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Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the no-hands dept.

Transportation 149

fergus07 writes "There's been much talk about self-driving cars in recent times and the latest glimpse into this autonomous future comes from Carnegie Mellon University where researchers have loaded a Cadillac SRX with an array of sensors that allow it to manage highway traffic, congested roadways, and even merging on and off ramps."

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Hasn't Google been doing that for years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797635)

Not sure what the news is here, except for that CMU now did what a private company has been doing for a while.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car

Re:Hasn't Google been doing that for years? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about a year ago | (#44797785)

Well google just paid the guy that did at Stanford, to come do it for them but yeah.

Re:Hasn't Google been doing that for years? (1)

awtbfb (586638) | about a year ago | (#44799459)

Actually, Google built the All-Star team from the Urban Grand Challenge. The Google group has lots of CMU (winner) and Stanford (2nd place) team members, including the technical lead from CMU.

Re:Hasn't Google been doing that for years? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44799579)

Well that is the nature of technology.

For example, today if we are writing a program, having it display an Image, is a piece of cake. While before you needed to do crazy steps like decode the format, populate a memory buffer then dump that buffer to the screen at the right location. Vs today something like
image.src = "Images/test.png";
image.position = (10, 10);
image.visible = true;

Sure it does all the hard stuff in the background, but we don't need to worry much about it anymore. Because of people who figured it out in the past, now gives us something common today.

Now why is this news... Well it is using cars that don't look like rejects from a 1950's sci-fi flick, and that is is getting common enough for other companies to get in, and not just those eccentric start-ups.

Considering the buyers of these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797641)

Having a self driving Cadillac would be WONDERFUL!

Old people...

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44798061)

You forget the other large market for Cadillacs. How well will this system work when the car is up on 22s?

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798199)

You forget the other large market for Cadillacs. How well will this system work when the car is up on 22s?

So, it'd make single person drive by shootings easier?

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44798255)

You lost me.
White suburban kids spending their parents money on rims don't often do drivebys. Those and folks who look who like the cryptkeeper seem to be the only folks I see driving cadillacs.

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798635)

White suburban kids

That would be BMWs in my town. No white suburban kid would be caught dead in a Cadillac.

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799923)

Yes, he is indeed wrong. Here the gangsters get large classic cars, usually from the '70s, and put crazy paint jobs and stupid wheels on them.

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44799465)

Page 69 of the owner's manual says: "The Cadillac audio system will automatically blare out Led Zeppelin's Rock & Roll, summoning legions of mullet-wearing mouth breathers to your location in worship, surrounding you and keeping you safe." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIOhgZswp8M [youtube.com]

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (3, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44799817)

No one who listens to that has ever bought a Cadillac.

Rap music or whatever was popular in the 1890s are likely the only options on a Cadillacs radio.

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (2)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#44798131)

The just need to invent a way to make the left turn signal blink regardless of whether the car will be turning left.

Re:Considering the buyers of these cars (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44798733)

For all intents and purposes, when you can't see any more of the driver other than the top of a little bald head over the dashboard, its already a self-driving car. And all this stuff about negotiating stop signs, occupied crosswalks and off ramps: The present drivers just plow through at 15 mph and its all good. So what's so hard about doing that in software?

communications system? (1, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44797653)

So what happens when a light has a communication error and the car ends up in a bad crash? who is at fault and what happens to the victims who have bills that are pillaging up while the courts are working out who will have to pay them.

Re:communications system? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797699)

what happens to the victims who have bills that are pillaging up while

You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?!! give it to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797841)

if he's talking about medical bills, pillaging up is a perfectly cromulent usage.

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797931)

Maybe, but it's definitely apt if those bills are taken on by a collection agency.

Re:communications system? (2)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about a year ago | (#44797779)

My guess is that, at least initially, a driver will be required to be in the drivers seat at all times ready to override any actions taken by the car. In that case, the driver would likely be at fault for not correcting any action taken by the car that leads to an accident, just as in some vehicles out on the roads now, a driver is responsible for making sure he/she doesn't crash into other cars even when there is a system that can detect obstacles and take action or if the car can park automatically.

Re:communications system? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44797919)

My guess is that, at least initially, a driver will be required to be in the drivers seat at all times ready to override any actions taken by the car

At which point, WTF is the point of the self driving car?

If I need to be paying attention every second in case the computer does something stupid (and need to be able to anticipate every point at which it could do something stupid), it will require as much or more attention as if I was driving anyway.

I have no interest in a self driving car, and I certainly wouldn't pay for the privilege. If I wanted that, I could take the bus or the train.

