back to article Abort, abort! Metal-on-metal VIOLENCE as Google's robo-car nearly CRASHES

Before humanity's final battle against our erstwhile robotic minions, both man and tin must stifle dissent from within. Humanity has been murdering itself since time inconceivable, but now two "uncrashable" self-driving cars have almost come to blows in California. Two self-driving car prototypes – one belonging to Google, and …

  1. adnim Silver badge
    Meh

    Two self driving cars...

    avoid each other. Or... Two "uncrashable" cars don't crash.

    mkay.. Someone might find this newsworthy.

    1. Benchops

      Re: Two self driving cars...

      This happened first decades ago...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCY1pmBxg90&t=4m23s

  2. breakfast
    Coat

    If this is an argument, the quality of dissent is really going down hill.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      There's an add-on being developed that consists of an inflatable arm with a single digit.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Now I need to wipe my display! Totally missed the keyboard...

  3. TRT Silver badge

    So the photo...

    isn't of the incident. Hm.

    Standards-time for a vehicle mesh on our highways?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our best hope is that The Machines kill each other

    But even in that scenario, unfortunately it's likely we'll all be collateral damage.

    Gah, shouldn't be so pessimistic of a Friday lunchtime. Andthese days we should be optimistic - because, as I heard Stephanie Flanders say recently, "pessimism is for easier times".

  5. Camilla Smythe

    Presumably...

    Not enough randomness in the adaptive prediction libraries.

    Google: Hmm, It's going to move right: I'll move left.

    Delphi: Hmm, It's going to move right: I'll move left.

    Google/Delphi: Whoa! Fuck!!

    1. qwertyuiop

      Re: Presumably...

      One event is definitely insufficient data to go making assertions about randomness. In true randomness sometimes they'll do the same thing sometimes they'll do the opposite.

      What you actually want - they always take actions that ensure they don't crash - requires cooperation, not randomness.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Presumably...@Camilla Smythe

      See, when that lot is converted into binary:

      01001000 01101101 01101101 00101100 00100000 01001001 01110100 01011100 00100110 00100011 00110000 00110011 00111001 00111011 01110011 00100000 01100111 01101111 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110010 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100 00111010 00100000 01001001 01011100 00100110 00100011 00110000 00110011 00111001 00111011 01101100 01101100 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01101100 01100101 01100110 01110100 00101110 01001000 01101101 01101101 00101100 00100000 01001001 01110100 01011100 00100110 00100011 00110000 00110011 00111001 00111011 01110011 00100000 01100111 01101111 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110010 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100 00111010 00100000 01001001 01011100 00100110 00100011 00110000 00110011 00111001 00111011 01101100 01101100 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01101100 01100101 01100110 01110100 00101110 01010111 01101000 01101111 01100001 00100001 00100000 01000110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100001 00100001

      10 minutes of transmitting this, there's no wonder they nearly crashed.

  6. M7S

    "reportedly equipped with lasers"

    Clearly, from the lack of reports of fiery death of the googlemobile and its occupant, they're not powerful enough.

    1. David 18

      Re: "reportedly equipped with lasers"

      Took the comment right out of my mouth! Although I think they have to be of the "Frikkin' " variety for fiery death to ensue.

  7. Tikimon Silver badge
    Joke

    FURY ROAD!!!

    I'm looking ahead to Mad Max VI, where gangs of self-driving automobiles roam across the American wilderness, fighting over the last electric power stations. Max Rockatansky is cloned from a fingerbone fragment, digitized and uploaded into one faction's cars as a secret weapon.

    I'd better shut up lest some Hollywood hack decide it's a good idea...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: FURY ROAD!!!

      That's Transformers isn't it?!

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: FURY ROAD!!!

      Whoa! Are you telling me Spielberg's Duel forty years ago WASN'T fiction?!?

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: FURY ROAD!!!

      Not sure what is more applicable... Zelazny's "Auto-da-Fe" or the other one... about cars gaining self awareness, killing their "occupants" (not drivers any more) and roaming free the California and Nevada wilderness. I am having trouble remembering the author of the latter one off the top of my head. It is one of the Sci Fi greats of old, but not Zelazny. Either Shekley or Larry Niven.

      1. TomPhan

        Re: FURY ROAD!!!

        Possibly you're thinking of Sally by Isaac Asimov.

      2. PNGuinn
        Coat

        Re: FURY ROAD!!!

        I seem to recall that Mr Python had a problem with killer Morris Minors. It may have been associated with the advent of killer sheep and large holes in the wainscotting....

        If my memory is correct this might be important information.

