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Tesla Working On Autonomous Cars: Musk Wants Teslas With Auto-Pilot

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Transportation 287

cartechboy writes "Do you like driving? Well then, you're going to hate the future, because automakers are racing to beat each other to the starting line of the self-driving car race. By 2020, autonomous vehicles may arrive from Cadillac, Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, Audi, and even Google. But now Tesla wants to jump into the ring. CEO Elon Musk told the Financial Times that the electric-car maker will build a self-driving car...within three years. You'll note that's much sooner than 2020, which means Tesla would beat other, larger automakers to the punch. For those who fear self-driving cars, Musk said the autonomous Tesla could drive 90 percent of the time, but that in his opinion, a vehicle without a human in the cockpit isn't feasible. Like it or not, our roads will probably be safer because you won't actually be driving — well, OK, that other guy who's texting or talking or drinking a huge coffee or ... you get the idea."

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Dear Elon (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888357)

Please focus on making the Models and Model S 2.0 affordable. A vehicle with abase price greater than $50,000 is not affordable and is NOT what you promised when you first announced the Model S pre-order for $5000.

Get the price down! Let Google and MIT develop the self driving tech for you.

KTHNXBYE

Re:Dear Elon (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44888639)

Agreed. Affordable & reliable 1st, autonomous later.

Re:Dear Elon (0)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44888887)

Slashdot: the only news website where you have reruns!

The Problem with Self Driving Cars (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#44889527)

For me, as a "manual" driver, I can't put my blinker on and look into your eyes to communicate that I really need to move over and exit the freeway.

For me, with a self driving car, the damned thing might start letting everyone and their mother in law get in front of me.

Infrastructure (1)

presspass (1770650) | about a year ago | (#44888411)

I think there will be lots of infrastructure required before we'll see autonomous cars.
Not an engineer, so go nuts...

Re:Infrastructure (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44888475)

I think there will be lots of infrastructure required before we'll see autonomous cars.

Agreed.

And, considering the piss-poor job we do maintaining our current infrastructure... things do not bode well.

Re:Infrastructure (4, Funny)

malakai (136531) | about a year ago | (#44888517)

I think there will be lots of infrastructure required before we'll see autonomous cars.

You sir are wrong. I'll just direct your to this introduction of the 'Auto Pilot' feature on the new 1958 Imperials [imperialclub.com]
Specifically, this section:

What it does. This is not easy to explain to women and the mechanically innocent....

Re:Infrastructure (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#44888719)

I think there will be lots of infrastructure required before we'll see autonomous cars.

You sir are wrong. I'll just direct your to this introduction of the 'Auto Pilot' feature on the new 1958 Imperials [imperialclub.com]
Specifically, this section:

What it does. This is not easy to explain to women and the mechanically innocent....

You do realize that the link you posted is simply an early cruise control? The "auto-pilot" does not handle turns or anticipate braking and definitely, is no Johnny Cab.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

malakai (136531) | about a year ago | (#44888867)

*whooosh*

Re:Infrastructure (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44889041)

The joke wasn't the only thing that was wooshing.

Re:Infrastructure (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44888731)

I think there will be lots of infrastructure required before we'll see autonomous cars.

Autonomous cars have driven hundreds of thousands of miles on existing roads. So why do you think additional infrastructure is needed? It seems to me that the opposite is true: less infrastructure will be needed. Parking spaces can be narrower (passengers will exit before the car is parked), parking lots/garages can be smaller and remotely located, lanes can be narrower, road construction can be reduced as road capacity increases, traffic lights can be phased out, etc. Public transportation will become more more popular as it shifts from big, infrequent, inconvenient buses to small, on-demand, direct-to-your-door vans. The result will be fewer cars on the road.

Re:Infrastructure (1, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44888769)

They'll fart unicorns, too.

Re:Infrastructure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888961)

I'd pay for that.

Re:Infrastructure (3, Insightful)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44888981)

I live in northern climate, and I seriously doubt that kind of vehicle could handle the roads I drive, especially in winter. The hundreds of thousands of miles all have been driven mostly around California. I say this tech should not be ready for the public until it can handle the worst conditions (white wash, frost on camera lens, ambiguous terrain because of massive snow on the road, dirt roads with pot holes, etc...).

Re:Infrastructure (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44889071)

Pilots don't use autopilot to land.

Your self driving car will prompt you to take the wheel if conditions are too averse. If you refuse, it will simply refuse to drive itself.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

steveg (55825) | about a year ago | (#44889253)

No?

Are you sure about that?

Not the simple sort of autopilots that you have on GA aircraft, no. But airliners are routinely landed automatically.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889561)

Yes, they do now, for quite a while actually. In a plane, there is radio beacons, control towers monitorinf your approach, and NO pedestrians and traffic. Apples and rocks if you ars me.