I just don't see people actually wanting this technology, and since we'll never convert all of the cars on the road to this system, it means at best a fraction of your cars are self driving and playing by one set of rules -- while the rest of your drivers are doing the same random shit they do now.

This has always struck me as a technology which nobody actually wants.

It's like so many of these 'futurist' things which are impractical, will be too expensive, and which will never happen. This is a research project which might have some applications ... but which will never be practical for widespread use.

Re:communications system? (2)

Joshua Shaffer (2895571) | about a year ago | (#44798059)

I just don't see people actually wanting this technology

Yes, I can't imagine anyone who'd rather be able to nap, read a book, or do anything other than staring at the bumper in front of them during a regular weekday commute.

Re:communications system? (3)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44798145)

You assume that people could trust the technology. My personal experience is the rest of the drivers on the road will still do stupid and random shit, which has a good chance of negating any of the benefits of a car on auto-pilot.

What you're describing is better served with public transit or something.

When you have a huge fraction of your cars still being older and not using this technology, a lot of the assumptions about how this safe will be goes out the window.

I'd love to see these systems handle someone in the right turn lane with their signal on swooping over 3 lanes and turning left. And the cost involved in changing every car over to this would be so high as to make it a pipe dream.

Re:communications system? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#44798281)

Even now these things are better that the average driver (in google's tests)

They can cope with random crap about as well as people in general.

Re:communications system? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44798713)

Even now these things are better that the average driver (in google's tests)

See, when Google says that according to Google's test Google's self-driving cars are better than the average driver ... my first thought is "bullshit", just like all vendor claims you haven't verified yourself.

Send one of these things into rush hour traffic in a major city right now, and I'll bet those claims get proven untrue in less than 30 minutes.

Other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, children, pot holes and animals running into traffic ... all of these are going to serve to undermine this is a huge way.

If I'm in traffic and a cat runs into the road, well, the cat is screwed because I'm not getting rear-ended over some kitty. I have no idea what Google's car would do, but if it slammed on the brakes and caused a big pileup then it's made a bad choice.

I've been around software far too long to put implicit trust in any of it. I have no doubt they've made great strides, but there's no way I'd put my life in its hands just yet.

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798849)

They have actually put a lot of effort into their system; I saw an interesting video where they were talking about how they had to relax their rules because if they actually followed the rules at a stop sign, human drivers wouldn't let them out.

Re:communications system? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44799433)

If I'm in traffic and a cat runs into the road, well, the cat is screwed because I'm not getting rear-ended over some kitty. I have no idea what Google's car would do, but if it slammed on the brakes and caused a big pileup then it's made a bad choice.

And if it's a kid running out into the road, too bad for it too? Or was it just that you didn't want the hassle of being rear-ended to save a kitty? Last I checked it was the car behind's responsibility to keep a sufficient distance to avoid a collision, they're never going to win in court that it was your fault for braking too hard. So yeah, bad for the people who are glued to your bumper I guess but I won't miss them too much.

Re:communications system? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#44799827)

Well, they have clocked hundreds of thousands of miles on real life roads, 2 actual incidents, one under manual control.

Without all the data we don't know how many times a real life driver took over and averted a problem, or how often it's generally deemed too dangerous, and goes under manual control just to be safe, but I imagine that as time goes on, they will be used more and more autonomously, and eventually there will be data to demonstrate it's vastly being safer than people driving. I suspect this will come before the tech is available to consumers.

Computers versus humans (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44798879)

My personal experience is the rest of the drivers on the road will still do stupid and random shit, which has a good chance of negating any of the benefits of a car on auto-pilot.

You are assuming that the self driving vehicle would be less able to deal with "stupid and random shit" than a given human. Computers can potentially have greater situational awareness and also react faster than humans. A car could communicate with other vehicles regarding position and speed and road conditions. A car can have 360 degree vision day or night, clear or foggy. A car can estimate distance to the car ahead of it to within millimeters whereas people are often wrong by dozens of meters. Cars can directly sense and respond to unusual road conditions far faster than any human (see traction control) could ever hope to.

When you have a huge fraction of your cars still being older and not using this technology, a lot of the assumptions about how this safe will be goes out the window.

Not necessarily. If a driverless system is well designed there is a good chance it will be BETTER at dealing with all the lunatics out there driving badly. We're nowhere close to that now but it's hardly inconceivable.

Why would that necessarily be any harder for a computer to handle than a person?

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799685)

Truck drivers (18 wheelers) are limited to so many hours a day before they need to rest. Driver-less trucks can work 24/7 with minor maintenance schedules. No workers comp/disability/medical ins to cover and they wont complain, get drunk, need to eat/shit/sleep, etc. They would also not cut in front of you to pass a fellow truck driver. Imagine a convoy of these.

