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How long before most automobile driving is done by computers?

Displaying poll results.
10 Years
  4487 votes / 15%
20 Years
  9393 votes / 32%
30 Years
  4635 votes / 16%
40 Years
  1129 votes / 3%
50 Years
  917 votes / 3%
More than 50 years
  1435 votes / 4%
Never
  1254 votes / 4%
You'll have to pry the steering wheel out of my cold, dead hands
  5527 votes / 19%
28777 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
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How long before most automobile driving is done by computers?

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  • by MXB2001 (3023413) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:14PM (#45037829)

    Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

    • by tttonyyy (726776) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:23PM (#45037903) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

      Ironically racing is probably a better defined operating environment so easier to successfully automate.

      I can't see everyday driving being automated because there will always be a scenario that isn't covered, an odd bug that no-one expected, or mechanical failure that the computer can't compensate for in a sensible way.

      Commercial flight systems on aircraft must be so thoroughly tested, yet we still have pilots to take over if the machine fails. How would that work with cars? If you have to be there paying close attention in case you need to take over, doesn't that negate the purpose of the automated system in the first place?

      • by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:27PM (#45037939)

        I would assert that the population of terrible, drunk/drug addled drivers on the road today are far more dangerous that the odd software error we will see. Especially since each failure of automation will result in improvements over time.

        • by orthancstone (665890) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:26PM (#45039107)
          The biggest threat to automated driving algorithms will be erratic drivers not using automated cars. As more automated vehicles take over the population of drivers, you'll see a reduction of problems on the road.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Building automated cars that only drive around other automated cars is 80s technology. The whole point of automating driving is getting the algorithms good enough to handle "erratic drivers" which are just one of the hazards of the road.

            I would turn your sentence around and say automated cars will be the biggest threat to anyone without top notch reflexes. Unlike a human, an algorithm can control the speed and breaking distance to 1 inch from the next car during an emergency stop. The automated cars will al

          • by Imrik (148191) on Saturday October 05, 2013 @05:47AM (#45043099) Homepage

            No, the biggest threat to automated driving algorithms is liability. As long as the manufacturer is liable for accidents they'll never get anywhere.

            • That problem is easily enough solved. Outsource the development of automated driving software and you shift the liability onto the software vendor. Sure it is more expensive than doing it in house but this reasoning for pushing it to the vendors is the same that we have been seeing in many large corporate organizations in their quest to go 100% vendor supported even though the in-house development teams are far cheaper and tend to have better results.
          • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:58AM (#45051545)

            I think we should start with the Interstate system. A vehicle can operate manually until hitting an on ramp where a computer will take over and log into the roadway system. In this manner things can happen gradually as no one will be able to take the Interstate unless their car is compatible. Others can continue to use the back roads and streets until over time the busiest ones will also be included in an automated road system. Eventually only the smaller side streets will continue to be manually operable.

            • by JWSmythe (446288)

              It would be safer and more cost efficient to put cars on larger vehicles, such as trains and ships. A single large unit can be navigated safer than hundreds or thousands of smaller units.

              It's been available for years. It hasn't been adopted for heavy use.

              http://www.amtrak.com/auto-train [amtrak.com]

              There are also truck and ship transports, but as there are so many services, it's not practical to list them. Some ship transports allow passengers. Most truckers can't allow passengers.

              • Yes, for $560 I can save the $300 cost of driving. Not only that, but I get the luxury of having a fixed departure time instead of the depart-whenever-I-want randomness of taking the freeway myself. Add to that the security of knowing that I cannot make side trips, thus avoiding any scenic rest stops, museums, and points of interest along the way.

                There's a reason it hasn't been adopted for heavy use: it's overly expensive, and restrictive. People want cheap, on-demand, end-to-end, and preferably priva
        • by Muros (1167213)

          I would assert that the population of terrible, drunk/drug addled drivers on the road today are far more dangerous that the odd software error we will see. Especially since each failure of automation will result in improvements over time.

