back to article Zero accidents, all of your data – what The Reg learnt at Bosch's autonomous car bash

Autonomous cars, what's not to like? According to their proponents, they will herald an accident, traffic and generally hassle-free age of transportation. So much so, in fact, that Bosch – the world's largest supplier of automotive parts – has decided to "evolve into a provider of services for road users". The company used …

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Re: Older vehicles.

That's quite funny, coming from someone who has to be rude at length about someone else's post for being "neither insightful or informative nor funny or original." and then has this

/kɑː/ (noun): a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, able to carry a small number of people and made in Germany."

the last part of which falls into exactly the same 4 categories and is just the frequent and tedious "I'm superior because my car is made in Germany".

Did you know if you turn on the camera on your phone and set it to use the front camera, then look at the screen, you'll see a hypocrite?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Older vehicles.

> the last part of which falls into exactly the same 4 categories

Are you saying it was insightful, informative, funny and original? :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Older vehicles.

Hello!

> That's quite funny, coming from someone who has to be rude at length about someone else's post for being "neither insightful or informative nor funny or original."

Erm... it wasn't rude. Someone asked for an explanation, which is entirely fair, and since I had downvoted I gave mine. It is called constructive criticism--it may have been hurtful to the person receiving it or not, but I disagree that it was rude.

> and then has this

Oh, that! Yes, it is a sequitur to your good self's comment about Clio owners, in the spirit that if you are going to make fun of other people for what they own, you should be prepared to understand how it feels from *their* point of view.

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"Garfield was based on me" might tentatively begin to illustrate the extent of my laziness and innate hatred of anything that lacks comfort, so there's basically no force that could make me give up the use of my car for other alternatives. A car with a mandatory cloud connection might just see me return to a motorbike or even bicycle though - thankfully, by the time it gets to that level it'll be a problem for another generation.

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Anonymous Coward

> a mandatory cloud connection

A "mandatory" cloud connection is not a problem. The problem is to know, and have full control over, who has access to what data of yours and what for. Another problem is to disabuse manufacturers of the idea that they can force you to enter a contract with a third party in order to use your car. For example, it's all very well to be able to control your car from your mobile phone, but not if that is going to involve downloading the relevant application from say Gargle Pay, or have Gargle Clout Services installed on your phone.

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Zero accidents?

Surely must have been marketing bods making those statements.

The engineers would be able to reel off at least half a dozen scenarios where things could still go wrong and at least a couple of those wouldn't even have a theory for mitigation.

And unless you can guarantee that you won't require the user to constantly monitor & possibly intervene then the whole exercise is pretty pointless as it's really just good old adaptive cruise/lane keeping/active braking/auto park. Safe & hands off is what they're trying to sell & they're not even vaguely close to that.

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Re: Zero accidents?

Yes, that's kind of the problem behind the whole self driving car "bubble". It is impossible to achieve whilst guaranteeing that there will be no accidents.

The only way to achieve it with technology we have now or at any point in the next 100 years is to turn all the roads into closed access, no bikes, no motorbikes, no pedestrians, no horses, no human driven cars, fenced off zones with standardised carriage widths, zero potholes, no fog, no snow, no heavy rain, no flooding, no fords, no ice, no deer running across the road, etc. We already have those, they're called railways (e.g. Docklands Light Railway in London). Except there we use steel tracks and wheels instead of tarmac and rubber and they don't mind fog or rain or deer so much, they don't have potholes, but admittedly do seem flummoxed by the wrong sort of snow, leaves, etc.

In short, a certifiable self driving autonomous anything needs to have an artificially controlled environment kept clear of any hazard or risk that cannot be controlled by the system designers.

There's a serious amount of money being put into this bubble by a lot of badly advised investors. For companies like Bosch it's slightly different - it gives their engineers something to do when they might otherwise be twiddling their thumbs.

I think that at best the thing that will come out of this whole thing is a super-advanced cruise control that still needs a sober licensed driver paying attention sat behind the steering wheel. Trouble is that that is of very little appeal in the car market. For example, who'd genuinely pay £10k (guessing the premium here) extra for a system that still can't drive you home pissed after a decent night in the pub? That's a lot of taxis. And for a long time to come the price of all this equipment is going to outweigh the total cost of most cars anyway. Doesn't bode well for the mass marketing of these things.

This bubble will eventually get burst. The ones who are first to do their systems engineering and certification engineering properly, and some decent market research to see the true sales potential of a partial solution, will get out and sell their project to one of the other big players.

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Re: Zero accidents?

