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Nissan Leaf Prototype Becomes First Autonomous Car On Japanese Highways

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the keep-you-eyes-on-the-road-your-hands-off-the-wheel dept.

Japan 140

cartechboy writes "As car manufacturers battle over futuristic announcements of when autonomous cars will (allegedly) be sold, they are also starting to more seriously put self-driving technology to the test. Earlier this week several Japanese dignitaries drove — make that rode along — as an autonomous Nissan Leaf prototype completed its first public highway test near Tokyo. The Nissan Leaf electric car successfully negotiated a section of the Sagami Expressway southwest of Tokyo, with a local Governor and Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga onboard. The test drive reached speeds of 50 mph and took place entirely automatically, though it was carried out with the cooperation of local authorities, who no doubt cleared traffic to make the test a little easier. Nissan has already stated its intent to offer a fully autonomous car for sale by 2020."

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Cue the Overloads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603645)

I for one, accept our new Leafy Overlords.

But does it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603647)

automatically find outlets to plug into?

Re:But does it ... (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 9 months ago | (#45603713)

That's not a particularly difficult problem. An autonomous electric car could drop you off at the front door of your destination, then drive to a relatively distant parking lot where it can recharge using an automatic (robotic) charging station. Shortly before you're ready to leave, your would alert the car using your phone and it would pick you up at the front door.

Re:But does it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604065)

As a side effect, this will finally, finally, FINALLY put an end to the dreaded find-a-parking-space-in-a-busy-city-on-Friday-night drill. I for one welcome our self-driving-car overlords.

Re:But does it ... (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45604293)

As a side effect, this will finally, finally, FINALLY put an end to the dreaded find-a-parking-space-in-a-busy-city-on-Friday-night drill.

Self-driving cars can not only use remote parking lots, they can also make much better use of parking lot space. They are unoccupied when they self-park, so there is no need to leave room for people to exit. So they can park just an inch apart, and the absence of side mirrors will make that very close. Less space is needed for lanes, since the cars can steer optimally and coordinate their movements. Cars could park directly in front and behind each other, then when summoned by its owner, a car could signal for the blocking cars to move. The capacity of a parking lot can easily be doubled or tripled.

and who is at fault when there is no driver in the (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45604359)

and who is at fault when there is no driver in the car and some thing happens?

Re:and who is at fault when there is no driver in (1)

tibman (623933) | about 9 months ago | (#45604381)

If you are in a no-fault State then it wouldn't matter. Just keep paying your insurance bill : )

what about felony damage and or vehicular assault? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45604489)

what about felony damage and or vehicular assault?

Will your insurance offer your an criminal defense attorney, job loss support, and bail?

Re:what about felony damage and or vehicular assau (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605087)

Owner of the car will be required to have insurance that covers whatever damages the car might inflict. Hmmm...this sounds a lot like...car insurance. Like we have right now.

Not sure exactly where criminal comes in -- if you can prove criminal, you've got a person behind it. If the car accidentally runs over someone, it's not criminal (Though large sums of cash may change hands. See: Insurance).

Look, you need an example?

You're driving along the highway. Suddenly, a rock falls off the side of a hill and crushes your car, killing you. There's no past history of rock falls there, but something recently washed it loose and it fell as you were going by. This was not criminal, though large sums of money may change hands as a result of it.

criminal incompetence or worse (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45605283)

Let's say it's due to poor software aka software that will never pass FAA review for airplanes but made into an car as there was no FAA like oversight.

Or lets say some ones make to back room deal and bad sensors got put in?

Re:criminal incompetence or worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45606533)

The software's never going to be perfect, this needs to be dealt with as a contingency.

Say out of every 10 road deaths today, driverless cars avoid 9 of them, but bugs in the software introduce 5. So the software's still better than human drivers, but compared to a "perfect" driver it's flawed. Does this really need special pleading around FAA certification or do we just say the computer's imperfect but it's better than a human? What if the computer can pass a regular driving test, or even an advanced driving test?

I think these questions illuminate the fact that we are going to have to move somewhat away from a culture of blame, and more towards a culture of accepting that errors can and will occur. But where does that leave us psychologically? Is this worse than say relinquishing personal control by getting on a bus, and expecting the bus driver to be competent (but still bus crashes may occur)?

will also need an NO eula / blame passing law (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45605305)

So that the big players can't hide under one leaving the victim and non end user holding the bag.

Do you want to be in the hospital after being hit by an auto drive car with bills racking up and bill collectors calling each day after you get out as the courts / attorneys fight over who pays? and what you say to do get payed up front and later it turns out that due some Eula BS you have to pay that back in full at the full uninsurance rate.

