back to article Self-driving cars doomed to be bullied by pedestrians

Self-driving cars get pitched as a way to reduce traffic fatalities, but safety may limit their appeal. In a paper published on Wednesday in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Adam Millard-Ball, an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, argues that …

  1. Phil Lord

    Automated lifts will never catch on

    Because people will stick their hands in the doors to stop if from closing!

    1. edge_e

      Re: Because people will stick their hands in the doors

      That's exactly what people do. Your analogy is a bad one though because the attendant in an un-automated lift would likely see you coming and wait so the lift experience didn't change for the occupants of the lift or the person arriving slightly late.

      When the kids work out the new rules for chicken, I'll be getting the popcorn in.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Because people will stick their hands in the doors

        When the kids work out the new rules for chicken

        Least of your concerns, this means that muggers no longer need to use traffic lights or pedestrian crossings to stop a car and make a grab for the handbag etc...

        But the interesting thing about chicken is that currently if the kid misjudges it, they get the blame and we get warnings about road safety. I suspect with driverless cars, such incidents will create calls for improved safety measures in driverless cars...

        1. Ogi

          Re: Because people will stick their hands in the doors

          Not sure where you live, but here (in the UK) it is the driver that is at fault if a kid gets hit because they were in the road.

          The logic goes that if there is a kid in the street, you are in a residential area, and should be going at 30mph or less, giving you adequate stopping time. If you were unable to shop it means you were going to fast for the environment, therefore it is your fault.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Because people will stick their hands in the doors

            "Not sure where you live, but here (in the UK) it is the driver that is at fault if a kid gets hit because they were in the road."

            This is all very theoretical.

            In SOME countries the punishment is so severe, AND the social stigma of driving like an a-hole through residential areas is so high, that people actually drive carefully in such areas.

            Not so much so in the UK.

            Going too fast for the conditions (and even 30 mph may well be too fast around parked cars), is just standard fare.

            The only way to get convicted to a lengthy sentence is to go at some sllly speed, like 70mph, through a 30 zone when you hit someone.

            For all other cases the defence "he/she just ran out into the road" works just fine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

      There is a solution - disable the sensors on the lift doors.

      A few broken bones will then may teach people not to try that again.

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

        "A few broken bones"

        Presumably you'll be happy to be a guinea-pig? Me, I'll wait for the next lift.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

          That won't work as the lawyers will get involved. I think this actually happened once. Can't recall if the victim survived the encounter.

          1. Yesnomaybe

            it IS rare:

            "That won't work as the lawyers will get involved. I think this actually happened once. Can't recall if the victim survived the encounter."

            But there ARE reported cases of people surviving encounters with lawyers. Quite a bit poorer, but still alive.

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

        "There is a solution"

        The solution is to ring the alarm bell after a couple of tries. Basically embarrass the a[censored]hole who holds up the elevator.

        With self-driving cars, the algorithm could be modified to stop the car but blow the horn for egregious cases of jay-walking.

    3. Tom Melly

      Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

      Not really analogous. Everyone involved still has an interest in the lift doing its job, and it's also self-limiting by the fact that the lift will become full. In addition, you are potentially making yourself unpopular with people with whom you are about to share an enclosed space.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

        "In addition, you are potentially making yourself unpopular with people with whom you are about to share an enclosed space."

        You're forgetting that annoyed passengers in a vehicle can get OUT and confront the sociopath.

        This is likely to be a self-limiting problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

          You're forgetting that annoyed passengers in a lift can beat the sociopath to a pulp and dump his body at the next floor...

        2. Edward Ashford

          Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

          >> You're forgetting that annoyed passengers in a vehicle can get OUT and confront the sociopath.

          Only if the safebot lets them! The vehicle is technically "in motion" at that point.

          As an occasional cyclist I can't wait for all these cars to start giving way.

          And as for the Mercedes bloke... that's a big assumption that the law won't require it to be the other way around.

        3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

          Until the car promptly carries on minus the passenger...

    4. Gordan

      Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

      Very simple solution. Have a realistic looking dummy in the driver's seat. As long as you cannot tell at a glance whether it's a real human in the driver's seat or not, problem solved.

      1. Paul Cooper

        Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

        You mean, like a JonnyCab?

        https://youtu.be/1H37k00DNow

      2. IsJustabloke
        Trollface

        Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

        "Have a realistic looking dummy in the driver's seat"

        Might just as well leave 90% drivers in there then

  2. Unep Eurobats
    WTF?

    Wait a minute...

    So we shouldn't have autonomous vehicles ... because they're too safe? Their occupants reduced to powerless passengers, stripped of their ability to kill annoying pedestrians.

    Please, please save me from this stultifying future.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute...

      "stripped of their ability to kill annoying pedestrians."

      Just because you have that ability doesn't mean we all have it. Some of us have moral standards and a belief in law that stops us from having that "ability" in the first place. It's sad that you measure everyone else by your own low moral standards.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Wait a minute...

        No, we all have the ability.

        Most of us have ethical and moral standards*/beliefs that prevent us from using the ability.

        * Might be as low as "isn't worth the paperwork that goes with it", though.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Wait a minute...

          "Most of us have ethical and moral standards*/beliefs that prevent us from using the ability."

          Judging by the downvotes, I may have phrased my thoughts poorly :-)

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute...

      The point is that no one will want a self driving car in town, nor ones that have autonomous anti-collision self braking systems that won't let the car run over a pedestrian. If every vehicle has these things then pedestrians can safely walk out in front of any vehicle and not get run over.

      And the problem is that pedestrians will do that, and the car driver won't get anywhere at all. Result - driving a car in town becomes a very slow way to travel.

      Then there's kids. They'll be jumping out in front of cars just for the laughs. It will be really annoying for car driver's, but if these systems are mandated by governments that's what will happen.

      That would also lead to some unfortunate accidents. During the transition from driven to self driving / self stopping cars there will come a point where kids are used to most cars being automatic. And that means they're at some point going to prank an older car that doesn't have the automation and will get run over...

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Wait a minute...

        It already happens where 20MPH zones have been imposed. Because of the slower traffic pedestrians take more risks venturing into the road, and the number of pedestrian impact accidents increase. The accidents are less serious but there are more of them.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Wait a minute...

          Already happens in a town I drive through - even though there might be a zebra crossing, lights controlled pedestrian crossing juts a few yards away, people will blithely step into the road.

          With the mass of lights / zebras in that town a car never gets to much of a speed before it has to slow again so it's a similar scenario to the 20 MPH zone werdsmith mentioned.

          So, knowing the cars are not travelling particularly fast (& so a good chance even a massively inattentive driver might notice them / impact will not be fatal) people just happily cross wherever they want.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Wait a minute...

          "Because of the slower traffic pedestrians take more risks venturing into the road"

          The interesting part is that the idea that pedestrians don't belong on the road is relatively recent, pushed by motor vehicle makers (The idea of 'jaywalking' bring a crime in the USA being one very specific example)

          This is a movement for pedestrians to take the road BACK - and quite frankly it's about time.

          If pedestrians start walking confidently into the road despite the presence of cars then city traffic will revert to the old days where the vehicles would simply slowly roll through. They don't need to stop unless there's a wall of bodies in front of them or someone lays down in front of the car.

          With London traffic averageing less than 10mph (probably less than 5mph in the core), this won't produce much in the way of slowdown - and with robot cars meaning that the desirability of personally-owned vehicles being lowered (insurance costs of owning, vs lower labour costs for being driven meaning that in most cases it will be more expensive to own than hire), the number of vehicles on the road (AND parked on the sides - a parked car isn't earning revenue) is likely to plummet, making streets far less crowded and congested than they currently are.

        3. Daz555

          Re: Wait a minute...

          Have you got some stats to support that?

