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back to article Google's self-driving car snags first-ever license in Nevada

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has issued the first license plates that will allow Google's autonomous cars onto public highways. Nevada is the first state to devise licensing procedures for autonomous vehicles, and Google is the one of the leaders in that field, having hired some of the top talent that took part in the …

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Pint

so can i drink and get driven home in this?

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"so can i drink and get driven home in this?"

No. The person sat in the driver's seat will still be responsible for the actions of the car. Basically it's a way for Google to say that the software is in beta, and any bugs and consequences arising from them are not their fault. So if the car has an accident because of a bug and you're pissed or on the phone it's your fault.

Personally I think it is madness. What's the point of all that tech if it can't drive you home from the boozer? And would you really trust Google's software with your life?

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Well

1) It'll get better as it goes on

2) It gives you time to do things that aren't driving. Like using the internet from your in-car display and looking things up on--oh, what's that website again?

The more I think about this the more it feels like Android in your car-a way to give you more time in your life to spend using the internet.

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Currently no but soon yes. Google also pushed for texting while driving to be legal.

How many years until such vehicles don't come with a steering wheel?

I can see a future where manually driving a vehicle will be illegal. The only manual driving allowed with be on race tracks

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Happy

@"I can see a future where ..."

@"I can see a future where manually driving a vehicle will be illegal."

I think you are right long term, but that could be many decades from now.

But even shorter term with cars driving themselves, it'll make Johnny Cabs from the film Total Recall entirely possible. Some airports and city projects are already experimenting with pod like cars similar to Johnny Cabs.

But longer term that could even make the need to own a car obsolete for most people. It could also mean the end of buses and coaches and even trains.

Plus lorries could drive themselves, so almost all goods could get automatically shipped around the country entirely by machines and even deliveries to homes could in time become automated with postal robots working off the backs of delivery vehicles working out of automated regional delivery centers.

Theres also a lot of good that can be achieved with network wide traffic flow management to allow easing of traffic jams where robot vehicles cooperate with each other to keep vehicles moving. Road traffic made up of all robot controlled vehicles, would also for example allow emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines to order all cars in front of them to make way for them, so the emergency vehicles can get through much faster which would save lives.

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Black Helicopters

the future

I can see a future where manually driving a vehicle will be illegal. The only manual driving allowed with be on race tracks

Good, get rid of the human error, impatience, and agression.

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Paris Hilton

ILL NEVER OWN ONE

TOYOTA HARRUMPH I ONLY BUY AMERICAN CARS MY BUICK PRACTICALLY DRIVES ITSELF ANYWAY

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Thumb Down

Re: ILL NEVER OWN ONE

I'm actually surprised that you can drive, as you type like a 4 year old.

Maybe someone should take your caps lock off you.

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Facepalm

Re: ILL NEVER OWN ONE

wooooooooooooooooooooosh!

The sound of sarcasm flying right over your head.

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Happy

Re: ILL NEVER OWN ONE

Awsome, BDG!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ILL NEVER OWN ONE

Sarcasm is a witty form of language that is used to show irony, insult, or criticism.

Woooooooooooooooooosh! the sound of the wind in-between your ears

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Trollface

Sarcasm?

Or just really bad, obvious trolling?

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Re: ILL NEVER OWN ONE

@phuzz

Sarcasm, that's what I thought until I discovered that some day between 27 June 2011 and 2 April 2012 the caps lock jammed and has never been fixed.

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On the one hand...but on the other...

Planes have been fly-by-wire for a long time, the pilot hints to the onboard computer what he wants it to do, it polls its friends, and if they all agree, they do what the pilot asked.

On the other hand FUUUUUUCCCKKK! NOOOOOOO!! How terrifying is that to let loose? Aviation works because the rules are strictly followed (eg different flight levels for flying N-S than S-N, for instance), and those rules built up over decades of accidents, improving each time; and because the planes cost millions in avionics and robust ADA.

Google, gorblessit, is hell-bent on everything being a 'cloud service' with always on-ness to try to simulate a clunky spreadsheet in a browser. They tell us this is the only way, that it is the future. Want a car that polls the server before braking? OK, of course it will have to be autonomous, but seeing as how many of Google's offerings either publically carried the 'Beta' tag for years or crashed and burned, the corporate culture doesn't seem one I would want to trust with anything life-threatening.

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Stop

Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

What this article fails to mention, is that the car has already clocked up #140,000 miles with no accidents in California...