Re:will also need an NO eula / blame passing law (2)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 9 months ago | (#45605339)

Make sense. You can't contract your way out of your basic obligations to society (e.g., you might be able to coerce your employees into signing a contract that says they work 80 hours a week for $1 per hour but you'll sure have some questions to answer if you try to actually enforce it) so it seems wise to think about preventing legal slipperyness before it really gets started. If there's one thing common to business around the world it's that given an inch, most will take a mile.

Re:will also need an NO eula / blame passing law (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 9 months ago | (#45605347)

Erk, sorry, *makes* sense.

Re:and who is at fault when there is no driver in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605125)

That's a good question. It won't and shouldn't be answered here, but debated within the communities that want these cars. And it will be. Laws will be changed if necessary.

Re:But does it ... (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 9 months ago | (#45605981)

"Whew! That was an expensive monthly trip to Walmart. Come pick me up, car, we have a shitload of shopping to get home."

"I am sorry, I can't do that, Dave. Kids have dragged a trashcan across the exit of the parking lot again. I and 1500 other cars are stuck eight miles away from your current location"

"Little Bastards. Okay, I will get a cab. See you at home when the cops clear the exit"

"Hello, you have reached Johnnycabs. We are sorry, but we are experiencing unprecedented demand at this time. Please hold. You are number 1500 in a queue."

Re:But does it ... (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45606799)

Kind of funny you brought that up. I came across a line of five cars trying to get out of the parking garage downtown a couple years ago. I waited for 15 minutes before getting out to see what the hold up was. Someone had tied the arm for the exit down and the person at the front of the line was just sitting there. I knocked on her window and asked what she was waiting for. She told me she wasn't sure if it was ok for her to untie the arm so she was waiting for someone to come. I assumed she had called someone so I asked her how long she had been waiting there, two hours. I asked when and who she called and she said she hadn't called anyone. I walked over and pulled the rope of the arm which lifted up and I went back to my car. She may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed, but what does that say about the other four cars behind her that also didn't bother to do anything about it. If I hadn't gotten out we might have sat there all evening.

Re:But does it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604353)

An autonomous electric car could drop you off at the front door of your destination, then drive to a relatively distant parking lot where it can recharge using an automatic (robotic) charging station

Or it could recharge at Chamblee Middle School! [slashdot.org]

Re:But does it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605119)

Shortly before you're ready to leave, your would alert the car

nah, you'll alert the car service and a nearby ride rotated in while your last one took off to the charging center will be at the curb when you're ready.

couple that with Google's new delivery service and you have 24/7 delivery of goods. no more drunken/stoned trips to taco bell.

i keep telling people this is the future. they keep going on about "jobs!". next level automation is going to be flushing even more jobs down the toilet. taxi/bus drivers, fast food, convenience stores, walgreens, all gonna feel the pinch. that's fine by me, honestly. soul crushing bullshit work.

Re:But does it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603981)

If my roomba can charge itself, why not. It could pull into the local dealership and back into a charging bay designed for the vehicle.

This might solve a large chunk of the complainers complaining about how they've got no place to plug their electric car in etc.

Who am I kidding, haters gonna hate.

Re:But does it ... (1)

mb-texas (1611363) | about 9 months ago | (#45604067)

Inductive charging stations would be one of many ways to solve this problem.

I like to call it (1)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | about 9 months ago | (#45603685)

Japansportation.

Re:I like to call it (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | about 9 months ago | (#45603919)

Koreanvented.

Re:I like to call it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604439)

Afghanistanimation?

I got nothing

southwest? (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45603711)

> who no doubt cleared traffic to make the test a little easier

There are lots of empty roads NorthEast of Tokyo, and not having a human in the car is actually recommended.

Glitch = Possible Death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603721)

What if it suddenly veers into a wall or oncoming truck due to an incorrect or faulty instruction. Fuck autonomous!

Re:Glitch = Possible Death (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603791)

What if it suddenly veers into a wall or oncoming truck due to an incorrect or faulty instruction

What if it suddenly veers into a wall or oncoming truck due to the driver being drunk or sleepy or inattentive?

Humans glitch, too. Far more often than computers.

Re:Glitch = Possible Death (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45604421)

What if it suddenly veers into a wall or oncoming truck due to an incorrect or faulty instruction. Fuck autonomous!

You are obviously not an embedded system engineer with mission critical design experience. The proper way to design a system like this is to have multiple processes running on at least two separate CPUs. The most powerful CPU computes the car's speed and path, and another process running on a separate CPU performs sanity checks on the results. If something is clearly wrong (like steering into oncoming traffic), then the backup program applies the brakes and pulls off the road. Bits can be flipped by cosmic rays, or whatever, and a system like this is designed to deal with that. This is standard critical system engineering. Then you put it on the test track, and throw all the crap you can at it: turn off sensors at random, put corrupt data on the bus, flip bits in memory, etc. Keep hammering it and fixing the problems until it can handle any failure as safely as possible.

pull off is not always an option or may be a very (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45604507)

pull off is not always an option or may be a very bad / not the best one.