Re:communications system? (1)

kc9jud (1863822) | about a year ago | (#44798221)

I just don't see people actually wanting this technology

Yes, I can't imagine anyone who'd rather be able to nap, read a book, or do anything other than staring at the bumper in front of them during a regular weekday commute.

You missed this other part of gstoddart's comment:

If I need to be paying attention every second in case the computer does something stupid (and need to be able to anticipate every point at which it could do something stupid), it will require as much or more attention as if I was driving anyway.

Maybe you shouldn't be commenting on Slashdot while napping, reading a book, or anything else...

Re:communications system? (2)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#44798111)

If someone has to sit behind the wheel pretending to drive then self-driving cars will never catch on. However, the goal is to have vehicles that do not need someone waiting to take over at a moment's notice. Once true self-driving cars are available I suspect that they will catch on very fast. Most driving is tedious. Vehicle that allows people to do something constructive while their vehicle takes them wherever they need to go will probably be quite popular. And then there is the aging population that wants to stay mobile even after they are unable to operate a vehicle safely. If these vehicles can be made truly self-driving the transition to self-driving cars may happen quite fast.

Re:communications system? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798115)

If the technology actually works to the point that it truly is autonomous, that will be amazing. It will mean I can go on long drives and actually look out the window. I can read or write or watch movies during my commute. Plenty of people will like that. If it works.

Re:communications system? (1)

Spencer Drager (1537739) | about a year ago | (#44798151)

My guess is that, at least initially, a driver will be required to be in the drivers seat at all times ready to override any actions taken by the car

At which point, WTF is the point of the self driving car?

If I need to be paying attention every second in case the computer does something stupid (and need to be able to anticipate every point at which it could do something stupid), it will require as much or more attention as if I was driving anyway.

I have no interest in a self driving car, and I certainly wouldn't pay for the privilege. If I wanted that, I could take the bus or the train.

I just don't see people actually wanting this technology, and since we'll never convert all of the cars on the road to this system, it means at best a fraction of your cars are self driving and playing by one set of rules -- while the rest of your drivers are doing the same random shit they do now.

This has always struck me as a technology which nobody actually wants.

It's like so many of these 'futurist' things which are impractical, will be too expensive, and which will never happen. This is a research project which might have some applications ... but which will never be practical for widespread use.

As Joshua Shaffer said... there are many, many people who have 45+ minute commutes. Those commutes could be spent doing leisure activities, chatting with friends/family, doing work, or even sleeping. It would also open up more people to taking longer commutes because that time is no longer wasted driving a car. Finally, you wouldn't even have to OWN the car. A pool of cars could be shared by people with dissimilar schedules.

Re:communications system? (1)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about a year ago | (#44798903)

Or maybe just take public transit and, you know, see other humans IRL.

Re:communications system? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799407)

Talking to friends and family over the internet > talking to strangers in person.

Also, who takes public transit with the expectation of socializing with the random strangers they'll meet on the bus? Only the desperately lonely, and the annoying morons who think themselves far more interesting than they really are.

Re:communications system? (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | about a year ago | (#44799917)

Self-driving public buses, of course.

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798373)

Probably a bad driver

Legal problems are the easy ones (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44798599)

At which point, WTF is the point of the self driving car?

To get to the point where they actually are safer than one being actively piloted by a human. Furthermore even if they never become completely self-driving there will be a lot of very useful spin off technology that is going to come from this research. The legal framework for these cars can be updated when appropriate. That is the easiest problem with the technology since we already know how to do that.

I just don't see people actually wanting this technology, and since we'll never convert all of the cars on the road to this system

Yes people do actually want this technology. In fact I'd go so far as to say people who don't even think they want it actually do even if they don't know it yet. There already are self-parking cars, cars with automatic speed control/braking, stability control, ABS, traction control, navigation aids, drive by wire steering/braking, cruise control, and more. All those things are portions of a driverless vehicle. It's by no means a solved problem but we already rely on a host of technologies to make us better at driving than we could be unassisted.

I would dearly love to be able to get to/from work (~30 minute each way commute) without having to waste an hour every day with the non-productive task of driving. It is a huge waste of my time. It potentially solves other problems as well like helping handicapped people, reducing drunk driving, freeing up huge amounts of non-productive time and more.

We don't actually have to convert all the cars to driverless. It would potentially only take a fraction of them to be self piloting to improve road safety. I assure you that you do not really want my 94 year old grandmother behind the wheel of a car. I would welcome a self driving car to take her around. Any driverless solution will have to be robust enough to deal with unpredictable events at least as well as a human. A well designed system could have better situational awareness than any driver. My field of vision is only about 160 degrees even when I'm not distracted. A computer would have 360 vision day or night, be able to communicate with other vehicles regarding position and speed and direction, be able to react faster than any human, be far less prone to distraction, and actually obey the rules of the road. The engineering obstacles are large but so are the potential benefits.