It's one thing promising perfect performance on "business as usual" activities. The problem with that is, accidents aren't business as usual. They're edge cases and that's just what software has always had trouble in handling. And these are not just simple edge cases such as off-by-one that can be tested for. They're going to be "we never saw that coming" events. They're going to be events that require much more processing than normal to deal with an unexpected set of circumstances.

If a designer reckons there might be enough processing power to cope then maybe the "run down the lone pedestrian" option gets hard-coded as a would-be damage limitation short cut. And then that gets triggered by some freak set of circumstances when an accident wasn't threatened and the car goes out of its way to run one down.

Another issue is certification. That's going to be a difficult one to test. Will there be a temptation to code to the test? Remind me, who was it who wrote the code for the VW emission control?

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Re: Zero accidents?

As a customer, paying thousands more for a veehickle that, at best, offers advanced cruise control that keeps speed at or below the posted limit and keeps the car within the lane does not seem like a bargain.

However, my insurance company might see such a system as a way to reduce its payouts (if I'm always within my lane and at or below speed limit, my guilt factor in a collision is reduced and lower speed generally means less damage than what is done at high speed) and might give me a break if I have such a system. I say "might" because as was correctly noted above, insurance companies are generally not inclined to pass on the savings.

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Re: Zero accidents?

Surely must have been marketing bods making those statements.

The engineers would be able to reel off at least half a dozen scenarios where things could still go wrong

Indeed. Lets start with:

Acute road subsidence caused by leaking water mains (happened when I was a kid - the 107 bus in Station Road in Barnet. The bus ended up nose-down in the pit.

Tyre blows in the car just ahead of you and in a lane to one side. Car veers catastrophically into the side of your car.

And that's just two that I could think of..

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EBG

Re: Zero accidents?

Agree the AV bubble will burst. But you then have a lot of tech., geolocation, auto-computer actuation of handbrake , stop/start, lane control etc. Put this with MaaS, surge-pricing road useage. Whatever. The investment will be got back, and not in ways that are necessarily good for car owners.

BTW - Guardian just reported that RAC found only 5% of motorists want AVs. This isn;t being done on the basis of motorist's demands.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Zero accidents?

"This isn;t being done on the basis of motorist's demands."

Of course: The idea is to create a totalitarian surveillance state where everything spies on you, constantly. EU _and_ member states want that, it's obvious.

First cell phones with real time geolocation and cars are next.

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Re: Zero accidents?

"It is impossible to achieve whilst guaranteeing that there will be no accidents."

The number of true "accidents" on the road can be counted on one hand each year.

Crashes due to mechanical failures are rare (and usually well signposted by the vehicle long before the crash happens).

Crashes are almost always caused by drivers being inattentive, reckless, impaired, or faced with dangers and continuing regardless (the number of crashes where more than one person has contributry fault is extremely high).

Eliminating the human is likely to reduce crash and injury rates by at least 95% and I'd be highly surprised if 80% is achieved immediately. Insurance companies will react by making manual driving an extremely expensive pastime, so unless you're very wealthy, you won't be driving that vintage 2002 Clio into the side of an auto-wagen. (surprisingly, margins in the insurance industry aren't that high. Modern cars are ridiculously expensive to repair and injury claims cost a fortune. Insurers could increase their profits whilst reducing premiums if the crash rate goes down and there will still need to be cover for fire/theft/vandalism/"tree fell on my car" type events.)

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Data is sent back via 'the cloud'? Really? How about being specific, via 3/4g/WLan via SSL/VPN or whatever technology it's actually using as this is of interest to us rather than a generic term. Unless of course you don't know/they won't tell you?

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@wyatt

You don't really expect marketing to understand all that technical mumbo-jumbo do you? It's just cloud. Why? Because cloud.

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Stop

"it's also sent as CAN, not raw, data to cut down on storage"

What's that supposed to mean? CAN is just a data bus; replace CAN with TCP/IP and see how strange it is.

What they might be getting at is that if there are separate busses between the cameras and the image recognition stuff, and the image recognition and the main ECU, they are only sending the attributes of the recognised objects, not the whole raw image.

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Trollface

"Inside the trunk of an autonomous vehicle"

Inside the trunk? What is this, an elephant?

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Re: "Inside the trunk of an autonomous vehicle"

Think "boot" if you're British.

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Re: "Inside the trunk of an autonomous vehicle"

"What is this, an elephant?"
Yes, and you can have it in any colour so long as it's white...

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Cars withe EULA

"(There's already a black market for pirate tractor software that allows farmers to circumvent John Deere's proprietary systems.)"

That's an inaccurate description of what's going on. The "proprietary" systems are designed to prevent farmers from making their own repairs, or from going to a non-Deere-authorized repair center. And those rules are starting to be overridden by state "Right to Repair" laws. These will affect virtually ALL high-tech companies that try to limit competition in the repair business.

