessary for pedestrians). Everyone likes to think they're a good driver, and it's everyone else who sucks, but the reality is humans are universally terrible drivers: slow reaction times, easily distracted, sleep-deprived, temperamental: no one is actually above all that (and the more a person thinks they are, the more likely susceptible they likely are). We only allow human drivers because we didn't have computers that could handle it. Now, we do, or very nearly.

Some people enjoy driving. I happen to enjoy driving a motorcycle. I am not sure I would want to ride on a computer controlled motorcycle as the way you accelerate, and how far you lean in turns and things like that often depend on your current riding position is, the current center of gravity for the bike, and even the tires that you currently have on your bike (their age, build material, tread style, etc). Would I like my bike to be able to communicate with other cars on the road and tell them that I am there? Sometimes. And I certainly would not be opposed to the bike calculating safety margins and tell me when I am potentially doing something risky.

Re:Good (2)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#44691441)

I see the opposite happening. Self driving cars would mean insurance companies can't screw over people of a certain age or with bad driving records. No tickets? What ever will the governments do to replace that revenue? Police layoffs (no need for so many traffic units). Then there are the lawyers! What will all those traffic attorneys do?

Re:Good (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44691589)

Until the insurance companies and the government conspire to make manually-driven cars illegal.

Fine with me. The sooner the better.

If you want to actually control your own car, you should go to a private closed circuit track. The public roads are not the place for that.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691217)

Why shouldn't an automated car be able to run a red light? If it doesn't interfere with traffic, nor does it surprise the meatbags, then what purpose would a red light serve for an automated vehicle? In fact, when you think of it, what purpose would lanes, speed limits, any vehicle indication lights, etc., serve when all traffic is automated? Heck, lower the sidewalks to street level and when nobody is on them, use them as another place to drive!

Re:Good (4, Funny)

ahem (174666) | about a year ago | (#44691289)

Heck, lower the sidewalks to street level and when nobody is on them, use them as another place to drive!

It appears that you haven't been to Italy, have you.

Re:Good (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#44691615)

Heck, lower the sidewalks to street level and when nobody is on them, use them as another place to drive!

It appears that you haven't been to Italy, have you.

I've seen this in San Francisco, right where the 101 basically dumps you into a city street.

Re:Good (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a year ago | (#44691321)

No more ... running red lights

No more red lights at all! http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~aim/ [utexas.edu]

Autonomous Intersection Management

(Awesome traffic intersection simulation on that page)

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691369)

FYI, it's still going to happen. Scale wiill force self-driving cars to drive pretty much the same as the existing meat head method.

For example, the Internet. You think all those packets just seamlessly arrive and never collide, TCP/IP packet collisions are more common than the semi-rig smashing into a guard rail.

Computers sure make you think you can escape reality, but really.... you can't escape reality. "Traffic free" is a pipe dream.

Re:Good (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#44691401)

No more traffic tickets... ooops... Sorry, going to have to ban those for the sake of our local financ...er...safety or something.

Re:Good (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#44691599)

No more tailgating, left lane hogging, pulling out without indicating, running red lights, drunk driving or any of that other stuff the meat-based drivers keep on doing.

At least, not until the firmware-modding community gets their hands on it... :)

Annoying (0, Flamebait)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#44691065)

All these cars will religiously follow the speed limit, boxing up roads and not permitting those of us who are in a rush to get around them. The road rage will cause accidents, I guarantee that.

Re:Annoying (4, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | about a year ago | (#44691077)

So because the car's going to follow the law, you're upset?

Re:Annoying (0, Flamebait)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about a year ago | (#44691115)

Only if it's in the left lane.

Re:Annoying (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691221)

Cars in the left lane are supposed to follow the law too.

Re:Annoying (1, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44691487)

No, they're really not. In most states that's actually explicit - you can get a ticket for "impeding the flow of traffic" or somesuch if you drive at the speed limit in the left lane when the natural flow of traffic is faster. Yes, that does mean the police can give you a ticket either way, which shouldn't surprise you at this point.

Re:Annoying (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691535)

It probably depends on your jurisdiction... where I live, you'd *NEVER* get a ticket for "impeding flow of traffic" if you were driving the speed limit, regardless of which lane you were in.

