back to article Google's driverless car: It'll just block our roads. It's the worst

Driverless cars will solve congestion. Driverless cars will improve road efficiency; driving along closely behind each other in platoons. Driverless cars will stop you waiting at the kerb for a taxi. Yeah, yeah; it’s all drivel. The tech is wonderful, gee-whiz-that’s-great stuff, but there’s a few things that are unbelievably …

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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Platooooooon - HALT!

    > Google’s saying blind and disabled people who can’t drive will be able to call up and use a Google car. This means more vehicles on the road.

    Personally I don't see this as a bad thing, if you translate it to mean that more individuals will be able to have some independence and mobility when before they would have none.

    Although the 1 second delay at a green light will, almost certainly, lead to more Google cars getting a shunt (though only if they're first at the light) as people *always* move in anticipation of lights turning green - if by no other means of spotting the opposing light turning red. It doesn't necessarily mean more congestion as traffic lights are often as much about breaking up traffic flow which, counter-intuitivly reduces congestion.

    One will also assume that a "platoon" of cars won't be permanently bound together and that they will have a protocol to "break ranks" and create smaller groups. One possible reason being if a non-autonomous car cuts into their middle. Though just how well they'll respond to other drivers "gaming them" (like speeding up when a Google car / platoon tries to overtake) and whether they'll solve the other perennial problem of not finding a parking space, are issues we'll have to wait to see what happens.

    1. Irongut

      Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

      Do you really believe that? What do you think blind and disabled people do now if they want to go anywhere, sit at home depressed because they can't? No, they call something called a Taxi that drives them to their destination. Calling a Google car is no different, except they won't have a chat with the Taxi driver (or put up with his inane drivel depending on how you see it).

      As usual the bods at Google are making assumptions and being condescending rather than actually engaging with people and finding out how they really live their lives.

      1. The Mole

        Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

        Taxis are expensive, especially wheelchair equipped taxis, require planning to use, have limited flexibility (how long will your shop take), and require depending upon a total stranger (will they actually turn up and pick you up at the requested time?). Having their own pod available when they need will greatly improve the lives of many disabled people.

        If they are calling a pod rather than owning it then some of those arguments go, but again the reliability is likely to be greater and the psychological view of it different as well.

        1. dogged

          Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

          > especially wheelchair equipped taxis

          Trying to get a wheelchair into Google's noddymobile looks like a right laugh for a disabled person.

          1. The Mole

            Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

            This is a prototype not an end product..

        2. JLH

          Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

          "Taxis are expensive, especially wheelchair equipped taxis, require planning to use, have limited flexibility (how long will your shop take), and require depending upon a total stranger"

          Almost completely agree.

          London black cab drivers are diamonds, and as they are all wheelchair ramp equipped are fantastic and helpful. (Reference the Uber app articles - minicab drivers are not required to have wheelchair access).

          But outside London?

          Just try getting off at Southampton Parkway when there are engineering works and try to get on a taxi. Oh - you have a wheelchair. Errrrr.... no go.

          Or just arrive at Southampton Central where there are a whole line of taxis outside -none of which take wheelchairs. Ho hum.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

            "Just try getting off at Southampton Parkway when there are engineering works and try to get on a taxi. Oh - you have a wheelchair. Errrrr.... no go."

            Just call up a local taxi firm (radio taxis), order a cab asking for wheelchair access and they send the next available one to you. It costs the same as a normal taxi but they do take longer to get to you. I use them all the time in Southampton!!

            1. JLH

              Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

              AC, I honestly tried that one Sunday not so long ago.

              Radio Taxis wouldn't help.

              Local cab firm in Eastleigh saud 'Oh yeah - we do have a wheelchair capable cab. But the bloke who runs it is not working today'

              My point really being that you can't just assume that taxi transport will be available if you are accompanying someone in a wheelchair. You really have to plan ahead and make SURE.

              Like the night I booked a wheelchair equipped taxi to call at a hotel to go to a big do.

              Sure enough Mr Private Hire turns up in a normal saloon - with no wheelchair facilities.

              They often just try to chance their arm, resulting in a vastly delayed journey or no journey at all.

        3. grammarpolice

          Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

          There is no information yet on how much calling up a "pod" would cost. It might be more expensive than a taxi.

      2. Kurt Guntheroth

        Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

        Wow, talk about making assumptions... Speaking as a blind person with a disabled wife, let me debunk this poster's condescending, prejudiced and incorrect guesses.

        Try to get a taxi at rush hour, or in the rain. It can take hours, longer if you need an accessible taxi that will take a wheelchair. Try to get a taxi out in the 'burbs, or at night. It can take an hour. It can also take 2 minutes, so you have basically to sit on the couch with your coat on waiting for the thing to arrive. To make a long story short, if taxis were anywhere near comparable to the convenience of having a personal car, then this poster and everybody else would be riding in taxis.

        Not to mention that taxis are far more expensive than owning a cra on a mile-per-mile basis. Try to afford a taxi if you work as a low-wage clerk or greeter. Basically you can't accept such work because you can't afford to *go* to work. So the disabled sit at home on the government dole, and the economy does without their productive labor.

        Disabled people are stuck today with a menu of unpaletable transportation choices that would be completely unacceptable if there was anything they could do about it. Yes, it's absolutely true that disabled people sit at home being depressed, because the expense and hassle of getting out in the world is so great that only grim necessity overcomes it. That's why the disabled are so invisible. Yeah, downtown you see a passle of disabled-and-homeless folks on the sidewalk. That's because they can't go anywhere!!!

        A driverless car would cut an hour off my commute each way (versus the bus). Wow, two hours a day. Probably doesn't seem important to temporarily-able-bodied people, because they already have those hours. Bet you'd miss 'em if they were taken away though. A driverless car would let my wife and I go to a restraunt other than the one mediocre place within rolling distance of home, without having to plan our outing three days in advance. It would cut the cost considerably too. We could choose to live in the suburbs in inexpensive housing, instead of in the city where housing is expensive but transport options are better. We could even take our kids on vacation, which you can't do in a taxi at all. Woo hoo!

        It's hard to overstate the convenience of having a car in a world that caters to people with cars. Having this choice would be worth a lot of money, so even if driverless cars were expensive compared to conventional cars, I'd find the money somewhere.

        It turns out that software engineer is a job you can do if you are blind or wheelchair-bound. I'd bet big money that the googlers have plenty of input from disabled people.

        1. JLH

          Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

          Kurt, and The Mole

          I agree abotu getting wheelchair taxis out 'in the burbs' as I've said above.

          But let me speak up for public transport in London - which is bloomin marvellous on the whole.

          All bsuies have wheelchair ramps, the DLR and a lot of the Jubilee Line is completely wheelchair accessible. As is a lot of the Overbround too.

        2. Captain Queeg

          Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

          @Kurt Guntheroth

          <irony>

          That's just Sour Grapes. Who are you to criticise the authors "I'm all right Jack" approach. Your independence obviously isn't worth 5 minutes on his or anyone else's journey time....

          </irony>

          To be fair, the whole article is a crock, if this had been written 100 years ago, it'd be claiming the Wright Brothers were insane and Henry Ford would do better using Eugenics to breed a faster horse. :-/

          Google are experimenting which is great. And while we're on the subject of Henry Ford these critics who scoff might well remember his quote - "if you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right..."

          1. Gav

            Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

            "To be fair, the whole article is a crock"

            The whole article is a near perfect example of straw man construction.

            The author doesn't know how driverless cars work, doesn't know what research has been done and doesn't know what scenarios have been tackled. But that doesn't stop him guessing how they work, assuming no research has been done, and inventing scenarios like no-one else is smart enough to have already thought of them.

            And then having constructed his strawmen, he destroys them.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

              "assuming no research has been done, and inventing scenarios like no-one else is smart enough to have already thought of them."

              Google can research as much as like - but they cannot predict the behaviour of other drivers to these things - especially in a platoon of them - out on the road until they've actually done live tests on live roads so IMO the concerns raised by the author are entirely valid.

        3. boltar Silver badge

          Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

          "It turns out that software engineer is a job you can do if you are blind"

          No offense, but how exactly? Sure, you can type in on a brail keyboard but how exactly are you supposed to read - for example - a load of text scrolling up a terminal at 10 lines a second or a debugger output? And thats before we even get onto writing GUI code.

          1. The First Dave

            Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

            A braille screen-reader, an audio screen-reader, and/or other haptic feedback devices. You would be amazed at how fast these devices can be used.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

              "A braille screen-reader, an audio screen-reader, and/or other haptic feedback devices. You would be amazed at how fast these devices can be used."

              So for example - I've got a program writing a hexdump of received packets on one xterm, debug output on another xterm and actual program operation in a GUI window. Please explain how a blind person is going to operate in that enviroment?

              I'm not having a go at blind people but I find it hard to believe that someone with no vision could operate effectively as a serious developer. Simple line Basic programs yes - modern developement - no.

              1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

                "So for example - I've got a program writing a hexdump of received packets on one xterm, debug output on another xterm and actual program operation in a GUI window. Please explain how a blind person is going to operate in that enviroment?"

                They aren't. You've clearly chosen your tools to suit the relatively high bandwidth that you can channel through your eyes. I don't believe you are reading, far less memorising, those hex dumps. Much more likely is that you're skimming them for something that catches your eye. Fine, but don't imagine that's the only way to develop software and certainly don't imagine that it is the most effective way for a blind person to do it.

                I'm guessing, but I would expect a blind person to spend a lot more time thinking about what they *expect* to see, and writing tools to parse the incoming stream to pick out deviations from that. For certain kinds of software development, such people may in fact be *more* effective than the average programmer, simply because the average programmer's approach of "try it and see" is so far from optimal for certain classes of problem.

              2. Fourcheeze

                Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

                Clearly there could be limitations, but there's a lot between a simple program and debugging hex dumps. I class myself as a serious programmer but I rarely need to debug hexdumps. In a team you use the person best suited to each task.

          2. DaveyDaveDave

            Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

            @boltar: No offense, but they'd probably start with a simple Google search, like any other vaguely-capable developer encountering a new problem. If you'd done that, rather than poring through your green screen hexdump, line-by-line (are you a character in an 80's sci-fi film?), you'd have found this as one of your top hits:

            http://stackoverflow.com/questions/118984/how-can-you-program-if-youre-blind

            It features lots of very experienced, blind software engineers, detailing their experiences and advice for practical "modern development" with limited or no vision.

            Also, if you find you're starting any statement with the phrase, 'no offense', may I suggest you pause for a moment and re-think the wording of that statement.

        4. DaveyDaveDave

          Re: The Disabled, Sitting at Home

          @Kurt Guntheroth: Great post, and thanks for introducing me to the term 'temporarily-able-bodied'. As a temporarily-able-bodied person myself, it made me pause and think about the full implication of what it means. I shall do my best to use the same phrase myself in future.

      3. scarshapedstar

        Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

        "What do you think blind and disabled people do now if they want to go anywhere, sit at home depressed because they can't?"

        No, I think they roll their walker out to the Cadillac and then cruise around at 25 in a 70 like all the other grandmas, because they can't see over the steering wheel.

        If these things can get even 10% of the elderly off the roads they're a blessing. Other disabilities are pretty much invisible to me, but jesus, old people...

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

          My father is 70 and drives like a maniac. So does my mother.

          Don't paint them all with the same brush.

          1. dogged

            Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

            My father is 70 and drives like a maniac. So does my mother.

            The plural of anecdote...

      4. mark1978

        Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

        My Mum doesn't drive but she doesn't use taxi's either. Why? Because they are cripplingly expensive! She will use them if it's somewhere not on a bus route and she absolutely has to be there at a certain time, otherwise no way.

      5. Fourcheeze

        Re: Platoooooo0n - HALT!

        Clearly they are over-empahsising the value to different people that would use their product. That's just called 'marketing'. Every brand does this.

        Isn't it condescending to say "Blind or disabled people don't need cars, they have taxis"? As an able-bodied person I'm happy that I can make the choice to drive or take a taxi. Why shouldn't a blind person have that same choice? The only thing currently standing in the way is availbility of technology.

        The point is that this technology is a step towards equality of transport options.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

      "...Although the 1 second delay at a green light will, almost certainly, lead to more Google cars getting a shunt (though only if they're first at the light) as people *always* move in anticipation of lights turning green..."