The question is, if I buy a car - or a cell phone, or a computer, or any other tech - do I OWN what I paid for, or do I merely have a non-transferable license to USE my car in accordance with the car's EULA?

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Re: Cars withe EULA

"The question is, if I buy a car ... do I OWN what I paid for, or do I merely have a non-transferable license to USE my car in accordance with the car's EULA?"

The legal department will sort that out. You won't be allowed to buy a car, just lease it. The car will own you.

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Ogi
Unhappy

Re: Cars withe EULA

"The question is, if I buy a car - or a cell phone, or a computer, or any other tech - do I OWN what I paid for, or do I merely have a non-transferable license to USE my car in accordance with the car's EULA?"

The question on my mind is, how do you handle the second hand car market? Currently cars don't record an entire history of what happened in them, nor do you pay a monthly contract for the data connection.

What if it turns out to be like software? "Oh, you didn't buy the car, you bought a licence to use it", with all the restrictions, extra payments and general "fuck the customer" attitude that comes with software already.

Would you even be allowed to resell the car? What if they decide to change the licence terms, and you don't agree to the changes? Can they remotely disable the car until you agree? They can say you have 14 days to cancel your contract like with a phone, but do they just take the car away? Do you get a refund on your purchase price? Plus then you end up having to get another car with those terms already in the licence anyway, so you are screwed one way or another.

Bad enough having licensing restrictions and having monthly payments with software and mobile phones. Last thing I want to do is have a monthly payment and a EULA for my car as well.

The whole "connected automated car" thing sounds like a disaster in the making to me. Very dystopian, especially the whole "having cameras and microphones in the cabin" that are on all the time and tracking your eye movements and recording conversations.

Do normal people actually want this? I mean, as a geek I can think of all the ways this will go wrong, including the privacy and software security headache this would be, but even the "normal" people I know would not want a computer driving for them. I get the feeling this is more just being forced down our throats in the sense of "this is how the future will be, screw you if you don't like it" mantra that seems to have become quite pervasive in the last 10 years.

The only way I see these connected autonomous cars working is if you don't actually own them. You use them like you would a cab, bus, or public transport. Hail a pod from your phone/google brain implant, and it arrives to take you to any of the pre-vetted destinations (no driving around to areas the powers that be don't want you to see, citizen), ideally tailored to your preferences by AI as gleaned from all the data they collected on you. I guess you can sit in the pod and watch adverts inter spaced with a bit of entertainment to relieve the boredom until you reach your destination, then the pod leaves you there and goes to pick someone else up.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Cars withe EULA

"tracking your eye movements"

I just hope they're not tracking my hand movements.

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Practical considerations

"That's an inaccurate description of what's going on. The "proprietary" systems are designed to prevent farmers from making their own repairs, or from going to a non-Deere-authorized repair center. And those rules are starting to be overridden by state "Right to Repair" laws."

There's another angle here with heavy construction vehicles. A lot of these are leased or rented out on short term jobs and the leasing/rental company wants the location (so that expensive kit doesn't simply disappear) and working hours (to organise servicing).

The manufacturer also has a leasing division, so there's competitive data involved. The first thing a leasing company wants to do is to disable the manufacturer's feedback and install their own.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cars withe EULA

"Can they remotely disable the car until you agree? "

Yes, of course. Bosch has already advertised that as "security feature" which can be used by anyone who has access to it to stop "your" car at will: Anytime, anywhere.

It's obvious that not agreeing with EULA bricks the car, as it's not _your car_, it's company car, you just may(*) drive it.

(*) Terms and conditions apply.

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Re: Cars withe EULA

"You won't be allowed to buy a car, just lease it. The car will own you."

Most people will choose to lease it for individual journeys on an as-needed basis.

Hellooooo Johnnycab.(*)

(*) The single most expensive and unreliable part of a taxi is the driver. Eliminating them is a good thing.

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WTF?

TL:DR Zero accidents but not immune to hackers with large gobs of IoT thrown in.

"Zero accidents" --> BS meter redlining like a Geiger counter in the engine compartment of a Cold War era Soviet nuclear submarine.

Large gobs of data p**sed out to "The Cloud." As for "anonymized" data see paragraph 1.

F**k right off.

BTW RB may be 92% owned by a charitable foundation, but what about every other automotive electronics company on the planet?

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"the camera that detects which way your eyes are looking so the car can tell when you're not paying attention to the road"

Can we get that implemented immediately? And set it up to disable the accelerator if not?

