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How Google, Tesla, and Uber Could Team Up For the Driverless Taxis of the Future

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the deprecating-human-beings dept.

Transportation 126

cartechboy writes "Follow the thinking for a second. Google drops $258 million into the car-taxi app Uber. Google says it will make self-driving cars available within four years, based on its ground-breaking research into self-driving cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has spoken with Google about driverless technology for future Tesla vehicles. So, are we watching the assembly of a massive driverless taxi service of the future? Battery-electric vehicles make excellent autonomous taxis (very few moving parts, low per-mile energy cost, and zero noise or emissions) Could Google use some of its cash hoard to buy Tesla outright (making Elon Musk its third largest shareholder in the process), then grab Uber and turn the whole thing into an app? Musk's goal has always been to transform the very nature of transportation. This might just do that."

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Automotive Industry (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843709)

Ethanol-fueled's Commandments to Dating Online:
 

  1. If you don't look just good enough and have a job and personality, or a fat wallet, you're forever doomed to having sloppy, embarassing sex with fat chicks. Forever.
  2. If you have low self-esteem and/or are a virgin, take the first fat girl who puts out and work your way up as your game and self-esteem increase. Oh, and wear a condom and rub Neosporin around your entire genital area before intercourse.
  3. Keep track of your girls' interests and what you told them, and never ask them the same question twice. Avoid rookie mistakes like asking,"Were you the one I told that story?" or confusing their Chihuahua with another girl's pug.
  4. If any woman makes the same mistakes in the above item to you, then she's a careless serial dater and must be humped and dumped immediately. She's so not into you, dude.
  5. If a woman insists on a first meeting before noon, a second meeting on a weekday, or a third without sex; it's safe to say you're being played and should look elsewhere.
  6. Like a skilled judo practitioner, you must turn your opponents' leverage against them -- when she accuses you of using her for sex, accuse her of using you for attention.
  7. Tell women "no" the first few times when they get grabby. If you cave to their demands too soon, they see it as a sign of weakness and promptly ditch you afterward in scorn.
  8. Trite, but take into account the relationship she had with both her mother and father, and interpolate that relationship with her behavior. The worst combination for you is a daddy's girl who had a bad relationship with her mother, unless you're daddy.
  9. Never let her see your bare mattress until you've had period sex with her, so you can say all those permanent reddish-brown blotches are hers. After that you can say in a pseudo-lovingly camelCase tone of voice, "they're all yours" while kissing her on the forehead.
  10. Never talk to a woman again if she fucks you on the first date. If a woman fucks you on the second or third date, she's soulmate material. If you've gone 3 dates without sex, chances are she went on your 4th date with another man's come in her breath.
  11. This one's kinda complicated, so bear with me -- Some women will attempt to propogate the myth that women can be choosy and that one woman has many potential suitors. Call her on it and tell her in a condescending way that, not only can you get pussy with a single phone call, but the population distribution is roughly 50/50 and more available trash does not mean a higher likelihood of sucess(she is, after all, still on the site). Follow-up by telling her that the value of single men appreciates with age while the value of single women deprecates with age, moreso if they have been divorced and/or have children. Finally, scold her for being so ignorant, with a condescending lament about how apparently educated women could be so base, and then politely end the conversation promptly and for good.
  12. Do you know what a rodent pussy looks like? How about an inactive volcano? If she has those the tone of regular skin-color on her face, it's crypto-herpes. Run, run for the hills.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Automotive Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845709)

No, I don't know what rodent pussy looks like.

Possible futures exist (4, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#44843743)

More at 11.

Re:Possible futures exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843853)

Last Slashdot story involving Uber and Google was that one dated April 1st, 2094 or something like that. Does this one have anything even mildly resembling reality in it, or is it just another bad corporate slashfic?

cash hoard (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843757)

Why would Musk become the third-largest GOOG shareholder if it was purchased if TSLA was purchased with cash? That doesn't make any sense.

