back to article You're all too skeptical of super-duper self-driving cars, apparently

Lamenting the 35,000 people in the US who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, Senator John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Wednesday held a hearing in Washington, DC, on the need to win public support for automated cars and to rethink regulation. "Industry must …

  1. Dwarf Silver badge

    I'm in charge of me

    I'm in charge of my life, my choices - good or bad are mine. I live and die by them.

    I will not allow a machine to be in charge of something that is life or death for me or others around me.

    I've seen plenty of badly written software and until you can demonstrate over a long period that the software is 100% error free then I might change my mind.

    Of course, when the inevitable bugs do come out from the edge cases that were never tested by the manufacturer, they need to be liable with big, really big fines, otherwise, its just a different tax to get sales of their latest toys that will have been developed in the normal corporate manner of the least cost to the business with the minimally complaint solution and cheapest components they could source.

    Perhaps if you started by taking the finance people out of the loop, put the engineers back in control and doing things right then I might consider it in a couple of decades.

    Until then, the answer is no.

    Oh and I quite enjoy being in control of my car, its a relaxing past time and its part of what makes me unique - the choice of model, style, colour, what I put in it, how I drive it, where and when I drive it, etc.

    I'm not so sure that I'll enjoy cleaning it and polishing it when its jut a computer controlled gadget - just like I don't enjoy cleaning the house or cleaning the dust out of my computer when its getting hot and starts to do odd things. Imagine if a car, built with the same basic lego bricks were to suffer the same sort of problem.

    Is anyone else wondering what happens if you put a million cars on the road with different laser and lidar systems on them and they all start receiving each others signals or blinding every other living thing withing a 300 metre radius.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      I must be strange then as I really like cleaning my pc and even other peoples. Anon because.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        "I must be strange then as I really like cleaning my pc and even other peoples."

        If you can imagine it, then there's a specialist fetish site on t'interweb where you can get yer rocks off!

        NB, all links are SFW El Reg pages :-)

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      Luddites will get sorted by insurance costs for human driven cars going through the roof, once self driving cars have proven a superior safety record. You sound like one of the people who resisted antilock brakes, believing you could do a better job of braking than a computer.

      I don't agree with a rush forward into self driving cars, and I don't think they'll come as fast as some people seem to think (talk about 2020 is ridiculous) However once testing can prove a lower fatality & accident rate than human driven cars, I would be fully in favor of the government using laws to encourage their rollout and discourage easily distracted meatbags behind the wheel.

      As for cars with different systems interacting....yeah, I'm sure no one designing them has thought of that! :P

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        "As for cars with different systems interacting....yeah, I'm sure no one designing them has thought of that!"

        Sadly, that's an entirely likely outcome. The car companies, like Ford, VAG etc. don't have the experience in software engineering at this level (think IoT levels of security) and the software companies, like Waymo, Uber etc., don't have the structured design and test ethos of the car companies building to regulated safety standards.

      2. I am the liquor

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        @DougS: "Luddites will get sorted by insurance costs for human driven cars going through the roof, once self driving cars have proven a superior safety record."

        How does that make sense? Is a human driver surrounded by super-safe robot cars, more likely to have an accident than the same human surrounded by other cars driven by unreliable humans? No. If the robot cars really are safer, then they'll be better at avoiding accidents and will reduce insurance costs for the remaining human drivers. Not to the very low level that the owners of the robot cars would be paying, but lower than now.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          "Not to the very low level that the owners of the robot cars would be paying, but lower than now."

          You seem to be under the illusion that the insurance industry is altruistic rather than profit driven.

        2. Bob Dole (tm)

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          @DougS: "Luddites will get sorted by insurance costs for human driven cars going through the roof, once self driving cars have proven a superior safety record."

          @I am the liquor: "How does that make sense?"

          There are a couple influencing factors. First, as the number of people who are self driving goes down, so does the amount of money that insurance companies will be collecting as premiums. After all, the robots will be safer and people will expect that the cost of insuring robot drivers will be lower than insuring meat sacks.

          Second, the cost of cars will go up as more tech is thrown in them. So insurance companies will have to squeeze the meat sacks more. Sure you might be the same driver you were but if the vehicles are more expensive and robot drivers are safer then by definition the amount of risk you represent increases - hence higher premiums.

          Bear in mind that there are plenty of accidents that can occur when only 1 vehicle is in motion and if that 1 driver is a meat sack which is easily distractable then...

          1. I am the liquor

            Re: I'm in charge of me

            @Bob Dole (tm):

            You seem to have the same misconception that DougS had. Yes, as the number of people who are self driving goes down, so does the amount of money that insurance companies will be collecting as premiums. But as the number of people who are self driving goes down, so does the number of accident payouts that the premiums have to cover.

            Your insurance premium is (the probability that you will have an accident) * (the cost of that accident) + (the insurer's profit). The probability that you will have an accident doesn't increase if all the other cars on the road become robotised. In fact, it goes down. So does your premium. Robot drivers becoming safer doesn't make you more risky.

