back to article Car? Check. Driver? Nope. OK, let's go, says British govt

Driverless, computer-controlled cars can legally be tested on Blighty's roads from today - Wednesday - a government report has concluded. However you will need a "test driver" for the moment. The review said the government is taking a "light touch/non-regulatory approach" to driverless car testing to make the UK the "premium …

  1. Andrew Moore
    Coat

    And why not...

    ...seeing that a driverless parliament has been such a success...

    [nicked from Boothby Graffoe]

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Upvoting just wasn't enough

      to show appreciation of mention of a comic I have only heard of through Stewart Lees Alternative Comedy Experience [first series].

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. wowfood

      Re: rule 163

      I'd be happy if the things just used their indicators correctly.

      I don't know what I hate more, people who don't use the things at all, or those people who turn on their indicator as they're going around the corner.

      1. D.A.

        Re: rule 163

        Or those who indicate right at a roundabout and then go straight on.

        1. tmTM

          Or those who indicate right at a roundabout and then go straight on.

          There's a special place in hell reserved for those morons.

          1. g e

            Re: Or those who indicate right at a roundabout and then go straight on.

            Not forgetting Rule 71

          2. Midnight

            Re: Or those who indicate right at a roundabout and then go straight on.

            ...and it has plenty of roundabouts.

          3. MrDamage

            Re: Or those who indicate right at a roundabout and then go straight on.

            Unfortunately, thats the actual law in NSW thesedays. Right blinker on even if you are planning to go straight ahead, AND left blinker to then indicate you are taking that exit.

            Fucking daft if you ask me.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: rule 163

          Indicating right at roundabouts is awkward

          That's an awkward one. The code says indicate right until you reach 1 before your exit, then indicate left. Depending where the switch gets hit on smaller ones, the time on indicating left ranges between barely visible to "what was that?"

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: rule 163

        It really does seem that most people think that they should brake at the last moment, then switch on the indicator as they start the turn.... :-(

        Then there's the ones who're still braking as they go around the turn. I'm just glad I'm not a passenger in those cars.

        I was always taught to indicate at least 3 seconds _before_ starting to do anything related to the manouvere (including slowing down), but I can't find any specific reference to this in the highway code.

    2. 's water music Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: rule 163

      with no driving duties to keep me occupied there will be plenty of time for rule 34.

      Mine's the one with blacked out windows and wipe clean seats

    3. MrXavia

      Re: rule 163

      Rule 163? I'd be happy if they can get lorry drivers to follow rule 169...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: rule 163

        169 could do with a line reinforcing 160

        " - Once moving you should keep to the left, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. The exceptions are when you want to overtake, turn right or pass parked vehicles or pedestrians in the road"

        I'm surprised there's no explicit line about keeping left on multilane roads unless passing slower traffic, but it's implied in that first para of 160

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What exactly is the purpose of driverless cars? By which I mean, what problem or need are they addressing, that couldn't be better served by improved public transport?

    It just feels to me that they are one of those "just because we can" technologies like an internet enabled light bulb...

    1. Alfred

      " the purpose of driverless cars"

      "that couldn't be better served by improved public transport"

      That's exactly what they ARE. Improved public transport. Here is my wish-list for public transport:

      1) Picks me up wherever I am, at my convenience.

      2) Delivers me exactly at the location I want to go to, without detours or other stops.

      3) Don't have to share it with strangers.

      Right now, I am describing a taxi, which is perfect but for the cost. If only there was some way to remove the largest cost of a taxi; the driver's time.

      Hey presto, driverless car IS the ideal public transport.

    2. Stuart 22

      By public transport I presume you mean mostly buses and trains? The insoluble problem of these covering 100% of your transport needs is they require a minimum mass between points to operate. Those points may not be near you or the frequency inadequate or you need to do it at 3am in the morning.

      Whereas when it comes to taxis and mini-cabs - driverless cars are direct competition and probably superior in cost, convenience and comfort. They could be the end of uber. Hit the app and one turns up at your door. Even better than Zipcar saving you the walk down the road. Whether this, for many people, makes owning a car redundant we shall have to see.