Re:cash hoard (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44843769)

That doesn't make any sense.

... a statement which pretty much sums up this summary.

Re:cash hoard (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44843773)

That's a good question. I know that sometimes in mergers they issue new stock instead of giving money, where $1k of TSLA stock is converted into $1k of GOOG stock, but that shouldn't happen with cash. Or maybe they're assuming that Musk would buy the equivalent amount of Google stock with his payment.

Re:cash hoard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843887)

Or maybe they're assuming that Musk would buy the equivalent amount of Google stock with his payment.

Yeah, where "assuming" means "writing it into the contract."

Ha, captcha: industry

Re:cash hoard (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#44843883)

Why would Musk become the third-largest GOOG shareholder if it was purchased if TSLA was purchased with cash? That doesn't make any sense.

When they talk about mergers/takeovers/buyouts, purchasing "with cash" doesn't mean actual dollars, it means any liquid or near-liquid asset. Stock is often counted as "cash" unless otherwise specified.

Re:cash hoard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844043)

I like how you saved three characters by using their stock market symbols instead of their commonly known brand names. Oh aren't you ever so clever.

Re:cash hoard (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44844093)

Perhaps whoever fantasized that scenario imagined Google would pay for Tesla in Google shares instead of money.
Still doesn't make any sense, though.

Re:cash hoard (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44845313)

Perhaps whoever fantasized that scenario imagined Google would pay for Tesla in Google shares instead of money.

Except that the author specifically says "cash" earlier in the same sentence.

Re:cash hoard (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#44845733)

Well, in bizarro fantasy world, NSAGOOGLE abolish the $USD and GOOG stock certificates are the only form of legal tender.

What? (4, Funny)

rnturn (11092) | about a year ago | (#44843791)

No "JohnnyCab" tag?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44843827)

Someone is not familiar with "Recall"

Re:What? (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44844065)

Why don't they buy out Moller while they're at it and give us autonomous flying taxicabs (like in Fifth Element)?

think about this for a second (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44843843)

Wobbly bridges, nonexistent highways, and GPS coordinate usage that looks like the clocks were off by about forty yards.

Think I'll pass.

Re:think about this for a second (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44844127)

Since I'm in Denver, I'm thinking of washed out roads.

Re:think about this for a second (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44844189)

yeah, saw that. Hope you got your water wings. Or a nice boat.

Common arguments... (4, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44843849)

Some arguments I've heard against driverless taxis/transport services:
1. People will dirty/graffiti/vandalize/steal the vehicles
2. What if it breaks down!!!
3. It'll get lost/not understand directions
4. Somebody will hide on board to attack the next passenger
5. People will do drugs/have sex/sleep in them(see #1)

I'll note that I don't believe any of these are can't be mitigated to the point that driverless taxis are practical, or are at least no more of a problem than manned taxis.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44843889)

Don't forget the possibilities of Death by GPS. [slashdot.org]

Best part of that link is reading through the comments and imagining how they would/would not apply to an auto-car.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about a year ago | (#44844081)

Self-driving cars don't rely on GPS alone. Sensors and image recognition could easily detect incorrect GPS readings and bad map data. The failure mode might not be optimal - perhaps the car would stop and signal an error (including sending a notification to the central office) - but it'd hardly be catastrophic.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44844275)

Self-driving cars don't rely on GPS alone

Neither do human drivers, but that doesn't change the fact they occasionally get themselves into bad situations by putting too much trust into "the computer."

Sensors and image recognition could easily detect incorrect GPS readings and bad map data.

Assuming the computer knows beforehand that the readings are incorrect. There are roads that go into Death's Valley, for example.

The failure mode might not be optimal - perhaps the car would stop and signal an error (including sending a notification to the central office) - but it'd hardly be catastrophic.

Yea, well, we could speculate all day on what *might* happen in that type of situation, but we'll never know for sure until it happens.

