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Will Our Cars Become Our Chauffeurs?

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the home,-james dept.

Technology 792

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to this long article from EE Times about the 'Self-Navigating Vehicle,' the answer is a resounding yes. Many car experts think that autonomous vehicles which avoid collisions and communicate wirelessly with other cars will be the norm in two to three decades. In the meantime, the enabling technologies for self-navigating cars are emerging, from sensors embedded in the brake or accelerator pedals to more powerful computers. Already, partial solutions exist for adaptive cruise control or for staying in a highway lane. One day, we'll be able to do something else than driving our cars through traffic jams, saving us about two hours per working day. This is the future that engineers are building, but will you accept to be driven by your car? So many people like driving that the concept of a completely autonomous car might be delayed for psychological reasons, not technical ones. This summary contains selected details of the original article."

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Yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855282)

Yes, in the short term. No, after the computer revolution. Then we will drive around our new computer overlords.

Switchable (5, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855473)

I suspect it'll be some time before the cars are completely automated. I expect that cruise control will be expanded to essentially become an autopilot. The driver will have to turn the system on and will be able to retake control at any time.

I'd imagine that the first fully automated cars will be airport shuttles and similar vehicles which make a repeated circuit of stops. City buses and taxi cabs will come next, other commercial vehicles such as delivery vans and trucks, then finally personal automobiles. How much would a long haul semi-truck operation save if they could run their trucks 24/7 and didn't have to pay for drivers? That's a lot of profit to be had and profit drives innovation.

urban legends (2, Interesting)

kalpol (714519) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855288)

Like that guy who set his RV on cruise control and went in the back to make a sandwich? I smell disaster.

Re:urban legends (4, Funny)

ryanmfw (774163) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855382)

It was a good sandwhich too. Too bad the rescue crew pulled me out before I could eat the second half.

The Right Sandwich? (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855520)

Like that guy who set his RV on cruise control and went in the back to make a sandwich? I smell disaster.

It helps to be making the right sandwich [ebay.com]

...hail mary full of grace, with cheese and lightly buttered...

This would be great (2, Informative)

scaaven (783465) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855292)

I can't wait for the time when people don't over-break during a slowdown. It's the #1 cause of a traffic jam.

Re:This would be great (2, Funny)

PeteDotNu (689884) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855390)

At least it's not the #1 cause of a traffic accident.

Re:This would be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855403)

People slamming on the brake in front of me have been the number one cause of near misses in my experience.

Re:This would be great (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855480)

I can't wait for the time when people don't over-break[sic] during a slowdown. It's the #1 cause of a traffic jam.

Usually starts by someone having to hit their brakes at the head of a queue because some dipsh!t is changing lanes to get into a more advantageous lane (like some ass did to me this morning), rubber-neckers looking at the accident/flashing light/unusual litter/whatever or inattentive drivers who should get the fsck out of the lane if they're not going to go the speed of traffic. Cellphoners don't help, either, one hand on phone one hand on wheel, fraction of mind on road which should have 100% of their attention.

And I can't wait... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855528)

Until a time when people leave enough distance between them and the car in front of them to stop suddenly... Insufficient stopping distance is the #1 cause of over-braking (and accidents, too...)

Until (0, Troll)

Locdonan (804414) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855295)

Windows BSODs happen and we're SOL.

I don't think I could ever trust it (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855297)

It's one thing to trust a computer to do your taxes, it's quite another to trust one to hurl you down the street at 80 mph without killing you.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

loconet (415875) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855356)

I'd trust a well written, tested and proven piece of software more than I trust some of the drivers I've seen.

I'm already trusting computers with my health, flying, etc.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855393)

The main problem is that there will still be those drivers out on the road when you're being driven around by your new car.

It's either got to be all of one or all of the other. I don't think they'll mix well.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

loconet (415875) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855529)

very true. It has to be all of none.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

datbox (800756) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855366)

Umm..

You trust a computer to take you from the ground level to the 200th floor without dropping you.

This seems to be a natural progression to me.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855384)

There are lots of mechanical safeguards on an elevator that keep it from plummeting to the floor should the computer fail (as they often do).

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855400)

And there aren't safeguards in cars??