      That could trigger the return of our urban streets to people (and kids) instead of being mainly an ugly repository of the very expensive and infrequently used metal boxes blocking traffic that actually needs to move.

      Personally I hope driverless cars will have taken over the roads before I decide to hand in my driving licence because I am no longer competent to drive. Bring 'em on!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Personally I hope driverless cars will have taken over the roads before I decide to hand in my driving licence because I am no longer competent to drive.

        I can't see driverlesss cars taking overthe roads before 11 pm this evening - I won't be competent to drive by then!

        But seriously, driverless cars will allow people to be more sociable in more rural areas.

        1. John H Woods

          hi tech saviour of fading historic asset

          "But seriously, driverless cars will allow people to be more sociable in more rural areas." --- Dave 126

          Interesting, perhaps the highest tech we have will save our country pub?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >By which I mean, what problem or need are they addressing, that couldn't be better served by improved public transport?

      Driverless cars will eventually converge with public transport.

      -The only public transport that travels from door-to-door at the time the user wants is a taxi - and that is expensive for the user because the human taxi driver needs to make a living.

      -Human taxi drivers are known to work until they have made a certain amount of money each evening - on rainy nights they make this amount of money more quickly due to higher demand, then go home - this is why it is hard to find a taxi on a rainy night. (this is explained in the book Freakanomics)

      -Driverless cars would allow for traffic junctions that don't require vehicles to stop and start, thus improving fuel efficiency and engine life.

      -Driverless cars be instructed well in advance to move to the side of the road, meaning that emergency vehicles can travel faster.

      -Driverless cars can improve the capacity, fuel efficiency and safety of motorways, by travelling in networked 'trains'.

    4. MrXavia

      There are plenty of reasons you might not want to drive, such as you've had a few too many drinks, a bit tired, got a long drive...

      I enjoy driving, but being able to have a nap on the way home would be nice on occasion....

    5. FlatSpot
      Facepalm

      the purpose of driverless cars

      It's a proving ground. How about the next step driverless freight and the end of two lanes of a motorway being blocked by duelling lorries. Instead they drive in a convoy in the "slow" lane and manage their speed to provide gaps to enable other traffic on/off at the exits.

      Sounds like bliss..

    6. Thought About IT
      Black Helicopters

      What exactly is the purpose of driverless cars?

      They'll be ideal for keeping the security services aware of your whereabouts, when there's no signal for your mobile!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What exactly is the purpose of driverless cars?

        With driverless cars comes JohnnyCab.

        Where to now?

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "What exactly is the purpose of driverless cars? By which I mean, what problem or need are they addressing, that couldn't be better served by improved public transport?"

      A bus is a great way of moving a bunch of people from point A to point B.

      Busses as public transport are hugely inefficient outside of peak hours.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Perhaps any driverless cars should be preceded by a man with a red flag. I don't want to be doing 70 on the motorway with a driverless car, complete with sleeping 'driver', coming up behind me.

    The lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee!

    1. Alfred
      Terminator

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      Given that at the moment you routinely have to put up with idiot meatbags coming up behind you on the motorway at seventy plus, removing meatbags from the equation is an improvement.

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      The lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee!

      Did they find a way to monetise the the postings of internet Jeremiahs wondering whether* driverless car engineers have thought about the possible need to steer around obstacles?

      * I'm going to guess that this came up in early project brain storming

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      Due to the lawyers, before they're allowed on the roads driverless cars will have to be more competent than a good and attentive human driver. They'll easily exceed the average half attentive driver and massively exceed the bad driver who is texting with one hand, holding his coffee with the other and steering with his knees....those are the guys you want to beware of coming up behind you!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

    "Transport minister Claire Perry added....."

    Wondered what happened to her. Not sure how the governance of this country has continued, since she stopped continually piping up on how the interwebs were corrupting our innocent 'famous five' style youth. She was obviously given a junior ministerial job to shut her up, cos she was getting embarrasing.