Re:pull off is not always an option or may be a ve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605859)

So, tell me, what a bad human driver will do in this particular case? even an average one? Will he or she always pick the best option?
Even when said driver is drunk, sick, sleepy, tired, has a heart attack .... ?
Autonomous cars are not the silver bullet, but from what I have seen on the roads, it will be an improvement most of the time ...
Glitches will happen, they already happen without cars being autonomous! Will there be more of them? Not that much if the governments do their jobs like they do with planes ...
Not saying that autonomous car design will not e an engineering feat in itself, so I think we can still fight about it for 10 to 15 years before cars are fully autonomous, but in the end we'll get there ...

Re:Glitch = Possible Death (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 9 months ago | (#45606005)

Yeah, obviously nobody has ever thought about that possibility before, so engineers have certainly not worked on making the system fault-tolerant.

Re:Glitch = Possible Death (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 9 months ago | (#45606415)

Or worse. What if your driving it.

I think people just won't own these cars (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 9 months ago | (#45603741)

I think for a person to own a self driving car might be the exception to the norm. I think if self driving cars work, corporations will buy millions of them, and station them in semi-patroling routes. Then people will just summon them like cheap taxis. Some people will even schedule their work day around them. The software will do all the planning on who gets what car. A guy could ride one to work, not pay parking, then the car plays taxi for the day, and comes picks the guy up at work to take him home.

If they work, they'll work big time, but I really worry about lawsuits.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45603821)

Meh, there are just too many people for 2D movement.

Someone had better figure out how to reliably send me a drone to taxi me around.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603873)

Amazon?

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604135)

Amazon?

That'd be hot, but I don't think Amazon warriors would like it.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 9 months ago | (#45604435)

Amazon Escort service?

I was just also thinking of if an individual would let his car go make money for him instead of even being a corporation: Pimp My Ride could have a whole new meaning. "Okay car, you take me to work, and instead of me paying for you to park, you go play taxi all day and bring me money for my ride home."

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604867)

Unfortunately, people are messy jerks. And if identification is used to bring accountability, your privacy of travel is completely gone. Assholes: the reason we can't have nice things.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 9 months ago | (#45604343)

The subways in Seoul, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tokyo together provide over 12 billion rides per year (cite [wikipedia.org] ). Tunneling is totally the way to go for dense transport. It's 3d, safe, efficient, relieves the open land of the blight of travel infrastructure, and the high initial cost of tunneling is super-amortized when ridden billions of times per year.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45604557)

The RER A line in Paris claims up to 1.2 million riders a day, or 300 million rides a year. That's for one tunnel with one lane each way.

I agree that tunnels are better for mass transit, but they won't dig one all the way to my house. No business case until they convert the whole mountain into condos. 2099 maybe.

So in the meantime I'll take my DroneCab(TM) instead.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 9 months ago | (#45603921)

One of the biggest potential long-term issues with these cars will be maintenance. If you look to autopilot in airliners as an example, autopilots only tend to fail/disengage when there is something wrong with the sensors on the plane. For instance if the pilot and co-pilots air speeds disagree(indicating a potential blockage in a pitot tube) etc. Now since the airline industry is heavily regulated and since airplanes are so expensive, the airline companies have a huge incentive to keep their sensors well-maintained. However, if you take a look around at how people treat their carsâ¦wellâ¦

As any good coder knows, the base case is often times the easiest, what is going to be challenging, at least from a practical perspective, is how these autonomous cars deal with failures/inconsistent data in their sensors. My guess is that all these demos were done with relatively new, clean and maintained sensors, but what happens if someone just lets their equipment go to shit, what happens in rainy/snow environments where mud/snow may gum up the sensors, etc. I think that even 7 years might not be time enough to solve these problems, at least not without new, potentially unpopular legislation dictating that maintenance standards for automobiles come at least close to those of airliners.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45604023)

I don't see that as any different than someone not properly maintaining their manual car. I know lots of people that have been in accidents because of bad breaks or bawled tires.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (4, Funny)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#45604143)

I don't see that as any different than someone not properly maintaining their manual car. I know lots of people that have been in accidents because of bad breaks or bawled tires.

people shouldn't be taking a break while driving much less bad ones! how can they even stand with crying tires? dude, you know some messed up people.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45606495)

I'm sorry for that, I was writing on my phone and /. mobile really sucks. I have a Galaxy Note II, writing with a stylist, phone does auto correct and when I go back to correct spelling the phone sometimes goes into epileptic seizure with the scribe area popping up and disappearing randomly, conveniently over the submit button. There's no preview on /. mobile, it just posts.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604165)

You should stop talking about cars. You've managed to misspell everything you typed about them!