      2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Wait a minute...

        If every vehicle has these things then pedestrians can safely walk out in front of any vehicle and not get run over.

        And the problem is that pedestrians will do that, and the car driver won't get anywhere at all. Result - driving a car in town becomes a very slow way to travel.

        This already happens. Look at city centers on a Friday/Saturday night. People, esp after a few drinks, think "They won't run me over, I'll just cross and ignore the traffic".

        I can see this becoming annoying, but I don't think it's a strong argument against autonomous vehicles. I'd rather have the ability to engage the self-driver and sit back than have the stress of watching out for these ****s myself, not to mention all the idiot drivers.

        Bottom line is, IMHO, that self-driving cars are coming, and they will save a lot of lives. They will be more convenient in most situations. With the ability to just hail one (probably for a darned sight less than the total cost of owning a car) will leave most with little reason to buy their own. It's the future and, while it won't be here next year, I foresee them being everywhere a decade or so from now.

      3. Dazed and Confused

        Re: Wait a minute...

        There is also the question of manners. Pedestrians to some extent feel they are sharing the space with drivers and drudgingly accept they have the right to drive down the road. When a computer is driving down the roads it quite clearly doesn't have any rights. It obviously should have to wait for me, so I'm just going to walk across when it suits me and the computer can wait.

        1. davidak

          Re: Wait a minute...

          Drivers have a license to drive on a public road. They do not have the right to. Pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders have a right.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Wait a minute...

            An interesting opportunity for us cyclists to become even more unpopular. We no longer have to bump along in the gutter, running the gauntlet of broken glass and drain covers. Now we can share the spacious traffic lanes with cars, as is our right.

            This won't make much difference in city centres, where bikes travel faster on average than cars, but it will be fun to see how many driverless cars you can collect on a country road.

            1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

              Re: Wait a minute...

              This won't make much difference in city centres, where bikes travel faster on average than cars, but it will be fun to see how many driverless cars you can collect on a country road.

              So you are one of the inconsiderate road users who decides that they don't care about the traffic behind?

              While using the roads, if you find that you are "collecting cars", the polite thing to do is to move (or pull) over and allow them past. I do this in the car (e.g. if out for a nice leisurely drive in the country), trucker friends do it in their trucks, but there are SO many who just hold up a long queue of traffic for ages for no good reason. In my experience they tend to be cyclists or cars going much slower than is safe and legal (e.g. car doing 40 or less on a long, straight, open national speed limit country road where they should be doing 60).

              So tell me, when there is a queue of 5-6 cars stuck behind you, why don't you pull over for 10 seconds to let them past, rather than delay them for several minutes?

              By the way, I am a cyclist, although generally a mountain biker who uses the roads to get to good off road tracks. I appreciate that we are entitled to use the whole road and, for safety, it is best not to be in the gutter. However, a little consideration for others goes a long way.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Wait a minute...

              "it will be fun to see how many driverless cars you can collect on a country road."

              Round here, where the country roads are steep, part of the cyclists' idea of fun seems to be charging at top speed down twisting lanes in the middle of the road. And no amount of braking by autonomous cars is going to avoid a collision with a cyclist who's already contributing most of the closing speed.

            3. Geoffrey W Silver badge

              Re: Wait a minute...

              RE "but it will be fun to see how many driverless cars you can collect on a country road"

              A pleasure enjoyed right now by farmers in tractors protected by big lumps of iron armed with huge metal spikes.

          2. FU_EU

            Re: Wait a minute...

            Ahh yes; licensing! When the state removes one of your rights and then sells it back to you.

    3. nijam

      Re: Wait a minute...

      > Please, please save me from this stultifying future.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/With_Folded_Hands

    4. You aint sin me, roit
      Trollface

      Re: Wait a minute...

      Too safe? Pedestrians playing chicken with cars? Robbers forcing cars to stop?

      Simple solution: determine an "acceptable" failure rate and implement an appropriate RNG.

      "Sometimes the car stops in time, sometimes it doesn't. Feel lucky punk?"

  3. tr1ck5t3r

    Some smart arses finally get it with autonomous vehicles, playing chicken will never have been easier.

    You can see the gangs of hoodies lining up in the hood to see who can judge when to step out in order to get the autonomous vehicle to stop closest to them without it running them over.

    Stand and deliver will have never been so easy when you smash the door windows and take what you like, having made it stop. Just how do you get those sensors to detect when someone is a friend or foe in order to decide when to run them over or make some other get away.

    Programming the laws of the jungle is no Sunday afternoon drive in the countryside you know.

    The Darwin awards evolve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about the first time a hoodie does this and finds out a second too late that the "robot car" he is directly in the path of is no such thing, and the all-too-human driver is arthritically slow on the brakes?

      The obvious solution is to visually identify the robot cars (similar to cop cars) so they can be played with safely . Anything less would be criminal endangerment of pedestrians!

      1. Dagg
        Trollface

        The obvious solution is to visually identify the robot cars (similar to cop cars) so they can be played with safely . Anything less would be criminal endangerment of pedestrians!

        Aah, a new sport, Disguise a normal car as a robot car and go hunting for idiots.

        Your defence was "They just jumped out in front of me you honour and I did not have enough time to react!"

        The tree of life is self pruning....

        1. tr1ck5t3r

          Are those fake CCTV camera's fitted to your building sir?

          Even if car manufacturers fitted fake sensors to the vehicle, doesnt take much to put in the registration plate of the car seen further down a road into say Autotrader when placing an advert and pull up the cars details?

          5G superfast broadband will have its uses in the City after all!

          And on that point of looking up data quickly and easily, if you think you are not on the public electoral role, find out by putting your details into this website. https://www.bensonandhedges.co.uk/

          Lets just hope they monitor their website activity and its not been used for phishing unknown unknowns as Donald Rumsfeld would say.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        visually recognise self driving cars?

        Easy, just have someone with a Red Flag walk in front of the car at all times.

        The law that mandated that might even still be on the statute book.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. MrT

      Hoodies playing chicken...?

      There was one Zebra crossing in the Chapeltown area of Leeds where car-jacking was common (typically of cars with single young and/or female drivers, but I recall one report involving an elderly couple). One guy would walk out on the crossing in front, then the least done was bags from passenger seats nicked through an open window or by opening the passenger door, but the one with the elderly couple was where two guys jumped in the back seats when the car stopped, forced the driver down a side road before ejecting driver and passenger out of the car and making off with it. In other countries the outcome might be more lethal.

      It wasn't the only place that this sort of thing happened, and part of the the response was to adapt the tech that created the situation. Drive-off auto-locking became popular in cars that had central locking fitted, and the Chapeltown crossing was altered to a Pelican one that changed the priorities. However, if self-driving cars are set to automatically stop for pedestrians straying in front of them, then any suitable spot could become that Zebra crossing.

      Obviously we can't have cars just mowing down peds all the time and never stopping - some places might be bad, but it's not quite got to the original Deathchase 2000 - so what's the tech response? Especially in cars like the Merc F 015 concept and the Google pod where the driver is the car.

      1. tr1ck5t3r

        Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

        Re Drive off auto locking systems, the ones that locks doors when speed goes above a certain amount, like all hoodies are Linford Christie or Hussain Bolt. Bringing car to a halt or crawl unlocks the door, and even if said system didnt unlock door, a brick through a car window is very easy. Do it properly and you dont even set off the car alarm if its a parked car whilst the brick exits through the door window on the opposite side.

        Theres so much tech around which actually doesnt work or solve any problems.

