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Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the most-dangerous-nap-you'll-ever-take dept.

Transportation 163

New submitter Petrut Malaescu writes: Last year Mercedes introduced an intelligent Lane Assist system to its S-class, which is cataloged as a Level 1 "Function-specific Automation" system. In other words, hands and feet must always be on the controls. But a clever driver discovered that all it takes to keep the car in Lane Assist mode is a soda can taped to the steering wheel. It's enough to trigger the steering wheel sensor that's supposed to detect the driver's hands. Obviously, it's not a good idea to try this on a busy highway.

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Soda can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584009)

Or a beer can? Well, we are talking MB here, so maybe this whole thing was an accidental discovery.

Re:Soda can... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 months ago | (#47584481)

I'm quite surprised the automated driving will keep that close of a following distance (less than 1 second), looks like a ticket risk to me.

Re:Soda can... (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47585383)

Where I drive, you simply can't leave any more distance when traffic is heavy: if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front of you, someone will pull in. It's a bit nuts.

But the great thing about this tech is that, unlike me, it has the reflexes to always react safely and the ability to maintain that focus indefinitely. I rely on "looking upstream" to predict changes in traffic flow, and that works well enough, but it doesn't help with drivers who are just crazy, lose a tire, or other such unpredictable events. Now, I'm not sure what scope of events the car can react to, as it's early days yet for self-driving, but in principle it's great.

How close you drive to the car in front of you is a matter of reaction time. I expect we'll no longer be bound by the limits of the human nervous system, soon enough.

Re:Soda can... (0)

another_gopher (1934682) | about 3 months ago | (#47585951)

&lt;quote&gt;&lt;p&gt;Where I drive, you simply can't leave any more distance when traffic is heavy: if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front of you, someone will pull in. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;/quote&gt;<br><br>Why is this a problem? Just because others drive unsafely, does not oblige you to do likewise.

Re:Soda can... (5, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47585969)

Ah, you don't get it - I'm guessing you drive someplace more sane. You cannot leave a safe following distance ahead under some traffic conditions. You could try, but there will be a continuous stream of cars pulling into the space you're trying to leave in front of you, and if you slow by too much to try to maintain that space, now you've become a hazard to navigation, endangering everyone else.

Re:Soda can... (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 3 months ago | (#47585983)

What it means is you will be constantly cut off by other drivers, at least on every single multilane highway in the US that I have been on.

Even if you are in the slow lane you can expect to continually be cut off. They even do it to trucks in heavy traffic which is just freaking suicidal.

Re:Soda can... (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 3 months ago | (#47585981)

Where I drive, you simply can't leave any more distance when traffic is heavy: if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front of you, someone will pull in. It's a bit nuts.

I've heard this before, but in my experience there's actually very little to it. The people inclined to pull in front of you just because your lane is slightly faster than the other are also those who are inclined to pull out again the first chance they get. Or people who actually want to be in your lane frequently do so because they need to turn off anyway. In either case you're exactly where you were to being with.

Now if they don't do that, how worse off are you? Say 20 cars pull in front of you in your short trip, you're now 20 car lengths back from where you would have been. At 60km/h it means it'll take you an additional whopping 10 additional seconds to get to your destination.

People are a horrendous judge of risk vs reward, especially on the road.

Re:Soda can... (0)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47586127)

Try keeping that distance without driving significantly slower than the flow of traffic - unless people pulling in front of you is rare, you can't. Driving at the wrong speed, especially in "bumper to bumper at 70 MPH" traffic creates a significant traffic hazard.

People are a horrendous judge of risk vs reward, especially on the road.

No joke. The primary reason for traffic slowdowns on these highways was rear-end collisions blocking traffic. I'm quite sure that net average travel time was longer because of traffic moving too fast, when you average in the accident delays.

Pave enough lanes and all these problems go away, but people have even worse judgment when it comes to building infrastructure for some reason.