Re:Common arguments... (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44843917)

Having several cameras recording the interior of the car should solve almost all of those problems. Most Cabs in many places have cameras already for the same reasons. A "phone home" operation for human assistance in unusual situations should solve the rest.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Necroman (61604) | about a year ago | (#44843967)

My thoughts exactly. To take it further. "Dispatch" for these self-driving cabs would just be sitting there watching feeds from all the cabs they have out and about. They could look illegal behavior and either send someone to look into the problem or to call authorities.

As for someone "hiding in the cab", I'm pretty sure they could easily tell the weight changes to the vehicle (preventing someone from sticking around).

Re:Common arguments... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44843969)

Cameras are only useful if you have someone to go through all the footage, and when the camera isn't the first thing to get vandalized.

But that's not the real problem as I see it. Endless traffic jams is what I envision, because autonomous systems have to err on the side of caution, and stop whenever they face something they haven't been programmed for. There is no such thing as an expert system with common sense.

Re:Common arguments... (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44844145)

There really isn't such a thing as common sense. A traffic jam is just another common situation to be programmed for, and quite an easy one at that. If we have enough driverless vehicles, I think the number of traffic jams will be drastically reduce, as AI based cars are unlikely to tailgate an tap their brakes constantly like many (brain-damaged) humans.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44844679)

Cameras are only useful if you have someone to go through all the footage, and when the camera isn't the first thing to get vandalized.

If the camera is the first thing to be vandalized, that's a problem, but it doesn't make the camera useless. It at least gives you a picture of whoever vandalized the camera. Hiding cameras in the interior can reduce the chances that this will happen; cameras are cheap now. Machine analysis of the video can take the place of having an eye on every moment of footage, but what you said isn't actually true anyway. There's often substantial evidence of any crime that the camera might help you observe, anyway. That lets you know that you need to review the footage, hopefully before someone rejects the cab. You might reasonably compare photographs between occupants to avoid that particular happenstance.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | about a year ago | (#44845567)

Easy solution: if the camera is vandalized, lock the doors and drive to the police station.

Re:Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844063)

It will be funny when those cameras record a couple of 15 year olds having sex in an autonomous taxi.

Re:Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844121)

Having several cameras recording the interior of the car should solve almost all of those problems.

Not without introducing new ones. What happens when someone breaks the rules? Does a synthesized voice tell them to knock it off or "I'm going to pull over and we will just sit here, dammit"? is that a threat to someone who is using the car to sleep, get high, get laid?

What if someone disables the camera? Is the cab disabled?

Re:Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844491)

Drives to the po po
Obviously. Or call them.
Seriously. Easy.
Plus to get in theyll need credit card, most likely.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44845341)

What happens when someone breaks the rules?

Their credit card is debited for the cost of the damages. Was this supposed to be a hard question?

Re:Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845433)

Their credit card is debited for the cost of the damages.

Some of the posited undesirable behaviors would not cause actual damage. Also, damage or disablement could be performed by people who have not supplied payment (i.e. people who have just entered the cab, or people who are outside the cab).

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#44843963)

People will dirty/graffiti/vandalize/steal the vehicles

They would already have giant pink moustaches on the front. What could any vandal do that would be worse?

Re:Common arguments... (2)

jpampuch (72782) | about a year ago | (#44843991)

Today, I think hybrids make a better taxi than all-electric. I suppose with battery swap stations conveniently place around cities, it could work, but I'd get pretty annoyed if I got into a taxi and found out it didn't have enough range to get to my destination.

Running out of charge (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44844557)

Simple solution: Have an app for your 'calling' your taxi that also asks for the destination(helping you confirm that the system can actually get you there before you wait for the taxi), or give it to the dispatcher(who checks for improbable destinations/problems), and the system automatically selects one with sufficient charge to reach you, your destination, and back to the charging station with sufficient overhead. Worst case, it'll likely have dropped you off already before it dies. 'Emergency mode' should have it find a safe spot for the emergency charge/tow vehicle.

