View Poll Results: Should prototype vehicles that drive themselves be allowed on public roads?

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Thread: Self-driving Vehicles

  1. #1
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    Self-driving Vehicles

    I wonder when this technology will be released to the public?

    Google Has A Secret Fleet Of Automated Toyota Priuses; 140,000 Miles Logged So Far.

    As they’ve revealed on their blog today, Google has developed a technology for cars to drive themselves. And they haven’t done it on a computer, or in some controlled lab, they’ve been out on California roads testing this out. “Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research,” Google engineer Sebastian Thrun (the brainchild of the project who also heads the Stanford AI lab and co-invented Street View as well) writes.

    Further, The New York Times, which has a bit more, says a total of seven cars have driven 1,000 miles without any human intervention (the 140,000 mile number includes occasional human control, apparently). These cars are a modified version of the Toyota Prius — and there is one Audi TT, as well.

    So how does this work? The automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to locate everything around them (these are mounted on the roof). And, of course, they use Google’s own maps. But the key?

    This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.

    Google says it gathered the best engineers from the DARPA Challenges (an autonomous vehicle race that the government puts on) to work on this project. They also note that these cars never drive around unmanned in the interest of safety. A driver is always on hand to take over in case something goes wrong, and an engineer is always on hand in the car to monitor the software. Google also says they’ve notified local police about the project.
    Car spotted on the road (with videos):
    Google’s Self-Driving Car Spotted On The Highway Almost A Year Ago (Oh, And Scoble) [Video]


    Would you trust a vehicle to drive itself?

    I can't wait for this technology to be released for mass use. As long as every single bug has been worked out of course. Still, for the first 6 months to a year I'd be watching the road while the car drives itself to ensure it's working fine. After that I might be OK with taking my eyes off the road.

    But I'd NEVER let it drive itself in harsh weather.


    I'm OK with them testing this on the roads as long as someone is in the driver's seat. But if it ever got into an accident with someone I expect Google would face huge public criticism.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    No. For the simple fact it is a prototype. If accidents occur it should be due to human error not mechanical error. And definately not because some scientists decided to use motorists as Guinea pigs.

    Personally I worry that some scumbag in office would mandate that all vehicles be "self-driving" thus taking away people's freedom to drive however and where ever they want within legal limits.
    Last edited by jamesrage; 10-16-10 at 09:08 PM.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

    Cicero Marcus Tullius

  3. #3
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    No. For the simple fact it is a prototype. If accidents occur it should be due to human error not mechanical error. And definately not because some scientists decided to use motorists as Guinea pigs.
    Well, everything is a prototype before it is a finished product. DARPA has been testing these under controlled conditions for years; at some point, you NEED to test it on actual roads to make sure that it's plausible. Obviously at this point, they aren't good enough to drive unsupervised, which is why they have someone behind the wheel (just like driving instructors typically can control cars when student drivers do something dumb.)

    I completely disagree that "accidents should be due to human error not mechanical error." If these are safer than human drivers (as they eventually will be), then it would be foolish not to allow them. Eventually, this has the potential to almost completely eliminate traffic fatalities, among other great benefits to society. I envision a future where humans are banned from driving because it's too dangerous, since they aren't as capable as computers...and that would be a great thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jucon
    I wonder when this technology will be released to the public?
    GM, Ford, and Toyota are all aiming for about 2017/2018. With unexpected roadblocks, I think 2020ish is a more reasonable estimate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jucon
    But I'd NEVER let it drive itself in harsh weather.
    Actually I think that would be one of the conditions where they'd be the most superior to human drivers. Humans tend to be terrible judges of how dangerous conditions are. Computers could closely monitor road/weather conditions and have precise algorithms for how quickly they need to apply the brakes and how much distance to keep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jucon
    But if it ever got into an accident with someone I expect Google would face huge public criticism.
    Sadly, you're probably right...which would be really unfair to Google. So far they've logged 140,000 miles with only one minor accident (which wasn't their fault). That's already better than the average human driver. Ultimately, I think we're really going to need to reform our liability laws in this country, before self-driving cars really catch on. If they reduced the total number of auto fatalities from 40,000 per year to 10,000 per year, but those 10,000 were all due to computer error rather than human error, the manufacturers could lose their shirts even though the roads would be much safer. We're really going to need to change those laws in the near future.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 10-16-10 at 09:17 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Well, everything is a prototype before it is a finished product. DARPA has been testing these under controlled conditions for years; at some point, you NEED to test it on actual roads to make sure that it's plausible. Obviously at this point, they aren't good enough to drive unsupervised, which is why they have someone behind the wheel (just like driving instructors typically can control cars when student drivers do something dumb.)
    Computers can sometimes mess up,get hacked or something else to cause it to improperly work.

