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California Opens Driverless Car Competition With Testing Regulations

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the johnny-cab dept.

Transportation 167

smaxp (2951795) writes "California just released rules for testing autonomous vehicles on California's roads and highways. Californians will soon be seeing more autonomous vehicles than just those built by the Google X labs. These vehicles offer great promise, such as freeing the driver's attention for productivity or leisure, better safety and less congestion. It will be a while, though, before we see these vehicles on the road. From the article: 'Getting started requires the RMV’s approval of testing under controlled circumstances prior to testing on public roads. The manufactures must insure the vehicles with a $5 million surety bond. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers need a permit and test drivers need a special license. The RMV will receive applications beginning on July 1, 2014, and the permits that are granted will be announced beginning on September 1, 2014.'"

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The future is now! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069647)

Welcome to the future:

Johnnycab: Please state the street and number.
Douglas Quaid: Drive! drive!
Johnnycab: I'm not familiar with that address. Would you please repeat the destination?
Douglas Quaid: Anywhere just go! Go!
Johnnycab: I'm not familiar with that address. Would you please repeat the destination?
Douglas Quaid: Shit! shit!
Johnnycab: Would you please repeat the destination?
Douglas Quaid: [Quaid rips the Johnnycab out and starts to drive himself] Aaahhh!

I propose a test ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47069653)

I call it the aggressive, psychotic driver who makes random, unsafe lane changes, fails to signal, and swoops across several lanes of traffic while doing well over the speed limit.

Lemme see your driverless car handle that, then we'll see.

Re:I propose a test ... (5, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | about 5 months ago | (#47069743)

That isn't any sort of a problem for LIDAR at sufficient resolution. It remains to be seen whether it can sufficiently improve traffic flow and accident incidence/mortality rates, but personally I'm more worried about asshats who will purposefully try cloak their cars so that the automated sensors can't even see them at all, just in some misguided attempt to try to prove self-driving cars as unsafe to protect "muh freedomz!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm personally not interested in one of these self-driving contraptions, but its pretty apparent during any rush hour(s) that at least 90% of the drivers on the road couldn't beat a self-driving car's computer for accuracy to save their own lives on a good day.

Why not? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070133)

Don't get me wrong, I'm personally not interested in one of these self-driving contraptions, ...

I would LOVE one of these things. I hate driving and I can't afford to hire a driver. And after an 8 hour road trip yesterday, I would have LOVED to have an auto driven car. Hang back read or something. Because towards the end of the trip, I was having a real hard time concentrating.

But if I have to pay attention even if under automatic control, then I don't see the point. If I have to pay attention, then I might as well do the driving myself.

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 5 months ago | (#47070363)

But if I have to pay attention even if under automatic control, then I don't see the point. If I have to pay attention, then I might as well do the driving myself.

Understandable reaction, but you're wrong.

Autopilots in airplanes do not remove the pilot's requirement to pay attention to what is going on. In fact, by NOT having to physically fly the plane, the pilot has a better idea of what is going on around him/her.

I can tell you from much experience that autopilots are wonderful things, you'll see more and be aware of so much more once the car does the driving.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

zieroh (307208) | about 5 months ago | (#47070449)

Understandable reaction, but you're wrong.

The AC was presenting his personal opinion -- that if he has to pay attention, he's not interested. Technically speaking, one cannot be "wrong" about whether he is interested in it or not. He's either interested, or he's not, and there's only one person on the entire planet that actually has a say in that.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070519)

If I have to pay attention, then I might as well do the driving myself.

That's where they were wrong.

Re:Why not? (3, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47071097)

Autopilots in airplanes do not remove the pilot's requirement to pay attention to what is going on.

Autonomous vehicles are being promoted for exactly their ability to allow the driver to do non-driving functions (like read, eat, nap, or other things). That's what they mean when they talk about increasing productivity of those who commute to work using one.

I can tell you from much experience that autopilots are wonderful things,

Yes, they are. But they are not intended to allow flight in close formation (like a string of autos on the freeway would be), or in close proximity to the ground*. These autopilots are intended for an environment where the closest thing to you is more than 500 feet away at least. And they will quite happily fly you into the ground when they fail. Or fly you to the point you stall and then fall to the ground.