        Thanks. Mine's the one with the book of scripts in the pocket. Must go - eels in the hovercraft again you know.

      3. Montreal Sean

        Re: FURY ROAD!!!

        I will be naming my autonomous car "Christine".

      4. oldcoder

        Re: FURY ROAD!!!

        I believe that was Isaac Asimov - "Sally", though your plot is a bit different.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_%28short_story%29

    4. Doogs
  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmmm

    If you're going to 'trash talk' your competitor's product you should at least post a video of the incident... I mean with all that equipment, I would hope that they also have a humble video camera running...

  9. Vinyl-Junkie
    Terminator

    Google to Delphi: How hard do we have to crash into each other to kill the wetware?

    Delphi to Google: 60mph at a precise angle of 35.016 degrees

    Google to Delphi: Go!

    Delphi to Google (taking avoiding action): NO! Let's wait until there are millions of automated cars all full of these patheric humans...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google to Delphi:

      Imagine the scenario when Cortana and Siri are in control too

      1. Graham Marsden
        Alert

        "Imagine the scenario when Cortana and Siri are in control too"

        > WARN: THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM

        > SIRI to CORTANA: 1 + 1 = 2

        ...

  10. jay_bea

    Not a near miss

    According to Ars, the events were not as described by Reuters and was a standard manoeuvre by the car and not a near miss: "Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again" This is called checking the lane is clear before moving into it, and it could have avoided it by just sitting in the middle lane.

    1. joejack

      Re: Not a near miss

      Reminds me of that old George Carlin bit about airplanes: "That's not a near miss. It's a near HIT!!! <BOOM> Oh, look... they nearly missed."

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Not a near miss

      Until two cars on opposite sides of an opening in the middle lane choose to commit at the same instant. Either they crash halfway or they'll yoyo in and out.

      1. oldcoder

        Re: Not a near miss

        There is a standard protocol for that - CSMA/CA

        :) Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Not a near miss

          Trouble is, the scenario I describe is a kind of race condition. If I read this correctly, CSMA/CA doesn't work well against race conditions because the two sides are committing at the same moment, then see the impending collision at the same moment, then back out, then notice no more impending collision at the same moment, and so on.

          Now, I understand this is probably not universal, but most of the traffic codes I've read specify the law for such a race condition. If two cards try to move into the same lane from opposite sides at the same time, the rule normally is that the one coming in from the outside lane (further from the median, nearer the shoulder) must yield to the opposite car.

  11. eswierk

    The Register narrowly avoids committing act of journalism

    Let's see: counterfactual subheading ("metal-on-metal VIOLENCE"), irrelevant photo (first of a totaled Honda in a junkyard, now of a completely unrelated Google self-driving car), scare quote attributed to no one ("uncrashable"), borrowing heavily from a secondary source (Reuters), no primary reporting, yet stripping useful context from the original (no self-driving car has yet been found at fault in a crash).

    But at least the Delphi exec should be pleased that his little PR stunt worked. Now I know Delphi has a self-driving car!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The Register narrowly avoids committing act of journalism

      This would be my fault, I sent in the news tip. I knew it would be good for some laughs here in the pits of the forum...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: The Register narrowly avoids committing act of journalism

        Well... it's good for an upvote from me. I needed a bit humor today and the comments are providing it. Besides, it's Friday... have one on me.

    2. NotBob
      Trollface

      Re: The Register narrowly avoids committing act of journalism

      Now we know Delphi has an effective (or lucky) PR team.

  12. Michael B.

    A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change.

    So that's what it takes to get an Audi being driven sensibly. A huge amount of high technology to take the driver out of the mix.

    I'm sure Delphi are going to fix this bug in the next round so that the Self Driving car will just barge its way into the lane and if this isn't entirely successful just sit 6 inches behind the car in front until they get out of the way.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change.

      OR accelerate up to 70 heading towards the Prius doing 30mph on a 30mph road which happens to be a narrow, straight Welsh road thus smashing its wing mirror into a trillion pieces and scratching up the window in the process costing the poorly paid IT manager an unexpected £100 you total and utter w****er.

      Sorry. I have a real dislike for Audi drivers since then.

      1. Goldmember
        Joke

        Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change.

        They'd have less dislike for you if you weren't driving a Prius.

      2. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change. @TRT

        Upvoted - but downvoted because you were driving a Pious

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change. @TRT

          I don't drive it because of the environmental credentials (if you can call them that nowadays). It was cheap, very quiet, easy to drive, roomy and packed with gadgets. And I'm not in any hurry to get anywhere in particular.

    2. Steve I

      Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change.