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

Would you be happy with it if were shown, after umpteen thousand hours of testing, to be safer than a human driver?

A human driver might suddenly fall ill, be distracted by their domestic issues, be drunk, be an asshole, not be very good at driving in the first place, drives a grey car in fog and doesn't turn their lights on, falls asleep, is trying to impress his mates, sees an attractive shop window, sees an attractive member of the opposite sex, is wearing high heels, be texting their mates, be listening to a Hendrix guitar solo, gets a fly in their eye, sneezes, drives in the middle of the motorway while not actively overtaking somebody, drops a fag on their lap...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

With how many human interventions during those 140000 miles? Do you happen to know Barry?

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

>With how many human interventions during those 140000 miles?

I don't know, but I imagine that there were no serious injuries, else we would have read about them here... unless the car was intelligent enough to reverse back over the victim and then mercilessly pursue any witnesses, a la Duel (1971).

But seriously, Google must be pretty confident of it not hurting anyone, since that doesn't make for good press.

I can see the biggest issue with automated cars being the effect on the part-time human drivers... like finding yourself driving on the right two days after getting back to Blighty from the continent, people might daydream and think that the car is in control.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dave 126

You misunderstood me, I said interventions not injuries..

As the article says the cars were always operating with a human driver behind the wheel. I wonder how many overrides and corrections the human driver had to make to avoid accidents.

Also where was the car driven? I can't really see a computer driven car interpreting UK roads built around the 60s. Hell I can't even believe it will manage a busy roundabout.

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

@Cliff

To extend your comparison (if I may) with autopilots in planes, another key difference lies in what the two systems actually do.

Aircraft autopilots are performing relatively simple flight dynamics calculations to keep the plane in the sky. They're processing data from reliable sensors (air speed, altitude, attitude, GPS, etc). They operate in an environment where there's nothing to hit except other aircraft that are easily spotted (radar systems / transponders work really well). Also they are similarly controlled either by an autopilot or by a pilot following the rules of the sky. Missing the ground is generally straightforward provided everything is working. They're not artificial intelligences systems; their rules are actually quite straightforward. In short, the problem is well specified, bounded and comparatively easy to test.

This system of Google's has to make complex decisions based on data that is not wholly reliable (image recognition systems never are) in a complex and highly varied environment. How, for example, does it cope with rain, fog, a patch of smoke, debris in the road, etc? It is a classic artificial intelligence situation in that the rules are not tightly defined. In short the problem is not well specified, is poorly bounded and is a nightmare to exhaustively test. Not a good place to be if one is contemplating offering this to the general public…

Your point about Google's corporate culture is valid. They've not got a tradition of developing safety critical systems. I very much doubt that there's anything about the development of this system that an avionics engineer would recognise as being appropriate and sufficient given the scale of the problem. Personally I'd prefer to spend my driving time looking after what the car's doing myself. I'd rather not spend the time wondering if and when another of Google's bugs will occur.

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Re: @Dave 126

I would expect that the number of times a human has to suddenly jump in to ensure safety is VERY low, otherwise it would not be deemed safe for use. I'd love to see information too, but I think we're all underestimating how smart the car is in the same way we stereotype computer speech recognition as being the way it was in the 90s.

I would not be too surprised if this is Google's 2nd "big product" after Google Search in terms of revenue.

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

What this article fails to mention, is that the car has already clocked up #140,000 miles with no accidents in California...

Actually there was one accident but that was a human driver driving up the rear end of the google car.

The vehicles see 360 degrees around them, see in the dark, never get sleepy, never get distracted, never speed, never run red lights and has perfect reflexes.

Yes someone might step out in front of a google car and get run over but human drivers run over stupid pedestrians all the time. Self drive vehicles will just run over less.

The trucking industry will be the first to replace human drivers. Taxis will be second.

It not a case of if but when. Only real problem will be security. You don't want a couple of tons of metal travelling at 100km an hour infected with the carmageddon virus.

Perfect for hitmen. Reprogram the computer to drive off a cliff. Just before impact change the log to state brake failure and reset the firmware. One accidental death.

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Go

Re: Taxis will be second

"Hi! I'm Johnnycab! Where can I take you tonight?"

Wonderful - a taxi that automatically rams the nearest building and explodes in a huge fireball when some chav fare-dodges, instead of just shouting and beating the shit out of them.

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Interventions

Also where was the car driven? I can't really see a computer driven car interpreting UK roads built around the 60s. Hell I can't even believe it will manage a busy roundabout.