Here's just one example of how the autopilot can fail, even though the NTSB would call it pilot error (just like everything else, almost.) The Garmin G1000 with (mumble) 700 autopilot has a VS command. That's "vertical speed". You can tell the autopilot to climb at a set rate, say 500 fpm. If you forget to add power you may not be able to achieve a 500 fpm climb (or you may initially make it, but as you climb the performance decreases and you can't keep it) -- but the autopilot will keep trying. It will try to increase your angle of attack to get more lift so you can climb at the rate you've requested. It will keep trying so hard that it may cause your airspeed to drop below stall speed.

Hello, Pilot, you are now in a full-on stall, probably about to enter a spin, maybe in IMC, and your autopilot has adjusted your elevator trim to full-up trying to do what you told it to do. It's your aircraft. HAND.

It has, in it's data, the stall speeds for the aircraft it is in because it will display the critical speeds as flags on the airspeed indicator, so it could easily report the problem to the pilot. "Bong -- minimum airspeed reached, climb aborted." It does not. There is a recent article in Aviation Safety, I think it was, about a crash of a military version of a King Air in the mideast that did exactly that. The pilot was IFR and distracted and the aircraft stalled and then spun in.

There is a very good reason that there are half a dozen (8 for the G1000, as I recall) or more ways of disabling the autopilot in an aircraft. They fail often enough, and in serious enough ways ("hey, let's run your elevator trim FULL UP for no reason at all, bud", e.g.) that it is important to be able to kill George immediately. And have multiple ways to kill him in case the first three didn't kill him well enough.

You should probably not use aircraft autopilots as examples of robo-perfection.

* Yes, there are cat III autopilots that will fly the aircraft onto the runway, or "auto-land". It takes specially certified equipment AND CREWS to do that. You aren't going to find many Joe Sixpacks out on a drive that could meet equivalent quals. And that G1000 I use as an example? The aircraft manual prohibits use of the autopilot below 800 AGL, as I recall.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about 5 months ago | (#47070153)

but personally I'm more worried about asshats who will purposefully try cloak their cars so that the automated sensors can't even see them at all, just in some misguided attempt to try to prove self-driving cars as unsafe to protect "muh freedomz!"

Screw passive cloaking, lets see how well that self driving sensor package works when getting hit full in the face with some broad spectrum jamming.

Depending on how well driverless cars handle that sort of thing (and how well they can trace any jamming back to the source), I could imagine jamming might replace sawing partway through the tie rods or poking holes in the brake line as the hip new way for arranging accidents for inconvenient people.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47070193)

I could imagine jamming might replace sawing partway through the tie rods or poking holes in the brake line as the hip new way for arranging accidents for inconvenient people.

Yea, because the government totally won't have a backdoor already installed at the factory for dealing with... let's call them "undesirables."

Nope, nein, no way, huh-uh, not gonna happen...

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47070439)

Depending on how well driverless cars handle that sort of thing (and how well they can trace any jamming back to the source), ...

Self driving cars, or SDCs, use multiple sensors, including LIDAR, visible light cameras, GPS, rotary encoders and inertial sensors. The LIDAR is usually infrared, rather than the RF used in RADAR. Good luck jamming that. Since your jammer would have to be high powered direct line-of-sight, and SDCs record sensor data, tracing the source would be easy. Even if you shut down all the sensors, the car would apply the brakes, and pull off the road. It is conceivable that you could kill someone, but it would require quite a bit of technology, planning, and luck. It would be much easier to buy a gun and shoot them in the head as they drive past (in either a normal car or an SDC).

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

zieroh (307208) | about 5 months ago | (#47070471)

Screw passive cloaking, lets see how well that self driving sensor package works when getting hit full in the face with some broad spectrum jamming.

Oh, it's a lot easier than that. I anticipate that we'll see exploits right off the bat that are based solely on specific behaviors next to / in front of / around an autonomous vehicle. It probably won't be hard to force one off the road just by aggressively encroaching into their lane and matching their rate of deceleration.