            You contend that the costs of accidents will increase because cars will become much more expensive: I'm unconvinced. Today's cars contain vastly more technology than those of decades ago, but in real terms the prices are not much different.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Don't ignore risk pools and increases in damage awards

              Who is going to insist on doing their own driving? The best drivers? Unlikely. Also consider what happens in a world with 95% self driving cars to the 5% who insist on doing their own driving, and they have an accident that is their fault and they kill or seriously injure someone in a self driving car. Today 35,000 people die in auto accidents every year in the US - enough that while it is always a tragedy, people accept that while the risk can be minimized it can't be avoided.

              In the world with 95% self driving cars with a much better accident record, juries will really stick it to those who choose to do their own driving and have a bad accident that a self driving car would not have. Instead of being sued for a million bucks like today, you'll be sued for 10 million. They'll say "this could have been avoided if this person had just let the car drive him like a normal person". Premiums will need to reflect much higher liability limits that will be required for those choosing to drive themselves.

              Go price a policy with 10 million in liability if you think its cheap. I have an auto policy with $250K or something like that of liability, and a $2 million umbrella. I pay $250/yr for that umbrella - the difference between the $250K and $2 million in liability (it also covers me for my home, but it is pretty hard for someone to slip on the ice and sue for more than $250K) I expect it would be at least $1000 more if I wanted 10 million in liability.

              1. I am the liquor

                Re: Don't ignore risk pools and increases in damage awards

                Sounds like things are very different in the US. Juries in civil tort cases? I bet the lawyers love that. Juries are mostly for criminal trials in the UK. Also there are no punitive damages. If you did £1m of damage then you get sued for £1m, you don't get sued for £10m as extra punishment for your bad life choices.

                Standard car insurance policies in the UK have a £20m limit on 3rd party liability for property damage, and no limit on 3rd party liability for personal injury.

                On your first point, I think it's both wrong and irrelevant. Irrelevant, because it doesn't affect the risk profile of an individual driver. So what if all the remaining human drivers are bad drivers? They were bad drivers before too. Their risk of having an accident has not increased because of all the good drivers switching to robot cars. Wrong, because I'd expect the drunks and the careless drivers who natter on their cellphone are the most likely to prefer robot cars.

        3. Dave 15

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          Sense or otherwise it will mean massive more profits for insurance companies,.... most of which exist because of rich shareholders called MPs who make the law that says we have to be insured...

      3. keith_w

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        Anti-lock brakes are fine on dry pavement and you just need to stop. They are not so fine on gravel, snow, or just plain wet roads.

    3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      "I will not allow a machine to be in charge of something that is life or death for me or others around me."

      So, no pacemakers, airplane autopilots, traffic control systems, train control systems, water, sewage, or power control systems, etc., for you? I've got some bad news for you about the many, many things which have been operated by computer control for, you know, decades.

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        Pacemakers - no

        Autopilots - pilots still control and have overrides, they also go into simulators regularly to keep the skills so they can try and recover when something goes wrong, it's not the computer that is expected to fix a problem, since there is no camera to tell it that a piece of the wing came off or that a lithium battery just filled the plane with some bad smelling smoke or any of a stack of other potential failure scenarios that the computer has no sensors for or code to interpret that special case that it causes on the sensors it has got.

        Take that training need to self driving cars - will people be expected to attend regular driving lessons and will the manufacturers provide simulators - no, they will just claim it's not necessary at all

        Traffic control systems - they advise us, but we still make the decision if we trust the info it's giving us as we are accountable for our actions. Crossing lights out, take extra care and work out when to cross. What would an autonomous car do - fail to sense it or wait till it comes back on sometime next Tuesday.

        Train control - still has a meat bag at the front, at least on most U.K. Trains. Ok, some of them do get it wrong, but they generally get my vote.

        Power control systems - I'm not plugged into the mains, so if it goes off then it's just inconvenient and I'll carry on. If the power goes up and it all starts going pop, then I can walk away to safety until a human fixes things.

        The trend is that I'm in control and am accountable for me, not a computer where I'm expected to put my trust in a piece of code written by the cheapest programmer they could get who doesn't have any accountability for their code.

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          "Pacemakers - no"

          So what you are literally saying is that you will choose to fall over dead due to preventable heart disease rather then get an electronic pacemaker? You are Full of Shit, and I claim my 5 pounds.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          Not often that you see a dwarf standing on the shoulders of dwarves.

          1. Eguro
            Paris Hilton

            Re: I'm in charge of me

            Insurance?

            Surely the makers of the automatic cars will be the ones who need to insure them?

            You insure your car in the event you break it. If [CAR COMPANY AI] is the one driving it, surely [CAR COMPANY] should be liable if the driver wrecks it?

            You might have to have a passive insurance for such things as doors in parking lots, weather events, keying etc. - but accidents while driving must surely be the responsibility of the driver - that is [CAR COMPANY]?!

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      I take it you don't fly then? Or use public transportation in any shape or manner? There are times when we don't have control of our destiny. Even vehicles we drive ourselves can have issues beyond our control like throttles suddenly going wide open, etc. These things have consequences not just for ourselves but others.

      However, I do appreciate the sentiment. I'd rather do the driving of my car.

    5. as2003

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      You set an impossibly high bar. Automated cars will never be 100% error free.