      Ha.

      A 1 second delay is about 29 seconds faster than the dimwit at the front of the queue realising the light has changed. Multiply by the number of cars...

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

        "We call it blocking the traffic and lowering the number of vehicles that can cross a traffic light-controlled junction."

        I call that adding in human like reactions where a computer may (read may, I've not tested the Google car to confirm) react too quickly. Though I'd love to see this thing do 0-60 with no driver and no G limit due to being all squishy...

    3. I Like Heckling

      Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

      Anyone who starts to move when the light turns green without checking to see if the car in front has begun to move is an idiot who shouldn't be driving in the first place. It's simply basic common sense, and it's morons like this who cause shunts at lights and then try to blame the person in front for not being quick enough to move when the lights changed colour.

      Drivers should be focused on the vehicle in front at lights, it's down to the person at the front of the queue to be aware of when the lights change... everyone else in the queue can see the car in front move and follow accordingly.

      It's basic common sense that people seem to have either forgotten or simply ignored because they feel more entitled to be on the road that others... A tone that this entire article is dripping with.

      1. R 11

        Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

        I have to wonder if the author has driven in the US? In the UK, you can anticipate the green light because it has a preceding red + amber light. In the US, the light switches immediately from red to green. Drivers of the mostly automatic cars then have to switch from brake to accelerator - no sitting with the clutch depressed, other foot on the accelerator and a hand on the handbrake for a quick getaway.

        The highway code assumes about 0.7 seconds reaction time. I'm going to guess the computer driven car will have a much smoother departure from stationary than your typical driver too, so I doubt there would be any particularly noticeable delay from other road user's perspective.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          "In the US, the light switches immediately from red to green. "

          More importantly, in the US and other countries, the green light goes on at the same time as the red light in the other direction goes on.

          Which means if you rollout on the green, you stand a fair chance of encountering someone running a late orange in the other direction. (Sit at an intersection and watch how many drivers go into it just as or fractionally after the lights flick red. It's enough to justify the tiny pause - redlight cameras don't usually take shots until the red has been active for 1-2 seconds.)

          1. Nuke
            Meh

            @Alan Brown - Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

            Wrote :- " in the US and other countries, the green light goes on at the same time as the red light in the other direction goes on. Which means if you rollout on the green, you stand a fair chance of encountering someone running a late orange in the other direction."

            OTOH, in the UK the newer traffic lights have ridiculously long overlaps of red in all directions, several seconds in fact and sometimes what seems like minute. I think it is for the benefit of (usually non-existent) pedestrians to cross (I am not talking about lights with explicit pedestrian lights - that's extra). On top of this, some newer lights seem to be programmed to change to red as you approach even if there is no other traffic around - supposedly for traffic "calming".

            The result is that drivers are losing their respect for red lights.

      2. JustWondering

        Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

        I Like Heckling: "Drivers should be focused on the vehicle in front at lights, it's down to the person at the front of the queue to be aware of when the lights change."

        How about everyone in the queue pay attention to the light, and also the car in front of them?

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          And other vehicles on the junction. I've heard it's quite unpleasent to start prompt on green, to get hit by the 18-wheeler that thought it could beat the lights…

          This thread is developing a Spanish Inquisition / What have the Romans… tone to it. Yes, the one with the dead parrot, please.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          In my place, people don't pay attention to the green light anymore, or the red light for that matter; they pay attention to the yellow right on the crossing traffic whenever possible. I tried it, and it gives you enough time to:

          a) actually judge what will cross your path, even if somebody hacked the city traffic lights and forced all of them to go green at the same time. The same goes for the eventual ambulance, police cruiser, or runaway cement truck on a steep hill with no brakes. Spot the yellow, look around, clutch.

          b) Clutch in the first gear quickly, instead of getting your left foot tired on it, or losing time after it went green. As soon you are firmly on 1st gear, it will be green, and off you go.

          c) Get moving as it goes green, and be surprised of how much time people take to realize the light went green. I usually get a good 40 ft ahead of all cars, even some bikers, and I'm not particularly fond of burning rubber. There, I just reduced traffic by opening space to fit 2 more cars in a lane, per light.

          One city fixed that behaviour by turning the lights into countdown stopwatches. You see a red lit number changing from 3, to 2, 1... applying the same principle on the green light too. You then realize that's a 90-second intersection, or 45-second intersection... no more tickets for gunning the yellow light a bit late.

          If the googly car can actually read the traffic ahead, delaying 1 second to go is BS given it can achieve the same awareness as us.

        3. I Like Heckling

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          JustWondering "How about everyone in the queue pay attention to the light, and also the car in front of them?"

          Well that's obvious... I said focus on the car in front, not 'devote 100% of your time to the car in front'

          In the same way that you focus on the road ahead whilst driving, yet are able to flick your eyes to mirrors and your speedo... At least that's what I do, along with every other person who can drive properly. It's about being aware of what's going on around you... and if your focus is not on the car/road in front of you... that's when accidents happen.

          Or were you just being pedantic?

      3. Goldmember

        Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

        "Anyone who starts to move when the light turns green without checking to see if the car in front has begun to move is an idiot who shouldn't be driving in the first place."

        Well said. I disagreed with a fairly large portion of the article. Having lived in a busy UK city centre for several years and having to contend with dickhead taxi/ bus drivers on a daily basis, I'd love to see fewer of them on the road. Fleets of cars that drive defensively, know how to sit in their own fucking lane without swerving into mine, know how to indicate BEFORE moving, don't run red lights and simply don't take stupid risks to shave a second or two off their journey times sound like something I'd welcome on the road.

        Also, if they were cheap enough to own, imagine being able to go out for a few beers and then getting your car to drive you home afterwards....

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Getting lost in tunnels, sigh...

      "What happens when the GPS data is unavailable, as with a long tunnel? Does the car get lost?"

      My Mercedes navigation continues to dead-reckon in tunnels (e.g. under Chesapeake Bay). It can even figure which way we went at Y-intersections underground (somewhere near NYC I think). I believe that the system is based on a U-Blox GPS chip (pure guesswork on my part) that includes individual wheel speed data inputs (from the ABS sensors) to support dead reckoning and turns.

      In summary, it's a solved problem for tunnels (where they're mapped). Parking garages not so much.

      1. chris 17 Bronze badge

        Re: Getting lost in tunnels, sigh...

        Mine shows the direction of travel & position whilst in underground car parks. The older satnav's had gyros's etc that where used to determine location when gps signal was lost, hence part of their expense. Not sure on how the newer ones are working, i suspect a newer cheaper gyro.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Getting lost in tunnels, sigh...

          Before GPS was available, airliners were routinely flying thousands of miles with their position computed accurately to a better precision than GPS gives us by means of an inertial navigator. Essentially a box that measured yaw and acceleration in all axis and a computer that integrated them to derive velocity, then integrated again to derive position. Those accelerometers, gyros and associated computer were incredibly expensive - but like all things electronic have now come down in price so that it can be achieved by a few square mm of silicon with costs in the tens of dollars - especially when it only needs to maintain accuracy for a few minutes until a GPS signal is re-acquired rather than over a 10 hour longhaul flight.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Getting lost in tunnels, sigh...

            "Before GPS was available, airliners were routinely flying thousands of miles with their position computed accurately to a better precision than GPS gives us by means of an inertial navigator"

            Bollocks. Inertial systems can have quite a high rate of drift, they're nowhere near as accurate as GPS. Over the course of a few hours flight they can be miles out - enough to put you into the side of a mountain if you don't use other forms of navigation.

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Why is anyone worried about this (in terms of safety)? Think about it...

      It's not as if they're going to build a trillion billion Googly Cars and then let them all loose one lovely Tuesday morning. Even the most extreme production rates would amount to a tiny trickle of menacing Googly Cars being released onto the streets. If they immediately start crashing into things here and there, then someone will do the sums and their liability insurance rates will skyrocket. It'll self-correct without anyone gnashing their teeth and being all worry-wart about it.

      Relax...

    6. LarsG

      Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

      Might work in a city but out here never.

      Another GOOD reason not to move.

    7. Retired Spy
      Devil

      Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

      Honestly, I think everyone is missing the point. Since automated cars will be required to obey to "security and safety" messages, a simple black box will be all it takes to slow down any platoon so I can pass them at leisure. A similar "clear street X" message will be all it takes to clear the way so I get quick and easy passage to my destination. Since I know someone who knows someone, I expect I'll be just fine on a road full of automated cars. Don't know about everyone else tho'...

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

        The article raises some valid points but mostly buries them under a mountain of FUD. Google have been testing their driverless cars for years, you think they would not have considered any and all of the points raised?

        From all of the issues raised there is only 1 that (per the article) seems doubtful, and that is if sensors stop working in difficult weather conditions. Personally I believe this claim is either made-up or embellished by the author as surely Google will be using a combination of sensors, some of which will continue to work in any condition. In any case all these issues will have been ironed out before a public lauunch.

        Given the potential liabilities involved, Google would be stupid to launch if there were the possibility of big financial and reputational liabilities, and whatever they are, Google are certainly not stupid.

        1. DPWDC

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          <sarc>Pah, the car can't even drive through thick fog in treacherous conditions?!</sarc>

          I'd expect the Google car can still "see" better than I can in thick fog...

          In fact, don't BMW (or some German manufacturer) already offer a HUD that helps see through fog, and points out the last speed sign it read, state of traffic lights etc?

        2. simon_brooke

          Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          Guess what? Human sensors don't work in fog either, and are significantly impaired in falling rain and snow. It's very hard to believe that the sensors on the Google car can actually be worse than the mark one human eyeball.

          1. Fourcheeze

            Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

            People saying "A computerised car can't do X, Y or Z" are missing the point - in order for such cars to operate the computer will have to be able to do these things, if it can't it wouldn't be allowed on the road and nobody will buy it!

            In the long run, computer technology will get to the point that it can drive a car, if it has not already happened.

        3. Nuke
          Thumb Down

          @James Micallef - Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

          Wrote : "The article raises some valid points but mostly buries them under a mountain of FUD. Google have been testing .. for years, you think they would not have considered any and all of the points raised?"

          OTOH, the article (which is only about the congestion angle) and the discussion barely scratch the surface of the issues raised by these vehicles. I don't know where to begin, so I won't try here.

          These things will be fine in dedicated environments such as a taxi service within Google's own campus, a large hospital and perhaps in a new town built with them in mind. Otherwise it very much reminds me of the Sinclair C5 fiasco, in which after a blaze of publicity in which we were told we would all have our live changed for ever, the few that were produced ended up as transport within some holiday camp.

    8. xpz393

      Re: Platooooooon - HALT!

      "as people *always* move in anticipation of lights turning green"

      "Always"? Nope, and those who do are idiots who quite-rightly deserve to have the insurers rule-against them when they pile into the back of the car in front.

  2. Richard 31

    Rob me now!

    How about just walking infront of one of these things, waiting for the emergency stop and then robbing the hell out of whoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rob me now!

      You're wrong - the computer on wheels will recognize the knife in the robbers hands and will activate what is known as the Denver Jock Strap Device.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5a_BmL0AfA

      Technology is a wonderful thing, ain't it?

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Rob me now!

      >How about just walking infront of one of these things, waiting for the emergency stop and then robbing the hell out of whoever.

      How about having a man with a red flag walking in front? It's the only way to make dangerous new technology safe for journalists.

  3. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Go

    If all Audi and BMW drivers...

    were shot I would agree, otherwise the driverless car could help.

  4. nijam

    > It'll just block our roads and make life WORSE

    Isn't that the job of public transport?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Obviously public transport also hurls insults at you (whether you outside or inside said transport) and additionally runs stress tests on suspension, brakes and steering wheel hydraulics of the transporting vehicle. It's much more versatile!

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge
      Holmes

      "Isn't that the job of public transport?"

      Nope, it's the job of us cyclists to do that.

      1. Sebastian Brosig
        Thumb Up

        RE: Nope, it's the job of us cyclists to do that.