Re:Infrastructure (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44889121)

white wash, frost on camera lens, ambiguous terrain because of massive snow on the road

None of these are particularly difficult for current autonomous cars. They have multiple sensors, including GPS, radar, camera, inertial sensors, and rotation sensors. Snow may interfere with cameras, but have no effect on the others. An autonomous car also has access to far more information than you do, such as exactly where the road is, the location of other cars, and the exact location of signs and mileage markers (this data is collected and saved as the cars drive).

Re:Infrastructure (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44889143)

ambiguous terrain because of massive snow on the road,

Unlike humans, it will probably do the smart thing and stop.

Re:Infrastructure (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889583)

Sorry boss, there is 4 inch of snow on the road so I cannot go to work... pathetic!

Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888431)

Wouldn't having a fun to drive car that you don't drive be a little bit pointless?

Re:Pointless (2)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year ago | (#44888677)

Wouldn't having a fun to drive car that you don't drive be a little bit pointless?

If I could drive it downtown manually and park it, go drinking and dancing till 4 in the morning, then crawl into the back seat with my new lady friend and have it take us back to my place, that would be the best car ever.

Re:Pointless (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44888989)

But it sure will require a human operator ready to take over in case of emergency, maybe in 20 years whe the tech have billions miles under the belt, before that it would be irresponsible to trust immature technology. Just call a cab if you drink, it is cheap and it works now.

Re:Pointless (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44889141)

before that it would be irresponsible to trust immature technology.

No, it would be irresponsible to continue to trust humans once computers can do better. The computers don't have to be perfect, they just have to be better than humans. That is not a high bar.

Re:Pointless (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about a year ago | (#44889287)

Pffft!
I will enjoy watching robocars negotiate roadworks where they need to go on the 'wrong' side of the road (or off the road entirely), obey hand/audio ('stick it between those cones a minute, while we back the digger out, thanks mate') signals from workers, read diversion route information from improvised signs etc

Re:Pointless (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889603)

Hey, someone else with a brain and a clue is here! Glad to meet you zmollusc. Everyone esle, repeat after me: technology is neither an end in itself nor a religion. We dont live in star trek yet. Go out and discover the real world, it is a beautiful place.

Re:Pointless (2)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#44888779)

Wouldn't having a fun to drive car that you don't drive be a little bit pointless?

Only if you only drive for fun. Stop and go traffic is tedious and dull in every car that I have driven. I imagine it is pretty dull and even more tedious in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

Re:Pointless (4, Insightful)

marciot (598356) | about a year ago | (#44888963)

Only if you only drive for fun. Stop and go traffic is tedious and dull in every car that I have driven. I imagine it is pretty dull and even more tedious in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

An self-driving car will make it even more dull and tedious, unless the car allows the driver to simply sit back and read a book. But every announcement I've read so far seems to indicate that the driver needs to stay alert in case they need to take over the driving, which sort of defeats the purpose.

Either give me a totally self-driving car so I can tune out, or a car that has manual transmission so I have something to occupy my brain while I drive.

Re:Pointless (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44889155)

You might have noticed that most cars on the road are not fun to drive. You can tell the people in fun-to-drive cars, because they seem to believe that the rest of us are mere obstacles on their plaything.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889343)

Well duh.
I wish the people with 'transportation appliances' would learn to stay out of the way of people with cars.

Re:Pointless (3, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44889439)

The frustration in your eyes is OUR sport.

autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the aut (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44888441)

autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the auto drive system with no real benefits?

unlike a plane you need to ready to to take over on the fly all the time with little thinking time to work out why the system kicked out of auto drive mode. I hope the person who get's hit sues Tesla in that case.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

cyclopropene (777291) | about a year ago | (#44888521)

I think the owner of such a car should end up paying for accidents through insurance costs, unless a driving algorithm was fundamentally flawed.

But overall, while I don't much like the idea of cars on autopilot, as I like to make eye contact with a driver before, say, crossing the street in a crosswalk, I nonetheless like them better than drunk drivers, of which there are plenty right now. Let's turn it around--maybe we need to think of it as having an autopilot ready to take over (or anyway loudly warn the driver) if its sensors pick up the driver doing something stupid. Let's look for beneficial uses of the sensor array necessary for these cars to navigate...

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about a year ago | (#44888637)

I think the owner of such a car should end up paying for accidents through insurance costs, unless a driving algorithm was fundamentally flawed.

The common public won't accept that. If I buy a self-driving car, there is no way I'm doing to (directly) pay if it crashes while it does the driving.

