Will we see a real self driving car in our life time?

Discussion in 'General Science' started by spinnaker, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. spinnaker

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    Lots of research going on for the self driving car. Some happening right here in Pittsburgh. My co-worker's nephew is the wrench for one of the projects here.

    Will we see a real self driving car in our life time? I just don't see it outside of experimentation under controlled conditions. When humans drive it is amazing the number of seemingly simple decisions we make that would be extremely complex for a computer to perform.

    Encounters with flagmen or police directing traffic for example. The police might direct you into a lane that might have normally been an on coming lane. Or perhaps a road that had an unscheduled closure. A sign is posted. The human reads the sign and makes a simple adjustment to his route.

    I just can't see the computer being able to recognize these cues and then be able to react to them appropriately.

    Perhaps it would work in a closed system like a campus but I just don't see the self driving car going out into the real world. At least not for some time to come.

    A self driving flying car might actually be easier to implement.
     
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  2. wayneh

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    I wholeheartedly believe I will see this in my lifetime, assuming I have a couple decades left. (Self-driving, not flying!)

    The way I see it, the technology to accomplish it is essentially here already. Some refinements may be needed, but no breakthroughs. Computers are plenty powerful already and there are enough sensors and what-not that nothing critical awaits discovery, to enable automated driving.

    There are 3 hurdles I see: 1) Liability, 2) The transition phase - during which there is less than 100% automation, and 3) Societal momentum.

    If you hand over any driving function to an automated system, there is a shift in liability. If an accident happens while the car is in charge, the driver can rightly claim he his not responsible. So handing over functions to automation is going to be dictated by insurance companies. Suppose the insurance company is looking at an automated braking system. Initially they would probably refuse to pay any claims that might possibly be related to using such a system. Over time they realize that the automated system is superior to human drivers, and the situation reverses. If your car has automated braking and you have an accident while not using it, the insurance company will shrug its shoulders and say, "what the hell were you thinking, controlling the brakes yourself?". How dare you.

    The day will come when driving manually will be equated with driving drunk. You're placing other drivers at unnecessary risk and you will be removed from the road.

    The transition phase will be hard to get through. A driver needs to be either in full command or not. You can expect a driver to have no input for an hour and then jump in to prevent an accident in a fraction of a second. So I think we'll see a lot of automated assistance to drivers before we actually turn the driver into just another passenger. This period will also be needed to let people become accustomed to the technology.

    The average car on the road in the U.S. is 11 years old. So even a full shift to a new technology today won't be fully implemented for a decade or more. Accepting the transition will probably be a generational issue and take 2-3 decades to complete.
     
  3. nsaspook

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    A self driving car is one of those applications for technology that I find technically challenging but silly as a safety goal unless speeds and density of traffic are increased to the point where humans can't takeover manual control. What's needed if we keep the driving parameters in the human range is assists for when humans get into conditions where they have clearly lost control and maybe online simulators that improve human driving during actual driving.
     
  4. LDC3

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    I remember hearing a few years ago about a driverless bus on a set track. I don't remember if there was an electrical path to follow, or there was a track for the wheel.

    Closure of a road or lane would be easy and fast to implement since you just need to inform the system there is a change in the available routes. If fact, an automatic system would implement reverse lane flow faster than people could.

    In current news: Roadtesting Google's new driverless car
    DRIVERLESS CAR DRIVES 175 MILES ON BUSY CHINESE EXPRESSWAY, NO GPS NECESSARY
    HUMAN-CAUSED DRIVERLESS CAR CRASH IS MORE EVIDENCE THAT CARS SHOULD JUST TAKE OVER
    AUTONOMOUS CARS MAY CHANGE OUR LIVES IN UNEXPECTED WAYS
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  5. spinnaker

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    Have you been to an airport lately? Most airports have these driverless track systems. Those are easy. except for dealing with the transit unions. ;)

    Road closures happen all of the time with minutes notice. If you are lucky enough to have emergency or repair personnel on the scene then I guess they can have a device to let the cars know about a closure. But sometimes direction is coming from another driver, say during an accident. Volunteers might step in to direct traffic until emergency personnel show up. Giving directions with hand gestures. Perhaps they block an oncoming lane to allow traffic to exit in the wrong direction. I just can't see a computer being able to figure out those gestures mean it is safe to venture in an on coming lane.

    I can certainly see how these systems would work on a special closed system where only other driverless cars travel. The system could communicate with thecars and the cars with one another. But many of these proposals are for to not have a steering wheel. So how do you get the car to the system without a steering wheel.

    I might also see how a driverless can might work in the real world if they had a steering wheel. If the car got itself into a jam that it could not figure out then it would shutdown and force the human to drive.
     
  6. joeyd999

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    Will we see a real self-driving car?

    If we do, I'd like to publish my performance chip mod here...

    Code written in .asm, of course, where performance is at...
     
  7. LDC3

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    I believe we should restrict our discussion to vehicles that can drive autonomously on unmarked roadways, not following a track (such as subways or an embedded electronic path), similar to the vehicles in the DARPA challenge.