Re:Annoying (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44691235)

There is no rule that says the left lane is for speeding.
The left lane is NOT a speeding lane. It is not you personal driving lane. It is not their responsibility that you can't drive legally.

Suck it up and stop causing accident, you jerk.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691295)

left lane or as drivers call them, passing lanes, allow for faster moving traffic. unless of course you are driving a prius then they are your god given right to drive at 15 mph below the limit.

Re:Annoying (0)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44691329)

Even CHP officers regularly admit that you should not go merely the speed limit in the "fast lane". It's dangerous.

Re:Annoying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691367)

I like the European approach: if some passes you on the right, you get a ticket for blocking traffic. They may get a ticket for speeding, but you are still blocking traffic.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691433)

Get over yourself, you self-righteous asshole. I'm sure the halo, hovering over your car, prevents you from driving over the speed limit from time to time. FFS

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691447)

Lemme guess DAD in PORTLAND,

You drive a Suburu..

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691561)

Listen you self-righteous autistic fucktard, it's the PASSING lane. Don't treat the going past the speeding limit as some type of ethical travesty like speeding. Go to the right and let the cops worry about it, retard.

Especially since asshole like you will go 5 mph over until you get behind the little old lady, and you scream at her slow ass until she moves over, and call her every name in the book. Then a guy going 5 mph over your speed forces you to pull over, and you'll look dopey and indignant and call that guy a crazy lunatic that shouldn't be on the road while you stare at him passing by with a frothy mouth.

Go fuck yourself because it's readily apparent no one else is doing so.

It's the only way (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44691349)

Using human pilots we've hit the limit as to how many cars we can pack into a second in one lane at highway speeds. At 70 mph, the most you can do is two cars passing a given point in one second. We've plateaued.

If we drive slow enough to follow another car at a safe distance, throughput suffers. If we travel higher speeds, we have to reduce the distance between cars and throughput also suffers. You could add more lanes, but the costs would be enormous on average. You could try to force people to drive smaller cars when alone or car-pool by mandate, but good luck w/those.

Autonomous cars will allow tailgating and higher speeds, with much less risk, raising the effective traffic load to 3 cars per second, which is a 50% increase in throughput, without adding more lanes, going to double-decker limos for everyone, etc.

Re:It's the only way (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44691587)

Autonomous cars will allow tailgating and higher speeds, with much less risk, raising the effective traffic load to 3 cars per second, which is a 50% increase in throughput, without adding more lanes, going to double-decker limos for everyone, etc.

No, they won't, outside of Ideal Driverless Car Utopia.

What happens when the car at the front slams on its brakes, and your car can't stop as fast because the pads are worn and the owner hasn't bothered to keep up with regular maintenance?

Oops. You crash. Then many of the cars behind crash too.

Re:It's the only way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691607)

Autonomous cars will allow tailgating and higher speeds, with much less risk, raising the effective traffic load to 3 cars per second, which is a 50% increase in throughput, without adding more lanes, going to double-decker limos for everyone, etc.

Er. Only if *all* cars are autonomous, which given there are still Model Ts on the road won't happen for some time. And even then, what if a car has a sudden blowout or suspension failure? Computer reactions could remove the "reaction time" element of the safe recommended gap but there still has to be enough time for the physics to take effect.

Re:Annoying (1, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#44691305)

So because the car's going to follow the law, you're upset?

The quickest way to create a traffic jam and an immense road hazard is to follow every driving law to the letter.

In the past, truck drivers have done this when they want to make a statement about a new law they don't like. All it takes is one for each lane. Each truck going exactly the truck speed limit (often lower than auto). The backup goes for miles. Even if they obey a law that prohibits trucks in the left-most lane of a more than 2 lane freeway, it still blocks traffic quite well.

If every autodrive car follows the laws to the letter, there will be no increase in traffic capacity. They'll all be going the same speed, and since they aren't passing, they'll all be in the right lane. Plenty of room for real drivers to play.

Now, the question is, will they all be obeying the laws? Will each vehicle computer do an analysis on its own driving ability and the outside conditions and determine the maximum safe speed? Will this become a sales point? "Our cars are safer than brand X at higher speeds under the same conditions, so you'll get where you want to go faster?"