Re: Soda can... (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 3 months ago | (#47586143)

Particularly since tailgating laws are STRICTLY enforced on the autobaun. Nothing like a year end collision at 150 mph to ruin your day.

i can see this happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584019)

soda can rolls down under the breaks. disaster happens!!

Re:i can see this happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584295)

At least it wasn't beer...

Re: i can see this happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585115)

Brakes.

Re: i can see this happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585731)

Shitstain detected! ABORT, ABORT!

Re: i can see this happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585851)

Well maybe next time you shouldn't shit your pants. You will also want to wipe better!

S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (4, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 months ago | (#47584039)

This must have been discovered by a Benz mechanic. Soda cans are far too proletariat for S-class owners.

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584111)

They sell champagne in cans now :-)

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584119)

Except for all the driver services that use S-class.

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47584237)

The actual article says "soda bottle" rather than can... perhaps it was Dom rather than Tab...

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585871)

Tab???? Holy fuck! You ARE an old bastard!

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (2)

sinij (911942) | about 3 months ago | (#47584441)

Poster above is absolutely correct, I have my butler tape monocles and glasses of chardonnay to my S-class steering wheel.

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584591)

Regardless of the origin of the driver's nose, the soda can will be disastrous when/if the airbag deploys.

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584951)

Maybe it was a wine glass?

Re:S-class driver with a soda can? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47586081)

About the proletariat, did you know that if you hang a pair of furry dices at the rear view mirror, the car does parallel parking automatically. And that's not the only thing it can do parallel, if you know what I mean.

This isn't new (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584047)

Ferris Bueller tricked a car into "autonomous" mode by putting a cement block on the accelerator--a sensor that is used to detect the pressure from a foot.

Sensors can be deliberately fooled with inanimate objects. News at 11.

Re:This isn't new (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 3 months ago | (#47585501)

Who's to say they're not actually alive? At least a brick will never threaten to hurt you and, in fact, cannot speak.

Re:This isn't new (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47585795)

Sensors can be deliberately fooled with inanimate objects. Film at 11.

FTFY

Hands and feet? (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 months ago | (#47584081)

What exactly is this automating? The whole point of cruise control is to not require your feet on the pedals.

My Volvo has distance sensing cruise control. It won't hold the lane for me but it doesn't turn off cruise when I take my hands off the wheel, either.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584163)

The Mercedes system drives the car for you, under heavy traffic conditions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AihC5flC-38

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 months ago | (#47584225)

That video claims to have nearly the same sensors, but doesn't seem be at all like the system mentioned.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584177)

Its not cruise control, it's Lane Assist. It keeps you in your lane, essentially steering for you.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 months ago | (#47584313)

What exactly is this automating? The whole point of cruise control is to not require your feet on the pedals.

My Volvo has distance sensing cruise control. It won't hold the lane for me but it doesn't turn off cruise when I take my hands off the wheel, either.

It's really more about how a modern car can actually "drive itself" in a limited way. It' snot a full autonomous car, but with what we have right now today, it's actually impressive.

Then again, I suspect he got the idea from a Hyundai commercial [gizmodo.com] where a bunch of stunt drivers set up their vehicles and then exit them and having the cars drive around by themselves following a lead vehicle (still driven, of course).

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 months ago | (#47584489)

I'm quite surprised the automated driving will keep that close of a following distance (less than 1 second)

This looks like a ticket risk to me.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about 3 months ago | (#47584757)

A computerized system can respond to a sudden stop much more quickly than a human driver. As human drivers, most of the distance we need to keep between our vehicle and the next is due to our delayed reaction time, and not the time it takes to actually stop the vehicle once the brakes are applied.

Re:Hands and feet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584913)

You're sure you want to test that out? Care to check brake sliding distances for different velocities? The care wont suddenly stop to an halt just because it's the car that's "driving", still has to respect laws of physics.