From the common person's perspective, a self-driving car should be no different than hiring a taxi. Get in and state the destination, then don't care about the details of how it gets there.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888735)

The common public will accept it as soon as the autopilot becomes statistically safer than a human driver and results in lower insurance premiums.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

cyclopropene (777291) | about a year ago | (#44889167)

From the common person's perspective, a self-driving car should be no different than hiring a taxi. Get in and state the destination, then don't care about the details of how it gets there.

Except you don't own the taxi--the owner of the taxi pays the insurance and passes it along to you in the fare. What you are describing is more like Zipcar. But iIf you own the self-driving car you are responsible for the insurance as much as the owner of a taxi or Zipcar is. However you dice it, though, the person sitting in the back seat staring at his iPhone benefiting from the self-driving car is the one who will ultimately pay, either through insurance or the price of the vehicle or through registration fees if it comes to that.

I don't disagree with you that the common public won't accept it. I also don't yet believe that these are ready for the common public either.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#44888743)

autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the auto drive system with no real benefits?

unlike a plane you need to ready to to take over on the fly all the time with little thinking time to work out why the system kicked out of auto drive mode. I hope the person who get's hit sues Tesla in that case.

Speak for yourself. I'd love to more thoroughly pay attention to calls and texts when commuting and would love a service where it goes auto-pilot for 90% of my commute which is in the left-most lane of an interstate (going whatever is the safe max for that stretch of the road).

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889017)

If an O2 sensor can randomly fail after couple years, just imagine the level of maintenance required to keep the vast array of sensors required for self-driving cars safe. You WILL be responsible for the well being of your car, and the insurance will do everything in their power to point the lack of maintenance to sue you.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889395)

Aren't you already responsible for the maintenance of your car? Besides, once self-driving cars become affordable, they will make taxis a lot cheaper, to the point where it will be more cost effective using automated taxis than it will be owning your own car, then the taxi company can worry about the maintenance.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44888861)

unlike a plane you need to ready to to take over on the fly all the time with little thinking time to work out why the system kicked out of auto drive mode.

Only a complete retard would think that it works this way. It doesn't just "kick out" of auto drive. It will always make a best effort to drive safely. There are, however, certain situations, such as dirt roads and construction areas, where it will recommend the human take over. If the human fails to do so, the car will continue to drive safely, or pull over and stop.

Re:autopilot for cars so like all the cost of the (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44889201)

Only a complete retard would think that it works this way. It doesn't just "kick out" of auto drive. It will always make a best effort to drive safely. There are, however, certain situations, such as dirt roads and construction areas, where it will recommend the human take over. If the human fails to do so, the car will continue to drive safely, or pull over and stop.

what if something like happens where it needs to make a move now and can't just keep driving safety as is?

Like something falling off the truck in front of you?

Let's say there is kid / baby on the road and car thinks it just an squirrel and just keeps driving safely over it?

Self driving is a good thing, if done right (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44888453)

Picture this the vast majority of the cars running this your in manual mode. All the self driving ones get out of your way. The autopilot wont let you rear end or otherwise collide with anybody/thing else but otherwise stays out of your way. Speed limits are vastly increased.

Oddly I think there is a higher chance of the government trying to make more money off of that tech, auto tickets etc.

Re:Self driving is a good thing, if done right (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889029)

Sure, sensors NEVER fails... *sigh*

Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888457)

Do you like driving? Well then, you're going to hate the future

How so? Do you honestly believe that these cars are, or ever will be, auto driver only?
Mountains of lawyers won't allow that, and they'll all have a little * on the advertisement saying how an adult capable of driving a car must be paying attention at all times.

CEO Elon Musk told the Financial Times that the electric-car maker will build a self-driving car...within three years.

Ahahaha, Uh-huh. Keep saying whatever raises your stock CEO man. Might as well announce that you're going to lower gravity so your cars use less energy too.

Re:Not really... (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44888935)

Might as well announce that you're going to lower gravity...

That's his other company. [spacex.com]

Re:Not really... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44888937)

How so? Do you honestly believe that these cars are, or ever will be, auto driver only?

Yes. Once autonomous cars are on the road, the advantages will be obvious, and the objections will fade away.

Mountains of lawyers won't allow that, and they'll all have a little * on the advertisement saying how an adult capable of driving a car must be paying attention at all times.

More likely the exact opposite: As preventable deaths are reported, that were caused by humans interfering, there will be a demand to get people out of the loop. Soon insurance companies will void your policy if you drive your own car.

Reviews (5, Funny)

darkshadow (102598) | about a year ago | (#44888469)

With a self-driving car he won't need to worry about the New York Times test driving it incorrectly.

