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Google Using Self-Driving Car Data To Make Cars Smarter

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the always-turns-off-its-blinker dept.

Google 174

cartechboy (2660665) writes "One thing Google has perfected is using massive data sets generated from users to improve user experience. Google's self-driving cars may be subject to the same cycle of improvement, as they have racked up considerable mileage on public roads, and each mile generates data that Google engineers can use to 'teach' vehicle. Meet Pricilla — a Google test driver on the self-driving car project as she does a video walk through of some of the improvements created so far. Some are fairly simplistic, for example: 'The car does move to avoid large obstacles." That said, the car can also detect a bicyclist signaling and stay clear — oddly, even when that cyclist changes his mind and zig zags a little." Google is now testing cars on the city streets of Mountain View.

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Error in the summary. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862421)

"One thing Google has perfected is using massive data sets generated from users to improve user experience." should read "One thing Google has perfected is using massive data sets generated from users to make money".

Re:Error in the summary. (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 8 months ago | (#46862789)

Yes. That is what companies do, they make money. Astute observation.

Google claims a lot of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862473)

Google has been claiming that its self-driving cars are around the corner for years now. But to this day they never participated in an independent third-party test. We only got their for it that it performs as well as they claim.

Re:Google claims a lot of things (1)

cfc-12 (1195347) | about 8 months ago | (#46862527)

They are around the corner, or at least one of them is. Didn't you watch the end of the video?

Re:Google claims a lot of things (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 months ago | (#46862545)

Geez, give them a chance. Google didn't really start on self-driving cars until 2010. That's only four years ago. Lots of new technologies have sat around in corporate research labs for much longer before they went on to be a part of our everyday lives.

Of course autonomous car is a better driver (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862485)

It does not need to put one makeup, drink coffee or text on the phone. It has sensors watching in multiple directions at the same time. Considering that most of people look at driving as a secondary thing that you do in the car in between listening to the radio talking on the phone and other things, there is no surprise that this car is a better driver.

Google Using Self-Driving Car Data to Sell Adverti (-1, Troll)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 8 months ago | (#46862549)

Google Using Self-Driving Car Data to Sell Advertising

I fixed the headline for this post.

Still waiting to see 3 things (4, Insightful)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 8 months ago | (#46862601)

1. Cop directing traffic
2. A more complicated construction zone with a badly marked detour
3. A snow storm

Things are coming along nicely, but I still imagine these are a decade away. Still, they should be common and affordable by the time I'm ready to plow through a farmer's market.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (5, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 8 months ago | (#46862745)

A snow storm is the big one. Also, rain and dust can be a big problem as well. The thing is, when you R&D these systems in sunny California, silly things like "precipitation" seem to get forgotten. I remember seeing a presentation about the Google street view cars, and how when they deployed them to other regions, they had to institute lens cleaning procedures because they had pretty much forgotten it rains in other places in the world.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862795)

As much as California likes to portray that it never rains, there really are fairly prolonged periods of precipitation here. Even snow storms are not that big of an issue to test - it's really not for to mountainous areas that have snow for several months of the year.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 8 months ago | (#46862855)

A snow storm is the big one. Also, rain and dust can be a big problem as well. The thing is, when you R&D these systems in sunny California, silly things like "precipitation" seem to get forgotten. I remember seeing a presentation about the Google street view cars, and how when they deployed them to other regions, they had to institute lens cleaning procedures because they had pretty much forgotten it rains in other places in the world.

The cars use a combination of optical, ultrasonic, and radar sensors [economist.com] . I doubt rain presents too much of a problem. Hell, I imagine they could drive pretty well at night with the headlights off.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 8 months ago | (#46862945)

I know what they use. I use the same sensors. Rain is a problem. Dust is a problem. Snow is a HUGE problem. Of the sensors on the car, the Velodyne HDL-64E on top is by far the most important, and provides the most critical data used for localization and detecting dynamic objects. With rain in particular laser beams can get refracted or reflected by the raindrops, which incredibly fuck up your distance measurements. The typical solution is to do a lot of filtering (i.e. take the median of two measurements) but this cuts down your effective frame rate, which already isn't that high to begin with.

Snow pretty much guarantees that "manual operation mode" is going to be a primary interface in autonomous cars for a long time to come, as we wait for not only sensors to get up to speed, but also machine learning in general.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 8 months ago | (#46863261)

Maybe in 5 yrs hyper spectral imaging sensors will be cheap enough to be used in these cars...or perhaps inter-car communications will make up for the degraded sensing. For now, I'd think a solution for 95% of the time would work for most people.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863633)

You clearly don't live in the North - 95% doesn't account for the close to 30% of the year there's some amount of snow on the ground and/or falling from the sky.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 8 months ago | (#46863473)

I'm perfectly OK with the tradeoff though of having the car drive on sunny days and then have a manual operation mode when a blizzard crops up.