        1. Bowlers

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          First car I had with remote central locking was in the 90's. Going into garage for fuel on a rough Manchester estate there was group of youths hanging around. While filling up I thought their behaviour a bit suspicious so for the first time ever I locked the car while I went to pay. From the queue to pay I saw the older of the 'gang' trying the tailgate of my estate, locked but my tool bag and laptop visible. They drifted away then and I congratulated myself on still having my stuff for my next call. The exit of the filling station was just a few yards from a pedestrian crossing and who should be hovering there but the youths. As I approached the crossing one of them sauntered onto it and stood still to try and stop me. By this time I was a bit nervous so activated the central locking, again for the first time while in a car, and kept moving slowly forward. When I reached the crossing I steered around the youth who seemed too surprised to move in front again.

          The point of the story; a safety first self driving car, presumably GPS equipped and programmed with all crossings, would have stopped and waited at the gangs pleasure.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

            "kept moving slowly forward"

            Stop a few yards clear. Put evil grin on face. Ostentatiously check seatbelt's tightness. Rev engine....

        2. nijam

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          > Bringing car to a halt or crawl unlocks the door

          No it doesn't.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

            There were some GM vehicles that unlocked the doors when you moved the shifter to Park.

            That didn't work well for some DEA agents in Mexico when their armored vehicle was blocked.

            The driver put the vehicle in Park, the doors unlocked, and armor was for nought as the doors were opened and the agents shot.

            Something to think of when you armor a vehicle.....

        3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          My car locks the doors as soon as you put it in 'drive' and stays locked until you pull the door handle from the inside.

      2. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

        @MrT I think you mean Deathrace 2000 ;)

        (A film so iconic it created a driving trope recognised by even people who had never seen the film. How many points for the old lady? Still a much better film than the remake, simply for how camp it was.)

        1. MrT

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          You are quite right - by the time I realised the typo, the edit window had closed. For some reason, Deathchase was in the swype autocorrect...

          Was the movie one of Stallone's best roles? Was the hospital scene just comedy? Was it just a watermelon that got driven over because the SFX budget was blown sticking spikes on a Ferrari?

          The modern version ruined it... ;-)

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

        I think a button may be required in the Google car to make it treat pedestrians as hostile and get you the heck out of there.

        There is some safety though in the fact that the car has cameras all over to identify the enemy - as long as the Google Street View face blurrer isn't applied. Also, I expect it to be able to recognise hostile behaviour in many cases, such as "zombie apocalypse".

        And there's that road near Calais where would-be illegal British immigrants do much the same thing and some of them got run over.

      4. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

        There was one Zebra crossing in the Chapeltown area of Leeds where car-jacking was common ...

        Citation needed?

        It wasn't the only place that this sort of thing happened, a

        In people's imaginations?

        I am sure that thefts from, an of, occupied cars occur but if this was common enough to precipitate a change in crossing type one might expect some sort of web footprint. This would be a tabloid gold story if true (even if no committed by "immagrunts").

        Whilst self-drive cars will provide a welcome rebalancing of power dynamics between pedestrians and vehicle users the opportunities for mischievous disruption of traffic and car-jacking are only slightly different to those that already exist today and should be able to be controlled by the same mix of etiquette, manners, social compact and ultimately policing/fisticuffs

        1. MrT

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          Citations? It was from when the web was a baby, well over 20 years ago in the early 90's so web footprints will be tiny at best. Yorkshire Evening Post covered it though, including the story about the elderly couple. The crossing was on Chapeltown Road at the end of Harehills Avenue, coincidentally not far from the park where Sutcliffe left one of his victims. It had been an interesting place for years before, and I used to regularly drive down that route in the 80's on the way to LCB and the Poly.

          I used to live over in Oakwood, had a few friends in West Yorkshire Police, and worked for one branch of the city council. Hyde Park was also a hotspot for that kind of thing, including one incident where my wife's boss, who was relieved in '97/'98 of his car, wallet and cash from an ATM as he stopped to go to the bank - forced at knifepoint to drive his own car well outside the city before he was dumped out as the thieves made off.

          It's been an interesting life.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Hoodies playing chicken...?

          "Citation needed?"

          It seems likely-

          I've noticed in Leeds that the peds tend to wait on the pavement at traffic lights until they turn green. Then they decide to cross...

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Stand and deliver will have never been so easy when you smash the door windows and take what you like, having made it stop."

      Those sensors you mention will also make it trivially easy to identify the perpetrators, especially when sensors in other cars are going to be able to track where they came from and where they went.

      How many cases of carjacking do you think will happen before crims realise that they may as well just walk into the Old Bailey and take a dump in the foyer?

      1. PatientOne

        "How many cases of carjacking do you think will happen before crims realise that they may as well just walk into the Old Bailey and take a dump in the foyer?"

        How many cases do you think will involve an unknown person due to baggy clothes, hoodie and scalf or mask?

        Thieves have long ago figured out how to avoid detection and identification via the MkI eyeball, and will quickly figure out it's the same for car sensors. As for where they came from/went to? Across the road of cause. CCTV will track figures only so far, but a criminal learns to find the blind spots or where they can operate that has a slow response time, possibly because the roads are all blocked up by stationary self-drive cars waiting for the pedestrians to finish bimbling across the road.

        The latter is my main concern: That self-drive cars will cause road congestion to the point that emergency response vehicles can't get through. Even with careful programming, unless the self-drive car knows to get out of the way of the ambulance/fire appliance as a priority and sod the pedestrian who has stopped infront of the car to see what's going on, the car will just sit there and obstruct the road while the pedestrian obstructs it's path.

        There is a reason why we need drivers to be able to overrule the self-drive option: It's because rule may need breaking in event of emergency.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    All true but...

    It assumes that self driving / autonomous cars are ever going to be good enough. Lots of Lidar is a problem. It's easily jammed. Also loads of places where GPS doesn't work. Is the map reading / dead reckoning ever going to be good enough?

    Also do most people actually want one, especially if it's small, electric etc and more like a Fiat 500 than a Tesla. Will there be as many form factors as today, or will we (like Apple, MS, Google*) have "tech" companies and sociopathic Silicon Valley folk foisting their vision of what a car should be (probably not for European roads, larger families or fetching DIY stuff)?

    [* look at phones in Carphone Warehouse. That's not choice!]

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    For anyone that doesn't want to actually 'drive' their own car in preference to sitting back and letting it get to their destination, they may as well get on a tram,bus ,light railway system.

    In infrastucture terms it makes no sense to rebuild roads so that pedestrians can't slow down autonomous vehicles to the point where they are moving no faster than a standard London traffic jam, the money would be better spent on a good public transport system.

    Personally, I want to keep my old fashioned car with a steering wheel and pedals as long as possible and only relegate control to my personal robo-butler/chauffeur if I don't feel like driving. That! is the transport future that appeals to me.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Warning! Warning!

      You know those signs they have on cars, like "Student Driver"? Hey, they're going to start selling signs to put on the roof "Experienced Driver". Whoa, stay outa the road, who knows what he might do?!?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Warning! Warning!

        > "Experienced Driver" ?

        Um, the more correct term would be "Meat-space Driver."

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Warning! Warning!

          'Um, the more correct term would be "Meat-space Driver."'

          No, the meat space going to be out there. Dead meat.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "For anyone that doesn't want to actually 'drive' their own car in preference to sitting back and letting it get to their destination, they may as well get on a tram,bus ,light railway system."

      Except it doesn't work door to door, which is the big appeal of this system, and no taxis are too expensive for most people to use as a commute.

  6. True Thug

    Anoying Horn

    Just add a very annoying horn and people will stop waling in front of them.

    1. RegGuy1

      Re: Anoying Horn

      Built in tasers? Automate everything.

      1. MrDamage

        Re: Anoying Horn

        Why bother with tasers? Without having to keep one hand on the wheel, you can now use both hands to steady your aim with that high-powered rifle you were planning to take to the top of the local clock tower.