Re:Hands and feet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585099)

Yes, but if the car in front has similar sliding distance, reaction time is still what matters.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

m3000 (46427) | about 3 months ago | (#47585225)

Which is fine until the car in front slams into a broke down semi trailer and the sliding distance turns to zero.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

mjm1231 (751545) | about 3 months ago | (#47585111)

Most cars have a braking distance of a bit over 100 feet or so at 50 MPH. If the car in front of you comes to a sudden stop by crashing into a stopped truck, a faster reaction time won't help.

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 months ago | (#47585195)

I said a ticket risk, not an accident one.

I'm assuming that because this system constantly requires human monitoring, the rules of a human driver apply.

The ticket risk is a cop giving you a following too close, because it was entirely too close.

Or was this ad with something not the same as what the production cars get?

Re:Hands and feet? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 3 months ago | (#47585317)

Active Lane Assist is where the car corrects the steering to keep it in the lane. In the video in the article he looks like he's just going straight, but if you watch the wheel closely it will turn occasionally to keep the car in the lane. The driver never has his hands on the wheel. The Mercedes will use radar to sense and maintain the distance to the vehicle in front (not the best around motorcycles, or when going around turns), and lane assist will keep the car in the lane as well.

Obvious (5, Interesting)

crow (16139) | about 3 months ago | (#47584087)

They've had adaptive cruise control for a long time now that will slow you down so that you don't rear-end anyone in front of you. In theory, you can set it at your favorite speed, and then ignore the foot pedals until you reach your exit. I haven't used it, so I don't know if it handles stop-and-go traffic jams or things like that.

Now they have automatic lane centering. The car uses cameras to read the paint stripes and keep it centered in the lane. Because it's not a general system for autonomous driving (and the obvious liability if it crashes), it shuts off if you let go of the steering wheel.

Combine the two, and you have fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions. You just have to fool the sensor, and sensors are easy to fool.

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584207)

Subaru's adaptive cruise works great. I can't speak for other car makers.

Re:Obvious (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 3 months ago | (#47584247)

Combine the two, and you have fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions. You just have to fool the sensor, and sensors are easy to fool.

Yeah, but I'd be worried that the cruise control would punt the car into a corner at a rate at which the lane centering couldn't compensate. You really need a bit more smarts for simple autonomous driving scenarios.

Re:Obvious (2)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 months ago | (#47584319)

Actually, I have the adaptive cruise control without the lane keeping and it knows to slow down when cornering.

Re:Obvious (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 months ago | (#47584587)

Because it sees the corner coming or because it detects you turning the steering wheel?

Re:Obvious (1)

powerlord (28156) | about 3 months ago | (#47584649)

since he said "it slows down when cornering" it could be that a sensor detects the centripetal force of the cornering?

Re:Obvious (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47584249)

conditions it won't handle
- changing lanes
- passing
- letting other drivers in
- avoiding debris on the road
- entering/leaving highway
- dealing with construction zones
- avoiding reckless drivers
- lane selection

Lane keeping and distance keeping are only a small part of driving.

Re:Obvious (4, Insightful)

boristdog (133725) | about 3 months ago | (#47584297)

Unfortunately, lane keeping and distance keeping are skills that elude a lot of drivers.

Re:Obvious (2)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 months ago | (#47584327)

Actually, it handles letting other drivers in as long as they don't cut you off dangerously. It's actually quite good as slowing for reckless drivers as well (say they cut across 3 lanes in front of you, the car will slow down appropriately).

Re:Obvious (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47584775)

Actually, it handles letting other drivers in as long as they don't cut you off dangerously.

Bumper to bumper traffic?

Re:Obvious (1)

crow (16139) | about 3 months ago | (#47584343)

So most of those won't be a problem when driving between cities. It's probably not great for daily commuters, but it's probably a lot safer than a sleepy driver on a rural highway.

