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Self-driving cars 'must have driver', regulators insist

(119 posts)

  1. crowriver
    Member

  2. ih
    Member

    Sigh! Me too. Sigh.

    Why? Because I believe that the introduction of driverless cars is the only way that we will radically change the obsession with the private car. They would reduce the desirability of personally owned cars and herald an era where there is a fleet of driverless taxis that can be summoned up for personal use. But, there would need to be far fewer than private cars now; they would be safer and drive much more considerately; they wouldn't need all the parking space, either at home or on the highway; they would use electric power; and they would free up the road for us who like bikes.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. Snowy
    Member

    A statement from the DMV read: "Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology"...

    What, the fact that after Google driving 1.7 million miles on public roads, their accident rate is negligible compared with leaving aggressive, competitive, distracted, poorly trained, unpredictable humans in control?

    Worth a read.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. wee folding bike
    Member

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    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. gembo
    Member

    The google car in that article was crashed into 11 times only. Also spotted people on their phones etc but also gives an example of cyclist RLJing (they don't balme the cyclist they say the car anticipates RLJIng by all vehicles). But my favourite was the person playing the trumpet whilst driving.

    Which leads me to ask (again) what you do if you find a trumpet growing in your vegetable garden?

    Root-it-oot

    Aw C'mon it's nearly Xmas

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. acsimpson
    Member

    One of the troubles of launching the technology is that most of Google's testing has been done in as close to a closed environment as you can get while staying on the public road. The cars are familiar with all the junctions on their routes and the majority of testing has been done within a short drive of Google HQ.

    If requiring a human to sit behind the wheel gets the technology out there and heading for full maturity a year or two sooner then I'm happy with that. It would be nice if the DMV gave an indication of the timescale they will review the requirement under though as currently it will probably require a lot of lobbying to get them to review.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. dougal
    Member

    What does it mean to have a human behind the wheel? A passive viewer of the outside world isn't going to have the same constant vigilance and attentiveness that "driver" implies.

    People are reading books and updating social media right now when they are in sole control of the vehicle. If there's a machine to do the job does anyone really believe human "drivers" will be able to avert any disasters?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. acsimpson
    Member

    I don't think the human will be able to avert any accidents however there is a definite risk that the initial technology will come across a situation which it can't handle. Take the Google car vs fixie incident, if the car doesn't know how to proceed safely it wont proceed. Without a body ready to take control the car could potentially find itself stuck in gridlock which it caused.

    Think of two polite people at a doorway each saying "No, you go first". A Human will eventually push through and take the risk of hitting another vehicle while a computer might just get stuck in a loop.

    I hope there wont be a requirement to maintain constant vigilance, although being unfit to drive, eg drunk/asleep would be a step too far. I wonder how the car will notify the driver that it needs input?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. Snowy
    Member

    Agree @acsimpson

    The main adoption barrier is that (for the Google tech at least) it requires an up-to-date model of the route including junctions and traffic lights so that the car knows where to look for traffic lights etc. Keeping this up to date is an enormous challenge. Correctly identifying temporary layout changes and restrictions continues to be a challenge for the cars, for example.

    So while the cars are excellent at operating within the rules of the road and avoiding collisions, the problem is when conditions take the car outside of its frame of reference. This is when the human needs to bring extra information to bear and make decisions. But it's not for safety. I agree with Dougal it's highly unlikely the human would be watching the road better than the car, and vanishingly unlikely the human could react faster.

    However, it's probably a good idea initially to have a qualified human in the car, simply to help the cars through the inevitable teething issues and avoiding them getting confused/stuck. It'll be obvious enough once we're past that stage.

    I think it will be very interesting to see how the algorithms cope with some of Europe's 'creative' road layouts, in contrast with the simpler layouts of the US. Particularly our Edinburgh speciality of two signed straight-ahead lanes at the traffic lights, but only one lane on the far side of the junction :-).

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. wingpig
    Member

    Do they have roundabouts in the US?