    2. scrubber
      Megaphone

      Re: Anoying Horn

      Like an LRAD?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQuF1T6f21g

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tip o' the iceberg

    Hey lookie, a self-driving car...

    JAYWALK, RAPE, ROB, PILLAGE, AND PLUNDER!!!

    1. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: Tip o' the iceberg

      Don't shout.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tip o' the iceberg

      "JAYWALK, RAPE, ROB, PILLAGE, AND PLUNDER!!!"

      I don't think I'm up for all that. Maybe 2 out of 5 on a good day.

      But I'm always willing to do what I can....

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Tip o' the iceberg

        But seriously, though, can you Plunder without the Pillaging first?

        1. Tom Melly

          Re: Tip o' the iceberg

          Well, you could come along after someone else's plundering, and pick it up from there I suppose.

    3. John Bailey

      Re: Tip o' the iceberg

      "Hey lookie, a self-driving car...

      JAYWALK, RAPE, ROB, PILLAGE, AND PLUNDER!!!"

      Hey lookie, a traffic light.

      See above.

      Explain the difference please.

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Re: Tip o' the iceberg

        @John Bailey,

        It's a fair question, but the difference between a self-driving car and a manual car at a traffic light, is

        - a manual car can be driven away if the vehicle or passengers are attacked, overriding safety procedures like the red light or pedestrians blocking the way

        - a traffic light by definition is at a junction or area of high traffic, where overt robbery is likely to have witnesses, who may even intervene. Immobilising a self-driving car can be done at any point on any road, and naturally quiet country roads or urban side streets at night would be the prime location.

        1. John Bailey

          Re: Tip o' the iceberg

          "It's a fair question, but the difference between a self-driving car and a manual car at a traffic light, is"

          Really bugger all.

          "- a manual car can be driven away if the vehicle or passengers are attacked, overriding safety procedures like the red light or pedestrians blocking the way"

          Yet people still get car jacked.. How does this happen? Why do they not drive away, overriding safety procedures so they can be smashed into by oncoming traffic in the lane with the right of way? Or run over the miscreants as soon as they obligingly position themselves where they can be easily run over?

          "- a traffic light by definition is at a junction or area of high traffic, where overt robbery is likely to have witnesses, who may even intervene."

          And nobody is going to bother if it's a self driving car?

          No difference as far as helpful passers by are concerned. Point invalidated. Becasue traffic lights are one of the primary car jacking scenarios.

          "Immobilising a self-driving car can be done at any point on any road, and naturally quiet country roads or urban side streets at night would be the prime location."

          Immobilising a car of any kind can be done at any point on any road, and naturally quiet country roads or urban side streets at night would be no better or worse than anywhere else. .

          Or does your car have tank tracks?

          A few handfuls of bent nails welded together.

          A board with a few nails hammered through.

          And if we are talking quiet country roads.. A tree pulled down across the road provides a very effective means of halting a vehicle of any size.

          Stopping a vehicle is easy.

          And when someone jumps out in front of your car, do you just accelerate hoping they get out of the way, instead of jamming the brakes on, and coming to a stop as quickly as you can?

          How many have you run over so far?

          Or do you imagine that in the split second you have to decide, you can assess the situation, and correctly distinguish between a car jacker and a careless pedestrian?

          Nice try, but still bull.

  8. Ole Juul

    meek cars and commuting

    The tradeoff is it will be a more attractive experience for pedestrians.

    And deer. Lots of those on the road during parts of the year here. If you slow down and wait at a respectful distance, they just assume you've stopped. So there you are. If you don't want to wait so long, then you need to drive right up to them so they see you as a threat. That kind of psychology is not so easy to program.

    I'm thinking that the city experience won't be that different. People will stand in the street and finish their conversation before moving over for these meek cars to pass. This sort of thing will make the travel time unpredictable so you can't use these self-driving cars for commuting unless you're prepared to start an hour early, just in case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: meek cars and commuting

      I've actually had my car attacked by a deer once, while doing 40mph. Biggest buck I've ever seen. I went around him but he still got my driver's side mirror.

      This raises another question: will these cars stop for dogs? cats? squirrels? Where exactly do you draw the line?

      I know, I know: you don't. You throw in the towel on this moronic techno-utopian wet dream.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: meek cars and commuting

        "...will these cars stop for dogs? cats? squirrels?"

        In our neighbourhood, an experienced driver concerned about animals needs to have two additional rules...

        1) If it's Spring, and you see what looks like a curled-up leaf, then it's probably a frog.

        2) If it's Autumn, and you see what looks like a frog, then it's probably a curled-up leaf.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

        Re: meek cars and commuting

        Dogs, cats and squirrels are fine, but they better not touch those baby ducks!

      3. nijam

        Re: meek cars and commuting

        > You throw in the towel

        It would even stop for that, I expect.

      4. Dazed and Confused

        Re: meek cars and commuting

        > This raises another question: will these cars stop for dogs? cats? squirrels?

        Run over hedgehogs and I'm coming after you with MrDamage's high power rifle!

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: meek cars and commuting

          I often see deer, badgers, etc at the side of the road but one thing I've noticed recently is a distinct lack of live animals when driving (with the exception of one roundabout that seems to be home to the entire rabbit population of the UK). Anecdotally this would suggest that the British wildlife population is in severe decline (we still get the odd hedgehog in the garden, but still nowhere near as many as a few years ago).

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: meek cars and commuting

            "Anecdotally this would suggest that the British wildlife population is in severe decline "

            You could be right. The year after the ban on hunting foxs, the number of dead foxes by the side of the road went up considerably. I'm not a supporter of fox hunting, but it seems whatever is in pace to control the fox population doesn't actually work so maybe the foxes are killing more of the other wildlife.

      5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Animal Crossing

        Where there is special road crossing provision made for animals on wider roads - badger tunnel, bat overpass, frog fairway - I wonder how the animals are supposed to know which way they are meant to go. And also whether teenage badgers hang around the underpass and mug old lady badgers. On the first point, apparently research has been carried out, with mixed results - bats seem to ignore structures intended to guide them across the road. But I don't immediately see why they have a problem anyway. Maybe they prefer to fly along the road and not on the right side, consequently, bat-aclysm.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Animal Crossing

          Where there is special road crossing provision made for animals on wider roads - badger tunnel, bat overpass, frog fairway - I wonder how the animals are supposed to know which way they are meant to go.

          Selection pressure?

      6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: meek cars and commuting

        "This raises another question: will these cars stop for dogs? cats? squirrels?"

        What about pheasants? They operate in two modes, dumb and equally dumb. First mode is to wander along the road ignoring anything that moves. The other is to whiz across in flight but at low altitude, equally oblivious.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: meek cars and commuting

      "And deer. ...you need to drive right up to them so they see you as a threat. That kind of psychology is not so easy to program."

      Especially if it gets it wrong and tries that with a cow. Cows are more likely to spook and might well kick the crap out of your robocar as it panics and runs the wrong way, as an acquaintance of mine will relate at every damned opportunity.

  9. nilfs2
    Terminator

    Human stupidity...

    ...that's what's holding the autonomous cars from going mainstream, the only way to get rid of it is exterminating the human race.

  10. Spaller
    Mushroom

    Taxes to the rescue

    Smart pedestrians carry fobs (aka phones) identifying themselves a la IFF. The local good burghers slap a tax on such errant behaviour as wandering out in front of cars. The errant citizen has one's insurance rates adjusted accordingly. Want to drive fast in one's auto-automobile or take priority at a light? There's an incidental tax for that, too.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Taxes to the rescue

      I hope you forgot the 'joke' icon!

      Although you do raise a point about a situation where jaywalking rules actually make some sense.