Or for that matter, I was driving along the interstate yesterday when a Tornado siren went off. Even I wasn't entirely certain what to do, but it's certainly a problem that could be solved with technology. My phone knew that the tornado siren was activated since it received an emergency text message simultaneously. Unlike me, the car would have instantly known where the nearest off-ramp was and could have taken me to the nearest safe structure assuming it deactivated the LIDAR and relied on stereo optical cameras for "emergency" navigation. Or I could have driven even if I hadn't driven in years at 40mph down a freeway to an offramp and parked. That's an easy enough skill to manage.

But let's look at it from a worst case scenario. Even if I couldn't drive and Google just pulled the car over along the road and said "In the event of debris, exit the vehicle immediately and find a low lying ditch to take cover. Cover your head, and do not hide in an overpass." I would have gotten wetter but would have remained about equally safe. Meanwhile all of the terrible drivers who seemed to want to murder everyone on the interstate would have been far less likely to kill me. I think all things told even in the very worst case scenario I would prefer the automatic car for "net safety". And in the case of snow, it doesn't appear people know how to drive in the snow either, so I can't see performance being *that* much worse than the status quo.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46862859)

To add to this, if the car is good enough to drive itself 99.9% of the time, how well will the driver be able to drive when the car fails and they have to take over. All systems I've seen require the user to be paying attention in case something goes wrong with the computer. When the computer is good enough that you haven't had to do any driving in the past 3 months, how much are you really going to be paying attention when something goes wrong?

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

ColdSam (884768) | about 8 months ago | (#46863011)

That 99.9% makes it far safer than a human driver.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 8 months ago | (#46863029)

The autonomous miles driven figure is a bit overblown. They've been testing in the same conditions and using the same methods since the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. At some point whether you've driven 100 million miles or 100 billion miles it doesn't matter when you haven't driven a single mile in the snow.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46863049)

I think a fallback behavior of stop safely and pull over before [confusion situation] is well within algorithmic acceptability.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (5, Interesting)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 8 months ago | (#46863071)

When the computer is good enough that you haven't had to do any driving in the past 3 months, how much are you really going to be paying attention when something goes wrong?

I'd suggest that once this is consumer-ready, the vast majority of "something goes wrong" scenarios where the car doesn't know what to do would fall into one of two categories:

  • "I don't know what to do, therefore I will come to a complete stop (and pull over to the side of the road, assuming I can identify a safe path);" or
  • "If I can't react adequately to this situation, there's very little chance that you, meatsack, would have done even half as well as I can manage right now."

These things'll never, ever be perfect. They will almost undoubtedly reach a point where they're at least an order of magnitude safer than humans, though. That'll be more than good enough for most people.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about 8 months ago | (#46863525)

Please mod parent up! (Had mod points to burn just a couple days ago.)

How confusing the inputs of a system is to the computer is something that the program should be easily able to figure out, except in cases where the human drivers are hosed as well.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 months ago | (#46863675)

They will almost undoubtedly reach a point where they're at least an order of magnitude safer than humans, though.

Considering how good humans actually are (per vehicle mile traveled), that's actually a pretty tall order.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863227)

no worse then the driver is now? Most people most of the time do not handle an emergency situation correctly. They may get lucky and avoid it, but is' seldom the best course of action.

You might as well ask the same question about anti-lock brakes.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

lorinc (2470890) | about 8 months ago | (#46863471)

I am pretty much waiting for the other way around: when I, as a human, known that I am quite bad at handling the current situation and that the machine will do much better than I'll ever be capable of. In particular, I am thinking of traffic jams where you have to find maximum speed that maintains a smooth global flow, without falling into chaotic start/stop sequences like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Most humans typically tend to drive too fast in such situations, leading to an average speed well below what machines could very simply achieve. So basically, I'll drive when it's easy, and let the machine do the complicated stuff, as usual.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

ColdSam (884768) | about 8 months ago | (#46862999)

Sure, why bother trying to solve the easier problems first? Go straight to solving the most complex cases instead.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | about 8 months ago | (#46863455)

The summary says that Google is testing cars in Mountain View. According to this website [weatherspark.com] , with respect to Mountain View:

During the cold season, which lasts from November 26 to March 6, there is a 34% average chance that precipitation will be observed at some point during a given day. When precipitation does occur it is most often in the form of light rain (57% of days with precipitation have at worst light rain), moderate rain (31%), and heavy rain (11%).

