×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the crucial-to-development-of-the-tardis dept.

Transportation 190

rtoz sends this news from the BBC: The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads starting in January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. ... The debate now is whether to allow cars, like the prototype unveiled by Google in May, to abandon controls including a steering wheel and pedals and rely on the vehicle's computer. Or whether, instead, to allow the machine to drive, but insist a passenger be ready to wrest back control at a moment's notice.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Safety (5, Funny)

Old Aylesburian (2780221) | about 4 months ago | (#47567293)

Just needs a requirement for a man to walk ahead carrying a red flag.

Re:Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567455)

Will diver-less cars get a mechanic-less MOT?

Re:Safety (1)

hodet (620484) | about 4 months ago | (#47567855)

Will be hilarious as they iron out the bugs.

Re:Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568925)

Even funnier as they stomp out the kinks.

Re:Safety (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 4 months ago | (#47568815)

Pretty well sums up the quality of the concerns.

They are NOT driverless (2)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 4 months ago | (#47567309)

Stop this charade. All cars have drivers by definition. "Driverless" cars are driven by kilomatrices of embedded, all-seeing microtoads, which are in a mesh network coordinated via energy rays by the intergalactic harmonic Italian toads from Italy. Do you want to be driven around by toad drones loyal, not to our Leader Obama, but to some Italian amphibian mutant? I didn't think so. TAKE THE WHEEL, MEN!

Re:They are NOT driverless (1)

linearZ (710002) | about 4 months ago | (#47567331)

The drivers will be our robot overloads (I, for one, will welcome them).

Re:They are NOT driverless (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 4 months ago | (#47568641)

The drivers will be our robot overloads (I, for one, will welcome them).

GP's post implies robot toadalords.

Re: They are NOT driverless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567515)

My matchbox cars beg to disagree. And the internet will never be free as long as governments and corporations control it.

good they have NHS so one some gets hurt (2, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#47567333)

good they have NHS so one some gets hurt they not left with big bills while the courts are working out who is at fail and who will pay the bills.

Re: good they have NHS so one some gets hurt (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567499)

Maybe if the driver hits you it will straighten out your crooked teeth.

Re: good they have NHS so one some gets hurt (4, Funny)

easyTree (1042254) | about 4 months ago | (#47568675)

In the US, each pedestrian is equipped with full-body external 'airbags' to cushion the blow :P

"one some gets hurt" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567931)

Is that an item from a Chinese takeaway? WTF?

Re: "one some gets hurt" (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47568349)

One. Apparently pronounced "when" (that's my guess, at any rate...).

Driverless cars on public roads... (3, Funny)

GameMaster (148118) | about 4 months ago | (#47567345)

We've had that here in the US for decades. We call it street parking.

Re:Driverless cars on public roads... (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 4 months ago | (#47569421)

That's why this will never work in the UK. All street parking there violates some rule. Google would have to cram a Cray in each vehicle just to find spaces.

Figures it would not be the US (1, Interesting)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 4 months ago | (#47567363)

Obviously the US will not have this for some time ("Oh my god, somebody might sue!"), it's nice to see at least some countries see the advantage of cars that can drive themselves better than humans can drive them, even if the self-driving cars are not perfect. I would expect initially they would require a licensed driver behind the wheel, at least until the technology has proven itself.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (5, Informative)

linearZ (710002) | about 4 months ago | (#47567471)

The US has had this for a while.

Nevada legalized driver less cars a couple of years ago. Google will be running an autonomous taxi service in Vegas: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tec... [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#47567619)

Try your luck with our driverless cars!

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 4 months ago | (#47568735)

Welcome to JohnnyCabs [dailymotion.com] .

Click tiny X in top right after five seconds to avoid annoying ad.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47569375)

Do you feel lucky?

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

jxander (2605655) | about 4 months ago | (#47568363)

Google HQ is in California, so they started there. They've expanded to include Nevada, Michigan and Florida, so far.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (3, Informative)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 4 months ago | (#47567543)

Except for the fact that it was the vehicle trials which occurred in the US (california, nevada), trials that demonstrated the safety of these vehicles and which have caused the UK to fully allow them on the roads in Jan 2014, rather than their initial plans for trials to occur by the end of 2013. While the article does not explicitly state this to be the reason for the change, I believe it to be a fair presumption that the 300,000 miles google's cars have driven in Califonia were taken into consideration.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (2)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 4 months ago | (#47567879)

Except for the fact that it was the vehicle trials which occurred in the US (california, nevada), trials that demonstrated the safety of these vehicles and which have caused the UK to fully allow them on the roads in Jan 2014, rather than their initial plans for trials to occur by the end of 2013. While the article does not explicitly state this to be the reason for the change, I believe it to be a fair presumption that the 300,000 miles google's cars have driven in Califonia were taken into consideration.

Trials are different than allowing manufacturers to sell driverless cars or allowing the general public to drive them. Even the Nevada law just instructs the DOT to set safety standards for driverless cars, which they have not yet completed. That also doesn't address insurance, which all cars in the US are required to have to drive on public roads. If the insurance companies won't insure the cars because of the litigation-happy Americans, the only way to drive such a car would be to underwrite the insurance yourself (which generally involves posting a large bond).