Re:Obvious (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47584761)

Things that this can not handle in a rural setting;
- lack of lane marker on right
- animals on road
- people turning left from the opposite direction
- people entering from side roads
- intersections
- distinguishing between lane markers and tar strips
- lack of center line
- debris,gravel on road
- potholes
- speed changes due to corners
- narrow bridges

Rural roads are even harder to deal with than freeways.

Re:Obvious (1)

crow (16139) | about 3 months ago | (#47584935)

I'm more thinking rural freeways like you have in the West. As long as you check for construction first and don't get unlucky with a deer, you're probably fine unless the paint goes wrong (as may be the case in post-construction sites).

Actually, there already are automatic braking systems for things like deer, and I would guess that that would be included.

One big point here is that we're a lot closer to autonomous driving that most people think.

Re:Obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585423)

I think we are further from autonomous cars than most people think. We may have 99% of cases covered but you can't just leave the 1% of cases that we haven't figured out off. In rush hour traffic you probably encounter a "situation" every few minutes. If only 1% of the time the car can't figure it out you will be in a wreck about every two weeks if your commute is 30 minutes. At a .5% improper situation handling rate you would be in a wreck approximately every month. To get down to once every 5 years (maybe acceptable to me?) the car can only screw up 0.0001% of "situations" encountered.

We are nowhere near this kind of precision.

Re:Obvious (1)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47585431)

These systems are actually quite good at some of your list - you might surprised. What they can't do at all is predict the insanity of other drivers. Like the guy waiting to turn left who will just sit there until you get dangerously close, and then cross in front of you (why do so many people do that?). It's early days yet, but I fully expect software to pass average human driving skill in my lifetime.

Re:Obvious (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47585633)

These systems are actually quite good at some of your list - you might surprised.

Remember the subject of this conversation; lane following and interval maintenance. While that assist driving they are very far from autonomous driving. Lane following is simple in that it uses two painted lines to figure out where the lane is and steers to stay between the lines. It does not figure out if the line curve s ahead and there needs to be a speed reduction to deal with it. Interval maintenance is simple because all it does is puts on the brakes if the interval gets below a minimum. Say you approaching a narrow bridge. The bridge has to be identified. How can you identify a bridge if all the information you have is the position of the left side of the lane, the position of the right side of the lane and the distance to the vehicle in front of you?

Re:Obvious (1)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47585949)

. Lane following is simple in that it uses two painted lines to figure out where the lane is and steers to stay between the lines.

My car does much better than that. I've been surprised at how little visual information it needs to determine where the lane is. I does sometimes get confused by zebra crossings, however. It doesn't brake for curves, but it does look ahead and understand curves - if the car "ahead" of me is actually in a different lane, for example, it figures that out and doesn't panic (the first gen system from 10 years ago had problems with that).

Say you approaching a narrow bridge. The bridge has to be identified. How can you identify a bridge if all the information you have is the position of the left side of the lane, the position of the right side of the lane and the distance to the vehicle in front of you?

My car has a variety of sensors, including a camera built into the rearview mirror assembly (so, better visibility than my eyes). It lacks the software to deal with e.g. sharp curves ahead, but the raw data is already available.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47586027)

With your fucking EYES, Chicken Little. This is not automated driving- it is assisted driving. It's even in the goddamned name!

Re:Obvious (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47584527)

You forgot -pulling off to the side of the road to let emergency vehicles pass

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584251)

Will it work on I-94 near downtown Chicago, where the lane markers have long been worn off? Can it also pick out the "oil stripe" and keep the car centered over that, or the worn-in tire ruts and try to keep the wheels in those?

Re:Obvious (1)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 3 months ago | (#47584559)

Will it work on I-94 near downtown Chicago, where the lane markers have long been worn off?

If you read TFA (or look at the quoted below), you would be able to answer your own question. However this would require you to define the word wear off in your own definition...

Normally, ALA requires you to put a hand on the wheel after a certain amount of time, otherwise the system disengages. And it only works when lane markings are clear and conditions are clear enough for the sensors to see the road.