    Hopefully Google Streetview cars been performing a secondary function of gathering data on driver behaviour from around the world in anticipation of driverless trials, even if it would lack that extra how-they-react-to-me-if-I-do-this the live testing vehicles are seeing.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. dougal
    Member

    @acsimpson That's an interesting issue with livelock. It really relates to two points:

    1. Are the rules of the road (in all countries) clear enough to avoid this scenario with other automated cars?

    2. Assuming (1) how do you deal with human users who ignore the rules, "breaking" the system?

    I expect this has had a lot of thought put into it but the case of the cyclist doing the track stand crosses both boundaries:

    1. The cyclist was stopped and there was a clear system of priority to say who should go first.

    2. The cyclist rocking back and forth *appeared* to be ignoring the rules causing the automated car to change its behaviour.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. crowriver
    Member

    Apparently there are 5,000 roundabouts in the US.

    "This site is dedicated to free traffic flow through the design and use of roundabouts. Visit this site often to get the most recent news and information about the progress of roundabouts in the USA. There are currently around 5,000 modern roundabouts operating in the USA that were constructed since 1990. Hundreds more are constructed every year."

    http://www.roundaboutsusa.com

    This from 2011:

    "Is the British roundabout conquering the US?"

    "California has built nearly 200 in the last two or three years."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13863498

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. stiltskin
    Member

    I think it will be a long time before they develop a car where it would be impossible to take control and longer still before they make it compulsory for cars to be self driving. We are stuck with the human factor on the roads for an awfully long time, so making a driver mandatory doesn't really bother me.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. Ed1
    Member

    I wonder if there will be self-driving bikes where you just have to pedal

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. Blueth
    Member

    As far as I am aware it is enshrined in some international legislation that the driver is responsible for any consequences of driving. Though driverless cars were not thought of at that time there would appear to be, therefore, a requirement to have a human driver.

    There's enough comment on here about how difficult it can be to get recompense from or action taken against an errant driver.

    What chance that, if the driver's name is Google? Somewhere south of nil I would suspect.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone who has to suffer the vagaries of IT in their work life could really believe that a driverless car could be trusted.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. acsimpson
    Member

    I think the feeling is mostly one of trusting them more than human drivers.

    P.S. Happy Christmas all.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. The Boy
    Member

    I imagine the insistence on a driver being 'in charge' is to get over some people's fear of the new. On another board there are repeated claims that a driverless car is designed to kill people. Various posters have creates convoluted scenarios to back up the assertion.

    Once driverless cars are the norm, and people are used to seeing people reading the paper while 'in charge' of the vehicle then I imagine this will be a much more minority position.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. crowriver
    Member

    I think there may be a larger issue with adoption of driverless cars. The issue is not safety: that can, and presumably will, be sorted out, just as it has with aviation, shipping and railways. (No-one seems to be concerned about long-haul flights largely flown by automated systems).

    The problem is more that drivers associate cars with freedom, with individual agency, even with fun. It's what distinguishes private transport from public in most people's minds. Never mind that, in urban areas, freedom is largely illusory. The idea is there, and has been firmly planted, and relentlessly propagandised by the automotive industry in order to shift units of product. Without a similarly relentless and sustained propaganda campaign in favour of driverless cars, the majority of drivers will resist them strongly. There's also a huge cultural inertia there: gaining a driving licence is seen by many as a rite of passage into adulthood, responsibility and citizenship. So the emotional, ritualised 'ownership' of driving is deeply embedded in society.

    Maybe only the insurance industry could provide a true incentive for driverless car adoption in the short to medium term, by penalising the more dangerous human driven vehicles through higher premiums.

    Of course, there is the bigger issue that most journeys do not require a car, driverless or otherwise. Reducing car use overall can only be done by making it less attractive than the alternatives. Government could have a big role here as the regulator of public roads, but there's no sign of the UK taking a lead here, other than allowing trials to be conducted.

    What I can imagine in 10 years is many taxi firms put out of business by an Über style driverless car service (Johnny Cabs); some delivery services being driverless; driverless cars being marketed at people with mobility issues; and a few 'early adopters', tech geeks and the like getting into driverless cars. Without serious government or industry intervention, I can't see the majority of drivers giving up their 'freedom' to drive as they see fit.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. neddie
    Member

    I don't think it will be too hard a sell for automation to take over monotonous motorway driving. Just think, you could take your campervan, set it on auto down the M6 for the night, and crawl into bed.

    I think full automation will come in in progressive steps. Until eventually, maybe all desire to drive manually will be lost (would you risk your family by driving manually? Like risking your family by having a drink...?)

