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Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the how-should-i-feel-when-a-driverless-car-tailgates-me? dept.

Google 475

mrspoonsi sends a report about how Google's autonomous vehicles handle speed limits. It's easy to assume that driverless cars will simply be programmed never to exceed a posted speed limit, but Google has found that such behavior can actually be less safe than speeding a bit. Thus, they've allowed their cars to exceed the speed limit by up to 10 miles per hour. In July, the U.K. government announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the U.K.'s road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. This will cover the need for self-drive vehicles to comply with safety and traffic laws, and involve changes to the Highway Code, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales. Commenting on Google self-drive cars' ability to exceed the speed limit, a Department for Transport spokesman said: "There are no plans to change speed limits, which will still apply to driverless cars." In a separate development on Monday, the White House said it wanted all cars and light trucks to be equipped with technology that could prevent collisions.

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Left or Right? (2)

slapout (93640) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705475)

If you take an American driverless car to London, I hope it can figure out which side of the road to drive on...

Re:Left or Right? (2)

LduN (3754243) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705549)

firmware updates

Re:Left or Right? (5, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705819)

St. Peter: So, what brings you here?
Ex-Parrot: UK firmware update pushed to my car in New York.
St. Peter: Bummer. We haven't seen so many show up at once since Hiroshima. Well, go stand in line.

Re:Left or Right? (1)

maroberts (15852) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705745)

More importantly, a lot of rules change from country to country e.g. rights of pedestrians (jaywalking in the USA), implicit rules at junctions (no permission to go right on red in Europe) etc

Re:Left or Right? (3, Insightful)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705979)

Closer to the point of the article, habits of US drivers do not automatically transfer to other countries. In the US it's very common for drivers to overshoot when making a turn onto a multi-lane street (e.g., driver in lane 1 of 2 turns right onto lane 3 of 3, where 1 is rightmost lane). In the UK it's bordering on the unconscionable.

But this lack of bad habits is an advantage of moving to the UK (and Europe). Also for the facts that signage and road markings are far clearer and more consistent, and vehicle roadworthiness rules are enforced. The basics can be dealt with in a wonderland of discipline and safety, and then the project can be booted back over the wall to the US team to deal with the road stupid I have to deal with daily.

Re:Left or Right? (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705789)

You jest, but that's a prety big deal in places like Thailand, which's a left-handed, but borders right-handed countries. How will an autonomous vehicle handle crossing the border?

Same fror French Guiana in South America.

Re:Left or Right? (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705843)

Like speed limits it will drive how it supposed to depending on the road it is on. When the road switches from LH to RH it will change just like it does when the speed limit goes from 65 to 50. Rules are loaded with the map.

Re:Left or Right? (1)

gauauu (649169) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706073)

You jest, but that's a prety big deal in places like Thailand, which's a left-handed, but borders right-handed countries. How will an autonomous vehicle handle crossing the border?

Same fror French Guiana in South America.

If my cell phone can understand the intricacies of all the time zone rules of the world, I think we can manage for a computerized car to obey differing traffic laws.

Re:Left or Right? (2)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705867)

Not just "left or right?", but "10 mph over or 10% + 3 mph over?". In the US, you can typically drive 10 mph over the limit without getting pulled over by police. In the UK the rule is 10% of the speed limit + 3 mph for equipment tolerances. So, if the posted limit is 25 mph, your "hard limit" is 25 + 2.5 + 3 = 30.5 mph. Likewise for 70 mph (national limit for motorways and dual carriageways), the "hard limit" is 70 + 7 + 3 = 80 mph.

Chalk it up to another case where American assumptions do not apply abroad.

Re:Left or Right? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705929)

there's this thing called 'software' that can, amazingly enough, use different configuration data based on a physical location. Or did you think Google Search was only in American English everywhere?

That said, this magical thing called 'software' can also be hacked to do things that aren't intended by the developers so it's not a panacea, but it will still be a far bit better than humans at following the rules of the road as conveyed to it - even through the normal posted speed limit signs.

