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  1. #1
    genec genec's Avatar
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    A car that drives itself...

    I have mentioned autonomous drive vehicles here before, a couple of times, and apparently to the dismay of some motor vehicle loving cyclists. Such vehicles are just around the corner... according to the article below:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080107/...riverless_cars




    DETROIT - Cars that drive themselves — even parking at their destination — could be ready for sale within a decade, General Motors Corp. executives say.

    GM, parts suppliers, university engineers and other automakers all are working on vehicles that could revolutionize short- and long-distance travel. And Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will devote part of his speech to the driverless vehicles.

    "This is not science fiction," Larry Burns, GM's vice president for research and development, said in a recent interview.

    The most significant obstacles facing the vehicles could be human rather than technical: government regulation, liability laws, privacy concerns and people's passion for the automobile and the control it gives them.

    Much of the technology already exists for vehicles to take the wheel: radar-based cruise control, motion sensors, lane-change warning devices, electronic stability control and satellite-based digital mapping. And automated vehicles could dramatically improve life on the road, reducing crashes and congestion.

    If people are interested.

    "Now the question is what does society want to do with it?" Burns said. "You're looking at these issues of congestion, safety, energy and emissions. Technically there should be no reason why we can't transfer to a totally different world."

    GM plans to use an inexpensive computer chip and an antenna to link vehicles equipped with driverless technologies. The first use likely would be on highways; people would have the option to choose a driverless mode while they still would control the vehicle on local streets, Burns said.

    He said the company plans to test driverless car technology by 2015 and have cars on the road around 2018.

    Sebastian Thrun, co-leader of the Stanford University team that finished second among six teams completing a 60-mile Pentagon-sponsored race of driverless cars in November, said GM's goal is technically attainable. But he said he wasn't confident cars would appear in showrooms within a decade.

    "There's some very fundamental, basic regulations in the way of that vision in many countries," said Thrun, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering.

    The Defense Department contest, which initially involved 35 teams, showed the technology isn't ready for prime time. One team was eliminated after its vehicle nearly charged into a building, while another vehicle mysteriously pulled into a house's carport and parked itself.

    Thrun said a key benefit of the technology eventually will be safer roads and reducing the roughly 42,000 U.S. traffic deaths that occur annually — 95 percent of which he said are caused by human mistakes.

    "We might be able to cut those numbers down by a factor of 50 percent," Thrun said. "Just imagine all the funerals that won't take place."

    Other challenges include updating vehicle codes and figuring out who would be liable in a crash and how to cope with blown tires or obstacles in the road. But the systems could be developed to tell motorists about road conditions, warn of crashes or stopped vehicles ahead and prevent collisions in intersections.

    Later versions of driverless technology could reduce jams by directing vehicles to space themselves close together, almost as if they were cars in a train, and maximize the use of space on a freeway, he said.

    "It will really change society, very much like the transition from a horse to a car," Thrun said.

    The U.S. government has pushed technology to help drivers avoid crashes, most notably electronic stability controls that help prevent rollovers. The systems are required on new passenger vehicles starting with the 2012 model year.

    Vehicle-to-vehicle communication and technology allowing cars to talk with highway systems could come next.

    Still in debate are how to address drivers' privacy, whether current vehicles can be retrofitted and how many vehicles would be need the systems to develop an effective network.

    "Where it shakes out remains to be seen but there is no question we see a lot of potential there," said Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    *******************************************************

    Now the thing we cyclists have to do is ensure that any such vehicle/system, takes us into account. On the plus side such an autonomous vehicle is not likely to break the law, nor act aggressively toward cyclists... on the flip side we must ensure, through pressure to law makers, that such vehicles do not impede our safety as legitimate road users.

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Various levels of automated driver assist technologies are coming online, and the self-piloting automobile (true AUTOmobile, I suppose??) is the obvious ultimate goal, once the equally obvious technical reliability and legal liability issue are overcome. One big motivation is to increase the capacity of freeways by platooning cars within automated lanes, a concept conservative "5 second gap" and "bubble" motorists such as I find terrifying.
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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    1. Maximum speed 25 mph
    2. Cheap, readily available shut down remotes (think garage down opener so that the car could be shut down if anyone thought it was operating poorly.

