German scientists see golden future for 'self-driving' cars (Update)

Oct 13, 2010 by Simon Sturdee
The driverless "Made in Germany" (MIG) car, which from the outside looks like a regular Volkswagen Passat with a camera on top, is put through its paces at Berlin's disused Tempelhof airport. Its creators say self-driven cars will sharply reduce accidents, help the environment and transform cities.

Scientists in Germany unveiling the latest self-driven car Wednesday said the days of humans behind the wheel are numbered and that their technology can slash accidents and help the environment.

"In the future it will be forbidden for safety reasons for people to drive cars," predicted Raul Rojas, professor at Berlin's Free University (FU). "The cars of today are the horses of yesterday."

"In five to 10 years the technology could be applied in private areas like airports, factories or warehouses. On motorways ... in 10-20 years," Rojas told reporters. "In cities the obstacles could be removed in 20-30 years."

The car, dubbed the "Made in Germany (MIG)" by the FU, uses cameras, laser scanners, heat sensors and satellite navigation -- even in tunnels -- to "see" other vehicles and pedestrians and respond to traffic lights.

The technology will sharply reduce the number of cars on the road because people will no longer need their own vehicle so much, using instead driverless cars pooled in car-share schemes, the MIG's developers believe.

"Autonomous cars are the real 'green' cars," Mexican-born Rojas said. "We could use a fraction of the cars that we now have.

"If China and India want the same level of mobility as us, then the world is not big enough. The only real solution when it comes to sustainability and preserving resources is car-sharing."

According to the World Health Organisation, more than a million people are killed in road accidents worldwide every year and 50 million more are injured. Driverless vehicles can slash this, their proponents say.

"Cars that use sensors to recognise other vehicles, pedestrians and bikes will in future drive more safely than people who lose concentration and get tired," the FU said.

Prof. Dr. Raul Rojas of the Free University presents the "Made in Germany" (MIG) driverless vehicle in Berlin. German scientists unveiled the latest self-driving car, a phenomenon that its proponents say will sharply reduce accidents, help the environment and transform cities.

"The car has more information at its disposal than a human does now. A person can only see in front. This car can see in all directions at a range of 70 metres (yards)," said Rojas.

Auto industry analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer agreed that the technology could help reduce accidents if it comes to fruition but he is sceptical about the benefits for the environment.

"The various pilot projects around the world look interesting but it remains to be seen whether they will really turn out to be reliable," Dudenhoeffer told AFP, adding: "Climate protection is secondary."

The MIG, which from the outside looks like a regular Volkswagen Passat with a camera on top, was put through its paces at Berlin's disused Tempelhof airport on Thursday but it has already been tested on public roads.

A human being was inside -- but only for if things went wrong. Nothing did, with the car stopping while a couple with a pram crossed the road, or steering around a parked car -- all without human intervention.

It is by no means the first self-driving car, however.

A view of the trunk of the driverless "Made in Germany" (MIG) car, which from the outside looks like a regular Volkswagen Passat with a camera on top. Its creators, from Berlin's Free University, say self-driven cars will sharply reduce accidents, help the environment and transform cities.

Scientists at Germany's Braunschweig last week demonstrated a driverless car called "Leonie" in real traffic conditions, while other road tests have been conducted in Italy and elsewhere.

US technology giant Google said this week that its driverless cars -- but also with a human inside -- have already travelled 140,000 miles (225,000 kilometres) around the San Francisco Bay area.

Engineers working with both Google and Berlin's FU took part in 2007 in the DARPA Urban Challenge organised by the US government, involving driverless cars developed by 35 teams from around the world.

"Back then it was just a competition in California. Now it's a global race, and this time on real roads with a much greater degree of complexity compared to 2007," Rojas said.

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User comments : 64

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rgwalther
5 / 5 (12) Oct 13, 2010
The sooner this is perfected, the better for everyone.
crecentnola
1.8 / 5 (15) Oct 13, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.
jjoensuu
2.6 / 5 (13) Oct 13, 2010
"In the future it will be forbidden for safety reasons for people to drive cars"

After all you might want to drive somewhere where The Government would not want you to drive...