Re:Left or Right? (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706009)

The US has no hard limit. If you're breaking the speed limit, you're breaking the speed limit, and it's the discretion of the office how bored/lazy/behind_on_quota they are as to whether you get pulled over and ticketed. The fact that the UK has actually codified this is absurd. Why not just bump the signage by that much, and make the signs themselves the hard limit?

buildng the perfect beast (1, Offtopic)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705491)

couple white house mandate with their assuming power to kill anyone without due process, and things are coming together nicely for a robust fascist police state

Safety vs Law (1, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705493)

When the law says X, you break it at your own risk.

I bet most companies will follow google's plan and have autonomous automobiles (auto-autos??, auto-squared?) travel at the speed limit or lower, even if it makes things 'more dangerous'. But they should also do that only in the right lane, not blocking the left lane.

Re:Safety vs Law (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705515)

Correction, I meant most companies will NOT follow google's plan and make the speed limit the max.

Re:Safety vs Law (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705721)

When the law says X, you break it at your own risk.

When a stupid law says X, you follow it at your own risk.

Re:Safety vs Law (0)

Megol (3135005) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705775)

LOL!

So the law is stupid so we'll change it right?
Increase the speed limits? Then there will be idiots driving even faster. That includes times when the weather conditions means even the regular speed limit is too high.
Remove speed limits? There lies madness - clearly shown by actual statistics. Many drivers already drive too fast for the road condition, traffic situation and the limitations of both their car and their driving abilities.

Re:Safety vs Law (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705933)

Two very big problems with autonomous cars in the northern US is snow and ice. When all the road markings disappear due to packed snow and ice those "stupid as f@#$" humans can still tell where the road is (most of the time). After the storm is past and the plows have gone through and removed the lane markings with their blades those "stupid as f@#$" humans can still tell where the lanes should be. These are big enough issues that Google and others are setting up testing programs at Iowa (and other northern) engineering schools to do year-round testing.

I pity anyone riding in a driver-less car when it tries to navigate rural blacktop in near white out conditions following a late season rain storm that turned into a snowstorm and the schools decided to stay open. Humans can navigate with very little visual input. Machines will get there but they aren't there yet.

Re:Safety vs Law (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705993)

Increase the speed limits? Then there will be idiots driving even faster.

Yes there will. Simply changing the rules without adequate training after decades of an undesirable behavior isn't going to change said behavior overnight.

Trying to change a systemic behavior in a system as vast and (in the US) as untrained as the driving public isn't a small undertaking.

Re:Safety vs Law (4, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705795)

When a stupid law says X, you follow it at your own risk

Which is exactly why we need driverless cars: dumb fucks who believe they're such exceptionally good drivers that the rules don't apply to them.

Re:Safety vs Law (2)

AvitarX (172628) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705909)

Or, according to TFA, it's true.

Re:Safety vs Law (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705955)

When a stupid law says X, you follow it at your own risk

Which is exactly why we need driverless cars: dumb fucks who believe they're such exceptionally good drivers that the rules don't apply to them.

Perhaps Google's driverless cars and their research on driving safety will someday help raise the dangerously low speed limits. Why should people risk their lives to follow an unsafe law? (Just because the official purpose of a law is to increase safety, doesn't mean it won't do the opposite.)

Re:Safety vs Law (1, Interesting)

bws111 (1216812) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706003)

Exactly how is a low speed limit 'dangerous'? It is not. It is the idiots who chose to ignore it or otherwise engage in risky behavior (following too closely, unsafe lane changes, etc) who are dangerous.

Re:Safety vs Law (0)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706119)

A low speed limit is dangerous because a bunch of idiots will follow it even if it is below the flow of traffic speed, making them dangerous obstacles and causing others to switch lanes to avoid them.

Perhaps this wouldn't be a problem if the police actually enforced their speed limits, but if they did that then no one would speed anymore and it would cut into their revenue. It would also mean they wouldn't be able to pull over a suspicious driver for speeding, which will cut into their drug-related property seizure revenue. Better to almost never enforce the speed limit, so they can raise revenue when needed by pulling over speeders.

Re:Safety vs Law (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705749)

What if you are in the left lane because you know you will be turning left up ahead?

Re:Safety vs Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705833)

The GP didn't say that they were talking about highways, but it's pretty clear that that's what they meant. Highway driving is different than city driving, and the rules and conventions are different.