Re:Reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889149)

But just in case it happens in the 10% gap, Musk is inventing the self-suing newspaper as well.

Autonomous safety (3, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44888511)

I think autonomous cars will be safer in general because they can avoid accidents caused by fatigue and lack of concentration during long trips or heavy traffic. However, I think that as long as autonomous cars are mixed in with other cars operated by human drivers, there will be the potential for worse accidents of the more extreme kind. For example, an oncoming car suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision. That is an option I doubt would be built into an AI system (intentionally wrecking the vehicle to prevent a more extreme accident - what if the AI incorrectly identified a scenario that didn't actually exist and decided to drive off the side of the road?)

If autonomous cars do prove to be as successful and safe as they could potentially be, there will be a hard push to force humans out of the driver's seat. It would start by building or designating high speed roadways that only allow autonomous vehicles. It will continue spreading from there.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888625)

A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision. That is an option I doubt would be built into an AI system (intentionally wrecking the vehicle to prevent a more extreme accident - what if the AI incorrectly identified a scenario that didn't actually exist and decided to drive off the side of the road?)

Whatever the hazard condition, I think that an autonomous car could be designed to better calculate and execute the optimum reaction than the average human driver. Since they are already advertising cars that can detect potential accidents a few cars ahead, this doesn't seem like sci-fi.

It does, OTOH, sound too expensive to reach the mass market. Autonomous freight vehicles, though. . .

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

rea1l1 (903073) | about a year ago | (#44888653)

Do you really think Google hasn't thought of this? I have no doubt that the algorithm makes use of all available options and without a doubt does so much faster and more efficiently than any human ever could.

Humans are capable at doing many things well, but machines are entirely built from the ground up to serve a very specific purpose. That's why we have them - they're better than what a human could do.

Humans - always thinking that they're something special just because they don't yet have anything obviously better than themselves to compare themselves to.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44888787)

Do you really think Google hasn't thought of this? I have no doubt that the algorithm makes use of all available options and without a doubt does so much faster and more efficiently than any human ever could.

So...

Google Car is rolling along at 150km/h. There's a baby in the road. Car can either run over the baby or crash into a concrete block and probably kill the people inside.

Which will it pick?

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about a year ago | (#44888913)

Well we'd first need to start by applying the 3 laws of robotics....

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year ago | (#44889011)

Since the prior probability of a baby on the Autobahn is close to zero the car will probably conclude that it has misidentified a small animal as "baby" and proceed by slowing down smoothly and smashing into the baby at speed.

If the car was sure about the baby it would have to take a more difficult decision. Most human drivers would kill the baby rather than themselves.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889053)

I'm sorry, but I've seen that question before, and it always seems like a completely ridiculous scenario. First off, it assumes there is a baby on the road where cars regularly drive 150km/h. If you leave your baby on the highway, there is probably something wrong with you. Furthermore, at that speed, there is very little you can do as a squishy human driver to not hit the baby. By the time you see it, it is very likely already too late to do anything about it, short of both killing the baby AND killing yourself (and potentially others in the car with you).

It is likely an AI could actually come up with a better solution than you could in the time you have to react (not to mention it would likely register the baby far, far earlier than a human could). It do risk assessment much faster, and do its best to create an outcome that saves both lives. Also keep in mind the far majority of drivers have not done any training in swerving, object avoidance, etc. etc. so they will likely do things that are wrong (e.g. counter-intuitive stuff like slamming on the brakes, which leaves you with a reduced ability to actually steer, etc).

Re:Autonomous safety (2)

bbn (172659) | about a year ago | (#44889057)

I dont know what the robot would do. But you on the other hand would hit the baby and then crash after realizing that you just hit a baby.

Re:Autonomous safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889189)

If the car is looking to 'minimise casualties' the best course of action is usually a head on collision. Other drivers might get pissed when these cars keep writing themselves off into the front of them.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44889383)

If the car is looking to 'minimise casualties' the best course of action is usually a head on collision.

who told you that? If the car is looking for the best possible collision it's always going to be into the back of another vehicle. Both vehicles have crumple zones and whiplash arrestors.

Re:Autonomous safety (5, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about a year ago | (#44889169)

Which would YOU pick? Bearing in mind the car is travelling at 150km/h, and you probably have less time to decide than you do reading this sentence.

So you see something on the road at 50m, which takes your brain 200ms to identify it. You identify it as a baby, which takes, let's say, 500ms (humans are surprisingly good at that). You really quickly check your mirrors and scan the upcoming road to make sure you're not driving into something dangerous (500ms), and see that you are. You identify it as an immobile pillar, highly dangerous.

Now let's throw in some time to moralise this decision. It doesn't matter how long, but let's say 500ms.