      There are 35,000 road deaths in America every year. If automated cars could even halve that number would it not be wise to mandate the use of automated cars? How many human lives is driving autonomy worth?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        The way to mandate robot car usage is likely, I think, to be the same way they're controlling traffic in city centres; first a high access charge for non-robot cars and then eventually a ban on them. Roads which are 'harder' for the robots will get controlled last and remain available for those who actually *like* driving.

        As an aside, and a response to the point upthread about a million cars all shining lights at each other... I've wondered - on no evidence whatsoever - whether current methods that use all sorts of sensors to try and build up a picture of the surrounding environment are necessarily the best way to do it, and whether perhaps we might observe that people manage to control a car with nothing more than two eyes, mostly facing forwards only?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: I'm in charge of me

          Sure, people control a car using two eyes facing forward. That's why we sometimes have accidents from cars in our blind spot, or around a curve at night, or in foggy conditions. It makes sense to use more than one method to "see", no need to emulate us limited humans and give a car a single pair of eyes on a rotating gymbal that has to decide which way to look.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: I'm in charge of me

            Yabbut - *first* you build a robot car that works with the limited sensorium available to a human driver, *then* you improve the sensorium.

            Possibly the 'deciding which way to look' is the critical factor in driving?

      2. Dave 15

        Re: I'm in charge of me

        All of them.

        Seriously I am sick of the 'no risk is allowed' culture, I am sick of the 'can't do anything in case someone stubs their toes' and sick to death of being dictated to.

        I would like a self driving car for the occasions when the distance is great, I am tired, I want to talk to the kids etc etc but I also want a car I can take the pleasure of driving. Its like I want to go to the supermarket and buy some tomatoes, but I also want to be able to grow them myself and go into the garden to eat them!

    6. Dave 15

      Re: I'm in charge of me

      In charge... oh yeah... you never fly, never sail on a ship, never use a train? You control what the other idiot drivers on the road are doing? You control the earthquake and the standard of the building you are in? We all take risks all the time.

      The question is which is the better risk/fun equation. I would quite happily let a car drive the 5 or 6 hundred miles of motorway when I go home if I was tired and could sleep instead of dying in a car crash. On the other hand on a nice sunny morning when wide awake and on a fun curvy interesting road with few cars and some nice scenery, window down.... then I want to be in control

  2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Terminator

    Mario kart!

    (Or your own choice of game)

    While these AI can do wonders, they still fail. They may fail less than humans do. But the problem is not lack of confidence. I'm confident that we can all have flying surf boards (they are buildable, just noisy, people are doing it, it's just a model aircraft under your feet :P ). I'm not confident they won't drop from the sky when someone forgets they only have 7 mins worth of fuel.

    Likewise I don't think people have a problem with automated freeways/motorways or automated parking etc. But the drive to "automating all the things" seems steeped more in marketing speech, than in reality or the laws of physics.

  3. jtaylor

    Lesser of two evils?

    Every time I shudder at the idea of fully automated cars, I consider how really bad humans are at driving, at calculating risk, and at evaluating ourselves.

    If the worst automated car is better than the average teen with 2 months' experience, that's a step up. If it learns from mistakes, that's already better than the average human.

    Risk from cyber attacks? Is that risk worse than a human who uses the Internet while driving?

    If nothing else, automated cars permit objective regulation of driving behavior, something which we humans are unable to do.

    We could learn from aviation, which uses automation very effectively. No, not fully automated driving, but Instrument Landing Systems, TCAS collision avoidance, GPWS warnings about terrain, FADEC engine controls, Fly By Wire which compensates for mechanical control problems, and a regulatory environment that requires manufacturers to prove the safety of their products.

    Oh, and aviation considers any "accident" as a failure to be investigated and hopefully prevented in the future. In an automobile, if you drive on bald tires and then slide your car into oncoming traffic, that's an unforeseeable act of God. Car culture is no paragon of safety.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lesser of two evils?

      "If the worst automated car is better than the average teen with 2 months' experience, that's a step up. If it learns from mistakes, that's already better than the average human."

      Let's think that one through. You choose an "average teen with 2 months' experience" as you yardstick. Why not a 40 year old with over 20 years of driving experience? Presumably because the latter is a much better driver and wouldn't be such an easy target for the automated car to beat (and don't think I didn't spot that weasel "if" at the start of the sentence).

      So it rather looks as if you think humans can learn from something, whether it be from mistakes or from simple practice. And yet you say they can't.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        Okay, how about the 70-year old with failing eyesight, reflexes, and mental capacity, who is a danger to self and others but refuses to admit it and is only going to get worse? One of the main arguments for allowing senior citizens to keep their licenses despite degrading faculties is the loss of dignity and independence that would ensue. What if, rather, those older folks had a dignified answer in the form, in essence, of a robot chauffeur, would that really be so bad?

      2. Meph
        Childcatcher

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        "Why not a 40 year old with over 20 years of driving experience? Presumably because the latter is a much better driver

        I've met plenty of 40+ year olds with decades of driving experience who are truly frightening to ride with. The issue is not so much to do with whether or not humans can or can't learn from their mistakes, but rather how much damage and/or loss of life can be mitigated by automated systems.

        Even the very best drivers can make mistakes due to fatigue, distraction or a host of other events. Automated systems have the advantage of never getting tired, and never losing focus on the task at hand. This has already been well and truly proven in areas like manufacturing, to the point where automation is recognized as a key method of removing risk of injury in many workplaces worldwide.