Re:Safety vs Law (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705863)

Considering city driving and commuting are far and away what automobiles are most used for, I would have expected the default to apply to that, and not to highway driving.

Re:Safety vs Law (1, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706045)

It's not safety vs law. This car is driving in California, where the law says that you should do this. I'm sure in areas where the law says you shouldn't do this, it will not.

Re:Safety vs Law (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47706083)

Differences in speed are far more dangerous than moderate increases in speed. When cars have to brake/weave to avoid the one or two people driving significantly slower than everyone else is when accidents happen. So the goody-two-shoes who think that the speed limit is the law and exceeding it is dangerous are actually making the roads more dangerous for the 95% of people that are driving a tad bit faster.

A limit is a limit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705499)

Seems like Google needs to look up the word "limit" in its own dictionary.

Just because others break the law is no excuse for Google to do so.

Re:A limit is a limit (5, Insightful)

Lazere (2809091) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705627)

When it comes to breaking the speed limit or being run over by a semi, I'll break the speed limit every time.

Re:A limit is a limit (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705771)

I'm pretty sure people wouldn't argue with that stance and are almost certain to come to the same conclusion.

It's just such a shame that some people on the road believe they are in a perpetual state of potentially being run over by a semi.

Re:A limit is a limit (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705995)

It's just such a shame that some people on the road believe they are in a perpetual state of potentially being run over by a semi.

Similar logic of some carrying guns everywhere. [Not trying to start an argument, just sayin' ...]

Re:A limit is a limit (2)

westlake (615356) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705877)

When it comes to breaking the speed limit or being run over by a semi, I'll break the speed limit every time.

To what advantage if the semi is also being driven far above the speed limit?

Realistically, what are your chances of actually keeping pace with the thing or out-running it without losing control of your own vehicle?

Re:A limit is a limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47706111)

realistically, do you really think a semi would handle better at high speed than a car?
having driven both, i can assure you semis are harder to handle, but both handle just
fine in montana at the speed limit or higher.

sometimes i wonder if /. is largely populated by weenies who drive under the speed limit
on 101 to prove a point.

Re:A limit is a limit (1)

Jahoda (2715225) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705903)

I believe it is fairly certain that one of the first types of vehicles to fully automate will be trucks. The computer will never get tired or frustrated or impatient, and it will never not be aware of where other vehicles are on the road.

Re:A limit is a limit (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706071)

Yep, lorries, then delivery vans, then taxis, then busses, then private vehicles.

Re:A limit is a limit (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705907)

And just how often does that situation arise (outside of movies). By far, most 'getting run over by a semi' incidents do not occur when the car in front actually had the option to speed up. They happen because traffic suddenly slows or stops. So that leaves really only a few possibilities: the truck is out of control (runaway truck), the driver is asleep or incapcitated, or the driver is intentionally trying to hit you. None of those situations are likely to be solved by increasing your speed a few MPH.

Re:A limit is a limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705985)

Yep. Same applies to sports. As a skier, I can tell you it's a bad idea to straight line down near vertical chutes. Sometimes, however, it's a very good idea [youtube.com] .
I have the same concerns about driverless cars. Most of the time, the normal rules of the road will keep you safe enough, but if you're in a convertible being chased by a hungry lion, the last thing you want to do is obey a 10mph speed limit on some dirt road somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Same thing applies for tornados, tsunamis, being shot at by someone, driving to the hospital in a true emergency, and other similar cases.

Muphy's law of computing #8 also applies here: To screw up is human, to screw up royally requires a computer. A human may drive off an unfinished bridge. It takes a computer to redirect an entire interstate over an unfinished/broken bridge.

Re:A limit is a limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705629)

Retard detected. Suggested fix: RTFA.

Re:A limit is a limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705659)

Depends, are you going for safe or legal? The safest driver on the road is predictable. If driving 10 over is more predictable and expected than driving exactly the speed limit, and safety is your concern, so long speed limit.

Re: A limit is a limit (1)

Redbehrend (3654433) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705805)

It's a smart move, lane changes, hazards and other scenarios that require a little extra speed will be safer... I'd go 10 mph faster any day to avoid someone hitting me even if it's their fault.