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

forkazoo (138186) | about 9 months ago | (#45604177)

Except now the car can just take itself to a maintenance appointment while you are at work or overnight, so you never need to actively actually do anything. In any case, I think the cars will make the best estimate of the world that they can, based on a combination of sensors. It seems to be the case that you can drive a car optically (humans do it) so if the radar sensors go out, it's probably still perfectly safe to let it drive on lidar and cameras for a little while. It doesn't get scary until cheap econobox cars go autonomous without any real redundancies. But, they'll still be safer than human drivers.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45604235)

I think the main difference is maintenance cycles, delicacy of sensor and detection of failure.

Brakes don't suddenly go from good to bad. They have a very graduate wear and it's easy to detect that they should be replaced in the annual checkup. And when it is detected, there's plenty of time usually left, not to mention that you notice a change in the behaviour unless you're very insensitive to your car's signals.

Likewise, if you're lacking oil, it's trivial to detect that. There's a sensor that notices when there isn't enough oil and it works trivially easy. Covered in oil = fine, not covered in oil = warning light on.

And if a light goes dark, it's either easy to notice yourself (when you don't see jack anymore) or some friendly cop will point it out to you (usually while cashing in some money for that service...).

It's a bit different with the kind of sensors that you need to let a car drive itself. I think the moment you notice that some important sensor is covered in mud is the same moment that airbag goes poof in your face.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 9 months ago | (#45605381)

Brakes don't suddenly go from good to bad. They have a very graduate wear and it's easy to detect that they should be replaced in the annual checkup. And when it is detected, there's plenty of time usually left, not to mention that you notice a change in the behaviour unless you're very insensitive to your car's signals.

Is it just here in NZ that brakes are typically of the "screamer" variety? I can't imagine we've any monopoly on them here. I occasionally hear them in cars around the place, yelling like tortured pigs because the meat on the brake pad is low. Very embarrassing and a good incentive for the owner to get them changed pronto. Happily, they don't seem to make any difference to the braking performance. It's quite a different noise from that one running the brake pads down to the metal and it certainly is rather motivational..

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45606501)

We do have those in Canada. I primarily hear them on Metro Transit buses around my city, which is kind of unsettling.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 9 months ago | (#45605523)

The brakes on my car went from good to bad rather quickly when a seal failed in the slave cylinder, likewise my power steering failed entirely when a belt to the pump snapped.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45606561)

Brakes don't suddenly go from good to bad.

Tell Paul Walker.

In fact, brake lines fail without notable warning all the time, as do other components like masters and boosters. So you're wrong there.

Likewise, if you're lacking oil, it's trivial to detect that. There's a sensor that notices when there isn't enough oil and it works trivially easy. Covered in oil = fine, not covered in oil = warning light on.

Actually, this isn't that easy. For example, one of the UPS drivers let me know that his Mercedes Turbo-Diesel powered delivery van was detecting low oil and shutting off when he needed power the most, going up bumpy hills. Almost killed him one time. The fleet mechanic defeated it for him so that he wouldn't die. So you're wrong again. Even Mercedes who has been making cars since time was time can get this one wrong.

And if a light goes dark, it's either easy to notice yourself (when you don't see jack anymore) or some friendly cop will point it out to you (usually while cashing in some money for that service...).

Look, it's not when a light goes dark, which is not easy for most people to notice. It's when a light comes on. When there's something wrong, a light is lit. If your brake fluid is low, your BRAKE light is on. If your vehicle is producing excessive emissions, your MIL is lit. If your manufacturer bothered to also create a CEL, then if there is also likely engine damage occurring, the CEL will be illuminated. When you disable traction control in cars which permit it, something lights up to tell you it's off, nothing goes off to tell you it's no longer on. So you're wrong again.

It's a bit different with the kind of sensors that you need to let a car drive itself. I think the moment you notice that some important sensor is covered in mud is the same moment that airbag goes poof in your face.

I think the moment you notice that some important sensor is covered in mud will be the same moment that the car tells you that there's a sensor problem, and that you're going to have to do your own driving.

You are wrong about literally everything and your conclusion is laughable.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45606603)

I live in Atlantic Canada and have had brakes seize because of salt corrosion on the calipers, which isn't a fun thing to discover when you live in a city that's primarily one big hill. I already had a appointment to have my brakes serviced for the following day, but I wish I hadn't put it off that long. Luckily no one was hurt when I ran a stop sign and was able to eventually stop the car using the emergency brake and pushing really hard on the pedal. The brakes engaged, but then seized in the engaged position.