          One of the best things about automated cars will be the ability to get home after drinking. Not much of an issue in built up areas with public transport, but being able to get home from the pub will be great for the social lives of people in rural areas.

      • Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

        Ironically racing is probably a better defined operating environment so easier to successfully automate.

        Physically? Yes, but nobody's going to make a billion dollars on slot-cars.

        Racing is the one aspect of driving that will not ever be automated, nor should it.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          how do you know, maybe there would be competitions and/or betting on fully automated cars: which team can build the best. there are similar competitions today with robots

          • how do you know

            I'm speculating, just like everyone else does in a "What If" conversation. Just like you did in the rest of your post:

            maybe there would be competitions and/or betting on fully automated cars: which team can build the best. there are similar competitions today with robots

            Yea, maybe. But who's going to put up the millions of dollars in front money to find out? You?

            A good part of what makes auto racing entertaining is the personalities of the drivers and their varying skill levels. Take away those elements, and it all basically becomes NASCAR, but without anything entertaining happening, ever.

      • Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

        Ironically racing is probably a better defined operating environment so easier to successfully automate.

        Also ironic, is that I suspect the GP was writing that with intentional irony.

      • by evilviper (135110) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:21PM (#45039067) Journal

        If you have to be there paying close attention in case you need to take over, doesn't that negate the purpose of the automated system in the first place?

        If a car "autopilot" detects a problem, it can just slow down, pull off the road, and shut off. You do not have such an option in an aircraft.

        In a self-driving car, you only need to "be there paying close attention" if you have reason to believe the navigation system will NOT properly detect when it is operating in conditions beyond its capabilities.

        • The thing with planes is that you usually have quite some time to deal with problems. The sky is big, your plane is small. That means if the autopilot can't handle something you usualy have a fair bit of time for the human pilots to take over (which is not to say there haven't been crashes where the pilots thought the autopilot was engaged when it wasn't).

          With a car you are typically a few seconds away from a crash at any moment. If something suddenly in front of you (too close to simply brake) then you hav

      • Racing is based on human skill. If you automate it then it's no longer racing.

        • by ttucker (2884057)

          Racing is based on human skill. If you automate it then it's no longer racing.

          What about the skill of the programmers and engineering team? Car racing used to be about the car too, now it is so regulated that it is only the driver, but maybe that will change again.

      • The difficulty of everyday driving is the "predictability" of what will happen on the road. Too many humans are unpredictable on how they will handle a given situation.

        Case 1: "the polite driver". This driver will give me the right of way when I shouldn't have it. They may stop and let me make a left turn in front of them at an unmarked crossing when they should just proceed and I will wait until a clear spot. Drives me nuts when people do that as it may cause an accident with a driver behind them not

        • by Chrisq (894406) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#45051743)

          The difficulty of everyday driving is the "predictability" of what will happen on the road. Too many humans are unpredictable on how they will handle a given situation.

          Case 1: "the polite driver". This driver will give me the right of way when I shouldn't have it. They may stop and let me make a left turn in front of them at an unmarked crossing when they should just proceed and I will wait until a clear spot. Drives me nuts when people do that as it may cause an accident with a driver behind them not expecting what they will do.

          Case 2: "the impatient driver". This guy will make be behind me and make a left turn around me because he thinks I am not moving fast enough. I saw one guy nearly lose the back meter of his car to an oncoming motorist.

          Case 3: "the don't know where I am going driver". This guy will suddenly realize that his turn was 10 feet back and make it anyway.

          Automation should smooth out all those kinks and make it predictable....the obvious problem is the transition period between mostly human and mostly automated....perhaps designated lanes for automation.

          I can see all this being automated. We can have a "polite mode", a "quick mode" and a "quick route change" option.

      • by khchung (462899)

        I can't see everyday driving being automated because there will always be a scenario that isn't covered, an odd bug that no-one expected, or mechanical failure that the computer can't compensate for in a sensible way.

        If most people thought like you do, then we won't even have people driving, as your logic applies to human drivers just as well (and pretty much every single machinery or power tool also):

        "I can't see everyday driving being allowed because there will always be a scenario that isn't expected, an odd failure that no-one thought of, or mechanical failure that the driver can't compensate for in a sensible way."