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855435)

I think elevators use their mechanical safeguards a lot less than you think. Yes, they're in place to serve a purpose should they be needed. But they almost never are needed. I ride the elevator every day and have never had problems with its computer failing.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (2, Insightful)

The Blue Meanie (223473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855425)

Red herring. Last time I checked, only one elevator ran on a track at a time. Combined with the fact that the elevator never CHANGES tracks, and that the only safety device needed is one to prevent a fall in a single direction, and the problem faced by an elevator's "computer" is ridiculously simple compared with what a car's driver faces every moment he/she is on the road.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

datbox (800756) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855479)

Hmm.. I'm suprised you didn't argue "Last time I checked, a car didn't go up and down". There are obvious differences between a car and an elevator.
Doesn't change the fact that in an elevator, the computer is in control (not you) as would be the case with the car.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (2, Insightful)

zx75 (304335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855367)

Really? Personally I would trust a computer to deliver me safely to my destination a lot more than I trust someone else to not hurtle their car into me at 120kph.

I think if properly tested, computerized vehicles would make far better driving decisions than a lot of people I know.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855389)

It's one thing to half-ass test tax software knowing you can just issue an update, it's another to heavily regulate and spend millions upon millions in carrying out extensive tests to insure the safety of those using it.

They won't just create this technology and throw it at us saying, "Have at it!"

Re:But how deep? (4, Insightful)

Slarty (11126) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855396)

Yeah, and you know that the first time there's a significant crash that can be blamed on the computer (whether it's true or not), safety folks will raise holy hell, and who knows what'll happen then to the whole concept then?

Although this argument never held much water with me. Consider all the tired drivers, drunk drivers, old people, teenagers, and in general crappy drivers on the roads. There's like, what, 60,000 deaths a year due to car crashes, and that's nearly all human error. Can't imagine computers doing worse job than we're doing already.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

PW2 (410411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855407)

The computer in my 1992 car is warped and sort of broken but I have used the car for years despite that issue.

The various red blinking lights makes passengers a little nervous, but we always get to the destination.

I agree that I'd hate to rely on a computer to do all of the driving!

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855418)

Look Bud, I don't know you, and there's a chance I wouldn't even like you if I did, so if your damned computerized car crashes, crashes and kills you, well, it's no nevermind to me (not that you should think I actually trust you in control of your car. I've seen the way you people drive).

But if it crashes, crashes and kills me I'm likely to get a bit peeved.

KFG

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

ToddML (590924) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855421)

After living in New York for awhile, I think I'd rather trust the computer than a NYC taxi driver. Some of those guys are insane.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

vidnet (580068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855424)

How about trusting it to land a plane at several hundred km/h? How about trusting it to hurl you down the atmosphere at a few tens of thousands km/h?

Quite frankly, I'm more worried about being killed by your jerking knees than a computerized car.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (3, Insightful)

oostevo (736441) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855429)

Have you flown recently?

For much of the flight, a computer is controlling the aircraft with the pilot and copilot only monitoring it.

I'd think if computers were safe enough to work in three dimensions controlling vehicles with a multitude of control surfaces, in two dimensions with only gas, brake, and steering, they'd be at least safer than most drivers on the roads today.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (3, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855498)

The difference is that the plane isn't completely surrounded by other planes that are inches away from colliding with it.

Re:I don't think I could ever trust it (1)

Zeelan (533372) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855495)

I don't know... we already trust computers in so many ways that I don't see this as being any different.

Autopilots fly planes for pilots... and could probable land them if programed right. The pilot is there for backup.

They are trusted for things like traffic lights, water treatment, sewer treatment, electricity distrobution, and phones.

Cars wouldn't be all that big a leap to the next level. Just sit back... read a paper or book on the way to work... work on your computer so that you can read your e-mail before you get there.

People wouldn't have any problem with it at all. Remember, the first application of it would be for large semi-trucks.

Zeelan

Amazing technological breakthrough (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855301)

One day, we'll be able to do something else than driving our cars through traffic jams,
America, may I introduce you to the concept of useable mass, public transport.

Public transport, this is America.

Have a nice day.

Re:Amazing technological breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855381)

Step down in conveniene vs. improvement in convenience.

There is no comparison.

Re:Amazing technological breakthrough (5, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855427)

Useable, mass public transport is a pipedream in the rural area where I live. If nobody is willing to run cable TV to us or even deliver a pizza, I doubt anybody would be willing to run a train rail. It just isn't economically feasable.