I think it is safe to say that it rains there, as compared to, for example, Disneyland [weatherspark.com] (18% of cold season days have precipitation) or Las Vegas (12% of cold season days have precipitation).

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 8 months ago | (#46863835)

Many Infrared frequencies will quite happily go through rain and fog. Not sure about snow but don't assume all wavelengths are affected the same way.

Anyway its not like a car would try driving anyway with bad data. It would just pull over to the side of the road and say it can't continue, please drive manually.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

khasim (1285) | about 8 months ago | (#46862837)

1. Since they can read a cyclist's hand signals that probably isn't much of a problem.

2. Possibly not on the first attempt. But, ideally, those cars will be sending data back to Google which will then relay the improved instructions to the next cars to attempt it. But hang onto that thought.

3. Probably better than a human would.

Anyway, back to #2. I'd be concerned about the number of idiots around construction zones who are NOT using the autonomous cars. The ones that will change lanes without signalling. The ones that will drive AROUND you if they think you aren't moving fast enough. Given the right set of circumstances an autonomous car could be "stuck" at a construction zone for an hour or more. All the while waiting for the lane in front of them to clear while people in the other lanes move into that opening before it is "safe".

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#46862881)

That is a tough problem, and it affects regular cars as well. If the vehicle is aggressive, someone hits it, and sues Google for metric bum-tons of cash and there goes the self-driving car concept. If the vehicle is too passive, it might not get past a lane that ends, or even getting out on a three way intersection like a highway frontage road.

Of course, a self-driving vehicle has faster "reactions", and if it can get itself into traffic with a fast turn, it can turn a T-bone collision into a rear-ender, shifting fault to the other driver.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863251)

1) Around here the cyclist only have one hand signal, and its to tel you were YOU should go.

As for you other points, I look forward to my car sending a video, date, and time of the other vehicle behaving in that manner.

Not sure we need it (4, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | about 8 months ago | (#46862897)

These kinds of problems do need to be addressed, but I'm not sure they need to be *fixed* before you turn this into a product. For the snow-storm example, I don't think the car needs to be able to drive in the snow. It's much more important that the car is capable of detecting "this is a situation in which I can't operate safely," and refusing to try. It should be good enough if the car's AI can say, in effect, "Listen, human, I can't take responsibility for driving in this snow storm. If you're comfortable driving in it, go ahead and take manual control. Otherwise, we're staying right here." On the other hand, I could see an interesting application in providing some kind of intelligent 'driver assist' for bad weather conditions that helped the driver maintain traction.

Regarding details, I think the ideal would be for most road conditions, detours, and traffic issues to be kept up-to-date on a database that could allow for dynamic routing instead of the car relying completely on markers. It's not a complete solution, but again, it may be enough to pair a large database with some ability for the car to say, "I don't know what to do here, so I'm going to either give back manual control or pull over and wait."

Re:Not sure we need it (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 months ago | (#46863201)

It should be good enough if the car's AI can say, in effect, "Listen, human, I can't take responsibility for driving in this snow storm. If you're comfortable driving in it, go ahead and take manual control. Otherwise, we're staying right here."

And if you're in the middle of some remote mountain pass, you haven't driven in ages since it handles regular conditions just fine and and the car just says "nuh uh, I'm not moving another inch" then what? It's not like staying to freeze is a real option, it's basically forcing you to take over at the worst possible time. It might be enough, but my guess not until a huge court case decides it's enough.

Re:Not sure we need it (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#46863247)

Meh. It's an edge case that won't even arise for years and years, until driving is mostly automated, such that people start to get out of practice. I would guess that by then roads will be instrumented with special reflectors on the signs, or markers embedded in the surface, so all these fancy sensor systems aren't even needed any more.

Re:Not sure we need it (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46863735)

Look at the accident rate in areas where in snows part of the year.

It appears that people can't remember how to drive in the slick for 6 months. They have to relearn every year.

Re:Not sure we need it (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863291)

maybe the driver needs to be responsible for taking a path he isn't qualified to drive on in the first place?

Anyways, the car will be tied into the weather and it could let you know whats coming up, so you can turn around and go back.
Also, when crossing mountain paths, take extra water and blankets.
I speak form experience. I'm sure my former, and tasty, passenger agrees with me :)

Re:Not sure we need it (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 8 months ago | (#46863347)

I'm not sure there's a great solution. One way or the other, you could possibly run into a fringe case where the vehicle won't operate safely, so there should be a protocol of "what happens when it can't operate safely?"