        Lastly, keep in mind that while most road rules seem restrictive, they exist to protect the masses from the lowest common denominators. No matter how skilled you may be, there's always a chance that someone else's inattention might lead to your death.

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: Lesser of two evils?

          Meph, indeed. However how will the clever car handle the willfully dangerous ? Think of drunks, druggies and the inevitable clown in a BMW/Merc/light truck with a severe ego problem ? IMHO, skepticism of the merchants is warranted. The best way to sell driving automation is already slowly happening by implementing driver assistance. Cruise control, automatic collision detection and lane drift prevention. As these become standard and extended to, for instance, something that prevents compulsive tailgaters, user acceptance will rise as well as vehicle manufacturers and their coders getting improved edge case management. Incremental improvements over a decade or two may also allow laws to be adapted appropriately insteady of panic driven. No pun in 10d. In long term a mostly self driving car is a great goal. Whether it is currently practical I believe debatable.

          Comparison with aviation autopilots in cars is a category confusion. Airfields have the same design, (mostly flat) and fixed wing aircraft have similar characteristics to control for. Also as some-one else has commented, civilian aircraft rarely come close by design and the only ones that do, gliders, have pilots trained in this type of aviation and are not transport vehicles in built up areas. Vehicles are the opposite, close together and often very different speeds.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lesser of two evils?

          Yea? What happens when someone hacks the systems that run automated cars. Not just your car or his or hers, but several? How is that safer than humans driving their own cars? There's no scenario where a bunch of drivers all of a sudden decide to drive badly. Get a bunch of these automated cars hacked, and who's in charge of their "safer driving" with "no fatigue"? Think it can't happen?

      3. jtaylor

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        Yes, I chose to compare the least competent automated system with the least experienced driver. then proposed that if the minimum standard is higher for computers, that's an improvement. It wouldn't be useful to compare the worst automated system with the average human. No weasels were injured in that explanation.

        Humans certainly do learn! Even experienced drivers make stupid errors, though. And I'm not sure those mistakes are all novel ones. I suppose the automation manufacturer would "learn" during testing and real-world experience, program appropriate behavior, and then the behavior would be consistent across all cars equipped with that system, subject to updates. That's a scale of learning that's simply beyond human capacity.

      4. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        Why not a 40 year old with over 20 years of driving experience? Presumably because the latter is a much better driver

        Supposition much? How old do you think those wankers tailgating in BMWs are?

        The biggest benefit to fully automated road transportation would be the higher throughput that would be achievable on the roads. This will be particularly noticeable in traffic jams or road works, where a lot of the slow down is due to driver uncertainty of what to do.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: Lesser of two evils?

          BTW there is a cure for tailgating... depending on the reason...

          Reason (a) ... the most common.... get the f**k out of the overtaking lanes (middle and outside) when you are not f*****g overtaking anything. You may think you are doing the speed limit and I shouldn't be in a hurry but maybe I have someone in the car who needs to be in the hospital, don't run my life and I won't run yours!

          Reason (b) .... next most common.... put your f******g foot on the accelerator and finish your overtaking manoeuvre in less than an hour - frankly you may want to saunter past the lorry but I want (or need) to get on!

          Reason (c) ... the guy behind is an idiot in a BMW (or Merc or Audi... they have all spent more on their heap of German junk than it was ever worth but think they need to prove how huge their dick is to justify their stupidity in the showroom)... this is solved by a handful of ball bearings. You take a handful, put your hand out of the window, place the ball bearings on the roof, listen to the roll backwards and watch in the rear view mirror as the idiots windscreen is covered in nice little chips.

          Have fun all :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lesser of two evils?

            Reason (b) .... next most common.... put your f******g foot on the accelerator and finish your overtaking manoeuvre in less than an hour - frankly you may want to saunter past the lorry but I want (or need) to get on!

            So when the speed limit is 70mph, and I overtake a train of lorries that are travelling at 60mph, you are the cockwomble behind me who feels that he's entitled to aggressively tailgate me to speed me up? And you are proud of this?

            If you need to get to hospital quickly, call an ambulance. If you keep driving like that though, you'll need two, one for you and one for the poor sod you drove into.

        2. CentralCoasty

          Re: Lesser of two evils?

          ".....a lot of the slow down is due to driver uncertainty...".... Really? I thought it was Rubber-Necking?

          .... cant see an automated car slowing down to have a gawp at the tangled mess on the verge.....

          ... now excuse me while I read a novel, sip my beer and lean back whilst my car drives me home........

      5. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        So it rather looks as if you think humans can learn from something, whether it be from mistakes or from simple practice. And yet you say they can't.

        I have plenty of time behind the wheel and from that experience I gather that while people are capable of learning, they typically don't unless forced to do so. In the case of fatal automobile accidents, or fatal accidents of any sort, that presents a bit of a problem as the learning curve can be both steep and abrupt.

        From a personal point of view, I don't have any sympathy for folks clinging on to their ability to drive when there are much, much safer alternatives available. Much in the same fashion that preventing people from smoking in most public places has improved the health of those who would otherwise be exposed to second-hand smoke, preventing people from inflicting now-unnecessary risk on everyone around them seems reasonable. To carry the analogy forward, perhaps to an absurd degree, we should next create roads just for human drivers isolated from the rest and let nature run its course.