    Great to see her coming back with storming comments like 'Driverless cars are the future...' Thank god we have junior members of the executive like her to tells us this sort of thing.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

      The thing is with Claire Perry is that people voted for her. She was the best candidate in her area.

      What does that tell you about the electorate and the politicians in her constituency?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

        >"Transport minister Claire Perry added....."

        >Wondered what happened to her.

        James Hacker: But I'm going to be Transport Supremo!

        Sir Humphrey Appleby: I believe the Civil Service vernacular is Transport Muggins!

      2. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

        "Maybe something else sucks around here...!"

        --George Carlin

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

        "She was the best candidate in her area."

        I agree that people voted for her, but the word "best" is not applicable. Many people where we live would vote for a polecat if it had a blue or purple riband, and in some other areas they would vote for a pig if it had a red one.

        The problem with democracy is that half of the electorate is really too stupid to vote, but unfortunately (as Lord Lever said of advertising) we don't know which half.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

      I'm sure before too long, Ms Perry will turn her ample intellect to the child protection aspects of driverless cars. She'll likely conclude that there are certain addresses that will have to be filtered out of the destinations lists, just in case visiting them leads to people being corrupted.

  6. Bob Wheeler
    Meh

    Paint me sceptical.

    Business secretary Vince Cable said the £19m government-funded driverless car projects underway in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry will contribute to the "£900bn industry by 2025".

    If this industry is going to be worth £900bn in 10 years’ time, then is the £19m a tad light weight in investment terms? I mean, for £19m (which is loose change in government terms) how much of the £900bn market are we going to get?

  7. Nigel Brown

    Welcome to Johnnycabs

    Douglas Quaid: Where am I?

    Johnnycab: You're in a Johnnycab.

    Douglas Quaid: I mean, what am I doing here?

    Johnnycab: I'm sorry. Would you please rephrase the question?

    Douglas Quaid: How did I get in this taxi?

    Johnnycab: The door opened. You got in.

    [Johnnycab rolls his eyes]

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Here we go again

    ""a light touch/non-regulatory approach""

    That has worked so well in other sectors.

  9. Stella Duvel

    It's not just the last mile...

    ...it's also the first mile!

    How does it help me to have a driverless car to get me from Milton Keynes bus station up to the shopping centre (which is located a silly distance away, why wasn't the bus station located within sensible walking distance of the shopping centre?) and to get to that bus station I (living in a village) have to:

    1. take a walk to the local bus stop

    2. catch the once-per-day bus to the nearest town

    3. wait for the X5 bus (which passes our village but doesn't bother to stop there)

    It's all a gimmick designed to take our attention away from the dreadful state of public transport.

    1. Sarah Balfour

      Re: It's not just the last mile...

      Same here. I'm in South Bucks, and I've all but given up on the buses. I don't think they're subsidised (if they are, it's to the tune of about 4d ha'penny), there's one about every 3hrs (depending on where you're wanting to go, think there's 2 A40s an hour) and they're really only patronised now by old dears wanting a free ride to the quack's. A return journey for me would be almost £5.

      If I wanted to get to Wycombe, I can either get the, notoriously unreliable, A40 (about £8 return) or I can walk to the station and get the train for about a quarter of that (I have a disabled railcard) but it does mean trudging back up Amersham Hill.

      When my mother began working in Wycombe (she works for the council) she had this idea she was going to get the A40 because the office is just over the road from the bus station, and she'd be able to claim for her tickets, whereas with driving she could only claim parking (council won't even pay that now, the tight-arsed cunts, so there's always a mad dash at lunchtime to move cars from one 'up to 3hrs' free on-road parking area to another, because the multi-storey costs about the same as a bus ticket). However, it meant arriving at the office either an hour early or an hour late (if the bus arrived at all) and waiting around in the winter… she drives now.

      She wouldn't trust a driverless car. She barely trusts one WITH a driver, if that driver's my dad. He's not the most patient, nor tolerant. I'm surprised he's still alive, to be honest.

      1. jibberjabber

        Re: It's not just the last mile...