Re:communications system? (1)

wstrucke (876891) | about a year ago | (#44797957)

Are you saying that if you were behind the wheel in a self-driving car and it ran a red light, you wouldn't be the first one to sue the auto maker (assuming you survived)? I don't see any way that the auto-maker wins in a court case in that scenario, unless there are laws that explicitly say you have to drive the car and the manufacturer has no-fault protection. If the latter is the case, then what's the point? Am I going to let the machine do the work if I'm solely responsible for when it screws up?

I imagine a traffic utopia where cars drive themselves, no one causes accidents or jams during merging and everyone goes a safe speed during inclement weather. I'm just not sure how we get there with our current legal system. Even if these things are as safe as humanly possible, there will still be some type of failure or accident.

Re:communications system? (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about a year ago | (#44798509)

The same can be said of self-parking cars, though, where as far as I know, the driver is still responsible. It's just another convenience. If you want to slack off and read a book while driving, sure, but IF you crash, then you're responsible for letting it happen. In the red light case, any driver should be able to detect that the car is not braking and override the autopilot. If you want to read a book then take the train/bus, at least for the foreseeable future.

I'm just saying that this is likely what will be required to begin with, until these systems have a proven track record, at which point the manufacturer could potentially license their system for completely autonomous driving, and the manufacturer at that point would have to be somehow responsible if the system causes an accident. (Which should be relatively easy to prove, any self-driving car would likely have to keep logs of their actions)

Re:communications system? (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | about a year ago | (#44798005)

My guess is that, at least initially, a driver will be required to be in the drivers seat at all times ready to override any actions taken by the car.

I don't think so (at least in a rational world). These cars are going to be 10x better than a human driver right out of the gate.

Re:communications system? (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about a year ago | (#44798547)

That may be *technically* true, but in general opinion, computers are held to a much higher standard than human beings.

Insurance (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44798121)

This raises an interesting question I hadn't previously considered: in most states, liability insurance is required to drive on public roads. What insurance company will insure an autonomous car?

I am usually the last person to take the position, "the free market will take care of it," but in this case ... maybe it can. When the insurance companies are ready to accept the risk, I think I will be as well.

Re:Insurance (1)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#44798239)

This make shock you, but once insurance companies determines the automatic cars have lower and/and less serious accidents that manual cars, they will be glad to insure the cars at lower rates too.

Except for one factor, the fear the tort lawyers will be able to win disproportionate damages based on the automatic feature failing to protect their clients. So, its not the actuaries that will screw you, its the lawyers.

Re:Insurance (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44798485)

Having thought about this for exactly 5 minutes, I have an opinion :)

Set up a no-fault insurance system where everyone is required to have insurance. Let the insurance companies set the rates per car, so that better automated systems will have lower insurance rates. Print the average insurance cost on the window sticker for the car, same way mileage is set now.

The most obvious unintended incentive with my proposal is that drivers and self-driving car manufacturers would focus on protecting their own car from damage, damage to the other car be dammed. Still, I think most of the techniques used to reduce the cost of damage to one's car will also protect other people's cars.

Re:communications system? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#44797797)

I've wondered something similar about this myself. In an accident, the driver of the vehicle is the one who usually is considered to be responsible for the vehicle. Is the company that manufactured the "driverless" system at fault, or is the primary occupant liable for legal repercussions? Surely the legal system will have to work out a few kinks before we see driverless cars in common use.

Re:communications system? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#44798529)

I'm willing to bet the legal issues will be addressed well before this is a consumer technology. Google is doing hundreds of thousands of miles of testing, unless these things are super drivers, there will be an incident, then they will provide their data supporting the their track record, and it will no longer be a case of gross negligence at least.

If the driverless system is immune from punitive damages, it will be lower cost to insure, and will rapidly take off (obviously restorative damages will still need to be paid, and someone will pay the insurance, I'd think it makes sense to have the drivers pay it yearly, rather than the manufacturers paying it all up front for the life of the car and adding it to the sale price.

Re:communications system? (2)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#44798015)

The liability will probably end up being rolled into the insurance system. Automated vehicles will have black boxes and record everything that happens, so there will be none of the my word against his word that happens in so many crashes now. It will be quite easy to determine who or what was at fault. The growing use of dashboard cameras is already a step in this direction, and some US insurance companies already offer discounts if the driver installs a data recorder. If the problem is truly technical and not driver error then what will probably happen is that once the cause is determined the car-owner's insurance company will work out the issue with the manufacturer. We may even see fine print in vehicle sales contracts requiring that the owner handle any liability issues through the appropriate insurance companies. And, if liability does become too much of a problem in the US then the self-driving car industry will simply move to countries where it is not. If the US cripples the industry with lawsuits it is possible that China or Europe will end up leading the way to autonomous vehicles.