It might be that it turns over manual control. Perhaps if you really can't drive, there could be an override that says, "I understand that it's not safe, but I'm overriding the safeguards. I take legal responsibility in case something goes wrong." It would probably be a better answer to have the ability to set of some kind of robust "distress signal" in case of a serious problem, alerting the local search-and-rescue team to come find you.

There are actually a few different options, but my point here is that it's not all about engineering problems, i.e. making the AI "smart enough" to handle every possible eventuality. Some of these things can probably be solved through laws and public policy, and having a sensible protocol for what to do when things aren't working.

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46862965)

Don't forget...
4. moron in the road
5. deer in the road
6. moronic deer in the road

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863153)

As well as...
7. suicidal squirrels dashing across the road

Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (2)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about 8 months ago | (#46863553)

Re #2: People do die from complicated and badly marked construction zones from human error. Happens all the time. So the computer does not have to be 100% to be vastly better than a human. Having the humility to slow down, instead of the human pride that causes us to drive hard forward in the face of uncertainty, will be a huge advantage to the computer program.

In the future... (4, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about 8 months ago | (#46862607)

...our children and grandchildren would wonder why we ever allowed humans to operate motor vehicles on public roads.

Re:In the future... (1)

dlt074 (548126) | about 8 months ago | (#46862733)

and they will be incapable of doing another simple daily task.

i love technology, but i shudder to think how bad a collapse will be.

Re:In the future... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 8 months ago | (#46862799)

Yes, and this is why the preservation of civilization and knowledge are so important.

The vast majority of people are no longer able to take basic care of themselves without modern society. Or do you know how to grow crops? Because I sure don't, I do however know how to shop at Walmart for food.

Could I figure it out? Yea, sure... in the time required if food left store shelves? No, not really...

A bigger issue? We now have too many people to go back to living off the land, so we need civilization, or we'd have... an interesting day...

Re:In the future... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46863763)

So grow a vegetable garden and hunt.

It's calming, fresh vegetables and game are good and if the shit hits the fan you are steps up the learning curve for feeding yourself.

It would still suck, hopefully less.

Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862621)

Fucking cyclists are going to have a free lunch with self driving cars.

Just plain old taking over the streets because they know the computers will give them right of way everytime.

Google needs to program the cars with some assholery in mind where scaring cyclists is as common as checking for the car's fuel.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862779)

Alternatively... You should just stop being an asshat already, and get used to cyclists having as much right to use the road as you do.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863237)

You should just stop being an asshat already, and get used to cyclists having as much right to use the road as you do.

Only if they obey the rules of the road, not break them whenever it suits them.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 8 months ago | (#46863705)

You mean like motorists do?

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863323)

Then go the fucking speed limit. If I was going as slow as you I'd get a ticket for vehicular obstruction. You should get one too when going 20 in a 30 and I know you are capable of going 30 because I ride a bike too, but I have more respect for a car because it can kill me.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 8 months ago | (#46862801)

Fucking cyclists are going to have a free lunch with self driving cars.

Just plain old taking over the streets because they know the computers will give them right of way everytime.

Which will be completely fucking awesome.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46862827)

If grid lock, anger, douch baggery, and killing automated cars is you goal, then sure.
Otherwise, we will just have the self righteous assholes going 15 MPH in a 25 MPH zone becasue they are too precious to use the bike lane.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (3, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about 8 months ago | (#46862867)

What if there's no bike lane, or it's filled with debris, or the bicyclist needs to make a left turn?

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863365)

Then it's fine. I wan't talking about those situation. That said, it takes some arragonce to expect everyone to have to be hindered bacause you can't go fast enough.

Everyday I am behind a bicyclist in the middle of the road, when there is a perfectly clear bike lane.
Every fucking day .

Also:
They Run Stop signs, swerve onto and off of the sidewalk at random, stop.

And one time I was rear ended by a bike While I was stopped specifically to let them pass me on the right. What did I get for my troubles? the finger
I used to think it was just a small percentage, but I have gone to too many bike rally and meets. In Portland, well over half are self righteous assholes that want all the rules apply only to others.

Maybe where you live they are actual decent thinking human beings.

It's so bad here I stopped riding because I don't want to be associated with them.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863465)

Sorry for the rant. As a former cyclist these people piss me off.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about 8 months ago | (#46863665)

If you were stopped to let a bicyclist pass on the right, it suggests you were about to turn right, and that you hadn't properly merged into the bike lane as you are legally required in the USA outside of Oregon. A safe bicyclist knows that it's unsafe to pass on the right [bicycling.com] .