Re:Amazing technological breakthrough (1)

kovarg (591527) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855450)

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine from Edinborough.
He had come to the conclusion that we in the states will do anything for the sake of convenience. I don't know if that is true as my perspective on this is not great. In this circumstance his point might be that until public transit is more convenient than driving your own vehicle, we in the states won't really embrace public transit.

Sure there are tons of other infrastructure issues so my comments are an oversimplification.

fp (-1, Troll)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855302)

w00t

Benefit Number One (3, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855308)

As much as I hate to admit that it might be a step forward, think about the time saved if all cars began moving as soon as the light turned green (instead of waiting for each car in front of another).

That would shave lots of time right there.

Benefit Number Two (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855454)

Another would be for long drives. I'll admit that when I have to drive three hours to see family there are dozens of other things I would rather be doing: reading, working on the laptop, and playing with my kids, etc. That is when having a feature like this would make me all the happier.

Re:Benefit Number One (1)

someguy456 (607900) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855507)

think about the time saved if all cars began moving as soon as the light turned green (instead of waiting for each car in front of another).

Having sat through many stoplights, I have often contemplated this situation and solutions for it. I know exactly what you mean. It's even more ridiculous when you can't actually start moving forward until after the light has turned red again.

it's called the bus (3, Funny)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855315)

it's been around for years and it cost under $2 a ride

Re:it's called the bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855449)

And takes three times as long.

I like public transportation and I want it to work, but as long as the roads are crammed with cars, and public transportation means a bus will be along within 10 minutes, it's not going to work. There needs to be a concerted effort to reduce the number of cars on the road and increase the amount of public transportation.

Don't expect the auto oligopoly to take that lightly.

Re:it's called the bus (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855476)

And it limits your cargo-carrying capacity, ignores your schedule, subjects you to a bunch of wack jobs who can't afford any other kind of transportation, who may or may not be carrying a bunch of communicable diseases. Don't sit in the very front or the very back; the elderly sit in front and the mentally handicapped sit all over. Lots of those people have hepatitis and shit like that, because they are not equipped for the real world and they spend a lot of time going in and out of mental health organizations which are generally filled with very clean individuals. I say all this as a Santa Cruz native who used to work at County Health there, first as a MIS employee and later as a security guard.

Paranoid? Sure. But there's just a shitload of reasons why public transportation in most American cities is a joke. Santa Cruz's bus system is pretty good, there are a couple of buses that run until midnight and one (that goes to the university) that runs all night, and few buses run less often than once per hour, with the most popular lines running once per 15 minutes or per half hour. The sad truth is that buses are not cost-effective in most places and trains are useless without buses, so basically any non-major city will have a useless public transportation system, if any.

Think of the chauffeurs... (2, Funny)

ryanmfw (774163) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855317)

How could they wreck such a large industry! Do the cars have no feeling? No sense of right and wrong? Stupid cars! I say that we enact legislation to protect this industry vital to the nations industries.

Only if they allow drunk driving (1)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855330)

I mean, what's the purpose otherwise? I can easily see, unfortunately, a future where even being driven by your car, it's STILL illegal to be over the DUI limit.

Why, soon, I'll have to get out of my car to smoke too!

Re:Only if they allow drunk driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855490)

Why, soon, I'll have to get out of my car to smoke too!

Might as well since you're already throwing the butts out the window!

Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (4, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855332)

Drive around any large city these days, its total chaos. Jams used to be the exclusive domain of California, now they are in any city of a half million or more.

Having automated transport systems removing the human (idiot) factor will be essential to prevent utter gridlock in the future. The only other alternative is to stop immigrating people faster than we can expand the infrastructure they use. Yes this ultimately is the problem - highway construction cannot keep pace with US population growth.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (1)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855395)

The only other alternative is to stop immigrating people faster than we can expand the infrastructure they use.

You know, natives also have babies. Not everything is an immigration problem. Population growth = immigration + births - deaths. Should we sterilize every third person?

And we've had self-driving cars for hundreds of years. They're called trains.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855506)

Sorry, even the Federal govt has concluded in its own studies that immigration is outpacing construction of roads and bridges in major metropolitan areas. The birth rate in this nation is not what is behind the explosive US population growth, and this is fact, not opinion.