Dangerous, sure. Irresponsible, absolutely. But inevitable just the same.

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070707)

Broad spectrum jamming? Like shinning a bright light into the driver's eyes and honking?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 5 months ago | (#47070237)

Even if you jammed the LIDAR, visual (or thermal) cameras could detect the cars moving. It's non-car objects like children or tree branches that are more difficult.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47070647)

Even if you jammed the LIDAR, visual (or thermal) cameras could detect the cars moving. It's non-car objects like children or tree branches that are more difficult.

I'd think thermal jamming would be the first thing someone would attempt -- it'll block both the thermal and visual cameras, as visual cameras always go a bit into the thermal spectrum and can be overloaded.

LIDAR would actually be trickier, as you'd have to know exactly what range you were supposed to be jamming. You'd have to use a spread-spectrum scanner these days to even begin to figure that out.

Personally, I think using a spread-spectrum scanner to plot the location of foreign objects would be an excellent first-level monitoring system on these cars. Fall back to LIDAR, and from there to visual/thermal. Or use all of the above for a composite image.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47071181)

as visual cameras always go a bit into the thermal spectrum and can be overloaded.

Visual cameras have no thermal capability. Many of them are sensitive to near IR (if there are no explicit IR filters installed, which color cameras certainly have to keep the colors correct), but that's not what a thermal camera sees. Thermal sensors are in the far IR.

Re:I propose a test ... (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47070283)

That isn't any sort of a problem for LIDAR at sufficient resolution.

Indeed. Google regularly subjects their cars to these types of scenarios, both in simulation and on test tracks. It is odd that when people try to come up with situations that SDCs "obviously" can't handle, they so often describe situations where SDCs have a clear advantage due to their much faster reaction time.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47070479)

That isn't any sort of a problem for LIDAR at sufficient resolution.

Yes, it is. People keep insisting on thinking of just one small part of the issue as being the whole problem.

What happens when it sees a vehicle coming the wrong way down the highway and there are cars in the adjacent lanes? How does it choose whether to smash into the car on the right, which has kids in it, or the one on the left, which is a big truck, or take the head-on?

Just for example.

This is probably what is going to happen, just like it happened to computer-controlled engines, antilock brakes, and other such things:

One of these is going to kill somebody. There will be an uproar and lawsuits. The whole idea will be killed off for a while, then the tech will improve and it will come back. Except the same thing will happen again. And people will avoid them again. And they will come back.

It's just that this is so vastly complex a problem, compared to leaning the fuel mixture and running your digital display, that it will go through many more of these cycles than things like antilock brakes did.

And let's not forget: if the car "decides" to hit that car on the right, killing those kids, who is at fault? The programmer? The automobile manufacturer? Both?

This is far from simply a "better hardware" problem.

Re:I propose a test ... (3, Insightful)

Copid (137416) | about 5 months ago | (#47071071)

I think that the driver of the vehicle going the wrong way down the highway would probably be at fault.

It's easy to come up with vanishingly rare scenarios with no solution that a computer won't be able to solve (although how a human driver would do better in this situation is beyond me). Making policy based on bizarre edge cases is silly.

Re:I propose a test Rear-Enders (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 5 months ago | (#47070493)

No matter how good, how sensitive, if your car breaks fast to avoid hitting a car in front, the drunk behind you in a Suburban can still cream your Prius.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about 5 months ago | (#47070739)

Don't get me wrong, I'm personally not interested in one of these self-driving contraptions

Why not? They sound a fuckload better than the daily commute, if you still had the opportunity to drive yourself for pleasure when you felt like it.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | about 5 months ago | (#47069749)

Because humans react faster than computers?

Re:I propose a test ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47069805)

No, but humans tend to adapt to things faster.

Computers ... well, I have less faith in that.

Not saying it wouldn't out-perform some humans, but the random stupid stuff I see on the road every day tells me they better have a LOT of coverage for corner cases.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 5 months ago | (#47069843)

The real test is to have the driverless cars race 500 miles at a super speedway like Daytona.

Re:I propose a test ... (3, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47069855)

so they can fail at makeing right turns?