This is an admission of two traffic violations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863827)

Experienced cyclists will not pass on the right for safety reasons, yet this is what geekoid forced the cyclists to do. He also failed to realize that he violated two traffic codes:
1. Obstructing traffic by stopping in the travel lanes.
2. Assuming that he was waiting for the cyclists to pass before turning right, he is in violation for not merging into the bike lane before turning right (CVC 21717).

If he/she got in front of the cyclist without sufficient room to turn right then he/she should have continued strait and made the maneuver at another location or by another route.

There is insufficient information to know if the cyclists had enough time or space to even pass on the right or to stop. It may take be around two car lengths to safely stop my bicycle or maneuver around a stopped vehicle, any less than this and the vehicle driver is the cause of the cyclist hitting the vehicle.

There is also insufficient information to know why the cyclists was out of the bike lane. Besides the need to avoid debris and to make left turns, the cyclist could also be avoiding the door zone of parked cars, positioning to stay out of the right turn lane (riding strait through a right turn only lane is illegal and unsafe), any location where a right turn is possible (such as approaching a street or driveway), or any other of the list of reasons including an generic avoiding unsafe conditions.

I have had conversations with cyclists who run stop signs, swerve on and off the sidewalk, and other illegal and unsafe actions. The two major reasons are the lack of training on how to ride and the harassment and road rage from motorist who do not think that cyclists have a right to the road. Motorists complaining about cyclists are often the cause of the problem.

Complaints of illegal acts by cyclists often include leaving the bike lane at any time (there is a long list of reasons for safety and usability) and controlling an unsharable lane (14 feet or less, about the width of two cars) that are legal and the safer way to ride. In some states riding in bike lanes or riding on the shoulder is not even required.

Sigh me:
Bicycle League Cycling Instructor 39XX.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | about 8 months ago | (#46864073)

Somebody else already pointed out the link, but you should NEVER put yourself in the situation where you are stopped to let a bicycle pass on the right. Even if I'm 100% absolutely positively certain that a driver has seen me and is waiting for me, I will never pass a car on the right in a situation like that unless there is literally no other option (ie I can't slow down and move behind them or to their left). You should have been paying closer attention, and either known that you could safely turn in front of the bicycle without cutting them off, or slowed down sooner and merged into their lane behind them. The latter is by far the preferable option, since most people tend to overestimate how much time they have to pass a cyclist and make their turn safely - especially if they find their right turn blocked by a pedestrian or another car.

(There are some situations where I will pass a car on the right, like when a long line of traffic is stopped at a traffic light, however once traffic starts moving, I will slow down so that I am in between two cars - so if either of them turns right, I won't be in danger of getting hit.)

This is actually something that the Google car did poorly in the video; when they demonstrate yielding to a bicycle passing on the right, the car should have been on the right in the bike lane, not to the left of the dotted white line. I'm hoping that they did this just to illustrate "hey look, we can see bikes coming from behind the car!", and that the car would normally be in the bike lane/shoulder in order to turn right.

One other thing - often, bicycles need to take the lane even when there is a bike lane. Perhaps the surface in the bike lane is too rough, or there is debris, or a poorly-designed storm sewer grate, or any of a thousand other possibilities. Without knowing the particulars, I can't guess whether one of those is what's happening, or if you just happen to commute along the same route as the world's largest asshole.

That said, yes, there are many crappy bikers out there. I'd like to think that if we started designing our transportation infrastructure more for bicycles (rather than including them as an afterthought), that would go away; more bike paths with fewer grade-level road crossings would go a long way. Also, making some roads (eg residential) nearly dedicated to bicycles can help - for example, put some planter boxes in a few places across the road, so only bicycles can pass through. Car traffic is reduced to only the residents, bicycles get a quiet place to ride, and cars don't have to jockey for position with them on the main thoroughfares. That only works if the bike route is sufficiently straight, goes somewhere interesting, and doesn't have many stop lights and stop signs - otherwise some bikes will prefer riding with more cars in order to have to stop less often.

Enforcement, or even just warnings, would also help. Doubly so if the laws were also adjusted to make sense for cycling; for example, the "Idaho stop", where a cyclist is allowed to treat the stop sign as a yield if there is no traffic approaching. But I'll admit I was amused when I was stopped at a red light, and a cyclist (obviously an inexperienced, low-income, casual biker) biked through, and a cop stopped in the middle of the intersection and yelled at him. ("That other cyclist stopped for the red light. You need to stop too. I don't want to have to fill out the paperwork when you become a road pizza.") The cyclist seemed confused at why he was getting yelled at (or was perhaps just putting on the "no hablo inglés" routine), so I don't know that it made things any better, though.