        Testify on that. South Bucks public transport is atrocious. Marlow to Reading (15 miles) takes at least an hour, either by bus or by rail. Instead, people clog up the roads with endless jams for hours. One advantage these cars have over most of the local traffic is they're about 1/4 the size of the average vehicle here.

    2. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: It's not just the last mile...

      "How does it help me to have a driverless car to get me from Milton Keynes bus station up to the shopping centre [...]"

      Let's be honest, don't you have worse things to deal with already? Try counting the concrete cows to calm down.

  10. AnonymousCoward

    Interesting ethics ahead

    There are going to be some interesting discussions to be had here.

    A driver faced with a child walking out from between two parked cars will subjectively "do their best" to avoid a collision. Whatever the outcome.

    A driverless car will no doubt have the technology on board to make an objective decision about the merits of various actions and their outcome. One of which might be "A collision is unavoidable within the available parameters. Therefore the pedestrian loses in order to avoid adding serious injury to the passenger to the body count".

    In many ways that is a more reasoned outcome than the driver instinctively doing "something" because they don't have the information, or capacity to react otherwise. But it comes across as rather cold.

    On the other hand perhaps the driverless car would have been aware of the upcoming situation and could have avoided it since it won't be playing with its iPOD, mobile phone etc while speeding past the local school.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Interesting ethics ahead

      Exactly - and if they'd used that kind of logic then Spock would still be dead.

    2. John H Woods

      Re: Interesting ethics ahead

      "A driver faced with a child walking out from between two parked cars will subjectively "do their best" to avoid a collision. Whatever the outcome."

      I think the computer will do the same, only better and faster. The passenger is in a metal box with a seat belt, and airbag and a crumple zone. The driverless car is also likely to be tootling through the town slower than the wetware. In the end, hitting a child who has stepped out between parked cars is always the drivers fault - you were going too fast for the conditions.

      The instinctive response of a human is often to swerve into oncoming traffic --- the very worst avoidance strategy, whereas immediate maximum straight line braking is much easier for a robot.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Interesting ethics ahead

        > > "A driver faced with a child walking out from between two parked cars will subjectively "do their best" to avoid a collision. Whatever the outcome."

        > I think the computer will do the same, only better and faster.

        I suspect the computer will have spotted the movement and started reacting well before said child appeared. I always scan under parked cars when there's enough light for signs of such things and it's saved me running over a kid on at least one occasion.

  11. Anna Logg

    How would this work?

    Mixing driven and driverless cars on the public highway would surely be a recipe for disaster.

    An overnight switchover by everybody is logistically and financially impossible IMHO.

    So what's the roadmap?

    1. Midnight

      Re: How would this work?

      More to the point, mixing driven cars on the public highway is already a recipe for disaster.

      We're just used to it by now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How would this work? - @Midnight

        Sadly, I can only upvote this once.

  12. Adolph Clickbait

    Bad news for bus drivers

    Bring it on!

  13. BoshSteve

    Wow!

    Government actually being sensible for a change... O_o

    1. Lusty

      Re: Wow!

      Did they even do anything? I've never had a law pointed out to me that forbids driverless cars. As far as I was aware it was purely an insurance issue, which the government were not in charge of anyway.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Wow!

        "I've never had a law pointed out to me that forbids driverless cars"

        Well, cars have to go through approval testing before being allowed on the road. A new model, a kit car or a heavily modified car needs separate, more stringent testing than just an MoT certificate so that might exclude them. Crash testing is an expensive process for production models too, but must be carried out successfully.

  14. Justicesays
    WTF?

    Who is going to provide the insurance and take the fall?

    So which insurance provider is going to provide the mandatory insurance.

    And how much is it going to cost for that?

    I would assume any accident would hike the premiums on all the "self driving" vehicles at once, as the all have the same AI "driver", or will it all be based on the "test driver" despite the unlikely scenario of the human driver reacting fast and accurately enough to avoid an accident if the AI does something stupid at real car speeds.

    Who will be registered as the "driver", and be prosecuted and/or sued for dangerous driving if it decides to swerve into a pavement full of pedestrians at 40 mph, the unlucky "test driver" I presume?