Re:A limit is a limit (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705899)

In Pennsylvania, the vehicle code (Title 75, 3368 [onecle.com] ), you can not be cited for speeding less that 6 miles per hour when the posted limit is less than 55 miles per hour, and over 55, you have to be going 10 miles an hour or over. I'm pretty sure this is what it is all about.

Re:A limit is a limit (0)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706065)

As I've been saying throughout this thread... Google have looked up limit - in the California drivers handbook. In the state in which they're driving, the law is explicit that you should keep up with other traffic, as it is more dangerous to have lots of cars doing different speeds than to exceed the speed limit a bit.

Why speed only a little? (5, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705523)

It is within Google's capability to dynamically map every speed trap and even moving police cars.

With this in place, and with computer reflexes why not speed like a maniac? I for one would buy Google car tomorrow if it could get me to work at 120mph shaving time off my commute.

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705637)

It may have a computer's reflexes, but it still has the limitations of a normal car.

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705693)

It also lacks the self and situational awareness of humans.

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705981)

I have yet to come into contact with the humans you are referencing here.

Re:Why speed only a little? (4, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706109)

Come now. What percentage of people on the road actually have any situational awareness? They're not looking around to track voids in traffic should they need to change lanes in an emergency. They're not looking downstream to see that accident half a mile away and traffic backing up. They're watching no further than the brake lights in front of them. Even if they are trying to pay attention, it takes a hell of a lot of concentration and practice to constantly track a dozen cars around you in all directions, and a hell of a lot more to anticipate movements when those cars leave line of sight. This sort of thing is trivial for a computer.

As for "self", are you referring to the current state of the car? Surely autonomous control tied into your vehicle's data bus with direct access to engine sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, suspension deflectometers, and all manner of other equipment would have a much better chance of assessing the current state of the vehicle than the driver.

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706075)

Limitations of a normal driving are mostly due to driver's inability to control the vehicle (e.g. predict exact point when skid occurs). Introduction of computer-assisted safety features like ABS, traction control all increased overall safety on the roads and arguably should allow for overall speed increase. These safety systems all function by overriding driver's input in some limited way when it is predicted or observed to lead to undesirable outcome. With autonomous cars you do not have driver's input, so optimal value for all circumstances could be computed. With this is place, it would be car's mechanical limitations and not limitations of driver's ability that will be a limiting factor.

For example, it is not outside of realm of possibility to have your car driven by autopilot at its natural top speed on a highway. We as society, for a good reason do not trust human operators with the same. For automated drivers such cautious approach is no longer valid.

Re:Why speed only a little? (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706085)

And it's also driving around lots of humans. Humans who will do unpredictable things, and who can't necessarily deal with such a high speed differential from other cars.

Re:Why speed only a little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705763)

It takes me about 10 minutes to get to work ( from home door to my seat at work ). I travel about 20 km/h. Almost half of that time I spent waiting traffic lights.

Living near my workplace is a huge bonus. E.g. compared to one guy who travels 2 hours every day to work, I spent about 9 hours more at home than him every week. So it is almost like he had 6 day work week and I had 5 day work week. I strongly recommend it to everyone.

Re:Why speed only a little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705943)

Then you live no more than 2 miles from work. less than 1 if half your time is waiting at lights. That's 1.6ish km. Why the fuck are you taking a car?! It make sense if you used mph as your speed unit, I'd just think you were some lazy fat ass American... Hell, you could walk it easily and quickly enough to be worth it.

Re:Why speed only a little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47706097)

Agreed... once you are even reasonably fit, you can jog 2km in well under 15 minutes. (If you can't run 2km in under 15 min, I would say your first priority should be getting in good enough shape to do so).

I would not consider myself an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I can (and do) run 2km in 10 minutes. Why the GP is driving is beyond me...

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

westlake (615356) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705991)

It is within Google's capability to dynamically map every speed trap and even moving police cars.

If a police car can be tracked so can you.

If a speed trap is fullt automated, how does Google detect it before you have been ticketed?