        Fortunately, most humans are fine with taking risks as long as the benefit is clear. And in 20 years,

      • by Verity_Crux (523278) <notacommie@gm a i l .com> on Saturday October 05, 2013 @07:43AM (#45043417)

        Ironically racing is probably a better defined operating environment so easier to successfully automate.

        I work for a company that automates vehicles (ASI). We specifically target controlled operating environments like vehicle proving grounds, mines, and commercial harvesting operations. These places all have one thing in common: ten foot fences (aka, no toddlers in the vicinity).

        The biggest struggle we have had is obstacle detection; it only works at distances less than 50m. The various vision devices aren't accurate enough beyond that range (or get lost in smoke, fog, dust, shakiness, etc.) And differentiating small objects (aka, 20cm cube) from standard terrain is neigh impossible with current technologies. The algorithms used to process that information can't run in real-time on embedded hardware.

        I'm excited for a lot of recent progress in electronic vehicle control. Look for your favorite auto-manufacturer to introduce electronically controlled steering, transmissions, and throttle over the next few years. The pedals, knobs, and wheels will soon be fancy computer joysticks.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Then why aren't you using reflective imaging? Whether sonar, radar, lidar, there are lots of ways to reflect a more accurate image than indirect lighting. Even a scanning laser that's only active on an "unknown" area (and running outside the range harmful to humans) would seem to be an improvement over your current system as described.
      • by AK Marc (707885)

        Commercial flight systems on aircraft must be so thoroughly tested, yet we still have pilots to take over if the machine fails. How would that work with cars? If you have to be there paying close attention in case you need to take over, doesn't that negate the purpose of the automated system in the first place?

        Cars allow for many many failures. So many so that they have a dedicated "breakdown lane" on many roads. An airplane that suffers a failure at 30,000 ft is likely going to have a bad result. Having the automated car set up in a manner that it won't drive into situations it gauges to be high risk, and it offers control to the driver or pulls over to the next safe location and stops isn't hard. Once you've programmed a self-driving car, some safety fail backs isn't hard.

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

      I tend to find that people who define themselves as the latter category are more or less also in the former category. Offense is not the best defense when driving.

    • I voted 'never'...for me the key word was 'most'

      Most usually means >51%-66% at least...some say a simple majority counts as 'most'...others 2/3 majority....

      Either way...I just don't see it happening unless human behavior changes in ways we cannot predict or imagine

      If you count different times/types of driving, and break it out in City vs Highway & then compare 'AI' usage there would be some obvious predictable tendencies...and in that way, **maybe** in 50 years...if driving habits change dramatically

      • by tverbeek (457094)
        Even assuming that the technology becomes good enough for it to be safe and practical, "most" is going to require more than half of the current driving population to retire from commanding an individual motor car. There will be exceptions in both directions (older early-adopters and young luddites), but in general, people who've learned to operate a vehicle themselves just aren't going to feel comfortable letting a computer do it. It won't be until at least half of the car owners on the road are people wh
        • The most likely early adopters are old people who have lost the ability to drive safely, but still want to get around.

          Another target audience should be young males, who have to pay high insurance rates. A car that is entirely automated, with manual driving limited to speeds below 5 mph, should cost about $10/year to insure, not $1000. It seems reasonable that the entire leech-industry that is automobile insurance would be destroyed by automated cars. For that matter, licensing should go away too; another ad

      • by ttucker (2884057)
        Not to mention that even the newest cars on the road today will be used for the next 15-20 years, at least. Vehicles are expensive, and hardly become obsolete. Assuming that they are still better than riding the bus, someone will buy/drive them. The used market keeps them on the road long after the original new car buyer is bored with them.
    • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:28PM (#45039127) Homepage
      I'm in my mid sixties, and I doubt that my reflexes and reaction time are as good as they were when I was in my early thirties. Eventually, I will probably need to drive in the slow lane, at no more than 55 mph, for my safety as well as everybody else's. When (not if) that happens, having a computer do the freeway driving might seem like a good idea, even though I still love to drive. It's not, as you try to make it, a question of competence, but of being realistic about how your body slows down as you get older.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Perhaps a few of the less competent might opt for it but us race car drivers will never stand for it.