:-)
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (62) Oct 13, 2010
Social engineers (progressive left) want to tell you what you can drive, where, and how. It doesn't end with cars folks. They will control your thermostat, amount of water you can use, (since they control health care) what you can eat or not, etc , etc, all in the name of safety or the environment,... all based on social statistics and without regard to constitutional rights. Of course the vast majority WANT TO drive their own cars, and there already exists trains and buses,.. but you see your choice to drive is the problem they want to fix. The progressive left and the social engineers they employ don't care about freedom of choice.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (18) Oct 13, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.

Never being stuck in traffic again, sleeping or reading on the way to work, no more accidents, no fear of your kids getting hit by distracted drivers, no more calling a cab when you've had a few to drink, the benefits far outweigh the loss of "pleasure" gained from driving.

I liked driving when I was 16, by the time I was 18, I was fed up with it, driving sucks.
After all you might want to drive somewhere where The Government would not want you to drive...
I'm quite sure we'd all like to restrict the autodrive feature to highways and streets.

If you want to go offroad, enjoy to your heart's content.

At least let the highway be an autodrive so I don't have to get stuck behind a jackass for an hour.
Noumenon
4.1 / 5 (64) Oct 13, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.
It's one thing if this idiotic idea caught on in a free market ( if people wanted this), but it will not as people have an intrinsic desire to make their own decisions, drive in freedom, not in lock step. The only context in which such an idea could ever see the light of day is in a socialistic big government.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.1 / 5 (13) Oct 13, 2010
It's one thing if this idiotic idea caught on in a free market ( if people wanted this), but it will not as people have an intrinsic desire to make their own decisions, drive in freedom, not in lock step. The only context in which such an idea could ever see the light of day is in a socialistic big government.
Are you saying that you enjoy traffic jams and car accidents? Perhaps you llike idling away a tank of gas in your car while inching along at 5 miles an hour in your car that can do 55? Computers can outperform human beings in mundane tasks. Once there is an acceptable control and data scheme your commute could be like hopping on a rollercoaster.

If you remove the ability to make mistakes you free the vehicle to travel at far higher speeds with no increased risk. Who wouldn't want to kick back, sip a coffee, read the paper, and fly to work at 100 mph effortlessly?
trekgeek1
4.4 / 5 (14) Oct 13, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.


Too bad, too many people die each day from car accidents and I'll sleep better knowing my wife is safe driving around while I'm at work. As one of the comments said, go off roading or to a special road designated for manual driving. This autonomous systems is designed for efficiency and SAFETY. I've heard of far too many people dying needlessly for the "pleasure" of driving.
Nanoparticler
4.4 / 5 (13) Oct 13, 2010
... all based on social statistics and without regard to constitutional rights. Of course the vast majority WANT TO drive their own cars, and there already exists trains and buses,.. but you see your choice to drive is the problem they want to fix. The progressive left and the social engineers they employ don't care about freedom of choice.


Regard to constitutional rights? There is no right to drive. Driving is a privilege, and not dying while travelling is a privilege that far exceeds someone else's privilege to drive like a lunatic. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but as far as the US Constitution goes, this kind of network-controlled system is unquestionably legal. Not to mention flat out awesome. Eric Schmidt summed it up best with: "It is an evolutionary bug that the car was invented before the computer...I can't believe we still let people drive cars."
Noumenon
4.3 / 5 (60) Oct 13, 2010
Computers can outperform human beings in mundane tasks
That is false. Driving a car at speed is not a mundane task. To take into consideration everything visually necessary to control a vehicle safely at speed requires a thinking mind, which has evolved millions of years to analyze visual images. Having been a professional programmer for years I can tell you this will never work, unless there is some infrastructure in place in which case it just becomes a Bus anyway, there are too many unexpected things to take into consideration. I read the same non sense 20years ago, and nothin is new today.
Observe
3.5 / 5 (11) Oct 13, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.


Regardless of whether some people like to drive their cars or not is irrelevant. Likewise whether car companies support this or not should also be irrelevant.