        When I read the bit about waiting an extra second after the light turn read I thought about how I (cyclist) feel just about the most dangerous time to cross a traffic junction is when the lights just go green: you run the risk of being hit by people crossing the opposite green phase when it's already turning red (aka cherry-green), and you're in the scrum of everybody else and annoying law-abiding car drivers. I often cross in the middle of the red phase, in case it's absolutely obvious that the junction is clear. Yes it pisses off some horn-happy drivers, but more reasonable ones appreciate the fact that I'm not in their way in the junction when they're using it.

        The second thing that came to mind is that I found on a recent trip in Taiwan that their red and green phases are often about 90 seconds long. That requires patience but increases throughput. They also have big displays showing a countdown of the remaining "red" seconds.

        1. Nuke
          WTF?

          @Sebastian BrosigRe: RE: Nope, it's the job of us cyclists to do that.

          Wrote :- "I (cyclist) feel just about the most dangerous time to cross a traffic junction is when the lights just go green: you run the risk of being hit by people crossing the opposite green phase when it's already turning red . I often cross in the middle of the red phase"

          I (cyclist/driver) consider you a selfish idiot, and bl@#st you for giving cyclists a bad name. You seem to be talking about turning right (I cannot imagine what your problem is if going straight), when I do exactly the same as I do when driving a car : pull forward on green and wait at a small angle at the point where the oncoming traffic is still moving past. The car behind me will be doing the same a bit behind and to my right. I do not even take up any room because I am in the "dead" space that the car behind could not move into anyway because of his greater width; think about it, draw yourself a diagram.

          When the oncoming traffic clears I and the cars behind me all move forward, the cars behind me passing me to my right as I pick up my own line to the left of the new road.

          WTF is the problem?

  5. Lis 0r

    Obvious solution - disallow human driving.

    1. Where not exists

      Highway neutrality

      And that's exactly the greatest danger to this. Non-autonomous vehicles may be forced off the road, or relegated to secondary roads only. In other words we could lose Highway Neutrality.

      1. Stacy

        Re: Highway neutrality

        I'm trying to figure out if that is a joke or not from Where not exists?

        The sooner people stop driving cars the better for everybody. Want to drive, do a track day.

        (Coming from a petrol head that will sorely miss her beloved Spitfire and R6 if this ever happens, and still sees that it is a good idea...)

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Highway neutrality

          "Want to drive, do a track day."

          Scenic routes where manual control is allowed would be preferable to a track.

          I don't really fancy power sliding with a vomiting 2 year old in the back

        2. TopOnePercent Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Highway neutrality

          The sooner people stop driving cars the better for everybody. Want to drive, do a track day.

          I want one of these JohnnyCabs, I really do. I'll use mine to commute to work, while either working, sleeping, or relaxing. It will be so much cheaper, faster, more reliable, and less stressfull than public transport.

          However, that is the only journey I'll be using it for; You'll get my car keys from my cold dead hands.

          I enjoy driving. I've spent a lot of time and money over the last 20 years to become an excellent driver. Not one who merely thinks he's good, but one that can back that up either on the road, or on a track.

          I hold a couple of advanced test passes, have done skid pan training, and many many track days and car handling events.

          I have the best part of 20 years no claims bonus to verify my safety on the road, and I have never had points or a speed awareness course.

          During that time, I've driven every car like I stole it, and routinely broken the speed limit where I felt it was safe to do so. When I'm driving I make all of the decisions because I bear all the responsibility.

          JohnnyCabs won't be safer than I am, but they may one day be as safe. They will be convenient, and for that I may be willing to compromise a little of my safety. What they will also be, is significantly safer than the average driver, but that is mostly because the average driver is an idiot who is only peripherally aware of their surroundings and puts as much thought into their actions as your typical celebrity puts into advancing the boundaries of rocket science.

          Beware advocating the abolition of activities the general public don't excel at, because you'll find yourself tied to a Surface with only user level access sooner than you can say "But I know what I'm doing!"

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " disallow human driving."

      Within a few years it's quite likely the effect will be the same.

      If competent machines can do most of the driving then driving license standards will tighten up considerably.

  6. AceRimmer

    Middle Laners Anyone?

    "So you’re driving along at 60mph and come across a slower platoon of some twenty vehicles moving at 55mph. You overtake them, noticing there’s no gap between each car in the platoon that’s large enough to let you in, and then you come up to the exit ramp you need to take but can’t get onto it because the platoon prevents you passing though it."

    Already happens in the UK all the time. just change the speeds to 70mph and 55mph and "platoon" to "Middle Lane Morons"

    Anyway if you're idiot enough to start over taking when your exit is coming up then you deserve to drive a few extra miles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

      > Anyway if you're idiot enough to start over taking when your exit is coming up then you deserve to drive a few extra miles.

      20 vehicles occupying 8 metres each is 160 metres. If your speed is 5mph faster then it will take you about 1 minute 15 seconds to safely clear the 20 vehicles. In that time you can travel 1.25 miles or 2km at 60mph (1.5m/2.4km at 70mph). Motorway signs usually indicate the approaching junction at 1 mile before (1.6km) so you could be halfway through your overtaking manoeuvre by the time you realise the junction is approaching. When you also take into account that you are supposed to be in the inside lane and slowing down by the 1/3 mile marker this means you could miss your junction if you started your overtaking manoeuvre nearly 3km before the junction.

      There is nothing idiotic with starting an overtaking manoeuvre 3km before the junction.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

        If you overtake by going 5mph faster than the vehicle you are overtaking then you are either a lorry driver or a cunt (both is not necessarily off the cards).

        And you could try looking out of the big sheet of glass in front of you every once in a while, and work out how long it is going to take you to pass the traffic on the left, and either speed up to make your turn, or slow down and follow them to the junction, you know like everyone on the road does already when there a line of lorries on the left.

        AND ANOTHER THING!

        If you don't know where your junction is until a mile before you get there.... get a fucking cab in future, you are not fit to drive

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

          Or just maybe the designers will think of this and all them to do something like, oh I don't know, split ranks and allow you in if you use your indicators to indicate that you would like to. Of course that would necessitate the use of an indicator before manoeuvring, which some road users do seem incapable of.

          1. simon_brooke

            Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

            That would discriminate against drivers of German cars, because they aren't fitted with indicators.

        2. MrXavia

          @naughtyhorse

          Its very easy to do...

          If you are on a motorway, there are often no markers on the motorway until about 1 mile before, so if your driving a new route your not used to, you can easily start overtaking 2 miles before and then miss your exit if you can't get over...

          Sure if you have GPS you may know (depending on how early it notifies you, mine is around 1 mile before), but still I would overtake with 2 Miles left if the cars are going 50 on the inside lane I would be passing at 70 on the outside..

          The thing is, even a convoy of automated cars, should leave a 3-4 car length gap between them for safety imho, plenty of room to merge, at 70MPH you travel approx. 30 meters a second!

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: @naughtyhorse. pish and pshwar!

            err, there a fucking enormous markers every few miles, they say stuff like 'London 127 miles' so I know my Croydon turn off is not going to show up anytime soon.

            you don't need a sat nav, i used to do this before sat nav was invented:

            you look at a map

            eg

            from my house, pick up the M1 drive north to junction 34 turn off, go left at the roundabout, then start looking for signs for 'dunny on the wold' it will be a right turn off the road you are on, about 7 or 8 miles.

            - even i can remember that for a few hours.

            So if we just passed junction 23, I know I'm not turning off anytime soon, so i can go bombing up the fast lane. If we just passed junction 33, I know I'm off soon, so no need to overtake anyone, keep to the left. (assuming it's a new route, then 'beating your best time' is moot, 'getting there' is the order of the day)

            Have a go at central london or brum in the rush hour, you need to know where you are going and get in the right lane in plenty of time, else you end up in Kent, or god forbid, Dudley! This 'problem' already exists and thousands of us deal with it every day.

            One of the points of automated convoys is vastly increased fuel efficiency and increased traffic density- if they drove 3-4 car lengths apart neither of these things would happen. (mythbusters 'did' this - to make much of a difference you have to get bloody close)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @naughtyhorse. pish and pshwar!

              > err, there a fucking enormous markers every few miles, they say stuff like 'London 127 miles' so I know my Croydon turn off is not going to show up anytime soon.

              err that 'London 127 miles' is the distance to central London not the distance to your turn-off. The sign announcing the junction is usually 1 mile before it. Starting an overtaking manoeuvre before the 1 mile marker is perfectly acceptable. If it wasn't then they would have a marker before that or they would lengthen the lane marking and shorten the gap between the markings to indicate a hazard.

      2. OliverJ
        IT Angle

        Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

        "20 vehicles occupying 8 metres each is 160 metres. If your speed is 5mph faster then it will take you about 1 minute 15 seconds to safely clear the 20 vehicles. In that time you can travel 1.25 miles or 2km at 60mph (1.5m/2.4km at 70mph)."

        This very aptly demonstrated the nonsense of having speed limits on motorways or highways. Move to Germany. :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

        Yes, but there is if you don't know where you are!

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

      Shame I can only upvote once.

      maybe 1 in ten of the points in the article were valid. okay you don't like them, but you really need to learn to construct better arguments or just fess up, you don't like them cos you are an asshole behind the wheel. (overtaking just before your junction is the kind of thing that will make me follow you home and give you a punch up the froat!) the overwhelming point that the article inadvertently made was that the concept is doomed when you consider the number of twats in beamers and audis (used to be seats too, but they seem to have all grown up!) on the road these days.

      personally, an extra hours kip in the morning while the car takes me to work and then another hour getting caught up with some telly on the way home sounds like a good deal to me.

      1. elaar

        Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

        You sound like a delightful chap!

    3. scrubber
      Devil

      Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

      You indicate, the group recognise the car outside wants to cut in, the group splits leaving a gap and off you go.

      Of course this could lead to people breaking up platoons just for a laugh by flashing their indicators next to a convoy.

    4. Ocular Sinister

      Re: Middle Laners Anyone?

      Surely it wouldn't be rocket (computer) science to make all the vehicles in the platoon communicate where they are going so a break could be opened in the middle if necessary. The vehicle approaching the platoon could also learn about the size of the platoon as it approaches. None of these things are possible with human drivers.

  7. Spiracle

    It's eyeballs, not safety

    All of this safety stuff is desirable but it's just a side-effect of what Google's really after. Data-slurping and consumption devices are reaching saturation point so the only way to increase eyeball-time is to free up hours currently spent doing important but, from Google's point of view, unproductive things like driving. They'd much rather you took your eyes off of the road and fixed them onto a Google movie or updated G+. If that also happens to result in you hitting fewer pedestrians, that's great!

    1. g e

      Re: It's eyeballs, not safety

      Plenty of idiots seem to be doing that as they drive already....

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's eyeballs, not safety

      Not to mention the data-slurping on each one of their cars' positions at any point in time.

    3. simon_brooke

      Re: It's eyeballs, not safety

      It's neither of these things. It's money. Morgan Stanley calculate that driverless cars will save 8% of GDP. This is a very disruptive technology and first movers are going to profit to an eye-watering degree. It's not unlikely that in ten years time Google's search engine business will be just a sideline to their automated transport business.

      Bye bye, white van man. Farewell, taxi driver. It was nice knowing you, HGV driver. We won't miss you at all, motor insurance companies.

      All these, and many more, are on borrowed time. They're obsolete, like horse buggies and hand-cranked tabulator machines.

  8. Alan Bourke

    This driverless car stuff is nonsense.

    We'd have it already if we really needed it.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: This driverless car stuff is nonsense.

      > We'd have it already if we really needed it.

      Yeah, that's why I was born with wings and a jet turbine.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: This driverless car stuff is nonsense.

        Though I would say, economically, we'd have more drivers and other options if we "needed" it.

        However, as it's convenience, not need, that Google is going for, it will probably be successful. :)

        For example, we don't "need" combine harvesters, but wow, they make the job easier (to a certain degree).

  9. The Mole

    FUD

    This is probably one of the worst pieces of FUD I've ever seen on The Register.

    Most of the arguments boil down to saying the technology isn't fully developed and if someone does something stupid/doesn't think things through properly then it will do stupid stuff. The suggestion that Google doesn't have highway simulators and traffic experts is farcical.