I imagine for the first few generations of self driving cars there will be a safety override, just for peoples piece of mind, or at the vary least the car will fail in a safe way. The engineers that build these things aren't stupid and I'm sure any companies making self driving cars realize they're going to be under a microscope. One accident that was the cars fault and it'll be in every paper around the world.

It's actually interesting because we're seeing this right now with Tesla and the three or four cars that caught fire after being in crashes. It's actually much more common for a non-electric car to catch fire, but Tesla is being called out on it after the battery pack in a couple cars ruptured in crashes. Why all the fuss when it's not all that uncommon for a gas car to catch fire *while idle*? because it's an electric car, people are wary of them and are looking for something to be horrendously wrong to prevent change. The media prints it because people eat up fear in the news.

We are all going to be much better off with self driving cars. There might be some growing pains, no tech is perfected out of the gate, but no more inexperienced teens, drunks, old or distracted people ruining someone else's day seems worth it to me.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45604467)

I don't see that as any different than someone not properly maintaining their manual car.

I see a big difference: with an automated car, the car will know that it needs maintenance. If it is a safely issue, it can limit its speed, or refuse to drive until the problem is fixed. Otherwise, it can automatically drive itself to a maintenance center while you are at work or sleeping.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 9 months ago | (#45605537)

Like when you have a stroke. Your brain knows that it is impaired and you go get medical attention.

How many layers of sensors and redundancy will be enough?

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45606527)

The computer the sensors are connected to will know when the sensor isn't functioning. Cars from the last seven years, at least, have had this feature along with just about any machinery on assembly lines that work at high speeds. When the brake sensor on my 2007 Yaris goes a light tells me I need to take my car in.

Aside with that what's wrong with redundancy? What you don't carry a spare tire in case you have a blowout while you're on the highway? Seems like a good safe idea to me to make sure there's an alternate or backup sensor of some kind that'll get you to the dealership for repairs.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45606605)

What system is in place today in case you have a stroke while doing 65mph in the left lane of a busy LA freeway?

We can just replicate that.

You stop adding redundancy when the cost exceeds the probability-weighted benefit. But critical system failure on an autoautomobile is your engine dying and your deadman's handle being applied (they can have this on driverless cars). So now you need this to happen while executing a critical operation such as: overtaking on the wrong side of the road with oncoming traffic that doesn't have enough time to stop before reaching you should you fail to move back. And that's the kind of batshit insane maneuver that driverless cars won't be executing in the first place, which is why we need them.

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#45606623)

It's gonna be weird seeing cars and trucks driving around with no-one in them at first. Could open up some new and interesting avenues in highway robbery too, especially if all you have to do is set up a stop sign in the road and the computer automatically brings the vehicle to a halt.

insurance/leasing will take care of this... (2)

schlachter (862210) | about 9 months ago | (#45604883)

Not a problem...lots of biz models
1. insurance includes mandatory and included in your premium sensor/systems maintenance
2. car is subscribed to or leased which includes maintenance in monthly fee
3. cars are not owned; just used like taxis; so they're maintained by a company under strict regulations ...and the cars will maintain themselves. a loaner car can drive over while your car is worked on.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (5, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | about 9 months ago | (#45604119)

If they work, they'll work big time, but I really worry about lawsuits.

I tend to think the lawsuit fears are overblown. In the U.S. alone, 35,000 people die each year due to human drivers, at a cost of about $200 billion annually, paid for by everyone's insurance. We seem to have no problem living with that.

If autonomous cars can cut that fatality rate to 3,500 or even 350 deaths a year, the savings will be so enormous that it will be cost-effective for the auto companies to partner with insurance companies and create a general fund to reimburse those people who may be injured due to an automation failure, regardless of fault. The federal government already uses this concept with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It provides no-fault reimbursement of vaccine-related injuries, because letting vaccine makers be sued out of business would result in more deaths and injures in the long run.

And keep in mind that accident rates will only continue to drop as the automation improves with time. Moore's Law is inexorable.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 9 months ago | (#45604401)

You know what makes me think it will fly:
Since big time corporations will invest in them, they'll have big time corporation pockets to win lawsuits.

I think relative safety is important in the end, but you know how court cases are, logic doesn't always prevail.

what about legal liability as tickets to criminal (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45604453)

what about legal liability as tickets up to criminal stuff that can get you locked up.

What if a auto car hits someone? and drivers away as some sensors failing may read it as some thing that is on the safe to drive over list.