    Will a defense of "I wasn't driving, it was the computer" be a valid one, because that's going to set a precedent that could cause a few problems down the line...

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'd be quite happy to provide them with a local test route.

    It would consist of roads which according to the local council are part of the road network and shown as such on the OS 1:25000 map. Several would be roads which have an unsealed but reasonable surface and are closed off with locked gates. Another would be a road which is occupied by a stream and supports dense rushes about 2 feet high. A final one would be a road bypassed by a turnpike in the late C18th and by the mid C19th had been subsumed into the field system following enclosures a few decades earlier.

  16. Yugguy

    Would you actually, really get in one?

    Straw poll - would you, or would you not, actually trust your life to one?

    1. Kinetic

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      As a software engineer .... No, hell no. Not until they've been running successfully for a good long time. And then I don't want to be the first in line for any firmware updates thank you very much. Even then I can't see how they're going to be able to cope with all the craziness that can happen on real British roads rather than simple "Freeway" scenarios. I guess at least initially they'll go for the low hanging fruit. Pickup at airport deliver to home in uncomplicated area, that kind of thing. Basically all the plum Taxi work.

      I think I heard they chose the ideal Milton Keynes environment to be one of the test areas. Sensible as a starting point I guess.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

        "And then I don't want to be the first in line for any firmware updates thank you very much."

        Current cars, on the road right now, are already getting over the air updates from the manufacture and reporting back performance and other data. I doubt you'll get a requester box opening up on the dash asking if you want to download and install the updates. It will just happen.

        Even if you could choose to ignore an update for your driverless car, that may invalidate your insurance when it all becomes standard.

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      Yes

    3. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Down

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      Not a goddamn' chance in hell, man.

      What all the driverless-car fanbois and gushers seem to forget is that the driverless cars are designed and programmed by humans, f'crissake -- y'know, error-prone, fallible HUMANS.

      1. Alistair MacRae

        Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

        Speak for yourself :P

      2. joeW Silver badge

        Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

        The car that you sit in and drive every day is also designed and built by humans, f'crissake -- y'know, error-prone, fallible HUMANS. The other drivers you share the roads with every day, drivers who hold your life in their hands every time your car is within 20 meters of theirs.... humans, f'crissake -- y'know, error-prone, fallible HUMANS.

        The only way to be safe is to stay at home in bed. And even then your house might get hit by an airplane which drops out of the sky due to an autopilot software glitch. After all, you know who programs autopilot software....

        1. John H Woods

          Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

          "...even then your house might get hit by an airplane which drops out of the sky due to an autopilot software glitch" --- joeW

          I always turn the landing light off, just to be sure.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

        Yes, programmed by humans, and always awake and always concentrating.

        Even the most skilled drivers make stupid errors daily. The most amazingv thing about our roading system is that there aren't fewer fatalities - mainly because everyone expects other people to behave badly and allows for it.

    4. Old Handle

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      I would, but only if it's equipped with a manual override.

    5. Yugguy

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      Two words:

      Maximum Overdrive.

    6. Lusty

      Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

      I trust the London DLR all the time so yes, why not?

  17. Graham Marsden
    Boffin

    Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

    ... especially Clifton Village where you have narrow streets with cars parked both sides, where you can be faced with a stopped delivery lorry ahead of you and then someone else driving up behind you, *then* someone coming the other way in front of the delivery lorry.

    Driverless cars can, I'm sure, deal with everyday situations, but how is your software going to cope with that scenario?

    1. Chewi

      Re: Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

      I believe it is envisaged that driverless cars will be able to communicate with each other, which would enable them to deal with these situations better than humans can or perhaps even avoid them in the first place. Probably won't help in the near future though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

        So, Bristols out in a driverless car ... Sid James approves.

      2. Graham Marsden
        Unhappy

        @Chewi - Re: Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

        Unless and until *all* cars are either driverless or have such communication systems, it's not going to deal with the sort of situation I described.

        1. Anna Logg

          Re: @Chewi - Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

          Like they said; surely it would have to apply to all road users, not just cars.

          1. Lusty

            Re: @Chewi - Bristol? Try taking them to Clifton...