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798021)

"So what happens when a light has a communication error and the car ends up in a bad crash?"

It's a Cadillac, they have usually always somebody at the wheel with communication problems between brain and limbs and that's even without Alzheimer's.

Re:communications system? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about a year ago | (#44798033)

It depends. When it's truly driver-less then insurance costs can be built into the cost of the vehicle and the car company would pay out (and if they can be as safe as they reckon, that shouldn't be much at all) or it could be a special plan with your insurance provider. Before proper driver-less cars your going to see advances on cruise control, stuff like lane centering, then highway driver, and car park parker; the driver will still be responsible in these cases but if the features don't work like advertised, expect car companies to pay up fast so it's kept quiet.

Re:communications system? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798091)

In the first place, the sensors will be redundant, and with good redundancy you can get one flaw every 20,000 years of use.

In the second place, everyone will be liable. The driver, the manufacturer, maybe even the dealership that sold you the car. In order to preempt that, congress has the option to change the laws to limit liability of any of those parties, much like they've done with guns. If it weren't for special laws protecting gun manufacturers, there would be massive lawsuits which would kill the manufacturers in the US.

Re:communications system? (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44798471)

So what happens when a light has a communication error and the car ends up in a bad crash? who is at fault[?]

Uh.... wait.... When the stoplight, the piece of equipment installed by the city and responsible for the right of way on the road, has an error, like showing two green lights when one of them should be red, which causes two cars to crash into each other? That scenario? I imagine the city is at fault. You know, cause we depend on them not fucking up street lights.

Why is no one commenting on this? ....ok, so apparently

"Our Cadillac also supports V2V and V2I communications," Rajkumar explains. This communication allows the SRX to connect with designed traffic lights and other vehicles that are equipped with the technology,

There are systems in place to help driverless cars. Neat. But I imagine that if they fuck that up, it'd be very similar to fucking up which light they turn on. And I imagine that's simple and direct enough that even the courts and juries could see that. Everyone is jumping on the legal issues surrounding driverless cars, but this isn't one of them. There's nothing new about this issue. The role of street lights are established. We know how they're supposed to work. When they lie to us, we are not responsible.

Seriously people, get your lawyeritis checked out because it's acting up. Remember when you were excited about the technology and not insurance and liability?

Re:communications system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798521)

The insurance on the car. All cars must have insurance and I don't know why that would be different for self-driving cars. The victims would be in the same position as the victims who die or are injured in traffic today. The only relevant information in that regard is whether there are more or fewer injuries and deaths with self-driving cars or with people-driven cars. Once self-driving cars are substantially safer than an alert but inexperienced human driver, it would be immoral to let new inexperienced people drive on public roads.

Re:communications system? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44799289)

At least here in Norway you can't legally drive a car on public roads without insurance (in which case the government pays out if you cause an accident, then go after you both financially and legally) and I don't expect self driving cars to be any different. Either the regular auto insurance will offer one or the self-driving car companies would have to launch their own, in which case you're only liable for gross negligence on your part. Technical problems with the car are obviously not of that type, it's a simple insurance matter. I also suspect that with a "black box" to store the last 30 seconds of sensor data before a crash or near-crash (rolling buffer triggered by collision detection systems) most cases will be decided very quick with very little he said, she said situations.

This part isn't exactly new or unique, if you deliver say hospital equipment then yes flaws and faults in your systems can kill patients. Sometimes bad shit happen and people die, but they deal with it somehow and I'm sure the same kind of system can deal with potential self-driving car auto casualties. The main challenges are technological, if you've gotten those down to a point where you're realistically calling it road-ready then I'm sure we can handle the residual risks. After all, humans also screw up big - for example the recent train disaster in Spain with 79 killed and 140 injured was the worst in decades and all human error. We'll figure something out just like all other non-human "driven" things like elevators.

Re:communications system? (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | about a year ago | (#44799305)

So what happens when a light has a communication error and the car ends up in a bad crash?

You mean, like what happens every day with people at the wheel?

Re:communications system? (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year ago | (#44799373)

This is a good question.

The other question would be:

Why are the outliers and very unlikely events that will happen because of self driving cars continued to be the excuse that prevents us from implementing them and saving the thousands of lives lost due to human error and incompetence on the highways every year?