    2. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Lesser of two evils?

      Flying is a piece of piss compared with driving. Nothing happens quickly, 1/2 km is considered a near miss so there is nothing to hit except the ground and it is pretty obvious where that is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @inmypjs - Re: Lesser of two evils?

        Erm, I guess you forgot about landing, not to speak about AF447 crash which took an eternity of 3 minute and 30 seconds to descent from 38,000 feet (12,000 m) to the ocean surface.

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: @inmypjs - Lesser of two evils?

          AC, precisely the same problem as autonomous vehicles will have. How do you trust the sensors ? Pilots who fly by rules instead of evaluating all inputs tend to have more problems. In this case QANTAS pilots who had the same problems months before assessed the instruments as " Power normal cruise, angle of attack indicator normal, no engine anomalies therefore the airspeed must be wrong." and avoided trying to fix a non-existent problem. The less experienced AF aircrew in command seem to have believed one instrument, the airspeed and deep stalled the plane into the Atlantic. For these edge cases, increasing redundant information sources such as GPS would allow invalid inputs to be detected and cut out of control loops. Given how most airlines are entirely computer driven these days aviation automation still has outstanding safety record because unlike individual humans, the aviation industry has for decades had a learning and improvement culture that is still relatively new to consumer technology. The discussion then becomes whether it is computationally and sensor developmentally possible to improve vehicle situational evaluation. Given how the mobile phone industry has developed very light, cheap and accurate sensors I would hesitate to say it cannot be dome for vehicles. Whether enough development has been done is another story.

          Sorry about polysyllabic words sounding like market droiding. Currently feeling crook.

      2. jtaylor

        Re: Lesser of two evils?

        "Flying is a piece of piss compared with driving. Nothing happens quickly, 1/2 km is considered a near miss so there is nothing to hit except the ground and it is pretty obvious where that is."

        Quite a few accidents begin away from obstacles, and then "progress to the scene of the crash." I take your point, though, that driving in traffic has far less margin for error. A stranger in the next lane can lose attention for half a second and send 2 tons of Range Rover through your side door without warning.

  4. ma1010 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good for the elderly

    I'm getting a bit elderly, although I'm not really there yet. I can still drive myself (and usually ride a motorcycle, so if I do fall too far below par and keep driving, Darwin will likely step in and take care of the problem). However, if I live long enough to get to where I truly can't drive safely, I would see a self-driving car as a Godsend, allowing me to still be independent and mobile (able get to the grocery store, etc.) without having to be a burden on others, asking for rides.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Good for the elderly

      Why is this better than a driver doing such a job for you? It's an honest question.

      I'm all for assistive aids, but I seriously doubt it is for this reason that AI driving is being pushed. The like of many are helped by Apple's assistive modes on the iPhone etc. But should they make something for those with need, the prices skyrocket (a screen reader/magnifier for the visually impaired etc, costs about as much as an iPhone that does even more and can do basic screen reading).

      Don't think of yourself as a burden. :)

  5. inmypjs Silver badge

    "Industry must find ways to show the technology is safe and reliable"

    Well if the technology actually was safe and reliable why would 'ways' be needed to show it?

    Reality is the technology doesn't practically exist and politicians are full of shit (and $ from the vested interests).

    1. DryBones

      Re: "Industry must find ways to show the technology is safe and reliable"

      Well, mostly because saying it is and proving it is are two different things, and one needs to get it widely seen in order to change perception. AKA, how will the average Joe down at the coffee shop know that things are well sorted now if he doesn't read GIzmodo?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What worries me is that a lot of large corporations

    are suddenly concerned about traffic congestion and safety as well as the general well-being of the society. It warms my hart to see how technology giants care about us all.

    Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture ? The only reason I see is those corporations have figured a way to extract money (and maybe something more) from you. It's a centralized vacuum pump in search of our wallets. It's all about control, folks!

    However, there will be losers:

    - luxury car manufacturers: why buy let's say a Porsche that drives itself ?

    - insurance companies: why would I pay if it's not my car and I'm not the one driving it ? Maybe Google will do business with one major insurer in every country but the others will have to die.

    - marketing boutiques: did anyone see an advertisement for taking a taxi ? All marketing for cars today is based on the pleasure of driving or feeling good behind the wheel. There will be no point in advertising one self-driving car over another since they will all be alike. You don't chose the model and maker of the taxi you called for a ride

    - second car dealers: this one is obvious

    - repair shops: we will not need that many, again maybe Google will do business with one or two large companies

    - taxi drivers: file this one next to second car dealers

    - health systems (especially in US): less people to fix, less revenue

    Winners are:

    - technology companies (big ones)

    - those who are not able or willing to drive.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: What worries me is that a lot of large corporations

      indeed. Now go buy a motorcycle or become a vintage car fan :-)

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: What worries me is that a lot of large corporations

      You're just parroting the same things that happened 100 years ago? What's happen to buggy manufacturers? Leather tanners for the buggy whips? Stables? Feed manufacturers and so on? Wouldn't you think they will just move on to other industries?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: What worries me is that a lot of large corporations

        It's not parroting. Automated systems work well. They require on rails, or a large percentage automation (or asymmetrical).