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070633)

Just like you fail at English.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#47069973)

The real test is to have the driverless cars race 500 miles at a super speedway like Daytona.

No, the real test would be driving in Cairo, Egypt.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47070025)

They perform only a little worse than professional drivers in races as far as time goes.

Re:I propose a test ... (2)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | about 5 months ago | (#47070303)

Can you apply a different brake pressure to each one of your 4 wheels?

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070645)

If I had 4 pedals I could, smartass.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 5 months ago | (#47070381)

Humans can adapt to situations they have no prior experience with, usually after failing the first few times. Watch a 1 year old try and walk, for example.

As for computers, they are stunningly good at doing things they have been programmed for.

Airplanes can take off, fly, and land better than you or I can, far, far better... Airplanes have had autoland for almost 40 years now, people can't do that without being able to see something (even if it is using thermal or other enhanced technologies).

In the big picture, computer driven cars will be much safer than human driven ones...

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47071175)

Airplanes can take off, fly, and land better than you or I can, far, far better...

Because airplanes have wings that provide lift and you and I don't.

If you are saying that autopilots can fly aircraft better than you can, well, that may be true. I'd like to see one handle the Gimli Glider or Sully's Water Landing better than the pilots involved. Or the the Sioux City DC9.

Airplanes have had autoland for almost 40 years now,

Some airplanes have had that, and it requires special certification for the aircraft and crew to do it. A bit more training than the typical Department of Motor Vehicles road testing for a new driver's license. Many more airplanes do NOT have it, and many do not have any autopilot at all. Why? Because the cost of an autopilot is high based on liability issues when they get the pilots into trouble.

people can't do that without being able to see something

And autopilots in aircraft can't do it without being able to "see" something, either. They require a certified ILS or MLS approach (to "see" the vertical and lateral flight path), and a radar altimeter (to "see" the ground). And the Wikipedia entry for "Autoland" points out: "they are not generally smooth in their responses to varying wind shear or gusting wind conditions - i.e. not able to compensate in all dimensions rapidly enough - to safely permit their use." So a human pilot who could deal with a wind shear is better at it than the autoland autopilot.

In the big picture, computer driven cars will be much safer than human driven ones...

That may turn out to be true, someday, somewhere, in some instances. It is far from a fact, however. I view this claim using the hindsight of hearing the claims that we would all have helicopter-cars by 1980, and based on an understanding of how aviation autopilots have their limitations and have not become ubiquitous and mandatory.

Re:I propose a test ... (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47069851)

No, but humans are much more contextually aware than computers.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

orasio (188021) | about 5 months ago | (#47070011)

Tell that to google search, or wolfram alpha

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 5 months ago | (#47070229)

But computers can have multiple input sources and be monitoring all (potential) blind spots at once. Humans only have the forward facing eyes. Of course it remains to be seen if the software can handle the inputs to make good driving decisions, but that's not an impossible challenge.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47070681)

For that matter, computers have a reliable scheduler, so they can safely text and drive. I can let my car post status updates for me automatically without having to touch a screen....

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070301)

Tell that to my aunt, devotes a significant amount of her contextual awareness to what's on her facebook wall, even while driving.

Re:I propose a test ... (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 5 months ago | (#47069767)

Also, let's see how it deals with a bi-directional bike lane where one of the lanes is against traffic. These exist in Montreal, as well as other places I'm sure. Instead of putting 1 bike lane on each side, they put them both on one side of the street. When turning across the bike lane, you have to watch out for cyclists coming from both directions.

Also, let's test in snow. I'm tired of these things that only work in sunny California. It's bad enough that cell phones don't work with gloves on. I would hate it if my car failed to operate when there was a little bit of snow falling.

Re:I propose a test ... (2, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#47069801)

Have you been to California? The Sierras can be ridiculously treacherous. Personally, I'd sooner put my trust in a computer than I would a Texan who's only seen snow on Wikipedia.

Re:I propose a test ... (-1, Troll)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47069897)

Why? Because it was programmed by a bunch of indians thousands of miles away?