If someone’s idea of freedom is driving faster than the speed limit, or accelerating from 0-60 quicker than anyone else, then I suggest that person has serious self-esteem issues, and probably should have their license revoked anyway.

rgwalther
4.1 / 5 (10) Oct 13, 2010
Noumenon.
You are right! Why if this were possible, unmaned spaceships could be sent to land on other planets. Poppycock! Terrain hugging UAVs could navigate hundreds of miles to fly through a 3x3 window. Balderdash!
Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Luddites rule!
Stick to your 'programming', and keep your Tin Lizzy off my automated vehicle future.
Noumenon
4.4 / 5 (60) Oct 13, 2010
@Nano, I don't think your getting what I am saying. There are any number of "problems" like this that can in principal have engineered solutions enforced by a government. In fact in principal there is no end to it. Imagine all the lives you could save by controlling what people eat, imagine the health care cost savings. What about the environment? Imagine all the energy you could save, all the co2 you could prevent by controlling peoples air conditioning, or how fast they can drive, or what they can drive. There is effectively no end to social engineering, but in the end it's not a society people will want to live in. The experiment has been performed before, and failed with millions dead; read history.
Noumenon
4.5 / 5 (57) Oct 13, 2010
Noumenon.
You are right! Why if this were possible, unmaned spaceships could be sent to land on other planets. Poppycock! Terrain hugging UAVs could navigate hundreds of miles to fly through a 3x3 window. Balderdash!
Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Luddites rule!
Stick to your 'programming', and keep your Tin Lizzy off my automated vehicle future.


Your examples are not comparable to controlling cars that opperate amongst other unexpected objects, not to mention one of them is designed to crash. In anycase I said it WAS possible if some infrastructure was in place.
ontheinternets
4 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2010
I imagine it would be far easier to migrate to this sort of system if they didn't have to drive amongst cars which are driven by people. I would love it if we could move to it at once (or do away with cars in any other fashion - I've lived somewhere where everyone used to ride bikes but it had to end because cars became popular and the cyclists were dying. Thanks people), but there are many places where this is not a political possibility.

Next best is having all cars (human-driven or not) broadcast a bit of useful information that can be picked up by surrounding vehicles at short range. Pedestrians and non-vehicles are another issues -- but we already know heavy machinery is dangerous and act accordingly.
melajara
5 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2010
I think people here don't get the main point besides security advantages. This point is CAR SHARING.
Imagine you want to go from A to B. Say millions of other people around you want to go from A' to B', C to D, B to A ... etc. Now let all these people communicate (e.g. via smartphone) their desires to a central service, if possible in a reasonable time ahead before scheduled transportation. Now the service can optimize the placement of its cars ressource in order to minimize either the fuel needed (environment) or the amount of cars per area or the average travel time or a combination of whatever relevant parameters (e.g. traffic congestion). This becomes a classical operations research problem perfectly addressable by a network of communicating cars.
I'm quite sure this is the future of ground transportation, at least before the advent of "legged" cars ;-)
Noumenon
4.6 / 5 (55) Oct 13, 2010
@ontheinternets,
Yes, I agree you would have to do an experiment say in a particular city, where as you say no man operated cars allowed, only Homer Simpson cars. Then, what do you end up with? Basically, an over engineered trolly system.
I do hope these guys get funded so they can play, because they may actually come up with some tech they can sell to car companies.
Thrasymachus
2.1 / 5 (16) Oct 13, 2010
If this tech were to be made available tomorrow, people driven cars would become completely obsolete within 10 years without any additional government intervention necessary, for the simple reason that it will be much more expensive to operate and maintain a manually operated automobile, and because insurance companies would refuse to cover cars with human drivers or charge exorbitant rates to do so. You wingers are really quite delusional.
Gawad
3.2 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2010
There are any number of "problems" like this that can in principal have engineered solutions enforced by a government. In fact in principal there is no end to it.Imagine all the lives you could save by controlling what people eat, imagine the health care cost savings.
The difference is that when you stuff Big Macs down your throat and wash them down with a pack of smokes the only life you are endangering *is your own*. When you drive like an a-hole you're putting *other people directly at risk*. Or is that not an obvious enough difference?
What about the environment?
Already noted as being of secondary concern in the article.
There is effectively no end to social engineering.... The experiment has been performed before, and failed with millions dead; read history.
The notion of making manual driving illegal may be over the top; with an alternative it could be made prohibitively expensive for the irresponsible. Read the article again, without the Red Menace filters on.
Noumenon
4.5 / 5 (57) Oct 13, 2010
@thrasymachus,
And You read too many sci-fi comic books. The idea of computer controlled cars has been around for decades. The auto companies don't want to touch this with a ten foot pole because of liability; the exact opposite of what you are saying. There are too many factors to take into consideration, that only a visual analysis system on the level of a mind can deal with; computers are no where close. As an analogy, consider software where it is not possible to write bug free code. Not even a company like Microsoft with billions, can they write software that doesn't require weekly bug updates.
Thrasymachus
2 / 5 (15) Oct 13, 2010
Computers are close enough now to be able to drive on Interstate highways with fewer accidents than humans commit. Driving more slowly where there are more likely obstacles is what's hard, and that's coming pretty quickly too. You overestimate the difficulty of the task and underestimate the ability of programmers to tackle that task. The only thing you're not wrong about is liability concerns. It's probably the only reason we don't already have cars capable of limited self-driving on the roads already, and what with auto-steering and brake corrections, we're most of the way there already. All it takes is a minor adjustment to liability laws, however, and there won't be any stopping this tech.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2010
Computers can outperform human beings in mundane tasks
That is false. Driving a car at speed is not a mundane task. To take into consideration everything visually necessary to control a vehicle safely at speed requires a thinking mind, which has evolved millions of years to analyze visual images. Having been a professional programmer for years I can tell you this will never work, unless there is some infrastructure in place in which case it just becomes a Bus anyway, there are too many unexpected things to take into consideration. I read the same non sense 20years ago, and nothin is new today.