Re:Why speed only a little? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706105)

Well, the problem is that the speed limit exists for several good reasons. One of these reasons is that the highway itself has a speed limit imposed by physics, that if you pass the same you simply will not be able to keep on track and will come out straight at the first turn. And the faster you go the harder it is to stop, until you reach a point that your car will simply be unable to stop by running faster than your brake system can handle. And also have the issue of safety margin: The closer you get to the limits of your car, the more danger you run in case of an accident.

Speed limits are not always obeyed. (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705559)

Yeah, going the speed limit in certain areas will simply result in google cars getting shot at, or ran off the road.

IE, the 101 or I-17 in Phoenix. LOL@75mph. Unless there's a traffic jam of course.

/.censorship works? mynutswon; why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705591)

some bugs;; Due to excessive bad posting from this IP or Subnet, anonymous comment posting has temporarily (for quite some time, hopefully forever) been disabled. You can still login to post. However, if bad posting continues from your IP or Subnet that privilege could be revoked as well. If it's you, consider this a chance to sit in the timeout corner or login and improve your posting. If it's someone else, this is a chance to hunt them down (&/or demonize them....) based on speculation of ill intent... peace out /. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m39DWVFK-Bw

unexciting truth;; https://www.youtube.com/movie/home-english-with-subtitles set adrift with no oars or rudder?the stuff we come up with? based on our never ending WMD on credit fictional deity holycost inspired spiritual bankruptcy malady;

all things being equitable.. any notion of real justice is based entirely on mercy, the centerpeace of momkind's heartfelt connection with creation

being spiritually & creatively merciful with each other takes out the (media/fear) drama of the always violent hateful fear & loathing punishment features. are we not each our very own reward? punish as we would wish to be punished? WMD on credit 'weather' is not punishment enough? http://www.globalresearch.ca/weather-warfare-beware-the-us-military-s-experiments-with-climatic-warfare/7561

fortunately over time the truth prevails.... see you there

just wait until someone hack google-cars (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705611)

and makes them do all sorts of evil things

How to cripple a city (5, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705615)

If I were a terrorist group and wanted to cripple any city in America, I would get a group of 20 people together and simply go back and forth on all the major roads, driving the speed-limit abreast with one another in all lanes.

After a few days of that the city would do whatever you demanded.

That is, if you all survived the road rage.

Re:How to cripple a city (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705707)

That could only work in a city where the police don't enforce laws against obstructing traffic [ca.gov] .

Re:How to cripple a city (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705807)

I thought about that also but if if each row had a second car behind them it would be easy enough to keep up the rolling blockade even if one or two cars got pulled over.

Also in some places the "can't drive slow in the left lane" applies only to roads with a speed limit of 65 or higher, which is higher than many in-city highway limits.

Re:How to cripple a city (1)

Flavianoep (1404029) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705829)

But what can a office do against someone who is obeying the law?

Re:How to cripple a city (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705885)

Don't watch the news much huh?

Re:How to cripple a city (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705983)

It sounds like a tough sell to me. "You're guilty of obstructing traffic by driving lawfully and following the speed limit"... It'd be worth it just to be able to tell the story!

Re:How to cripple a city (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706005)

How can it be obstructing traffic if they couldn't be passed anyways without breaking the law? Or does that mean the government is acknowledging that the "speed of traffic" overrides the legal speed limits?

Re:How to cripple a city (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706101)

You can't be obstructing traffic if you're driving as fast as the law allows you to.

Rolling roadblocks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705619)

Once there are enough autonomous vehicles on the road, highway speeds will SLOW DOWN. Think about it. If, on a 4-lane highway, there are 4 autonomous vehicles all driving the speed limit, each in its own lane, all side-by-side, then traffic behind them will be slowed to the speed limit. The end result is a rolling roadblock. Nobody will be able to exceed the speed limit because there will be too many vehicles all doing the exact same speed.

Re:Rolling roadblocks (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705683)

Dunno about the US, but in the UK there aren't 4 lanes. There is one lane, and other overtaking lanes.

Technically, if you have four cars all at the same speed in all four lanes, at least three of them would be breaking the law (dunno about the US, assume it's similar). If they're overtaking, it's not a problem, because they have to pull back in when they've completed the maneouvure and you can overtake them then.