Re:Obvious (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 months ago | (#47584279)

"fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions."

I would argue it very much is not that. Autonomous driving is so so so much more than just not ramming into the car in front of you and not changing lanes. If it is 100% unable to react to what is going on to the sides and behind it is just slightly better cruise control.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584289)

If this tech can actually keep people in the middle of the fucking lane and stop them from tailgating I say make it mandatory.

If it can automatically engage turn signals I may just have an orgasm.

Re:Obvious (4, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 months ago | (#47584303)

"They've had adaptive cruise control for a long time now that will slow you down so that you don't rear-end anyone in front of you. In theory, you can set it at your favorite speed, and then ignore the foot pedals until you reach your exit. I haven't used it, so I don't know if it handles stop-and-go traffic jams or things like that."

I have a 2014 CLA and it works. I have gotten on a freeway, set it to 80 and never touched the pedals for over 50 miles.

As far as what it won't handle, my car won't handle extreme braking, getting cut off badly or a car that is stopped completely (doesn't see it at all). Other than that, even in slow and go driving it works perfectly (if it stops completely you have to tap the gas to go again).

Re:Obvious (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47584421)

or a car that is stopped completely (doesn't see it at all)

Ouch. This is rare, but I've seen it.

I'd be afraid if I was on a 50-mile stretch without having to think about speed my mind would wander, and I wouldn't notice this stopped car.

I'm the guy who never uses cruise control unless it's flat and empty for as far as the eye can see, though, so maybe I'm atypical.

Re:Obvious (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 3 months ago | (#47584723)

exactly that, it seems rather dangerous to be on 'standby' for the better part of an hour, and still need to quickly to a deer or something wandering into the freeway.

Similar to No Hands Across America in 1995 (2)

awtbfb (586638) | about 3 months ago | (#47584307)

This actually isn't that big of a leap from a technical difficulty level. A pair of Carnegie Mellon researchers drove across the country in 1995 using a forward camera based system [cmu.edu] . 98.2% of the trip was autonomous. The non-autonomous parts of the NHAA drive are the same which would be needed under this approach.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584475)

I have this car.

It works well enough in stop & go. For some reason it won't start again if it's been at a complete standstill for more than about 5 seconds, you have to tap the accelerator to wake it up. However there's lots of other situations it doesn't work well in - lanes merging, slowing down for a corner, etc. The technology is great, but it still has a long way to go.

I can't say the soda bottle idea particularly appeals to me. You have to stick your hands somewhere - may as well be on the wheel. Also I once cut someone off by accident when I came up to a roundabout and the cruise control happily half drove me into it before I realised. If I hadn't had my hands on the steering wheel then I might've had a (small) accident.

Re:Obvious (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 3 months ago | (#47584861)

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

The post-mortems may shed some light on that.

Re:Obvious (1)

Ozymandias_KoK (48811) | about 3 months ago | (#47585239)

Pretty much any of the ones that would actually constitute autonomy, seems like.

Re:Obvious (1)

m3000 (46427) | about 3 months ago | (#47585273)

This is why I'm frustrated we can't have a semi-autonomous car for highway driving already. 99% of long distance driving is just not hitting the car in front of you and staying in your lane, and having the car replace hours of monotonous highway driving would be awesome.

Re:Obvious (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47585607)

@Now they have automatic lane centering. The car uses cameras to read the paint stripes and keep it centered in the lane."

I already see the next article:

Youngsters 'hack' the street by spray painting lanes into the abyss to fool Mecedes S cars.

Re:Obvious (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 3 months ago | (#47585697)

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

When there are poor or no lane markers, especially when there's no double yellow in a two-lane, two-way local highway. Or when construction's shifted the lanes away from their original positions and the old lane markers haven't been erased so cleanly. Or when there are periodic potholes the size of half-basketballs in the most-used tire lanes (tire lanes being the path your car's tires take). Or when the lane is both narrow with inches to spare on either side, and shifts suddenly, and there's a H2 up ahead in the other lane going at half the speed limit. Or when a 45MPH highway has a sudden 20MPH curve, and the lanes are narrow to boot.