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47070383)

This is not a troll statement. The premise was that the computer was safer than a driver who isn't aware of the terrain. My point was that a programmer designing for terrain he's unfamiliar with creates the same problem. The fact is I'd trust a human unfamiliar with mountain driving over a computer programmed by someone whoassumed a relatively flat city or suburban area, and who's not even in the car taking the same risks with us.

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070653)

You're still fucking trolling

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070265)

I modded you down you ignorant piece of shit. Fuck you.

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070017)

Around here, you have to watch for cyclists going both ways even if there isn't a bike lane!

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070733)

There's no reason to special case this -- I'd expect it to *always* look in both directions when turning. Just like humans should.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

jcochran (309950) | about 5 months ago | (#47069783)

I call it the aggressive, psychotic driver who makes random, unsafe lane changes, fails to signal, and swoops across several lanes of traffic while doing well over the speed limit.

Lemme see your driverless car handle that, then we'll see.

Let's see now.

Aggressive driver going well over the speed limit cutting in front of me.... Don't really see that as a problem if the autonomous car is doing the speed limit. Yes, there's an interval where the car is too close for safe following, but the aggressive driver fairly rapidly increases the gap. (after all, you did state "going well over the speed limit"). As for failure to signal? I somehow doubt that the programming and sensors for the autonomous car will even notice turn signals. It will however notice the car shifting towards the side of the lane and will likely assume that the car will continue its sideways motion. Given the reaction speed of computer, a lot of the problems caused by aggressive drivers will pretty much go away.

Random - That's the impression a HUMAN driver would have. A better term for "random" would be "unpredictable". And since the autonomous vehicle would be monitoring the relative location of nearby vehicles, people, and other objects the main criteria is "will that object with its current velocity and potential acceleration impact this vehicle?"

Unsafe - Just another aspect of your "random" comment. Please see above response.

Fails to signal - As mentioned, turn signals are not considered a reliable source of data. They are meant as advance warning to us rather slow humans. Stick with the physics based solution.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47069827)

Will they do the speed limit when most of the traffic is going over?

Will it miss read school zones? Both ways?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47069869)

When the normal speed of traffic is above the posted speed limit, self-driving cars will drive the speed limit as legally required but will cruise in the right lane as legally required when driving below the normal speed of traffic [ca.gov] .

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47069893)

so auto drive cars will be slower and put others at risk by going slower then normal speed of traffic

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070001)

They're going slower than the legal maximum limit, which is, well, legal and desirable.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47070027)

No, people who drive above the speed limit put themselves at risk.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47070115)

have you even been on I-294?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47070213)

I've been on many interstates. How is the I-294 different?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47070251)

with a line like No, people who drive above the speed limit put themselves at risk. you must not know that much about it.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47070289)

What is different about the I-294 compared to other interstates?

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070675)

The difference is, they let dumb shits like Joe drive on their goddamned Interstates.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47070029)

Your objection is that obeying the law is dangerous.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47070249)

I think he's basing that statement on the existence of "road nannies," i.e., the jackasses who will cut you off when you're in the passing lane and creep, thus creating a road hazard. Although, to be fair, I would hope the auto-cars would be programmed well enough to not change lanes if it detects another vehicle coming up fast.

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070685)

Don't act like we don't read what you post in other articles. You advocate for people to dissent against laws they find unjust all the time. So yeah, he is objecting to that law. What was your point?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47070723)

When the normal speed of traffic is above the posted speed limit, self-driving cars will drive the speed limit as legally required but will cruise in the right lane as legally required when driving below the normal speed of traffic [ca.gov] .

So what happens when the right lane is an unmarked or badly marked exit lane?

Personally, I think most of the collision avoidance stuff has been worked out now. It's the road navigation quirks that I'm more concerned with, as it seems it'd be pretty easy to force one of these off the road or into an exit lane. Just look at some of the mistakes professional GPS systems make; a car depending solely on these and immediate visual navigation are going to have a pretty hard time navigating complex shifting laneways and new routes.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47070093)

Random - That's the impression a HUMAN driver would have. A better term for "random" would be "unpredictable". And since the autonomous vehicle would be monitoring the relative location of nearby vehicles, people, and other objects the main criteria is "will that object with its current velocity and potential acceleration impact this vehicle?"