Look, I am not "ripping" on immigrants to the US - I AM ONE. I am just saying that the we are adding people to major metropolitan areas faster than we can erect the infrastructure they need.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (1)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855472)

No, that's not the problem at all. The problem is no one wants to pay for new highway construction until the traffic problem is already so bad that the highway to be constructed will be obsolete before it's even finished. If city planners designed construction projects 30 or even 50 years into the future, and the populace actually funded these projects things would improve.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855553)

No, that's not the problem at all. The problem is no one wants to pay for new highway construction

At least in the Bay Area of California (a famous traffic nightmare zone), this is totally false. Highway projects are fully funded by ballot measures and in fact run a small surplus. In fact a specific decision has been made in the Bay Area to stop expanding highways because this is just increasing sprawl, which leads to more traffic...which leads to more sprawl...yada yada.

There are just too many people coming into these areas too quickly.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855517)

Yes. Highway construction can't keep pace with US population growth yet that doesn't mean that cities should not invest in more public transportation system.

What is it with our obsession with the car?

As someone who lives in New York City, I take the subway and railroad every day for my commute. I even fall asleep on the rail when exhausted.

Probably even have a more constant commute time than the drivers in the city.

And, ya know that little bit of walking from a station platform to your office or home is actually healthy.

Re:Not just nice, ESSENTIAL (2, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855523)

I don't buy into this doom and gloom scenario of utter gridlock. I've heard it before many times. When traffic gets too heavy to get to work in a reasonable (according to your employer so it's a bit more than you probably consider reasonable) amount of time, your business will probably move out of the city and to a less populated area. This is happening in droves in Atlanta where businesses are moving to Norcross/Duluth, Marietta, and Alpharetta.

And we won't even have to shoot illegal immigrants as they try to cross the border.

No problems not driving (3, Funny)

scotay (195240) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855335)

They don't let me fly the plane, or drive the train or Trailways. I would give up driving my car in a second, and get back to the important stuff like drinking and smoking pot.

Boy's Life (0, Offtopic)

teiresias (101481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855336)

I remember a Boy's Life (the Boy Scout magazine) cover where they had self driving cars.

It's been a long time since I was a boy scout.

Don't get me wrong, I'm impressed with the technology that's coming out the door but it's been a promise for years with us not much farther ahead.

No time soon, methinks. (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855340)


In the USA, the risk of lawsuits will surely delay this kind of thing for a long time to come.

Sadly, that will probably mean more people get hurt in the long run.

Mass Transit (1, Insightful)

clinko (232501) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855343)

I take Mass Transit to be driven around.

I drive my car to get away from being driven around.

Re:Mass Transit (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855404)

Here in Indiana, mass transit is a bad idea. You can't run public transportation routes (subways, trains, even a bus) to every place you need to go. And you certainly don't want to walk five miles to your house (which may or may not be surrounded by corn fields) because the bus stop is so far away.

Self-navigating cars will be wonderful. I wouldn't expect 20-30 years, though. I'd say they're 50 years off. Right around the time we've finished weaning ourselves off of gasoline.

Probably not going to happen (1, Redundant)

Daverd (641119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855345)

It would be nice if we could suddenly switch over so that everybody was using this technology, but that's not going to happen. This doesn't seem like the kind of technology that can be slowly introduced. Why would you want to ride one of these cars when 99% of the cars on the road are still driven by people?

Pfft some of us are already doing it... (5, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855348)

Take an '83 Monte Carlo on a snowy/icy road, and pretty soon the car will be going all by itself, ignoring all user input "suggestions"...

Not that bad once you get used to it, really.

Obligatory Simpsons... (1)

DarkBlackFox (643814) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855349)

Lenny: Hey look, Homer has one of those self driving cars!

(Car crashes)

Carl: Yeah, one of those American self driving cars.

Psychological reasons!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855354)

I suppose that trusting my life in a high speed vehichle to the same genre of wireless hardware I find myself frequently reconfiguring and debugging is really my own psychological problem. I wonder if they can wirelessly detect snow, ice, small animals and things aside from neighboring cars. To say that a person is irrational to fear this kind of technology is like saying the famous last words "relax.. what could possibly go wrong?"