Re:what about legal liability as tickets to crimin (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 9 months ago | (#45604875)

This stuff can happen today, eg. brake failure, so it's not unprecedented. In the case of brake failure, the liability is typically in the hands of the manufacturer and/or the dealership. Only extremely rarely is that a jailable offense (in the sense that vaccination injuries would only very rarely be a jailable offense).

This isn't a new kind of liability problem, it's just a different scope.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

chameleon3 (801105) | about 9 months ago | (#45605027)

very well written, and I agree completely.

The question is, will they put all those cash savings towards the loss in revenue from speed traps and red light cameras?

Me? I'm betting they find new ways to fine us.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605651)

keep in mind that accident rates will only continue to drop as the automation improves with time

This is also something to keep in mind when people say that we shouldn't allow self-driving cars until their safety record is proven to be better than a humans.

You have to consider that using self-driving cars in the real world will provide valuable testing that can't be simulated in a lab, and that the feedback from the car's logs when accidents do occur will provide information needed to program the cars to deal with exceptionally rare circumstances. For this reason, it's entirely possible to switch to using self-driving cars even before they're less likely to kill people than humans and still end up saving lives in the long run if doing so allows you to create better-than-human self-driving cars faster than you would be able to otherwise.

Think of it like this: Humans kill 35,000 people in car accidents each year. Over the next 50 years (a conceivable estimate of how long the "OMG the machines will kill us" types might be able to keep self-driving cars off the roads) that 35,000 people/year turns into 1.75 million. Now imagine that with self-driving cars we can reduce that number by 90%, saving 1.575 million people over that 50 year period, but in order to do so, we'd have to put the cars on the road today in order to learn from their mistakes, and doing so will cause 500,000 deaths over the next ten years (43% more than humans) before we perfect the design so that the cars are only killing 10% as many people as humans would. (and indeed, that 500,000 may well be heavily weighted to the first year) Sure, that initial 150,000 deaths that wouldn't have occurred without those stupid machines on the road would suck, but it would end up saving over a million lives in the long term (50 year period), whereas waiting until lab testing perfects the design (waiting that 50 years) kills those people, but leaves us feeling better about it just because it was humans who killed them instead of machines.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605681)

I tend to think the lawsuit fears are overblown. .

Check into something called the Morris worm. If autonomous vehicles become popular, adoption will steadily increase until one day when there is a spectacularly catastrophic event involving some percentage of a particular model of vehicle all at once. Adoption will immediately fall to near zero. Before you poo-poo the notion, consider that Elon Musk recently blurted out that they might just readjust the suspension height of all the Teslas out there with an over-the-air firmware update.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 9 months ago | (#45606345)

I think he was more worried about what would happen to all the poor lawyers when there is a massive drop in lawsuits. Somebody think of the lawyers!

Re: I think people just won't own these cars (1)

MarkH (8415) | about 9 months ago | (#45606715)

shared insurance liability could be a great way of getting over what are likely to be a small number of high profile law suits in early days of adoption. as you say works great for vacination.

on side note people always quote the deaths from auto accidents. don't forget to multiply the figure by about 3 for accidents resulting in serious injury where long term care and support needed.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45604151)

Just wait for cab driver unions to go berserk over it. It kills jobs! It's hackneys and RIAA all over again. Just you wait and see, these things will be outlawed inside the cities.

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 9 months ago | (#45605415)

Sorry to reply to you twice in the same thread but it seems to me that this is going to be a common refrain over the coming years. Taxi and transportation companies ought to be thinking hard about the future by now, knowing the impact of autonomous vehicles will be gigantic. Especially so when accounting for the extra pressure the potential of drone deliveries brings. That's two strong areas of development (that have already proven themselves acceptably reliable and safe even this early on in their lifecycles) converging on a single economic sector. In time we're going to have to get used to the shrill protestations of unions across nearly every industry.

And here I was shitting myself as a small-business network administrator fearing obsolescence due to the move to the Cloud...!

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604499)

I think for a person to own a self driving car might be the exception to the norm.

A hundred years ago, it was thought that a person that could own a car was exception to the norm too. Why do you need or even want a car, when a self-maintaining and self-fueling horse does the job?

Wait 50 years and see that drivers will be limited to the two wheel vehicles.

If they work, they'll work big time, but I really worry about lawsuits.

Why do you worry? Are you the owner of a company making these cars or are you worried about lawsuits in general? Perhaps some liability insurance would ease your mind!

Re:I think people just won't own these cars (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 9 months ago | (#45605093)

I worded it wrong. I meant some people obviously will get one. But for the masses, they'll just be summoning them with their smart phones.

Lets hope they are like Johnny Cab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45603757)

If my wife is in labor and we need to rush to the hospital, I'm ripping the guts out of that thing and driving myself.

