back to article Nissan promises to sell self-driving cars by 2020

Nissan has said it is two car generations away from building mass-market self-driving vehicles, and has promised to have the first hands-free automobiles available for sale within the next seven years. Nissan self-driving car Nissan want this on the road by 2020 "Nissan Motor Company's willingness to question conventional …

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  1. Rukario
    Stop

    Driverless buses

    And we're looking at them coming in Vancouver.

    There are a few systems that work, but Translink is bound to find some way to screw it up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great

      When I'm totally p**sed out of my mind from a major session I can press an ap on my phone and my car will come and collect me and take me home. Fab.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1
        FAIL

        Re: Great

        That aint how the law will work. You are still in charge of the vehicle. No drink'n'drugs for you.

        1. Securitymoose

          Re: Great

          You've just talked me out of ever wanting one

  2. rcorrect

    Excuse me?

    I work at a hotel and have met plenty of truckers. Forcing truckers to seek an alternative means of employment is seriously a bad idea.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Excuse me?

      Well automated trucks means they could drive 24/7. There would be no cowboys, drugs, speeding or tail gating.

      Trucking is an industry driven on price. Automated trucks means deliveries faster and cheaper.

      As much as it is terrible for people to lose their job, it's still going to happen. I wouldn't want to be a taxi driver, truck driver or video store owner. Ten years from now they won't exist.

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Excuse me?

      I bet the truckers are still there. Quite apart from anything else, somebody will need to act as load master and general stevedore at each end of a job because its quite unlikely that all endpoints will have either people with the skill of loading a truck so its safe on the road or robots that can do that job. Before you ask: I think trucks with built-in robot loaders would be unlikely. The bulk and weight of that equipment is likely to make self-loading trucks uneconomic.

  3. jake Silver badge

    I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

    Too much to go wrong ... and it'd be a hell of a lot cheaper to teach people to drive properly in the first place. There are no magic fix-it pills.

    1. Thorne

      Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

      Too much to go wrong???? Like drunken idiots?? Hoons???? Druggos??? Talking on mobiles???? Tired drivers????

      Something like 90% of accidents are due to the driver. Mechanical issues account for a very small part.

      I think I'll bank on Google's magic fix-it pills before your training classes.

      You might say you won't buy that but give it maybe 25 years and legally you won't be able to go on the road without it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Thorne (was: Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

        "I think I'll bank on Google's magic fix-it pills before your training classes."

        So you think that not learning how to properly operate a motor vehicle is a good idea when allowing people to operate motor vehicles? Really?

        Honestly, the mind boggles ...

        1. Stacy
          Thumb Down

          Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

          As much as I adore driving I would have to say yes, I would rather that people were not in charge of them.

          As pointed out 90% of accidents are caused by the people driving them. Whether that be the person has had a bad day and is not completely concentrated, or whether they are just bad drivers full stop. Or whether they think they are Jensen Button, or just doddering people who should have given up their license years ago.

          Of course people should be trained to the right level before getting into a car, and should adhere to that level when driving.

          But having a license for 19 years now (ouch, that long!) I know that I have some bad habits when behind the wheel. Not holding the phone, texting or other insane stuff, but there have been times where someone was in my blind spot and I obviously didn't check properly because as I started to move I saw them and had to stop the maneuver, or you do something and immediately think it was a bad idea.

          And I see far worse - sometimes I think my car is a magnet seeing as the amount of people who wander into my lane when overtaking me on the motorway - because they are distracted, or because they just haven't seen the nearly 4.8m long Volvo in the lane next to them. Or because they are just staring at their crotch where they are busy composing a text, tweet or facebook post (or email or whatever!)

          And if you say you have never had those experiences then I am going to call you a fibber! :)

          Yes, give me self driving cars - once the legalities have been sorted!

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

            It isnt just organic meatbags that break though, technology does too. A cascade of trucks and busload of nuns going off the road will be just as nasty.

            I would have thought automated trains being a better option. Afterall the rail network would be better suited already having limited mobility options.

            1. James Micallef Silver badge

              Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

              "automated trains being a better option"

              Already exist on a small scale metro. Also have teh advantage that they can stop at exact positions, meaning peole can be guided to the correct point of teh platform where a train door will be. And one other bonus - number 1 reported stress factor for train drivers is jumpers. Software won't have psychological problems if a meatbag gets squished

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

            "Of course people should be trained to the right level before getting into a car, and should adhere to that level when driving."

            But they don't.

            Most drivers would FAIL a driving test if retested with no warning (theory and practical). That there are so few crashes with meatbags at the wheel says a lot more about luck than management.