Re:Figures it would not be the US (0)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 4 months ago | (#47568477)

It's obvious that you are invested in the idea that these will not be available in the USA for some time due to your belief that "Oh my god, somebody might sue!", the subtext of your argument with regards to american culture being reasonably clear. To restate my point: the United States has been the proving ground for these vehicles, this proving ground in one of its most populous states,(and additionally has to some-extent been ground-zero for the technology), would seem to disagree with you.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 4 months ago | (#47568487)

And incidentally, I assure you that insurance companies will be MORE than eager to offer reduced premiums to drivers of cars which eliminate human error. This is a foregone conclusion, and it will begin with the automation trucking and shipping and extend from there.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#47567955)

in Jan 2014

Jan 2015. And I don't see any "fully" about it - these are still to be trials.

Re:Figures it would not be the US (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#47567569)

US states have already proposed it, although I am not sure if they have passed it.

US already has a driverless government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568085)

What do we need driverless cars for?

Our government is already driverless, and we see how well that works with a massive surveillance state, civil asset forfeiture, militarized police...

A Progression of Complaints (4, Interesting)

X!0mbarg (470366) | about 4 months ago | (#47567449)

Once they start to roll, there will be a logical progression of complaints, starting with "They're too slow."
Next will be "They're blocking traffic flow/causing traffic jams."
Possibly among the next bunch of complaints:
"They move erratically/unpredictably"
"They wait too long at/stop too soon for traffic lights"

Most of the complaints will revolve around the simple fact that the autonomous cars will be driving 100% according to the rules of the road, and 95+% of the remaining drivers don't. Things like stopping for yellow lights, driving at the actual speed limit, slowing for merging traffic, properly signalling turns and lane-changes, etc.

In the end, the autonomous cars will reduce traffic jams, as they can intelligently travel in clusters, all in communication with each other, and even vary their routes for volume, all while staying moving at a reasonable clip.

The problem will come in when people deliberately try to mess with them, forcing them into emergency maneuvers by cutting them off for exits (for example), or cutting in front and slamming on the breaks (road rage).

Here's hoping they are outfitted with outward-facing cameras for recording such acts of stupidity.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#47567557)

Oh, I guarantee you that they will have a ton of cameras and they will always be recording.

The real benefit will be when some cop that has 'failed to report the broken camera in his car', stops one of these and the camera in the car records him screwing up.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567597)

I would hope that a driverless car would adhere to the speed of its lane of traffic. Driving too slow(eg the speed limit) in the passing lane or left most lane is extremely dangerous. Numerous studies have noted that drivers who are driving 10 mph under the ambient speed are far more likely to cause an accident than those driving 10 mph above the ambient speed.

Example: if everyone in a lane is driving 75 mph, the speed limit is 65 mph, and someone moves into the lane at 65 mph, they're doing more harm than good. In fact, above 55 mph or so, the rates of injuries and fatalities in accidents mostly plateaus; that is to say, a wreck at 85 mph is not significantly more dangerous than one at 65. If I driverless car merges into a lane that is going 10+ mph faster than it's 'willing' to drive, then it's going to cause issues.

In order to be safe, a driverless car needs to be able to decide when it should drive above the speed limit.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 months ago | (#47568733)

In fact, above 55 mph or so, the rates of injuries and fatalities in accidents mostly plateaus; that is to say, a wreck at 85 mph is not significantly more dangerous than one at 65.

Nonsense. Stopping distance at 55mph is 350ft, at 85mph it's 530ft.

190ft of the latter is "thinking distance", so at 85mph you'll hit close-ahead obstacles at full speed. (e.g. obstacle 200ft away, 85mph collision at 85mph, ~30mph (guessing) if you were at 55mph).

Re:A Progression of Complaints (3, Interesting)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 4 months ago | (#47568991)

I don't see why driving within the speed limits would cause any major problems as on most motorways, they'd be spending most of their time in the left-most (slowest) lane. The other lanes are for overtaking and they shouldn't need to do much overtaking. If they do need to overtake, then I imagine it would make sense to exceed the speed limit just whilst they are overtaking so that they safely join the faster flow.

Some vehicles (coaches and buses generally) are speed limited and can't go above 70mph and they don't cause more crashes as far as I know. I reckon that people will soon get used to the conservative behaviour of driverless cars. It's got to be a lot less annoying than some of the hyper-aggressive or distracted drivers.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 months ago | (#47569449)

Driving too slow(eg the speed limit) in the passing lane or left most lane is extremely dangerous.

If you're going to drive slowly, the left lane is just the place to do it. You did notice that the article is about the UK, right?

(And I hope they do follow the rules of the road. That will include not pulling out at 65 mph into the path of a car doing 75 mph.)

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 months ago | (#47567603)

Agreed. People are going to freak out about that car in front of them following the rules 100%

Humans play it fast and loose... we either gamble or assume from experience that a cop won't pull us over on this particular stretch of road for going 5MpH over the speed limit but the WILL on that stretch or at that time of day.