      Your carpool companions called, they want the the blood to return to their white, white knuckles.

    • I also don't see it happening. Cities and counties make truckloads of cash off of tickets and red light cameras. Plus it gives cops the ability to search people for prohibited plants. With driverless cars they wouldn't get ticket revenue, be able to use civil asset forfeiture or easily fill up the prisons with stoners.

  • by tttonyyy (726776) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:15PM (#45037843) Homepage Journal

    Exhaustive Testing is Impossible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We don't need 100% bug free and "exhaustively tested" to be better than even a very skilled human..... ....let alone an idiot that's posting to facebook while driving home from work in heavy traffic.

      I still voted for "pry it from my cold, dead hand" though

    • Yeah, when tttonyyy is bug free, we'll let him drive.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:04PM (#45039439)

      I don't think the semi-inebriated drivers showing up on the roads here in Austin for ACL weekend are have been tested exhaustively either.

      One of the things about computers... if someone gets in front of an autopiloted car and randomly slams on brakes, the autopilot adjusts speed up and down. Do that to a person, after a bit, someone is going to be run off the road. Road rage isn't an issue with a computer, nor is alcohol, texting, marijuana, bath salts, Molly, LSD, PCP, Ativan, or whatever substances a person is on.

      Don't forget what can be done with automated vehicles that can't be done now. Four way intersections where cars can move at speed, being slowed down or sped up slightly to get one group across before the next group hits.

      Pedestrians? Punch the crosswalk signal, and the vehicles WILL stop. No slowing down and honking, no beer bottles thrown at the person crossing.

      Parking? Vehicles can park themselves a ways away.

      Oil change time? The vehicle goes off and takes care of it in the middle the night, and is back before work.

      Moving and have two cars? Toss your crap into one car and tell it to go to your new residence, where someone there can unload it. That way, only the large furniture pieces need the U-haul truck.

      There are just so many issues and bottlenecks that would be eased by removing the person out of the driving equation.

      • Pedestrians? Punch the crosswalk signal, and the vehicles WILL stop. No slowing down and honking, no beer bottles thrown at the person crossing.

        This won't happen until there are no people in those cars. Yes, the AI won't throw the beer bottle, but the (possibly drunk, as he is not driving) passenger might.
        Also, the "press button to stop cars" system is easily abused if not carefully set (a quite long minimal time between stops), that is why it is not that common in my country.

        Oil change time? The vehicle goes off and takes care of it in the middle the night, and is back before work.

        Will it go to my neighbor who is a mechanic or only the Authorized Service Center so I could pay 10x the amount I would if I just went to the neighbor?
        Modern cars have enough

        • Modern cars have enough DRM as it is, no need for more.

          Agreed. Unfortunately, I think it's quite likely that corporations (and governments) will find a way to turn this technology against us in a lot of ways.

    • by antdude (79039)

      100% bug free? That's impossible. What has 100% bug free? Prove it please.

  • Missing option: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:29PM (#45037961) Journal

    Not nearly as soon as I'd like.

  • Google seems to be focused on automating commuting, but really isn't the goal to eliminate accidents due to all forms of human error? That means driving while drunk, texting, tired, etc.

    The technology is getting better rapidly, but until someone can legally flop wasted into their back seat, at 4 AM, shout "Take me home!" and drunk text their ex-girlfriend like they currently can in a taxi, it's not going to get much traction.

    So I'd say we're less than 10 years out from a tech perspective, and n years
    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:47PM (#45038745)

      The technology is getting better rapidly, but until someone can legally flop wasted into their back seat, at 4 AM, shout "Take me home!" and drunk text their ex-girlfriend like they currently can in a taxi, it's not going to get much traction.