        We have none of that on the roads currently. In fact, it may reflect what happened 100 years ago. We went from having "roads" to having "roads and pavements" as the pedestrians were (literally) forced off the roads.

        So it's not a problem as such... it's a requirement. The roads are required to change. Either "automation lanes" (or the opposite "manual lanes") to divide off the different types of traffic, or compulsory and extensive signage and driving method/style law changes.

    3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: What worries me is that a lot of large corporations

      To push back on the idea of losers a bit, AC, while there definitely will be shifts, not all of these are inevitable or even bad. Also, I don't think it is about control so much as money, though the two understandably may be conflated.

      From your list of losers:

      - luxury car manufacturers: One argument I have heard concerning electrics, which are going to be more and more common especially among self-driving cars, is that the base components are going to become commodities. This means that for car manufacturers to differentiate themselves, they will have to focus more on styling. This would seem to indicate that there will be more freedom for boutique car shops to provide a higher degree of customization. In other words, we are likely to have more companies working in this area rather than fewer.

      - insurance companies: Insurance of one form or another will always be a part of this equation. Insurance companies may achieve cost savings by streamlining their operations as having fewer large customers will make this feasible. Individuals will pay whether they owe or rent. It's that way with houses (renter's insurance plus rolled into rent). Why would it be any different with cars? One thing you can always count on is that they will game the system to their advantage.

      - marketing boutiques: While there may not be much marketing by smaller cab companies, I have seen ads for both Uber and Lyft. Also, why wouldn't ad companies negotiate to place marketing in vehicles for hire and at pick-up stations and in ride hailing aps? They already do all of these, of course.

      - second car dealers: You are probably right on this one, though those that hang on will be more of the nature of antique dealers. I would not think this would be traumatic or abrupt as the widespread adoption of the new technology will not be overnight and there will always be old car enthusiasts.

      - repair shops: More apt to be taken entirely in-house. While there probably will be some economic impact to this, it is not a bad thing. As with used car dealerships, this is not apt to disappear overnight and the workers in this area are also some that are apt to be able to pick up a new set of technical skills.

      - taxi drivers: Again, you are probably right, but this is not apt to be abrupt. Those that persist in this profession are apt to be at the high end of the market. There are still doormen, so chauffeurs are likely to hang around, too.

      - health systems (especially in US): This is likely to have the opposite effect from what you predict. By reducing mortality, average lifespan is increased. As the population's average age increases, so too does the need for health care. Increased demand leads to more jobs, et cetera.

  7. F111F

    Issues With Automated Traffic

    1) Some country will find a back door and program 150,000 head-on collisions at the start of hostilities.

    2) Some script kiddie will not want to go to work/school and will hack the city traffic to cause gridlock

    3) Some late for work/soccer practice idiot will buy a 1-time illegal "speed pass code" for $5 (same as a Pepsi) and cause chaos for everyone else as he/she streaks through traffic.

    4) Adjusting to ever changing road conditions (degradation, repairs, upgrades, weather, rules and marking changes from one locality to another, etc) will be ginormously challenging.

    5) How will liability be assigned for fatal or injurious accidents?

    6) If the system doesn't see the speed limit change because a tree limb blocked the camera(s), who pays the ticket?

    7) Will some gov't agency have access to your vehicle's information so they can trace your whereabouts in the past or even in real time? Is that a violation of either privacy rights, or self-incrimination protection?

    Just some issues to think about...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Issues With Automated Traffic

      1. You're assuming the cars will be remote-accessible.

      2. Can't they do that now by hacking the traffic lights, which BTW are AUTOMATED?

      3. How would this come about without some kind of government intervention?

      4. And you think we're any better at it?

      5. That's for the courts to decide.

      6. How does it happen NOW, when a HUMAN can't see the Speed Limit sign because it's obscured or knocked down?

      7. Ask the insurance companies who may soon make it mandatory or otherwise prohibitive to go without AND can cite communal safety (many over few) as a legal out.

      1. F111F

        Re: Issues With Automated Traffic

        1) Automated traffic would, by definition, be remotely accessible, as each vehicle will be coordinating with all the other traffic within a certain radius.

        2) Traffic lights in my city are automated at the intersection, not from a central traffic control operation. People spoof the signals already, getting straight green lights (though only one case has been reported in our city).

        5) Why leave this to some judge to legislate from the bench? We need to figure it out long before then.

        6) So you'll be the sheep that lets a programming issue get him $$$ in fines and tickets?

        7) LOL, we don't make it mandatory in a number of states to wear a helmet or protective clothing while riding a motorcycle, why would this be any different?

      2. Dave 15

        Re: Issues With Automated Traffic

        Remote accessible... of course they will be. First they already do take commands from your smartphone to do things like unlock and start. They already have 'conversations' with servers to give away your position, driving habits and the state of the car. They all have ways of upgrading... in theory only when plugged into the computer but how long is that going to last when some idiot politician decides that updates must be done via wireless to make sure everyone is as safe as possible (or when garages realise that updating everyones autonomous cars software takes 12 hours a car and they dont have time.... and I jest not because the update of some cars 'emergency phone service button software' takes at least that.