But... some cops / towns WILL pull you over for just going 1MpH over the speed limit. It's rare, but it happens.

So the car will have to be built to follow the rules exactly: speed limit, stop on yellow, full multi-second stop at a stop sign, etc. Otherwise if the owners are getting tickets, they will be angry. And the community will yell at CompanyX for unsafe cars.

And the people are going to freak out because they actually had to stop or go the speed limit. Honestly, the complaints might be loud enough to screw up the project.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567813)

Press Release from Google:

"Leave 60 seconds earlier, asshats."

End of transmission.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about 4 months ago | (#47567895)

It will be fun figuring out how to game the automatic vehicles. I'm sure they're programmed in some situations to pull aside. All you have to do is figure out what the trigger is. It's like playing with the blind spot sensors on the vehicle in front of yours.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

qbast (1265706) | about 4 months ago | (#47568431)

Yes, about as much fun as trying to freak out live driver and cause accident.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 4 months ago | (#47569009)

However, I bet they're going to be chock full of cameras and sensors, so maybe a few reckless drivers will get caught out with their shenanigans.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47569097)

It will be fun figuring out how to game the automatic vehicles. I'm sure they're programmed in some situations to pull aside. All you have to do is figure out what the trigger is. It's like playing with the blind spot sensors on the vehicle in front of yours.

Here's a fun way to spend the afternoon: take some rocks up to the roof of a multistory building next to a road and throw them down at the cars. 10 points for each car you wreck, 10 more for every person who dies. It's lots of fun!

Re:A Progression of Complaints (4, Insightful)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about 4 months ago | (#47567991)

I think that the main reason people speed, race the yellow, and in other ways behave as general asshats when behind the wheel is the inherent understanding that every second spent driving is a wasted second. You notice you rarely see passengers road raging. Once everyone becomes a passenger, and transit time becomes productive time, whether it involves work, updating facebook, playing games, or getting a few extra minutes of sleep, much of the incentive to rush goes away.

Personally, I generally drive like a bat out of hell, and regularly am cussing the idiots who wont get out of my way. But, once I get my autonomous vehicle (I plan to be a very early adopter) I won't care that the car is doing the speed limit, stopping when I would have chanced it, not changing lanes into the "fastest", etc. I'll be reading, sleeping, gaming, etc. In fact, once my commute becomes reliable productive time, I can see myself getting irritated that I get to my destination before I've finished my chapter, level, quest, etc.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 months ago | (#47568115)

I see people flip out when:

- Plane is running late
- Their train hits a snag: trouble on the rails, power issue, etc.
- Their bus hits traffic
- Their ferry is running late

Plane rage is the worst... but people (in the US) keep their cool inside the plane because they don't want to get sky-marshalled or put on a no-fly list. Then again I've never been in a "wait on the runway for 5 hours in the hot summer" situation.

The train rage is the next strongest of the three... though nowhere near as bad as on the road. And even if it was THAT bad, we don't have to worry about their anger making them screw up and accidentally kill a bunch of people with their metal battering ram.

The other two are minimal.

I speed, but not highly so. ~5mph on the roads, and usually only ~10mph in the right or middle lane. I DO get annoyed when the person in front of me is going UNDER the speed limit... especially after I watch them pass a couple of limit signs that they either ignored or didn't notice.

Beyond the obvious (spilling gravel out a truck, cutting me off) the only other thing that bothers me is people that don't pay attention at green-arrow signals. They tend to only stay green for 5-10 seconds and a person sometimes doesn't it appeared notice until it turns amber already.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568401)

Those guys are idiots, right? Don't they know that it's a minimum speed limit, not a maximum speed limit? How fucking dare they break the law and slow you down. You have every right to be pissed!

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568213)

If you think there will be driver-less cars that you don't have to pay attention to anytime soon you are a loon. The first wave will be cars that drive themselves but it will still be the "main passenger's" responsibility to stay sober and alert.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47569401)

I'm just looking forward to being able to jump into the back seat with my passenger instead of having to work around the gear shift for... ehmmm... extra-curricular activities while driving.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567923)

Actually, considering how smart they could become (given they were made that way), they'd be MORE than capable of breaking some of those rules BECAUSE they aren't human.
Some of these rules are only made because humans typically suck at driving and gauging distance and speed accurately.
An AI? It will have accurate readings to within 5% above or below the actual value, if not less.

I'd welcome AIs being FORCED to drive and nobody being allowed to drive at all. They'd be far more efficient at driving and half the rules that exist wouldn't even need to because they all deal with humans lack of good sense.

As for human control, add an emergency switch with light that is clearly visible in the front window. Anyone driving in human mode for more than any reasonable timescale (literally not even more than a day), they'd be fined.
Oh, you bet people will try to cover the light. Add wireless signal as well and just leave it off the spec.
Because fuck actual drivers. That is why. Most people legit SUCK at driving and I have seriously no clue how they manage to pass the test.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (2)

singularity (2031) | about 4 months ago | (#47568061)

Agreed - every complaint about self-driving cars has been for the migration time when there are both autonomous and human-driven vehicles on the roads.