      Reminds me I was once told that the horse that pulled my grandmother's and her sister's wagon when they were in their teens and twenties could do that. I thought that was cool until she mentioned it was handy on dates to be able to give the horse the reigns. That was TMI.

      • You hear that about horse drawn milk and bread delivery carts all the time. The horse gets used to the route and where the stops are, and the delivery person can just concentrate on unloading the goods, even to the point of grabbing a crate and leaving milk on the doorsteps of the apartments in a building, and catching up with the horse and wagon at the other end of the building.
  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:10PM (#45038385)

    I'd love to see it within 10, but I think 20 is more realistic.

    I remember just before I got my license (~17 years ago) I thought driving was the most awesome thing I could imagine. Now it's a mindless chore that I accept as necessary but I certainly don't like doing it. My daily commute to work is only 5 minutes so that's fine, but fairly often I take trips that consist of 4 to 12 hours of driving. I can think of nothing more amazing than just being able to put that address into my car and then chill out on my laptop for the duration.

    I also this could also do a LOT to reduce drunk driving. When you can just climb into the car and tell it to take you home we'll have a lot less accidents due to intoxication.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      I remember driving as looking like great fun when I was a kid. As I grew up, I found I liked to drive. I had a 74 Chevy Nova which was great fun, an 84 Pontiac Fiero, which was great fun, and a 300ZX which was also great fun. After the 300ZX, I got a Ranger pickup which was practical for doing stuff around the house, but also got a motorcycle, which was great fun. I'm on my second Ranger and my 6th motorcycle (Hayabusa) and am currently planning my trip for next year. Roughly 10,000 miles to Alaska and the

    • Actually, even 20 years seems overly optimistic. Some quick web searching [usatoday.com] indicates that the average age of a car in the US is 11 years. Assuming the total volume remains reasonably unchanged, that would mean that it would take around a decade* to reach 50% even if all cars sold from today were self-driving.

      If we assume it takes another 10 years for fully autonomous cars to be commercially available (an legal), it is still unlikely that zero "ordinary" cars would be sold from then on. So I don't really see

      • I wouldn't be surprised if most state laws currently do not prohibit automated cars. The law would have to be changed to prohibit them.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:12PM (#45038405)

    You'll have to pry the steering wheel out of my cold, dead hands

    Why would I do that when I can have the car accident investigators and the medical examiner do that for you?

  • The technology is already on the roads. But aside from the normal amount of time necessary for technology adoption, this also faces significant legal hurdles. There's the big question of liability, of course, and we're starting to deal with that now. But the legal issues will get worse before they get better--self-driving cars are still experimental enough that they aren't a huge political battlefield yet.

    Once they develop a bit more, many people will have safety and NIMBY concerns--even if they're much

    • Not to mention other lobby groups--cab drivers, truck drivers, and so forth are heavily unionized, and will use their political sway to oppose this technology as much as possible, since it will (eventually) take their jobs in a very real, direct sense.

      You left out a big one - governments that depend on revenues generated through traffic enforcement.OOH, and the companies that sell red-light camera systems!

  • Obviously the high end guys (BMW, Audi, Mercedes) will likely do it first. They're already incorporating lots of assistive technology into their cars now. This is giving them lots of real world experience with stuff like adaptive cruise control and semi automatic breaking. Lexus has had automatic parallel parking for a while. Combine this with really good GPS and stuff like google's chauffeur (this is the name of their autonomous driving software) plus a slim stylish lidar sensor (or something equivalent) o
    • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:25PM (#45039099) Homepage Journal

      Actually it's not Honda and Toyota et al -- it's the Insurance Companies. As soon as this technology becomes approved and certified by the NTSB here in the States and it's equivalent elsewhere, you can be sure that the insurance companies will offer steeply discounted rates to drivers who have fully automated cars since they can sue the Automobile Manufacturer or Software Manufacturer in the event of an accident by an automated vehicle rather than collecting from another insurer or individual.