            I suspect that when driverless cars become practical, mandatory periodic retesting will become the norm to be allowed to obtain and keep a driving license.

            WRT the comment about truckers: A stevedore could sleep in the cabin while the robot does the easy part (driving) but (s)he isn't going to get much rest compared with having stevedores onsite or nearby who can be called out to handle loading/unloading (the first applications will be longhaul warehouse to warehouse in any case). Robot trucks are most likely to be run at low speeds to obtain maximum fuel efficiency. No 12 hour limits or drivers getting bored shitless to worry about, etc.

            .

        2. James Micallef Silver badge

          Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

          Human drivers are already pretty much as good as they will ever be. There can be a marginal increase of skilllevel with better training, but if unskilled / careless drivers don't want to improve their skills (possibly because they think that they're excellent drivers already), then they won't.

          And it doesn't matter how skilled drivers are when they are tired or under the influence, and even the best drivers can be momentarily distracted, emotionally upset etc.

          I don't think any one is advocating for stopping driver training and tests, those would still happen. It's just a LOT more effective to switch to driverless cars than to improve training.

          And possibly, 20-30 years in the future, this:

          "not learning how to properly operate a motor vehicle is a good idea when allowing people to operate motor vehicles"

          would be redundant because people won't be allowed to operate motor vehicles at all

        3. Thorne

          Re: @Thorne (was: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.)

          "So you think that not learning how to properly operate a motor vehicle is a good idea when allowing people to operate motor vehicles? Really?"

          People have to complete driving training now and complete a test to drive. They then go out and get drunk to celebrate passing the test and then drive home.

          Some people are idiots and no amount of training will change that.

          Vision fades and reactions slow for old people and no amount of training will change that.

          A computer has perfect concentration, perfect reactions and 360 degree see in the dark vision. No amount of training can beat that.

          Yes there will be accidents with self drive cars but there will be a fraction of the accidents.

          Eventually self drive vehicles will be the law.

      2. Matthew 3

        "...25 years and legally you won't be able to go on the road without it."

        Probably not, since the cost of all those new cars (let alone the environmental cost of destroying millions of old-but-still-working classic cars) would be prohibitive. There's plenty of us out there who are quite fond of some of those old-fashioned machines.

        But I suspect that once the self-driving cars' liability issues are resolved it'll cost a lot more to insure a human to do the driving.

    2. Potemkine Silver badge

      PEBCASW

      is for cars what PEBCAK is for computers.

      Too many times the problem is the user himself/herself

    3. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

      "Too much to go wrong"

      Lots that could go wrong, but that's why they're being extensively tested in real-life situations. Of course accidents will still happen - Even if with driverless cars, accidents and fatalities are reduced by a factor of 1000, or even 10,000, there's still millions of vehicles on the roads, hundreds of thousands of accidents, tens of thousands of fatalities. So yes, stuff will go wrong and people will get injured / die. BUT it will be a lot less. Isn't it better to have 10 fatalities a year due to computer error than 10,000 a year due mostly to driver error?

      "Nissan says it wants all the information the car needs to operate on-board rather than beamed-in"

      eminently sensible

    4. Goldmember

      Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

      " it'd be a hell of a lot cheaper to teach people to drive properly "

      People are taught to drive properly already, especially those who are supposed to be professionals and have to have advanced driving tests, such as truckers and bus drivers. The problem is that people ignore (or forget) their training and become complacent. Taxi, bus and truck drivers are some of the worst offenders for this, and end up taking risks other drivers won't take, or simply get lazy and clog up the roads with their inconsiderate driving practices. A machine will always do what it's told.

      I look forward to the reduction in the number of meat bag drivers on the roads, to be honest, and in the long run it'll be cheaper to use the tech than people.

      1. Shasta McNasty
        Terminator

        Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

        "90% of accidents are caused by drivers"

        What percentage of these accidents would have still happened if a car was driverless?

        In a multiple vehicle collision, it only takes 1 driver to do something unexpectedly stupid and the other vehicles containing either software or wetware drivers, can't necessarily do anything about it.

        1. AceRimmer
          Boffin

          Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

          Software can do a LOT more about it

          1. The vehicle having a problem can instantly alert other vehicles to the emergency so they can start braking/taking evasive action

          2. Vehicles can automatically monitor each other for potential problems

          3. reaction time of a vehicle is much faster than a humans, again - alerts can propagate faster through the flow of traffic

          4. Vehicles can be "taught" coping techniques for a wide variety of emergency situations

          There is no reason why multi vehicle pileups cannot become a thing of the past once inefficient and inattentive humans are taken out of the equation

          1. Shasta McNasty
            Meh

            Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

            Software can do a LOT more about it.