I've had enough of soccer sluts either applying makeup and/or turned around yelling at their kids, "mista biznezzman" doing his latest important deal on the phone, and people reading the god damned newspaper spread across their steering wheel, for god's sake!

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Facepalm

"people reading the god damned newspaper spread across their steering wheel"

Bus driver doing his paperwork spread over the steering wheel. driving through central London heading for the M1.

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How Cool?

"And sitting in their swanky demo car, using a touchscreen to control the shutters on "your house" and check the contents of "your fridge" definitely feels – let's be honest – pretty damn cool."

Yes, pretty cool. But not cool enough to get me to buy. To do that, the car will have to be able to tell me the angle of my drainpipes, the mood of my cat, whether squirrels are back on my bird feeder, if my neighbor has a cold, and what time - to the nanosecond - my mail was delivered. Can't wait. I'm super excited.

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Re: How Cool?

I would want it to tell me where last year's snows have gone. Can't be too careful.

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"we were assured this wouldn't happen when the cars were owned by regular Joes."

Debugging code never ever gets left in production systems does it?

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Anonymous Coward

"we were assured this wouldn't happen when the cars were owned by regular Joes."

Debugging code never ever gets left in production systems does it?

"

Should read "tracking code" and it will be in place in every car ever sold to regular Joes, on purpose.

There's money in tracking data, therefore it will be collected and Bosch will lie anything to hide that. So either they encrypt all of the communication to mother ship or the first guy proves they are lying.

Very, very fishy either way.

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Anonymous Coward

Yawn ..... Where are the Blade-Runner / 5th-Element flying-hover-cars we were promised?

Endless dystopian slurp may have been actually worth it then. This makes me not want to buy a car again ever! They're a really shitty investment versus property, and it itself is a shitty investment if the market turns against you...

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Self-crashing cars

This makes me a little nervous after the way Toyota buggered up its throttle software.

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Unhappy

"way Toyota buggered up its throttle software."

So much for the "crash free future" meme.

"Oh I know. Let's put a beacon on every object on the road so every other object can see it and avoid it."

I sit there thinking "If you could force every object on the road to carry one that just might work, as long as they were all in working order"

But it will probably come out as "f**kwit."

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Re: Self-crashing cars

As I understand it a lawyer persuaded a jury that had a bit flipped in the software, in effect, the throttle could have malfunctioned. But I'm not aware that it was ever proven that it had done so. The burden of proof in civil cases is merely balance of probability, and when there is no actual evidence that is always a guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "way Toyota buggered up its throttle software."

"I sit there thinking "If you could force every object on the road to carry one that just might work, as long as they were all in working order"

Here in North we have about 150 000 mooses (moosen? meese? argh!). Good luck on tagging those.

Also: You don't drive over moose, the moose runs over you and your car: It's a big and heavy animal.

Basic rule is that if you survive a collision with a moose, you are lucky. And I can see none of the Bosch engineers have ever seen a moose when they are talking about "no crashes".

Just concentrated stupidity.

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Re: Self-crashing cars

WRT the Toyota ECU, it was teardowns and disassembly subsequent to the cases which showed the entire system had suffered major league code bloat and quality rot over the years. (Early systems were coded in assembler, newer ones in high level language - and badly, etc.). The failure mode claimed was shown to be repeatable and not just some random bitflip.

There's a lot to be said for opensourced ECUs (which do exist as development projects), given they have more eyes on them and these days more brains trying to make them crash (unlike OEMs, who have limited teams developing for a purpose and even more limited teams trying to break them but who have a conflicting vested interest in getting them shipped as quickly as possible)

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Re: "way Toyota buggered up its throttle software."

See earlier posts:

If you're driving and you collide with a moose, then you were either driving too fast for conditions or weren't paying attention, or both.

The fact that the car will take care of the moose manouvre even in the case of "one materialised in front of me" means the crash rate should be even lower.

Likewise for "the kid just appeared from nowhere" - which I've seen drivers use when _I_ (4 cars back) could see that the kid was about to walk out in front of traffic (moving feet visible under the parked car obscuring the kid's body) and was already braking.

The _one_ time I hit a deer, I was travelling at less than 15mph and it actually ran into the side of the car. This is despite seeing a dozen a week on the roads I drive to/from work. If you know the hazard exists, you're ready for it. Most drivers aren't. An "auto" will be, and reaction times of 25ms instead of 700-1500ms will help.

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"They're a really shitty investment versus property, and it itself is a shitty investment if the market turns against you..."
Property investment is for the long-haul. I'm much happier owning rental properties than I would have been owning shiny, new cars.