  Well, one rant begets another, I suppose... ;-)

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 8 months ago | (#46863417)

And while those cases do occur, the vast majority of cyclists outside the bike lanes are just asshats who think the rules of the road don't apply to them, or that hand signals are only for beginner cyclists.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863419)

The cyclist is ran over because he has no business being on the road.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46863773)

More or less all bike lanes are filled with debris. Don't ride a 130psi road bike on the street then complain that debris flattens your tires.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (3, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 8 months ago | (#46862889)

If grid lock, anger, douch baggery, and killing automated cars is you goal, then sure. Otherwise, we will just have the self righteous assholes going 15 MPH in a 25 MPH zone becasue they are too precious to use the bike lane.

And the car will have the simple common sense to wait ten or fifteen seconds until it's safe to go around the cyclist, who will inevitably catch up at the next traffic light anyway. This behavior seems to elude humans.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863369)

We were talking about cyclist intentional hinders the vehicle and ignoring traffic laws becasue they know the car won't hit them.. you know, abusing the system.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863655)

We were talking about cyclist intentional hinders the vehicle and ignoring traffic laws becasue they know the car won't hit them.. you know, abusing the system.

Manual Override

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862989)

I know you're just jackassing because that's the kind of person you are but, generally speaking, if drivers take the time to give right away and move in turn it normally frees things up pretty well. Most problems with traffic on the roads are the asshats who refuse to merge at given points just to get 15 whole feet further ahead and people sitting foolishly at a three-way/four-way stop trying to determine who's going next.
 
And the best thing about it? No freaking rubbernecking!

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862817)

American or Canadian?

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862853)

Google needs to program the cars with some assholery in mind where scaring cyclists is as common as checking for the car's fuel.

When it comes to cyclists we are talking people who think traffic control signals do not apply to them, that the motorist is always at fault regardless of the circumstances and that the roads belong to them and motorists shouldn't even be on the roads. These same people are not civil when they feel they are wrong so I get where you are coming from but Google did this they'd have to add all sorts of systems to deal with the threat of hostile cyclists.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863249)

Thank you, as a cyclist I appreciate you telling me what I think. In fact I'm sure all cyclists appreciate it, you know how riding a bike makes it hard to express ourselves.

Any other minority groups of people who you are not a member of you'd like to speak for?

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46862979)

If Jean Claude can do the splits between two volvos, you can certainly have the computer get your Honda 6 inches from a bike rider, lol.

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 8 months ago | (#46863273)

I hear google will program them with a formalized model of aggression which will be required in order to keep up with the flow of manned traffic. :)

Re:Fucking Cyclists are ruining the future. (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 8 months ago | (#46863353)

An extremely loud air horn, such as those used on locomotives, sounded repeatedly, might get the point across to errant cyclists.

Yes dear (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46862637)

It appears that back seat driving is a legitimate profession.

Re:Yes dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863385)

HA! Last time one of my friend's asshole friends tried doing that I slammed on the brakes so the seat belt locked and knocked the wind out of them. I said, "Have any comments now, asshole?!" I waited until no one was behind me to avoid that fender bender. I can't stand people who DON'T have a license pointing out my driving quirks. Don't tell me what to do when driving unless you are giving me directions.

Let us record your usage statistics to improve... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862653)

the prices we charge advertisers! Oh yeaaahhh!

p.s. beta is a travesty, fuck slashdot

Road to Hana (2)

portwojc (201398) | about 8 months ago | (#46862657)

Lets see it drive the road to Hana and back. That would be interesting. Bonus points for not getting yelled at.

Re:Road to Hana (1)

akgooseman (632715) | about 8 months ago | (#46862763)

The only challenge on that road, from either the north or the south, is the rented Mustang convertibles plugging it.

Re:Road to Hana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46862843)

Is that anything like the Kessel Run?

Smart cars are an abbomination (0, Flamebait)

dimeglio (456244) | about 8 months ago | (#46862791)

I don't want my car to be smart. Instead, make drivers licenses much more difficult to obtain.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46862835)

But then you wouldn't be able to drive?
oh, right, you drive so much better then everyone else..just like everyone else is.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863085)

How is it that OP, who suggests education to solve a problem, gets modded Flamebait, but Captain Hatred here, who offers insults instead of constructive criticism, gets modded Insightful? Is it Opposite Day or something?