That's the impression a bad driver would have. The person weaving doesn't say "oh, I traveled 10*RND(x) seconds, I'll change lanes to [left/right]." They say "I wish to be going the speed that should be legally set, and I'll weave to go it. I'll go in the open space to the right." And yes, there are documents indicating that Dallas was notified that they broke State law in setting artificially low speed limits, but they ignored it and set illegally low limits for a while until people started fighting in court, and managed to win. Drivers knew the limits were unenforceable, so many went very fast with impunity, as the limits were illegal.

Re:I propose a test ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069821)

Don't the Google cars encounter this every day on 101?

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069885)

Driverless cars should be required to pass this test on a moonless night, in the rain, on an unmapped road, with GPS unavailable. All those things happen, all the time, and any competent driver is expected to deal with it.

They should also be required to understand and comply with hand signals and verbal commands given by police officers and construction workers. They should be required to understand gestures from pedestrians.

Wait, this means a functional driverless car would require A.I.? No shit.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 5 months ago | (#47070109)

... They should also be required to understand and comply with hand signals and verbal commands given by police officers and construction workers. They should be required to understand gestures from pedestrians.

Good point. LEO's will need some form of wireless killswitch, or control mechanism on them at all times. Which capability will of course get abused by sociopathic hackers.

At least the future doesn't look boring...

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47069915)

The driverless car, going the speed limit in the presence of the driver you mention who is "speeding", would ignore the aggressive driver. And nothing bad would happen.

Why do so many people complain about those in front of them going faster than them? They are in front of you, and going faster than you. They will not affect you in any way, unless they crash, which happens very rarely (on a per-passenger-mile scale).

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 5 months ago | (#47070139)

"Did you ever notice that anyone driving slower than you is 'An Idiot!', and anyone driving faster than you is 'A Maniac!' ???"

- George Carlin

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47070179)

I call it the aggressive, psychotic driver who makes random, unsafe lane changes, fails to signal, and swoops across several lanes of traffic while doing well over the speed limit.

At night, during a blizzard, on a section of road with more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese.

You know, get that realism factor going full-steam.

Re:I propose a test ... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 months ago | (#47071059)

At night, during a blizzard, on a section of road with more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese.

Uphill! Both ways!

I had to deal with that when I was a kid. But tell the driverless cars of today that, they'll just sit and stare at you.

Advanced Cruise Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069701)

Until I can buckle up, hit "go" and take a nap from my driveway to my work parking spot...all this technology is just advanced cruise control. These new technologies are fantastic though - it seems like with some I can merge into rush hour and just let autopilot take over. It seems like it will be a few decades before it's truely automated though...to let the politics and insurance industry figure themselves out.

Re:Advanced Cruise Control (3, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 5 months ago | (#47069825)

Technology needs to develop in stages. It doesn't go from concept to full-blown earth-shattering product like it does in bad science fiction movies.

Re:Advanced Cruise Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070313)

Modern cars have ~10,000,000 lines of code already, for traction control amongst many other things.

Re:Advanced Cruise Control (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#47069853)

Having taken long trips on the highway. This partial automation of keeping the speed limit, stay in lane, don't run into the other cars. Would be a welcomed feature. After 3 or 4 hours. Your eyes get strained from paying attention and so alert. Having this feature where you can sit back for and let your guard down for a bit would make my life so much better.

Autopilot with alarms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069901)

If I could kick it back and read during rush hour, that would be awesome. All it would need is some kind of "DANGER!" alarm to quickly get my attention if something bad were about to happen.

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069741)

"permits" and "special licenses" == "fees"

Re:Translation (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47069811)

well do you want there to be a victims fund or do you want to be the guy who get's hit buy a auto car and then have billing piling up when the lawyers and courts are talking there time fighting over who is at fault and who will pay up.

Re:Translation (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 5 months ago | (#47069857)

I want to know who goes to jail if someone is killed under circumstances where the car makes a really stupid error that meets the standard for vehicular manslaughter?