You turn the wheel to avoid the crash, which takes 200ms, and the car begins to turn, and in say 200ms, neatly avoids the baby. Right?

Uhh, not quite. You haven't even finished checking your surroundings yet, and that baby is currently underneath your front left wheel (150km/hr * 1200 miliseconds = 50.00000004 metres). Note: 150km/h is 0.0416666667 metres a milisecond.

Your autodriving car, however, sees the baby at 50m. It doesn't care that it's a baby, because it's a solid lump in the middle of the road, and it should be avoided. If it were a wombat, it would wreck your shit at 150km/hr, and honestly a concrete pillar is probably not that much worse.

Let's see how the auto driving car fares.

So your car sees something on the road at 50m, which it takes 200ms to identify. It doesn't spend any further time on this because objects on the road must be avoided. It begins slowing the car while it decides, and a coprocessor tightens the seat belts, primes the air bags, and potentially sounds the horn (or notifies other self-driving cars by wireless that, hey, shit's about to go down yo).

It doesn't need to check its surroundings because, as an automated system, it has full 360 vision at all times and doesn't slack off, get distracted, get tired, have a fight with the ex over the kids or get an SMS or any number of factors that could distract a driver. And before you say "But I constantly pay attention at all times on the road and never, ever slack off ever", firstly bullshit, and secondly you can't do it as well as it does anyway.

There's no moralising in this equation. It just wants to avoid hitting things.

It begins turning the wheel to avoid the crash, which takes 200ms, and the car begins to turn, and in say 200ms, neatly avoids the baby.

What other things can it do?

Let's see: how about talk to other cars wirelessly, informing them that there's a hazard and steering around it. So only this car needs to dodge, all the others are aware of it and react accordingly -- and even get out of the way of the dodger, so that it doesn't have to slam into the concrete. How about the car can (at the speed of a computer, faster a human brain) calculate its current speed, distance to target, potential impact threat of a solid object that size, and just decide to break instead. How about the car (for whatever reason) gets into an accident and automatically informs the first responders, possibly even transmitting things like: "Three passengers. Caucasian female, African male, Asian female. African male is allergic to penicillin." If you want to go truly sci-fi, then it gives real-time status feeds. "Asian female is hemmoraging, heart rate is high, possibly tachycardia. Caucasian female was thrown from the vehicle and cannot be monitored."

The advent of self-driving cars is like the invention of the internet. We don't even KNOW what it'll do to our society, but I'm really excited about it and I want one now now now now now now now now now, and not JUST so I don't get stuck being the designated drivers simply because I also own a car.

Re:Autonomous safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888865)

Of course they have and Dan East explained why it's not something that will be solved in the first few versions of such software. It's too dangerous to have the car drive off the road because it might well do so based on incorrect information. The good point about braking in that situation is that if there really was no oncoming car, then nothing too bad happened. Not so if you put the car into a tree. Also, even if they do put such abilities into the car, it will be extremely expensive to test it in real world conditions and the situation won't come up very often on the road. Also, just braking will be considered OK - the blame will go to the guy swerving into the wrong lane, not the AI that braked. Of course, automatic cars might very well be much safer than human drivers even in these early versions, but the point stands that probably some drivers are going to behave better in extremely rare freak accidents such as an oncoming car going straight for you in your lane.

Re:Autonomous safety (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44888921)

Do you really think Google hasn't thought of this? I have no doubt that the algorithm makes use of all available options and without a doubt does so much faster and more efficiently than any human ever could.

Right, because Google solves all problems and never has bugs. If God were to recreate the heavens and the earth tomorrow, he'd probably consult Google first.

machines are entirely built from the ground up to serve a very specific purpose. That's why we have them - they're better than what a human could do

Which explains why even the most sophisticated aircraft autopilots, when they encounter a situation they can't handle (e.g. unable to understand the situation the sensors are indicating), kick out and let a human handle it.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about a year ago | (#44888661)

Agreed. There is simply no way that autonomous cars can safely be used on the same roads as human-operated ones. It just isn't going to happen. You might as well try to mix human-driven cars with 60 MPH horses.

A lot of interesting technical feats are about to become practical, but not implementable due to human factors. We'll have to eliminate human drivers at some point, whether we like it or not.

Re:Autonomous safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888893)

Uhm... you are aware that there are already a fleet of self-driving cars on the roads right now, and they've been there for quite a while? They've driven a very long combined distance with no at-cause accidents. So you're saying that something is impossible, yet that thing has already happened.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889209)

If we go down that road, at some point in the future, people will suicide for lack or purpose or become eternal irresponsible childs. Please mark my words, date time hour and place of this statement. I can stand by it.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44889271)

Agreed. There is simply no way that autonomous cars can safely be used on the same roads as human-operated ones. It just isn't going to happen.