Re:communications system? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44799659)

So what happens when the breaks do not respond the the pedal and the car ends up in a bad crash? who is at fault and what happens to the victims who have bills that are piling up while the courts are working out who will have to pay them.

If the communication error is from lack of maintenance, then it would be the owner and his insurance company. If it is from a defect in the system then it would be the manufacturer.

For most parts there should be a way for a person to take control if needed.

this car does not interest me (1)

madmayr (1969930) | about a year ago | (#44797865)

as long as they don't make a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am [wikipedia.org] - this is not newsworthy for me

Re:this car does not interest me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44797969)

Yet it was interesting to you enough to comment on it...

V2V (1)

wstrucke (876891) | about a year ago | (#44797989)

I wonder what the V2V communication is about. I expect that in an ideal world other automated vehicles could communicate obstacles, road condition, and velocity data to one another, but this seems ripe for abuse or exploitation. In a worst-case scenario, someone could use that to either completely stop traffic or to cause an accident.

Re:V2V (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44798583)

Wow, that'd be almost as bad as the existence of some sort of centralized computer controlled mechanism for directing traffic. You know, something with red and green lights. Oh wait, we have those. But yeah traffic lights are totally ripe for abuse. Imagine if someone could control those. They could certainly stop traffic or cause accidents. I wonder why it's not a rampant problem afflicting society.... oh wait. This isn't a cyberpunk novel. Most street lights run on dumb timers and don't have any input. Others (try) to sense the presence of traffic. More and more allow cops to send a signal to them to change their state in an ordered and controlled manner. It's like you can make a system that's plenty secure enough for the vast usage by the populace.

this is why (3)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798017)

allow it to manage highway traffic, congested roadways, and even merging on and off ramps.

This is how you know self-driving car tech is not quite ready, when they are bragging about being able to manage an off-ramp.

Seriously folks, we are not going to have a fully autonomous car by 2020.

Re:this is why (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44798137)

You mean it is already better than the average american driver? Sounds like they are right on track.

At 1700 everyday the on ramp to the freeway is a total mess even though there is lots of room to move to the left. It seems it is very rare for a human to be able to get on and move over into a higher speed lane. That is if they can even go up the ramp, because many driver in this area at least refuse to use the merging lane and believe they must merge onto the highway at the top of the ramp even if they have another 1/4 mile of merging lane left.

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798227)

What makes you think this autonomous car handled the situation any better?

Re:this is why (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44798291)

I assumed that this would not be considered a passing score for the using on and off ramp test.

I sure as hell would not call it one. Hopefully it can also manage yields and roundabouts. That or can we please start requiring actual driver training and testing?

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798563)

Hopefully it can also manage yields and roundabouts.

Looks like it can only handle freeway driving, so no.

I assumed that this would not be considered a passing score for the using on and off ramp test.

Unfortunately I can't find anywhere that gives the details of the driving test, so my assumption is they went at a time that didn't have a traffic jam on the off-ramp.

Re:this is why (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44798827)

This seems way less self driving and more like poorly assisting then.

I want a car that can drive me home from the bar. Anything short of that and I would be unlikely to be interested.

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44799013)

Yes. That was the (attempted) point of my original post. I feel like AI might be in for another winter after all the hyped promises it's been making recently (self-driving cars by 2020, full and complete cat brain simulations).

Re:this is why (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798171)

allow it to manage highway traffic, congested roadways, and even merging on and off ramps.

This is how you know self-driving car tech is not quite ready, when they are bragging about being able to manage an off-ramp.

In Pittsburgh this is actually a rather significant achievement.

Re:this is why (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44798589)

In these parts, Cadillacs that miss off-ramps just back up on the freeway and try again. If they can implement this behavior in an autonomous car, I'd say they are good to go.

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44798659)

lol where is that?

Re:this is why (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44798865)

Bellevue, Washington.

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44799045)

Ah. I went up there last month for an interview. Nice place.

Re:this is why (1)

healyp (1260440) | about a year ago | (#44798891)

Too true. I've seen more than a few boneheads execute that maneuver.

Re:this is why (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#44799259)

7 years is a long time for technology to improve. I mean, look at the Ford Focus. It parks with little to no help from the driver. I know it's a primitive example but it's an important one.

The way I see it whenever the car feels it cannot continue navigation it will park and ask the driver to take over. The result of this is less experienced drivers so I'm not sure how we benefit until the things are 100% self sufficient.

Re:this is why (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44799397)

The way I see it whenever the car feels it cannot continue navigation it will park and ask the driver to take over.

Wow, that could be awful. I'm not the greatest parker, so I could totally see it getting itself stuck in some situation where I sure can't help it out.

Re:this is why (1)

Kozz (7764) | about a year ago | (#44799695)

I want to read about its success in navigating some of the highway system surrounding the twin cities in Minnesota.