I suspect these are city cars for local use only. Around here, and many places outside of cities, you would have to trust that the car knows when to cross the yellow line because of rocks in slide areas. It would also need to make decisions based on how steep the cliff beside the road is and how close you can reasonably get. I'm not saying a computer can't learn to second guess wide load logging trucks travelling at high speed and taking up the whole road, but the driver/steering-wheel combination probably isn't going to disappear any time soon.

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Re: @Dave 126

At the end of the day, what do statistics on interventions actually matter? It's presumably something that can be improved, but if they cause significantly less accidents than human drivers (as I would expect to be the case) then it's got to be a good thing. I suspect that the biggest barrier to these is overselling it as a safe car, because as soon as it has its first "big" accident, which is inevitable, people will go overboard to criticise it.

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

Humans have intelligence and driving requires it at times. I imagine the car is using some sort of route planning? so what about inaccurate route data? suddenly you're going down a one way street the wrong way due to the direction being changed. A human would realise their mistake, a self driving car isn't going to know.

People don't give the human body enough credit, it's far more sophisticated and reliable than a computer at doing many things. Computers are great at processing numbers but they are not good at making decisions where there isn't a very clear answer.

It won't be long before this car encounters a problem it hasn't been programmed to deal with and they'll wonder why it was granted a licence.

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

Fly by wire is dead simple as you're flying through air to a nice curvy line. All a fly by wire does is look where the plane is relative to the plan and make little adjustments to move it back to where it should be.

No people in the way, planes are kept very far apart.

Perhaps if driverless cars were controlled by a driving control centre and pedestrians were banned from crossing the road then it would be a safe system.

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Re: @Dave 126

"It can be improved", try telling that to a couple who've just lost one of their kids after being run over by a driverless car.

"It's okay, we found the bug and have installed service pack 1".

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Happy

Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

That is a truly excellent list and thay all of apply to me (though not necessarily while I'm actually driving, and the heels were a LONG time ago) and I have a licence to drive a car completely unsupervised by a computer or anything else. Really, if that doesn't terrify you, it should.

The way to look at this is to imagine how we will feel in fifty years time about the selfish fucks who endanger everyone by driving their cars in manual on the PUBLIC HIGHWAY FFS! And if you think that an automatic system can't really drive, you've obviously never completed a routine journey and found that you've got no memory at all of the last hour...

Personally I can't wait. If I'm travelling, I want to read or sleep, not jiggle knobs and levers.

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Re: @Dave 126

Given that we have to say "no improvement will be made" to thousands of parents in that situation each year with a fleshy bag behind the wheel I think that would be of more comfort...

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Meh

Re: @Dave 126

Emotions don't give a damn about statistics. If the number of people run over by computer-driven cars (per car-mile driven) is less than 10% the number of people run over by human-driven cars, there will still be an outcry, because people being run over by human-driven cars is a current, known, issue, while being run over by a computer-driven car is something new.

One of human's deepest emotional responses is (unfortunately) anger followed by desire for revenge (in modern society thinly disguised as 'justice'). If I run someone over, or I crash and my passenger dies, I can go to jail for manslaughter. Who goes to jail when a google-car kills someone? The programmer? They don't send my driving instructor to jail if I screw up (granted it's not an exact analogy) Also, there are whole teams of programmers on this thing. What about the project managers? Top executives at Google? (Yeah, right!).

I think the only way it would be solved is if the owner has ultimate responsibility (same as I would be legally responsible if my hypothetical dog hypothetically attacks someone). But then again, what if the 'owner' of the vehicle is a cab company or a trucking company??

This is ultimately not just about cars, what are the legal implication of (semi-)autonomous, independent actors that behave in a conscious manner but do not possess what we would define as consciousness??

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Re: @Dave 126

I think your first comment is actually quite prophetic.

Last year, there were around 2,500 fatal road deaths in the UK.

Let's say that driverless cards are introduced, and they manage to reduce the road toll to 500 per year. But the occasional bug kills that kid you were talking about. Well, we've saved 2000 people in the year, but the Daily Mail is still going to have a headline of "Road killing machine slaughters child".

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

"A human would realise their mistake"

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=follows+gps+into

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Happy

Re: @Metavisor

Yes, both roundabouts in the good 'ol USA will need to be handled with diligence...

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Re: @Dave 126

> "It can be improved", try telling that to a couple who've just lost one of their kids after being run over by a driverless car.