The fact that you say it will never work proves you don't know what you are talking about. It will work eventually. So what if you've heard it for 20 years, people wrote about space travel hundreds of years before it happened. You have a very poor imagination.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2010
@thrasymachus,
And You read too many sci-fi comic books. The idea of computer controlled cars has been around for decades. The auto companies don't want to touch this with a ten foot pole because of liability; the exact opposite of what you are saying. There are too many factors to take into consideration, that only a visual analysis system on the level of a mind can deal with; computers are no where close. As an analogy, consider software where it is not possible to write bug free code. Not even a company like Microsoft with billions, can they write software that doesn't require weekly bug updates.


True, you will never have perfect code, that is why our "perfect" human brain image analysis software fails and we have car accidents! Why would you expect a computer to be 100% driving if you aren't. Can't you just settle for better than human? Guess what buddy, Moore's law on the way! We'll have computers that are equivalent to human brains soon enough.
plasticpower
1 / 5 (5) Oct 14, 2010
All I have to say to FU is this: F U.
I'm not sharing a car with anyone. F THAT.
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2010
Given the long time frame before adoption, all the companies and universities developing this technology should share information freely.
YouAreRight
5 / 5 (4) Oct 14, 2010
@Noumenon
The idea of computer controlled cars has been around for decades. The auto companies don't want to touch this with a ten foot pole because of liability;


I have to argue this point, do you know how many operations in my car are NOT executed by a computer. About 1, The hand brake is mechanical.

When I press the accelerator, turn the steering wheel, when I want to escape the car through a door or window, the computer has to allow it.

Every car is now controlled by a computer running CAN-bus, even light bulbs have micro-controllers connected to the internal network.

My opinion is the car companies are already deeply involved with liability. It's an inevitability that autonomous vehicles will come. No one can predict exactly when, though when you think the technology has only been feasible (as far as I'm aware) since 2005 when Stanford University won the DARPA Grand Challenge http://en.wikiped...hallenge we are advancing very rapidly.
simpletim
4.3 / 5 (4) Oct 14, 2010
An automatic car does not preclude you from driving, it helps you. Think of this more as an automated cruise control system that also prevents you from smashing into anything.