Google's fleet of self-driving cars have logged over a million miles driving on the same roads as human-operated cars.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

Lashat (1041424) | about a year ago | (#44888675)

This is the biggest problem...the transition.. It will take a urban municipality to mandate an area wide transition. Create the infrastructure. Provide the self-driving cars. Outlaw human driven cars. Think Minority Report shuttles that ran around the city and up the buildings.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889153)

The easy solution is to give the user a manual override. The computer will drive in a manner it feels is safe. If the human decides there is a good reason to crash the car, they can take the steering wheel.

Re:Autonomous safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889213)

You would be surprised how many people are comfortable with the idea. Personally I am fatigued from the amount of road rage and dangerous driving I have to put up with even for short trips. Non-human control would make travel relaxing again, and also severely curtain fuel waste. (I swear some people put the accelerator down the moment they leave the garage and don't let up until they reach a parking spot. A solid five MPG all the way.)

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#44889243)

I'm more worried about a different problem: If people mostly use autonomous cars their driving skills will deteriorate. We are already seeing this with airline pilots (air france 447 or the recent SFO crash) where the pilots become dependent on automation, and don't have the proper skills when it is not available. These are professional pilots with required recurrent training. What about an average driver who lets his car do 99% of the driving for him - how will he do when he needs to drive but the automation is no longer available.

That said, I think self driving cars are a really nice technology, but we need to take care with how we implement them.

Re:Autonomous safety (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44889331)

For example, an oncoming car suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.

This reminds me of "I don't wear a seat belt because jumping out of the car saved my live when the car went off a cliff." arguments. In sixteen years as a driver I've been in one real emergency and it was as a passenger, talking to older people they've had maybe one or two major accidents and a handful of close calls, not counting fender benders in the parking lot. Most people - and I'd say 90% of the people on the road, if you want to count yourself to the last 10% feel free - are distracted and too slow to act, too shocked to react, panic, react instinctively or make some very poor split-second decisions. Instantly slamming the brakes is a good choice and probably above average, it's potentially not the best choice but I imagine it'd be just as much post-accident imagination as reality.

Remember, it's really hard to collect realistic data on this. You can't put people in a simulator and get realistic results because people know they're there to be observed and experimented on. In reality it'll happen on the 235th time you've driven the exact same commute and driving on mental autopilot, you're a bit tired from yesterday but need to get to work, you're mentally thinking about the stuff you need to pick up after work and boom, out of the blue there's this idiot suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. Your reaction is probably not as good as you think it is. And while human drivers on average won't change much, they can collect crash data and improve. Instead of once-in-a-lifetime they'll have thousands of crashes to analyze for optimal behavior.

Re:Autonomous safety (1)

norpy (1277318) | about a year ago | (#44889567)

I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.

Seriously? "You assume"

Your whole rant smacks of Dunning-Kruger effect [wikipedia.org] .

What makes you think that you are a better driver than a computer? Do you think you are an above average driver? Did you realise that the majority of drivers think they are above average? [abc.net.au]

I'm going to wait for the OCP version... (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44888581)

I'm going to wait for the OCP autodrive car. If they do as good a job as they did with their Enforcement Droid then the future on the roads will be a riot!

Criss Cross (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#44888607)

So, I hack your spouse's car and you hack my spouse's car, both while we're out of town at conferences where there are no electronic connections.

The perfect crime.

All thanks to "autonomy".

I predict an upsurge in "unexplained accidents".

Cars are meant to be driven (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about a year ago | (#44888615)

Call me old fashioned but to me, cars are meant to be driven. If I want to "be driven" I'll take a taxi, a bus or some other public transportation.

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (2)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#44888729)

Call me old fashioned but to me, cars are meant to be driven. If I want to "be driven" I'll take a taxi, a bus or some other public transportation.

On the contrary. Cars are "meant" to be used as their owners want to use them. There are lot of times I would prefer to be driven but:

1) Buses are slow, inconvenient, and often don't go where and when I want to go.
2) Taxis are expensive and can also be inconvenient depending on where your end points are.
3) Chauffeurs can be very convenient but not many can afford to keep one on staff. Think of self driving cars as chauffeurs for the rest of us. (or maybe the 5% since Teslas pretty expensive)

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889375)

Some drivers are just awful drivers. Make the licence hard to obtain to drive yourself and the the idiots and morons be driven around. That, I can live with. Also, when I go fishing in the middle of nowhere, well, I wiuld love to see a google car follow me (I would not follow it...).

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44889377)

Also, if we go to war and GPS gets compromised, we would be SO vulnerable, its not even funny thinking about it.

