Google puts robot cars on California roads

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ReeferMadness
Google puts robot cars on California roads

Obligatory blank opening post.  Cool

ReeferMadness

Melding radar, lasers, GPS and other technologies, Google has succeeded in building self-driving cars.  These cars have collectively put 140,000 miles on California roads while suffering only one minor accident (caused by a human driver in another car). 

There was a time when I would thrill to read a story like this and think about how wonderful technology is.  After all, driverless cars could provide much safer and more fuel efficient transporation.  Many of the million or so people worldwide who die in auto accidents could be saved.  Driverless trucks would improve the efficiency of transport. These days, though, I'm much more equivocal in my views. 

First, will people accept such a device?  Many are skeptical about technology and people just plain enjoy driving.  I think the tipping point will come when baby boomers reach the age when they start to lose their licenses.  They won't stand for waiting for their kids to drive them where they want to go (many don't have kids, anyway) and this will drive demand.

To me, though the real issue comes down (as always) to economics.  When most or all of the cars are driverless, tens of thousands of people who make their livings due to crappy human drivers will be cut adrift.  Police won't have speeders or drunk drivers to catch.  When accident rates plummet, auto insurance companies will be forced to slash rates and downsizing will follow.  Driver training companies will fold.  Truckers and other drivers will find themselves out of work.  People who work for the government on programs to make roads safer (mostly by increasing penalties for bad driving) will find their programs cut.  An entire sub-industry will disappear.

Why is it that good news for society as a whole should ruin peoples lives by taking away their livelihoods?

 

milo204

to me the idea of a diverless car is pretty scary.  i mean, the potential for harm seems pretty high, along with the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, especially since we can bet these systems would be manufactured somewhere else at the lowest possible cost.

people need to being doing more things for themselves, not less.

ReeferMadness

milo204 wrote:

to me the idea of a diverless car is pretty scary.

Compared to what? 

Link

Link

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People ought to be scared by human-driven automobiles.  All in all, we're wretched drivers.

Fidel

Too, I think robots'd be less likely to become distracted. What about moose and deer on highways though? Will there be an icy road driving robot for Northern Ontario's twisting and winding roads in winter? Or will these things only be good for California weather driving?

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Fidel

[url=http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-self-driving-car-unveiled-germany.ht... scientists see golden future for 'self-driving' cars[/url]

Quote:
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."

FEWER cars on the road as a result?  Safer and greener. I like.

NorthReport

Perhaps Flying Car will become a reality as well maybe driven by Fearless Girl! 

Elon Musk: Self-driving Teslas will go between LA and NYC by the end of the year

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-self-driving-teslas-will-go-b...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

It's sort of amusing that this thread refers to them as "robot" cars.  I can't help but think there's some kind of scaremongering in there.

Who would ever say "yes, the 1940's was when the robot washing machine was invented" or "most of the time, commercial airlines are being flown by ROBOTS!"?

Anyway, obviously we need lots and lots and lots of testing, but haven't computers taught us that sometimes there are things that technology is just better at?  Realistically, "robot" cars shouldn't need to be safer or more efficient than any human driver ever, they should just need to be safer and more efficient than the bottom decile of moron human drivers on the road today.  Or else we should be having a long talk with ourselves about how that bottom decile was ever permitted to drive if they're literally not better at it than a computer algorithm.

NorthReport

How artificial intelligence is helping detect tuberculosis in remote areas

TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/how-artificial-intelligence-helping...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I recently read that computers are now a little better at interpreting ECGs/EKGs than human cardiologists.  I think there just are some things they're better at.

Pondering

I agree that calling them robot cars is sensationalism. I do wonder why they don't start with public transportation. I should think it would be easier as there is a defined route. Underground metros like in Montreal would seem to be an even better place to introduce the technology.

cco

The Montréal metro has been automated since the 1970s, on all but the yellow line. It's not fully driverless like some European and Asian ones, since there are no platform-side doors and the driver needs to be there to look out for jumpers, and the system breaks down frequently, but most of the time, the train is driven automatically between stations. (This is particularly noticeable at the ends of the lines, where the train comes to a sudden near-halt as the automated system disengages, and the driver pulls slowly into the terminus station.)

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Pondering wrote:

I do wonder why they don't start with public transportation. 

Here is how an fully automated publiic transit system works. Your world view can be very provincial.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Inside+SkyTrain+control+room/10092529/story....

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

If I were tasked with automating any form of public transport, I suppose I'd choose trains.  They basically have one degree of freedom.  Specifically, they can either be moving forward, moving backward or standing still.  As long as they can detect something ahead of them with enough time to brake, they're fine.  Even "steering" is handled externally.

Planes can get away with "autopilot" mostly because the sky is a vast, vast space and two planes colliding anywhere other than the runway is like two individuals both throwing a dart into the air, and the two darts hitting each other.

But buses, though?  I'm not saying it can't be done, but there's whole levels more to consider... everything from bumper-to-bumper traffic, to other traffic accidents, road construction, or the stereotypical kid chasing a ball across the street without looking first.

Pondering

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Pondering wrote:

I do wonder why they don't start with public transportation. 

Here is how an fully automated publiic transit system works. Your world view can be very provincial.

Wow.

Pondering

CCO, automated is not the same thing as driverless cars with the potential for a completely random path. I think it's outrageous that the metro cars haven't been fitted with automatic brakes if a jumper is detected. Surely sensors could react faster than the drivers. Certainly some metro drivers are way better than others. Some come to a sudden stop while others glide so smoothly there is barely a jiggle when they come to a halt. That part doesn't seem automated.

It just seems to me that talk of widespread driverless cars is extremely premature.

Magoo, I agree with you on buses, but that is kind of my point. At least buses have a pre-defined route. Traffic lights can be programmed to interact with them. It's much easier to deal with construction if it is on a known planned route than dealing with it for cars taking random routes. Basically I'm saying if the technology isn't ready for buses, or it is too expensive for public transport, then it certainly isn't ready for private cars.

NorthReport

How does the package get from the car to the house? By drone?

Amazon might use driverless vehicles to deliver packages in the future

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/04/amazon-might-use-driverless-veh...

NorthReport

The future is riding on driverless cars

Innovations with a potential to cause massive disruptions have, very rarely, been adopted without resistance, and automated vehicles are no exception

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-the-future-is-riding-on-driverle...

Rev Pesky

From Mr. Magoo:

Planes can get away with "autopilot" mostly because the sky is a vast, vast space and two planes colliding anywhere other than the runway is like two individuals both throwing a dart into the air, and the two darts hitting each other.

In fact almost all airspace is tightly controlled. If you're flying anywhere near a major airport, you have to know the rules about where you can fly, and even if you can fly in certain areas. My younger brother has an airplane, and when he has flown from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island, when passing by Vancouver he has to stay well away from commercial airspace. Them's the rules, and break them if you want to lose your pilot's licence.

At the same time, the airspace over North America is heavily monitored by both civil aviation and NORAD. Anything that pops up where it's not supposed to be is usually seen within minutes, then contacted to discover what's what.

The analogy with robot cars is if all airspace was free to be used by anyone. The airline industry could not operate that way, and neither can the highway system. I've spent a lot of time in traffic, and I can tell you that humans are prone to doing some pretty weird things in their cars, like making sudden moves without letting other drivers know beforehand.

Robot cars will be possible when the road space is controlled as the airspace is.