      Because at the moment, the countries that have such backward, patronising laws. are just exercising nanny-state control.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taxes to the rescue

        "Smart" pedestrians?

        You mean the kind of idiots who buy smart phones, smart watches, smart TVs, smart toothbrushes, smart sandals, smart undies....? Right.

        TERMINATE!!!

  11. The Nazz Silver badge

    I called it a couple of weeks back.

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/10/12/mercedes_autonomous_car_will_run_over_pedestrians/

    Also, on the matter of form, are we gonna see just the one make with rounded corners/edges and all the others built like 1970 Lada's?

    Cheapest and best option yet : a solid white line 3ft* out from the kerb, stencil a bicycle within every 100 yards* or so and NO PARKING. At all.

    Mind you, it would help further if said 3ft lane wasn't filled with pot holes, patchy repairs and the sundry detritus of last evening's leisure, whether that be the result of excess alcohol/junk food or breaking into auto's.

    *other measurements are available.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: I called it a couple of weeks back.

      Your link has been truncated. To fix it, either make it a clickable link, or post the URL that appears when hover over the 'posted date' of your message.

    2. tr1ck5t3r

      Re: I called it a couple of weeks back.

      You can have fun now with the mercedes radar controlled cruise control and others by spoofing their signals from your own car. If in front you can make them slow down and the drivers face is a picture as they grind to a halt in their lane. I dont think its caught on yet as Mercedes havent had lots of drivers contacting them about their cruise control grinding to a halt for no apparent reason, but I'm sure they will in the future....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I called it a couple of weeks back.

        lol. He could've just quoted himself:

        > I've though about this dilemma, more in the context of constantly stepping in front of one of these autonomous vehicles such that they slam their brakes on. Good fun to be had.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I called it a couple of weeks back.

          >> lol. He could've just quoted himself:

          > I've though about this dilemma, more in the context of constantly stepping in front of one of these autonomous vehicles such that they slam their brakes on. Good fun to be had.

          He needed to prove his l33tne55!

    3. Dagg

      Re: I called it a couple of weeks back.

      Cheapest and best option yet : a solid white line 3ft* out from the kerb, stencil a bicycle within every 100 yards* or so and NO PARKING. At all.

      Won't work in Melbourne, it will end up full of parked cars especially expensive German cars.

  12. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    fun.apply(handbrake)

    All they have to do is to programme the Johnny Cab to yank on the handbrake when pedestrians don't get out of the way quickly enough. When I do it, it locks the back wheels up and the noise scares the sh1t out of them. Watch them run for the safety of the pavement!

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

      or just buy an ordinary manually driven car that looks identical 6to the self-drive ones!

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

        The point is valid but this paper makes a bit of a time jump. We are not going to swap over from meat bags to microchips overnight. Cars will automate more functions over time. Cruise control became adaptive cruise control became autopilot. Reversing sensors became reversing cameras became surround cameras and self parking. In the medium term, even self driving capable cars will allow meat bag control, so the pedestrian has to risk the fact that the car may not be under AI control.

        In reality, many cars today come with autonomous braking systems that could equally be pranked by chicken players. In another few years, that'll be every car from energy level up (probably will become part of the highway codes)

        I'm a bit more optimistic than the paper anyhow.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

          Adam - good point. Many cars today don't even have a proper handbrake, so I guess that pretty soon there'll be even less fun to be had on (and off) the roads. When I trade up I suppose I'll just have to run the pedestrians over - or at least wing them.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

            Yes, my car has already emergency stopped when a woman stepped off the pavement. She stopped and stepped back, but my car had already stopped and was braking before I responded.

            1. Alien8n Silver badge

              Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

              I've been in a couple of incidents now where autonomous braking would be a very bad idea (for my car at least). It's disconcerting when having to slam the brakes on to then look in the rear view mirror and then have to take your foot *off* the brakes to prevent the car behind from going into your rear. I will stress that I was still able to stop behind the car in front safely, something to do with not trusting the braking distances of vehicles and leaving a bit of a safety gap (something van drivers seem completely incapable of doing).

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

                leaving a bit of a safety gap (something van Audi drivers seem completely incapable of doing).

                Fixed.

                1. Alien8n Silver badge

                  Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

                  @werdsmith lol, seems to be more the vans around here, amazing how many I see that have gone into the back of someone else. Last week was a van, but I had an incident on the M25 once with a new (then) Lexus and Mercedes. I was quite surprised that the brakes on my (then) 10 year old Vectra were better than both the car in front and the car behind.

                  As for Audi drivers, don't get me started... had one actually speed up while I was on a zebra crossing once.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

                "something to do with not trusting the braking distances of vehicles and leaving a bit of a safety gap (something van drivers seem completely incapable of doing)."

                Murphy's Law of safety gaps: The minimum safe distance to trail behind a car will be greater than the minimum distance that allows another car to interpose itself between you and it. And you usually can't build a new gap because the car behind you is tailgating to prevent such an occurrence.

  13. The Nazz Silver badge

    Commercials will be even more fun.

    Gang of said hoodies.

    Spotter out ahead : Beer truck approaching, get ready lads.

    Oh noes, this ones carrying Bud, let it pass.

    Whoopee, bonus time, here comes a truck carrying top notch electronic gear.

    Step out in three, two, one .....

    On the matter of animals. I once hit a rabbit at 70mph. I wish i hadn't.

    1. tr1ck5t3r

      Re: Commercials will be even more fun.

      I expect to see young Hackers gate crash parties in the future with their very own autonomous lorry complete with bud.

      Suddenly STEM subjects become over subscribed at educational establishments.

  14. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    I already joked about BMW's autodrive finishing off anyone it hit to avoid danger to passengers

    To instill the fear that allows their douchebag owners to their dinner reservation on time, maybe they can also program their cars to run over every 10th pedestrian that tempts fate. :) You could be a lucky one!

    More seriously, how is the autodriver going to deal with pedestrians on curbs? A human driver can look at someone on the edge of a sidewalk and get a pretty good idea about A) yes, this person sees my car coming and B) they are engaged in some activity that makes it unlikely they are going to step out in the street. Will autodrivers be able to do that, or will they crawl past pedestrian-filled sidewalks at 10 MPH because all humans look alike to them?

  15. Joe Werner Silver badge
    Pint

    Non-issue.

    Have you ever been to Norway or Switzerland (that until... 10 years ago, I guess). Cars are required to stop for pedestrians - and the drivers actually do so! It feels quite weird the first year or so, but it does indeed work. Seriously, pedestrians in Norway cross without looking. And - I have to stress that - it really does work.

    On the sidewalk on the other hand people do play chicken. This is super nasty...

    Beer, 'cause I need one and it is 10GBP in the pub

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Non-issue.

      Vietnam can be quite weird as well, you pretty much just step out and expect them to drive round you on most roads, or if it's a car or bus they tend to stop. Don't do this on the big roads with coach drivers though, they worship a god that's a cross between Mad Max and Kali.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Non-issue.

      been to Estonia recently, and one of the things that strikes me every time is the contrast in both driver and pedestrian behaviour with UK. If there is a red light for pedestrians at a crossing, 95% of people wait - regardless of traffic. If the lights are changing to stop the traffic for pedestrians to cross, drivers slow down rather than speed up to try to make it (and not once did I see cyclists going through lights, or getting off their bike and going across as if a pedestrian). Later in the evening, some of the lights switch to a flashing amber, which basically seems to mean "caution, do what you want but be sensible" - and drivers slow to allow pedestrians to cross, but pedestrians do so smartly and get off the road quickly.