    I recall an article (I think it was in Popular Science) where a system of robotic traffic cones are deployed when a crash was detected on the roadway. Essentially, they would direct traffic around the problem and allow emergency vehicles faster access to the crash.
     
  8. nsaspook

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    The main problem IMO with the self driving personal car is that it will tend to increase traffic, driving and total energy consumption. If we can live in comfort while our cars drive then people will use cars as temporary beds to extend the distance we live from work or drive to any destination repeatedly. Your car won't be a car, it will be a extension of your house that moves. It will tend to reduce public transportation, increase pedestrian/cyclist fatalities and increase traffic if all cars are 'auto' cars because why would you be on a smelly bus or train sleeping with others when you can stay in your own 'driving' room instead.
     
  9. bwilliams60

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    Autonomous vehicles are already in use in Europe. We have Class 8 trucks that will drive themselves down the road, brake when they are too close to other vehicles using radar and now we are using combinations of radar, lidar and doppler to safe guard against all the other unknown hazards. We will see a full working unit within ten years that is safe for the road and for pedestrians, animals etc.
    We have tractors that 100% will plow a field by themselves now. You lay out the coordinates for the tractor and it will do the rest.
    We are almost there George Jetson!
     
  10. Alec_t

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    I have this mental image of frantically pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete in an emergency ;).
    There will no doubt be occasions, too, when your car grinds to a halt and refuses to budge while it updates its software :(.
     
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  11. spinnaker

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    I can see how it can be safe for hazards. I can't see how it can make more complex decisions on dealing with the hazards. A cow walks out on to the road. Both the human and the autonomous vehicle would stop. Both will wait a period for the cow to move. The human will recognize it is an animal and blow the horn. Computer might be able to do the say. When the horn does not work the human would get out of the truck and try to scare the cow off of the road. The computer will just sit there backing up traffic.
     
  12. nsaspook

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    We will handle all the problems with self-driving as it's the kind of technical problem we humans are very good at but the changes to society because of it might be the more important question.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/06/us-autos-ces-daimler-idUSKBN0KF0B620150106
     
  13. shortbus

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    I think the car companies are gearing up for the public's reactions to this right now. Watch the TV car ad's, and see all the side lane warning systems, collision avoidance systems, self parking, etc. The only thing stopping it is the older cars out there without this stuff. They will need to outlaw 'dumb' cars before the self driving ones take over.
     
  14. sirch2

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    Insurance companies will make us use them as soon as there is sufficient market uptake. Imagine the claim, human driven car vs. fully instrumented autonomous car with a complete record of it's motion during the accident plus radar and video logs.

    I think a lot of people in cities will probably give up owning a car and just use driverless taxis which can be small one or two person units. It might not happen very quickly in well-off western countries but there are a couple of billion people in India and China and it could solve a lot of their traffic problems. The "first world" and it's outmoded attitudes will just be left behind
     
  15. Tesla23

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    I think you will see them being rolled out over the next decade.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car

    "In August 2012, the team announced that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles (500,000 km) accident-free"

    The bar is actually quite low, they don't have to be perfect - just more reliable than humans. Computer controlled cars won't drive under the influence, or when tired or on drugs, they can look in all directions at once, they won't phone or text and drive, won't be distracted by most anything, won't succumb to their testosterone levels and decide to drag off the car next to them, speed, etc ....... There will be crashes, but I would expect fewer, and after each one we can investigate and improve the algorithms.

    I hope they do it in the US first as they can get out the bugs over there in the first couple of years. Long term the talk will be where do we actually allow humans to drive.
     
  16. Alec_t

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    How reliant are the autonomous systems on markers such as roadside signs/transponders? I can envisage practical systems working on well-defined highways, but have my doubts as to their effectiveness on wild country tracks and mud roads with no street furniture. Driving on snowed-over roads would be a challenge, when visual cues may well be absent.
     
  17. sirch2

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    The google car relies on very accurate mapping rather than roadside clues which may seems a bit "chicken and egg" since the point of the car is to do the mapping. However I guess once the initial map is created the road layout does not change very often. It does make you wonder what they do about complex temporary layouts due to road works but I suppose if there are enough self driving cars on the road either the road contractors will be obliged to upload new temporary maps or the cars will report back the route they managed to navigate so that other cars can follow.
     
  18. nsaspook

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    NSFW language.
     
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  19. wayneh

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    I think if the human is no longer the driver, there will be much less interest in owning the car, as opposed to paying for a ride when you need one. Suppose I have an app on my phone that I could tell I need a ride. If I could rely on a robot car coming along within a few minutes, why would I pay to keep my own car? I'm not just talking about a city with cabs, I'm talking about even out here in the rural areas.
     
  20. sirch2

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    Depends on a few factors, you can't leave stuff in shared cars and the robot car may be full of other people's rubbish or worse. On the other hand you may be able to order a vehicle to suit your needs, e.g. a single seater for commuting and a van for moving large volume items
     
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