      When people see that they can get a good break on Insurance if they buy an automated car, the mainstream manufacturers will be tripping over themselves to get their own automated vehicles out to the mainstream market to capitalize on that and to be competitive.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:09PM (#45039483)

      It may not all be the high end guys. I remember looking at a self-parking car. Then I remembered an old French brand (Citroen) that had a compact car that had two pairs of small wheels mounted sideways. A flip of a button, the car was lifted onto the wheels. A move of a slider, the vehicle moved left or right directly. The Lexus parallel parking capability is impressive, but the little French car being able to just stop, move 90 degrees into a space without requiring any movement forward/reverse and park was more practical.

  • What country? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:22PM (#45039079)
    Timeline: within 5 years, the first (partially) self-driving cars will become available. Within the next 5 years, it will be a novelty for early adopters (rich people). The 10 years after that will see increasing consumer adoption (upper middle class only), as well as the first commercial applications (trucks, maybe greyhound), but in developed nations only (even if self-driving cars don't cost much more than manuals, most people don't buy new cars very often). The 10 years after that (i.e. 30 years from now) self-driving cars will start becoming the majority in developed nations, but the bulk of the world population will still not have seen one with their own eyes (look up a video of what streets look like in Bangalore, and tell me how a self-driving car would perform there). I don't dare predict when self-driving will be the majority in the world, because that requires predicting when the majority of the world will become "developed", which may very well be never.
  • Not gonna happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linebackn (131821) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:49PM (#45039283)

    I'd say never. Why? Because driving on random roads and locations in varying conditions requires *intelligence*.

    Most attempts at computer-driven cars so far basically just put cars on an electronic track and throw in a little bit of sensor data and pre-programmed logic.

    Yes, 99.9% of driving is just dull "stay between the lines" but it's that .1% of unexpected shit that requires a brain. (not that too many people these days have those)

    What happens when some crap falls off a truck and the sensors don't quite pick it up? What happens when someone runs out in the road in front of it? Can it tell the difference between a rectangular dark black flat piece of dangerous metal on the road and dark shadow from an overhead roadway sign? Would a computer even realize you might need to drive off the road in the event of an emergency or special circumstances? There are an almost infinite number of possibilities that you just can't pre-program in or plan for.

    Throwing control back to the user probably wouldn't work well in practice, because once a car can drive itself sometimes, people will expect it to drive itself ALL the time.

    And when something does go wrong, who will people sue? Right now it is the individual driver of the vehicle. I think car manufacturers would prefer to avoid the risk of being sued and leave responsibility where it is.

    So what if someone creates a computer that is really intelligent enough to do that? Well, I'd suggest getting out of its way as it kills all humans. :P

    • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:29PM (#45039647) Journal
      Firstly, the *most* driver less miles have been put on cars driving at highway speeds around the bay area by Google. They're out testing this in real world conditions. When the car doesn't know what to do, it squaks at the driver and the person takes over. Understandably that has it's own issues. However, the more they drive these cars the better they can make these systems. It's a feedback loop.

      Secondly, the hypothetical situation you describe is exceedingly rare and I suspect human drivers would nominally fair equally bad at avoiding the situation.
      No matter how good your automomous car is, if you're driving along and a 1000lb piece of cast iron pipe tumbles off the back of a flatbed, you're fucked. Possibly having a car with reaction times that exceed a human might save your life. Your autonomous car is going to be not tailgating the semi to begin with and will be going the speed limit or lower depending on the traffic conditions.

      Thirdly, I can only imagine that these cars will be recording all the telemetry and video they possibly can. To complete my scenario, when a piece of cast iron pipe falls off the truck and lands in the road and the lidar system doesn't properly identify it and the car runs into it, the insurance company is going to analyze the telemetry and the dashboard video and they'll sue the truck driver for not properly securing their load. They possibly would go after the car maker for a faulty system, but more likely the car companies just going to want the telemetry so they can improve the system.

      As for knowing the difference between a shadow and a piece of black metal, these systems are currently using lidar... so I don't see this as much of an issue.