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Laws of automotive robotics

Anything safety-related or traffic-congestion-related or road-condition-related does not require vehicle identification beyond the vehicle type (I am a motorcycle, a family sedan, a van, an ambulance, a lorry, a double-decker bus, or an 18-wheeler). Anything that requires identification of the vehicle and/or driver and/or passenger is about surveillance, for some purpose. The purpose may be "national security", "war on terror", "law enforcement", "adjusting insurance premia", "targeted advertising", or anything in between, but whatever it is it will not benefit the driver/road user.

Obviously, different vehicles in the same area may need to be distinguished, lest someone or something mixes up 2 different lorries. This, however, can be achieved with temporary IDs that can be generated on the fly and cannot be tied to license plates, ownership, mobile phone numbers, etc.

Now, can we make "A robotic car shall not divulge its identity" one of the basic "laws of automotive robotics"?

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Anonymous Coward

FUCK'S SAKE!!!!!!

WHAT IS THAT FUCKING CLOUDFLARE CAPTCHA DOING HERE!?!?!?!?!?!

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remote control

"using a touchscreen to control the shutters on "your house" and check the contents of "your fridge" definitely feels – let's be honest – pretty damn cool."

Why do these control systems always assume that people are sad, lonely people with no family? Closing the shutters on the house remotely from in the car is likely to piss off any of my family who are at home. Likewise me monkeying around with the heating controls or lights.

Is this something normal people want or is this something the ultra geeky, ultra nerdy engineers and marketing people who can't get a girlfriend want? (NB, deliberate stereotyping!)

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Devil

Re: remote control

re: "Closing the shutters on the house remotely from in the car is likely to piss off any of my family who are at home. Likewise me monkeying around with the heating controls or lights."

Hooo, Gaslight!

(-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting -- for the young'uns)

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Mushroom

Its the edge cases

That will kill people

99.99% of the time, you're going along happy and cheerful, you've started off, joined a main route and now you've stopped at your destination without ever really having to be anything than an alert passenger

That 00.01% of the time, your pilot side pitot tube has had tape left on it and the aircraft software cant decide how fast you are going, never thinks to check the input from the co-pilot's side and your spiffy airbus does a nose plunge into the sea as the pilots cant decide what the hell the flight software is on about.

If aircraft flight control software can throw up that sort of glitch WITH all the testing that goes on, you've got f all chance of getting me inside one of those cars.

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Re: Its the edge cases

The edge cases include all the things that go wrong with human beings, like the jerk the other day who was too busy talking on her phone to bother to stop for a roundabout (thank you assistive braking), the two of them this year who have come off a bend near our house in broad daylight with a dry road, and the couple of thousand a year that manage to kill someone. Alcohol, cocaine, psychopathy, inattention, overconfidence, stroke, heart attacks, anger management issues are all edge cases that require no computer and are relatively common in people.

When it comes to cars, the biggest single risk is the you (or me) getting in them to drive them. Once the technology is properly developed, I would far rather trust it than the typical human driver. As I approach the age of 70 I think it can't come too soon for me.

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Re: Its the edge cases

The vehicles near me that love parking on blind bends so you have to go into the oncoming traffic lane to get past them, hoping no other vehicle hits you (white van parked so cannot make use of "reduced image" looking through the vehicle windows approach as its only window is windscreen)

I have to use the low tech method of windows down so I can listen out for other vehicles, horses etc., if no noise* then nervouslyy overtake parked vehicle in blind bend area.

Would like to see how "AI" cars deal with that - presumably they just stay behind the parked van hoping it eventually moves?

*Obvious problem issue is something not heard e.g. an electric car going at low speed (so cannot hear tyre noise until really close) so not 100% safe method but only way to drive that bit of road

Self driving car is of no use to me until I can be a 100% passenger - no point if I need to take over at short notice (as by time I have snapped back into focus it will probably be too late to deal with the unexpected incident): If I need to be concentrating all the time, "in case of manual taleover required, I may as well drive it myself.

As article said:

which means the driver can turn their attention away from the drive but needs to be ready to respond immediately. "They can't drink or take drugs,"

Contradictory really.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Its the edge cases

"That 0.01% of the time"

And I'd like to make a note here: In EU alone that means 30 000 crashes per year.

0,01% looks very small number but with 300M (very rough estimate) cars it is a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Its the edge cases

"When it comes to cars, the biggest single risk is the you (or me) getting in them to drive them. Once the technology is properly developed, I would far rather trust it than the typical human driver."

I wouldn't. A person very rarely is knowingly trying to run over you _and_ tries to avoid an accident.

Software has no concept of either: it happily drives over you as any other automation would: Software _does not care at all_: It's an automation and that's that: It's your job to avoid automation gone haywire as it has no control anymore.

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