The liability for the manufacturer is the same as existing cruise control systems. If you leave your cruise control on and smash into the back of someone it's your fault.
Sancho
not rated yet Oct 14, 2010
Ridiculously over-thunk, this technology. A much simpler solution is "dual-mode" transportation, proposed and developed in Europe and to a less extent in the US. With this technology, vehicles have the ability to enter a light rail network, where all traffic is computer controlled. No need for lasers, radars, etc. This system makes all-electric cars practical (they recharge while on the rail grid), and very high speeds are possible. No traffic jams, stop lights or drunk drivers (no drivers at all) on the grid. Commuter cars can be exited downtown and parked automatically off-site. Off the grid, cars are driven conventionally. The system is scalable, and over time, as the money becomes available, it can be expanded to included more and more highways. Rail reduces friction of course, and stop-and-go driving is eliminated, so fuel economy can be spectacular. One developer estimated the cost of installing a "starter" freeway grid in LA at only a couple of billion dollars.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 14, 2010
And You read too many sci-fi...
Like Brave New World and 1984?
The idea of computer controlled cars has been around for decades.
But the processing power and sensors haven't really been mature and inexpensive enough for common consumption.
The auto companies don't want to touch this with a ten foot pole because of liability;
Does that explain why all the high end vehicles and some midrange are comming with limited auto drive functionality?
There are too many factors to take into consideration, that only a visual analysis system on the level of a mind can deal with; computers are no where close.
Now you're speaking far out of your depth.
As an analogy, consider software where it is not possible to write bug free code.
Never happen, as human beings aren't perfect, therefore our products necessarily won't be perfect.
Not even a company like Microsoft with billions... doesn't require weekly bug updates.
Gross underestimation of the task at hand.
fixer
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2010
Since I no longer live in the city I enjoy driving.
When I go to town I catch a train.
I don't want to be zapped by radar, laser etc from every car that passes me when I am out walking, and I appreciate the security of my own vehicle.
I would not buy into this tech unless I was an invalid.
Javinator
5 / 5 (3) Oct 15, 2010
The liability for the manufacturer is the same as existing cruise control systems. If you leave your cruise control on and smash into the back of someone it's your fault.


I disagree. The decision maker is the one responsible/liable.

Cruise control does nothing but maintain speed. The driver still chooses the speed and chooses to leave cruise on. The driver is still the one in control of the car and is responsible for the actions of the car.

With an "auto-drive" car, the driving decisions are now being made by the computer. As such, the computer is liable for any smashing done while it is in control since the computer is choosing speed/steering wheel positioning/braking/etc. . Since a computer can't be liable, the designer/manufacturer would be.

Thus the liability would definitely not be the same as for existing cruise control systems.
JoeySimpson
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 15, 2010
I laugh when I hear all of these kids whining about wanting to drive their own cars! Sorry pops, this is the future, we want zero accidents, and it's the only way. Go play with your car on private land, big boy!
Thrasymachus
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 15, 2010
Jav's got it right. But I don't think it'll take a major overhaul of liability law to see these things in practice. Every licensed vehicle on the road already is supposed to be insured, and that insurance is paid for by the owners. Insurance companies might not like having to pay for an accident caused by a malfunctioning computer, but they already have to pay for some idiot who crashes while texting on their cellphone, eating their McD's, balancing hot coffee in their laps and preening in the rear-view mirror. And since driving without insurance is already a crime, that would apply to these auto-driving cars as well. Don't get your car insured and it messes up, you have to pay for the damages yourself.
luggite
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
Will this technology revolutionize travel as we know it when sufficient infrastructure is in place? I think the answer is yes. Will this technology erase traffic jams and the irritating aspects of driving? I think not because the fundamental problem with traffic jams is that there are just too many people on the road, and, jerks will still be in the lane next to you shining a laser pointer in your face. The best potential of this technology is that it makes a computer deal with traffic while I can be doing something more interesting with my brain. I just can't get past this feeling that someone might be trying to sell me something... Hmmm... Why is that? Just one more thought: what happens when someone infects your car with a computer virus?
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2010
People always fear technology because any and all technology can be used to liberate or oppress. This does not mean technology is bad, it just means that it's implementation must be approached cautiously. With the invention of steel came both better structures and better swords, but that does not make steel good or bad. It is a technology as good or bad as the people who implement it. If you believe we should not implement this potentially useful technology because of risks of abuse by corporations or the government, then you effectively say that about all technology, and I'll be damned if I'm going back to the dark ages.

Get off your political high horse and realize you don't get to tell us all what to do and what we can and cant build in the name of your "freedoms" and "constitution". Why not live by your own rules and keep out of other people's business. If people like self driving cars, let the market decide, not you.
Barniclese
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
Sounds cool. A car that requires more extensive and expensive inspection fees with 10x more hardware components that you cannot legally adjust yourself for safety reasons. It will basically be like getting a computer from dell where your warranty is void if you open the hood. Sir, we are charging you for manslaughter because there was some dust on visibility sensor which resulted in the wreck where a passenger was killed. Would you like to purchase our component failure insurance to protect you in case any one of your single-point-of-failure systems crash while the car is operating? We can decrease your insurance cost if you buy the triple redundancy package which includes triple the hardware so if a system goes down another takes over and dual systems monitoring computer to detect any failures and automatically shut the car down. It is kind of like a check engine light but will completely disable your vehicle pending service by a qualified field service technician.
Barniclese
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
With an "auto-drive" car, the driving decisions are now being made by the computer. As such, the computer is liable for any smashing done while it is in control since the computer is choosing speed/steering wheel positioning/braking/etc. . Since a computer can't be liable, the designer/manufacturer would be.