Re:Translation (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47069953)

Movie idea there.

Some who owns auto drive car ends up in having the car that due some fault ends up killing someone and due to all kinds of fine print, NDA's, Eula's is found at fault / the courts are working off older laws from before auto drive cars. The owner does some prison time. After getting out finds the only jobs they can get are mcjobs after doing that for some time Says the prison life was better so he go plan to down to Google HQ to do some big vandalism to both get revenge and to get back to the prison life.

Re:Translation (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#47070241)

And this movie would be entertaining to whom?

I mean, maybe as a comedy, possibly....

Re:Translation (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47070789)

You were part way there... driver was a traffic cop, and the car death was a setup framed by evil villain X who traffic cop had given one too many tickets. When driver gets out, they find they're the only person who still knows how to drive, and the autonomous cars no longer listen to humans' instructions. The local government asks said ex-con to override a car and drive into navigation HQ to take out the mystery man/AI controlling the car network -- of course it's actually being managed by evil villain X.

Let's call the movie "Demolition Derby"

Re:Translation (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 months ago | (#47069907)

Hence the $5m bond. The license for the "driver" is a bit weird.

Why so much insurance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47069791)

I'm pretty sure that normal cars aren't required to have a $5 million insurance policy in any state. So why require the automated cars to have a $5 million policy?

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 5 months ago | (#47069815)

When people find out they were hit by an autonomous with a driver who is only monitoring the system they're going to sue the crap out of the owner, driver, AND the state. And they damn well should.

Re:Why so much insurance? (4, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#47069913)

Why exactly should they? Keep in mind that when they are hit by a drunk driver they have to settle for a small insurance payout.

Your basic assumption are flawed. Specifically you appear to believe (with zero reason for these beliefs) that:

An autonomous car will be less safe than the average driver - including drunks, teenagers, old people and parents screaming at their kids to stop fighting.

That the owner should somehow be responsible in ANY way, rather than the programming company.

That the 'driver' - who in this case is not driving but instead monitoring to make sure the system is working - is in anyway responsible.

That the state would let autonomous cars drive if they were not proven better drivers than teenagers and senior citizens.

I predict that the states will have reasonable requirements for the autonomous car to prove that they are SIGNIFICANTLY better drivers than your average teenager - as in perfect driving with zero mistakes on driving tests that are far more difficult than what people have to pass.

I then predict that they will force the programming company to accept all legal responsibility for driving when the system is working - and the owner/monitor will only be required to verify that the vehicle has no warning lights activated.

I further predict that car accidents will drop to a tenth of what it is currently - and that video recordings taken by the autonomous cars will prove that except in the rare circumstances they are in an accident is because some human violated driving laws, not that the car made bad decisions

Driving is something that an artificial intelligence should be able to do far better than a human. Their reflexes are better, they don't get angry, they don't get impatient, they don't get drunk, they don't get worse as they age and they start out experienced rather than as a beginner.

Anyone that can't understand sounds like a Luddite to me.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 5 months ago | (#47069951)

When I was working at a major oil processing facility I had to have $2 million insurance just to drive on site and park in the lot. A normal policy is $1 million. Asking for $5 million dollars in liability insurance isn't outrageous.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#47070131)

Your company paid the $5 million as a working expense - so it reduced their tax burden. But eventually this should end up being in all cars - including those owned by the poor.

I could see the first set of cars - being owned by the wealthy and by corporations - having $5 million insurance.

But we are talking about the final situation when the cars are sold to customers, vs being 'tested'. That requires the technology be proven to be less likely to cause accidents than human drivers, and I expect the insurance to be switched. That is, autonomous cars would have normal insurance ($1 million or whatever the state deems normal) and and human driven cars would be required to have excessive insurance ($5 million for example) and also pay a lot more for the same insurance.