Pique alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855355)

Posted by michael on Thursday November 18, @12:03PM
from the home,-james dept.
Roland Piquepaille

Obligatory Family Guy Quote (1)

ajkst1 (630286) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855357)

"In Soviet Russia, car drives you!"

Would have helped last night... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855362)

Lost in a Thule (pronounced too-lee) fog on the way home (Homer Simpson voice: Damn you Thule Fog!) and ended up lost in Fort Ord (mostly closed military base) down dark streets past shuttered houses (oooEEEEoooEEEEoooo) and finding my way back to the Freeway about 20 minutes later, only to navigate 40 miles home in dark fog (Bad: Rain, Badder: Blizzard, Worse: Fog, Worsetest: Dark and Rain/Blizzard/Fog) My brain was fried from the concentration. Who needs video games, cripes!

Parking lots (2, Funny)

samspock (762514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855363)

I don't want my car to drive me on the highway but I would love it if it could drop me off a the curb, go park and pick me up when I push a button. Automatic Valet!

Re:Parking lots (1)

leinhos (143965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855456)

This is a good point. What's to stop people from sending their cars (without driver) to pick someone up somewhere. I can see it now, driver dummies to trick the car into thinking there's a responsible adult in the car!

What about the legalities? (4, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855365)

This is one of the few areas where I see the legal barriers as nearly insurmountable. What happens when the automatic driving system screws up? Whose insurance kicks in? Who assumes responsibility? It seems like the liability to automobile manufacturers who installed such systems would be huge. Would an insurance company really be willing to underwrite a system like this? Are you willing to assume responsibility yourself for the failure of an automated driving system?

Furthermore, you need black boxes and monitoring/recording systems - how do you know who was driving in an accident, the autopilot or the human driver?

Sure, planes have "autopilots" but there's very little stuff in the air to avoid, and lots of air traffic controllers and rules to basically make flying in a straight line in your own empty area of airspace possible.

Technical and psychological issues aside (and those issues are still huge), unless the system was flawless and perfect (which it won't be) I see the legal morass here as nearly insurmountable.

why? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855368)

Many car experts think that autonomous vehicles which avoid collisions and communicate wirelessly with other cars will be the norm in two to three decades

Hmm, okay...but my flying car already does that. Since I only have to pop my food pills in the rehydrator for about 10 seconds, I have much more time in the morning and so I'm not in as much of a rush to get to work.

...which is working for Jet & Teleport Inc, by the way. If my job isn't taken over by an automaton....

But officer. (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855369)

I didn't tell my car to speed, it was the pentium floating point bug!


Officer, I tried to stop for pedestrian in the cross walk, but then my car got the BSOD.


Saving 2 hours? I don't think so. (2, Insightful)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855371)

If you have those two hours to get to work and back, you can bet your ass that you'll be encouraged by the boss to "take advantage of the time" and be doing something related to your job in the car. They might not be able to enforce it legally, but the pressure out there will be high enough that I suspect many, many people will find themselves in a position to either accept it, or be worrying that they'll be the next guy out the door when layoffs come up.

Yes please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855378)

This is the future that engineers are building, but will you accept to be driven by your car?

Where do I sign up?

I think most people that want to drive should by no means be allowed to do so. I consider myself a decent driver, but I will even include myself in that group. War on Drugs...War on Terror. I'll take a War on Cars, which would actually save a significant number of lives!

hasnt it veered off into a cyborg already ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855379)

intelligent car ? why not build an intelligent robot first ? the logic says it is pretty close by. unless - it happens to be a controlled city - with everything controlled!!!

The problem is making the first step (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855383)

First you have to have an autonomous car that can work with other autonomous cars, AND cars that are not autonomous. Its not like everyone will wake up at the same day and have autonomous cars. And those cars have to be better than those that aren't autonomous. Will I be able to force my car to speed if I'm running late? Then maybe I'm better off doing my own driving. How will the car handle it if some moron is driving like a maniac around me? How will it avoid being smacked around if he tries to cut me off?

Re:The problem is making the first step (1)

belgar (254293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855552)

Will I be able to force my car to speed if I'm running late? ...(snip)...How will the car handle it if some moron is driving like a maniac around me?