Thus the liability would definitely not be the same as for existing cruise control systems.


Not necessarily. The car including its maintenance plan would have to be solely the responsibility of the manufacturer. If the periodic maintenance was left up to the consumer that simply missing your monthly laser alignment will put you at fault. The only way this would work is if the car would either drive itself to a maintenance bay before the maintenance was due or completely shut down until the car could be towed or serviced in the field. Sounds like you'll be paying for a car, a navigational computer w/sensor array, a maintenance plan, and FEES FEES FEES.
Joeviocoe
5 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2010
The car including its maintenance plan would have to be solely the responsibility of the manufacturer. If the periodic maintenance was left up to the consumer that simply missing your monthly laser alignment will put you at fault. The only way this would work is if the car would either drive itself to a maintenance bay before the maintenance was due or completely shut down until the car could be towed or serviced in the field. Sounds like you'll be paying for a car, a navigational computer w/sensor array, a maintenance plan, and FEES FEES FEES.


Duh! If a driver fails to replace brake pads and rotors at regular intervals, and they fail... who is liable for the inevitable accident???
Read you Insurance Policy people!

And "Laser Alignments" are not like suspension alignments that get thrown off easily. Lasers can self align by using reference points on the car itself. They are not bulky mechanical hard points like tow, camber, and castor.

Shootist
3.2 / 5 (9) Oct 17, 2010
Eric Schmidt summed it up best with: "It is an evolutionary bug that the car was invented before the computer...I can't believe we still let people drive cars."


Eric Schmidt is a nitwit.

" . . . The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." - Robert A. Heinlein
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
Driving is for Droids.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2010
"I'm not sharing a car with anyone" - Turd

No one cares what you think.
purringrumba
5 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2010
Social engineers (progressive left) want to tell you what you can drive, where, and how...

Assuming that the technology actually works, and reduces accident rates dramatically, it will be the insurance companies that will make manual driving prohibitively expensive for most folks. Put yourself in the position of an insurance company, trying to maximizing profit: you'd offer a separate insurance policy for robotic cars at a lower premium (still more profitable than covering human-driven cars).

Auto insurance policies covering manually driven cars will still be available, but they will be overly expensive for most people, especially after most of safety-minded people have chosen to own robotic cars and only few aggressive human drivers are left to insure each other. Simply market forces at work.

Ironically, protecting people's privilege to drive at a reasonable cost by dictating some government-mandated insurance price would be social engineering.
TAz00
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
This is silly. Some people actually LIKE to drive their cars. Why would car companies support this? Who would pay for a supercharged V8 if the computer only drove 55 mph and accelerated 0-60 at some boring measured pace.


Have you heard of racing tracks? you think they will replace race drivers? trackdays? not in our lifetime
CreepyD
not rated yet Oct 18, 2010
I cant' see car sharing taking off with random people. Your car is your own personal bubble where you're comfortable, play your own music etc.
Also what if the computer crashes while you're on a fast highway. Computers have and always will crash.. I can't see a solution to that and there will be no-one to blame for the deaths caused apart from the manufacturer.
Javinator
not rated yet Oct 18, 2010
Not necessarily. The car including its maintenance plan would have to be solely the responsibility of the manufacturer.


Joe's got it right.

It is already the manufacturer's responsibility to define the maintenance plan for the car. It is the car owner's responsibility to follow it.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (4) Oct 18, 2010
I cant' see car sharing taking off with random people. Your car is your own personal bubble where you're comfortable, play your own music etc.

This is the same argument that was used against public transportation and it failed there as well.
The majority of the subway system is computerized, and that is the largest example of ride sharing. The policies in place there can be extrapolated to the automated auto idea. The difference here would be that rather than needing to have few large hub stops you could have many smaller stops due to the larger volume and independence of the transport. Think from a network perspective. The internet has a few hub regions where there will be tons of traffic (train stations and subway stations) then there will be smaller segments where there will be less directed traffic and more individual needs based traffic (automatic cars and buses). The fees can be collected as appropriate and automatically like taxis. It's a very easy trade off.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
I think people here don't get the main point besides security advantages. This point is CAR SHARING.