            1. The vehicle having a problem can instantly alert other vehicles to the emergency so they can start braking/taking evasive action

            You're assuming that ALL cars will be driverless - which they won't be.

            2. Vehicles can automatically monitor each other for potential problems

            See above response.

            3. reaction time of a vehicle is much faster than a humans, again - alerts can propagate faster through the flow of traffic

            Any half-decent driver doesn't need the same reaction time as a machine as they drive within the limits of their abilities and the road conditions.

            4. Vehicles can be "taught" coping techniques for a wide variety of emergency situations

            So can humans. Its called advanced driver training.

            1. AceRimmer
              Holmes

              Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

              It’ll be the cars with drivers which will carry on ploughing into other vehicles. Those with software controlling them will be safely coming to a stop out of harms way.

              Most drivers have no idea about safe distances

              And as for “Advanced training” you must be joking,. Most people get just below the legally required minimum and then scrape through the test after a number of attempts

              Most people are capable of driving safely but the risk of death isn't great enough for them to bother with it

              1. Stacy

                Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

                @Alan Brown - That was exactly the point I was trying to make. Thank you :)

                "3. reaction time of a vehicle is much faster than a humans, again - alerts can propagate faster through the flow of traffic

                Any half-decent driver doesn't need the same reaction time as a machine as they drive within the limits of their abilities and the road conditions."

                Aside from the fact that I don't think this happens, ever, you are missing the point. Someone else driving outside of their limits heading towards you. You still need your 1 second reaction time, the computer still needs it's ms (if that) reaction time. That difference in time could be the difference between a nasty accident and an 'OMG! That was close!' moment.

                Of course the benefits will be limited until all cars are self-drive, but the benefits will start as soon as people start to use them, and only get better as the technology propagates down to the second hand cars.

          2. Thorne

            Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

            "Software can do a LOT more about it

            ......

            There is no reason why multi vehicle pileups cannot become a thing of the past once inefficient and inattentive humans are taken out of the equation"

            Plus the computer will maintain a safe distance automatically to prevent pile ups and in the event of an unavoidable accident, it can calculate the safest way to control the accident to prevent deaths.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I, for one, will not purchase this tat.

          For starters you reduce reaction times by 1 second (notice red light, lift foot off accelerator, put foot on brake). That's the reason for the "2 second rule" and would shorten braking distances by that much.

          Secondly even given ABS and ESP, most drivers will still plough into an obstacle in front of them rather than trying to go around it. Electronics is likely to better handle collision avoidance.

          Plus it can "see" in the dark and it doesn't get distracted by the kids fighting in the back seat or the passenger blurting out that he's pregnant/wants a dvorce/both, or the legs of the cute female/buns on the cute male it just drove past.

          Plus it doesn't indulge in dickwaving activity for the benfit or other drivers/observers/personal jollies

          Plus it doesn't get impatient and start barrelling down safety lanes, or blocking main carriageways by rubbernecking at something that's happened on the lanes in the other direction.

          It might be boring but it'll get you there, safely. That's more than I can say for the average taxi driver I've encountered.

  4. Paul J Turner

    The sanity test will begin-

    when the first automated car kills someone (my money is on a damned cyclist).

    Will reason rule and 'the number of deaths caused by cars driven by humans but people in general still allowed to drive' be considered, instead of some knee-jerk political response?

    It's good that Google has more money than the affected unions too!

    1. jake Silver badge

      @ Paul J Turner (was: Re: The sanity test will begin-)

      My money is on the car swerving to avoid a deer, thus killing the idiot !driving it.

      1. LateNightLarry
        Paris Hilton

        Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-)

        Doesn't matter if the car swerves itself or the blockhead behind the wheel swerves it... the end result will still be the same. At least when there's a driver, IF he remembers what he's been told about having a deer in front of him, he WON'T swerve, and just run down Bambi... Swerving hard WILL cause the car to roll... hitting the deer, even at speed, might not, just destroy the front end of the car. When I hit that little whitetail deer at 60 MPH, I didn't have time to swerve, and just hit it square, and did $7,000 damage to the car... but my wife and I walked away with no injuries. One of the pick 'em up trucks that refused to stop to help us managed to load up his freezer out of season.

        Barbi, Bambi, not a lot of difference...

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          @ LateNightLarry (was: Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-))

          If he refused to stop to help, how did he manage to load up his freezer?,

          Did you stuff stuff in your own freezer?

          I save road-kill (mostly for sausage) several times per year ....