      I don't know if jaywalking is an offence, but it doesn't really matter, as so few people do it. I asked an Estonian friend about it, and she doesn't know if it's an offence either, but described the whole thing as just being sensible - "when the pedestrian light is red, it's the cars' turn to use that bit of road, when it's green, the pedestrians', why would anyone do different? If you're on your way to an appointment and late, you should have left earlier, your fault." [and yes, she is a driver]. Fits in with the country's health and safety approach too - if you do something risky or silly, it's your fault if you get hurt ..

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Non-issue.

        If there is a red light for pedestrians at a crossing, 95% of people wait - regardless of traffic.

        Yes, this is how we tell who is a tourist from abroad and who is local in the UK, the tourist wait for the green man, the local cross if there is no traffic.

        1. fandom

          Re: Non-issue.

          So, let's see if I got this straight.

          Lots of British people here being amazed about people from other countries obeying traffic laws.

          Lots of British people here complaining about bmw drivers disregarding traffic laws.

          Everyone in the UK has a bmw?

          1. nijam

            Re: Non-issue.

            > Everyone in the UK has a bmw?

            Way too many, but not everyone.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Non-issue.

          "the tourist wait for the green man, the local cross if there is no traffic."

          SWMBO waits anyway, even in the face of evidence that the green man cycle has been omitted.

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Non-issue.

      "Seriously, pedestrians in Norway cross without looking. And - I have to stress that - it really does work."

      Well, except more pedestrians die in Norway than the UK, but if it works for you.

      (Of course more die in the UK. I mean, per capita, per car and per km driven. In all cases Norway has more deaths than the UK.)

      Edit: two other posters have mentioned Vietnam and Estonia. Vietnam obviously has a much higher death rate on the road, but also Estonia. So going by deaths alone,

      Vietnam < Estonia < Norway < UK.

      Edit 2: I actually bothered to order that list. The UK and Sweden are the two safest places in the world, it appears, for RTCs (road traffic collisions).

      1. Complicated Disaster

        Re: Non-issue.

        Also, in Vietnam the traffic is largely mopeds and there is plenty of room for them to drive round pedestrians without slowing.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Non-issue.

          It does helps it's mainly moped I'll agree and generally they tend to drive pretty slowly for the most part so dodging traffic is not to bad in some places but I have been hit by a kid who was texting while riding his scooter luckily he was going slow and I saw him coming so was dodging, I think the roads in Vietnam seem safer than Thailand where it can be a bit more scary in general.

          Higher road deaths, doesn't surprise me at all I seem to remember being told in Thailand road deaths was one of the biggest killers, also wouldn't surprise me Nam is the same.

          TBH I think one of the biggest problems they have is a pretty lax driving standards and tests, there seemed to be no road rules enforcement, drunk driving, an unwillingness of some to think lights at night are a good idea (this includes big sodding trucks full of coconuts driven by crazed drivers fueled on red bull on country roads), insane overtaking, shit road quality surfaces (I have seen a hole big enough to swallow pickups at the bottom of a steep mountain road just around the blind spot on a hairpin) etc as well to add to the fun.

          I have ridden in both places and it's amazing after getting in the habit from the UK of always checking the mirror to find that it's often used more as an accessory for checking your hair than an actual tool for safe driving.

          Kids who are so young they have to stand in the footwell to reach the handlebars, things like full size fridge-freezers being balanced on the back of bikes...

          I once went to get a scooter taxi in BKK near a friends and the guys who were the drivers were sitting knocking back whisky, but apparently it was OK because they offered us a shot each before getting on board. I've seen cabbies turn round for conversations while driving, still keeping their foot down, motorcycle accidents where someone comes off and the first thing people do is run over and try and remove the helmet (which often are pretty shite anyway) and stand them up and give them a shake. The stories can go on and on...

          Hell of a lot of the scooters in both countries I have seen ridden also have had pretty manky general states of repair ( and some of the hills and mountain roads are scary steep), brakes that seem to be non existent is a good one - hire a bike over there and watch the surprise when you return it and ask for one with decent brakes for example.

          Road use in SEA can damn scary, apparently from friends who have ridden across India that's even worse.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Non-issue.

            "It does helps it's mainly moped I'll agree and generally they tend to drive pretty slowly for the most part so dodging traffic is not to bad in some places but I have been hit by a kid who was texting while riding his scooter luckily he was going slow and I saw him coming so was dodging, I think the roads in Vietnam seem safer than Thailand where it can be a bit more scary in general."

            I don't think the Philippines is much different. The general rule seems to be that when it comes to pedestrians, they're on their own, although some places (like Metro Manila) are so packed with cars that often they're barely moving, making it pretty easy for pedestrians and street peddlers to go their merry ways. More open areas of the cities, you need to just be aware of the traffic, though if you can take a detour to roads less traveled, that would be preferable. As for the boonies...good luck.

  16. ma1010 Silver badge
    Alert

    Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

    In the part of town where I live, idiots often cross wherever and whenever they feel like, with no interest in what the rules might be. When they start to do that in front of me and I have the right of way, I look right at them and keep the power on. (In reality, I'm not going so fast I CAN'T stop, but let's not give that impression.) Mostly they stay where they belong out of a desire to not become roadkill. But even then you get kids that look back at you and act like they're going to jump out in front of you, just to see if they can scare you into swerving or locking brakes up. They find that amusing. And THAT'S when they know there's a really good chance of them being DOA if they did it for real. What happens when they KNOW the car will slam stop to avoid them?

    The poster above who mentioned "stand and deliver" is exactly right. If we wind up with automated cars that stop at the slightest provocation by a pedestrian, we'll either have to have police round these idiot pedestrians up and penalize them severely enough to make them stop (zero chance of that around here), not use automated cars or learn to enjoy having cars slam on the brakes suddenly for yet another idiot, sitting in traffic jams and being robbed while sitting there.

    Or maybe add a manual override -- and then we're back to where we are now.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

      Or maybe add a manual override --

      Maybe a manually operated, turret mounted machinegun would be a better solution? Let the driver decide to use it but the cams had better show that robbery, etc. was attempted.

      Just musing and feeling grumpy about these cars and the marketing/engineering types not really thinking about things in the real world.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

        I favour the "Mark 3 Travel Machine". Look it up. Clue - "Exterminate". And they run on electricity so zero road tax rated.

        I was going to mention what the War Machines in "The War Machines" were originally called (no relation, despite appearance), but it seems that they were only ever called "The War Machines". Apparently this time they weren't going to be coy. Wikipedia says that the basic story premise in 1966 was "what would happen if the recently built Post Office Tower somehow took over". The answer seems to be a modest army of terrifying giant mailboxes on tank tracks.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

          If I'm thinking what you're thinking, I believe the original concept was for them to have straight sides. However, the mechanicals needed to make them mobile were too big to fit in the original frames; in addition, widening the bottoms to fit them made them more stable, so they went with the modified design, and one of television's most iconic villains was created.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

      "Or maybe add a manual override -- and then we're back to where we are now."

      The main problem is the Laws of Robotics. At their core, we don't want robots harming us through action or inaction. By that standard, they'll never win against trolls who abuse the Laws. Any robots that don't won't be in use for long because of our self-preservation instinct.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

        Yeah... Laws of Robotics could never work in reality. The robots and their programmers will never face serious personal consequences for screwing up. No jail, court costs, insurance hikes, public shaming, embarrassment, or remorse.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes, it IS a game of chicken.

      "When they start to do that in front of me and I have the right of way, I look right at them and keep the power on."

      Are you sure you have the right of way? Weren't they there before you? Are you at or below the speed limit? Are they supposed to second guess that you will step on it when you see them? (A-hole alert! Run kids, run!) Heard of this thing called "common courtesy"?

      You just illustrate all that's wrong with drivers' attitudes in the UK. The worse you get, the sooner laws will come that will put you in your place. (Or prison, in some cases.) Same as parking all over pavements, etc.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An assumption too far...