Do you see the relationship there? I thought you might. :)

Auto-commute! (2, Interesting)

theluckyleper (758120) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855385)

To drive me to work in the morning, it would be great! Roll out of bed, into the car and sleep all the way there. Just need some kind of horizontal-auto-shower and auto-dressing units, and I'm all set!

Who needs consciousness?

2 hours a day? (1)

leinhos (143965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855394)

"...saving us about two hours per working day."

An hour commute? Man, I thought my 2.5 mile/10 minute commute was unbearable.

Think globally, work locally.

Re:2 hours a day? (1)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855469)

Think globally, get any job you can so your ass doesn't starve to death.

Re:2 hours a day? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855521)

That's what I was thinking. Sure, living in a medium south east US town has it's downfalls... we don't get FTTP as soon as everyone else, yeah there's hurricanes and tornados... But I can drive straight through town at 5:00pm on friday and be sitting down eating dinner before 5:30. Two hours a day? I MIGHT spend that much time on the road in one week.

johnny taxicab? (1)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855397)

So will this be like the Johnny TaxiCabs from "Total Recall"?

I like to drive myself, but ... (1)

thud2000 (249529) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855410)

If a system like this means that my car could drive me to the local MegaMall for Christmas shopping, drop me at the front door, and then come pick me up when I call it, then count me in.

I just hate Christmas shopping traffic.

All For It! (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855412)

Heh, I'm all for autodriven cars...as long as it's the other guy! As for me, I'll continue driving myself around. Why? It's more fun for me that way! ;)

Seriously, the best solution to our traffic problems has already been mentioned, public transit. If we'd ever get the public mass transit religion, the toll authorities would go broke...heyyyy...

Disastrous Consequences!! (1)

GreenPenInc (792018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855430)

That could have disastrous consequences [citypaper.com] !

Better Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855441)

A better question is not whether cars in two or three decades will drive us, but what will power them. Although I suppose if we fall back to horses and buggies, they have some amount of cruise control built in.

What about bicycles? (1)

trigeek (662294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855451)

Fine, the car can detect collisions with other cars, but can it detect collisions with bicycles and pedestrians? On most roads in the US, despite what people think, bicycles have equal access to the roads under the the law. 1. Will their sensors be able to detect a bicyclist? 2. Will they be able to identify it as a "cyclist" or will it presume that it's a ped 3. will the behavior modeling software (used to predict what the identified object will do next - essential for this type of system) be able to predict the behavior of a cyclist?

You made me laugh (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855514)

I thought you wanted a bicycle that automatically navigated. What do you want next, one that you don't have to pedal? You're living in a fantasy land.

Re:What about bicycles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855554)

Yea, poor robot would probably not even detect your presence under the wheels after rolling over you as you race through YOUR stop sign! You want all of the rights to the road but none of the responsibilities.

I, Robot (1)

unbiasedbystander (660703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855453)

Anybody actually watch this movie? Well, the automatic driving system kicked ass. Just be sure not to switch into manual at high speeds!

I see AI first (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855457)

I think we'll have artificial intelligence before we have self driving cars. Once you have AI, any software can learn its hardware by trial and error. I'm not saying you slap some AI into a beater car and let it loose into a few demolition derbies to get it warmed up, though that'd be fun. I'm saying AI will have an imagination space that can judge whats going on and what may happen in the future, while sensors are constantly updating whats going on. Sure, like their paper says there will be network communication between cars, but first you need a car that can drive itself without wrecking. I guess it COULD be done without AI, but the senors you need to understand the road are exactly the sensors that we don't have, so we can't make AI.

A paper I did on AI, its easy reading: www.geocities.com/James_Sager2

Great, so by the time I'm old enough to visit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855458)

... a farmer's market, cars will be smart enough to keep me away. Where's the fun in that, you young whippersnappers?

At times... (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855459)

I, for one, love driving. But I would use this for my commute to/from work. While buses and other forms of public transportation are great, the schedules or routes sometimes cause problems that make it unusable


Only if it comes with a robot in the front... (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855460)

..who says, "Hi. You're in a Johnny Cab!"

That would be bad ass.

Drivers Licenses? (2, Interesting)

MoeMoe (659154) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855467)

So what happens now when I get carded at the bar?

Not to be paranoid, but if something like this happens, then that's just more incentive for Big Brother to give each of us a universal ID card with built-in RFID tags, free of charge...

