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Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic
New York Times ^ | October 9, 2010 | George Markoff

Posted on 10/10/2010 4:36:17 PM PDT by lbryce

Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may have glimpsed a Toyota Prius with a curious funnel-like cylinder on the roof. Harder to notice was that the person at the wheel was not actually driving.

The car is a project of Google, which has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.

With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light.

Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has.

Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, the engineers argue. They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008. The engineers say the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: driverlesscars; google; innovation
Necessity is the mother of invention seems nowadays to have been superseded by Build it and they will come.
Your mind goes WTF at first but then settles into perplexed curiosity as to how, why and what for, as a kind of chicken-or-egg scenario for the commercial market but see incredible opportunity in applying the technology for military purposes.
1 posted on 10/10/2010 4:36:20 PM PDT by lbryce
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To: lbryce
They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008.

If the same criteria were applied as with air crashes, and as stringently, "accidents" would break down to a combination of negligence and pilot error, with mechanical failure far behind. Just saying.

It might not be a good idea to be texting while surfing the web on the laptop while changing clothes and doing makeup during breakfast while fiddling with the gizmos in the car while allegedly driving with a fresh hangover...

2 posted on 10/10/2010 4:44:06 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: lbryce

How much would it cost to keep the other car from getting the parking place? If cars are driven by computer then some cars will become more equal than other.


3 posted on 10/10/2010 4:44:42 PM PDT by ThomasThomas (I still like peanut butter)
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To: lbryce

A funnel-like cylinder would look like... a dunce cap?


4 posted on 10/10/2010 4:49:57 PM PDT by La Enchiladita
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To: lbryce

I think it’s brilliant. I’ve long called for us to “Automate Driving” on this board.

Imagine a world where the elderly and the young no longer have to be chauffeured. Where there are few or no autobody shops, few traffic cops, few traffic courts, no speeding tickets, no ambulance chasing lawyers, car insurance would be cheap.

The amount of waste in the economy from wrecked cars and injured automobile occupants would be eliminated.

It’s one of the best things we could do, and it should be well within our reach.


5 posted on 10/10/2010 4:49:59 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: lbryce
Harder to notice was that the person at the wheel was not actually driving.

Sort of like Obama in the 1/2 white house.

6 posted on 10/10/2010 4:51:54 PM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannolis. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: lbryce

I’m sure the car of the future will have a MS Windows OS that will crash at the wrong time. Explain that one to your insurance agent.


7 posted on 10/10/2010 4:52:17 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: lbryce
The writer missed a really big point when he said :Autonomous cars are years from mass production" because, as it turns out, the test vehicles were already in mass production ~ the control units and retrofit modules aren't yet ~ but that's a really minor issue.

These guys were going way beyond proof of concept right into making automobiles operate a new way.

8 posted on 10/10/2010 4:58:56 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: DannyTN

You could send your car all by itself to the dealer for a check up and any warranty work.


9 posted on 10/10/2010 5:01:20 PM PDT by muawiyah ("GIT OUT THE WAY" The Republicans are coming)
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To: DannyTN

I hope these don’t spend too long in the overpriced novelty stage. Being epileptic, a car like this could really change my life for the better...


10 posted on 10/10/2010 5:04:54 PM PDT by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: lbryce

I want to know what the car will do to me when I flip it off in traffic.


11 posted on 10/10/2010 5:06:53 PM PDT by NurdlyPeon (Sarah Palin: America's last, best hope for survival.)
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To: lbryce
Google out sourcing jobs.
12 posted on 10/10/2010 5:07:53 PM PDT by cruise_missile
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To: lbryce
Google out sourcing jobs.
13 posted on 10/10/2010 5:07:58 PM PDT by cruise_missile
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To: lbryce

14 posted on 10/10/2010 5:10:12 PM PDT by dfwgator (Texas Rangers - AL West Champions)
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To: lbryce

Man! I wish my ‘60 Chevy Impala would have had that! Imagine being driven around while you neck in the back seat. I was born too early!


15 posted on 10/10/2010 5:12:55 PM PDT by Tucker39
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To: lbryce

How did it become legal for these guys to NOT be in control of their automobiles?


16 posted on 10/10/2010 5:16:25 PM PDT by 4buttons
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To: lbryce

I bet it is illegal to do that. Not that anyone will care unless they wreck and kill a bunch of people.


17 posted on 10/10/2010 5:22:29 PM PDT by GeronL (http://libertyfic.proboards.com <--- My Fiction/ Science Fiction Board)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Agreed.

70 MPH and you get to inspect the blue screen of death.

Any shot at a manual ejection seat?


18 posted on 10/10/2010 5:22:35 PM PDT by benewton
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To: DannyTN; traviskicks

I’m skeptical. If only because I wonder about who would control the computer controlling your car.

Imagine: certain destinations need to be approved by your local DMV. Oh, you’ve reached your federally-mandated Fast Food Quota for the month, no McDonald’s for you...

That, and you’d have an easily accessible log detailing everywhere you travel.


19 posted on 10/10/2010 5:23:46 PM PDT by Ultra Sonic 007 (To view the FR@Alabama ping list, click on my profile!)
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To: DannyTN
Imagine a world where the elderly and the young no longer have to be chauffeured. Where there are few or no autobody shops, few traffic cops, few traffic courts, no speeding tickets, no ambulance chasing lawyers, car insurance would be cheap.

Imagine a world where your car's autopilot runs under Windows.