Re:Annoying (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691387)

They won't all be in the right lane when any need to make a left turn. I, for one, prefer to get into the lane I know I will ultimately need to be in as early as possible and remain there, instead of waiting for it to come up because, particularly in heavier traffic, I may not have the opportunity to lane-change when I am closer to the point where I am making the left turn.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691555)

...and if you're not willing to keep up with the flow of traffic...you're part of the problem.

Re:Annoying (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691593)

If the "flow of traffic" is speeding, I don't really give a damn. I will drive at the posted limit, barring slippery road conditions that necessitate I need to drive slower.

If somebody rear-ends me, my insurance company will happily sue them while I get my car repaired at no cost to myself.

Re:Annoying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691353)

A car should only be in the left lane for overtaking or for turning left. That's a law as well, but the police rarely bother with it.

Re:Annoying (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691445)

I get into the left lane whenever I know I will need to be turning left at some point up ahead, regardless of how far away it is, since I do not know for sure whether I will have the opportunity to safely move into the left lane when I get closer to where I'm going to turn.

Re: Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691135)

What would you be in a rush for? You can just leave earlier and do whatever you have to while the car drives. Need to sleep an extra half hour? Finish that homework? Study for a certification? Do it all while the car drives you.

It would also be likely that cars will be able to drive centimeters away from each other and have narrower lanes while adding some as well, making for faster commutes all the way around.

Re: Annoying (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691279)

Autonomous cars still have a minimum stopping distance, and it would be unwise for an autonomous car to tailgate even another autonomous car since unexpected situations which can force an emergency brake (such as a child running out onto the road) can still arise. If the car ahead had to stop unexpectedly, a distance of only a few centimeters would not be sufficient for your own vehicle to safely stop in time, even though you've taken human reaction time entirely out of the equation. I expect, instead, that minimum car spacing may still be reduced... but still somehow be a function of the posted speed limit.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691141)

So a car that keeps you from driving like a dork makes you upset???

Re:Annoying (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a year ago | (#44691147)

Autonomous cars will improve traffic considerably, because they can safely tailgate other autonomous cars.

Have you considered not driving like an asshole?

Re:Annoying (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44691207)

IT will be within n their tolerance to stop, unlike that human jerk behind you.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691157)

Millions of people die in car accidents each year, and your response is "cars following the speed limit are annoying".

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691185)

The road rage will cause accidents, I guarantee that.

I for one hope that the road raging idiots will earn Darwin awards as a result.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691187)

Better than having them all drive like you.......

You're the problem, not them. (5, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44691189)

All these cars will religiously follow the speed limit, boxing up roads and not permitting those of us who are in a rush to get around them. The road rage will cause accidents, I guarantee that.

Learn to let go, then. The problem isn't the law-abiding the drivers. It's the high strung ones.

I've driven in states where the standard is to speed heavily, and I've driven in states where the standard is to go the speed limit. In my experience, there's a lot less road rage when people are going the speed limit. There's less variation in speed when everyone is following the same standard, which means less people tailgating, less lane changes to pass, and less people cutting each other off.

For me, eliminating the "must get there quicker" mentality sharply decreased my aggression when driving. I am a *much* better driver now than I was when I was younger and treating the highway like a personal race track and getting frustrated when someone got in the way of going the speed I wanted to go. Being forced to go the speed limit taught me to chill and let go of the little irritations that are the seeds of road rage.

So, I say bring on the fleet of law-abiding autonomous vehicles. Maybe it'll teach the rest of you to cool your frigging heads. (And to get off my lawn!)

Re:You're the problem, not them. (4, Informative)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44691371)

What most people commenting on this don't realize is that roads will be less congested. A lot of time savings will be squeezed out of slowing and accellerating in heavier traffic as computers will avoid this dynamic process caused by lack of info in human drivers and slowness of response in human drivers.

When a big group of cars all know they are computer-controlled they can move as a unit with less worry some idiot 3 cars ahead will slam on he brakes.

Re: You're the problem, not them. (0)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#44691375)

If I go the speed limit in my area, I'll get rear ended. The speed limts in my area's highway are set 10mph lower than average people actually go, seemingly put in as a way for cops to rake in cash.