This kind of autonomous driving may work when both road and weather conditions are ideal, but something a little smarter would be necessary for even slightly harsher situations. In the extreme case, a lot of driving under extremely limited visibility is basically a high-stakes game of follow the leader. Essentially, it's not enough to be able to perceive the environment; driving under those conditions requires perceiving the actions of other like actors (and relying on the assumption that those actors are sane).

Re:Obvious (1)

mrprogrammerman (2736973) | about 3 months ago | (#47585779)

I wonder how it deals with construction or snow. What happens when the lines aren't there?

Boo (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47584093)

Cars are generally not designed to be resistant to 'hacking' by their owner/operators, and should not be. Yes, you can drive without a seatbelt if you snip the little blue wire. You can disconnect your airbags. You can cause your tires to explode just by letting out most of the air and driving on the freeway.

Presenting this as some sort of coup fosters the notion that he system ought to be idiot-proof. No sudo rm -fR / for you! We'll put a thousand annoying and ultimately useless obstacles in the way to doing any little thing!

Don't blame the car for not protecting itself from you.

Re:Boo (3, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 months ago | (#47584185)

I've driven over 800 miles across six months on a tire that was completely flat, on the front wheels of a front wheel drive car, and then put air in it and driven off. It wasn't a run-flat, and wasn't inflated between. It was a Dunlop Signature Sport stock dealer tire (never buy these! They suck!).

I drove from Baltimore to DC and back with a rear tire flat the whole time (a Goodyear Assurance TripleTred, something actually useful), and then put air in it when I noticed it was flat. That's like 300 miles in one day.

I had a tire explode on me once. It wasn't low, and hadn't been thusly abused; it had about 12,000 miles on it. I didn't realize it had exploded; I felt the car start to go thump-thump-thump and knew one of the tires probably had gone flat or something, so pulled off the expressway and found four pieces of tire loosely held together by some sort of nylon mesh wrapped round my wheel. Apparently my car doesn't go spinning out of control when the front passenger tire explodes at 80mph, either. I fucking love this car.

As far as I can tell, tires just blow up when they feel like it. Ridiculous abuse hasn't failed my tires, but normal driving with 35-40psi in a 50psi rated tire has.

Re:Boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584337)

Ridiculous abuse hasn't failed my tires, but normal driving with 35-40psi in a 50psi rated tire has.

Driving 80 mph with severely underinflated tires IS ridiculous.

Re:Boo (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47584545)

I drove from Baltimore to DC and back with a rear tire flat the whole time (a Goodyear Assurance TripleTred, something actually useful), and then put air in it when I noticed it was flat.

How do you know how long it was "flat" before you noticed it?

Re:Boo (1)

cpotoso (606303) | about 3 months ago | (#47584609)

I once put 70 psi on a tire rated for 45 (and designed to be inflated at 24 for normal ops.). Only noticed that a few days later (hey the car is really bumpy, mother said). Never had any other issue :)

Re:Boo (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47585033)

It is better to err on the side of over-inflation. The centrifugal forces of high-speed driving are pretty extreme (even 100 mph) and you'd have to over-inflate a LOT to replicate them, so they'll take a lot before bursting from pressure alone. The problem with under-inflation is the tire is racked by vibrations that cause extreme forces, and also cause it to overheat.

Here is a cool page [desser.com] , evidently 225 mph at 20 psi below the optimum is a bad idea.

Re:Boo (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about 3 months ago | (#47584921)

As far as I can tell, tires just blow up when they feel like it. Ridiculous abuse hasn't failed my tires, but normal driving with 35-40psi in a 50psi rated tire has.