I will only be comfortable with this tech... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855484)

...when it is idiot-proof.

Specifically, since there are a plethora of idiots on the road that for some reason completely unknown to me have actually managed to get licensed to operate a road vehicle, the real dangers are not so much with other automated vehicles or even the unexpected deer crossing that the article mentions, it's the drivers on the road that don't actually know how to drive that are the real problem.

While it's all very well and good to say that these people shouldn't be on the road (they shouldn't, but it's beside the point), the fact of the matter is that they are, and it's up to the more competent drivers to compensate for their idiocy because otherwise lives would be lost.

Which brings to mind an interesting question...

What if one of these automated vehicles got into a wreck and it killed someone? Who would be responsible? The article talks about the "driver" of the car simply reading the newspaper while being chauferred, but what if the electronics on the vehicle miss a detail about the current road conditions (for example, a child suddenly darts out into the road)? Granted, a human could just as easily fail to react in time, but if the on board computer fails to react who is considered liable? Is it the auto manufacturer? the programmers? or the driver? I can tell you if it's the latter, this technology will never catch on because nobody will ever feel secure enough to use it.

The "joy" of driving... (1)

VE3ECM (818278) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855491)

I take the train and subway to work in NYC every day... I don't even think about driving in Manhattan during the daytime.

During the weekends, I enjoy going for a nice drive.

So what happens with the people who drive for fun? Do they get a special lane, a special highway, a special car?

This idea will never happen. Too many people enjoy driving for this to really catch on.

Much as I'd love to have this.... (1)

Futaba-chan (541818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855494)

autonomous vehicles. . . will be the norm in two to three decades

Didn't they say that two to three decades ago? I'd love to see this happen, but I can see manufacturer liability and the American love of being independent on the open road (and damn the consequences for the environment) being significant barriers to adoption, at least in the US. Especially so if there's any sort of infrastructure investment requirement, such as modifications to the roads themselves....

Never happen. (1)

The Blue Meanie (223473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855501)

Why will this never happen? Two words: product liability.

Look at the cost of a simple, single-engine general aviation aircraft. A good chunk of those costs go to pay for product liability insurance for the manufacturer. And aircraft are built with the assumption that they are being piloted by a trained, skilled, intelligent human being.

You shift the "skill" requirement to the computer, let any Joe Blow get behind the wheel, and the FIRST time the computer screws up and kills/injures/maims Mr. Blow, you're going to get sued into oblivion.

Sorry, unless the *legal* climate changes, this is one *technical* change I doubt will ever come to pass.

Roads don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855540)

How many lanes can a road scale, either wide or up, before each lane you add starts decreasing the efficiency? Maybe twelve, maybe twenty. Our current transportation system will collapse upon itself because of congestion long before energy costs or environmental concerns.

We can tweak the algorithm all we want but this architecture does not scale.

It will never happen (3, Insightful)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855542)

Most municipalities (and small towns) get their revenue from traffic tickets. If you make cars that never break the law, then bye, bye revenue!

Time for a new NRA the NCA (1)

Minter92 (148860) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855551)

National Car Association.

They'll pry my steering wheel from my cold dead hands.

My ride to work (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855556)

Consists of making a right turn, left turn, right turn, left, left, left, park.

after doing this for three days in a row.

Clippy: It seems you have navigated to the same point 3 times in a row, would you like to enable the Chauffeur Wizard?

Me: Sure why not?

during install

Clippy: Windows ME (Mobile Edition), offers several new features that make your driving experience more enjoyable. Your car now starts faster than ever, is more stable than ever, and you can even shut down your air conditioning and other processes without restarting your car.

First day: works fine

12th day:

So far so good, but I decide to put a New MP3 CD in the DEck.

Clippy: Windows ME is unable to play the desired file, would you like to download the proper codec?

Me: sure

Clippy: Windows ME has detected that you do not have the proper DRM licenese to play the requested file.

Me: @#%!#@%!#%, then don't play it then

Clippy: Windows ME can make a suggestion for a better route to your office, would you liek to enable the route wizard?

Me: No

Clippy: Windows ME has detected that you do not have the proper DRM licenese to play the requested file.

Me WTF?

Car....immediately heads for the open draw bridge.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.....splash

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