    Then I'd consider them.
    Not too much to say here

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    But can a robot car lean on the horn and sideswipe a cyclist as well as a human driver? I think not.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    1. Maximum speed 25 mph
    2. Cheap, readily available shut down remotes (think garage down opener so that the car could be shut down if anyone thought it was operating poorly.

    Then I'd consider them.
    The interesting thing is that the government is working to mandate them... so motorists may eventually not have a choice... unless they plan on driving on closed tracks.

    From the article I posted is this little tidbit: "The U.S. government has pushed technology to help drivers avoid crashes, most notably electronic stability controls that help prevent rollovers. The systems are required on new passenger vehicles starting with the 2012 model year."

    Remember the government pushed for seatbelts, airbags, collapsing steering wheel columns, and a host of other things for the safety of the auto users. The nanny state will ensure that your future auto is safe for you, whether you want it or not.

  6. #6
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    This is an idea that's actually very old. Part of the original ISTEA plan depended on self driving cars on most major roads by 2030 or something like that.

    I used to think it was a bad idea, but people are getting more and more stupid every day. And it shows in thier driving. He!!, even Microsoft could probably write a software program that drives better than 50% of the drivers on the road right now.

    Az

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    Skybird JLauren's Avatar
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    For a long time, I thought the idea of a computer driving a car was just a Bad Idea, maybe even a frightening idea. The humans were just so much better at the tasks required to drive a car.

    From a lot of what I've seen lately, I'm not so sure, and that's more due to changes I've seen in the human drivers than changes I've seen in computer technology.
    You are what you eat... and I eat a lot of fruit and nuts.

  8. #8
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    "DETROIT - Cars that drive themselves even parking at their destination could be ready for sale within a decade, General Motors Corp. executives say."
    Ha! These are already on our highways! Surly one in ten cars out there is driving it's self while the motorist is busy texting!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  9. #9
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
    Ha! These are already on our highways! Surly one in ten cars out there is driving it's self while the motorist is busy texting!
    Right... isn't that what cruise control is for...

  10. #10
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Flawed as they are, humans can make judgement calls, like hit the truck instead of the pedestrian. Or run off the road instead of hitting the pedestrian.

    I can see it now, plug in modules that allow you to reprogram your auto drive for faster speeds, faster cornering, or whatever.
    Not too much to say here

  11. #11
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    People are already hacking GPS route finding systems, just wait utnil the hack auto drive cars.
    ******* will select their victims and have the victims' own car deliver them. Ex-husbands will program the ex-wifes' car to drive into a lake.
    Not too much to say here

  12. #12
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    1. Maximum speed 25 mph
    2. Cheap, readily available shut down remotes (think garage down opener so that the car could be shut down if anyone thought it was operating poorly.

    Then I'd consider them.
    This attitude always interested me, being as computers make considerably fewer mistakes than humans, and can scan using pure numerical data on the world around them with millisecond response time, and don't get distracted. (To be exact, they don't make any mistakes, they either break or are programmed wrong)

    Me, I just LIKE driving, it's the only thing I fear... I don't get to drive anymore, the car does it for me. As for safety, I realize the practicality of using computers that error much less frequently than humans is a smart idea.

    Also, considering that throttle, steering, brakes and traction control is already mainly computer controlled in cars now a day, I don't see what the huge difference with them filling in the rest of the gap. Mind you, these systems have no easy override, and malfunctions can end in death, however we practically never see them.

    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    People are already hacking GPS route finding systems, just wait utnil the hack auto drive cars.
    ******* will select their victims and have the victims' own car deliver them. Ex-husbands will program the ex-wifes' car to drive into a lake.
    I'm pretty sure driving systems will be most likely ROM without the ability to wirelessly hijack it for the obvious reason you already mentioned. It would be stupid to let an outside device influence a machine that should be self-sufficient on it's own programming.

    Sure, if someone rips out your car's computer they could technically hijack that, but already they can hijack your electronic throttle system to kill you in the same way.

    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    Flawed as they are, humans can make judgement calls, like hit the truck instead of the pedestrian. Or run off the road instead of hitting the pedestrian.

    I can see it now, plug in modules that allow you to reprogram your auto drive for faster speeds, faster cornering, or whatever.
    Computers can be programmed to make judgment calls like those, they're nothing but logic, the system should be able to pick up the size of an object, and distance from any objects within 360 degrees of the car depending on sensors. Way better than a human ever could, quicker, with greater precision, and 100% optimal usage of every aspect of the car's handling abilities.