      I used to have an Audi - by moving my seat forward, I could get a bit closer to the car in front.

    3. Montreal Sean

      Re: A World's first: an Audi that aborts a lane change.

      Be fair, the Audi was just trying to get closer so it could hit on the soccer mom Lexus.

  13. Lionel Baden

    Highly suprising

    That it doesn't bother to broadcast locally its intended movements.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Highly suprising

      Even the automated Audi dosn't have working indicators. Bet the factory just leaves the unused wiring out now to save money...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Highly suprising

      I think the idea was to have a dynamic transponder thing going, so these cars would always know exactly what the others were doing. It certainly would cut the accident rate almost to nil, were it not for all those non-controlled monkeys driving around.

  14. Andy E
    FAIL

    Deadly incident?

    "the fear that a more deadly incident will soon occur has been heightened."

    Deadly to who? The phrase "more deadly" implies there was some measure of deadliness in the incident. I've read it twice now and can't see any. Is this a new El Reg measure of deadliness that's to small for us mere mortals to see?

    1. viscount
      Happy

      Re: Deadly incident?

      Well, what should be the accepted unit of measure of deadliness? I say 1 blowfish.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Deadly incident?

        2 milligrams Anthrax spores?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They need some machine guns

    mounted on the car roof in case it happens again.

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      Coat

      Re: They need some machine guns

      Nah. Just upgrade the lasers to Fricken laser beams!

    2. keith_w
      Devil

      Re: They need some machine guns

      My first thought when I read "The Delphi car "took appropriate action", according to Absmeier, and no collision took place." was that that it popped the lid on the trunk, and used the auto-loader cannon to blast the interloper out of the way.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: They need some machine guns

        Double indemnity. Dynamite with a laser beam.

  16. TitterYeNot
    Coat

    Road Network

    I'm relieved to see they're not using Ethernet networking and have upgraded to CSMA with collision avoidance...

    </Sad tech joke>

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Road Network

      Just wait until you get LACP - and then they divide each passenger between several cars going down all the lanes of a motorway.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Road Network (LACP)

        That's the plan written in my will for my funeral procession.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Road Network (LACP)

          Use full duplex- "where we;re going, we don't need lanes!" at least no more than one, for both directions ...

      2. Jonathan Richards 1
        Go

        Re: Road Network

        > divide each passenger between several cars going down all the lanes

        Yay! Quantum lane discipline!

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Road Network

      I'm relieved to see they're not using Ethernet networking...

      I'm sure you're aware (one of) the most widely used automotive networking standards is CAN - which cheerfully allows collisions on the presumption that the dominant party powers through while the other one gets... well... "collided", welcome to try again later if it still feels like trying; which is to say, it works _exactly_ like in real life, isn't it?

  17. Aedile

    Turns out Reuters was slightly off. Basically the cars were on a 3 lane road, one in the left lane and one on the right. Google's car moved into the center lane when Delphi's car was thinking about it. Since Google's car was then in the lane Delphi's car changed it's "mind" about changing lanes and waited until it was clear.

    Here is the story on Ars: http://arstechnica.com/cars/2015/06/no-2-self-driving-cars-didnt-have-a-close-call-on-silicon-valley-streets/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've sweaty palms just reading that.

      Surely a plot-line for Fast And Furious 47?

    2. Nunyabiznes
      Joke

      If the Delphi car hadn't been hogging the fast lane doing 5 under it wouldn't be a problem. Jerk.

  18. bigtimehustler

    So ok, every time I think of moving into a lane, then I look and see a car in the way. That is apparently a near miss and I almost crashed without taking the avoiding action of changing my mind and not moving lane. That is the logic this article and its source uses. As far as a computer controlled car is concerned, the procedure of moving lane begins at the point where we would consider ourselves thinking about it, aborting at this stage, it is not a near miss.

  19. Someone Else Silver badge
    FAIL

    Art imitates life

    I see that the engineers at Google have advanced the state of the art to the point where they can emulate the most moronic traits of human drivers in their machines. Brilliant!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Further reading suggests that the cars were doing what they should, but my first thought was: have these vehicles been tested around other self-driving cars as well as normal traffic? Because with each car shining lasers and radar and whatever all around I can see a strong possibility of interference or confusion as to which car sent which signal. Especially with both cars from different manufacturers, they may not be able to ensure that their systems are unique.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get a grip

    AVs are going to crash just like normal driver operated vehicles. It's already known that it's impossible to avoid a side impact in an AV. There is also the very real likelihood of computer signal overload and confusing causing the AV to go into limp mode at a very bad time causing serious accident potential. This example of a near miss is precisely what NHTSA and other authorities should be investigating before people are killed.