    ~ Mercedes said they'd prioritize the driver (save the life they can).

    ~ Also Darwinian-yourself-out-of-existence-pedestrians, might mistake a robot car from one that's being human-piloted from time to time, especially with blacked out windows.

    ~ What's likely to get bullied though are robot-taxis and trucks etc.

    ~ Plus haven't heard much said about security. Its going to be real easy to hold up trucks carrying goods....

    1. hitmouse

      Re: An assumption too far...

      "Darwinian-yourself-out-of-existence-pedestrians"

      Most of them don't even attempt to look when they cross the road. Having them attempt to discern vehicle-types is a couple of orders of magnitude of cognitive processing beyond "look left and right".

      1. waldo kitty
        Trollface

        Re: An assumption too far...

        Most of them don't even attempt to look when they cross the road.

        it is called social darwinism... you know the type... got their faces stuck in their phones texting or on facebook or twitter or vine or etc etc etc... they will eventually disappear as a species and the smart ones will be the inheritors of what's left of the planet... there is a method behind the madness, ya know? ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An assumption too far...

      "Plus haven't heard much said about security. Its going to be real easy to hold up trucks carrying goods...."

      It's pretty easy now; just fake a roadblock. But it's easier for organized crime to target up the chain.

  18. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    So... driving anywhere will be exactly like trying to drive through downtown Davis, California. Not a pleasant prospect.

  19. The Nazz Silver badge

    On the plus side ....

    If the car is really well programmed and, in the event of an emergency avoidance manoeuvre, it can spot the excessively obese pedestrians around here ( possible contradiction there maybe) then it wont need to carry it's own built in airbags.

  20. hitmouse

    "'The reason is that pedestrians know their fellow humans may run them over. "

    An increasing number of pedestrians (and cyclists) are oblivious to this. Some are too engaged in their screens, and others dare drivers to mind-read their intent when they suddenly turn and walk out onto the road without giving any clues. Few stop at the kerb and look in each direction before walking out.

    There's definitely an air of "my indifference/indignation outweighs the laws of physics".

  21. DougS Silver badge

    So they'll have a camera on the front

    Take a picture of the jaywalker and send it to the cops, who will apply facial recognition to send you a ticket.

    Not advocating for this to happen, but we all know it will....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So they'll have a camera on the front

      They'll wear masks.

      And rob you.

  22. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Terminator

    Self-driving in the zombie apocalypse

    The LIDAR and cameras could use factors such as walking speed and green coloration to distinguish between zombies and uninfected in the road.

    If it's a zombie, turn on the saw blades, move to the center and increase speed.

    The car would have no reliable way to determine if an uninfected is a potential ally or an attacker; so in that case, prime the flame throwers and display a series of buttons on the touch screen so the occupant decide whether to attack, stop, or ignore.

    Zombie Mode...because a good UI takes all likely use cases into account.

  23. 101
    Thumb Up

    Brave New World for walkers

    Totally agree. Pedestrians will rule the road.

    I am looking forward to being able to get in the front door at the mall store without fear of being run over by some in-a-hurray soccer/football mom.

    Indeed, I plan to mess with them. I'll leisurely stop in the crosswalk and check my text messages.

    Ain't the future grand?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Brave New World for walkers

      " I'll leisurely stop in the crosswalk and check my text messages."

      I'm just saying, you know these robocars will have cameras recording what is happening, right? The technical term for that is evidence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brave New World for walkers

        Man-portable microwave emitters, then. Should be able to fry any electronics immediately in front of them. Bye bye evidence and bye bye robocar. Plus it creates a roadblock for all the other robocars since it wouldn't have had time to warn of the danger.

  24. RegGuy1

    But we will know who they are

    Each car will have images of those who are causing disruption. Simply introduce a law to fine offenders. The police can be alerted to attend problem locations, and these alerts can be generated in real time.

    A few high profile cases in the media with punitive fines will stamp the problem out.

    Remember, we will have the technology to know this is going on. Hey, the automatic (unmarked) police cars can be programmed to get to the scene automatically.

    No, I see this problem as solvable.

    1. mics39

      Re: But we will know who they are

      Sure ... the vast majority of disruptors in my city are mentally ill and homeless and there are many here, meaning they are exempt from fines and jailtime is no deterrence. Even the experience of actually getting hit won't change their ways.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: But we will know who they are

        And as the weather gets colder I imagine those lunatics will start committing crimes wanting to get jailed since jail will be preferable to being out in the cold; at least jail has a roof and laws protecting against cruelty while incarcerated.

  25. 101
    Happy

    But!

    There will be work arounds: Disguises, RF jammers, tinfoil hats....maybe dressing like a clown will become fashionable.

  26. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "Until they get mowed down by an automated Mercedes."

    Clearly you spelled 'Tesla Model S' or 'Self-Braking (sic) Volvo' incorrectly.

  27. Araxian

    physics

    simple fact that unless its at lower than 10mph anyway, it will be irrelevant. If a pedestrian jumps in front of an automated vehicle it wont matter if its automated or not, though the automated response time is faster, the stopping distance of the vehicle will most likely be greater than distance to the pedestrian, which means squish.

    This distance only increases with speed, the the pedestrian would need to further and further away proportional to the speed. not including other factors like load, number of occupants, road conditions etc. not a game you want to take lightly.

    so really this articte is based on a maybe in very narrow set of circumstances and only were speeds were very low in the 1st place.

    besides an AI will likely calculate the odds of stopping in time and decide to change lanes and slow down, avoiding the pedestrian entirely without compromising speed by much, bypassing the whole point., less they do something stupid, like change direction, into the lane the automated vehicle was moving into in too short of distance for it to avoid them, then they deserve the darwin award for being that dumb and dead.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: physics

      "besides an AI will likely calculate the odds of stopping in time and decide to change lanes and slow down, avoiding the pedestrian entirely without compromising speed by much, bypassing the whole point., less they do something stupid, like change direction, into the lane the automated vehicle was moving into in too short of distance for it to avoid them, then they deserve the darwin award for being that dumb and dead."

      Suppose it's a single-lane or the other lane's occupied? Or it's a human cordon where there's nowhere to divert (and these can stop human drivers)?

  28. Tim Seventh
    Joke

    Special Accessories

    For 20k, we'll give you the baseball bat bumper. You can click on the button for an immediate swing outward for an automatic home-run to any obstacles.

    For 50k, we'll give you the chainsaw bumper, You can click on the button for a quick clear-cut to any obstacles.

    For 60k, we'll give you the flame thrower bumper, You can click on the button for a warm welcome to any obstacles.

    For 30k, we'll give you the 1000 Recalled Note 7 bumper. We'll also put a sign on the bumper with the words, "these haven't exploded yet".

    Disclaimer: Not suitable for non-automatic car. Do not try this at home. Safety not guaranteed.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right of way

    "Once you get to a point where there are enough self-driving cars on the street, it becomes worthwhile to assert your right of way,"

    'Right of way' means the right to pass and repass along the street. I guess that's not what he had in mind.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Right of way

      I was always taught the Right of Way means the right to travel across a specific area before others. Thus cars IN an intersection have the right of way over those coming to it, why straight-goers have right of way over turners, why emergency vehicles at work (sirens on) have right of way over other cars on the same road, and so on. Because it can apply at intersections, too, this applies both to cross traffic and to pedestrians. Pedestrians can be granted right of way under certain conditions, like during school hours or when a school bus, crossing guard, or police officer asserts.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kill Mode

    Just give each car a evil "kill mode" with associated red headlights ..... failing that go the full hog and illuminate your BMW badge

  31. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Plus ca change...

    it would be like driving down a street filled with unaccompanied five-year-old children

    So you've been to London...