    You could argue that the cars will probably be travelling at the fastest speed that is safe in the given road conditions - I much more trust the sensors and reaction times of the car than human drivers. Given this if any cars are coming up faster behind them it could be considered a good thing for safety that they are forced to slow down.

    The traffic light logic is also dubious - assuming cars get through at a constant rate is nonsense - most human drivers take in the region of up to a second (or more) to realise that the lights have changed and to start accelerating so it an (initial) enforced 1 second delay to make sure the junction is clear is unlikely to be anywhere near as significant as portrayed - and in time it may get reduced/adjusted anyway.

    I agree that driverless cars doesn't automatically mean less traffic on the roads (and may mean more). Traffic isn't the same as congestion though. Most congestion is caused by bad driving such as sharp breaking causing ripple effects, and/or inefficient changing of lanes/merging traffic etc. If the majority/all vehicles were driverless and the technology sufficiently advanced then this type of congestion would be significantly reduced.

    1. Badvok

      Re: FUD

      @The Mole, totally agree, the term 'Luddite' also sprang to mind.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: FUD

        Yeah, I'm not sure of the value of dismissing a concept based on a pre-release implementation.

        I for one just hope they arrive whilst there still some country pubs left!

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: FUD

          and with these cars we can enjoy them!

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: FUD

        @The Mole, totally agree, the term 'Luddite' also sprang to mind.

        Really? Not click-bait?

    2. Stuart 22

      Re: FUD

      The first few paragraphs clearly indicate the writer has no knowledge of how traffic flows and density and speed interact. Frankly Nigel Farrage & Jeremy Clarkson could have knocked up a more thoughtful traffic analysis after only 10 pints.

      What they and the writer should be very afraid of is that if this project ever goes public then it is going to seriously question how most of us drive. Currently over 80% of us admit to driving outside of the law. Interacting with vehicles driving within the law will be kinda interesting. It also tests the dubious idea that individuals acting in their own self interest will maximise traffic flow.

      I predict a gaggle (goggle?) of Google cars will more likely maximise the efficiency of our streets. Easily accommodating the extra numbers of blind and the old. Moving to a rental model (click your mouse and the nearest free GoggleCar arrives at your front door) will also largely clear the the streets of those grossly underused parked vehicles that clog traffic.

      It would also be the end of the black taxi trade.

      1. Uffish

        Re: FUD

        Every so often, when a TV programme maker has run out of ideas to fill a five minute slot they assemble a bunch of film clips from Tomorrow's World or old GE advertisments for the home of the future and we all laugh at the crazy predictions. But neverthless we do have lasers and touch screens and intelligent washing machines (whatever those are), it's just that progress is not a predictable science.

        So we will have a safe, individual, 'door to door' transport system in place sometime relatively soon. But I'd be very surprised if it was anything like the current Google system, and I think Google would be equally surprised - and worried - if it was.

    3. lurker

      Re: FUD

      Yup, for a technology related site El Reg does seem to spend a lot of time screaming "New Idea! Kill it! Kill it with fire!".

      Obviously nobody at Google thinks these are going to be replacing human driven cars in the next few years, but that doesn't completely invalidate the point of the research. Even if it never results in actual computer driven cars running on normal roads I would imagine there's a hell of a lot which has been learned about things like robotics, image processing, software anticipation of complex environments, etc.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FUD

      This.

      The times where congestion is the worst (peak hours) is when driving is a chore. I would much rather be able to kick back and read a book or watch something on TV. That's also just the time when automatic cars might have the most effect.

      In the lower mainland of BC, Canada where I live at the moment, we have a number of commuter bridges across the Fraser River. They're pinch points that kill the traffic flow. However, the bridges are not the problem. Traffic generally flows very well across the bridges, it's just the merging traffic leading onto the bridges. People are just not very good at negotiating these junctions while maintaining a good rate of flow. We stop and start, we brake and accelerate too much, we're greedy and don't let people in. Add in the wastage of traffic lights on the feeder routes and you have a flow disaster.

      I love to drive, but to be honest I can't wait for self-driving cars.

    5. Where not exists

      Re: FUDmobile

      "The traffic light logic is also dubious"

      I agree on this point, but for an entirely different reason. At its extreme, if non-autonomous cars are banned from all roadways, then there would be no need for traffic lights. The cars would work it out among themselves before entering the intersection, pace and plan accordingly. They could choreograph interweaving movement through the intersection. They would brake for foot traffic and cyclists and signal this to the other cars to stop. Heck, if they are talking among themselves they could let other cars that have turned on the "looking for parking" signal on know when a parking space is available. They could talk to their own components, query the tires for their condition or ask the engine "how's the oil", IoT. But do I want them to take over nearly every aspect of personal conveyance? No, however at the insistance of others, I may not have that choice.

    6. Michael Thibault
      Devil

      Re: FUD

      >"sufficiently advanced "

      Aye, there's the rub!

      "Sufficiently" will almost certainly create a vacuum of power in the management (read: control) of traffic lights: the self-driving cars will be working, cooperatively, towards an ideal or an optimum, somehow defined--and that, I think, almost of necessity requires that the programming of the cooperating vehicles involve communication of information to, and receipt of information from, the programming that goes into the traffic lights. Once such a channel is open... resistance is futile.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: FUD

        "The self-driving cars will be working, cooperatively, towards an ideal or an optimum"

        If automated vehicles are the majority, I can easily see them keeping clear of non-communicative vehicles on the road (cyclists, manually controlled cars, etc).

    7. Anonymaus Cowark

      Re: FUD

      Exactly what I thought when I read the article.

      I was highly surprised to see this text, without any real arguments, in theregister.

      The usual article by Chris Mellor about storage devices are much more useful and informative.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FUD

      Well considering people normally have a self interest in not dyeing and software does not, it will be interesting to see what happens. Also consider how crap most software and technology actually is when put together to do anything other than simple. Pipe dream that’s all these dodgem cars are.

  10. knarf

    Stuff it can't hope to deal with

    Drunks on road at 11pm

    Buses / Taxis the raptors of the road

    Filtering Cyclists

    Filtering Motor Cyclists

    Car Jackers; it will politely stop and open the doors, its the safest option

    Trucks using the right hand lane to turn left

    How will it know to stop for police or just pull over

    Ambulances wanting past and you have to bump up on kerb

    Will it think flash bike lights are the police ??

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

      "Drunks on road at 11pm

      Buses / Taxis the raptors of the road

      Filtering Cyclists

      Filtering Motor Cyclists"

      I'm guessing you are not a cyclist. GoggleCars may not be perfect but they are going to be a lot less danger than WhiteVanMan. Like being programmed to give space when passing. Not passing when it isn't clear. Even consulting sensors (mirrors) before making a manoeuvre. That sort of thing.

      I certainly know who I would rather take my chances with.

      Of course if you have been caught using Bing you may be fair game ...

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

        And if you've ever my my mother-in-law on the road, she's even worse than white van drivers... she ignores cyclists and pretends that they're not there and therefore drives past giving them no space. She also believes that "it's ok to drink drive if you're a local".

        She's ideal google car material.

      2. knarf

        Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

        @Stuart 22

        Cycle nearly ever day through a busy city as well as doing long country runs and mountain biking, and I'm also a motorcyclist. With drivers you can eye ball them and make eye contacts.

        1. Stuart 22

          Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

          @knarf: Respect you obviously have a really evil eye.

          Car drivers look at me and still pull out in front. Car drivers do see me and deliberately give me a punishment pass merely for riding in the correct place (which just might infringe their right to not slow a little). I have the wounds to prove it. And its a cultural issue. Just come back from France where it was a joy to ride. Got off the train at Norwood Junction on Monday night and the first car to pass on an empty road late at night gave me inches not feet of clearance.

          This is why I think programmers might just do a better job than drivers. Its hard to think they can do worse.

          And not having to drive the car as a bonus I can keep posting on TheReg en route. OK I could do without those ads on the right but someone has to pay for the servers ...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

            Here in Los Angeles we have a terrible problem with hit and run drivers. Take the controls out of their hands, I say. Once that's done, take the guns out of their hands, second amendment be dammed!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

            Depends on the programmer.

            If ( covered in lycra )

            Reduce passing width by 10%

            Else

            If ( got cheeks showing)

            Keep well away

            Else

            Pass at correct width

            End

            End

            1. BongoJoe

              Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

              If isPerfectlyGoodCycleLaneAvailable (NOT_USED) then

              PassWithinMinimumClearanceDistance

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

      "Car Jackers; it will politely stop and open the doors, its the safest option"

      Great you have jacked a google car. Now what? Tell it where you want to go, or just wait for it to drop you off at the cop shop?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

      "Ambulances wanting past and you have to bump up on kerb"

      Technically doing that is illegal, it can also damage your car. So the Google car will just pull over as far as possible and sit there.

      I have never "bumped up on kerb" in any car I've owned for the emergency services...they have also never had a problem getting past me.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

        In a country lane, just wide enough for an ambulance I once had to drive up the bank and into the hedge as there were care behind me and an emergency coming the other way. Took me about half an hour to get off the bank and the paint marks from the ambulance never came off the side of the car.

        Thankfully it was an old Lada so the car withstood the impromptu off roading. The toy tin cars behind needed thirs party assistance to get out.

        That was the only time I was thankful that I drove a Lada. And, of course, when there was a spate of car thefts in the area and mine was still untouched, unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

        "Ambulances wanting past and you have to bump up on kerb"

        "Technically doing that is illegal, it can also damage your car."

        Well I would rather pull onto the kerb to give an ambulance space than not do so... Sometimes just pulling over does not give enough space for the ambulance......

  11. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    Agenda 21

    The whole thing is Google pedalling Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a plan to control (i.e. restrict) the freedoms of the human population, in an effort to save the earth. Just google (ha irony!) UN Agenda 21.

    Freedom of movement, one of the central tenets of Agenda 21, will be restricted when "communities" own cars, not individuals.

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Agenda 21

      A tin foil helmet and a bicycle may spare you a conspiracy theory or three ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agenda 21 (Actually not a conspiracy)

        Perhaps you should read Agenda 21 first before condemning those who have projected the effects of its objectives and goals.

        http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&nr=23&type=400

        There is a .PDF at the bottom. Scary inferences, the only way to accomplish their goals is to remove peoples freedoms.

  12. ratfox Silver badge

    "Them automobile thingies will never catch on; they always break down, and they're unable to drive in the snow. I'll keep my trusty horse, thank you."

    This article raises some excellent points. I am sure Google will realize now they cannot possibly make this work. They obviously didn't think about the fact GPS stops working in tunnels.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Google maps (navigation) knows about tunnels and handles them appropriately, not whining about a lack of satellites and even switches the display to night mode. The sensors do get confused if you stop in the the tunnel but will pick up again when you regain a satnav signal.

    2. Def Silver badge

      GPS signals cannot be received in tunnels, but even the navigation system in my CashCow can figure out how far through the tunnel I am and keep up accordingly.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He missed off the joke icon but I think it's clear he was being sarcastic...

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Because of tunnels and urban canyons, GPS systems usually carry these neat little things called accelerometers. Any Android phone worth its salt carries a set, too. Even if the GPS signal is lost, the mapper can use the accelerometers to compensate until it gets the signal back. It's pretty old tech at that. Submarines have relied on similar tech for decades since any form of radio navigation falls flat underwater.

  13. TRT Silver badge

    Auto-drive vehicles.

    The most important question, though, is does it have turbo-boost and pursuit mode?

  14. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    I will be the one to say it

    Whenever you get a decent-sized collection of interwebbers getting all defensive about something you just know there is an elephant in the room that nobody wants to mention out loud.

    In this case I think people are beginning to suspect (correctly) that they will be under increasing pressure to drive according to actual traffic regulations, and not according to just how they feel like.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: I will be the one to say it

      > will be under increasing pressure to drive according to actual traffic regulations, and not according to just how they feel like.

      I'd rather like the Google Cars to have a "hunt in packs" subroutine. So where they do see someone driving like a complete 'hole, they cluster around the vehicle and force it to slow down, obey the rules and shepherd it towards the local nick. (afterthought: how long until the police request the live feeds from the GC's for evidential purposes?)