When you take human drivers out of the equation, and autonomous vehicles are the norm, utilizing things like mesh networks to keep other nearby vehicles informed, all of the complaints suddenly disappear.

Autonomous cars might wait at lights longer, and stop for more yellow lights, but imagine a line of vehicles stopped at a light all accelerating at the exact same moment and rate. Imagine vehicles re-routing around an accident with correct ratios going to alternate routes so no one alternate route gets slammed, leaving other routes empty.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568603)

Agreed - every complaint about self-driving cars has been for the migration time when there are both autonomous and human-driven vehicles on the roads.

When you take human drivers out of the equation, and autonomous vehicles are the norm, utilizing things like mesh networks to keep other nearby vehicles informed, all of the complaints suddenly disappear.

Autonomous cars might wait at lights longer, and stop for more yellow lights, but imagine a line of vehicles stopped at a light all accelerating at the exact same moment and rate. Imagine vehicles re-routing around an accident with correct ratios going to alternate routes so no one alternate route gets slammed, leaving other routes empty.

Nice little utopia you've imagined, too bad for you that a lot of people actually do enjoy driving their cars and see it as more than just a limo that they happen to also be the chauffeur of. That is where a most of the resistance comes from.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 4 months ago | (#47569107)

I'd imagine that a lot of drivers would end up switching to autonomous cars for financial reasons. If the insurance rates are dramatically cut for autonomous vehicles (which is extremely likely) then it's going to end up being cheaper to not drive. There's many other advantages as well - you may not need to run two cars if you can commute to work in one and have it drive back home for your spouse's use during the day.

I think the finances would work in favour of shared use of autonomous car networks. Most cars spend most of their time being parked, so in theory we can increase the usage and reduce the number of cars needed. They'd become like taxis but much cheaper and more convenient.

If we end up with the vast majority of vehicles being autonomous, then it shouldn't cause any problems to have a few human drivers around as well. I still see the occasional vintage car being driven around, so there's definitely going to be enthusiasts.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 4 months ago | (#47568123)

If they can manage to use a passing lane to pass, then move to the right, they'll be less of a hazard to traffic than around half of human drivers.

If they can operate at the speed limit, they'll be moving faster than most Prius drivers.

Any complaints will be coming from morons.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (2, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | about 4 months ago | (#47568129)

I, for one, will NEVER ride in or own a vehicle that does not have a steering wheel, foot-actuated throttle pedal, foot-actuated brake pedal, foot-actuated clutch pedal (where applicable), gear selector lever, etc. and I know I'm not alone in this. I don't care HOW foolproof they make them. I will NEVER put my life in the hands of some programmer or team of programmers, not even if they're riding in the car with me. I'd sooner go back to riding a motorcycle 100% of the time, all year 'round, and by the way the only way you're getting my motorcycles away from me is when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

Some of you talk like this is some new form of freedom you're going to live to see, but I and many like me see it as the complete opposite: It's a freedom being taken AWAY from us, and none of you, in your mad rush towards your alleged vehicular utopia, ever talk about the new problems this is going to create: at the top of my list are hackers, and police. What's going to stop someone from hacking your driverless, manual control-less car while you're in it, and sending it to who-knows-where, maybe into a concrete abutment at high speed, overriding all the so-called 'safeties' built into it? Or just highjacking it to an undisclosed location, essentially kidnapping you, or greeted by someone with a gun, who shoots you, and takes the car? What about police abuse of what will most certainly be a built-in 'safety override' they can enable at will, causing your car to pull over immediately, regardless of the reason why? Or something too many of you don't seem to care about: having your every move tracked, which will just be that much easier for corporations and governments to do when the car is completely automated? Nope, no thank you, I've said it before, I'll keep saying it, you can keep your autonomous/driverless/control-less cars, thank you very much. And by the way I work in a high-tech industry, have my entire adult life, and I do not shun technology or even change, just things that I view a stupid and reckless, and things that ultimately will infringe upon my personal freedom. Anyone who doesn't like my opinion can save their breath, I'm not hearing your arguments, complaints, or insults.

Re:A Progression of Complaints (4, Insightful)

jxander (2605655) | about 4 months ago | (#47568293)

You do realize that unless you're driving a 1950 era automobile, you're already putting your life into the hands of programmers

What do you think happens when you step on the gas pedal? Do you think it's still physically pulling some cable that opens flapper valves, allowing more fuel to flow into a carburetor? Nope. It's all electronic now. You stepping on the gas sends a single to a computer "He's pushing for 25% throttle" which was designed by programmers to actuate your fuel injection at the proper flow rate.

What about that transmission? Unless you drive manual, you're not actually moving gears around with that lever. You're sending a signal to a computer "Put it in drive" which was also designed by a programmer.

Brakes still have a physical connection, for now, but that's only as a backup. The vast majority of your breaking is done digitally, just like the throttle

Re:A Progression of Complaints (2)

richard.cs (1062366) | about 4 months ago | (#47569427)

What do you think happens when you step on the gas pedal? Do you think it's still physically pulling some cable that opens flapper valves, allowing more fuel to flow into a carburetor?