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44889531)

And all of the above involves sharing the ride with strangers that maybe you don't want present. Whether it's sharing things with close friends, having a family argument, lover's quarrel or make-out session, tightly guarded business secrets or that you'd like to watch some porn the privacy of having your own ride is entirely different. Never mind how bizarrely inconvenient a cabin trip would be with 1) and expensive with 2) or 3), sometimes a rental car is the only sane choice whether you'd like to drive or not.

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#44889475)

I have to wait for a taxi, or travel to the nearest bus stop or starting/ending point for some other public transportation.

I want to go where I want to go _now_, from _here_. That's why people have their own cars.

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889483)

People use automation to cheat at video games, FFS. I don't see the point, but whatever.

Some people enjoy driving, but even among those I suspect that most would use "taxi" mode for mundane trips if it were available.

Re:Cars are meant to be driven (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about a year ago | (#44889493)

So call it something else, say "automated human conveyor", if you prefer. Who really cares what they're called if they're better than what we have now.

I think the real winners are going to be lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888651)

People are incompetent and inattentive enough as it is while driving. It's enough that the great majority of unintended acceleration incidents are clearly driver error, and yet look at all the litigation that issue inspired.

This is going to be a mess. It's going to be awfully tempting for people to pay even less attention to what is going on than they do already, and it will lead to huge problems even if there are no technical issues. And there probably will be technical issues. There will be stupid people engaging the system in inappropriate situations as if it was some kind of "super cruise control" they can engage and forget. They'll sit back and drink their coffee while they watch videos or read their e-books. While I'm sure that this system has great potential in the future eventually, it's probably going to be the irresponsible and incompetent drivers and their lawyers that will keep us from having nice things.

90% aint gonna cut it, Jim. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888691)

The point is to make it 100%, so the 'driver' becomes an actual passenger and doesn't have to pay attention to traffic at all.

Re:90% aint gonna cut it, Jim. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44888819)

Bingo. A 'driverless' car is worthless if it requires a driver.

If the car is driving itself, no-one's going to be sitting there ready to take over the instant it runs into something it can't handle. We've seen what a disaster that's been with autopilots for aircraft, where the crew typically have a minute or more to resolve the problem before they crash, rather than, perhaps, a few seconds in a car.

Re:90% aint gonna cut it, Jim. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44889409)

Bingo. A 'driverless' car is worthless if it requires a driver.

Yes, just like autopilot for airplanes is worthless.

We've seen what a disaster that's been with autopilots for aircraft, where the crew typically have a minute or more to resolve the problem before they crash, rather than, perhaps, a few seconds in a car.

But most drivers don't resolve a problem before they crash. Meanwhile, a self-driving car will at least have forward-facing radar that can help prevent some of their crashes.

All-or-nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888873)

There have been some things in the news lately about airplane pilots relying too much on the autopilot. There's a point where you get lulled into complacency. You're not engaged as much. You fall into a trap where that 1:10,000 need for manual comes along and you aren't ready.

This looks like an ongoing research topic for planes, where automation is much more mature. It might turn out to be an all-or-nothing process. When you're engaged in driving and a dear runs out, you brake. When you're watching TV while the car drives and the autopilot disengages before a curve because of a database error, you have to go from half-asleep to full on alert. That might turn out to be a much more difficult task for a human. The thing will have to have a lot of 9s. It'll be awesome for drunks and blind people though.

Good! Traditional automotive companies are slow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888877)

Good! Competition and disturbance in the market place!

Traditional automotive companies (insert $BRAND here) with their tier ones (insert $PARTS manufacturer here) are really slow and work in ancient ways. From SW perspective their release and testing cycles are horribly long and more aimed at keeping the status quo of slow improvements and model face lifts. They could be faster but are resisting the changes. And no, they are not slow because they for example test safety critical SW well. They are just really slow and cumbersome with their Autosar etc SW development models and tools.

Hopefully Google and Tesla, and Chinese manufacturers will challenge them!

Future Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44888927)

Requirements:
-Auto piloted
-Not using gasoline

Solution :
A horse.

Re:Future Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889135)

Was that a weak attempt at a joke, or an even weaker attempt at making a point?

I forsee... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about a year ago | (#44888953)

I forsee a not-so-far-off time when it will actually be illegal to manually drive your car unless under some kind of emergency.

A few years after that, the mechanisms that allow a person to drive a car will not even be included in new cars.

As a classic car hobbyist who enjoys driving, that whole possibility scares me a lot.

Re:I forsee... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44889115)

Just imagine how modern airplane pilots feel. We've had autopilot for decades. No more "buzzing" the tower, no more "detours" to land on exotic landing strips... Can't even do a barrel roll, FFS.