          Greetings from Sonoma, Mr. Napa :-)

          Beer, because there isn't a wine option.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: @ LateNightLarry (was: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-))

            Up here its quail, pheasant and grouse that screw your car over. Those things punch holes in the front when hit at speed and it isnt like there is much to eat on them afterwards :-(

        2. Andy Gates
          FAIL

          Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-)

          Dunning-Kruger strikes in the assumption that these sorts of emergency avoidance maneuvers haven't been gamed out and tested.

          Give me a system with better reflexes than me, every day.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-)

          Bambi is a little different when it's a moose/14 point red stag or even just a friesian cow.

          All the above will come through the windscreen feet first and kill you if you hit 'em square on, seatbelts, airbags and any other safety features notwithstanding.

          With the extra reaction time afforded by computers that hit might even become a near-miss - which little johny's mother will be very glad about when he darts across the road from between 2 parked cars (my standard driving pattern in cities includes "WATCH THE BLOODY FOOTPATH AND LOOK UNDER PARKED CARS FOR FEET ON THE OTHER SIDE" - which has led to passengers wondering why I'm braking well BEFORE Little Johnny appears. Computers will doubtless be programmed to do the same thing and not have to shush passengers)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swerving to avoid a deer, thus killing the idiot driving it

        Hang on. There is someone driving the deer? WTF

      3. Thorne

        Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-)

        "My money is on the car swerving to avoid a deer, thus killing the idiot !driving it."

        The car will never swerve wildly like a human driver. It will see the deer, calculate the safest path based on the deer's trajectory and if unavoidable run the damn deer down in the safest way for the driver....

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Thorne (was: Re: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-))

          You have entirely too much faith in technology.

          Rest in peace.

          1. AceRimmer

            Re: @Thorne (was: @ Paul J Turner (was: The sanity test will begin-))

            The car will use infrared sensors to sense the deer before the deer even got to the road.

            Car will marginally adjust speed to allow the deer to pass in front/behind the car

            Deer and car do not collide

            Passenger continues reading the paper/watching TV oblivious to what's happened

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: The sanity test will begin-

      As long as the insurers accept to insure the driverless car, everything will stay as it already is. From the point of view of the owner of the driverless car, if their car causes an accident, their insurance will pay, same as their insurance would pay if they themselves caused an accident.

      Probably the first driverless cars will cost a bomb to insure as insurers will be playing it safe. If / When insurers have a few years' worth of data showing driverless is safer, costs will fall.

    3. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: The sanity test will begin-

      "my money is on a damned cyclist"

      I think the automated car will be smart enough to look out for cyclists. Another improvement over human drivers

    4. Thorne

      Re: The sanity test will begin-

      "when the first automated car kills someone (my money is on a damned cyclist)."

      The car will record 360 degree vision and will show the idiot cyclist caused himself to get killed.

      Maybe then the laws will get them off the road.....

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Leave the truck drivers in the cabs...

    But get them from behind the wheel.

    That way we don't get the idiots driving drunk, on the phone, watching videos, reading the paper, overtaking another truck with an 0.1mph speed differential, driving three inches behind a slow car, squishing bicycles, falling off the road, using the rumble strip to wake them up, not having the right (or any) licence or other documentation...

    Someone has to get the stuff out of the back of the truck at those midnight meets in laybys, or even at their official destination, so there'll always be employment for them.

    (As an aside: I can see that normal driving isn't that different in a truck or a car or a 4*4 - largely a matter of scaling the mass and inertia details. But an autopilot that can do all that and, say, reverse accurately into a loading bay, or queue nicely and then put itself onto a ferry? An interesting challenge...)

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Leave the truck drivers in the cabs...

      "But get them from behind the wheel."

      I think it would be fun to give them a seat on the cab roof, and a pair of reins to hold. The reins would be linked to a Google Glass stagecoach driving app.

      Yee-hah!

  6. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Call me uneasy...

    If we're moving towards a driverless era (which is a shame - I still enjoy driving), I'd imagine that we're going to go through a dangerous interim first.

    We're talking about first/second generation commercialised technology sharing the road with somewhat more meat-derived drivers. Not only is the tech rather new (I'm sure it's been well tested, but....), but these robocars are sharing the road with some great fellow road users.

    How about 18 year old Daz in his 10 year old Corsa with lowered suspension, a fart exhaust and a stereo worth more than the car? He's out wid 'is mates, innit? Showing how fast he can drive, darting in and out of traffic. Can our silicon miracle judge the way this guy is driving and keep out of his way?