--CanHasDIY, preserving mods

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (1)

Arker (91948) | about 8 months ago | (#46863129)

I've driven for multiple decades, across three continents, on both sides of the road. I've drive every day all day long during certain periods and I am sure if I had a mileage metre it would have rolled over a few times by now. I have never earned a single point on my insurance. So yeah, I think it's fair to say I drive better than most of the population.

I do not believe this is the result of any superhuman talent, virtually anyone could do as well if they would take it seriously. Unfortunately people in general are being taught not to take anything seriously and just blame someone else when they screw up.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863501)

Yeah, but you are a lair so why would we believe you?

And 'not a point on insurance' in no way equates to good driver.

No, you do not drive better then most people.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46863897)

Really: I've got 30 years, no accidents, no tickets. Several autocross event wins. Several non at fault accidents avoided by seeing the fuckwit coming and getting out of his way.

What metric would you use in not accidents/mile driven? Any metric can be gamed, but that's a pretty bottom line one.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 months ago | (#46863509)

oh, right, you drive so much better then everyone else..just like everyone else is.

It's not that hard to beat the average and the ones who drag it down tend to not give a fuck. One is teenagers, I wasn't very good back then but hey the only way to get experience is to drive and you couldn't pry the license from the cold, dead hands of most them. Resulting in several total car wrecks and at least one person in my class who died in a 100 mph crash not that long after graduation. The other is the elderly, my mom finally gave up driving so now I can quite openly say that she should have given it up years ago. Realistically though, what are their options? Bicycle? Not a chance. Public transport? For a few things I guess, but mostly too far to walk and not going when and where it needs to go. Taxi? Possible I guess, but a simple trip to our cabin (1 hour drive x2 for trip/return x2 because they'll charge you both ways since they don't get return passengers) becomes hideously expensive even with the money saved on not having a car.

The same goes for everyone else with some health problem that really suggests they probably shouldn't be operating a motor vehicle and they know it. I think most families with small children would go crazy without cars, back when we didn't have cars we also mostly had stay-at-home moms. Or we're just temporarily impaired, like I've almost fallen asleep at the wheel and mostly likely only the rumble strips on the side kept me on the road. And even then I didn't stop, it was at the end of a five hour drive but I was only half an hour from my bed so I chanced it, loud blaring music, open windows to get fresh air rushing and caused myself a little pain to keep the body in alert mode. Stupid? Dangerous? Sure. But the alternatives sucked donkey balls, which is exactly why it doesn't matter if you're above or below average - you're not going to give it up anyway.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863541)

But then you wouldn't be able to drive? oh, right, you drive so much better then everyone else..just like everyone else is.

What do you mean by 'wouldn't be able to drive'? legally? People drive without a licenses, insurance or BOTH as it is.

Besides OP didn't claim to be a superior driver. Just stating that they should be more difficult to get. For everyone then the ditz or space cadet would have a much more difficult time getting one. yes, my statement above comments on people driving without a license/insurance, but the fines for getting caught are much, MUCH steeper than having a license or insurance. Get caught enough times and you wont have the chance to drive as you will be behind bars.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#46862973)

That has been tried. People will just drive illegally, using a "friend"'s vehicle, or find other ways to skirt the law.

I rather have self-driving cars as a solution. This means instead of watching for the drunks/texters, I can catch a snooze or read a book on the commute. Highways could be designed without fancy on/off loops, but just as raised, 4-way intersections with each vehicle's computer timing speed so that two highways can cross without stopping.

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#46863079)

Highways could be designed without fancy on/off loops, but just as raised, 4-way intersections with each vehicle's computer timing speed so that two highways can cross without stopping.

And you thought managing an Active Directory site with time sync problems was tough...

Re:Smart cars are an abbomination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863691)

Hmm, nice potential secondary effect of difficult to obtain drivers licenses - better public transportation

I like it.

Are they solving the right problem? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#46863027)

I guess they couldn't find anything that would make drivers smarter, so designing self-driving cars was the easier choice.

Re:Are they solving the right problem? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46863815)

Also, when I leave work, I have to drive for 30 minutes, then cook 30 minutes.

With a driverless car, I'd still have to spend 30 minutes in the car and cook 30 minutes, a total loss of 1 hour.

If instead, they built me an automatic chef cook, they would save me 30 minutes!

Achievement unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863035)

Avoided running over another road user.

Why only Google? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46863067)

Why is every article about driverless cars about Google's cars?