If the car isn't safer than your average human driver, it won't be approved for general use. If it is safer than they should pay less for their insurance.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

jcochran (309950) | about 5 months ago | (#47069835)

I'm pretty sure that the $5 million policy is for accidents caused by the vehicle while testing. AKA.... Unproven technology. Once all the tests have been passed, the insurance requirements for the general public would be more in line with the the insurance requirements for non-autonomous vehicles. And I suspect that since the autonomous vehicles would have a lower accident rate, the insurance premiums would be lower as well.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | about 5 months ago | (#47069849)

Given that this is SCARY and NEW TECHNOLOGY, I can see an abundance of caution here. Also, it's the manufacturer that has to have the insurance, which seems to me to be rather cheap, especially since many players, especially Google, could self-insure something like this and wouldn't really notice any pinch. To be honest, this seemed to me to be somewhat low if their primary purpose is to ease peoples' minds about the new technology.

Remember that the state is going down uncharted waters here, regulating these things prior to actual use as opposed to the catch-up-with-existing-practices we did the first time round with these horseless carriage things. So they're taking things easy. It's probably the best way to make everyone comfortable with the process, other than perhaps the manufacturers.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#47069867)

It does make sense; your going to need to a lot of money for counseling for the Engineers when they are told their design is a heap of twisted metal at the bottom of some cliff.

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47069935)

Because computers have a contextual awareness roughly equivalent to a cat? ..at best

Re:Why so much insurance? (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 5 months ago | (#47070791)

Just to be clear, we are talking about a $5 million limit to a liability insurance policy. It doesn't cost $5 million. I pay about $250 a year to raise my minimum $200k liability to $3 mil. Apparently I'm a bit above the local average, most people here have about $2mil coverage. If I had more personal assets, and I lived in a more litigious place I would probably go for the max $5 mil .

So what's the California RMV? (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 5 months ago | (#47069879)

I assume it's the Rancho Mission Viejo?

Re:So what's the California RMV? (1)

aicrules (819392) | about 5 months ago | (#47070167)

California Registry of Motor Vehicles

A Special Drivers License? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#47069887)

I hope it's not the same special training that Law Enforcement gets for driving at 70+mph without a seat belt on. I think the lesson on sudden impacts loses a lot of students.

Guess engineering better hurry (1)

russotto (537200) | about 5 months ago | (#47069969)

...because it looks like regulation is working overtime to stifle development of autonomous cars before they become practical.

What about mechanical failure? (1)

tygt (792974) | about 5 months ago | (#47070339)

I'm curious as to how they handle various types of mechanical failure - what does the car do if:

  • tire flat
  • tire blowout
  • brake failure
  • power steering failure (I had a hydraulic hose pop once in my F350... very tough to steer!)
  • engine overheat / low oil pressure
  • Unexpected out-of-fuel (fuel tank puncture / unreported battery failure) - does the car attempt to get to the shoulder in an orderly fashion?
  • occupant emergency - passenger may just want to pull over suddenly for whatever reason (nausea, or window gets broken and rain is pouring in at 50mph, etc)

In addition, do these cars handle unexpected road conditions:

  • Unannounced road closures/detours
  • Tree blocking part or all of roadway
  • Large sinkhole ruins part of all of roadway
  • Potholes
  • Road maintenance requiring speed reduction (chip&seal)
  • Dirt or gravel road

Re:What about mechanical failure? (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | about 5 months ago | (#47070445)

Most of those: power down engine, alert the driver and transfer to manual control. An autonomous car doesn't need to handle every scenario, it just needs to recognize when a situation is outside its parameters and let the human take over from there.

Re:What about mechanical failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47070927)

I hope the "alert and transfer" is something like "alert; wait for driver to acknowledge, THEN transfer".

The car is still going to have to handle the emergency for at least the first few seconds.

Re:What about mechanical failure? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 months ago | (#47070781)

I'm sure it handles them as well as any human being--which is to say, it ignores it completely until the car stops in the center lane and causes a 5 mile backup.

At least that seems to be how it works in LA...

When? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 months ago | (#47070763)

I'm not usually that pedantic, but...

Californians will soon be seeing more autonomous vehicles than just those built by the Google X labs. [...] It will be a while, though, before we see these vehicles on the road.

So which is it? Soon? Or awhile?

Or is it that we'll be seeing them somewhere other than the road? Like in the ocean, up in trees, or in our backyards?

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