I remember once merging onto an interstate there (from the right) only to need to cross four lanes so that I could catch my exit (on the left) what seemed to be only a half-mile later. I probably endangered myself, my passengers and fellow motorists making that maneuver. This would be a good place to reduce accident risk. :)

The main challenge (1)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | about a year ago | (#44798029)

Oh man i'd love this: I'm not even allowed to drive as i'm an epileptic and my partner would love it too, she can and does drive but if she didn't have to she'd be glad to be driven around by the car.

But the real challenge is to find a manufacturer who's willing to dodge the sueball coming at them if one of those things goes wrong, even if it is (and it will have to be, and will be) 10 times safer than any human driver. Legal problems are going to snuff out this baby at birth.

Re:The main challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798157)

Toyota had some nasty accidents because of buggy drive-by-wire software and that didn't deter them.

Mechanical Mess (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#44798851)

A Self Driving car has a whole new layer of computers, servos, pumps, linkages, regulators, etc. that can and will break. It's bad enough you can be stranded in the middle of nowhere when you alternator fails, but now your car may shut down Friday, at 5:15 on the 405 Freeway because a safety feature disables it.

Bad idea all the way around.

How is this news? (2)

Mashdar (876825) | about a year ago | (#44798237)

This capability has been implemented for years. The DARPA Grand Challenge has had many capable entrants, including (I believe) CMU. All of the described behavior was required years ago in the Grand Challenge.

See DARPA Urban Challege 2007:

http://archive.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/ [darpa.mil]

To even qualify:
 

National Qualification Event

The NQE for the Urban Challenge was divided into three separate test areas, each with its own flavor and set of challenges:

The NQE A test course required robots to safely merge into and out of two-way traffic in a tight, circulating course. Needless to say, this led to some hair-raising moments for some of the traffic drivers. Besides the complex timing and scoring being recorded by course officials, traffic drivers would alert officials to aggressive behavior with an ever-popular horn blast. Amazingly, in eight days of testing, only one traffic vehicle was actually struck by a robotic vehicle, a testament to the progress of the teams and DARPAâ(TM)s focus on safety.

The meandering NQE B course tested robots on their ability to stay within a lane as they traversed this 2.8-mile course. One section, affectionately termed âoeThe Gauntletâ required the robots to delicately maneuver through a series of parallel parked cars and road obstacles. A final test on the NQE B course required the robots to find an assigned parking spot between adjacent parked cars, then safely pull into and back out of the spot before proceeding on its mission.

NQE C was traffic intensive, consisting of a series of four-way stop intersections for the robot to negotiate, each with its own arrangement of traffic. Robots had to recognize the other vehicles at these intersections, determine the order of precedence and then safely proceed through the intersection when it was their turn. For the second half of the NQE C course, various road blocks were emplaced and the robots were tested on their ability to recognize the road block, execute a U-turn and dynamically replan a new route to complete their mission.

Re:How is this news? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#44798639)

How were the stats for the traffic drivers?

Re: How is this news? Answer: Closer to market (2)

awtbfb (586638) | about a year ago | (#44799875)

The main advance is the progression towards real-world sensor selection and packaging. If you look at all the cars which completed the Urban Challenge, and the Google cars, you'll notice the spinning Velodyne laser sensor on the roof. It is a great sensor and makes autonomous driving much easier. Unfortunately, that sucker costs more than most luxury cars and would never be deployed the real-world since nobody wants a spinning can on their roof.

Carnegie Mellon would not have won the Urban Challenge without that sensor or the others littered all over the exterior of the car [tartanracing.org] . The major advance for this new Carnegie Mellon car is comparable performance with cheaper sensors fully packaged within the car. This is a big deal since (a) economics limits which sensors you can buy and (b) the car body and shape limit the size and location of sensors. These obviously limit your overall sensing capability.

The new car also has better computer packaging. Most autonomous vehicles have no trunk space and frequently have no back seat room. For a historical perspective, Carnegie Mellon's Navlab 1, which found a spot and parallel parked autonomously in 1992, had racks of computers and an extra air conditioning system to handle the heat load. Urban Challenge vehicles also had racks in their trunk areas. The Cadillac SRX team was able to cram all the computational gear out of sight. This is really Moore's Law, etc but it is still a respectable achievement.

Not Unique (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year ago | (#44798257)

>> Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car

Audi had this problem back in the 80's.

FUD (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44799065)

Audi had this problem back in the 80's.

No they did not. [wikipedia.org] Those allegations against Audi were driver error and a fradulent news report.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799297)

Woooosh.....

it's a perfect match (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44798337)

Seriously, considering the demographic that actually buys Cadillac cars, it's the obvious make which needs this first ;-)

Fuck you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798393)

Why isn't this electric?