To be honest, robots obeying rules will make the roads I travel on move faster. It's the dickheads who constantly change lanes and try to "beat" the queues when speeds come down that cause most of the slowdowns and "phantom braking waves" that I witness every day.

And, to be honest, I'd rather get somewhere at 65 predictably than 70 unpredictably, in spasms and spurts and with sudden braking.

Re:Rolling roadblocks (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705687)

Given that rolling roadblocks are illegal, perhaps the autonomous cars will avoid participating in one.

Is this at least user-selectable? (2, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705633)

Because I would not want any driverless car I own to *EVER* decide that it is safe to exceed the speed limit if I didn't explicitly allow it to.

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (1)

AGMW (594303) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705699)

Even if that was actually safer to exceed the limit at that point?
By the time it's asked you "Do you want to allow me to potentially save your life by exceeding the local speed limit Dave?", and you've noticed the question and answered it, it could well be too late!
So let's assume you've given it permission to save your life by exceeding the speed limit, and something happens and your GoogleCar guns it and saves your life, but your vehicle is spotted and you get a ticket. Who pays?
If GoogleCar had decided the safest thing to do (for you, at least --- hmm this raises another question I'll come back to) then I'd feel somewhat aggrieved if I got a damn ticket for doing it!
... and do these GoogleCars follow the Asimov Laws of Robotics? Would it career into a queue of children to protect you from truck?

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (1)

Vlado (817879) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705753)

That would be one hell of a career...

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705837)

If it were user selectable, I would presume it to be some sort of configuration setting where you set what you want the default behavior of the car to be rather than something that you explicity have to authorize at the time.

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47706063)

I would imagine that, just like intelligent/adaptive cruise control systems in some vehicles, you are responsible at all times for the operation of that vehicle and are therefore responsible for any traffic infractions it commits on your behalf. The law as it stands, at least - once driverless cars are more widespread and successfully transporting cargo (objects and/or people who cannot drive) that the relevant laws may be amended.

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705927)

You are why people hate people. Those horns you hear while driving aren't people saying hello to you.

Re:Is this at least user-selectable? (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706023)

Because I would not want any driverless car I own to *EVER* decide that it is safe to exceed the speed limit if I didn't explicitly allow it to.

In some places you will be pulled over for going too slowly should you not exceed the posted speed limit.

It's still an assumption (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705647)

10Mph is still an arbitrary assumption, just like legal limit. Correct speed varies far too much for such a static definition. There was an article (with video) on slashdot awhile back that explained how their heuristics work, and it said the whole stack was basically built from prefabricated scenarios, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Re:It's still an assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705743)

Officer: Did you notice the stop sign?
Google car driver: Yes I did.
Officer: You didn't stop at all!
Google car driver: I slowed down to 10 mph.
Officer: I'll have to write you a ticket.
Google car driver: But a stop means 0 mph and my car programmed to exceed it by 10 mph.

so... (0)

zlives (2009072) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705655)

its safer to drive fast... got it

Re: so... (1)

itsenrique (846636) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705939)

It is generally safer to go with the flow of traffic than to obstruct it. In some areas (even just some roads or bridges in an area) enforcement is either difficult or lax. The main bridge between Tampa and St. Pete comes to mind where I live. Far right: 75-80, far left: 90+. Now, I'm not saying no one ever gets a ticket, but those are the speeds they go, and I wouldn't feel very comfortable doing the 65mph limit even in the far right some times, people will then follow way too closely and pass aggressively. It might not be your fault legally buy better to just avoid an accident right? Yes we all know the force in accidents increase exponentially as speed goes up, but that's not the whole story. I don't know about the rest of you but I'm way more scared of the texter or talker than the 10 over guy who's not doing anything aggressive.

ya no (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705689)

In a separate development on Monday, the White House said it wanted all cars and light trucks to be equipped with technology that could prevent collisions.

And finally law enforcements wet dream of being able to remotely disable your car becomes a reality. If you think this is anything but that, you're very naive.