I haven't worked on anything newer than about 10 years old but every fuel-injected petrol engine I've played with has had a mechanical butterfly valve operated by the pedal. The fancy electronics then measures mass flow rate (which is a function of throttle plate position, air temperature, air filter condition, engine rpm, etc) and injects the right amount of fuel. It's not *that* different from a mechanical carburettor except that carburettors measure volumetric flow and have to be tweaked for summer/winter to account for the different air inlet temperature

What about that transmission? Unless you drive manual, you're not actually moving gears around with that lever. You're sending a signal to a computer "Put it in drive" which was also designed by a programmer.

Where I'm from (UK) nearly everyone has a manual transmission :-)

Re:A Progression of Complaints (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 months ago | (#47569469)

I, for one, will NEVER ride in or own a vehicle that does not have a steering wheel, foot-actuated throttle pedal, foot-actuated brake pedal, foot-actuated clutch pedal (where applicable), gear selector lever, etc. and I know I'm not alone in this

You never ride the subway, then? I don't think trains have steering wheels...

Re:A Progression of Complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568385)

I agree with you about the 95% plus, but there are times when I think common sense needs to apply and breaking the law is the better thing to do. Some examples.

You are on a dual carriageway with a crash barrier on either side and come to a set of traffic lights on red. You wait and after more than 5 minutes on red, you realise they are stuck. Legally you cannot go through a red light. You cannot turn round, because the crash barrier stops you from getting on the other carriageway. You cannot reverse, because it is illegal to travel the wrong way down such a road. So your only legal course of action is to sit and wait for someone to come and repair the traffic lights, since everything else would be against the law. But I suspect what the vast majority of people would do is creep forward over the junction to see if it is clear and go when it is.

Another example. It is snowing heavily, and has been for a few hours. The road is covered in a layer of snow and ice. Because of this you are driving very slowly. You are approaching a roundabout with traffic lights on it, and the road goes downhill towards the roundabout. The lights turn red so you slow down very slowly and stop at the lights. Then you hear the sound of a horn and look in your rear view mirror and see a lorrly sliding out of control down the hill towards you. If you stay where you are, it will crash into your car, probably injuring you and writing off the car. If you move forward you would be jumping a red light and breaking the law. You can see there is no traffic coming round the roundabout so it is safe to pull onto it, going through the red light and avoiding a collision. I think again the vast majority of people would therefore jump the light to avoid the collision but to do that but it would be against the law.

Last example. You are driving along a road which has a double white line along the middle, meaning it is illegal to cross the line. Someone has parked a car on your side of the road and there is not enough room to get past it without crossing the double white line, which would be against the law. So do you sit and wait until the person moves the parked car, or do you break the law and cross the double white line (having first checked there is nothing coming the other way).

I think these are reasons why I would NOT want to be in an autonmous car that has been programmed never to break the law and where there was no way to take over.

Early versions won't MilSpec, keep manual controls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567517)

I understand all the dewy-eyed enthusiasm among the mechanically innocent, but standard automotive components aren't flight control grade and there WILL be failures either way.

Cut power to a vehicle with boosted brakes, and your brake pedal will still slow it down. Cut power to a vehicle with hydraulic or electric assisted steering, and you can still guide it to a stop. Cut power to a vehicle with only electronic controls and zero manual failover, and it becomes a projectile.

Brakes COULD be designed like air brakes on an 18-wheeler which are spring applied, pneumatically released, but some sort of safety is required for the eventuality of vehicle power loss.

There is no downside of any importance to retaining manual backup controls. No one will put up with an inspection and maintenance regime similar to that on aircraft with fly-by-wire systems, and don't ever dare forget that many owners and operators are idiots.

Any solution must work for the lowest common denominator.

Not deploying driverless cars kills people (2)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | about 4 months ago | (#47567531)

We have 30k+ deaths a year from traffic accidents in the US. The UK could not be too far behind per capita. Driverless cars have a flawless safety record. Even if they screw up and kill somebody it won't be anything like 30k/year. That means every day we don't deploy driverless cars here kills something like 90 people. It's sad governments seem more interested in BS like lawsuits, gun control and drug wars instead of actually preventing people from dying.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567585)

You know you can actually Google traffic statistics? UK (Europe in general) have nowhere NEAR the rate of deaths caused by traffic accidents because the British & Europeans know how drive. It's not difficult.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 months ago | (#47567809)

Wikipedia has a nice table of the relevant data [wikipedia.org] . Per capita statistics are a bit misleading as they don't count for different levels of car ownership. Per vehicle statistics are a bit better. The UK has 6.2 fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles (per year), whereas the USA has 13.6. Generalising this to 'Europe in general' doesn't really work though: Greece, for example, has 13.8 and Portugal has 18.

Even that doesn't tell the whole story though, because people in the UK laugh hysterically when we hear how long people in the USA think a reasonable daily commute is and so cars in the USA are likely to be driven further, which might account for the difference. Taking that into account and using the numbers for fatalities per billion km driven, the UK has 4.3 and the USA 7.6 , so under twice as many. As the grandparent said: not too far behind.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568035)

So in terms of probability, although it's "under twice as many", you are over 75% more likely if you're driving in the US vs. driving in the UK.