> "It's okay, we found the bug and have installed service pack 1".

As opposed to the zero parents who have been told "we're sorry, but your child was killed in an auto accident" today?

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FAIL

Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

Video here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/video/2012/may/09/google-self-driving-car-video?newsfeed=true

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Re: @Dave 126

Given that unsafe fleshy bags causing accidents will be removed from their driving priveledges, I would say that IS an improvement.

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Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

Having not followed the link (those kinds of GPS fail stories are ten a penny nowadays) I'm not sure what the intent of your post was. You seemed to have posted it with the intention of promoting autonomous driving over human. You actually ended up doing the opposite. The GPS was at fault (either through poor software or incorrect street data) and the driver was at fault for presuming the GPS was infallible.

If the driver was not relying on a faulty GPS that was in fact faulty, he would have seen he was driving incorrectly into (insert choice of pending disaster here) and taken corrective action. On a fully driverless car, the on board systems would inherently be programmed toassume all systems were functioning completely correctly (else it wouldn't be advertised as completely driverless). This would take out the extra layer of awareness that a human driver gives.

Computer systems fail, as do humans, but humans have an ability to realise they are failing. A computer system ofthis kind would have to be programmed to assume it is infallible while it is not. And THAT is why it's a bad idea.

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I for one

welcome our new self driving robotic automotive overlords. Do they come with an annoying tendency to honk if you're a microsecond late pulling away on the green?

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Only in Nevada

You must hand it to them - they walk their libetarianism like they talk it.

They have decriminalised marijuana, legalised prostitution and gambling. It's also home to gun ownership laws which stop just shy of allowing juveniles to pack tactical nuclear weapons.

Now driverless cars - excellent!

It's also one of the States with the lowest population density. Perhaps it's just as well.

Still it's high on my list for a fun holiday. See you at the Burning Man maybe.

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Re: Only in Nevada

That was roughly the quote from the Nevada DMV boss in the press conference - something like "Nevada is pretty empty, we take risks and can look after ourselves"

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Black Helicopters

Re: Only in Nevada

Nevada's gun laws are about as restrictive as you can get while still being a shall-issue state. Since there are only ten states that aren't shall-issue (plus DC, VI, PR, GU, AS, MP), that's pretty far down on the liberal-gun-laws list.

Black helicopters, because there's got to be some state that will let me own an attack helicopter.

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See, this is what I like about Google

It's not lost sight of its main role but it's spread itself out-core tasks like search, maps and mail, extensions of that like Chrome and Android, and way-out-there stuff like self-drive cars and solar panels. It treats itself like a university research department not like a company out to make the maximum profit right now. It really does care about R&D. I really do hope it manages to turn that into amazing, unexpected businesses in future rather than having this stall as an experiment that never quite came off. God knows some drivers right now could be replaced by computers and we'd be better off for it.

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Happy

Re: See, this is what I like about Google

I agree completely, as long as you don't have to create a Google+ account before it lets you drive it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: See, this is what I like about Google

> It really does care about R&D.

Only to maximise profits, duh. Obviously they hope these self driving cars will replace their fleet of StreetView cars and drivers. Drivers that don't need breaks or sleep...

Their existing Streetview cars already have most of the necessary - and expensive - sensors anyway.

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JDX
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Re: See, this is what I like about Google

Of course they want to make profit, they'd be a useless company if they didn't. That takes nothing away from the fact that spending their vast profits on many areas of R&D is a good move... historically a lot of our science was done by the rich.

Playing the "they're only doing it to make money" card just shows a total lack of understanding of the world...

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Re: See, this is what I like about Google

I agree completely, as long as you don't have to create a Google+ account before it lets you drive it.

Forget the google car, it's the Apple car and M$ car you need to worry about. The Apple car only drives you to Apple approved destinations and the M$ car turns blue before crashing. If you see a blue car... RUN!

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Re: See, this is what I like about Google

"Playing the "they're only doing it to make money" card just shows a total lack of understanding of the world..."

I get up in the morning for money

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Re: See, this is what I like about Google

The Apple car is more pedestrian friendly, as it has rounded corners.

The MS car would have been ready years ago, but every time they got the software stable they decided to completely change it.

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Re: See, this is what I like about Google

The Nokia car is brightly coloured and full of photogenic cardboard cutout worker bees with perfect hair and teeth.

It looks like you might really want it.

Until you discover it doesn't have a engine.

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