    2. Meph

      Re: Issues With Automated Traffic

      "6) If the system doesn't see the speed limit change because a tree limb blocked the camera(s), who pays the ticket?"

      Why rely on optical imaging which is, lets be honest, buggy in all its forms. Either require the local planning agency to post the speed limits for road sections so that the onboard systems can update accordingly, or use RFID in speed sign gates as a direct instruction to the system.

      Hell, to avoid someone playing stupid games like swapping speed signs around, do both. That way you inject a form of error correction into the whole thing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awesome?

    I challenge anybody at all to get anybody at all over 65 to say that anything at all is "awesome". Asking whether its "a great idea" might get more traction.

    (I'm nudging up against that age group, and I'd say it's a great idea. But not awesome.)

    1. Joe Werner

      Re: Awesome?

      > I challenge anybody at all to get anybody at all over 65 to say that anything at all is "awesome". Asking

      > whether its "a great idea" might get more traction.

      My thoughts exactly. Even if I'm not yet approaching that age...

      With age you also tend to be more careful, less enthusiastic about the latest fad, critical of promised easy solutions. Plus ElReg readers are bitter, very bitter, when it comes to new technologies, we all had our fair share of disappointment and anger and madness.

    2. Old one

      Re: Awesome?

      As someone well past that 65 delineation, I love the concept and progress of autonomous vehicles. BUT I also have a number of peers who are distrusting detractors that fear that which they do not understand. I love the "driver-less" tractor trailers for product distribution between warehouses. Part of the issue will always be the "what if" scenarios that a semi rig can encounter where the designated travel plan is shot by unforeseen obstacles. Other side of the coin is the question of jobs. Should semi rigs require a "qualified driver" to be on-board IF the computer runs up against a non programmed scenario or an component failure.

      I went from a bag phone (1990) to the various stages of smart phones that I could log into my work computer without being "in the office" or even in the country for work. Today the only cell I have is an old out of service one carried as I travel because it will still call 911. So from the new cutting edge to nothing over 25+ yrs.

      I haven't seen where any autonomous vehicles have a relinquish mode to allow a "driver" to enjoy driving when they want to. My daily driver is a 76 Ford Bronco and in 97*F temp yesterday its lack of AC and shall I say other creature comforts make me wish for a long few minutes a new autonomous vehicles that I could have sat back for an hour and surfed the web. But just like my 69 CJ 4spd Stang I WANT to drive many times or I would not still own these vehicles. I bought the 69 Stang in June of 1969 and it was/is the raw definition of muscle car. Nearly 50 yrs later there are more comfortable, faster, reliable modern vehicles but none will ever have THAT raw driver edge that is now so computer controlled.

      Change happens - technology almost always advances...

  9. Archtech Silver badge

    We must obey...

    ... because senators understand technology so much better than we ever could. And they could never be biased in favour of the corporations that pay them vast sums of money.

    No sir.

  10. nijam

    I don't have a self-driving car (of course) but I do have recent one with several automated systems.

    For example the rear parking sensor - it's OK-ish, but so paranoid that I wish it would STFU when reversing into a parking space of less than (say) 12 yards long.

    For example the windscreen wipers - they're OK-ish, they run when it rains, they don't when it doesn't, but seem really undecided about drizzle. Not had the chance to check them in snow yet, but can't say I'm optimistic.

    For example the lane-departure detection system - it's OK-ish, but it can't detect white lines if they're not recently painted, or if there are those shiny strips of tarmac that are sometimes used to form the joins around surface repairs. It's supposed not to worry about lane-departure if you signal beforehand, but evidently disagrees with me as to the meaning of "beforehand". It signals lane departure by vibrating the steering wheel, which is of course undetectable when driving on a typical British road surface.

    And so it goes - the more complex the system, the less useful benefit it gives, and the less able it is to cope with real environments. So colour me sceptical about linking lots of these bits together into a more complex system.

    BTW, the paranoia point is especially significant, I think. Automated vehicles will simply log-jam our roads because their programming will make them too cautious, I expect. And don't say the onboard "AI" will learn when it's safe to go faster, because that feature will definitely be locked out.

    I may be biased, I enjoy driving after all. Maybe we should make it a requirement that self-driving cars also provably enjoy driving?

  11. druck Silver badge
    Stop

    Behavior

    What isn't being taken in to account the change of behaviour of other road users when automated cars are in the majority on the roads. Most pedestrians realise that stepping out in front of a car could mean death, even if it isn't speeding because you have to take a gamble that the driver is paying attention. When they think a driverless car will always see them and stop in time, then no more waiting for pedestrian crossings, they will just step out in to the road at anytime, and traffic will just stop.

    So if you are in a driverless car get used to hanging off the seat belt every few seconds as a pedestrian or car with a driver decides you'll be the one to stop. I was going say pedestrians, cyclists or cars, but around Cambridge parts, cyclists already do that.

    1. Meerkatjie

      Re: Behavior

      I'm guessing you're not in London. I regularly see people stepping out into moving traffic if they think they have half a chance of making it across. I don't think that behaviour will be significantly changed by driverless/automated cars being the norm.

      Today I saw 3 people make the same calculation for an oncoming bus; they all had to do the quick-step leap to safety when they all realised they had misjudged the bus' speed. No one else at the lights even blinked let alone tutted.