Car manufacturers, like Mercedes, Audi, VW, are also working on this topic, and are probably even ahead of Google.

Re:Why only Google? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46863529)

Because those companies aren't talking about their RnD?

Re:Why only Google? (1)

kqs (1038910) | about 8 months ago | (#46863769)

Those companies don't want to replace drivers. Drivers buy cars, and if you can't "imagine yourself behind the wheel of this car" then it's harder to sell someone an overpriced hunk of metal just because it is styled a bit differently. Those companies just want to assist drivers (help them park or stay in in their lane), so their videos will be much less impressive.

Only google seems to want to replace drivers completely.

Will there be a human override ? (1)

raurau (207510) | about 8 months ago | (#46863081)

I'm thinking really rare situations, like post-hurricane Florida where all the traffic lights are out and there are trees on the ground. Or during evacuation when you're supposed to go north even in the southbound lanes.

Re:Will there be a human override ? (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 8 months ago | (#46863317)

"I don't know how to do this.... grampa, you remember how to drive manual-mode, right? You take over."

Re:Will there be a human override ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46863977)

This is what scares me. So many of the "answers" to "what about X problem" is one of two thing "pull over and stop" and "turn the car to manual mode". The problem is that after a short while no one will know how to drive properly and when the car is turned over to them it will be a bad situation - not an ideal one. Also the "pull over and stop" answer is not really valid. Is the human to just sit there forever if the car can't figure it out? This basically means a) everyone will still need to know how to drive, but will never get any practice and b) no one will be paying attention to or be able to handle the worst case scenarios when control is given back to the humans.

In the beginning this will be fine. No one will trust the machines and everyone will be watching the road and remember how to drive.

After a while most people will forget how to drive and they will expect to the car to work 100% of the time. You will have people that "abuse" this and sleep, get drunk, etc. It will become normal to not be actively monitor the car and this will be bad. The car will have to work 100% or things will be bad - yet there are thousands of unique situations that may need human intervention to a) avoid an accident or b) continue driving.

The next argument is that "better mortality rate than humans" justifies the cases where the car doesn't work. I don't like this one because it assumes the two options are a) full manual and b) full automatic. I think a better option would be to require people to drive but have override and safety systems that can optionally be turned on. If the system can fully drive the car then by definition it can also know when there is an "inevitable accident" and only intervene around the point of no return. This will keep everyone at the wheel alert and capable but reduce accidents by at least the same rate as self driving cars would (this is the same self driving car, it just only intervenes in certain cases) while at the same time reducing issues caused by self driving cars. No one likes this idea because it means they can't live a fantasy where their self driving car drives them to work while they sleep or read a book. It is less glorious and no one will want to pay 10k more for a car for if they still have to "drive" it (unless insurance subsidies can cover the cost).

Re:Will there be a human override ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46864019)

A clarification: I am suggesting that the car must be mostly manually operated so that all liability still resides with the human and the car can not be programmed to simply drive somewhere on its own. This keeps the human alert and responsible. The human is responsible for properly driving the vehicle and if the human fails, the car is expected to take over in plenty of time to prevent a crash in the same way a self driving car prevents itself from crashing.

Hmmm (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 8 months ago | (#46863351)

The comments section is filled with people saying how the computer's senses and reflexes are so much better than a puny human, yet in the video clip, whenever the car is faced with anything except an open empty road, the default behaviour seems to be to slow to a crawl. If the other vehicles were also google cars, it would be interesting to see how they reacted to each other's manouvering.

Forget Cars! (1)

Mullen (14656) | about 8 months ago | (#46863371)

People talk about cars as the next big thing, but in reality, it's trucks. Google 18 wheeler will be able to get on the highway and travel across the country in a couple of days. The big transit points and warehouses are already next to the freeway, just load up Google 18 wheeler, have it take off and two turns later it is on the highway trucking across the country. Just need to make gas stations with attendants that will fill up the trucks gas tanks and check the tires.

Re:Forget Cars! (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 8 months ago | (#46864079)

Trucks are valuable because of their content.
It won't be easy to avoid robbery, especially if the truck is devised to avoid accidents, since it can be blocked by a single bicycle.

Accidents? (1)

FlynnMP3 (33498) | about 8 months ago | (#46863641)

No matter how many failsafes they put into the engineering and algorithms, there will be accidents. Darn fewer of them since the majority are cause by human error, but they will still happen. I want to know what will happen when the self driving car is in an accident. How will it detect it? How will it determine what works and doesn't work? Will it automatically notify the necessary services (fire, police, ambulance)?

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