    However, due to the system itself, accidents like this would be so extremely rare it's laughable. A computer can track all traffic on the road in visible range without networking (and even invisible traffic [due to obstacles] if they were networked), therefore there are no surprises, every car knows what every other car in the vicinity is doing through various sensors.
    Last edited by StrangeWill; 01-08-08 at 04:45 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
    Ha! These are already on our highways! Surly one in ten cars out there is driving it's self while the motorist is busy texting!
    Sad but true. The United States automobile industry decided a long time ago that computer driven cars were the wave of the future. In order to break us in to the concept, cars today are full of all kinds of gizmos, GPS, widescreen video, etc. to get is used to the idea of not having to pay attention to driving, with the unintended consequence of everyone talking on their cell phones or taxing, instead of pay attention to driving.

    The American car of the future, which is already partially here, is just a rolling entertainment center, measured by the number of cup holders and TV screens the car has, with as little input from the driver is possible.

    What a difference in Europe, where high-performance cars like Porsche don't even have cup holders. Europeans understand the concept that cards are meant to be driven, not entertain you.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=StrangeWill;5944365]


    I'm pretty sure driving systems will be most likely ROM without the ability to wirelessly hijack it for the obvious reason you already mentioned. It would be stupid to let an outside device influence a machine that should be self-sufficient on it's own programming.
    QUOTE]

    SO you're telling me that a remote shut down won't be integrated into these so that if they go crazy, as computers often do, you can't shut them down? Or they won't have remote shut down for police use?

    Of course they will.
    Not too much to say here

  15. #15
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    If these self-driving cars work as "well" as GPSs we have nothing to fear. Honestly, that's an invention specifically for a man to drive a woman crazy. Gotta bite your tongue the whole time. I know we have to go that way but the darn GPS is sending us on a wild goose chase and I gotta just be quiet or gadget-guy will really get mad because you can't question the almighty gadget.

    Self-driving cars will drive you in circles as you look out the window muttering helplessly, "but I want to go over there."
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  16. #16
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Here's what I wonder about: very few drivers obey all traffic laws. Most speed; about 9 in 10 fail to stop completely for stop signs or right on red; almost nobody yields to pedestrians in crosswalks; I could go on. So will these devices be programmed to drive the way that people really drive, or in strict accordance with the law? I could see the first option being unpopular and the second exposing the manufacturer to liability.

    Then there's the cyclist's perspective. How will these things be programmed to drive around cyclists? In many states it's illegal to pass a cyclist on a double yellow. Will they just wait if there's a cyclist in the road? Will they honk? That's illegal too.

    Or will we see a wholesale revision of the traffic laws? One, most likely, that would further marginalize non-motorized vehicles, and even non-automated ones.
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  17. #17
    Ono! sestivers's Avatar
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    Newspaper articles make it seem like cars are already driving themselves:

    "Pedestrian killed by SUV"

    "Cyclist hit by SUV"

    Or, my favorite,
    "SUV carrying drunk driver hits cyclist"
    Steve

  18. #18
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter View Post
    Here's what I wonder about: very few drivers obey all traffic laws. Most speed; about 9 in 10 fail to stop completely for stop signs or right on red; almost nobody yields to pedestrians in crosswalks; I could go on. So will these devices be programmed to drive the way that people really drive, or in strict accordance with the law? I could see the first option being unpopular and the second exposing the manufacturer to liability.

    Then there's the cyclist's perspective. How will these things be programmed to drive around cyclists? In many states it's illegal to pass a cyclist on a double yellow. Will they just wait if there's a cyclist in the road? Will they honk? That's illegal too.

    Or will we see a wholesale revision of the traffic laws? One, most likely, that would further marginalize non-motorized vehicles, and even non-automated ones.
    Good questions... but can you imagine all cars suddenly obeying all the rules of the road... boggles the mind doesn't it?

  19. #19
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    SO you're telling me that a remote shut down won't be integrated into these so that if they go crazy, as computers often do, you can't shut them down? Or they won't have remote shut down for police use?

    Of course they will.
    "As computers often do"
    What?! Paranoid beyond reality much?