    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. acsimpson
    Member

    Seat belts no longer being compulsory will be the point where we know the battle for safe roads has been won. We will enjoy the same safety travelling in cars or cycling as we currently enjoy catching the train, flying or going by boat.

    Until then we might be able to dream of going to bed while driving down the M6.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  21. cc
    Member

    There's a Connie Willis story, "The Last of the Winnebagos", set in the time when manual driving is finally dying out. Recommended. It's published in "Time is the Fire: the best of Connie Willis", which is in Edinburgh libraries.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  22. cc
    Member

    @crowriver Even though politicians and voters don't give a damn about road safety, insurance companies do; as you say, they'll be a big driver (sorry) of safer, more automated cars.
    But also, younger people are said to be on average rather less interested in cars than previous generations (e.g. Millennials Don't Care About Owning Cars, And Car Makers Can't Figure Out Why) - if they can play with their smartphones while travelling to work, how much more interesting than the weary slog of driving through heavy traffic.
    And imagine being able to use an automated car without needing a driving licence. What a saving, of time and money that could better be spent playing with one's smartphone.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. neddie
    Member

    This is good. Seems they've thought of pretty much everything...

    http://rebelmetropolis.org/the-40-funniest-ways-self-driving-cars-will-fail-fucking-hard/

    WARNING contains swearing

    Posted 5 years ago #
  24. crowriver
    Member

    Google reports self-driving car mistakes: 272 failures and 13 near misses

    Google’s self-driving cars might not yet have caused a single accident on public roads, but it’s not for want of trying.

    Between September 2014 and November 2015, Google’s autonomous vehicles in California experienced 272 failures and would have crashed at least 13 times if their human test drivers had not intervened, according to a document filed by Google with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/12/google-self-driving-cars-mistakes-data-reports

    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. crowriver
    Member

    London's first driverless cars based on Heathrow 'pods'

    The first driverless cars to be tested on the streets of London will resemble the electric passenger shuttles currently in use at Heathrow Airport. The group behind the project is currently adapting the pods for use on the roads. It has yet to unveil the exact design but confirmed that the adapted vehicles will not run on dedicated tracks.

    Greenwich is one of four places in the UK where driverless pods and public reaction to them are being tested. Trials will also take place in Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes. The £8m project is jointly funded by government agency Innovate UK and industry. The Greenwich Automated Transport Environment project - or Gateway - will see seven driverless pods tested on the pavements around the Greenwich Peninsula, where the O2 Arena is based, from July.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35432687

    So, now these things will take over pavements???

    Posted 5 years ago #
  26. I were right about that saddle
    Member

    Woops.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. dougal
    Member

    The mixed message of self-driving machines is quite strange. Have a car that drives itself! You can take your hands off the wheel! It will react much faster than you. ... But you have to remain alert. You should keep your hands on the wheel at all times. You have to take up the slack when it fails. You are still liable in the event of a failure.

    The whole thing is doomed to failure - not technologically but socially. The failure to drive safely and responsibly will not be solved by a machine that makes the easy bits easier. Self-driving cars will come but drivers will compensate by being more irresponsible in the way that seat belts, air bags, ABS braking and roll cages have. People will continue to think they are great drivers and continue to drive incautiously.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. "Self-driving cars will come but drivers will compensate by being more irresponsible in the way that seat belts, air bags, ABS braking and roll cages have. People will continue to think they are great drivers and continue to drive incautiously"

    I might be missing something, but if the car's computer is doing the actual driving, how does the human then drive incautiously? Is it not entirely different to the safety devices also listed (which frankly I'd rather cars have as well).

    I may have mis-read.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  29. jdanielp
    Member

    To quote Tesla: 'Autopilot "is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times," and that "you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle" while using it.' There is a matter-of-fact/somewhat defensive blog post from Tesla about this incident which states 'Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky':

    https://www.teslamotors.com/en_GB/blog/tragic-loss

    Posted 5 years ago #
  30. neddie
    Member

    Another example from the motoring world where a "safety benefit is absorbed as a performance benefit"*

    The 'safety benefit' is an semi-autonomous system with a better safety record (so far) than a human.

    The 'performance benefit' is the ability to relax while driving, take your hands off the wheel, have a nap, use your smart-device...

    *See "Death on the Streets"

    Posted 5 years ago #

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