    I envision a future where humans are banned from driving because it's too dangerous, since they aren't as capable as computers...and that would be a great thing.
    A good reason to be against self-driving vehicles. I want the ability to be able to drive where ever the hell I want and I want my kids and grandkids to have that same ability.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Computers can sometimes mess up,get hacked or something else to cause it to improperly work.
    Sure, that's why there's a human sitting there who is able to override the system until the bugs get worked out. But eventually that won't be necessary. Let's not forget that humans can also sometimes mess up. Pretty often, in fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage
    A good reason to be against self-driving vehicles. I want the ability to be able to drive where ever the hell I want and I want my kids and grandkids to have that same ability.
    Why? For most people, driving is the most dangerous activity that we do. If not for the massive advantages that being able to drive provides us, there is no WAY that we'd be allowed to do something so dangerous that it kills 40,000 people a year. If robotic cars were able to provide us with those same massive advantages without the danger, why would you be opposed to that? Wanting the freedom to do something that seriously endangers others (while providing no benefit that couldn't be achieved in some other way) is selfish, and is equivalent to wanting the freedom to throw bricks off the overpass just because it looks fun.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Look at it this way James, with a self-driving car, you can get as drunk as you want, and let the car drive you home
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  7. #7
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    How does the car read stop signs, speed limits, construction zones ect? Today's optical recognition software can't reliably read the hundreds of different signs in different lightning conditions, fog, weird angles ect. How does the car react to someone on a bike giving a hand signal or people jaywalking in an urban area?

    I think that his technology should be used primarily on freeways and highways. Freeways have far less variables than street driving, making it much easier for a computer to handle. I can envision a system where you drive your car onto the on-ramp, punch in your exit, and let the car drive until you reach the on ramp. Even better would be networking all the cars so they work in concert, letting everyone travel at optimal speed and minimizing traffic. Street driving is probably better done by humans who can better handle its chaotic nature.

  8. #8
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by repeter View Post
    Look at it this way James, with a self-driving car, you can get as drunk as you want, and let the car drive you home
    There is this service where you call someone to pick you up and they drive you where ever you want for money,its called a taxi.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

    Cicero Marcus Tullius

  9. #9
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    How does the car read stop signs, speed limits, construction zones ect? Today's optical recognition software can't reliably read the hundreds of different signs in different lightning conditions, fog, weird angles ect. How does the car react to someone on a bike giving a hand signal or people jaywalking in an urban area?
    Stop signs and speed limits are easy enough, RFID transmitters or pre-programmed maps with the pertinent areas mapped out ahead of time will easily suffice.

    Visual sensors could detect the prescience of something in the roadway that was not supposed to be there and make the car react accordingly or we could go the opposite route, embedding sensor networks into our roads to make them able to detect such things and transmit that data to vehicles on the road.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Self-driving Vehicles

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Sure, that's why there's a human sitting there who is able to override the system until the bugs get worked out. But eventually that won't be necessary. Let's not forget that humans can also sometimes mess up. Pretty often, in fact.
    Better a human messing up than a machine. You can sue a human.


    Why? For most people, driving is the most dangerous activity that we do. If not for the massive advantages that being able to drive provides us, there is no WAY that we'd be allowed to do something so dangerous that it kills 40,000 people a year.
    It does not justify stripping people of their ability to drive.There are millions of people a day who do not die from accidents.


    If robotic cars were able to provide us with those same massive advantages without the danger, why would you be opposed to that? Wanting the freedom to do something that seriously endangers others (while providing no benefit that couldn't be achieved in some other way) is selfish, and is equivalent to wanting the freedom to throw bricks off the overpass just because it looks fun.

    Not even comparable.Tossing bricks off the overpass is a deliberate act to hurt or murder someone. You driving your car to work is just you driving your car to work.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

    Cicero Marcus Tullius

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