...fifty pounds each didn't seem to help with the cornering, so I went back a few hours later and told him I wanted to try seventy-five. He shook his head nervously. "Not me," he said, handing me the air-hose. Here. They're your tires, you do it."

"What's wrong?" I asked. "You think they can't take seventy-five?"

He nodded, moving away as I stooped to deal with the left front. "You're damn right," he said. "Those tires want twenty-eight in the front and thirty-two in the rear. Fifty's dangerous, but seventy-five is crazy. They'll explode!"

"I told you," I said, "Sandoz laboratories designed those tires. They're special. I could load them up to a hundred."

"God almighty!" he groaned. "Don't do that here."

"Not today," I replied, "I want to see how they corner at seventy-five."

He chuckled. "You won't even get to the corner, Mister."

"We'll see," I said, moving around to the rear with the air-hose. In truth, I was nervous. The two front ones were tighter than snare-drums; they felt like teak wood when I tapped on them with the rod. But what the hell? I thought. If they explode, so what? It's not often a man gets a chance to run terminal experiments on a virgin Cadillac and four brand-new $80 tires.

--Hunter S Thompson, 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', 1971

Re:Boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585287)

How could you know your tire was flat for that many miles unless you intentionally drove on a flat tire, which is a Darwin Award level of stupidity. If you rear tires are low on air, when you brake hard, they will break free and you'll spin out. In the rain, you can spin out by lightly tapping the brakes if your tires are that low. I can feel when a single tire is low on air. Not flat, just low, because the car's performance goes all to hell. You must be one hell of a bad driver. Do people regularly honk at you for reasons you don't under stand? Like my ex-wife, that drove 30 miles on a flat tire and destroyed the thing.

Ridiculous abuse hasn't failed my tires, but normal driving with 35-40psi in a 50psi rated tire has.

WTF? You don't fill tires to their rating. You fill tires to the spec written on the tire inflation plate on your vehicle. I've never seen one over 37 psi, but I hear they're pretty high on cars like the Prius. My van currently recommends 33 psi on all tires. Many cars have different front and back pressures. Maintaining that difference is important for handling. If you can't handle basic car maintenance, you are a danger to yourself and other and probably shouldn't be allowed to drive.

Re:Boo (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 3 months ago | (#47585373)

I drove from Baltimore to DC and back with a rear tire flat the whole time (a Goodyear Assurance TripleTred, something actually useful), and then put air in it when I noticed it was flat.

You can drive from Baltimore to DC and back without noticing that you have a flat tire?

I've driven over 800 miles across six months on a tire that was completely flat

You never notice the tires when you're getting into or out of a car? What the hell?

I didn't realize it had exploded

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

As far as I can tell, tires just blow up when they feel like it.

How do you know that? I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that you did not inspect the tire to see what kind of condition it was in before it blew, and probably not at any point for months before that.

Re:Boo (2)

TheSync (5291) | about 3 months ago | (#47585403)

You can drive from Baltimore to DC and back without noticing that you have a flat tire?

Actually I have done precisely that, but it was a rear tire on a front-wheel drive. Only noticed a problem when listening to AM radio and hearing a "click-click-click" when going at low speeds. That was the nail in my tire hitting the road and shorting out the static building up from the tire rubbing.

Re:Boo (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47584197)

Your comment has enlightened me.

I've resolved to take all American drivers out of my sudoers file.

Re:Boo (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 3 months ago | (#47584233)

Cars are generally not designed to be resistant to 'hacking' by their owner/operators, and should not be

How low we have fallen. People used to build entire cars, and they used to maintain and repair their cars too. And now people get pushed out of shape about, gasp, using a lane following system to follow lanes!

Answer to that age old problem... (2)

creimer (824291) | about 3 months ago | (#47584139)

My older brother used to drive around with an opened beer can between his legs in the 1970's. I wonder why he never thought to duct tape the beer can to the steering wheel and drink from a straw.