    Or then there's 80 year old Enid in her Fiesta. She's driven (to the shops) for fifty years and never had an accident. She forgets where the indicators are and sometimes stops a bit sharply when she panics as she nearly misses her turn or doesn't see the traffic until the last minute. She'd be the ideal buyer for robocar, but convincing her might be a challenge (she still uses cheques...).

    I'm not opposed to self driving vehicles, but I don't think the short term is going to be straight forward and 100% safe.

    1. Stacy
      Happy

      Re: Call me uneasy...

      Actually... I think the two situations you describe would be far better handled by a RoboCar than a human.

      Both in terms of safe driving to begin with (just how close to Enid are you driving - someone slamming on their brakes should not be the start of an accident, though it often is) and in terms of reaction times ms for the computer vs a second for the human.

      The same goes for Daz, if a computer doesn't have the reaction time, or space to move out of his way then yu have no chance.

      I'm more concerned about the legalities of what happen when a RoboCar *does* have an accident? Who pays for the medical bills and repairs? I think that this needs answering before it can really happen...

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Call me uneasy...

        "Who pays for the medical bills and repairs?"

        Insurance, same as usual. Might be expensive to insure robo-cars first time round, though

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Call me uneasy...

        "I'm more concerned about the legalities of what happen when a RoboCar *does* have an accident? "

        All the onboard cameras and blackboxes will leave no doubt whatsoever who's at fault and if it's the robot, (which is doubtful based on experience so far - the google cars have been subjected to most fo the situations discussed and so far their only bump was when one got rear ended by a meatbag at traffic lights) programming will be updated quickly.

        Liabilities are something for insurance companies to work out, as they are now. And int he absence of a driver, the vehicle owner or the nominal "person in charge" will bear responsibility, as per usual. Actual software errors will be covered by standard business liability insurance (which is surprisngly cheap).

    2. Thorne

      Re: Call me uneasy...

      "If we're moving towards a driverless era (which is a shame - I still enjoy driving), I'd imagine that we're going to go through a dangerous interim first."

      Daz and Enid are already on the road causing accidents. How is a computer going to do worse than a human?

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Can't wait to see their test track

    How 'real world' will their test environment be? Stone buildings are all very well, but what about stray doggies crossing the road. Idiots crossing while zonked out on loud music from their iThing. Kiddies rushing across the road to the ice-cream van - will they invite the local primary school to visit to provide test material? Will they have nice deep potholes that can make the car swerve? Two men crossing the road with a giant pane of glass?

    Nice idea on a motorway, but urban areas? Nah...

    1. Thorne

      Re: Can't wait to see their test track

      "How 'real world' will their test environment be? Stone buildings are all very well, but what about stray doggies crossing the road. Idiots crossing while zonked out on loud music from their iThing. Kiddies rushing across the road to the ice-cream van - will they invite the local primary school to visit to provide test material? Will they have nice deep potholes that can make the car swerve? Two men crossing the road with a giant pane of glass?"

      How well do human drivers handle it? You people all quote the same scenarios forgetting that human drivers usually kill the pedestrian anyway. Yes robocar might run a little kiddy over but a human driver would have as well. The difference is with perfect vision, reactions and decision making, if the robocar could avoid the accident it will.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's an idea : Driverless trains

    No more tube strikes where Bob "Red" Crow takes his drivers out to get some more money (on top of the £40k+ already received), for just accelerating/braking.

  9. PlacidCasual

    I can't wait for this

    I'd be happy if this technology was limited to motorways only initially because the number of crashes I've seen on the M25 in my life beggars belief. I regularly drive this motorway and the sooner the robots take over the better, we're just not very good at managing the situation. Weekdays you have experienced motorway drivers who are overconfident and in too greater numbers and the weekends you have panic-y drivers who rarely use motorways you-yo-ing up and down in speed using their brakes too freely and crashing like its the latest fashion.

    I for one look forward to our electric overlords.

    1. PlacidCasual
      FAIL

      Re: I can't wait for this

      Oh irony of ironies. I was in a crash on the M25 this morning. I was in a static queue of traffic when a lorry ploughed into the back of the queue smashing up the cars behind me and driving my car into the one in front.

      The sooner robots control motorway traffic the better.

  10. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    This will change a lot!

    When the cars are driverless, every car can act like a taxi. There should be little need for owning a car if you can car-pool for a fraction of the cost and the nearest car will pick you up within a few minutes at the point of your choosing.