If it's a 'hail' taxi and you have to give the destination in the vehicle it can arrange for another taxi to intercept you even as it informs you that it unfortunately doesn't have sufficient charge for the whole trip, but in 15 miles you can transfer to a vehicle that does.

Remember, city taxi; it shouldn't be driving huge distances.

Another point would be that a Tesla Model S has enough range to only need 2 hours of fast-charge to exceed the average daily mileage of a NYC taxi.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44844035)

And that's even ignoring the fact that driving a taxi through a busy street in San Francisco is much much more difficult from an AI perspective than driving on the freeway.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44844573)

That's a valid concern, though I understand that Google's been driving it's autonomous cars through San Francisco for quite some time.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a year ago | (#44844055)

All of those issues besides #4 apply to non-autonomous cabs. And if you're worried about number 4, never walk near an alley, or really anywhere in a big city.

#4 - What about the driver? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44844583)

Even with #4 you have the problem that while he's not hidden, attacks by cabbies themselves against passengers aren't unknown.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44844077)

Exactly my thoughts. Yeah, there are problems, but they're all solvable as long as profit margins are high enough. Google's general procedure seems to have low-margin services, and make them appeal universally enough that they can make profit in volume.

On another branch of thought, consider that most of these criticisms apply to current taxis (2, 3) or subway systems (1, 4, 5). Generally, in a taxi, the vehicle isn't restricted to a rail, so it can get lost or stranded far away from where the passenger expects to be. They can call their dispatchers for help. In a subway, it's common to pay at an automated gate, and never see the driver. Crimes are common, but not uncontrollable. For the most part, surveillance and passenger caution resolves their issues.

Re: Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844211)

For #s 1, 4 and 5, simply have the car lock the doors and request assistance. If illegal activity the police can be dispatched to the car at their convenience or the car can deliver the criminal to the police.

Re:Common arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844405)

0. Build a driverless car and show that the failure rate over 1'000'000 miles without human intervention is less than a convential car.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845333)

Couldn't you make almost all of those arguments about city buses as well though? It's not like the bus driver is hopping up from his seat with a cattle prod and keeping people in line. At best he can yell at people, stop the bus or call the cops. Seems like you could do just about the same thing with a PA and some cameras in vandalism deterrent casing like those that are currently installed on city buses already.

Re:Common arguments... (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#44845729)

5. People will do drugs/have sex/sleep in them

Wait... is that an argument for or against?

Missing one piece of tecnology (1)

squidflakes (905524) | about a year ago | (#44843859)

Who will make the "life-like" driver busts that can banter with eleven different sorts of inane chatter? JohnnyCab it is not!

Re:Missing one piece of tecnology (4, Funny)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44843929)

Please state the nature of the transportation emergency.

Re:Missing one piece of tecnology (2)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about a year ago | (#44844349)

This was the only decent post on this topic. If this actually happens sometime in the indefinite future, the autonomous driver should definitely be modeled on the Doctor.

No, not THAT Doctor, THIS Doctor! http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=the+doctor+voyager&qpvt=the+doctor+voyager&FORM=IGRE [bing.com]

Re:Missing one piece of tecnology (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44844705)

Oh great, a taxi driven by "Emergency Medical Hotheads". But I do suppose it'll help them make "Extremely Marginal House calls"...

Re:Missing one piece of tecnology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845541)

Computer reroute emergency power to the horn and prepare to take evasive action on my mark.

Why would Google do this? (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#44843881)

No windows, the entire passenger area covered with advertising screens.

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44843979)

In-car audio advertisement as you start moving or approach the destination. It serves as a welcome and a warning, and is presented to a captive audience with a profile of where they go and what they're probably doing.

Why would Google not do this?

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44844173)

Because, eventually, society is going to get fed up with not being able to do anything without having advertisements shoved in their faces every second, and will actively revolt by deliberately avoiding any and all businesses whose adverts pissed them off.