When people follow the speed limit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoETMCosULQ [youtube.com]

Everyone on this thread is acting like they never exceed the speed limit and are perfect little angels at driving and exceeding it is some moralely repugnant act and that bullshit is extremely annoying.

Re: You're the problem, not them. (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691479)

Getting rear-ended because you are going the speed limit while the person behind you is exceeding it is rarely anything more serious than a fender-bender... and the person who rear-ended you is going to be held to be at fault.

Re: You're the problem, not them. (0)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#44691521)

Yeah, that will really make me feel better when I waste my time in court, especially with a guy without insurance which is fairly common here.

"Oh, at least I was following the law."

0 fucking common sense.

Re: You're the problem, not them. (3, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691547)

You don't have to waste any time in court... you have their driver's information, you go to your insurance company, and if necessary, they'll sue the the other driver for you to recover the costs to repair your car.

Re:Annoying (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about a year ago | (#44691197)

All these cars will religiously follow the speed limit, boxing up roads and not permitting those of us who are in a rush to get around them. The road rage will cause accidents, I guarantee that.

These accidents will likely be mostly minor fender-benders that result in the road-ragers losing their licenses (unless, of course, they get a self-driving car.) Or, That, and you'd also probably see road-ragers driving themselves off the road and into fixed objects. The automatic cars'll generally do a pretty good job of avoiding serious collisions--far better than even a reasonably skillled human driver could.

If a person is so lacking in maturity and self-control that they'd start ramming automated cars for not letting them treat the road as their own personal speedway, it's highly unlikely that these individuals are able to conduct themselves in a mature manner in today's traffic. We're not looking at a substantial net-up of people who have no business driving a car, y'know?

Re:Annoying (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44691357)

But if there are enough automated cars (everyone but you), you can go ahead and try to ram them. You won't succeed because they'll just get out of your way to avoid the collision. Talk about open roads... :-)

Re:Annoying (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691503)

They won't just get out of the way if they cannot do so legally and safely.

Re:Annoying (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44691227)

You are causing the accidents. YOU are rushing. YOU are driving unsafe. YOU are risking other behind you.

It's not everyone else fault you can't get to work on time. If you cant control it, then you should have your license revoked until you have attended anger management classes.

Re:Annoying (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about a year ago | (#44691439)

You're a pretty good example for future laws mandating certain "drivers" only being in autonomous cars. If you can't handle the rules of driving because you're in a hurry, you should not be behind the wheel.

What I don't get is (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#44691079)

Why wouldn't Uber buy their fleet of cars from Nissan, instead of from Google [slashdot.org] ?

Re:What I don't get is (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44691103)

For the same reason they don't buy their web advertising from Nissan?

I'm so confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691161)

None of you are making sense.

And don't explain it. Just stop. Stop whatever it is you're on about.

Thanks.

Interference? (2)

chris thomas (592273) | about a year ago | (#44691139)

What happens when every car uses lidar, or some other range finding technology? Won't they interfere with each other and cause problems?

Re:Interference? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691245)

No more so than a given tv remote that is made for one particular TV should also affect every other television.

Re:Interference? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#44691345)

great so as long as no two same model cars are on the same road everything should work just fine :)

Re:Interference? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691517)

Nah... the signals used could easily be keyed to each individual car, say by using an encoded form of the VIN, and not responding to signals which do not contain the vehicle's own code.

Re:Interference? (1)

ezelkow1 (693205) | about a year ago | (#44691465)

hope they do a better job than the tv manufacturers do then. I have 2 in my office from 2 different manufacturers, an LG and a Vizio, and they both use the same IR codes and respond to each others remotes

Re:Interference? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#44691581)

If you have one remote it works great. If you have two remotes it will still work good. If you put 100 remotes in a room and had each of them pressing buttons at the same time, you would likely start to run into unreliability due to interference from each other. (Someone more familiar with the protocol should be able to tell us how many remotes it would take to be a problem) One problem with early CFL bulbs was that they emitted IR and would sometimes cause problems with IR remotes for TVs.

Taxi Drivers and Truckers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691149)

Looks like taxi drivers and most truckers might be out of work in less than 10 years.