Autonomous cars can't use V2V (2)

bigpat (158134) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705695)

I think the V2V proposal should be scrapped altogether. It would take decades to implement, be very expensive (at hundreds of dollars per car) and it won't actually make cars safer compared with relatively simpler collision avoidance using cameras and other relatively cheap proximity sensors that don't rely on everyone else having functioning V2V systems in their car.

Autonomous cars have cameras and other fail safe sensors they can rely on. GPS is for navigational way points and route planning. Just getting a signal from another car that it is at a certain position is not a sufficient replacement for actually seeing that car with a camera. In all cases I would program that car to trust the camera and distrust the V2V and if it didn't have a camera then the car should stop as safely as it can and not continue to try and drive automatically. GPS is better for navigational way points where precision on the scale of feet and inches is not as important. For collision avoidance in close proximity you want to rely on sensors.

Symptom of Greater Issue (0)

eepok (545733) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705755)

If the speed limit is unsafe, that means that too many people around the car attempting to travel at "only" the speed limit. This, in turn, means that there is insufficient traffic enforcement. I see two solutions...

Solution A: Allow automated vehicles to routinely exceed the speed limit thus contributing to the unsafe environment.
Solution B: Implement appropriate traffic enforcement and raise city revenue on the reckless habits of traffic offenders.

Why the hell is Solution A even being considered?

(EDIT) Symptom of Greater Issue (1)

eepok (545733) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705799)

If the speed limit is unsafe, that means that too many people around the car are traveling above the speed limit. This, in turn, means that there is insufficient traffic enforcement. I see two solutions...

Solution A: Allow automated vehicles to routinely exceed the speed limit thus contributing to the unsafe environment.
Solution B: Implement appropriate traffic enforcement and raise city revenue on the reckless habits of traffic offenders.

Why the hell is Solution A even being considered?

Re:(EDIT) Symptom of Greater Issue (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706019)

Solution A is being considered because it's the law in California. The driver's handbook is explicit that you should keep up with traffic around you, rather than opt for a lower speed that is dramatically different from the cars around you. I'm sure in other states/countries, where this is not the law, this will not be the case.

Re:(EDIT) Symptom of Greater Issue (2)

craighansen (744648) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706049)

Solution C: Deputize driverless cars to enforce traffic rules of surrounding cars and report it to the authorities. Make it enourmously expensive to drive cars manually, causing the free market to make driverless cars mandatory. When you include all the little potential violations, the frequency at which drivers violate traffic rules is probably several times per mile.

Re:Symptom of Greater Issue (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705935)

Why does road safety always have to mean lowering the speed limit? Faster roads require more driver attention. If you set the limits too low not only will people not respect the limit, but they'll become inattentive as well. I'm driving at this slow ass speed, might as well check my texts or fiddle with the radio, this is making sleepy.. zzz... *crash*

Wekll Due they can also hunt and kill. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705787)

If they have the ability to detect a human on the road, they can look for them and drive to them. Thus these cars can hunt and kill people. I don't see how the ability to speed is a bid deal.

Who pays the ticket? (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705817)

You are "driving" a Google automated car. You get pulled over for doing 10 over the speed limit. You didn't tell the car to do it, the programmers did. Who gets the ticket?

If you do, then that suggests that you have liability for the control of the vehicle. If that's the case, you probably shouldn't allow the car to make the choice whether or not to exceed the speed limit without your input.

If the programmer has liability, then say good by to automated automobiles! No one wants this liability.

Thus, Google cars will not automatically speed... but they may allow you to tell the car to exceed the speed limit... thus reducing the safety of the product overall.

Re:Who pays the ticket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705959)

So who has actually ever been pulled over going 10 over?

Even the speeding cameras in Maryland won't give you a ticket unless you're going 12+ over local and 15+ over on highways.

Re:Who pays the ticket? (3, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705965)

Actually no. The reason Google's cars do this is because they (for now) drive in California. The driver's handbook in California explicitly states that you should at all times keep up with traffic, even if it means exceeding the speed limit a little bit, so that all cars are driving at roughly the same speed. You won't get a speeding ticket, because you are following the law. Presumably, in other areas, the car will be reprogrammed with knowledge of that area's driving rules, and will or won't do this as appropriate.