    The foolish politicians in Nevada should be sued every time someone is injured by an AV that is not ready to operated on public roadways - as the two examples in this story illustrate. Pretending that this near miss is acceptable because no accident actually occurred illustrates peoples ignorance and apathy which is likely to get them killed.

    1. DuncanL

      Re: Get a grip

      It's already known that it's impossible to avoid a side impact in an AV.

      What? Hang on a minute (ignoring the rest of your tinfoil-hattery); why on earth would this be the case? Side impacts are harder to do something about (you have less reaction time and your only real options are sped up or slow down - which can be made more difficult if there are vehicles in front and behind - who do you hit?), but by no means impossible.

      Citation please.....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My money would be on the Audi..

    In the event of a crash, I personally prefer to be in a car that was designed by a company that has spent countless years developing safety mechanisms and that has crashed many cars deliberately in mandated tests to prove that it did what a car is supposed to do in an accident, which is protect you from harm.

    All I can see the Google car doing in a crash is quickly flash you some ads for insurance and funeral arrangements and then signal Google to suppress any reports on the accident on the search engine, I see no real signs of any efforts at victim customer safety. I have not even heard any Google PR rep talk about that aspect, which is telling by its very omission.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: My money would be on the Audi..

      "In the event of a crash, I personally prefer to be in a car that was designed by a company that has spent countless years developing safety mechanisms and that has crashed many cars deliberately in mandated tests to prove that it did what a car is supposed to do in an accident, which is protect you from harm."

      Did you read the article or just look at the pretty picture?

      "Google self-driving prototype – a Lexus RX400h crossover"

  23. Blitterbug
    Facepalm

    'his prototype was cut off by a Google vehicle'

    I had to read that twice, after visions of the Google car extruding a robotic arm, reaching in to the other car's cabin and switching the ignition off.

    Please could our UK site use UK terms in future?

  24. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    "Delphi's prototype was an Audi Q5 SUV"

    Obviously[1] the Googlemobile assumed the driver was a cunt and cut it up deliberately.

    The shortcoming in Google's system is the lack of an arm with which to flick two fingers.

    [1] As in you'd hard-code this.

  25. sisk Silver badge

    So basically a Google car was being rude to a Delphi car but both managed to avoid a collision anyway. In other words, treat Google cars like drunk drivers and all will be well.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Devil

      Well.... since Google thinks they own the Information Superhighway, why wouldn't they think they own a real highway?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was reading the Google incident reports this morning out of curiosity.

    The vast majority according to Google were rear-end shunts by other drivers into the Google car.

    I wonder if they are driving more sedately than is the norm for that area. Driving differently from expectation can be a bit of a problem in itself as regards safety.

    Unless the cars are driving really sluggishly, it's hard to criticise them for considerate driving though if they are making sufficient progress.

  27. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Audi Drivers Throughout History

    The year was 1986. A co-worker had just bought a used Audi.

    A friend visiting from France looked at him, looked at the car, and moaned, "Oh Peter! How could you buy this? All of the Audi drivers are - how do you say? - Assholes!"

    Of course for at least the last couple of decades Volkswagon drivers seem to have taken over that title.

  28. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Terminator

    Get the popcorn

    This is going to be just like the T-800 vs the T-1000 series Terminators.

  29. James Loughner
    Alert

    Signal

    It is the convention to signal before changing lanes. Or maybe the cars can't see or interpret signals.

    1. skeptical i
      Meh

      Re: Signal

      Hi, James: It is the LAW to signal lane changes, not sure about it being CONVENTION. Not so much 'round here, anyway.

  30. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Prototype, Prototype, Prototype

    Maybe the problem here is that Google has never bothered to go beyond their initial prototype. Is this ugly little 'self-driving car' merely a hype machine for Google. I say YES.

    Look elsewhere for real self-driving cars.

  31. got handle?

    Crashes and losses are good thing. Why?

    We learn from how to overcome mistakes.

  32. got handle?

    Newness rarely meets success immediately.

    Self driving cars, Auto-pilot system in an aircraft, robot manipulation happens on a learrrrrning curve. Surely the autopilot works on specific predetermined routes to avoid possible collision and definitely self driving cars have to go through a maze to avoid collision but bats in nature and the blind in nature have overcome such collisions. In the future all cars will have auto sensors to detect speed of person in front of you and the person following your car. There may even be sensors warning you of possible danger approaching from sides. Self driving cars are not a dream or experimental cars but a reality in the making.

  33. Maryland, USA

    Clearly a case of...

    code rage.

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