            I'd like to see it start by connecting up GPS to the ECU to stop people breaking the speed limit. That would set up a much safer environment to start the driverless cars.

  18. PapaD

    I love people come up with worst case scenarios, and then use them to argue against a new technology

    Do you think, perhaps, the car will be programmed to not consider the pavement, or other pedestrian areas, available to drive upon, even in an emergency.

    Also, as I understand it, the Google cars in California have driven 100's of thousands of miles, with no accidents - which is a significantly better record than human drivers.

    The likelihood is that the computer driver will be a better/safer driver than most humans.

    For the people who say they like driving, and would be bored sat in a car driving itself - well, consider those numerous morning commutes, where you could let the car drive through all of that rush hour traffic, whilst you do other stuff - once we get passed the point where a 'driver' has to still be capable of controlling the car and trust the computer enough, you'll be able to do all those things that stupid drivers currently do, only legally and safely (You know, those people chatting on the phone, reading the newspaper, eating breakfast, doing their makeup - I see an example of some form of idiocy behind the wheel every single day)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Also, as I understand it, the Google cars in California have driven 100's of thousands of miles, with no accidents - which is a significantly better record than human drivers."

      Actually, no, it's not. There are many more human drivers than driverless car who have driven 100's of 1000's of miles without an accident, including me. Come back with some stats when the number miles driven by driverless cars is significant in terms of human driven cars. A couple of % will do.

      On the other hand, I agree about the stupid things some people do while driving. It's rare a day goes by without me also seeing examples. But I also see 1000's of other drivers who are not doing stupid things. Naturally, out of those 1000's, I remember the odd one or two wankers who jumped the red light, or shot out of a blind junction, or is holding a phone to their ear.

  19. Kirstian K
    Pint

    Having a Drink?

    So I can see uses for this, but what about existing laws?

    for instance, at the moment, if I had x drinks, and went to sleep in my car,

    if the keys are in the ignition, I get done for drunk in charge of car (and im sure lots of intricacies I don't know about too).

    so what if : I have a drink, drive myself, then get pulled over, I press the driverless button,

    and say, sorry officer was not me driving, was the car.

    or

    I am simply a drunk passenger, current law would do me for being drunk in charge of a car.

    or

    what if im drunk, and I say 'drive me off that cliff', and 'over those pedestrians', if the car does it, am I responsible, as im a drunk fool in charge of a robot, who im giving drunk instructions too.

    apart from that, what 'could' possible go wrong.

    (from Bristol, and agree with the comments about single track roads, not even n Clifton, how about country lanes...)

    1. Lusty

      Re: Having a Drink?

      @kirstian you say you're from Bristol so you should be aware that your key and yourself don't need to be in the car to. Be prosecuted for drunk in charge of motor vehicle. If you are in the carpark walking towards it with your keys on you, you could still fall foul of the law, and many people have. For this reason, never leave your coat in the car to collect after the pub for the walk home!

  20. Mike Flugennock

    "Driverless cars are the future..."?

    "Transport minister Claire Perry added: 'Driverless cars are the future, [and] I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.'"

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I get scared shitless when I hear some high-level government type gushing like this.

    1. Anna Logg

      Re: "Driverless cars are the future..."?

      Me too, they probably made the same speech about DAB.

  21. RainForestGuppy

    No interested....

    ..... unless it has a scanning red light on the front, turbo boost, pursuit mode and cracks witty or sarcastic comebacks.

  22. lucki bstard

    Reality?

    As much as I would like these to work the reality is:

    - You'll get adverts

    - You'll be tracked

    - Usage will be limited to certain areas ie US type freeways or main streets, very different from a UK city let alone a village built before the US was even around.

    - You'll end up having to have the meatsack take over the controls in certain weather conditions

    - It won't reduce congestion on the <insert name of road here>. When has congestion ever been reduced?

    Shame, but I'm still waiting on my personal jet pack as well.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Reality?