    The number of cars can be greatly reduced, the need for parking spaces is even more reduced (surplus cars can just move elsewhere), most road signs can be removed, ... the cities will look very different afterwards. There will be no need for buses or low-speed trains -- just buy into a cheaper sharing service (lousy cars, shared rides, and longer waiting times). The car can pick up other riders along computer-optimized routes with minimal extra delays making car traffic much more efficient (less pollution, less congestion).

    Once we stop driving, the emotional bond between us humans and the machines will be gone. The motivation to buy a special car will be gone and we'll all share our cars. Utopia, here we come.

    1. Thorne

      Re: This will change a lot!

      "When the cars are driverless, every car can act like a taxi. There should be little need for owning a car if you can car-pool for a fraction of the cost and the nearest car will pick you up within a few minutes at the point of your choosing."

      Oh bull.

      It might act like a taxi but taxi are quite often dirty and stinky.

      Self drive cars will mean more cars as people who currently cannot drive will now be able to own a car.

      Mum and Dad will have a car and now a third car to drop the kids at school.....

  11. Ali on the Reg

    Insurance?

    I have to wonder what the insurance implications will be with self-driving cars? If such a car is involved in an accident then who is liable? After all, every time I install a piece of software I have to agree to sign away any rights I think I may have, absolving the developers of all liability.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Insurance?

      Not just insurance, but also system support. What happens in 6 years when your Whizo Mk3 is not supported any more? Will it be a bit like aircraft (where it is illegal to use it for commercial use) and so force it to be scrapped?

      Also will you have to get it serviced to aircraft-standards (and presumably cost) as so much of the system is safety-critical and you will find it illegal/uninsurable without that? Will the cars simply refuse to work if they are not up to schedule on this?

      While I can see the safety benefits from eliminating morons, I can also see cars becoming a lot more expensive to maintain.

  12. WraithCadmus
    Boffin

    The future of motoring

    The wisest thing I heard on this came (improbably) from Jay Leno, he used analogy of horses when they were retired as working animals during the 20th century.

    People will still buy special cars, but they'll be for the pleasure of driving them. Much like how horse riding today isn't for practical reasons.

    Think of it, the journeys you have to make will be by auto-car, but those who enjoy the act of driving or cars in general will buy as a luxury for themselves a 'meat-controlled' driver's car with limited practicality.

    Icon: Driving goggles (gloves not pictured)

  13. arrbee

    I guess we'll end up with fewer driver profiles, but still more than one - in fact one per release per software product (and maybe per car model).

    Some scenarios will be interesting:

    - a number of towns have areas (typically touristy bits where people wander about) where they've removed separated pavements as this has been shown to slow down cars since drivers have to concentrate harder;

    - roadworks close one lane, at which point do you merge, how does this work with different vehicles running different software;

    - will the problem with lorries taking several minutes to overtake on dual carriage ways get worse as they will know their relative speeds to a fraction of a mph;

    - will the government require access to be able to track/regulate car behaviour (of course they will).

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      "will the problem with lorries taking several minutes to overtake on dual carriage ways get worse as they will know their relative speeds to a fraction of a mph"

      actually this one might be a big issue. What happens if truck A is trundling along at 119 km/h in a 120 km/h zone and truck B decides to overtake? In spite of whatever it is that the speed limit signs say, the safest speed to drive on a motorway is the same speed that everyone else is driving, which in my experience tends to be at or a bit over the limit. So will robocars be allowed the leeway to intelligently go a bit over the limit in situations where this is safer than to stay below? Or will they be hard-coded to always respect speed limits, whwtever happens?

  14. thegrouch

    I thought self driving lorries were already in use?

    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Navitron_Autodrive_system

  15. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Quite a few posts .....

    ...... but one question is missing. How well would they react to emergency vehicles. I don't think at any point that I have been in a situation meeting a vehicle with sirens blaring, I have carried out the same action twice.

    I can see the flashing blue strobe in my mirror from quite a distance but how would that work with automated systems? Have sensors in the mirrors to pick up blue strobes that when detected slow the car down and pull over? Great, except for the damn fool cyclists who insist on using blue tinted strobe lights.

    Emergency vehicles are the wildcards in this situation and the permutations for dealing with them I would think be mind boggling.

    1. lawndart

      Re: Quite a few posts .....

      The emergency autovehicle broadcasts a "here I am, this is where I'm going" signal.

      The autocars pick this up, discuss with all the other autocars around and calculate the optimum method of getting out of the way, advising the emergency autovehicle what they are going to do.

      The autocars also transmit a warning message to their surroundings by using their hazard lights and playing a recorded message saying an emergency vehicle is en route.

      The emergency vehicle then hurtles past you at maximum safe speed through a newly opened lane in the traffic.