  32. Tom Melly

    It'll Be Fine

    The odd tosser aside, we're pretty good in the UK about working out how to avoid the worst of the tragedy of the commons - at least where we can apply some sort of hierarchy and deference. I think this'll be fine, will improve the pedestrian and cycling experience, and probably won't even make that much difference to overall journey times.

    Non-automated cars will also find they are forced to follow the same behavior as the automated ones as the number of automated cars builds.

    Will it be easy for all cultures? Not sure - having recently spent a Friday rush hour driving through Paris, towing a trailer, it does strike me that it will prove more difficult for some countries than others (that said, Parisian traffic junctions have, imho, led to the evolution of a particularly unhelpful style of driving).

  33. Rob 44

    Simple.

    Add a cow catching type device that scoops up all the idiots and keeps them in some kind of keep net. Driver arrives at their chosen destination. Then the car drives off and dumps the idiots either over a cliff or at the nearest police station to be handed an asbo.

    1. Rob 44

      Re: Simple.

      Or, for persistent offenders give them automated shoes that can't be taken off that prevent them walking in roads.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Simple.

        You can't automate shoes since it's the legs that do the actual locomotion, and legs can be some powerful things making them hard to control.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Simple.

          You can't automate shoes since it's the legs that do the actual locomotion, and legs can be some powerful things making them hard to control.

          The Wrong Trousers

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christoph von Hugo doesn't understand the law...

    "Christoph von Hugo, Mercedes' manager of driver assistance systems and active safety, recently told Car & Driver that its self-driving vehicles will prioritize the safety of passengers over the safety of pedestrians."

    The safety of the passengers is *already* prioritised over that of the pedestrians, due to the passengers having a safety cell that meets crash standards. If Mercedes uses an algorythm that causes a self driving car to steer towards a pedestrian *knowing* that it is a pedestrian, then "Dieselgate" is going to look like small change.

  35. Hairy Airey

    Pedestrians at risk anyway

    For our American readers it's worth reminding them that in the UK we haven't entirely sold out to the right of the car to be higher than any other road users. With the exception of motorways pedestrians are allowed on all roads (granted there are plenty of roads that I wouldn't cycle down).

    However pedestrians are just as at risk . I've been beeped at when cycling on the road by people who still thought they were on the motorway. Once when crossing the road another person beeped and drove at me because they didn't understand why I was there (amazing that people that dumb can get driving licenses).

    Also, I've seen the movie 2001 putting machines in charge isn't a great idea. Never mind Terminator!

  36. boltar Silver badge

    Hailing a self driving car?

    "With the ability to just hail one (probably for a darned sight less than the total cost of owning a car) will leave most with little reason to buy their own"

    Newflash - there are already these things called "taxis" (maybe you've heard of them?) that you can hail that have been around since before the internal combustion engine was invented. Oddly it hasn't stopped people buying their own cars. Also the chances of anyone who's forked out a small fortune for a car just to let it become an unsupervised taxi where drunks can throw up with impunity or try and still the contents or fittings I suspect is pretty damn slim.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Hailing a self driving car?

      "Newflash - there are already these things called "taxis" (maybe you've heard of them?) that you can hail that have been around since before the internal combustion engine was invented. Oddly it hasn't stopped people buying their own cars. Also the chances of anyone who's forked out a small fortune for a car just to let it become an unsupervised taxi where drunks can throw up with impunity or try and still the contents or fittings I suspect is pretty damn slim."

      Newsflash #2, have your seen their fare schedules? Why do you think people avoid them unless they absolutely have to? Given how much we need door-to-door transit every day, all those taxi fares would add up to well over the car and then the annual costs associated with them. At least train and bus fare is much cheaper, but for it to be practical, you have to be pretty close to a stop or station.

      The hope is that with automated cars, taxi fares can be reduced to make them less expensive than the ongoing costs of owning a car, convincing more people to give them up.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Hailing a self driving car?

        "The hope is that with automated cars, taxi fares can be reduced to make them less expensive than the ongoing costs of owning a car, convincing more people to give them up."

        Sure, and Elvis will be a captain with Porcine Airways at the same time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hailing a self driving car?

          If business sense says they can make up the difference with more customers, then they'll do it. Especially if someone else tries the idea and starts stealing their customers. Econ 101 says you need to find the optimal balance between quantity (number of customers) and quality (fare per customer).

          BTW, I believe I know a guy named Elvis who owns a pig farm and a trebuchet. He also owns cows that he lets out in the morning and yet manage to return on their own later. His overweight wife also happens to do alto at an opera house. And I know a character (drawn by the late Steve Dillon) who was SO cold-hearted he froze Hell when he got sent there.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hailing a self driving car?

      'Newflash - there are already these things called "taxis" (maybe you've heard of them?) that you can hail that have been around since before the internal combustion engine was invented.'

      Actually they existed before the internal combustion engine was invented.

      But one of the problems is that most people want to travel at fairly restricted times of the morning and evening. If you provided enough taxis to meet these peak demands you'd find them underused for the rest of the day and, given the need for them to make a profit, most of their operators would go out of business over time. The number of taxis reduced to something like present day levels, namely, unable to provide an adequate service to most people at the times they want to travel.

      The consequence is that most people who need to commute, at normal commuting times, between endpoints where public transport doesn't make much sense, find they need to make their own provision. They buy a car.

  37. hellsatan

    Presumably when autonomous cars hit a saturation point on our roads they will be sufficiently well connected to communicate their direction/velocity and immediate obstacles to all other nearby autonomous vehicles (and sending red flags to each other about non-connected vehicles piloted by meatbags). A little intelligent communication and all the traffic on a road will be able to pre-emptively make space for a vehicle to swerve to avoid errant pedestrians. That way the cars don't actually need to slow down, they can just perform a high speed ballet, working together to keep traffic flowing freely.

    I am possessed by hopeless optimism here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Standards, lol. Wouldn't that be nice.

  38. digthatfish

    Stand and Deliver?

    What's to stop ruffians surrounding a self-driving car and demanding monies?

  39. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    So the solution will be to ban jaywalking.

  40. Telford dave

    The US advantage

    In the end the US may have a clear advantage here as their legislation on Kerb Crawling means that pedestrians generally are less bold that elsewhere. Sooner or later that will emerge as a benefit as the risk profile may be lower for autonomous vehicles at any speed.

    The issue may also be what your comparitors are. if you are a driver comparing autonomous it does not make much sense, but if you are a non-driver comparing autonomous cars against buses or even suburban rail there is a speed benefit. Good to remember more than a third of our population cant drive.

  41. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    It's just an awful, awful scenario!

    Cars having to give way to people who are not in cars! What is the world coming to?

    Everyone knows that people who are in cars are worth a lot more than people who are not in cars, and also their time is much more valuable.

    Especially cyclists are the scourge of the earth, and have no right to take up several feet of the road's width.

    Luckily, should someone be ran over, it's still the pedestrian or cyclist's fault, just as now! Phew!

  42. EveryTime Silver badge

    This is why it's a bad idea to have self-driving car development done near Stanford instead of near MIT.

    In that part of California cars yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians take full advantage. To the point of not letting any right-turning cars through on a green cycle. In Boston the rule is "the first person to look must yield".

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Which means NO ONE looks. Isn't Boston where yellow is "Go Faster" and red is "Last One"?

  43. Kiwi Silver badge

    The reason is that pedestrians know their fellow humans may run them over. So they act accordingly – as if their lives depended on not wading heedlessly into onrushing traffic.

    The author obviously has never tried to drive near a stadium in Auckland when the retards are leaving a thugby match. You're gauranteed to have at least a few of those idiots walk into your car. Even when it's completely still. In a secure carpark.

  44. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Forget self driving cars

    Some pedestrians already do this in Seattle. Mainly, the hobos.

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