I partially agree.  Car sharing is certainly one of the beneifts.  Many other benefits have also been mentioned.  I would say safety would rank much higher on the importance scale, but without diminishing the car sharing benefit, which is both exciting AND scary.  I don't want to be FORCED into this.  It should be an individual choice.  Certainly, the next step would be, now you have to share AT THE SAME TIME... with strangers in the car with you.  The same arguments will be given for efficiency and THAT is scary.

I WANT this tech, but coinciding with personal liberty, NOT at the expense of it.

CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
The only thing you're not wrong about is liability concerns. It's probably the only reason we don't already have cars capable of limited self-driving on the roads already, and what with auto-steering and brake corrections, we're most of the way there already. All it takes is a minor adjustment to liability laws, however, and there won't be any stopping this tech.

There are already a couple of cars with limited self driving on the roads now. There are self-parallel parking cars and cars that follow on the interstate... more of an advanced cruise control that auto brakes if the traffic ahead slows and picks back up again. The driver still steers though.

But, regarding programming... I've been programming basically my whole life. It's my passion. I can tell you you, without hesitation, that I absolutely will NOT trust the lives of my loved ones to the CURRENT tech. Maybe in 20 years, it'll start to be close enough. The problems now are dealing with unexpected conditions...
CSharpner
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
(Contunied...)
... undefined lanes, temporary roads and exits (make-shift lanes), hardware failure (how to deal with basic car mechanical issues... flats, busted hoses, etc...). And we need super redundancy in computer hardware and software. We need internal networks that cooperate for decisions. We need different types of hardware with software written by different teams for redundancy and to make sure that when a certain condition causes one to crash, they don't all crash AND can recover. I'm confident these will eventually be addressed and done better than humans, but we're a long ways off from that.

I DO look forward to that day though. We'll get there eventually. In the meantime, we can start working on sensible legislation for liability and also to preserve personal liberty. There's no reason why we can't have BOTH liberty AND tech.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
Get off your political high horse and realize you don't get to tell us all what to do and what we can and cant build in the name of your "freedoms" and "constitution". Why not live by your own rules and keep out of other people's business. If people like self driving cars, let the market decide, not you.

Well said, but you must understand... That's the EXACT argument being made against big government potentially forcing us all into it. I love this tech and want it here as quickly as possible. Read that sentence 3 more times before getting to the next part.

At the the same time, just like you say, "Get off your political high horse and realize you don't get to tell us all what to do." (Your words, not mine)... I'd have said it a little nicer, but the point is the same. I think the majority of us want this tech. I'd prefer it as an OPTION and not forced upon us. Please note, you disdained arguments for freedom while at the same time declaring your own freedom with thi...
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
continued...

Please note, you disdained arguments for freedom while at the same time declaring your own freedom with this phrase "realize you don't get to tell us all what to do". THAT is the freedom we're all talking about. Many of the comments here directly "want to tell us all what to do" by dorcing us all into the tech, with no opt-out. You are clearly pro-freedom by your direct declaration of it. Why not be in favor of it for those that choose to opt out of this tech?
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
continued...

Please note, you disdained arguments for freedom while at the same time declaring your own freedom with this phrase "realize you don't get to tell us all what to do". THAT is the freedom we're all talking about. Many of the comments here directly "want to tell us all what to do" by dorcing us all into the tech, with no opt-out. You are clearly pro-freedom by your direct declaration of it. Why not be in favor of it for those that choose to opt out of this tech?


Perhaps he supports freedom with limits. Everyone has limits to their freedoms that are imposed by responsibility. You can't just have an open camp fire next to a dry forest or fly an airplane that doesn't meet safety requirements. Similarly, humans are idiots, bad drivers, and risk the lives of others when operating a vehicle. You don't get to have certain freedoms when the risks become too great. Look at vehicle fatalities, they are too great at this moment.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2010
THAT is the freedom we're all talking about. Many of the comments here directly "want to tell us all what to do" by dorcing us all into the tech, with no opt-out.

Csharp, would you want people to have the freedom to opt out of traffic lights or would you prefer they follow an established and standard rule of the road?