Now imagine a world where a bunch of hackers (or terrorists) take control of a whole bunch of cars at the same time...

20 posted on 10/10/2010 5:29:53 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("It is only when we've lost everything, that we are free to do anything" -- Fight Club)
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To: 4buttons
How did it become legal for these guys to NOT be in control of their automobiles?

Think of it like cruise control. The computer is controlling the vehicle, but there is a driver behind the wheel ready to override if he doesn't like what the computer is doing.

21 posted on 10/10/2010 5:32:40 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("It is only when we've lost everything, that we are free to do anything" -- Fight Club)
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To: PapaBear3625
Driving with no hands on the wheel IS reckless driving in EVERY state.... I am sure it is against the law which is why they didn't let the story out until there were many miles logged.

It also won't run Windows,, it will be Google OS. Just think of all the "search results" they can drive you to now.

"I want the best burger in town. Take me there". Google then determines who paid the most for the best burger in town and then takes you there.....
22 posted on 10/10/2010 5:52:39 PM PDT by phalynx
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Kubuntu Kars?


23 posted on 10/10/2010 6:32:18 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (I am in America but not of America (per bible: am in the world but not of it))
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To: lbryce

A car with no driver would be a car that would be really easy to steal.


24 posted on 10/10/2010 6:41:50 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: lbryce
I would estimate we are about 10 years out from these becoming a commercial reality. First it will be implemented on long-haul trucks. (Seriously, I would NOT suggest truck driving as a long-term career for any young person for simply this reason). The cost savings for businesses will be too great to ignore.

Then it will spread down to luxury vehicles, and kits for handicapped and seniors and so on. Yes there will be errors and problems, but I expect that they will be rare from the outset - much lower than the risks of having human drivers. (I work as a quality engineer in automotive safety electronics.) This stuff is being developed over a long period, step by step, so there is time to refine the testing techniques and recognize the odd scenarios that could stump or fool the software.

I would strongly agree that two things be kept inviolate: that drivers be able to take control of the vehicle, and that the autonomous controls be strictly tied to driver input/control (not subject to remote manipulation or command).

25 posted on 10/10/2010 7:59:40 PM PDT by Liberty1970 ("Religion is a substitute for the relationship God wants with you." - RoadTest)
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To: muawiyah
"You could send your car all by itself to the dealer for a check up and any warranty work."

True, and delivery vehicles could become extremely lightweight, designed to carry only the cargo and no passengers.

26 posted on 10/10/2010 8:03:16 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: lbryce

Teamsters are gonna love it - all bennies, no work.


27 posted on 10/10/2010 8:05:43 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: sinsofsolarempirefan

Even people that can drive, could spend the commute time doing other things. For example putting on their makeup or eating breakfast, or texting....oh...well, you could do those things without being hazard. You could also read, work, etc.


28 posted on 10/10/2010 8:05:53 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Jack Hydrazine
"I’m sure the car of the future will have a MS Windows OS that will crash at the wrong time. Explain that one to your insurance agent."

I don't think anyone is suggesting letting microsoft design car operating systems.

My '96 Chevy has a computer that controls the engine and the cruise control. Almost all modern day cars do. In the event of a computer failure, the car goes into "limp mode", the individual components, fail safe to preset values that are still driveable but far from optimal.

There will be computer failures and some redundancy will have to be built into the cars. But relative to humans, the computers don't tire, don't get distracted (non-microsoft OS), and can do more things at once than a human.

29 posted on 10/10/2010 8:15:21 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Tucker39
"Man! I wish my ‘60 Chevy Impala would have had that! Imagine being driven around while you neck in the back seat. I was born too early!"

There is that downside. It would have been awesome when we were young. But as a parent, I'd be looking for that vehicle chaperone program.

30 posted on 10/10/2010 8:20:46 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Liberty1970
"I would strongly agree that two things be kept inviolate: that drivers be able to take control of the vehicle, and that the autonomous controls be strictly tied to driver input/control (not subject to remote manipulation or command). "

Generally agreed, but they should be options.

I can think of exceptions to this. A car owned by a DWI offender or other unsafe driver shouldn't allow the driver to take control.

Conversely, couriers, taxis, business vehicles, parents, guardians, may want remote control. It just needs to be secure enough to keep terrorists at bay. I think there are situations you should be able to alter the route, remotely, but you shouldn't be able to alter the programming remotely.

Once the technology is in place. How do you keep a terrorist from programming cars to attack? All he has to do is gain physical possession of the car and be able to make alterations. Some thought needs to be given to that.

Do we want to allow car owners to hack their own vehicle's software? Allowing it could make for vast improvements, as every car owner, could become a source of technical development. But without controlled testing, they could introduce errors that would be unsafe.

31 posted on 10/10/2010 8:30:08 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN
Once the technology is in place. How do you keep a terrorist from programming cars to attack? All he has to do is gain physical possession of the car and be able to make alterations. Some thought needs to be given to that. Do we want to allow car owners to hack their own vehicle's software? Allowing it could make for vast improvements, as every car owner, could become a source of technical development. But without controlled testing, they could introduce errors that would be unsafe. Anything can be misused, just like guns. But is it an acceptable risk? IMO yes...
32 posted on 10/11/2010 2:20:25 AM PDT by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: PapaBear3625

I repeat-

How did it become legal for these guys to NOT be in control of their automobiles?


33 posted on 10/11/2010 4:55:09 PM PDT by 4buttons
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