      "- You'll end up having to have the meatsack take over the controls in certain weather conditions"

      What sort of weather conditions? I'm thinking that radar sensing will help significantly in fog or the dark, traction control already helps in icy conditions so with that feedback into the AI...Heavy snow on the other hand...will someone remember to program it how to start off in snow. These are likely to be electric, so slow PWM motor operation? (I'd use 2nd gear in an ICE car). Maybe rocking back and forth to get going from parked when 6"+ of snow came down since you parked?

      So far, all the video I've seen of driverless cars has been in warm sunny climates like southern California. Maybe they ought to be off to play in a Montana winter. Or Alaska. Or tropical monsoon weather. Or...Or...Or... :-)

  23. Dan Paul

    There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

    all the scenarios that crop up when driving. Maybe some but not all. If there were such software, then GPS would be infallible, never making ANY mistakes. We all know that isn't true.

    On large freeways on long trips, driverless cars could be reasonably safe, but city driving will be much less safe than an experienced human driver would make it, especially if you wanted to get there in a reasonable time. Then add the complexity of places where the simple act of driving yourself equates to insanity such as Italy, India, China, NYC, LA and many others. Machines have a hard time compensating for the random actions of humans.

    1. I am David Jones

      Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

      There is no human that can comprehend all the scenarios that crop up when driving! And humans have slower reactions...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

        "There is no human that can comprehend all the scenarios that crop up when driving! And humans have slower reactions..."

        Yeah but no AI has demonstrated intuition yet. I've had a couple of near misses where I'd definitely neither trained/practised for nor anticipated. Experience and that "instant" flash of intuitive self survival is something no computer can as yet do.

        Given a completely unexpected scenario, a human will try something, anything, unconsciously drawing on all past experience. JohnnyCab, on the other hand, will probably display a divide by zero error and stop working.

        1. Lusty

          Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

          "Given a completely unexpected scenario, a human will try something, anything, unconsciously drawing on all past experience. JohnnyCab, on the other hand, will probably display a divide by zero error and stop working."

          Johnny cab would probably not be driving in such a manner as to make instant response necessary. Humans on the other hand have a blind spot for 30 signs!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

            "Johnny cab would probably not be driving in such a manner as to make instant response necessary. Humans on the other hand have a blind spot for 30 signs!"

            Why would JohnnyCab be driving overly cautiously in the first place? It's not expecting the completely unexpected. The only logical response would be to stop in the event of something completely unexpected since there will, by definition, not be a programmed response. Sometimes, stopping is the last thing you want to if you want to survive.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

          "Given a completely unexpected scenario, a human will try something, anything, unconsciously drawing on all past experience. JohnnyCab, on the other hand, will probably display a divide by zero error and stop working."

          Humans keep trying to press on regardless. Johnnycab will probably simply stop and wait.

          One of the single biggest causes of urban congestion is the twat who attempts to run his car through a gap and then realises he won't fit. (or worse, thinks he won't fit, when he's got feet to spare).

          If cars are communicating with each other and XYZ delivery driver blocks a narrow lane, they should reroute around the blockage instead of all backing up up behind it as meatsacks do.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: There is no "software" that can comprehend .......

      "On large freeways on long trips, driverless cars could be reasonably safe"

      Definitely, this has already been proven.

      City driving has a number of factors where machines have an edge and others where computers have the edge. With so many inputs going on, most prangs in town happen because the driver was busy concentrating on something else and missed the one that mattered.

      Google's cars have shown they're able to cope with most things - including children running onto the road and the augmented driving aids which allow cars to take over in stop/start congestion are a godsend.

      We won't see a big bang for autmated vehicles. The functionality will just keep increasing until there's a point where drivers don't see a need to flip into manual mode - and even when they do the car will be communicating with others to provide better situation awareness for the meatsack.

  24. Sanctimonious Prick

    Fewer Accidents?

    Lower insurance costs?

    Yeah. Nahh. Not likely.

    ;)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Fewer Accidents?

      "Lower insurance costs?"

      Insurance costs are directly related to repair costs. If there's less damage then rates will go down.

      In all liklihood there will be extra charges for manually piloted vehicles - it's the meatsack which is the fallible point in most crashes.

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