      1. Securitymoose
        Pirate

        Re: Quite a few posts .....

        And you are relying on PROGRAMMERS do do this - most of whom never get off their consoles long enough to realise what a car is, let alone drive it safely. You only have to look at the state of traffic planning and road layouts in most towns to realise what a bunch of xxxxxx they are.

      2. Eradicate all BB entrants

        Re: Quite a few posts .....

        @lawndart, great idea, that's if you plan on replacing every single motorised vehicle in the country at pretty much exactly the same time.

  16. Fletchulence

    Great, but I won't use it on Tuesdays

    If MS are doing the patches.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can tell nobody here drives a lorry, they will be the last to be automated way after all cars and buses.The uk roads are narrow and turns impossible without taking oncoming lanes. Trunking could be automated but they already pay so little £8ph and trunking is at night that do you want to leave £100K worth of white goods in an unmanned vehicle for the sake of £80 in wages.

    What is getting automated first is farming which I've seen already as even though you're not supposed to it's tempting to let that boosted gps autosteer drive the tractor while you nip off for a smoke also the grain carts can be automated now to pick up from the harvester. These environments have no children jumping into the road or other vehicles really. Meat packing, slaughterhouses going automated fast and really well apart from the upfront cost they x-ray the dead cows and then work out how to cut them up instead of guessing.

    Warehousing is already at the forefront, loading arctics with an automated forklift is just starting to happen in the UK it's slower but saves huge money as the robots will work any hours and days including the most important part not working at all during quiet periods where humans would want to see some income or look for another job. Also you can move everything to night time and pay no extra.

    Lorries and buses are not worth it, the environment is chaotic and badly designed, the links above to bus automation are basically running in isolated lanes with concrete barriers or like trams really. When all cars are automated then you can start on lorries because the environment will be predictable and safer.

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      agreement...

      I agree, there are many areas robo vehicles could take over first, but in the USA trucking is a bit different, probably a lot fewer windy roads ;-)

      I would guess that motorways/commuter lanes will be first to be automated, and I for one cannot wait! If only because I have relatives that cannot drive. This technology could be a massive benefit for society, so long as it is implemented properly...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driverless car racing!

    Snooze!

    No crashes, just perfect driving....with the odd kangaroo strike.

  19. codejunky Silver badge

    I wonder

    Will the 'driver' of the driverless car still be automatically to blame when pedestrians and cyclists shoot out in front of vehicles with what seems only a will and determination to commit suicide? Or will the people of this world become responsible for their own actions finally?

    1. Thorne

      Re: I wonder

      The car will record all footage showing it was the idiot cyclist's own damn fault.

      Just like dashcam only with 360 degree views.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        @ Thorne

        Even now when it is demonstrated the cyclist ran the red light it is still the driver who gets the blame. Yet only recently another cyclist killed a pedestrian and didnt get jail.

  20. umacf24

    Automated Freight

    All of the talk about automated truck and truckers is missing the point. If you don't have to pay a driver, there's little point in sending a 40-ton tractor/trailer rig down a B-road.

    The freight delivery future is self-driving containers -- vehicles that occupy a (modified) ten-foot container module, for automatic handling on trains and ships (and, yes, trucks sometimes) and autonomous delivery on their own wheels when road is best.

  21. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    heard it all before

    can anyone say "paperless office"? The technology for pilot-less aircraft is far simpler: fewer obstacles, less traffic, more traffic management/control. Yet we don't see much of that now, do we? Nor have we done away with paper in the office as promised on numerous occasions over recent decades.

    I do believe that we will see widescale use of driverless vehicles and passenger aircraft one day - but not any day soon. Technology is not the limiting factor - rather adoption rates and infrastructure costs.

  22. TopOnePercent Silver badge

    A solution looking for a problem

    Driverless cars sound good in theory. However, the reality is that you simply transfer the risk of 'driving' from the driver onto the systems designer and a team of programmers. Before long that code will be produced in the cheapest possible location, by people who may never have driven a car, and who one generation ago would have been peasant farmers. It will then be waved into production by some hapless MBA with a deadline to meet.

    When something goes wrong with the automated car of which it is unaware, such as a sensor fault, or a software glitch, you end up with nobody in control at 70mph+. Sure, the 'driver' could take over at that point; except they won't, because they'll be drunk/asleep/in the back catching clap off some kebab shop supermodel they picked up leaving the club.

    Put one of these into a traffic queue on the M1 and watch the carnage as it changes lanes without recognising the filtering biker because he was going too fast and was out of sight of its linear sensors before beginning the lane change.