      Failing that, then whenever the right combination of variously coloured GC's find themselves in close proximity, the white one spontaneously starts playing snooker with the rest of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I will be the one to say it (Yes, it will be dangerous to be in a google car then won't it)

        I hope you are buying lots of life insurance now, because I will be launching multiple LAW's anti-tank missles from under the hood of my car and driving through the smoking remains of you and your Google mobiles..........

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: I will be the one to say it

      The decent thing to do would be if Google released a couple twenty thousand of their "Tax Avoidance" team of Accountants and Lawyers and remissioned them for "Excessive Speed Misunderstandings"

    3. Diogenes
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I will be the one to say it

      I don't know about british unions , but Australian ones used to have "go slow" or "work to rule" campaigns. Just by following every jot and tittle of the rules/procedures, productivity and throughput plummet

      This, coupled with the traffic prediction, will see the "sorry Dave, I can't let you do that" (stop for breakfast, emergency toilet stop, skive of down the shops first, chuck a sickie etc etc )

      1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

        Re: I will be the one to say it

        I don't know about british unions , but Australian ones used to have "go slow" or "work to rule" campaigns.

        In the UK unionised staff are on a permanent "go slow" for their normal working day. Its why they only exist now in the public sector.

        1. neillanwarne

          Re: I will be the one to say it

          Down vote for that rubbish

  15. Rikkeh

    Built for America

    A lot of what I read about Google's miracle car suggests that it's been designed very much for American roads. More specifically the wide, ruler-straight, multi-lane (even in the middle of towns), low speed roads of southern California, with a ban on jaywalking and a separate lane for cyclists most of the time.

    When you drive down the street in Mountain View, people *do* wait a second from the lights turning green before they go. You *can* overtake a snake of cars, because you've usually got an empty overtaking lane to use. You almost always are in reach of mobile data access, because there's wifi dripping (metaphorically) from the lamp posts.

    To be fair, a two year old could drive on these roads. A driverless car is a much harder proposition pretty much everywhere else in the world. I imagine these autodrivers will be worse than useless outside of their native environment, and given that we haven't heard that they've been taken on the backroads or on a narrow, twisty turny good old-fashioned European street, I suspect that Google agree with me.

    So go on Google, show us a driverless car negotiating the Paris rush hour. *Then* we'll buy it.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Built for America

      There are a few choice European locations that I'd like to see them handle... the Arc' De Triomphe roundabout being one, along with pretty much anywhere in Rome.

      Further afield, the mountain roads of Poland where it's considered normal to a) park on a blind corner and b) overtake on a blind corner, and that's just one example of perpetual lunacy on the road.

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: Built for America

        Yes going around the Arc is a bit of a challenge. Not being able to keep a 360 degree view at all times means a lot has to go on trust. You can't actually optimise your movement. Whereas a GoggleCar not limited by a single pair of eyes with restricted viewing angle and often without the required glasses place on a wobbly neck that has a finite swivel point might possibly have a better idea of what is happening around it.

        Yes, you are right GoggleCars will be programmed not to go where they can't see and can't stop. Shocking isn't it?

        1. Rikkeh

          Re: Built for America

          Sight isn't everything though. When I was 17, I had better eyesight than I do today*. Was I a better driver then? Hell no.

          *it's still better than 20/20 in case anyone from the DVLA is reading this

      2. Manual Shift

        Re: Built for America

        Anywhere in Milan. LOL

  16. lotus49

    This article is completely idiotic. The only reasonable thing the author says is "Somebody, somewhere, needs a highway traffic simulator... ". Since traffic simulation is extremely complex and the author has clearly not done the simulation he says is required, there is no basis whatever for anything else in the article.

    What a waste of space.

  17. Andy E
    Stop

    Haven’t we forgotten something?

    Google is all about serving adverts up to its users. Thats how it makes its money.

    In a driverless car the passengers will have nothing else to do than consume even more adverts. I bet it goes slower to prolong the journey time so it can serve up even more adverts. They may even be tailored to your stated destination.

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Haven’t we forgotten something?

      Do think about this. Advertising is what Google do now. They can do more but will soon be hitting monopoly/anti-trust issues. Their future is bigger than that if they get their way.

      Obviously they ain't going to displace GM, Ford, Toyota. Anti-trust will see to that. Nope I reckon they have learnt their lesson from Apple and Microsoft that patents is the easier way forward. The GoggleCar and its successors will just be the Nexus 7 of the car trade. Demonstrators to set a standard and price point. They will earn their money from the old dinosaurs paying for the technology they can't avoid.

      They are the only people in the automobile trade who can offer governments and society a future free of congestion and a bit greener to boot. Eric has the ear of more global leaders than the rest of the big motor boys put together. And its not to ask for bail outs.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Haven’t we forgotten something?

      This does however, mean the car itself is free.

  18. Rol Silver badge

    Several years ago..

    I had a very similar idea to the driver-less car, the driver-less cab, however the overriding factor was that it didn't impede upon any other road users and hence was an answer to congestion.

    Well, cab, is my short name for caboose and it runs on a grid network of overhead monorails. The rails follow the current road system and are supported by hybrid lamp posts that also allow the cabs to travel down to street level to embark / disembark.

    Most of the cabs would be owned by the operator and available on demand or prebooked. The autonomous system would quickly learn how demand waxes and wanes through the working day and endeavour to have sufficient capacity in the right place at the right time.

    Outside the normal rush, spare capacity can be used to transport goods from out of town hubs directly to the shops, taking more traffic off the roads.

    I never could see the sense behind the myriad of transport "solutions" that stole ever more of the highway from other users while claiming, without blushing, to be an answer to the congestion.

  19. DJO Silver badge

    Inevitable but...

    I can see these becoming common for town and city use but for rural and motorway journeys I'm not convinced.

    My main worry is of legal responsibility, say you have a "platoon" of 20 cars hurtling along and one somewhere in the middle has a catastrophic blow out, with the between car distances proposed I don't see how the following cars can avoid a mighty smash-up which would invariably spread into the other lanes, a huge disaster that insurers will not be keen to pay as with no driver in control ultimate responsibility is hard to apportion.

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt

      Re: Inevitable but...

      Turn it around, if someone had a blow-out in a regular car and it turns into a pile up, who is responsible?

      I would guess: if its a manufacturing fault, the manufacturer. If the car hasn't been serviced then the owner/driver, if it has but badly then the garage.

      IANAL but my understanding is: If someone stops (at traffic lights or emergency) and you hit them its your fault. Unless they they perform an emergency stop for no reason in which case they could be guilty of dangerous driving (or possibly insurance fraud). If they have an accident (or pull out at a junction or change lanes without checking/indicating etc) and you hit them then it's their fault as they caused the accident, unless you are guilty of dangerous driving (driving unreasonably close, without due care etc)

      At the end of the day I don't see the situation changing too much, except the responsibility between the driver/owner('s insurance company) and the manufacturer('s insurance company) possibly needs to be clarified, which is the role of the courts.

  20. Carl Fletcher

    "Only it isn’t, it’ll be more – because Google’s saying blind and disabled people who can’t drive will be able to call up and use a Google car. This means more vehicles on the road.

    Tell me I’m wrong."

    You're not wrong... you're just an asshole...

  21. Kracula
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah, yeah ...

    ... I get that it might not be able to do reckless overtakes or go twice the speed limit, but think of the possibilities. The way I see it:

    No driver = No need for see-through windows

    No see-through windows = Private party ;)

    That really is life changing technology.

  22. DrAJS
    FAIL

    Real issues

    The article misses an opportunity to raise some of the real issues that will come from driverless cars:

    Who would be held responsible (ie. sued) if a driverless car is deemed to have caused an accident?

    Who pays the speeding fines if a driverless car inadvertently exceeds the limit?

    How are insurers going to be able to assess the risks associated with driverless cars?

    Who is going to ensure the interoperability of different manufactures' driverless control systems?

    With no manual controls how would occupants deal with a sudden control system failure?

    These questions are far more relevant than "what happens if it snows?", especially given the dubious way most humans deal with difficult driving conditions!

    1. Test Man

      Re: Real issues

      This would have been worked out yeeeears before by the relevant authorities (government, car industry, the likes of Google, etc.) before driverless cars are even thought about being let loose on the streets even on a temporary "test" status. YOU don't need to worry about that, the industry will do that.

    2. Stuart 22

      Re: Real issues

      Those of us trying to take pictures on a Nexus 4 know google coders ain't perfect. There will be crashes caused by imperfect software. They will cost and kill.

      The point is that by driving safely for, say, 99.9% of the time will mean this will be at the cost of avoiding nearly all the human error crashes. The insurance company will still see risk but a smaller risk. As most crashes are dealt with 'knock for knock' responsibility is not a major issue.

      The bottom line is which car will insurers offer the lower premiums. Google (and government) will not go public until the risk, such as it is, is significantly lower than grey matter powered hulks.

      Don't we want lower insurance premiums and less dead?

    3. graeme leggett

      Re: Real issues

      Re insurance - the moment some of these appear on the road, enterprising fraudsters will back into them, and immediately claim whiplash etc. Given the competing claims of infalliable software vs truthful human, which will win out?

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Real issues

        I would suspect the software, especially if it has sensor and video proof that it was stationary when backed into.

    4. simon_brooke

      Re: Real issues

      I think the real question you have to think about is, once insurance companies have comparative data on the safety of autonomous vs human driven cars, will anybody be able to afford not to have a Google car?

  23. Daggerchild Silver badge
    Go

    Lot of Reg hate for a toy today :)

    The whole project can be summed up by "Would that work? Uncertain. Let's find out!". Just like Glass.

    And just like Glass, it'll eventually run into reality and die its inevitable death. Everyone will learn things they didn't know before, fragments will survive in other more viable technologies and life will go on.

    Get the popcorn, place bets on the hurdle it falls at, and just *chill*, sheesh. Who *seriously* thinks this is going to fly? Even Google don't or they wouldn't have made it look like.. *that*.. ugh.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can somebody tell me...

    ...that if instead of a windscreen to look out of, we'll just have an advertising board?

  25. Test Man

    "We’re told by the G-drive gushers from Mountain View that road trains or platoons of driverless cars will use roads more efficiently because they’ll be able to drive more closely together than human-controlled vehicles. Right. So you’re driving along at 60mph and come across a slower platoon of some twenty vehicles moving at 55mph. You overtake them, noticing there’s no gap between each car in the platoon that’s large enough to let you in, and then you come up to the exit ramp you need to take but can’t get onto it because the platoon prevents you passing though it."

    Good point, but think about it - how does sat navs (even ones going back from the last decade) do when you miss your turning? They reroute. It'll clearly be the same here.

    "The cars use GPS to locate themselves, with more precise location data provided by the LIDAR and other sensors. Sensor input is received and processed, we understand, by a quad-core x86 processor using a modified version of Ubuntu Linux.

    What happens when the GPS data is unavailable, as with a long tunnel? Does the car get lost?"

    Again, what do sat navs do in tunnels? Use "Dead Reckoning" - it already knows it's in a tunnel because the map data is already in it's system, so it simply judges where it is by the current speed via GPS just before it went into the tunnel (which will be far far easier in a car because it will be able to rely on the car's speedometer directly and not on the speed upon entering the tunnel).

    So good points, but took me not even a second to work out, so Google's engineers would have clearly already thought of this.

  26. sandman

    Unbiased Opinion

    For a totally fair and unbiased opinion may I recommend - http://sniffpetrol.com/2014/05/28/google-announces-shitty-car-for-idiots/

  27. Snivelling Wretch
    Headmaster

    > "software algorithms so that the vehicles can drive safely and relatively anonymously"

    I think you mean "autonomously" - this is Google we're talking about after all.

  28. chris lively

    Mr. Mellor,

    I humbly request you stop posting on topics that you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. Stick with storage.

  29. Kevin 6

    Here is a question

    Where I live the street lights a good amount of times are burnt out so say there is a red light, but then the green is burnt out does the car just sit there?

    Also the times there are power failures that take street lights out how would it react? Will it just be like hey there's no stop light, and no stop sign so I can cruise clean through ignoring traffic?

    Or something that would terrify me is it going to use directions provided by google? http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/10-dumbest-google-map-fails.html That site is a case in point. So what about when a blind person asks to be driven somewhere, and the thing instead drives off a bridge, or strands them in the middle of nowhere.