Yeah. It's a big difference. It's a significant gap.

Furthermore, if you're going to breakdown all of Europe into the highest individual, perhaps you'd compare it on a state-by-state basis? Or you can just stop, and admit that Americans really, really are terrible drivers, on the whole.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568287)

Maybe we should round up the poor and make them take busses so they can afford tiny little apartments but give them an extra week of vacation. With less poor people driving the quality of those privileged enough to drive will improve.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568319)

Most fatalities are also on highways where the speeds involved are much higher. What's the ratio of highway driving in the US compared to highway in the UK?

I have no doubt that overall the UK has a higher level of skill when it comes to driving, just based on the test qualifications required to obtain a license being that much higher, but to attribute this all to Americans being terrible drivers is just simplistic nationalism.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568569)

... you should probably try looking up some statistics instead of throwing out your latest guess. Hint: Highways are safer, numbnuts. Faster speeds, but generally, people only going in one direction.
 
Also, the UK/Europe have higher speed limits overall. Your 25 mph are our 30 mph. Your 35-50 are our 40-60. Your 55-70 are our 70 to ... you heard of the autobahn?

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 4 months ago | (#47569139)

I think what matters is how many people are killed. The page you linked stated that per 100,000 people 3.5 UK people are killed and 11.6 US people are killed meaning for the average person US is over 3 times more dangerous. That's a long way behind.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (4, Funny)

magarity (164372) | about 4 months ago | (#47568013)

UK have nowhere NEAR the rate of deaths caused by traffic accidents because the British know how drive.

Which it really weird considering they're always driving on the wrong side of the road.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about 4 months ago | (#47567917)

Driverless cars have a flawless safety record.

They used to say that about the Concorde.. right up until it didn't.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47567989)

This argument contains a number of problems, none of which completely invalidate what you're trying to say:

1. Concorde wasn't discontinued due to passenger safety risks. It was expensive to buy, expensive to fly, and expensive to maintain.
2. If a severe accident caused by an autonomous car happened today, right now, 2 or 3 even, it would still have a substantially better average safety to mile driven record against the average driver. Right now it's beating out good drivers and tying exceptional drivers.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568687)

Nice one dipshit. But he wasn't talking about Concorde being discontinued, was he? Dolt.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47568781)

Right, slow people.

Okay. It goes like this:
1. I acknowledged that my points didn't invalidate what they were trying to say
2. They purposefully drew a parallel to a failed technology. This comparison naturally suggests a sub-textual argument that the failure was due to the alluded reason. This wasn't the intended point(see #1) but it was nonetheless an argument by implication. Clarifying this distinction can help to identify a more appropriate parallel.
3. You really need to consider how dedicated you are to defending that notion, because it's a really inane point to lock into as important and beyond criticism. No argument by metaphor is going to be flawless, ever.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47569463)

They were purposefully drawing a comparison to the safety record. 14 Concordes flew for airlines with 100% not crashing. Until one did. The same way nothing can be said about safety of a vehicle based on a handful of cars doing 300k miles.
 
It's great that u kan reed, but it's largely more important to comprehend; you're clearly failing that.
 
I have a flawless safety record: I have never fucking died while driving a car. The fact that six fucking beta cars haven't been in an accident means, statistically, fuck all, and that's what the fuck OhPlz was saying. Stop deliriously posting idiocy for brownie points, dumbass.

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568303)

I love the mathematical idiots that have started populating this place. Science used to mean a basic comprehension of math, it's since turned all hipster and you can "fucking love science" without "knowing shit about math."

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 4 months ago | (#47568999)

This is what I think of whenever I hear something about "fucking love science".

http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com]

Re:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567957)

Cars not currently on public rows in any serious amount don't cause accidents. Therefore they are safer. Great logic there.

Do you really expect everyone to sell their current cars and buy autonomous ones for $100k+ each?

Since this is the UK (1)

whome (122077) | about 4 months ago | (#47567533)

They will have to develop driverless cars with the steering-wheel absent from the Right side of the car, rather than the Left.

Re:Since this is the UK (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#47567795)

Back to the drawing board.

Jezza (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 4 months ago | (#47567577)

I fully expect the lads from Top Gear to seek them out for a little harassment - especially Clarkson.

The problem with driverless cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567635)

It will be impossible to tell a driverless car from one driven by a pensioner.

Ok, there will be visual clues, but the driving style will be identical and include features like driving at 5mph below the road limit or 40mph, whichever is the lesser. X!0mbarg above mentions that driverless cars will travel in swarms. We already have that, they're called cycling club members.

No good will come of this!

Since when government needs to allow me sth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567641)

Since when government needs to allow me something?
Am I a slave that has no rights, that I must wait for government to grant me them?
I think it works the other way around: they can disallow something if it is that important for the society to do so. And what is not banned, is allowed by default.
Fu*k today's governments and stupid pleb people.

Re:Since when government needs to allow me sth? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 months ago | (#47567765)

Since when government needs to allow me something?
Am I a slave that has no rights, that I must wait for government to grant me them?
I think it works the other way around: they can disallow something if it is that important for the society to do so. And what is not banned, is allowed by default.
Fu*k today's governments and stupid pleb people.