Re:Fuck you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798633)

Why are you so offended that it isn't?

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798715)

See comment subject.

Re:Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798873)

You care. You proved that already.

Most Impressive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44798895)

33 miles on city streets and highways with speeds up to 65 miles per hour.

This is most impressive. It seems that self driving cars are getting very close to a reality for the public.

FUDposters never learn (2)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#44799023)

Every time an automated car story shows up, a zillion people feel the need to show how sure they are that human drivers can handle more situations than the computers. First of all, why can't they (the ignoramuses posting this stuff) ever accept that hundreds of very smart engineers, not only at Google Research, have taken all sort of 'whoops what happened there' situations into account?

Second, why are these posters incapable of noticing that other transportation systems such as the DC subways or nearly all modern jet aircraft, currently function very well completely autonomously? Yes, Cthulhu might pop up in the middle of a subway tunnel, but a human operator will do no better than the computer in avoiding it.
One more reference: several USAF fighter aircraft are designed for high maneuverability, and are in fact unstable. Only tightly-bound wing surface control loops, fully computerized, keep the things flying in the intended direction.

Re:FUDposters never learn (1)

number17 (952777) | about a year ago | (#44799617)

I'm one of those people who brings up these situations as I really do want answers to the many scenarios. My favourite scenario is when i'm a jaywalking pedestrian. Do I now have the power to stop all cars by simply walking into the street?

My new scenario is garbage night in the city on two lane streets (one each way). Currently I have to go around the garbage truck into on-coming traffic when it is safe to do so. Will the self-driving car sit behind the garbage truck as it goes from house-to-house, business-to-business?

It looks like we are mainly talking about highway driving right now as opposed to city. Though i'm still interested in a highway scenarios where the vehicle is in a lane that no longer continues and becomes and off-ramp lane. There are several of these on the 400 series highways in Toronto that cause traffic backups. What is the decision for such a scenario when cars are fast moving, bumper to bumper, and nobody is letting anybody else in? Will the vehicle take the off-ramp, stop, or cut somebody off?

Once you know the decision trees for these scenarios, how will it affect your decisions as non-self-driving driver?

Re:FUDposters never learn (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#44799727)

I'm one of those people who brings up these situations as I really do want answers to the many scenarios. My favourite scenario is when i'm a jaywalking pedestrian. Do I now have the power to stop all cars by simply walking into the street?

My new scenario is garbage night in the city on two lane streets (one each way). Currently I have to go around the garbage truck into on-coming traffic when it is safe to do so. Will the self-driving car sit behind the garbage truck as it goes from house-to-house, business-to-business?

It looks like we are mainly talking about highway driving right now as opposed to city. Though i'm still interested in a highway scenarios where the vehicle is in a lane that no longer continues and becomes and off-ramp lane. There are several of these on the 400 series highways in Toronto that cause traffic backups. What is the decision for such a scenario when cars are fast moving, bumper to bumper, and nobody is letting anybody else in? Will the vehicle take the off-ramp, stop, or cut somebody off?

Once you know the decision trees for these scenarios, how will it affect your decisions as non-self-driving driver?

Yes, a jaywalker causes traffic to stop. Oddlly enough, at least in most of the USA, that's the law now.

If it's illegal to cross a double-yellow, then no you cannot pass a garbage truck. Or a school bus. OTOH, if they change the law, taking advantage of your car's ability to talk with the garbage truck and thus know if it's safe to go around it, you will.

If your car, and all the other autonomous vehicles, know you are - or aren't- taking the exit, space will be automatically be generated for merging in either direction.

Why can't you recognize this for yourself?

Re:FUDposters never learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799743)

My favourite scenario is when i'm a jaywalking pedestrian. Do I now have the power to stop all cars by simply walking into the street?

You pretty much have that power today, right now.

How good is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44799069)

It's like...the Cadillac of self-driving cars.

one day... (1)

xcix (1591693) | about a year ago | (#44799577)

a day will come when bus/cab drivers will be like the elevator operators

Sideswiped (2)

Quila (201335) | about a year ago | (#44799839)

I would love to see how this handles someone in the next lane suddenly moving into the car's lane, sideswiping it. It could look at the other side's lane or oncoming traffic too. For example, no oncoming traffic means safe to swerve into oncoming lane to avoid the sideswipe. Oncoming traffic or quickly upcoming traffic from behind, and it could just decide to accept the sideswipe as the least-harmful choice. It would be difficult for a human to take all this into account in under a second when just in regular driving mode (not racing, where they tend to keep 360 awareness).

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