Re:Answer to that age old problem... (4, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 3 months ago | (#47584181)

I wonder why he never thought to duct tape the beer can to the steering wheel and drink from a straw.

Probably because when he made sharp a turn the beer would spill out.

Re:Answer to that age old problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584403)

Turn the wheel fast enough and the beer stays in the can!

The real reason is that the beer foams too much when sucked through a straw.

The real solution is to have a keg and CO2 system to deliver beer under pressure through smooth-bore lines to a vacuum actuated valve much like a scuba mouth-piece.

Re:Answer to that age old problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584847)

Because drinking from a straw is a crime against beer?

Because he'd have to untape it to replace the empty can?

Because you shouldn't even drink beer when you're driving?

Re:Answer to that age old problem... (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 3 months ago | (#47585997)

Probably because when he made sharp a turn the beer would spill out.

He should wear a beer hat.

Re:Answer to that age old problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584625)

On a drive to a national park, my uncle drank a beer. This was around 1981 or 1982 in Washington State. He was complaining that pretty soon he wouldn't be allowed to do it. He had ONE beer. I didn't think (and still don't) there was anything wrong with it... but the law went and got really paranoid and lost all sense of judgement.

Dumn Idea Stories (2)

tiberus (258517) | about 3 months ago | (#47584159)

"This is, without a doubt, a really stupid thing to actually try. So don't."

Hmm, wow. Nope the really stupid idea is posting a story on the InterWeb about a really stupid idea and warning us that it's "a really stupid idea". Road & Track should be ashamed that many Slashdoters are now searching E-Bay, CarMax and the trades for an S-Class to try this out in or texting their friends (hopefully not while driving to see them) with S-Class' to try this out. Responsible media, right! Telling geeks about a hack, is like giving crack to a junkie. Tomorrow's lead, dozens die recreating S-Class hack.

Oh, yeah, please PM me your findings.

Re:Dumn Idea Stories (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 months ago | (#47584541)

Responsible media, right! Telling geeks about a hack, is like giving crack to a junkie. Tomorrow's lead, dozens die recreating S-Class hack.

And thus is the human gene pool improved by some small amount.

Link to original article (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 3 months ago | (#47584205)

So instead of linking to the original Jalopnik article, you post a copy on Road and Track?

Malt Liquor cans work best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47584987)

A large 16oz can of malt liquor straightens out the road for me.

Fully-autonomous or bust, because (5, Insightful)

purplie (610402) | about 3 months ago | (#47585059)

"Pseudo-autonomy" is where the driver is expected to be alert and ready to take over. Therefore,

Autonomous car is to Chauffeur
as
Pseudo-autonomous car is to Student Driver

Ever chaperoned a student driver? Nerve-wracking, and harder than just driving the car yourself. Forget it.

Re:Fully-autonomous or bust, because (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47586023)

A "pseudo-autonomous" car will probably never fail the basic operations on a road with regular markings and road signs, do everything by the book and pay full attention all around it all the time and it'll never panic, fumble or road rage. I think it will very quickly lull you into a false security where you're wondering why exactly you're babysitting this car because it's driving far more consistent and correct than you would.

The problem is when something unexpected happens and the car fails to recognize it or do something reasonable - that's a very fuzzy definition but everybody who's programmed computer software knows what I mean, no matter how many sanity checks and errors and exceptions you catch something unexpected happens and the software tends to fail spectacularly. I expect that at this point the "driver" will be totally blindsided and useless.

Awesome (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585459)

I go through a lot of soda and I use duct for everything so I have plenty of that as well!! All I need now is an Mercedes S class.

Take this autonomous car and stick it up yer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47585465)

I might need a new car or preferably a new truck, but I sure as HELL don't need one that tells me how to drive and more, one that takes the controls away from me. Thank you very much.

Nomination (1)

pbjones (315127) | about 3 months ago | (#47586007)

A Darwin Award.

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