Probably a troll, but I'll bite.

Here in the states, driving isn't a right... it's a privilege. I imagine this phrase is popular in the UK as well.

If you want to drive then you have to follow their rules and demands... else get fined or imprisoned for breaking the rules and risking the safety of others.

This means being properly licensed, having a car that has been inspected and approved for use on the roads, and following they various rules and regulations.

Re:Since when government needs to allow me sth? (1)

unrtst (777550) | about 4 months ago | (#47568145)

Nitpicking, but this:

driving isn't a right... it's a privilege.

... is technically incorrect, though in general practice it sure does seem that way.

The "privilege" is that of driving on public roads. Just about anyone can legally drive just about anything on their own land (ex. young kids operating farm machinery).

The AC was almost right, except that we (at least in the US) already put laws in place banning various driving situations, like driving in public without a license, or without insurance, or with an unregistered car, etc etc (most of which are actually state laws). It's much like one of the ways that marijuana got banned - they put a requirement that sale required a tax stamp, and then didn't sell any of those stamps. In this case, you can't operate a driverless car on the public roadways without having a licensed driver and registered car and all that stuff, and those don't pass yet.

New flash: Humans get bored (3, Insightful)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 4 months ago | (#47567789)

Requiring a human to be ready and able to take control in an emergency is just plain dumb. The human in question will be distracted. They'll be texting or playing Flappy Birds or doing any number of things that a passenger might do during a commute. Even if you require that their hands be on the wheel at all times they'll get bored and daydream and be absolutely useless in an emergency situation.

The only reason you'd want to require human controls would be in case the vehicle gets into a (non-emergency) situation that it can't deal with. Think about a situation that would normally be wrong, like parking on a lawn or driving on the wrong side of the road due to a blockage or something like that. Something that requires a judgement weighing the letter of the law against the practical realities of the situation.

Re:New flash: Humans get bored (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 4 months ago | (#47568029)

I agree. Expecting a driver who's had no interaction with the vehicle for a long period of time to be alert and ready to grab the wheel is a fantasy. Having a "no driver" vehicle from the beginning is the better approach than relying on the fiction of an alert and ready human backup driver.

One article I read about VW's automatic steering mentioned that the driver always have to have their hands on the wheel, indicating their presence and keeping them engaged. That seems a better idea than a system that would allow the driver to hop in the back seat for a nap, but still lulls them into a state where they aren't paying attention and are near-useless in taking over in hurry.

The only practical "driver still required" automatic vehicle I can imagine in the near term is one that works to make highway driving more efficient. Change HOV lanes into "well behaved automatic vehicle lanes" where spacing and discipline is maintained. The best use of machine-driven vehicles is most likely to be in an environment where the vehicles are cooperating to optimize traffic flow. Let the drivers do the stop and go, find the parking spot stuff, let the vehicle do the part where working as a pack or flock is the better approach.

Re:New flash: Humans get bored (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47569347)

But it works so well for aircraft. Look at AF447, for example.

Oh, hang on, they couldn't figure out what was wrong and flew the plane into the sea.

You're right, though: if a car requires a human to be there to take over at any moment, it's hardly 'driverless'. It just has a cruise control that can steer as well as control the speed.

UK vs US roads (4, Informative)

cliffjumper222 (229876) | about 4 months ago | (#47567793)

Whenever I travel to the UK, I'm impressed and often overwhelmed with the level of visual information that there is when driving - UK roads are fantastically well lined and signposted, they are especially good at night with reflectors/cats eyes down the middle of the road and often different colored ones on the side of the road. As you drive down a freeway/motorway there will typically be at least 4 or 5 signs warning you of a turn-off - two actual directions, and then 100m count-down signs! In the US, you're lucky if there's more than one, and usually that one single sign is just before the turn-off! Of course, computer-driven cars will be able to use GPS/satNav, but driving in the UK is like driving a video game compared to the US. In a lot of Colorado cities, they don't even paint a line across the road at the stop/traffic lights!

Re:UK vs US roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568053)

We complain there's too much signage.

Re:UK vs US roads (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 months ago | (#47568243)

We had a relative from Europe complain about our lack of signage. He lives in Austria but he travels all over.

In any case, he was under the impression that our highways and roads would have way way more signs stating how to get to the various cities. Like that exit 26 would help you get to towns W / X / Y/ Z. Or that every-other intersection in town would say would list 6 nearby towns and distance/direction.

We tried to tell him that at least in our state, the most you would see is the city that a freeway exit dumps you... or maybe the nearby 1-2 bordering towns at a local intersection. And that he should look up where he's going on a map first... instead of just assuming he can rely on signs to get to Maplewood or Bernardsville.

He thought we were being silly... unfortunately after getting lost on his own he realized we were right. And then went on to rant and complain about how stupid it was.

I've been to a couple of cities in Europe often, but I've only used mass transit so I never really paid attention to these many many signs he speaks of. But I imagine they're there.