Re:Taxi Drivers and Truckers (4, Insightful)

Spectre (1685) | about a year ago | (#44691363)

Freight hauling would be a great use-case for these ... no mandatory rest periods which means much more effective use of time getting from location to location. If larger roads had dedicated freight lanes where the effective speed limit could be lower, then the extra "drive time" could be used to conserve fuel and road damage by operating freight vehicles at something a bit lower than typical highway speed.

Nissan Plans to Sell Self-Driving Cars in 6 yrs (4, Insightful)

Donut (128871) | about a year ago | (#44691155)

This is a better headline. To those of us over 35, we have been trained to think of 2020 as a long time from now.

Re:Nissan Plans to Sell Self-Driving Cars in 6 yrs (4, Interesting)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#44691299)

Holy fuck... you're right. I'm not yet 30 and I see 2020 and think "more than 10 years".

Re:Nissan Plans to Sell Self-Driving Cars in 6 yrs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691543)

Even for younger people like me (early 20s) I still find myself measuring time from 2000. "1995? That was like five years a... okay, almost twenty."

The main obstacle isn't technological (3, Informative)

BobSutan (467781) | about a year ago | (#44691203)

The main obstacle to self-driving cars isn't technological, it's cultural. Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass. And that doesn't even speak to the costs involved. High end luxury cars get the tech first and it trickles down, eventually. Factor that in with the cultural issues and we're probably not going to see widespread adoption of self-driving cars until 2050 or beyond.

Re:The main obstacle isn't technological (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44691323)

The main obstacle to self-driving cars isn't technological, it's cultural. Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass.

That's assuming no catastrophic failures in that time period. All it will take is a couple major accidents caused by bad GPS/LIDAR/What-have-you, and back on the shelf it goes.

Hell, it wouldn't even take an actual technological failure, but merely a perceived one - remember all those incidents of "unintended acceleration" in several Toyota models? Nobody could prove that it was any sort of actual malfunction, yet Toyota sales still suffered from all the bad PR.

My issue? The potential for intentional tampering by clandestine agents - why bother arguing with dissidents, when you can literally arrange for their vehicle to have an "unfortunate accident?" Death by GPS [google.com] is enough of an problem with human-controlled cars; What happens when your auto-car insists on taking that hard left over the bluff, and manual control is locked out?

Re:The main obstacle isn't technological (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44691613)

That's assuming no catastrophic failures in that time period. All it will take is a couple major accidents caused by bad GPS/LIDAR/What-have-you, and back on the shelf it goes.

I disagree. The mood about this seems to be "as long as they're in fewer accidents than human drivers".

Nobody could prove that it was any sort of actual malfunction, yet Toyota sales still suffered from all the bad PR.

The same thing happened to Audi before them. It's starting to get through to people that those are fake (and the few isolated real examples haven't hurt sales much). Car companies already deal with dangerous problems that affect an entire model year today via recalls, usually with little fanfare. Most people with newer cars don't even realize how many firmware updates their dealer has done when their car was in for routine service (it usually just shows on the bill as "Recall #123456, no charge").

My issue? The potential for intentional tampering by clandestine agents - why bother arguing with dissidents, when you can literally arrange for their vehicle to have an "unfortunate accident?

Are you one of these guys who think everything can get a fresh patent if you append "... on a computer"? Who thinks everything needs a new law about doing the same old crime "on a computer"? No? Then why would you think that there's anything new or interesting about causing an accident for someone "on a computer"? It's not like it's hard to sabotage someone's car in a likely-fatal way today, or (if you're the government) just shoot them dead in the street and leave some evidence of a mugging behind.

Re:The main obstacle isn't technological (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44691337)

You're dead wrong. There'll be mass adoption as soon as people figure out you get to watch TV or go on Facebook while you're on your way to work,

Any company that has to pay drivers (taxis, buses, trucks, airport shuttles...) will also be straining at the leash waiting for this to happen. As soon as it's approved, all their drivers will be out on their asses. The companies will save so much money on wages, fuel, insurance, etc. that switching to robots will be the only way to stay competitive.

Add in the old people who can't pass the driver's medical and you're looking at a switchover measured in months for a big chunk of the population.

Sex. (4, Funny)

khasim (1285) | about a year ago | (#44691421)

Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass.

Once people figure out that you can have sex in the car on the way to work only the lonely will still be driving.