  30. Russ Pitcher
    Flame

    Oh, for Pete's sake!

    This is a lousy article - possibly the worst I've ever read on El Reg. What we have here is an author who has already made up his mind and is desperate to find any argument to use against the idea, no matter how weak, rather than a reasoned assessment of the technology taken to its logical conclusion. And to be honest, complaining about the possibility of improving mobility and freedom for the physically and visually disabled is pretty offensive!

    This is a prototype of a new and game-changing technology. All the points made and more need to be worked out, no-one is denying that, but how about exploring the real impact that such vehicles might have - for better or worse - as they are gradually introduced into the real world, improving all the time. What might life be like in 20, 50 or 80 years time? Think how much better life could be if the two hours a day I currently spend driving to and from work - sometimes with my mind on other things, no matter how good my intentions are - could be spent starting work during the commute, reading a book, calling friends, doing anything within reason! Properly managed, this could reduce congestion, shorten journey times, improve efficiency and boost safety. None of this will happen overnight, but if we work hard it will probably get there.

    And no, I don't like the idea of giving up the right to drive my own vehicle, but surely a reasonable compromise can be worked out and the potentially huge benefits are worth some sacrifice? Every disruptive change is just that - disruptive, but after the pain comes the real benefit. The industrial revolution was a bugger for those that lived through it and lost their livelihood, but I'm glad it happened!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, for Pete's sake!

      Here here.

      18 years ago, I thought I'd learn to drive, and in about 25 years, my licence would be irrelevant as all cars would drive themselves by then - this kind of depressed me, as I quite liked driving at the time. Now I've grown up a bit, and live in a city - I'd by happy for Google to drive me to work and back rather than have to start stop every 2 seconds...

      Why complain and pick holes at a prototype that someone is trying?! Surely that's stifling innovation, something that I'd expect the reg to be in favour of!

  31. tangerine Sedge

    Of course it won't fly

    As DaggerChild stated, this will be explored then quietly dropped when the issues, cost and reluctance to adopt make it unviable.

    These autonomous cars will never work in a mixed environment, it's just too complex and there are too many variables to consider for a 100% safe solution(*).

    Therefore, the only option is to separate these cars from other road users, i.e. build very expensive exclusive infrastructure. This is never going to happen, as this is exactly the same problems that Buses and trains have, i.e. fixed routes and timetables ( if you think that there will be enough google cars to cope with rush hour traffic then you will be mistaken. You'll be in a queue waiting for your car with everyone else, apart from those people that have paid google for priority).

    What Google has failed to understand, is that cars have given people a massive amount of freedom. The freedom to go where you want, when you want. You don't have to book anything, you just jump in your car/bike and go. People are not going to give that up without a massive fight.

    (*) variable weather conditions, pot-holes, closed roads, other road users, pedestrians, random cats/dogs/drunkards, fallen branches, escaped sheep. And to keep 100% safe, they'll probably travel much slower than other traffic too.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Of course it won't fly

      "These autonomous cars will never work in a mixed environment, it's just too complex and there are too many variables to consider for a 100% safe solution(*)."

      1754 people were killed on the roads in 2012, and 23,039 people were seriously injured. We don't have a 100% safe solution now. Self-driving cars just need to be better than that.

      1. tangerine Sedge

        Re: Of course it won't fly

        1754 people were killed on the roads in 2012, and 23,039 people were seriously injured. We don't have a 100% safe solution now. Self-driving cars just need to be better than that.

        I disagree! Society currently has a very low risk threshold, so anything above a handful of deaths in these things will be a disaster.

        If 1754 people died every year in aeroplanes or trains, would that be acceptable? Trains and planes are highly regulated to ensure safety, and I believe that google cars would be in the same category.

        Imagine the Daily Wail headline : "Robocar kills 10 in high speed joy ride!", with the tagline "PM Farage demands action now!".

        I assume human nature categorises risk appetite depending upon how much control they have over the situation. If someone feels in control (i.e. a driver) they'll accept more risk, if they are not in control (i.e. a passenger) they will accept less risk.

        Therefore, these vehicles would have to reduce deaths to just a handful every year to be considered succesful. I'm not saying it's logical, or rational, but I truly believe that will be the case. Combine that with the costs of infrastructure and these things will never be accepted.

        Perhaps some aspect of these vehicles will be incorporated into future cars though? Improved cruise control for motorways which control speed and distance according to other traffic around you. Perhaps they will communicate with other cars and become fuel efficient automated convoys? Like cruise control now, as soon as the driver takes control then the auto-pilot switches off. But then, this is all stuff that the major manufacturers are investigating now.

        The whole thing is a puff-piece for Google to demonstrate how cutting edge they are (even though every man and his dog in the auto industry can do driverless cars).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Of course it won't fly

          The thing about trains and airplanes is that they have a lot attached to them and operate in environments where, if they fail, they tend to fail badly. In the actuarial world, that's called "low-probability, high-consequence". IOW, planes statistically are safer than cars BUT when a plane DOES go wrong, 9 times out of 10 it isn't pretty. Can you say the same about a car, even an automated one?

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Of course it won't fly

      If being self driving was the price I had to pay to finally get my flying car I'd accept it gladly.

  32. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Top Article.

    It's got all the googletards in a lather!

  33. BlinkenLights

    These cars need a human level AI.

    So how will these cars cope with roadworks, temporary traffic lights and stop/go boards?

    Instructions from police officers at accident scenes?

    Obstructions in the road and narrow streets with cars parked on one or both sides?

    Will it understand gestures from other drivers or headlight flashes giving way to it in those situations?

    Will anyone let one of these cars in from a side road in heavy traffic and how will it know when it can pull out?

    Think about every decision you make when driving and then how a computer driven car would know about that situation and how would it be programmed to deal with it?

    1. Zane

      Re: These cars need a human level AI....on the contrary

      You'd be surprised how bad the "human level AI" compares to some rather simple algorithms

      for coping with the situations you mention.

      Humans are not very good at driving cars.

      Two simple examples:

      - parking: normally, in about 30% of the cases where the car would have fit into the parking lot, the driver is too afraid it won't or thinks it will be too complicated, or just doesn't have a good 3dimensional view of the situation to get it done. The algorithms to get a car into every parking lot if it fits is pretty simple - I worked with guys who have written this kind of software, it works amazingly well.

      - breaking: a lot of accidents happen because drivers are too shy to break hard enough. In fact, if you have moderately modern car, there is already a lot of software involved when you break, which will make sure that the car really stops and does not break out. Software is very good at breaking your car hard enough so it does not touch anything.

      /Zane

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This thing

    needs it's own road, like the subway. I don't think this will go well on ordinary roads until every car is a driver less car.

  35. NotWorkAdmin

    Tell me I’m wrong.

    OK, you asked, I'll tell you you're wrong (AFAIK). The premise (as usual) is that humans can negotiate roads better than machines. I'm afraid I don't believe that. Yes I'm a driver. I enjoy driving, but I think I can be honest enough with myself to admit I am far, far from perfect (although, of course, I believe I'm above average - who doesn't).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Tell me I’m wrong.

      But then, not even the ROADS obey the rules all the time. Think spontaneous incidents: unmarked holes in the road, kids or animals suddenly darting in front of you in a road with no swerve space, a tree begins to fall on the road (We can see the tree is falling and react before it actually blocks; how will the car hold out on something that irregular?), blackouts that take out the traffic lights or other situations where the traffic control isn't done by a machine but by a human using gestures or signs that may not even be well-coordinated.

  36. BongoJoe

    How will it pay the toll over the Severn Bridge?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Tolls

      How will it pay the toll over the Severn Bridge

      This is Google we're talking about, they already know everything about you so taking the toll directly from your bank account (plus 5% handling charge) would be trivial.

      Of course the guided coin cannon might be tricky, alternatively arrangements with the toll operators shouldn't be impossible, but less entertaining.

      1. trigpoint

        Re: Tolls

        Considering the Severn Bridge can't even take cards, I can't see them taking direct debit anytime soon/

    2. Fink-Nottle

      > How will it pay the toll over the Severn Bridge?

      Trick question.

      Everyone knows a journey to Wales in a Google car would be impossible. Welsh place names have too many characters to be input by touch screen and are impossible to decipher using speech recognition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whatever happened to OCR and direct location plotting?

  37. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Wow.

    I wonder if they got the idea for driverless cars while laying in partner-less beds ?

    Oh, and will there be some sort of Siri-like assistance involved when it becomes necessary for the human passenger to roll down the window and flip the bird to nearby drivers ? This could be a show-stopper. Often this is the only braking device installed in New Jersey cars.

    1. Manual Shift

      Re: Wow.

      Amen

  38. Hollerith 1

    I like driving, but...

    ...I do rather like the idea of starting the five-hour drive to Cornwall with a flask of good coffee, plentiful snacks, movies and books, and a foot-rest, and enjoying being driven while relaxing, perhaps with a little nap, the whole way. Just like a train, only totally private and I'm taken right to the door.

    A discreet commode would make it a little palace.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: I like driving, but...

      Yes, but this is Google so there will be timing issues ... that's probably an obscure way to put it

      OK. What I really want to know is: Do you make a mad dash for the commode when the adverts go off and the movie comes on ? Will there be sufficient time before the ads come back on again ?

      Perhaps some Do No Evil(tm) time shifting features could insure you could always back up the movie so as not to miss any advertising ? A crowdsourceable commode, maybe ? I'm just tossing out these ideas, this has to be thought through or the Technology will be the bane of us all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I like driving, but...

      How would the robo-car behind react to the sudden appearance of a turd* in the road?

      *not driving an Audi

  39. tk666

    If you think these things can make the traffic worse then you obviously live in a country where the humans can drive. I live in California, where nothing, man , beast or machine could be more inept than the local drivers. Maybe that's why google is optimistic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      California drivers inept?

      You've never been to New York (or Boston) have you?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: California drivers inept?

        You want a REAL test? Try a major southeast Asian city, like Manila. There you have all the worst things you can imagine: impromptu roadblocks, snap constructions, flimsy guardrails, and roads filled with drivers who never seem to obey any kind of signage or road marking (probably because most roads, even multi-lane ones, are unmarked). Heck, good luck finding a traffic light. Oh, did I forget to mention all the different methods of transport that use the same stretch of asphalt, including pedestrians, bicycles, human- and animal-drawn carts, and all sorts of improvised vehicles that would be practically alien to any outsider?

  40. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

    Cup holders

    "We think it will still have cup-holders though."

    Pahh! We will all be supping coffee and orange juice straight from the clouds.

  41. Fink-Nottle

    Look on the bright side ...

    ... no more Jeremy Clarkson on the TV!!!

  42. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Can it honk?

    Here in Silicon Valley, it seems that anyone breathing can get a driver's license or install a traffic light. It's impossible to get around some areas without honking, occasionally going through a defective red light, or making an illegal U-turn when idiocracy reaches the critical point of deadlock.

    From what I've seen of Google's self-driving cars, they simply avoid areas of bad drivers and broken traffic lights. That logic is not going to work on a wider deployment. The cars would get jammed or smashed on both sides entering Sunnyvale.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: Can it honk?

      "... they simply avoid areas of bad drivers and broken traffic lights."

      Brilliant!!!!!

      This will enable them to exclude most of the EU and not just France or Paris.

  43. ben edwards

    The 1-second buffer is almost TOO short in the SF bay area. There's too many intersections where people flaunt their red light at the left turn for up to 5 seconds and roll through regardless.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Business Friendly

      Well, Ben, you know how tough it is for startups to gain a toe hold on competitive markets.

      Perhaps if you offered to shut down BART then Google could work feverishly to develop a driverless car that stops at red lights.

  44. Richard Jukes

    Google powered motorhome, set the address and the alarm clock, wake up shower, coffee and get delivered straight to work. Extra hour in bed. Genius.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Genius

      Genius. Now there's a word I don't often hear applied to the lifestyle of poor musicians and campaigning politicians

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    additional benefits include no interactions with dvla, no need for insurance, no parking or speeding tickets.

    councils will go bust owing to losing the profits from parking tickets. the govt won't like losing it's photo identity cards either.

    win win!