      Also your scenario of what happens when someone runs out in front of the car... Mercedes already has an automatic breaking system.
      • When the car doesn't know what to do, it squaks at the driver and the person takes over. Understandably that has it's own issues.

        Actually, if this limitation is not ironed out, it would seriously slow down the adoption, here's why:
        1. If I buy a self driving car, I expect it to drive itself while I am doing something else (or am just drunk).
        2. Even if I am sober, I would not be paying full attention to the road (because I am not driving), so when the car beeps that I should take over, my initial reaction will be really slow.
        3. If I have to pay full attention to the road to be able to take over at a moments notice, I might as well be a

        • by tsotha (720379)
          In a production version if you didn't take over immediately the car would pull to the side of the road and stop.
  • by Dialecticus (1433989) on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:14PM (#45039523)

    "Most driving" could mean "most vehicles" or "most passengers". For example, if there are 2 human-driven cars and 1 computer-driven bus, then most vehicular passengers are being driven by a computer, yet most passenger vehicles are being driven by a human.

    Such an ambiguously worded question deserves an equally ambiguous answer: "Quite a few years from now."

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:37PM (#45039715)
    One of the car people or Google is planning on shipping out self driving cars for 2015. If they perform well, many people will use them as cheap taxis. Instead of buying cars and paying insurance, people will just order self driving cars with their smart phone from the many of them all over the nation. Of course, assuming only limited problems with them, it will still be cheaper at first to use your own car if you have one. So people will drive their own cars until they're falling apart(10-15 yrs) Once the cost of a google taxi is cheaper than owning your own car, people will simply not need to buy a car anymore except as a luxury.

    Of course there is a lot to be said if these cars can even function to begin with. Anyone who's had their Garmin(Gremlin) tell them to drive down the wrong way on a road knows that even for route planning as roads change(something the self driving car needs), there is still much to be done.
  • I am not so sure that we are going to have the infrastructure to support automobiles about the time when the control tech is good enough for widespread deployment.
    Only recently, peak oil came and went and worldwide economic growth has plateaued. Even if we cut emissions of greenhouse gases completely right now, there is still enough of it in the atmosphere to cause climate change that is going to manifest itself in famine, "act of god" disasters, economic turmoil, civil unrest and wars across the world.

    It w

  • In USA: 10-20 years. In Italy: never!
  • Yea right using the latest and greatest technology they cant even get a basic map right.

    I am the designer of a prototype project which requires accurate machined parts, so one day I get hooked up with this machinist that does stuff for our state tech university, does great fast and cheap work! Problem is he is about 3 hours away from our offices so I take a day trek down there to get ~25 units made up for field testing.

    His shop is just outside of the college town, which is pretty sizable, and has lots of ou

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      I hope you realize that big piece of plastic and metal on top of Google's cars isn't there just for decoration, right? They have an array of sensors, including cameras and a lidar system, to actually analyze the environment. The maps would be used to plan the route, but they wouldn't be followed blindly, that's just stupid. If the map doesn't match the expected layout and the car cannot figure it out, I assume it'll pull aside and ask for the driver to take over or correct the route.
  • Toyota came out with the original Prius in 1997. Hybrid Car. 16 years ago.
    Lexus LS 460 in 2006 had the self parking car. 7 years ago.

    I just got a new car. I would have liked to have both these features, but both were at a price premium I could not practically afford. Mind you, there are many people that buy over what they can afford not withstanding what they can practically afford.
    Still many people are not getting these features, though they are becoming more common now.

    Self driving cars are just sta
  • Cars already have too many *improvements* already. Self-parking, automatic transmissions, traction control, ABS, blind spot warning, so on.

    Kinda removes the need to be able to drive, so when there's an emergency the driver won't know how to react.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Because they know how right now? I've seen so many drivers doing stupid, dangerous and ridiculous things to be able to tell you that the majority of drivers wouldn't be able to react properly in an emergency anyway. Autonomous cars have the possibility of being faster, safer and more law-abiding than humans. Good luck getting your reaction times below that of a computer.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

 



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