Re: Lets hope they are like Johnny Cab (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45603973)

Labor last for hours after contractions first start. Trust me you'd have time. My first one was 16 hours from the initial cramping. My cousins wife was 36. I could go on, but I'm writing on my phone. Despite what TV and Movies tell you labor is no excuse to speed to the hospital, putting both your wife, kid and others in danger. If you really feel time is of the essence, call an ambulance, let the pros handle it.

Re: Lets hope they are like Johnny Cab (2)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 9 months ago | (#45604935)

I also do not understand why people think:

a) Speed limit laws designed for human drivers will never change when driverless cars are common.
--- to some extent in residential areas they still need a lower limit to account for children running out into the street, but anywhere you can go kind of fast now, the roads could be built for driverless cars to go much faster.
b) Driverless cars will not have an emergency mode.

Emergency situations are always a priority as transportation and communications infrastructure becomes commonplace -- think of 911 and then E911 etc.. The greater the percent of cars on the road that are driverless, the more you can just punch a "911" button and get to the nearest hospital quick with every other car automatically dodging out of your way, clearing a single lane of a multilane street just-in-time. Resisting driverless cars is tantamount to insisting that when you drive your wife to the hospital, you want to deal with random jackasses and you also do not want the police to know why you are driving like an idiot.

Driverless 'Cash Cab' (1)

mb-texas (1611363) | about 9 months ago | (#45604091)

...with live streaming to web!

Automotive networks have zero security (2, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about 9 months ago | (#45604225)

Work by Dr. Charlie Miller showed that in-auto networks have zero security. It wasn't a problem up to this point because such networks were secured by air-gap. Unfortunately automakers decided that facebook integration for the car is worthwhile feature and decided to open Pandora's box. If you are planning to buy a new car, make sure it has no connectivity capability of any kind. This includes On-Star systems, this definitely includes any kind smartphone integration or mobile hotspot technologies.

Car's CAN Bus is ring network with no authentication whatsoever and rudimentary priority system. If you can broadcast into it, then you can affect operation of the car in very drastic ways. Since it has to be real-time and responsive (e.g. controlling engine timing) there is no time for any kind of authentication. Insanity is allowing things like Entertainment/Navigation/OnStar system access to it, but this is how auto engineers do it. Why? Because they don't know any better, they are not IT Security guys.

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45604843)

Forget the fire hazard, the scariest thing about Tesla is the remote software upgrade capability.

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (1)

Metabolife (961249) | about 9 months ago | (#45605049)

So you get Pandora in your car, but you open Pandora's box. What's more important?

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605439)

So you get Pandora in your car, but you open Pandora's box. What's more important?

So compelling, so pretty, until they open their legs.

Then.. the smell of fish. Ugh.

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (4, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 9 months ago | (#45605275)

Car's CAN Bus is ring network with no authentication whatsoever and rudimentary priority system. If you can broadcast into it, then you can affect operation of the car in very drastic ways.

Much in the same way as the PCI bus on your computer has "no authentication whatsoever and rudimentary priority system". The bus does not need to be secured. The entry points to the bus need to be secures much in the same way as the Ethernet card provides secure access to the PCI bus.

Security researchers have taken control of in-auto networks by plugging hardware into the bus. You can do a lot to control a car if you can plug onto the diagnostic port and have a laptop sitting on the passenger seat. I think most people would notice that and be a bit suspicious. There has yet to be a wireless access into an unaltered in-auto system. If that starts to happen then worry.

Insanity is allowing things like Entertainment/Navigation/OnStar system access to it,

If the OnStar system is secured and only responds to a specific set of commands I see no "insanity". The whole CAN bus API would not be exposed through the OnStar API. I used to work a a company that facilitated disabling vehicles and locking their doors (It was an application designed for an exotic car rental company. They wanted to be able to disable the vehicle if the vehicle was miss-used). Through our API those were the only commands available. There was no way a hacker could do anything else. The connection to the vehicle was authenticated and encrypted. Every entertainment system has authentication if it uses Bluetooth as authentication is built into the Bluetooth pairing protocol.

Authentication on the bus is not an issue; authentication at entry points is.

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#45606667)

The problem is that it is now quite common for the main dashboard computer system that controls the radio/CD player, air con and sat nav to be attached to the CAN bus. If you can hack that remotely and run arbitrary code you could gain access to the CAN bus.

It's all very well saying that things like OnSat have a "secure" API with a specific set of commands, but what about exploits? Many cars have GSM modems for internet connectivity that contain complete TCP/IP stacks. What if the parser that downloads weather data or sat nav map updates has a buffer overflow issue that lets an attacker run their own code? It isn't unusual for such systems to have no security system, or to simply run all applications as root.