Re:I forsee... (2)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about a year ago | (#44889147)

I agree, I love to drive. As a professional driver instructor for Semi Trucks, my favorite activity is to come home to "my baby," and drive for enjoyment and relaxation.

Plus a big downside as far as I can see would be the idea that as bad as many drivers are, imagine how bad they will be when the need arises to actually drive the car. After a very short time many will become used to playing games, sleeping, surfing the internet while the car drives, that they will lack the most basic real world experience to be spatially aware enough of situations outside the vehicle to competently (or even minimally) operate the vehicle.

Love the idea of being driven home intoxicated, fatigued, medicated. But over reliance on self driving technology will result in drivers who are trained on GTA X instead of reality.

what about utility companies work trucks and bucke (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44889161)

bucket trucks and other stuff like that will need manual mode or auto drive with drive any where and park any where.

Re:I forsee... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44889251)

I don't think you need to worry - worst case you will be banned from the highway and your insurance rates will suck.

Re:I forsee... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889309)

"As a classic car hobbyist who enjoys driving, that whole possibility scares me a lot."

You want to know what absolutely terrifies me? The thought of the soon to be elderly baby boomers driving.

North American society has not come up with a consistent way to take the keys away from the elderly who are no longer safe to drive. The emphasis is usually on the family to convince them to give it up, or their doctor (but only if the person brings it up - most doctors will not broach the subject).

As it stands right now, you can phone 911 for an unsafe driver on the road and the response can be "Oh yeah, that's Mr. Doe - we know about him but he usually drives slow and talking to him doesn't do anything so we can't act on this."

Right now the percentage of drivers who are like this is relatively low, but it's going nowhere but up. True driverless vehicles cannot get on the market fast enough.

Makes even more sense for electric (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about a year ago | (#44889055)

Going on the assumption that the computer and sensor package required to make a self-driving car would use a negligible amount of electricity, and maybe even use a separate battery pack, a self-driving electric car would likely handle accelerating and deceleration more efficiently thereby increasing the range over a human driver. Just a guess though.

Walk before you run (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44889269)

They should really add adaptive cruise control to the Model S first before they get Autonomous (Cruise) control to the car.

Auto-pilots welcome, however... (2)

FridayBob (619244) | about a year ago | (#44889317)

Perhaps it's just because I'm old enough to know that I'm not, never have been and never will be the great driver that I once thought I was. I also know that driving is the most dangerous thing that I do on a regular basis, it being so easy to make a fatal mistake. In addition, most commutes are pretty boring; I usually wish I could spend the time reading something instead. The idea of having my own personal chauffeur is also appealing for other reasons, such as if I drink too much, or perhaps it would eventually even be possible for the vehicle to drop me off in one place and then park itself somewhere else (although society would then have to develop laws for dealing with driverless vehicles). Another major advantage is that filling the roads with autonomous vehicles may also prove to be the ultimate solution to the problem of traffic jams.

The challenges involved in the creation of auto-pilots that we can all trust involve safety, security and privacy. First, no one is going to entrust their life to such a system unless it proves to be safe. Moreover, human psychology will undoubtedly require that the auto-pilot be much safer and more efficient driver than the owner of the vehicle can ever hope to be, or else they probably won't want to use it.

Second: security. For example, back-door access and remote control. It's one thing for a malevolent third party to take advantage of your computer, but the idea that anyone might be able to take advantage of your vehicle while you're in it seems completely unacceptable to me. One theory about the recent death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings is that someone gained remote control over his car (at least the accelerator and breaks), which according to eyewitnesses seemed completely out of control just before he crashed. I can imagine even more sinister things involving a car with a real auto-pilot, for instance a remote control kidnapping where the victims are locked into their own vehicles and then driven to an unknown destination.

Third: privacy. I would just hate the idea that my vehicle's manufacturer was also working happily with, for example, intelligence agencies to use my car to spy on me, or marketing companies to more effectively target me with advertising. Just because you own a vehicle with an auto-pilot does not mean that you should expect to have your rights trampled upon.

The beginning of a solution for all of this would be for the vehicle manufacturers to collaborate on as open source project for the auto-pilot and vehicle communications software. In my view that approach would certainly lead to better safety, security and privacy, but somehow I don't think it will work out like that.

Re:Auto-pilots welcome, however... (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44889467)

Third: privacy. I would just hate the idea that my vehicle's manufacturer was also working happily with, for example, intelligence agencies to use my car to spy on me, or marketing companies to more effectively target me with advertising. Just because you own a vehicle with an auto-pilot does not mean that you should expect to have your rights trampled upon.

Hope your car doesn't have OnStar or its equivalent.

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