Surprised no one has mentioned revenue generation (4, Insightful)

Jahoda (2715225) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705875)

I can easily see a future 30 years, potentially even 20 down the road where auto-drive become mandatory on metropolitan freeways at certain times of day (rush hour). In fact, I could easily see a not-too-distant future where such a thing is mandatory, regardless of time-of-day. Now the question I ask is, as with concern with electric vehicles and lower revenues from gasoline tax, how are municipalities going to cope with the reduced revenue from speeding tickets?

10 MPH over will not cut it on I-294 (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705887)

They need to test year around in the chicago area.

"OK, Mr. Googlebot... (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705917)

"We have you for no drivers license, old title and insurance, no learners permit, failure to submit for blood test, failure to take field sobriety tests, 11 miles over the limit, and an open oil can. Son, you is in a HEAP of trouble, you hear me? BIG trouble. why, you haven't even posted your code online in open forum. we are going to haul you in, toss your butt in the scrapyard, and impound the vehicle for forfeiture. you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to a hardcopy of the indictment, and a translator if we can find out your toolset. you only have the right to one message from confinement, less than 140 characters...."

That is the law... (0)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47705931)

Well duh, that's because that's the rule in California. The driver's handbook says it's illegal not to do this. Presumably in areas where that's not the case it will not do that.

First, have camera check skin color of occupants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47705945)

Last time I attended a "driver improvement school" in person, the instructor inquired about what we were cited for. It was obvious to see that all the white attendees had been charged when going greater than 10 MpH over the speed limit, while the persons of color reported being cited while going 5 MpH over the speed limit or less, or similar minor infractions, such as unsignalled lane change. When using a driverless car to transport a recently dead body or felony quantities of illicit substances, one might want to turn off the "drive like everyone else" flag, and turn on the "follow driving rules religiously" flag, as would anyone who was DWB. Of course, when the cops see a driveless car following the speed limit, it just might get a second look just because they'd consider it suspicious.

Basis? (1)

Tailhook (98486) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706047)

From the story:

Research shows that sticking to the speed limit when other cars are going much faster actually can be dangerous, Dolgov says, so its autonomous car can go up to 10 mph (16 kph) above the speed limit when traffic conditions warrant.

Anyone know what "research" Dolgov is referring to? It's always been self evident to me that a car travelling slower than the flow of speeding traffic is a danger, but actual evidence would be nice.

Not that it matters. We don't really prioritize safety. We pay lip service to safety and then pursue other agenda. If safety was our first priority small cars wouldn't be allowed on roads; mortality and injury severity is substantially higher [wsj.com] for light vehicles. And no, it's not because SUVs are slaughtering Prius owners. It's physics; all else being equal [iihs.org] a small, light vehicle will more often kill or more severely injure you in a crash.

If everyone drove autonomous vehicles (1)

Enry (630) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706061)

I wouldn't have a problem with going the speed limit.

See, here's the thing. A lot of the traffic jams are because people are hopping lane to lane or cutting people off or really just not doing enough planning about where they want to go. Autonomous vehicles would know what lane to go in and what cars are around it so it would be able to plan appropriately. No more traffic jams (or at least greatly reduced)

When I drive from MA to NY, I may break the speed limit at times, but the average speed is still 50-55MPH because of traffic. In an autonomous vehicle that goes at the speed limit, it would shave close to 30 minutes off what is normally a 3 hour trip. And at no point do I have to speed. A trip into Boston no longer takes an hour in the morning - vehicles know where they're going and you get into town in a fraction of the time.

Longer term, it means that police departments no longer have a benefit of setting up speed traps - nobody is breaking the law, no tickets to write, no additional funding. Cities get no funding from red light cameras.

So here's the real question: Is this a tradeoff that we as society are willing to make? Do we give up the ability to break the law in order to get the benefit that we wanted out of that in the first place (i.e. get to your location quicker)?

V2V like the "baby on board" sticker (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47706107)

We've all seen those "baby on board" stickers/signs, with the intention being that you should keep your distance or take extra caution.

If I've got V2V enabled, I'd want to broadcast that my vehicle that is bigger than it really is. Or you could screw with people and spoof their car to tell other cars that the semi-truck is really a miata.

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