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back to article Google hires top US traffic fed for DRIVERLESS CARS project

Google has signed up the deputy director of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work on the company's self-driving cars. Detroit News reported that Ron Medford was moving on from the NHTSA, after working in government roles for more than four decades. He will join the Chocolate Factory as the ad …

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"drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

The above seemingly already drive around Manchester on a daily basis.

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Go

Re: "drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

"The above seemingly already drive around Manchester on a daily basis."

Happy to see you are missing the point completely :)

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FAIL

Re: @petur

The same thing could be said about you (correctly, this time).

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Facepalm

Re: "drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

D'oh!

Jokes are never as funny when they have to be explained

<sigh>

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Meh

Re: "drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

Then please use the joke icon or make your post funny. Or explain the point. Tip: I'm not local, not even English.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

"Tip: I'm not local, not even English"

So keep quiet if you can't understand the humour.

Us locals found it hilarious, but then we don't need it drawn out in crayon as others seem to.

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Re: "drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"

"Then please use the joke icon or make your post funny. Or explain the point. Tip: I'm not local, not even English."

Ok, in future I will be sure that every off the cuff, hastily typed remark I leave on a .co.uk registered website that makes any kind of reference to regional or national English places or events, colloquialisms or topical humour, is accompanied by a full breakdown and explanation, just for you.

Or you could ignore the comment and move on with your life.

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Anonymous Coward

Said it years ago.

Brilliant idea. "Go park somewhere there's no charges, and when we come out of the theatre, then we will call you after we've had a drink."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Said it years ago.

I wonder if the technology is able to read parking notices and 'intelligently' choose somewhere safe/free to park.

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Re: Said it years ago.

At that point, why do you need to own a car? Hello Johnnycab!

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Re: Said it years ago.

"At that point, why do you need to own a car? Hello Johnnycab!"

So you can drive around in something someone hasn't puked in (unless it was yourself)

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Boffin

If you can build a Johnnycab

You can build a Johnnycab capable of cleaning up after the people who were in before you.

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JDX
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Sweepstake

On how long before someone claims "they might be fine on boring freeways but they won't be able to handle normal roads"?

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K
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Devil

Re: Sweepstake

about 18 minutes..

They might be fine on boring freeways but they won't be able to handle normal roads, they will cause death and destruction galore... its'll be Robo-Carmageddon

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Happy

Re: Sweepstake

I bet that they'll be fine on city roads as well as freeways. Most city accidents are caused by speeding cars and / or a combination of driver distraction and sudden manouvers. Googlemobile isn't going to be overspeeding, talking on it's cellphone or ogling (or would that be oogling??) the local totty.

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FAIL

Re: Sweepstake

Not going to be moi....but we need these why?

The world already has vehicles that people do not have to drive themselves...they're called busses.

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Re: Sweepstake

The world already has vehicles that people do not have to drive themselves...they're called feet.

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JDX
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Re: Sweepstake

"Not having to drive" is not the reason most use the bus.

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Re: Sweepstake

"The world already has vehicles that people do not have to drive themselves...they're called busses."

This makes the assumptions that busses exist where you are, are going where you need to go and are running at the time you need to leave.

I'm in a rural area and do a lot of late night driving. Not a bus to be seen

But when you live in a city and think the rest of the world is like what you see, I can see how you get your mistaken assumption...

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The real obstacle

The real obstacle to their takeup will be legal. However reliable they are, in the end they are human-made machines that need to be produced at a marketable cost, therefore there WILL be failures, and those failures WILL lead to damage and/or injury.

So if I own a google-car and it's driving, malfunctions and hits someone/thing, if I would be legally responsible then the insurance premiums would by humungous (at least in the beginning till there's an actuarial understanding of their accident rates). If Google can be held responsible, there will be mucho lawsuits coming their way (and I don't see why not, after all if the brakes fail on any other car the manufacturer can and will be sued).

Either way there will be a huge demand both by owners and by Google themselves (each wanting to cover their own arses) to have black boxes in the car mapping every movement of the vehicle - potentially a privacy nightmare.

The best case I can see for early adoption would be a part-Google owned taxi fleet, as long as they can get teh regulators to give them a green light (and no doubt their new recruit will be able to help them with this given his contacts, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more)

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Re: The real obstacle

I see the real benefit here would be for public transport.

Taxis would become cheaper and more reliable.

They might even see of a large proportion of private vehicles in-town.

As a resident of one of Vancouver's suburbs, I have a car but hate to use it in the city since parking and navigating is such a nightmare.