    Yes, there should be a shutdown for mainly other reasons (if your car goes sideways there is no way in hell that you're going to recover it any better than a computer that can independently control all 4 tires and sense every minor movement in the vehicle), but you do realize that most commercial and military aircraft in the air are LARGELY computer controlled. Along with most of the driving systems in cars now a day anyway. ABS, TCS, DBW and Transmission control, all which keep you on the road much better than without.

    If anything human intervention will pollute the system and make it thousands of times more inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter View Post
    Here's what I wonder about: very few drivers obey all traffic laws. Most speed; about 9 in 10 fail to stop completely for stop signs or right on red; almost nobody yields to pedestrians in crosswalks; I could go on. So will these devices be programmed to drive the way that people really drive, or in strict accordance with the law? I could see the first option being unpopular and the second exposing the manufacturer to liability.

    Then there's the cyclist's perspective. How will these things be programmed to drive around cyclists? In many states it's illegal to pass a cyclist on a double yellow. Will they just wait if there's a cyclist in the road? Will they honk? That's illegal too.

    Or will we see a wholesale revision of the traffic laws? One, most likely, that would further marginalize non-motorized vehicles, and even non-automated ones.
    100% computer controlled means stuff like speed limits and stops signs will be a thing of the past. You don't need to be told to stop if you know of all vehicles around you and their speeds/intentions. Speed limits will be determined by the road, it's width, it's use, your vehicle, the density of traffic, as opposed to a flat speed limit determined by some city engineer that basically pulled it out of his arse. In other words: probably increased all over.

    I figure if we went 100% computer controlled cars, all the laws would be re-worked for efficiency with logical circuit boards, as opposed to unruly and unreliable humans.
    Last edited by StrangeWill; 01-10-08 at 05:49 AM.

  20. #20
    Member joe99's Avatar
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    Driverless cars....

    what's next? riderless bicycles?????
    Joe99

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  21. #21
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrangeWill View Post
    100% computer controlled means stuff like speed limits and stops signs will be a thing of the past. You don't need to be told to stop if you know of all vehicles around you and their speeds/intentions. Speed limits will be determined by the road, it's width, it's use, your vehicle, the density of traffic, as opposed to a flat speed limit determined by some city engineer that basically pulled it out of his arse. In other words: probably increased all over.

    I figure if we went 100% computer controlled cars, all the laws would be re-worked for efficiency with logical circuit boards, as opposed to unruly and unreliable humans.
    Rather interesting point... but how might such computer controlled vehicle know of a cyclist approaching from a side street.

    While the algorithms for driving may include "speed up" commands on controlled access roads, most likely other streets will be treated as they always have been... unless we all begin wearing transponders.

    It would however be quite interesting to have all the visual pollution of keep right, stop, trucks entering, etc and all the other signs removed from the roadway. For that matter, perhaps roadway stripes need not exist in the future either.

  22. #22
    Skybird JLauren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Rather interesting point... but how might such computer controlled vehicle know of a cyclist approaching from a side street.
    There would still have to be some sort of sensor system to detect vehicles and objects (animate and inanimate) that might impinge on the computer-controlled car's space.

    I can see, however, where speed selection could be much more dynamic, based on things like the road surface, the visibility of the sensor system, and the vehicle's ability to react to something being detected within the visibility horizon. A system like this would be able to make a much better decision on a "safe" speed than human drivers who, even with guidelines like speed limit signs and supposed intelligence, select a speed that's "too fast for conditions".
    You are what you eat... and I eat a lot of fruit and nuts.

  23. #23
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLauren View Post
    There would still have to be some sort of sensor system to detect vehicles and objects (animate and inanimate) that might impinge on the computer-controlled car's space.

    I can see, however, where speed selection could be much more dynamic, based on things like the road surface, the visibility of the sensor system, and the vehicle's ability to react to something being detected within the visibility horizon. A system like this would be able to make a much better decision on a "safe" speed than human drivers who, even with guidelines like speed limit signs and supposed intelligence, select a speed that's "too fast for conditions".
    Yeah that too, and it can determine easily the most minor slippage in the normal operation of the vehicle and further slow down.

    It can be truly a lifesaver, however I still love driving my car. Oh well.

  24. #24
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Let's just hope the OS for these cars isn't Microsoft.
    ~Diane
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  25. #25
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    Let's just hope the OS for these cars isn't Microsoft.

    Actually MS announced a while back that they were indeed getting into doing the OS for this... sure hate to see the "blue screen of death" when the car was in charge.

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