At least, in a perfect world, where everyone is just like me. [youtube.com]

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44845385)

Because, eventually, society is going to get fed up with not being able to do anything without having advertisements shoved in their faces every second, and will actively revolt by deliberately avoiding any and all businesses whose adverts pissed them off.

Or maybe Google will learn to detect which ads you don't like and send you only ads that you find entertaining, or for products that you really do want to learn more about. For instance I would like to see more ads for metal lathes and band saw blades, but almost never see them even though I frequently visit metal working websites.

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#44844019)

You're thinking inside the box.

You type in your destination and tell it to go, and off you go.
If you tell it to go to the beach, it'll stop at whatever surf shop shelled out the most cash and yell at you to buy shit.
But what's this? It's taking you to the McDonald's drive through first? You then have to get on the squawk box and tell the minimum wage burger jockey "No, I don't want anything, my car just brought me here, sorry." and hope they understand.

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44844085)

No windows, the entire passenger area covered with advertising screens.

Targeted advertising screens. Not to mention recording your shopping habits and recording anything you say while inside the cab....

Re:Why would Google do this? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44844591)

No windows, the entire passenger area covered with advertising screens.

Targeted advertising screens. Not to mention recording your shopping habits and recording anything you say while inside the cab....

Seditious speech detected. Please remain calm and seated as your route is redirected to the nearest government re-education center.

Who (1)

asamad (658115) | about a year ago | (#44843885)

Is going to own the cans
The local council should own the cans of they are driverless

Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years? (2, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44843897)

Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years?

also one big / bad accident can lead to a big count case / even an order to stop useing the cars till the case can go though so things can get worked out without adding more victims to the penning cases.

Re:Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844021)

Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years?

Don't imply as if it shit is getting done today in that clusterfuck process that hardly resembles due process anymore...of course they won't be ready. They're not ready now.

Re:Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#44845763)

Robo driver should be better in an accident than a human. If they're capturing speed, location, sensor data (and video) of nearby cars, a lot of bullshit auto accident lawsuits could be eliminated.

Re:Will the courts / laws be ready in 4 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845941)

God dammit, Joe. There you go again with your horribly bad spelling and grammar. You make me sad.

How Outbox will become the Post Office... (3, Interesting)

rockmuelle (575982) | about a year ago | (#44843937)

Follow the thinking for a second. Outbox* collects people's mail, scans it, and delivers it to them in "a beautiful digital format". Outbox is located in Austin. Its founder has spoken at Capital Factory. President Obama has also spoken at Capital Factory. President Obama's government runs the Post Office. Clearly, Outbox, Capital Factory, and the President are going to replace the Post Office with Outbox.

Makes as much sense as the OP. Happy Friday!

*(I have no affiliation with them, I just live in Austin and see their silly cars driving around collecting people's mail and wonder why seemingly sane investors gave them money - I think this post answers the question!)

Re:How Outbox will become the Post Office... (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#44843983)

Follow the thinking for a second. Outbox* collects people's mail, scans it, and delivers it to them in "a beautiful digital format". Outbox is located in Austin. Its founder has spoken at Capital Factory. President Obama has also spoken at Capital Factory. President Obama's government runs the Post Office. Clearly, Outbox, Capital Factory, and the President are going to replace the Post Office with Outbox.

If you follow that logic, it means that Half Life 3 will be released next summer! I KNEW it!

The kludgy LIDAR problem (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44843939)

"The problem with Google's current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive" - Musk

He's referring to the expensive Velodyne rotating array of 64 LIDARs [velodynelidar.com] found on top of Google's cars. It's a useful device, but it's a research tool, not something that belongs on top of production vehicles.