And for all those that think a self-driving car would be infeasibly unsafe, I draw your attention to the fact that most aircraft are, for all intents and purposes, fully automous now, give a more pleasant flight and are infinitely safer that those driven by flesh bags.

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Re: The real obstacle

The new Google JohnnyCab™.

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JDX
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Re: The real obstacle

It's a potential PR disaster, BUT if they can get v1.0 to be demonstrably safer than people, hopefully they'll be able to avoid knee-jerk panics.

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Re: The real obstacle

They'll need to be a LOT safer than people, we expect a much geeater degree of safety from air and rail, these will be the same.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The real obstacle

" I draw your attention to the fact that most aircraft are, for all intents and purposes, fully automous now, give a more pleasant flight and are infinitely safer that those driven by flesh bags."

Er... no, they aren't. They (big aircraft in commercial pax service, and btw it's not "most", it's "all" since in EASA land an autopilot is a certification requirement in that category aircraft) are merely automatic, not autonomous. The difference is that the aircraft does not decide "I'll go to LBY VOR on the 078 inbound at final level 310, climbing 2500 ft/min, and when reaching I'll report to ATC as requested". A "flesh bag" like yourself (or rather, a number of people involved both in the cockpit and on the ground) make the decisions and they merely let the aircraft carry out the manoeuvres automatically, under close supervision.

Bad analogy.

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Re: The real obstacle

"It's a potential PR disaster, BUT if they can get v1.0 to be demonstrably safer than people, hopefully they'll be able to avoid knee-jerk panics."

It will be safer than people but the media will beat it up into a frenzy.

"Robocar MURDERS granny!"

not

"Silly Old Bag Steps Out in Front of Car"

Then the lawyers will come crawling out of the cracks.....

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Re: The real obstacle

Thank you James. Insurance will be a large obstacle. In an accident, who is liable? As it is now, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident is responsible. Who gets the bill if the car is automated? The car maker? The software writers? The company that made the sensors? The owner of the car? The occupant? It will take many years and test cases to iron out the liability issues. Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown hasn't been helping the issue with promoting and signing bills that make it perfectly legal to operate autonomous vehicles on California roads before there is any safety or licensing legislation in place.

The technology might be making good progress, but many university researchers working on automated cars have turned up some very interesting data about human data processing. People can infer that a dog running across a residential street trailing a leash or a frisbee crossing in front of the car might be followed by a person, a child usually. Unless Google plans to equip their cars with a supercomputer programmed with very good recognition software, they might have a hard time with these scenarios. Also, the roads of the world are designed for computer systems made of protein, not platinum. (Robert Heinlein) Detours, temporary speed restrictions, flagman and other changes to a known road are easy for a human to recognize and respond to, but not a computer.

The US lags way behind the rest of the world in public transportation. The various forms of government can't even grasp the concept of joining up the different modes of transportation. In Los Angeles, there is a train station (Amtrak, Metrolink), a tram system (Blue Line), a subway system (Red Line) and an airport (LAX, Burbank). Union Station connects with the Subway which will connect to the tram line, but none of them get to the airports. You have to take a bus over city streets. The train station has been around for years and years. The light rail and subway systems were plagued with NIMBY during planning and construction, so they show all the signs of being designed by committee. The subway that doesn't go to useful places IS very handy for gangbangers and pickpockets. So a few people are making use of it.

The PRT system at Heathrow that goes between terminal 5 and the business car park is awesome. Ultra is building a system in India and there are several more in the planning stages. The system uses 4-person pods that take you non-stop to your destination and you travel only on your own or with your group. You can even fit a wheelchair, bike and/or luggage on with you. Well, you can only go where the system will take you, so it's a bit limited at Heathrow, but there are plans to expand the system airport-wide. It's also comparatively inexpensive to install and operate. It has the unique ability to fund it's operating costs out of the fare box without having to charge huge amounts of money for each journey. I heard an interview with the chief engineer talking about future plans whereby people could have their own "car" to travel off of the system and access the automated system where installed and turn the driving over to the "bug". IE: drive from home to the nearest on-ramp, log into the system with a destination, arrive and leave the car to the system's computer to take it to a high density car park for a top-off charge and parking for the day. When you are ready to go home, just log into the system with your PC or smartphone and the system will deliver your car to the station where you will be.

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I can't wait for automatic vehicles to become the norm. Given the sorts of people on the roads, the less control they have over their cars the better.

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Anonymous Coward

The day it goes on sale they will be inundated with law suits from patent trolls. Also Apple will claim it looks identical to their (human-driven) iCar.

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I thought we already had driverless cars around Manchester,what with all the txting,putting on of make up and checking yourself out in the conveniently placed mirror some people have a hard time fitting in the important stuff.

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