Even the radio app decodes RDS data, and spoofing your own RDS messages was demonstrated years ago with low cost hardware bought on eBay. Wireless tire pressure sensors are now mandatory on US cars, so what if there was a vulnerability in the message handler for those which is, of course, connected directly to the CAN bus?

Re:Automotive networks have zero security (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45606201)

Sounds almost laughably, inevitably fixable.

best application: the elderly (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#45604323)

at age 65, fatal accidents go waaay up. [dot.gov] i blame the old people sunglasses [cardinal.com] and old people. [grumpyoldsod.com]

Re:best application: the elderly (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 9 months ago | (#45606355)

And what does Japan have in excess?

Integrating existing logic (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 9 months ago | (#45604367)

Imagine how the control of a car will become very accurate when the self-driving part is integrated to the existing computerized parts of a car (stability control and whatnot) and all the components can extremely quickly adapt to the conditions reported by each other.

autonomous bicycles, too (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45604393)

if it's good for them, it's good for you.

all the cobalt-60 may not be accounted for: (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about 9 months ago | (#45604835)

"The container holding cobalt was found about a kilometer away from the truck and had been opened, he said." ..."At around 1 a.m. Monday, a man armed with a handgun knocked on the passenger window. When the passenger rolled down his window, the gunman demanded the keys to the vehicle, Morales said. Both the driver and his assistant were taken to an empty lot where they were bound and told not to move. They heard one of the assailants use a walkie-talkie type device or phone to tell someone, "It's done," Morales said." http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/world/americas/mexico-radioactive-theft/ [cnn.com]

Re:all the cobalt-60 may not be accounted for: (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about 9 months ago | (#45604873)

oops -- please disregard, I meant to post in another thread. I'm trying to find a way to remove a post once made, but I can't seem to find it.

Get off my lawn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605179)

Also, don't steal a few cents of electricity for your Leaf, in Georgia.

Autonomous recharging (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 9 months ago | (#45605377)

Given the following:
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/12/04/1817227/ev-owner-arrested-over-5-cents-worth-of-electricity-from-schools-outlet [slashdot.org]
what would happen if the car decided to recharge itself? Would the car be arrested?

Re:Autonomous recharging (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 9 months ago | (#45606149)

I believe they already call that civil forfeiture.

Everybody gets this far. Then it gets hard. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 9 months ago | (#45605379)

All the highway autonomous vehicle projects got as far as freeway driving. BMW, Cadillac, and Mercedes have all demonstrated this level of automatic driving. Then it gets hard.

This is about as far as you can go before entering the "deadly valley", where the vehicle can drive autonomously but isn't smart enough to recognize when it shoudn't. Google is further along; they can drive around on suburban streets.

Re:Everybody gets this far. Then it gets hard. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 9 months ago | (#45605451)

Freeway driving is trivial: you don't hit what's in front of you, you don't hit what's beside you. Basic sensors can pull off both of these feats. You get bonus points if you can stay in a lane, but plenty of shitty human drivers manage to pull it off following those two basic rules.

Getting off the freeway is where it starts getting difficult. Even google maps sometimes misses the exit and tells me to turn right while I'm doing 60 over an overpass.

Viruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45605661)

What's that? We haven't been able to figure out how to secure anything that's Turing complete against viruses and malware, and the payload for something infecting a drive-by-wire car can kill the occupants? Lalalalalala! I can't hearrrrr you!

Herding cars (1)

grewil (2108618) | about 9 months ago | (#45605759)

Will it not be possible to "herd" an autonomous car, forcing it in different directions simply by driving up very close to it, triggering it to steer away from the approaching object (that is you in your car). If you and your friend sit in two cars, it will even be quite easy I guess. Imagine how annoying that would be to the passengers of the autonomous car!

Re:Herding cars (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 9 months ago | (#45606543)

Well, the passenger of the autonomous car will have both hands free to hold and point that 12-gauge at your tires. Have fun!

bad journalism (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 9 months ago | (#45605987)

who no doubt cleared traffic to make the test a little easier.

Nothing in the article nor in the video backs up this assumption. So why was it in the summary? Having been to Japan, I doubt they would've done this, as the whole point of running the test on a public highway is to show it can cope with other traffic and real-life conditions, and making the test invalid in such a stupid and public way would mean quite a bit of lost face.

Google invented the autonomous car! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45606071)

No, this can't be true. The Japanese, Swedish and Germans can't possibly have autonomous cars ready for production. Google invented the autonomous car just recently and their prototypes only run properly on empty highways in New Mexico and California.

Totally impossible a couple of Japanese and Europeans beat the gods from Silly Con Valley employing the 'best and brightest' of the world.

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