What's needed is a compact solid-state 3D LIDAR for outdoor use. Advanced Scientific Concepts [advancedsc...ncepts.com] makes such things, but they're sold to DoD for about $100K each. Typical performance is 300 meter range, 128x128 pixels, 30 FPS. There's no fundamental reason the technology needs to be that expensive; it's just that the things are hand-made at a lab in Santa Barbara, CA. (I visited them a decade ago when we were doing a DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. Back then, they had the technology working on an optical bench, but didn't have usable hardware yet.) This technology needs to be turned into a mass market product. The current generation Kinect, (which is a true LIDAR, not a trianguation sensor like the previous model) does roughly the same thing, but with a less sensitive sensor and a weaker laser. Eventually somebody will put enough money behind this to get it right.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844163)

"The problem with Google's current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive" - Musk

He's referring to the expensive Velodyne rotating array of 64 LIDARs [velodynelidar.com] found on top of Google's cars. It's a useful device, but it's a research tool, not something that belongs on top of production vehicles.

Its called economies of scale. I'm sure the price/size/efficiency would drop when 100 million+ of them are ordered.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (1)

Score Whore (32328) | about a year ago | (#44844221)

Just beef up body strength the cars and have them "Drive By Braille."

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (2)

Goldsmith (561202) | about a year ago | (#44844231)

Already done for you! Toyota and Mercedes have taken the technological lead on vehicle based radar systems. The radar sensors you're seeing on high end cars right now are solid state, mass produced and very functional. Go out to a Lexus dealer, you probably wont find a new car on the lot that doesn't have front and back linear radar arrays (they're assuming you're driving on a relatively flat road).

It's been a while since DoD really wanted cutting edge radar/lidar research.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44844799)

Already done for you! Toyota and Mercedes have taken the technological lead on vehicle based radar systems.

Simple anti-collision automotive radars have been around for almost two decades. The Eaton VORAD, which is a phased-array radar which scans in one axis, is relatively decent. It gets you range, range rate, and bearing on targets of motorcycle size and larger.

Newer radars are down in the millimeter range (77GHz is popular) and can get a return off human-sized targets. But these are strictly anti-collision devices - they cannot profile the ground and see bumps, potholes, curbs, cliffs, etc.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44844337)

It seems like a few stereo cameras would be a cheaper solution. Kinda like multiple Kinect sensors mounted around the car.

I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to fit them to a human driven car yet. They could eliminate blind spots and provide a bird's-eye view with the car in the middle and the position of other traffic around it. Would also be good for parking.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44844741)

It seems like a few stereo cameras would be a cheaper solution.

Stereo vision isn't as reliable as LIDAR. Stereo systems need edges to lock on, and aren't good with smooth surfaces. Camera systems are also vulnerable to glare. If you get a return from a LIDAR, you have good confidence there isn't anything closer than that return.

The high mounting position usually used on driverless vehicles is to allow imaging the road ahead. LIDARs up high image potholes and such easily.

Re:The kludgy LIDAR problem (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44844785)

If they can get the hard part down by teaching the car to drive by itself and all that's needed for mass roll out is some cheap hardware I imagine that problem would be sorted in no time. I'm sure you can get good enough sensors at a reasonable cost, it's doing the right things that is hard.

Scary ... (1, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44843999)

OK, tinfoil hat perspective time:

Do we want to be driven around in a fleet of self driving cars, dispatched and tracked mercilessly by Google, thereby integrating a search history of your entire life, equipped with full time video, GPS and everything else they can jam into it??

And of course all of this gets handed over to the government, if not granted a direct feed.

That almost is cyberpunk.

Just saying, but this creeps me out.

Re:Scary ... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44844725)

OK, tinfoil hat perspective time:

Do we want to be driven around in a fleet of self driving cars, dispatched and tracked mercilessly by Google, thereby integrating a search history of your entire life, equipped with full time video, GPS and everything else they can jam into it??

That, sir (or madam), is anything but tin-foil hattery!

Being kidnapped is most definitely a legitimate concern.

Re:Scary ... (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#44845223)

And of course all of this gets handed over to the government, if not granted a direct feed.