As we stop practising driving... (2)

Peter Kingsbury (3046159) | about 4 months ago | (#47567841)

...we will forget how to drive. Do you really want someone who hasn't driven in months or years to suddenly wrest control of the car during an emergency situation and expect the outcome to be better than what the computer could handle?

Grease + (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47567893)

Me thinking someone has found a backroom hand full of zirc fittings in Brittain. First of all, allowing vehicles to operate on public roadways without drivers should be up to a moratorium vote by those who actually drive on these roads and pay road tax and incredibly costly insurance premiums. Secondly, It would probably be a jolly good idea to put an inflatable vinyl sex doll in the bright fluorescent orange driverless car's driver seat to make all of us trained and highly qualified drivers believe it was actually driving the car so as not to raise suspicions. And finally, we all want to know what you are up to and why we should facilitate these driverless cars in a world where us humans are going places.

Have they solved liability? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47567897)

Or is this not an issue in the UK?

Because, if it's a driverless car, I'm not taking any control or responsibility for the vehicle other than telling it my destination.

If the car can suddenly say "Oh, crap, you take over I don't know what to do" then it defeats the purpose.

If you're going to have truly driverless cars, then you need to determine who takes liability if it runs over a person. Because I'm going to be sleeping in the back seat or reading a book.

Somehow, I doubt the companies making these cars have stepped up and said they're so confident in their technology that they'll take responsibility. And someone who has disengaged themselves from the act of driving (like reading a book) can't immediately switch to being in control of the vehicle. If I have to keep tabs on it and be responsible at a moments notice, then what is the benefit at all?

Every time this comes up, it just seems like nobody has actually addressed this yet.

You want a driverless car? Make sure I can crawl into the backseat after a night at the pub and not have to worry about it. Until then, this is really advanced cruise control, but you still need to be aware the whole time.

Re:Have they solved liability? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 months ago | (#47568329)

This is one of the many reasons why I won't be an adopter, or at least an early adopter.

If I have to babysit the car second-to-second, then there's little point in having the car.

And I won't trust the car to not malfunction and kill me or someone else, so chances are I will be monitoring it. Maybe the car companies / Google / whoever will say "trust me, you can sleep in the back seat" but I'll have a hard time accepting that for at least another 15 years.

And lastly... I trust myself as a driver (never had an accident). To ME, my skills are a known commodity. And if I mess up, then I messed up and can own up to it. If my car messes up and I wasn't babysitting it enough or some birds**t landed on a camera, then if I'm liable then that sucks. I can accept that I made a mistake and pay the consequences easier than something I own made a mistake and now I have to pay for its consequences.

Re:Have they solved liability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568535)

The liability thing isn't an issue if you think about it. If the accident was caused by lack of maintenance, then its the owners fault. Otherwise its the manufactures fault.

For example, if the car tries to brake but the brake pads are worn and fail to stop the car then its the owners fault. If the car fails to activate the brakes then manufactures fault.

Re:Have they solved liability? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47568941)

The liability thing isn't an issue if you think about it. If the accident was caused by lack of maintenance, then its the owners fault. Otherwise its the manufactures fault.

Sure, that sounds great. It's a nice simplistic response, all neatly tied up in a bow.

But, until there is case law (or laws explicitly passed) to address this, the reality is ... you have no basis on which to make that statement.

The law is much more complex than what we here on Slashdot like to reduce it to. And until someone has passed a law, and the courts have had a chance to rule on it, I'm going on the assumption this is FAR from a resolved question.

Re:Have they solved liability? (1)

MooseTick (895855) | about 4 months ago | (#47569339)

"If the accident was caused by lack of maintenance, then its the owners fault. Otherwise its the manufactures fault."

Are owner's responsible for every aspect of maintence now? If I have a flat on a bald tire and someone gets hit, am I responsible now? If I take it to a mechanic and they sigh off on it, are they responsible?

What if my driverless car runs over a nail? Who's fault is it then?

Monty Python predicted this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47568047)

Roving bands of automatronic cars killing pedestrians...and genetically engineered giant cats bred to kill the cars! Funny skit, but now too soberingly serious...

Hopefully this works out better (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 4 months ago | (#47568623)

than their initiative to ensure that every single website shows UK-viewers some variant of a 'this website uses cookies - please click this button to continue being tracked or click this button to have your experience horribly broken' banner.

Driverless cars are truly revolutionary. (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 4 months ago | (#47568627)

There's just one problem. They're rubbish.

.

Will we need licenses... (1)

Snufu (1049644) | about 4 months ago | (#47568713)

to not operate a vehicle?

We also would have accepted:

"So that's why I've seen so many student driver cars on the road with nobody in the driver seat."

Atmospheric Omission System System (1)

zawarski (1381571) | about 4 months ago | (#47568773)

Sontar-Ha!

Two wheel concern (2)

ttpilot (2629173) | about 4 months ago | (#47569373)

As a motorcyclist I'm deeply concerned about the possibility of driverless cars on the roads. I don't think the state of AI and computers is anywhere near sophisticated enough to control a vehicle safely in traffic. Lord knows, cars with real drivers are dangerous enough already
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?