  46. Borg.King

    What about the empty Google cars?

    Kids will take the family car to go to their friends, and then send it back home empty. When they want picking up they'll call the car to come and get them.

    No need for the parents to be taxi drivers now. Families might even get an extra google-car just to be the kid's taxi.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: What about the empty Google cars?

      Great , between school and after hours activities (sport, ballet etc) parents will never need to interact with their offspring

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: What about the empty Google cars?

        "between school and after hours activities (sport, ballet etc) parents will never need to interact with their offspring"

        And that would be a problem because?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the empty Google cars?

          Because, at least west of the Atlantic, a chronic spate of parents not keeping their kids under control is leading to a spate of malcontents. Schools aren't allowed to teach much behavior (because they're government institutions and they're supposedly not supposed to legislate morality) and parents are shirking their responsibilities.

  47. Joe Gurman

    Mr. Cranky?

    My, my, did we get up on the wrong side of bed today? Someone's pretty cranky, that's for sure.

    Most green lights in the States, at least, last a lot longer than 5 seconds, so the putative two fewer cars to get through an intersection per cycle will probably be not 20% but more like 5% fewer. And if all the cars in the queue start moving at the same time, or only a fraction of a second later, a lot more vehicles will get through the intersection than with drivers talking to passengers, checking their e-mail, texting, polishing their toenails, eating, .... and all the other driver behaviors that make motoring so much fun.

    I'd be much more concerned about how good the software is when the first cars are released for real-life road driving. What will the vehicle do when the traffic lights are out? (That happens here often enough when electrical storms pass through that it's a common experience among human drivers.) What do they do in the case of animals on the road? Spill from trucks (sorry, lorries)? Humans crossing the road in the dark wearing dark clothes, on rainy nights? Semi-trailers changing lanes without signaling, and not seeing the wee people-pods?

    I wish Google all the luck in the world with this.

  48. Old Handle
    Go

    There are some valid criticisms here (such at the platoon as barrier problem), but the green light thing is silly. All they're doing is emulating what human drivers typically do. In my experience people only very rarely actually start moving the instant the light changes. They might do it if they're in a big hurry or they want to get ahead of everyone else so the can change lanes. But normally attention starts wander and they could easily take a second to react to the green light.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thing is, the average drive IS in a hurry AND have learned to get telltale clues that the light's about to cycle. Ideally, especially at night, they keep an eye on the crossways lights. Once they're seen yellow, the driver knows it's time and can prepare. Even during the day, drivers can watch the cross traffic. When most of them start slowing down as they approach (because they won't make the light without attracting a cop), that's usually a sign their light's turning red.

      Based on my own firsthand experience, cars usually start rolling WITHIN a second of the light turning green. Cars that don't usually start getting horned.

  49. ian 22

    More vehicles? Horrors!

    So expanding markets is a bad thing? If you are a libertarian, you must be a rather bad one.

    In any case, the straw men you present (how platoons will interact, for example) are easily knocked down. Your concern that Granny will achieve some semblance of independence is touching, however I suspect you've never spoken with Granny and heard her frustration and resentment at having her mobility curtailed.

  50. Diogenes
    Coat

    Jeremy Clarkson ???

    Will he be able to tip one over ?

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Jeremy Clarkson ???

      you just KNOW they will try to make it crash....

  51. Gordon M
    Thumb Up

    About bloody time!

    Personally, I can't wait for this - having a bunch of uniform, slow, predictable cars on the road is a motorcyclist's wet dream! It's going to be an absolute hoot passing these things - although I'll have to take care not to prang the bike while laughing hysterically in my helmet :-)

  52. rwerkh

    The current version of the car is not what the technology will become. To judge the final impact of driverless cars on the first version being made as proof of concept is ridiculous.

    This article is what would have happened if someone had reviewed the Benz Patent Autowagon and projected it into the future traffic needs of today. Yes it would have been terrible but it made today's cars possible.

    Driverless cars when significant will not only not wait at traffic lights. They won't need traffic lights. Does Google know this? I don't know but they will.

    Why ask what happens in tunnels with GPS? Do you make up stories about technology without researching the current state of consumer GPS devices?

    The better GPS navigation devices use accelerometers to fill in when the GPS signal is unavailable. Phone based GPS systems of course use accelerometers and other signals to fill in when GPS is unavailable. Beacon technologies are becoming standard in phone systems to provide indoor location more accurately.

    It would be quite easy to put beacons on the exits in tunnels thereby providing quite accurate navigation within the tunnel.

    The car has LIDAR so it can tell what is happening inside the tunnel - and could take the appropriate exit the same way a human does without a GPS.

    If you are going to make commenta about this car at least make ones that are not obvious garbage.

    I by no means think this car is in itself the big thing of the future. The technology it introduces to the market is the start of something big though.

    Im not even a fan of Google. Just really would prefer not to be sharing the road with frustrated and somewhat incompetent humans and to move to a time when traffic lights are gone. Traffic lights waste time and petrol. Won't miss them.

  53. Andy3

    More rubbish

    A few random thoughts, mostly negative.

    I saw a video of the software in action yesterday, and it showed how the car detects a cyclist. Apparently it knows the cyclist is about to move into the traffic stream 'by seeing that the rider has put out his hand'. WOW, when does that happen? Over here, cyclist think they own the road and just hurtle across lanes with no warning whatsoever.

    Then the video shows the Noddy car snuggling in behind the bike - which was going about 10 mph. For safety reasons, the car would not pass the bike. Oh great. Even if it tried, it couldn't, because here in the UK our ultra safety-conscious councils have put central islands every 100 yards to stop overtaking, 'cos it's bad bad bad, see?

    I find that the anti-car brigade always support these noddy cars, as they see them as a way of bringing our roads to a grinding halt, or at least imposing ludicrously low speed limits.

    Final thought. This idea will only work properly when our roads have been filled with sensors. No doubt in the meantime (in the interest of 'safety'), these cars will be given every unfair advantage over conventional cars - they will be able to use bus lanes, pool lanes and park for free. Don't you just love it?

  54. Zane
    FAIL

    Sorry to say...

    ...but you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Is this a serious article, or did I miss the irony tags?

    This article is so full of silly assumptions, it's the worst thing I've ever read on El Reg.

    The authors have not the least idea how automatic driving works. And for theircounter arguments

    they use scenarios which are stupid.

    Do you really believe that the first (human) at a traffic light

    always starts within less then a second after the light becomes green?

    Do you even understand that everyone in the row adds to the delay when crossing the traffic light?

    Just one example that is plain silly.

    Automatic driving works pretty well - and it has done so for quite a time. Most things a machine can do better than a human, but it seems you want to tell me that you can cut anything better than a laser beam will.

    The real problem with automatic driving will be with laws (who's in charge when an automatic car causes an accident?) and with human psychology (ever seen a car being added to a platoon at 120 mph? Looks pretty dangerous).

    /Zane

    1. OliverJ

      Re: Sorry to say...

      "...and with human psychology (ever seen a car being added to a platoon at 120 mph? Looks pretty dangerous)."

      This last argument of yours isn't very convincing.

      1) I see this every day on a typical german Autobahn, and also

      2) This argument reminds me of the "driving faster than a horse can go in these steam train will make you go bonkers!" yarn.

      1. Zane

        Re: Sorry to say...

        Oliver,

        you have no idea how precise these platoon maneuvers can be. They can be done literally without any safety gap.

        You will never see a human doing this. Not even on a German autobahn. Not even if the driver is completely.

        But you might be right - maybe we'll get used to it.

  55. OliverJ

    Let's all get those autonomous chairs to move us around...

    ... and in one hundred years, human beings will look, move and behave like the spaceship crew in WALL-E. Fat, immobile and frightened.

  56. Daz555

    I suspect we'd get more traffic as a result of driverless cars - the soul destroying nature of driving itself being the biggest deterrent to err, driving.

  57. Winkypop Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Mile by mile club

    Let's go for a "drive", love.

  58. Gav

    A Useful Summary

    This opinion piece summarised;

    "I don't know how this works or whether these things have been considered. So I'm just going to take a few guesses, assume the worse in every scenario, and wildly extrapolate from it."

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on

    I think you should let them finish developing it before you knock it..

    "Somebody, somewhere, needs a highway traffic simulator through which these scenarios can be run" - Do you really think Google are not doing that already?

    I do enjoy the Reg, it makes me laugh but recently its being far too cynical for my liking.

  60. Andrew Torrance

    Your missing the point

    Ok . this is version 0.1 . And it will have issues . But what if .... What if we can get driver-less vehicles ? Ok , people who can't currently drive will be able to use them . Me ? I can go out and get slaughtered and still be driven home . You can call your car to you . You can work on your desk in the car on the commute . You can send your car to the garage while your in work . You can send it to pick up your shopping . With the ability to call a car to you then it will not be long before pooled cars become popular . I guess it could be the end of the road for taxis. Basically its a huge game changer . Ok V0.1 will be pretty poor but I guess we have to take it one step at a time .

  61. Ron B

    You won't have to worry about the ugly bug overtaking you

    Buried in the press release is the fact that the ugly little 'leccy cars have a top speed of 25 mph. That is too slow to be permitted on any limited access highway.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Friday afternoon clickbait. Read something else.

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  63. Michael 28

    If only they could fly!

    Then this driverless... whatever... could really..er.. take off.

    Taxi Drones with skylift harnesses? Pizza delivery to high rise buildings? (Leave the window open.)

    Driving at ground level @ 25mph has just one purpose. To teach our posix-based future overlords how to maneuver in urban environments without getting meatsacks stuck in their caterpillar treads.

  64. Alan Edwards

    > The vehicle will wait one second before starting off when traffic lights turn green

    Remember that the car has advance knowledge of when it's going to change (Audi just demonstrated that), it doesn't need to wait for it to actually change. 1 second is quicker than a human can react to the light changing and go from brake to accelerator (for the US), or select 1st and release the handbrake.

    It also knows exactly when a light will go from amber to red, so knows whether it can make it through before the light changes. It takes more "chances" than a human driver would, so there would be at least 1, possibly more, less cars waiting.

    > Do they work as well at night

    Laser, radar and lidar don't give a rat's ass whether it's dark. Microwave sensors won't work as well in fog, but it's probably still better than a purely optical system (i.e. eyeballs). What may not work as well is lane tracking, but you may be able to combine infra-red to give it a better chance.

    > noticing there’s no gap between each car in the platoon that’s large enough to let you in

    The 'platoon' is under autonomous control, so it can either detect your indicator and make room, or inter-car communication triggered by your indicator tells the leader "make a hole, I need to get off here".

    > Does the whole platoon move sequentially, car by car, into an adjacent lane and

    > overtake the slower vehicle

    Probably depends on road conditions. If there's enough lane space move the entire platoon, if not move over individually and pass when it can. The leader will need to split the platoon and hand control to the car immediately behind you, and join it back up when it catches up.

    > What happens when the GPS data is unavailable

    Same as with dashboard navigation units, it falls back on inertial navigation. It knows you went into a tunnel, so it's a fair bet you're on the road that goes through the tunnel, so can use vehicle speed to work out where you are.

    > so far off that the car goes off the boundary of its stored map

    A 64Gb card is enough to store the road maps for the whole world. The more detailed maps used by autonomous cars may be bigger I guess, so give it a 2TB hard disc.

    1. OliverJ

      My spooky Audi...

      "Remember that the car has advance knowledge of when it's going to change (Audi just demonstrated that), it doesn't need to wait for it to actually change. 1 second is quicker than a human can react to the light changing and go from brake to accelerator (for the US), or select 1st and release the handbrake."

      It's funny that you bring this up, but every time I drive an Audi with Start/Stop automatic (don't know how this is called in the UK, it shuts down your engine when the car is standing still) I have the creepy feeling that the car somehow KNOWS that a light will become green in two seconds. I just sit there, hands on wheel, foot on brake, engine off, and suddenly the engine comes back to life, and two seconds later, the light turns green.

      Now, if this would happen at crossings that I know well (i.e. I know how the traffic lights are scheduled), I could understand this. Maybe some unconscious twitch in my arm or leg. But this happens to me all the time, everywhere! Spooky...