    I'd also love to see the code that copes with a lorry hopping over the central barrier, or recognises an in car fire caused by the occupant nodding off and dropping a lit cigarette.

    We're already on track to reach zero fatalities - we're down to as few as 2300, and we haven't even looked at things like mandatory retesting, banning passengers for drivers with fewer than 5 years experience, an upper age limit for driving etc.

    Technology isn't the solution to this problem. This problem isn't even really a problem. 2300 road fatalities from 10's or 100's of billions of car journeys per year. They'd be better off focussing on automated cleaners and mobile water dispensers for hospitals (hospital aquired infections and dehydration kill over 30,000 people per year).

  23. Lallabalalla
    Thumb Up

    Sign me up

    I can sit in the front and read a book all the way to - wherever the hell we have to go that weekend. The mother-in-law's.

    These things won't be autonomous, you'll still need a "driver", well, operator. Like with aeroplanes, y'know.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    brave new world

    and yes, it will be more efficient, and yes, fewer people will die, and no, insurance premiums WON'T go down. But I am concerned, as more and more of us, meatsacks, become "redundant" and everybody (else) say: oh, what a shame, well, yes, they'll have to adjust, it's unfortunate, but it's life, blahblahblah. Well, you lose your job mate, and you see how "unfortunate" this becomes. And no, I'm not a driver, of any type, leisure, pro, etc. I just see the "progress", slow erosion and reduction of jobs, that the humans are "useful" for, and yes, it's a mockery of skynet, etc, etc., but we ARE heading that way - one day we'll all be calculated to be, well, redundant, and the most cost-effective way (for whom or what?) to optimize the system would be to remove the humans altogether. Probably through some "intelligent" fridge adding something tasteless to your milk. Or beer ;)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One obvious way to settle accident blame issues would be for the insurance companies to require such vehicles to have cameras all round continually recording, plus a running log of the internal systems & all comms traffic. I'm sure they wouldn't abuse the info in any way.

    1. Thorne
      Big Brother

      "One obvious way to settle accident blame issues would be for the insurance companies to require such vehicles to have cameras all round continually recording, plus a running log of the internal systems & all comms traffic. I'm sure they wouldn't abuse the info in any way."

      Of course it will. No difference to a black box in planes.

      The real interesting thing will be the police. Just imaging every car is a 360 degree surveillance cam.

      Want to see footage of a mugging? pull up all footage from all cars in the area at the time.

      God bless Big Brother for keeping us safe......

  26. gkroog

    That's great...

    ...now certain governments will not only track your movements, but control them too...

  27. Peddler

    Should not be Difficult

    Most drivers on the road can be just as safely replaced with a brick on the accelerator and a bungee cord on the steering wheel.

  28. JP19

    Faith in machinery displayed here is amusing

    Can we get a computer to accurately recognise voice yet? Can we get a robot to do something mundane like walk a vacuum cleaner around a room? Can we get a computer to reliably and quickly recognise a CAPTCHA?

    A post in another recent thread here claimed the human brain was a million times more powerful than our computers - I don't buy that without qualification but it is certainly very powerful, good at doing the things it evolved to do, and moving the body over varied and unfamiliar terrain quickly and safely taking into account other moving bodies which it is trying to eat or avoid being eaten by is a large part of what it evolved to do.

    I doubt we will ever have driverless cars without simplifying the problem which will mean making roads more like railways and restricting driverless operation to roads that can be.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Faith in machinery displayed here is amusing

      "Can we get a computer to reliably and quickly recognise a CAPTCHA?"

      Seriously? I've got problems with damn CAPTCHA.....

    2. Stacy

      Re: Faith in machinery displayed here is amusing

      The good thing here is that the 'human' part of our brain is what's causing the problems in traffic at the moment (most of the time) and the analytic power of a computer is really what's needed when driving more than the 'Who am I and where am I going' that computers struggle at so much. Google has this working already. I'm sure than Nissan can perfect the science in 7 years.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    interesting opportunity for chipping. make one's wheels that little bit more aggressive than everyone else's?

  30. roger stillick
    Thumb Up

    POSSIBLE INTERNET JOKE ??

    Here in the USA, several online mags were laughing about this Nissan report...

    DARPA is just starting their actual concept contests... Q= is this a hoax ??

    Swarm Software is needed in ALL cars using any particular section of this...

    Russia currently can swarm only 32 simultaneous aircraft, autos need way more...RS.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shares?

    I must remember to buy shares in roadside hardware manufacturers. You know, lamp posts, traffic lights, road signs, motorway concrete bridge pillars etc. Probably plateglass shop front suppliers too.

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