Re:The main obstacle isn't technological (1)

cranky_chemist (1592441) | about a year ago | (#44691493)

No, the main obstacle to self-driving cars is the law. And it's a critical issue.

Who, exactly, is at fault when a self-driving car causes an accident? The owner? The passenger? The car maker? The software programmer? No state currently has laws in place that address this issue.

And make no mistake, there WILL be accidents caused by software bugs/hardware failures.

Re:The main obstacle isn't technological (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691539)

The "cultural" obstacle has nothing to do with whether the technology can be trusted. That's a matter of physics, and Murphy's law.

Motor vehicles are subjected to by far the most abuse and neglect of any common consumer technology, as any mechanic can tell you. The most grandiose tech falls prey to simple wear and tear in idiosyncratic and unbelievable ways.

I'm thinking of a '04 Malibu that, after numerous attempts, finally burned itself up using a rather optimistically designed steering column wiring harness using a bizarre slip-ring arrangement to connect with the ignition switch, signal switches, and so forth. . Dealer No-Service Department did 1 wall job on it and wouldn't touch it after. Their tow driver said we should have just let it burn, which it finally did anyway. Yeah, like you're gonna let something like that drive itself, with you in it.

 

Fool me once... (1)

Dialecticus (1433989) | about a year ago | (#44691223)

...shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Initial Launch Market (4, Insightful)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#44691249)

I would recommend autonomous car makers stay out of the litigious US market initially, and focus their initial launch on some place like Singapore.

It has:
1) No Snow, which is still causes difficult problem for autonomous vehicles.
2) Highly structured environment. It is a nation that essentially consists of a single, highly-organized city.
3) That single city has a government that operates as a sovereign entity, and can adapt its legal framework to accommodate the cars.
4) That sovereign entity has demonstrated itself to be business friendly (sometimes at the expense of the individual).
5) Has car owners who are accustomed to accepting extensive government regulation and oversight.

Much as I would love the idea of having a self-driving car myself, I can't see how such a thing is compatible with American Society.

Re:Initial Launch Market (2)

grumpyman (849537) | about a year ago | (#44691513)

Hey how about piloting it in India [youtube.com] . If it works there, it'll surely work in all other jurisdictions!

What about obstacles? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44691263)

What if there's a squirrel, a cat, a dog or a frickin' deer on the road?

Re:What about obstacles? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44691311)

A well-functioning autonomous vehicle would recognize that there was an obstacle in such a case and would immediately slow down to avoid a collision.

Although I doubt it would recognize things as small as squirrels or other tiny animals. Something the size of a deer, however, it should immediately stop for.

Re:What about obstacles? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#44691341)

Simple. If the animal is small enough to cause no damage on impact, hit it and keep going. If it is big enough to damage the vehicle, don't hit it.

If it can read road signs, it can see a deer.

Re:What about obstacles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691389)

If hitting it causes less damage than swerving to avoid it would, then go ahead and hit it. Though if it's a child who has wandered into the middle of a busy highway you should swerve to hit its parents.

Re:What about obstacles? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44691423)

Road Kill for dinner.

The amazing autonomous James Bond "Q" car will catch it, skin it, and roast it over the car engine while you drive.

When you get home, dinner will be ready to be served.

Yum, yum.

who goes to prison when the car kills someone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691317)

because it will happen

We already have self-driving planes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691325)

Granted they require two people with six figure salaries sitting next to the system driving the plane. Despite this they still crash over a dozen times a year. I'm sure making the transition to an Altima that can whiz down the road while you jack off and drink a Starbucks is trivial.

2020? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44691379)

Phhh. Didn't Toyota already have a self-driving car?

Let's hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691399)

...it does a better job than the current aiming system on the Micra.

Excellent, one step closer to flying cars (1)

Iberian (533067) | about a year ago | (#44691429)

As we all know from Back to the Future, 2015 is the era of flying cars. However it seems there is an alternate timeline in which people are too much of a risk to guide flying cars with the skill of Doc Brown. So we have to first develop autonomous cars and then transfer over to autonomous flying cars. Which pushes our timeline 2020.

I'm naming mine 'Toonces' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691509)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_hwerqogzQ

The Elderly (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44691569)

It seems to me that self-driving cars would be a big deal for elderly people who are don't want to give up driving despite really being incapable of driving safely.

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