      It may be that the engine sometimes starts more or less randomly, and I only remember the occasions when the lights turn green the next second (kind of an "every christmas we had snow when I was a kid" thing), but it IS strange :-)

      On the other hand, and back to your posting: One second reaction time? Come on... Are you an octogenarian? :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My spooky Audi...

        My Mini Cooper S does this, but I suspect it is because the air conditioning needs more power to run than the battery will efficiently provide, rather than the car 'knowing' when the lights or traffic conditions will change...

        1. OliverJ

          Re: My spooky Audi...

          I'm perfectly aware that there is very likely a completely plausible reason for this. And I already pointed out that my suspicion about this Audi being a supernatural being with the power to predict traffic light changes is probably caused by some faulty wiring in the human brain - like, trying to find patterns where there are none.

          Nevertheless, even if I know this, it nevertheless gives me a little shiver when the engine of the Audi comes back to life, literally one moment before the traffic lights switch. :-)

    2. TopOnePercent Silver badge
      FAIL

      1 second is quicker than a human can react to the light changing and go from brake to accelerator (for the US), or select 1st and release the handbrake.

      Congratulations, you just failed your driving test. No, really, you did.

      Red goes to red + amber, which is when you select gear and remove handbrake, and as they change to green, you go. You certainly don't wait for green to begin gear selection, or if you do, then please refer yourself to your nearest driving school for some further tuition.

      1. Zane

        > Red goes to red + amber

        Not everywhere.

        > You certainly don't wait for green to begin gear selection, or if you do, then please refer yourself to your nearest driving school for some further tuition.

        Never heard that you must not wait for green.

        But it looks like you have never been in second row before the traffic light.

        There are quite some drivers who will need more than one second.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Experiment

    I intend to mimic the experience of Google's driverless car by drinking 5 pints of gin, followed by ingesting 10 sleeping pills. Whilst my brain is gently shutting down, I'll take myself for a spin across the fields in a combine harvester that I'll borrow from the local farmer. By doing this, the combine is essentially driverless, but with me in it. Clever, eh?

    Don't worry: the farmer tells me that his insurance will cover me for anything as long as I don't tell him what I'm doing first, so that's sorted.

    I'll let you know how I get on.

  66. Stretch

    Tell me I’m wrong.

    You're wrong. But i enjoyed the rant.

  67. Jeff 11

    Deadlocks

    Defensive, safe driving doesn't work when every vehicle on the road does it and rules and algorithms can't produce a safe answer as to how to proceed in a deadlock situation. For example, if four cars arrive in each lane of a four-spoked mini roundabout in the UK, someone has to take the risk and go first despite no-one having right of way - which is surely anathema to Google's vision of crash proof vehicles. Perhaps that could be solved by seeding each vehicle with a small degree of randomness, or having something like quorum resolution between vehicles, but there are probably a lot of more complex scenarios which would require more work...

  68. Arachnoid

    how will the car hold out on something that irregular?

    As with any other coded program it will be up to the programmer to patch the system with as many variables as practicable hence the trial runs just like any other system.The system will in my estimation, be able to learn by self teaching in such one off variables it will select the safest option in its arsenal and should sensor viability be compromised either internally or externally i/e/ by neferious means it will inevitably park up and await rescue by Google.

    To be honest I think the military will be taking a keen interest in the outcome of these trials for their own self aware systems many of which will also travel off the grid so to speak.

  69. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Terminator

    I'm in favour os sensible automation in cars

    For example, I would like a car with launch control and forward looking radar, which can detect when a traffic light changes green and the next 100m is clear then gets me to 50kph (urban speed limit) in the shortest possible time. It's wearing on the nerves doing so manually.

  70. Jhoff1

    I can see where this is going - and the blame here is always going to be put on the human driver.

    These loathsome little things will record everything - they'll record you tail gating, speeding, crossing white lines / hatchings going through on amber. Now I agree that all the above is bad road behaviour, but tell me honestly do you always stop fully on amber, do you never, ever break the speed limit, do you never 'tailgate' eg. just before an overtake? In fact what is tail-gating? Do you never cut someone up - what is 'cutting-up'? Sometimes you are forced to do these things by other factors outside your control. Imagine every other car on the road is now effectively a police car and not only that, it is fully loaded with devices which can spot almost any misdemeanour and record it.

    This is far more sinister than Orwell could ever imagine. These things will record everything and if they're ever in an accident the lawyers will be able to use all that information against you.

    Potentially, it's even worse, you could be implicated as the cause of accidents which you were no-where near as lawyers will be able to trace back car movements to identify the cause of the crash....and then it will be your word against the computer's and seeing as the computer cannot break the law you could be implicated.

    Incidently, and on a slightly different note, I'd like to know how they can spot potholes, tell the difference between dangerous and non-dangerous road debris, see standing water, judge a slippery road surface, handle contraflows, zebra crossings, faded road markings and missing signage, cope on a single track road with passing spaces or drive anywhere that isn't a mapped road. Oh, and if you buy one in the UK, will it be able to drive on the right when you go onto the continent?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Boring

      Maybe we do all amber gamble, tailgate, cut people up and ignore road markings deliberately, as opposed to being incompetent*. But if we do these things it is probably be because we know that no one is going to nick us for it, not because we confuse driving like an idiot with l33t driving skills

      If you do get blamed for causing a crash by speeding, cutting in front of other vehicles, ignoring signals etc, and the black box shows that you were doing those things then you probably were at fault.

      * - Arguing in favour of mass motorised incompetence is the near inability of anyone in my neck of the woods to be able to park without straddling two spaces, blocking my driveway or being within two foot of the kerb.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the human factors issues? We've known them for over 30 years!

    The problems of automation have been written about for years. If you take the human out of the loop you make it harder for them to do anything when the situations goes TU. The current Google car passes control to the human when it encounters a situation it doesn't understand, i.e. hasn't been programmed to deal with (anyone remember brittle expert systems?) who then has to work out what's going on and how to fix it. This is just going to lead to a different set of accidents. Lisanne Bainbridge wrote about the ironies of automation over 30 years ago in a different context, but it's exactly the same problems. Maybe someone should send a pointer to Google... http://www.bainbrdg.demon.co.uk/Papers/Ironies.html

  72. Esme

    I wondered what the heck Google were playing at too, until, serendipitiously, earlier today a colleague at work told me about the solar roadway project.

    Video done by a chap that reckoned the inventors weren't shouting loud enough about the technology they've invented: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU&feature=kp and the product site is here: http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml.

    The interesting part is that Google is, apparently, already involved in supporting this project - and that answers a lot of the criticisms voiced in this article. To wit, the cars can communicate with the roadways sections, and so know precisely where they are without GPS - once the roads have been converted to use the solar roadway technology. Questions of traffic signals etc - also dealt with, to large extent.

    OK, so there's bound to be some unseen problems - there always is with any new technology - but I'm struggling to see much downside to this'un. And (something not in the info given on the panels) if each unit had even moderate computing ability, perhaps it could even generate significant computing power on a national scale.

    I'm stunned; this could make an amazing difference!

  73. Daniel B.
    Facepalm

    Go on green?

    Is it just me, or is the 1 second delay after green light actually a real-life safety feature? Especially in big cities, where someone will run a red light. In fact, here in Mexico City there's already a 2 second delay between the red going on in one street to the green going on on the other one. And even then, it is still wise to wait because there's bound to be a jackass plowing through the intersection.

    Oh, and now try doing that on a motorcycle. I've always waited a second or two, and I've seen at least twice an HGV hurtling down the intersection not giving two fucks about the red light. There's a particular intersection where red light runners are the norm, not the exception. I'm not about to gun the throttle just to get splattered all over the pavement!

  74. HippyFreetard

    But what about ... ?

    All these questions are great. You should compile them and send them to Google in case they've missed one. You know, just to prevent the case where they're rolling off the production line and off to their customers' car parks and garages, and a Google exec shouts "Potholes! We forgot about potholes!" If you guys get this stuff to them in time, you'll save them a fortune in potential Total Recall of all their Johnny-cabs.

    I'm amazed nobody's asked the elephant question. If there's no driver, who will drive them? Computers? Well think again because computers don't even have hands and feet! They have the typewriter bit and the TV thing and the clicky thing, but no hands! How could they use a gearstick? These things will just crash everywhere, guaranteed.

    It's like that other dead-end technology, the Google Glass. As if anyone would risk having an earful of red wine every time they turned their head...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what about ... ?

      Tell me. What's an android? As in a physical android? It's basically a computer with hands and feet.

      You're forgetting that a car, as it is, was designed FOR humans...but doesn't have to be. All the linkages, controls, etc, can easily be handled by other means with hydraulics, actuators, motors, etc. All of which computers can handle easily if you've ever been to a modern industrial plant.

      1. HippyFreetard
        Trollface

        Re: But what about ... ?

        Thanks for clarifying ;)

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Mr. Mellor

    Sir, you seem quite unfamiliar with the technologies that you disparagingly comment on in your article, whereas the majority of those have been around for a good few years, and many of the "problems" that you seem to have discovered have actually been considered (and frequently, solved) years ago.

    There are indeed major issues that remain ahead for a fully autonomous self-driving open-road vehicle, but you haven't touched upon any of those.

    Instead of linking to some enthusiasts' forum on the internet (regardless of how insightful or captivating their discussions may or may not be), why not go and talk to the people who are actually involved in doing the research and building the actual products that use these technologies? Many of them are based in Europe and all of them speak English and are reachable over the phone or email. They're also pretty passionate about their work and quite like to talk about it as long as you're not an arse who thinks who knows better than the chaps and girls doing this for a living.

    That would be an article worth reading.

  76. Vociferous

    Raises red flags.

    Obviously we need to have a man walking in front of the card waving a red flag, to warn others.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use them as bad-driver shaming devices

    I think anyone arrested for drunk/stoned driving, or caught txting while driving should be relegated to using one of these. Only after a year can they be tested and apply to use a driven vehicle. If they can't be trusted with others' safety, they should be prevented from harming others. And, their driverless vehicles should be not permitted to overtake (pass) anything, no matter how slow. When a car pulls up behind them and honks, their car must pull off the road. If they want to drive like jerks, then FORCE them to be driven that way and stay the heck out of the way. BWahahahahah!

  78. Danny Root

    Having been a driver for 25 years, I can't wait for self driving cars. I detest driving, drivers, cars, having to remain sober and the intense boredom of driving in general.

    I don't care if they only go at 25 miles per hours, crash occasionally, stop for no reason for several hours or annnoy other road users.

    Most people I know disagree with this point of view, but they are generally simpletons who watch "Top Gear" by choice, so can be safely ignored.

    Get on with it Google.

  79. Paul Uszak

    The courts will decide

    Google and technology will not decide the viability of driver less vehicles. The courts will. What happens when the first child jumping out into the road is killed? Cue the lawyers. It will go to trial and the courts will have to decide who the defendant(s) are. It's likely that they will just ban that type of vehicle as surely as Segways are banned in Europe.

    BMW tried a similar "advancement" when they brought out that weird motorbike with a fully surround roll cage. The idea that you wear a safety harness and have a roll cage might mean that you don't have to wear a safety helmet, thus making a motorbike more appealing. Unfortunately, the law says that on all two wheeled vehicles the driver has to wear a helmet. The project was cancelled.

    1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

      Re: The courts will decide

      BMW tried a similar "advancement" when they brought out that weird motorbike with a fully surround roll cage. The idea that you wear a safety harness and have a roll cage might mean that you don't have to wear a safety helmet, thus making a motorbike more appealing. Unfortunately, the law says that on all two wheeled vehicles the driver has to wear a helmet. The project was cancelled.

      It wasn't only about avoidance of helmetage though - it was also designed to stop you breaking your balls on the fuel tank as you launch over old Mrs Miggins bonnet, while she executes a right turn without appropriate observation.

  80. David 18

    Trolls on the staff?

    I never usually criticise the journalisic quality of articles on here, but I do have to ask: was the author of this article the winner of a competition, picked from the regular trolls who stalk the comments section?

    Or was it tongue in cheek?

    It has to be something like this, nobody writing for a Tech site like The Register could be responsible for such an article.

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