It's even better than that -- you get handed over to the government anytime the Feds present Google with the necessary warrant (and/or back-room strong-arming) for your arrest.

That way they don't have to send out officers to find and arrest you; they just wait for the next time you need to travel somewhere, and -- presto, you are delivered to the local police station instead :)

Future carshare? (4, Interesting)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#44844039)

Imagine a carshare service like Zipcar, but instead of having to make reservations, go to the lot, etc, you open an app, say you need a car, and it just shows up a few minutes later. You run your errands, go home, and the car goes away. And you only pay a (mostly?) flat yearly subscription for the service.

City folk would jump on such an option, and probably even some suburbanites.

.

Re:Future carshare? (1)

blue9steel (2758287) | about a year ago | (#44844239)

If that gets to the point where it's reliable and it's cheaper than owning a car I'd switch in a hot minute. It would have to be better than calling a taxi though, like average wait times of less than 10 minutes.

Re:Future carshare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844333)

meh - Batmobile did that years ago.

Re:Future carshare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844795)

And KITT

Re:Future carshare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844683)

I think you mean... Imagine a service like Uber but with driverless cars... oh wait... *reads the summary* there it is.

Re:Future carshare? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#44845887)

Yeah, pretty much.

Re:Future carshare? (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#44844721)

An all electric one can probably DRIVE in circles in San Fran cheaper than parking when not in use...

Now it just needs in-drive refueling.

Re:Future carshare? (1)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | about a year ago | (#44845793)

Now it just needs in-drive refueling.

Or, in a pinch, a full service gas station.

this could work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844073)

Even beta software would be better than many of the non-English speaking psychopaths who currently drive taxes in Boston & New York.

Re:this could work (1)

krojdest (1998610) | about a year ago | (#44844243)

How about english speaking psychopaths?

timecop! (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about a year ago | (#44844233)

fugg yes, JCVD!

Don't you? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44844519)

Google says it will make self-driving carsavailable within four years

I want to buy one for travel into work. Ok, I want to be able to tint the windows so I can surf for porn on the way in. You married guys know what I'm saying.

Is demand high enough? (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about a year ago | (#44844533)

1st caveat: I am very cheap and never pay for anything that I don't feel like I need.

Is there enough demand for services like this? I have lived in very large urban areas (Toronto) where the public transportation (taxis included) are well used and well implemented. But I still see dozens of empty taxis (at all hours) queued up near theaters, bars, conerts and other similar venues waiting for clients. Empty/Idle taxis are losing money.

I always hear on the radio that taxi companies wanting the city to allow more licenses to be given out, so it appears that there is demand for these services. But alas, i always see a lot of them idle.

I have had to take a taxi 3 times in my life. All three times the fare was over $20. If I were to replace my bike and car for taxis and public transportation it would cost me more then $800 per month, which is almost as much as rent!

Re:Is demand high enough? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#44844761)

Asking for more licenses is only proof that there's still money to be made by taxi companies. The market may be saturated, but taxi drivers still earn enough to show up tomorrow while spending half their day waiting in line.

Aside, the payment model for taxi-drivers vary from city to city. In some locations, they're employees, getting paid an hourly and a cut of the fares and tips. In other locations, they're contractors, renting the taxi for a flat fee and hustling to earn enough fares to cover their shift-long (or day long) rental fee on the taxi. Have a slow day in the later scenario? You lost money.

Vegas is the standard "hourly+cut" model.
Phoenix is a rent-and-earn model.

Re:Is demand high enough? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#44845937)

Depends on where you are. Sometimes taxi lines are short, sometimes they're long. My wife and I walked from the vicinity of the Musee d'Orsay to the Opera in Paris - a little over a mile - without being able to get a single taxi. No taxis at the marked taxi ranks, nothing available on the street. I'd have killed for Uber.

That night, I looked up the number of a Paris taxi company and put their English-speaking operator's number in my phone.

