Google develops self-driving cars

After a long night of drinking, you walk to your car, turn on the ignition, and drive home.

Only you aren’t doing the driving, your car is. That’s Google’s vision of the future and if their testing is any indication, that future is closer than you may think.

According to the report, Google has seven test cars that have driven a total of 140,000 miles in traffic with only minimal human interaction. During the public showcase, the car started at Google’s campus, merged onto Highway 101, then exited the highway, stopping at lights and stop signs while announcing its intentions to the people in the vehicle.

If this technology can be mass produced, fuel consumption will be drastically reduced, roads will be better utilized, and traffic accidents could be all but eliminated.  All of this assumes that the software works as advertised, but considering we already have cars that can park themselves, why should this be much different?

Before these cars can be mass produced, nearly every driving law on the books will have to be examined and modified as they all assume a responsible person is behind the wheel. If there’s an accident in a robotic car, who is at fault? Given the fact that you can sue a company over bad walking directions, you can be sure that both the software and auto companies would be on the receiving end of many lawsuits.

The question is which do you trust more, a computerized car with potential software errors, or a person who may be intoxicated, tired, or simply not paying attention?

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Next headline reads, "first virus for self-driving car released, family drive into river." Although, I guess that already happens due to GPS.

Seifer78 said,
Next headline reads, "first virus for self-driving car released, family drive into river." Although, I guess that already happens due to GPS.

Lol

Seifer78 said,
Next headline reads, "first virus for self-driving car released, family drive into river." Although, I guess that already happens due to GPS.

And it would say "thank you for drowning with google, have a pleasent day"

So they have flying camera probe things and now robotic cars? SWEEEEEEET I'm definately liking the future however just waiting for these robot cars to be deeemed illegal in the UK just like every other great invention eg the segway

zikalify said,
deeemed illegal in the UK just like every other great invention eg the segway

The segway is illegal in the UK? Wow, what exactly is the reasoning behind that one?

roadwarrior said,

The segway is illegal in the UK? Wow, what exactly is the reasoning behind that one?

It is legal to own them and to use them on private property, but because they are classified as powered vehicles they would have to be licensed and registered for use on public roads. The problem is that they don't meet the safety standards for motor vehicles or something like that.

Yea but Google is also known for killing projects, imagine going down a motorway and suddenly Google kills the programme.................brings a whole new meaning to the term programme crash

Joyette S said,
What benefit does Google get out of this? They make money via ads, do you have to listen or watch ads on the way home?

sure:

"we are turning right, we are now passing bank of America which offers free checking, etc""

webeagle12 said,

sure:

"we are turning right, we are now passing bank of America which offers free checking, etc""

You may have been joking, but that's actually not a bad idea....

Mouettus said,
Hell no! I love driving! gtfo Google!

Well, that's how & why they sell cars & not everyone is behind the wheel of an identical Yugo. ;-)

We don't all dress the same, we don't live in identical pods, we aren't (for the most part) part of the Hive. :-)

Mouettus said,
Hell no! I love driving! gtfo Google!

Sounds like me, I enjoy driving but I hate riding in a car as a passenger. It's so boring.

Skyfrog said,

Sounds like me, I enjoy driving but I hate riding in a car as a passenger. It's so boring.

You said it. I can't even stand to use cruise control.

If this technology can be mass produced, fuel consumption will be drastically reduced, roads will be better utilized, and traffic accidents could be all but eliminated.

How can you say that?!
How would mpg be drastically increased? Seriously. *IF* every vehicle went the speed limit, then that would make a difference, but you can't say by how much -- real world stats aren't available [again seriously -- check the background on the stats that are available & hyped]. If you mean there would be no traffic jams, think again -- DOS attacks work because inbound pipes are a finite size, just as roads carry a finite amount of traffic. If you mean because of more even acceleration & braking, there are no real world, overall stats -- e.g. 6 cars accelerate faster than normal from a stop light, each consuming more gas because of it... Now what if because of that 4 extra cars make it through the light? How much fuel would they have wasted at idle? Since all vehicles are different, you'd have to actually measure mpg in those situations to get a good average. No one's spent the large sums of money to do that, & lab simulations are no good given real world weather, air density/quality/humidity, road conditions, & average *in use* vehicle performance levels, all of which highly effect mpg. As far as braking goes, a real human driver can anticipate the future, can see a red light's going to change etc., & coast... that's much more efficient than any chip calculating stopping distance & applying brakes as required.

Yes it might eliminate some accidents, but it might also cause others. Assuming all human driving error was eliminated, that still leaves equipment failure, obstacles in the road, damage to the road, & things like weather conditions. When you take the human element out of the equations, you take it out completely, & that includes all the wrecks that were avoided that with automation might not be. Plus rather than preventing human error, you're just putting it somewhere else -- somewhere else where you have a multiplication of effects, because if one driver makes an error, you have one collision, whereas when one coder makes an error you could have thousands.

The idea of automated vehicles is not terribly far fetched -- just not yet terribly practical either. All the bits & pieces are there -- proximity sensors/radar, GPS, speed controls, auto-braking etc. What isn't there & necessary, is the level of AI & supporting infrastructure. The latter is unlikely since it would be to support something politically incorrect -- driving -- & when the gov's goal is to move you out of your car & into mass transit, it's not going to happen. It's more impractical to take Google's approach, which I think is all about hype & propaganda, with just enough R & D that might pay off to satisfy the bean counters.

If/when you equip a vehicle & test it [as Google has done], if it works it's partly because it was the only "auto" auto on the road, & partly because the odds (& luck) are in it's favor -- the unexpected is unexpected because it doesn't happen all that often. It's also dependent on the intelligence of other drivers to maintain some sort of flow & order. People (& not any car's AI in any near future) can monitor everything on the road within visible range, everything in proximity that might have an effect [e.g. the dog about to run into traffic], road conditions [blow a tire & no amount of control is always going to save you], traffic congestion, & hear that funny noise that means your car's going to die, soon. To work properly & efficiently on a large scale would require a tie in to some sort of "Central Command" complete with camera & sensor networks for coordination & monitoring. To work at least as safely as a human behind the wheel, this system would have to be able to identify the object that just fell off that truck as a 50 gallon drum, plot it's likely trajectory, & decide a course of action -- can the car stop in time (as well as all those behind it), swerve out of the way, accelerate to get ahead of the car in the next lane and so on. It would have to analyze road conditions, vehicle performance, condition & performance of the vehicles tires -- all those sorts of things a driver's brain can keep track of, filed away under how *their* car behaves &/or acts.

There are plenty of poor drivers out there, & those we encounter are what stick in our memory, precisely because they are unusual -- if asked: "How many good drivers did you come across on the drive home", could you put a number to it? You can come up with stats on how many accidents were ruled to be caused by driver error, but can you quote how many were avoided? While it's too often the norm, you really can't make a qualified judgment with insufficient data. During the decades I was involved, automotive engineers were always famous for the blinders they wore, & every tech unfortunate enough to deal with them spent undue time trying to make them see real world reality. That sound's like Thrun, the guy seeking all this fame & fortune behind this albeit interesting exercise.

Besides, in the sci fi movies the hero most always wrests control from whatever automaton.

Frylock86 said,
Are they 3 laws safe?
Do they have a roving red eye?
Will they be able to travel back in time?

What about safety foam? If it crashes does the passenger compartment "turn into a cannoli"?

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