I can see providing two infrastructures. Autodrive as mandated on all federal, state, and locally maintained roads, and manual drivers can use the private roads to their heart's content.
dswing
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
When the "horseless carriage" was contrived, it came with a buggy-whip holder. People didn't trust a motor to do all the work, and besides wagons just always came with buggy-whip holders.

The steering wheel is today's buggy-whip holder.

At first "driverless-cars" (see: "horseless carriages") will have old-timey "steering wheels", then smaller, retractable ones for emergencies (or joysticks, what have you) ... then eventually none.

By the time my son (now 2) is old enough to drive, he won't need to.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
Csharp, would you want people to have the freedom to opt out of traffic lights or would you prefer they follow an established and standard rule of the road?

It's a fair question and analogy. The answer's a 2 parter:

First part: Yes, when clearly no one is coming from any direction, there's no reason to sit there. The human brain is smarter than a traffic light (well, most human brains :)

Second part: No, not when there's traffic around that's actually being safely routed by the traffic light.

But, to respond to the real meaning of your question: I want to be in control of my safety. I *DO* want a self-driving car, but I definitely want to override at any moment and for as long as I deem necessary. At no point do I want that control force-ably taken away from me. Just as security vulnerabilities are found daily in Windows, the same will likely be true in the driving OS. Just as I have the ability to disable adons for browsers on my PC and updates for my OS [ran out of spa
CSharpner
not rated yet Oct 18, 2010
(continued...)
Having been a programmer for the last 28 years, I know how we programmers think and how we constantly miss or mess up really important logic, regardless of all the best practices we put into play. As confident as I am in my own work (and just like most programmers, I've got an ego about my abilities much bigger than my pants), I would not trust the lives of my loved ones to this technology... at least, not YET.

When this tech becomes available and legal to use (probably 10 years out), it's not something I'd trust on the first public run (you know what they say about v1.0 software). When it's been actively developed and tested and upgraded for maybe 20 years (30 years out), I might start to trust it enough. I just know programmers too well and I know the errors we constantly leave in our code, completely unintentionally... even after review by many more programmers.

Using Windows as a comparison, I could see 50 years out this possibly being almost robust enough.
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2010
CSharpner I am sorry that you seem to have misunderstood what I was saying, you somehow found disagreement when I actually was saying the same thing as you. A miscommunication, they happen all the time, nothing to worry about. However I feel the need to say that my entire point was that people will choose the route they want to take without government interference. In fact I believe that consumer choice plus insurance company economics will make this the technology of choice on the roads very quickly with no government intervention at all. If there is any infringement of your liberties as a result of this, it will be due to the insurance companies not the government.
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2010
I am also a programmer and have been my entire life. While I agree that computers are often untrustworthy and prone to failure, you should also know that most of that instability stems from the onion like nature of software abstraction layers. A well engineered system build at hardware level with redundant reliable components WILL be more reliable then a human driver. Though I agree having a manual override is worth it, as in that rare case of failure it will save lives.
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2010
lol I got 1 rated for god knows what
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (51) Oct 24, 2010
lol I got 1 rated for god knows what

Hmm so did I (?). Every one of my posts warranted a 1, mesa?
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2010
I didn't -1 all of them, just the one's I thought warrented it. That's not against the rules. If you did so for the same reason then so be it. However I'd be curious to know what reason that could be beyond trolling seeing as how I was simply telling Csharpner that I agree with what he was saying, something that had nothing to do with you. If you disagreed with any particular points I made, please feel free to elaborate.
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (51) Oct 24, 2010
Mesa, you gave me 23 one's in a row and never debated with me. You just accused me of doing what you did to me!!! Some of those posts I was just stating plain facts or responding to someone else.
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (50) Oct 24, 2010
The purpose of the ratings is so that one can use the post filter above, to filter out posts that are not in anyway related to the article or discussion that follows, not a agree/disagree gauge.
Mesafina
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2010
Sorry Noumenon, after having looked back over the discussion a second time, I may have been hasty on some of those ratings. I still stand by some of them but agree that I should have at least offered you the courtesy of a response as to why as well. So I do apologize, I made a mistake, and thank you for pointing it out. While I know we disagree on many things I know you are a likely a decent enough fellow and that both of us ultimately just want what's best for people. I'll make an effort to be a little more responsible in my posting/rating practices.

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