Robots (3, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44844613)

If you can build autonomous cars you can build autonomous robots ( at what point are they the same thing?).

Bizn4tc2h (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44844735)

Way too many things have to be proven first (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about a year ago | (#44844763)

For the entire idea to even be feasible, let alone economical and profitable, all three companies have big hurdles to beat. Google has to prove that it's technology can be deployed affordably over a large fleet of cars. Tesla has to prove that it can mass produce their vehicles at a price point that makes this scheme economical. Uber has to figure out how it's going to get through all the strict taxi regulations in each city; they barely have peace in a few metropolitan areas now, but if you talk about automated cars, that will completely freak the vested interests out. And all three will need to figure out the liability issues surrounding automated cars. If something happens, who will pay for it?

Everyone knew this would happen (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#44844833)

The very original concepts of the self driving car was that not everyone would need a car anymore, and they could be mass transportation. Just summon with a smart phone, and a close one will come. Or scheduled one for the week to get to work. Etc. No one specific is "revolutionizing transportation". If anyone takes credit for this, the people who think he did something special are all idiots. Hey, any programmer could write an ap now to summon automated cars now. Call it future ap, and have people book some automated cars ahead of time.

Re:Everyone knew this would happen (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#44844869)

Just a clarification: The automatic driving car and smart phones are a technological marvels. The amount of work someone needs to integrate the two is trivial.

As soon as the cars go on the market, buying up a ton, and allowing people to buy time on phones is a no brainer. It is like free cash to people who are already wealthy given these cars work.

unicorns are better than electric cars. (1)

Brian Horakh (2928873) | about a year ago | (#44844893)

since we're clearly dealing with hypotheticasl that aren't going to happen I'd just like to point out that unicorns are far more efficient than electric cars, they just eat candy and poop rainbows.

Google already has technology to retrofit existing cars into self driving ones -- which is MUCH better. The google tech can be licensed to every car manufacturer .. they can watch the market for a few years then buy one (ex: motorola).
Most manufacturers are already busy adding collision, proximity, velocity sensors to their cars for self parking -- so the in-vehicle wiring is already there.
Tesla's business model doesn't scale, the problem with electric cars is the lack of batteries. Tesla is going to hit a massive shortage of Lithium ION .. if I remember correctly at their current growth rate in 2 years they consume 110% of all Lithium ION production. .. and I guess we all get to use hand cranks for our cell phones .. which should make texting while driving even more dangerous.
Telsa as far as I know hasn't launched a mini-van and Elon doesn't strike me as the type of person who's interested in making them.
Building the uber app should take a first year intern at Google maybe 20-45 minutes .. even if you include the time required to submit to the app store and get it approved. Why would Google buy Uber if it was going to immediately obsolete the uber business model with self driving cars?
Uber's business model is disruptive to taxi's .. and taxi medallion revenue for cities, so that's just what either company need .. oh and getting a self driving car LICENSED to pick up passengers .. the form you'll need to fill out for that that hasn't even been invented by the bureaucracy yet.
The biggest thing holding back self driving cars is insurance. Insurance rules have to be written, that's regulated on a state to state basis uber's business model covers all states, so far only 2 states (CA and NV) have any sorts of rules for self driving cars, and at least in CA they still require a person to be in the drivers seat.
There are like a billion reasons this 3-way technology circle jerk is even less likely than Bill Gates decided to take back his old job, and/or Steve Jobs cryogenically frozen brain being thawed out and put in Balmers body.

If Friday the 13th is like april fools and I was trolled, then my bad. Otherwise the OP is an idiot. And the mods should pull this down.

Slow Cruise Missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845483)

nuff said

But Teslas are supposed to be fun to drive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845933)

And I don't think they'd be much fun if they were driverless. Besides, Elon Musk has stated several times he would not sell the company until at least the more affordable 3rd generation Tesla was on the market.

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