      1. druck Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Behavior

        Yesterday morning people in Cambridge may have seen the air ambulance depart from Parkers Piece, after someone miscalculated that oncoming bus. Yes there are people who do that now, but I guarantee there will be hell of a lot more with driverless vehicles.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "Rush to Self Driving Cars" is about these clowns making money. Nothing else. Any attempt to claim it isn't, is either being naive, straight up BS. You want one? BUY ONE. They aren't going to be mass deployed until they are affordable, and that won't happen for years to come. I'll be avoiding the self driving car craze and don't much care if anyone doesn't agree with me on that. I haven't had a car accident since 1992 and that is due to my driving skills and paying attention to what everyone else is doing, on the road. Drunk Drivers should be the ones to buy and use self driving cars. I shall not.

  13. jMcPhee

    Yeah, let's all put our childrens' safety in Microsoft's hands.

  14. Emmeran

    Self driving?

    The google/bing maps aren't even close to accurate here in New England - and I should trust the self-driving car using them why?

    I'm eager for this but we do need about another decade of work before they are ready.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

    Automation can't happen soon enough!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

      So why does the USA have, proportional to population, so many more traffic casualties than, say, the UK? Lack of seatbelt laws? No night buses to get back from the pub? Someone must done the analysis and worked it out, surely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

        Maybe it's simply more cars, or have you forgotten that the US has a lot more rural land area (both absolute and proportional) than in the UK? Sprawl means cars are more a necessity, and more cars naturally lead to more car-related incidents.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

          More cars: a partial but not full explanation.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

          Road deaths per vehicle in the US is still 2.5x the UK, and per mile driven still twice as many.

          Road deaths in the UK: approx 2000/year; USA: approx 35000/year.

          5x the population accounts for 8000 of the extra deaths. Those people have more cars and that accounts for another 4000. Those cars cover more miles and that accounts for a further 4000. What accounts for the other 17000?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

            Where do you get those figures? A combination of very DENSE and very SPARSE areas can both increase deaths (more targets with the former; less regularity and safety valves with the latter). What about people that drive more often and push themselves due to having to work two jobs per day just to pay the bills? Plus more roads can make daring drivers (especially the young with their bling cars) even more daring (think illegal street racing where outrunning the cops is considered part of the fun).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

              @Charles 9: "Where do you get those figures?"

              Come on, there's a wikipedia link in my post! Looks like the wikipedia figures are from WHO reports. It's easy to compare the US and UK figures and work out what the US numbers would be if they had the same per capita, per car or per mile death rates as the UK (9319, 13467, 17272).

              You propose dense and sparse traffic as possible explanations for the difference. Dense traffic seems unlikely, I don't think the USA's urban traffic is any worse than the UK's. Sparse traffic is more interesting. It's true that rural roads are more dangerous. But when you look at the figures, there's not much difference between the USA and UK in this respect. Rural roads account for 30%-40% of vehicle miles and 50%-60% of deaths in both countries. Whatever is causing the difference in death rates, it's across both rural and urban areas.

              Drivers being fundamentally more reckless is certainly an interesting hypothesis, but it raises more questions than it answers. Are American drivers really that much more reckless than British ones? If so, why?

              My hypothesis about seatbelt laws isn't a particularly strong explanation either, given that apparently 87% of Americans wear a seatbelt anyway. It could possibly account for a couple of thousand extra deaths at most.

              When I said "someone must have done the analysis and worked it out," I kind of hoped it would be someone other than me!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

                Looking at how alcohol contributes: it seems alcohol is implicated in 31% of fatal road accidents (2014: 9967 deaths) in the USA, and 14% in the UK. So if you could reduce drink-driving to UK levels you'd avoid something in the region of 5000-6000 deaths. We're getting there!

              2. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

                "Drivers being fundamentally more reckless is certainly an interesting hypothesis, but it raises more questions than it answers. Are American drivers really that much more reckless than British ones? If so, why?"

                At least in the vast, open US, cars have been a symbol of freedom since the post-WW2 period. They were more than a tool; they were a status symbol. That hasn't gone away all that much today, especially among the young, who still imagine themselves cruising down an open stretch of highway without a care in the world. As big a country as the US is, the allure of the open road is greater and easier to sate. The UK really doesn't have the equivalent of cruising up I-15 through the Nevada desert, driving through the 785 miles of I-10 in Texas alone, and so on. About the only vehicle that's seen as MORE liberating is something like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle: the quintessential cool bike of biker gangs (infamous for answering to no one but themselves). What's one of the goals of a teen's summer job once they're old enough to take the driving test? Their own car. Rebellious youth + symbol of freedom = a recipe for hanging loose and screwing the consequences. Is it any wonder the under-25 set has the highest insurance rates, even versus seniors?

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

                  Of course young drivers being at higher risk is true in all countries, not just the USA.

                  Looking back at that Wikipedia article, here are some countries with similar fatality per mile rates to UK: Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland.

                  Similar to USA: Belgium, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain.

                  Twice as bad as USA: Czech Republic, Malaysia, South Korea.

                  Terrifying: Brazil.

                  (note: per-distance figures are not quoted for all countries so these lists are not exhaustive).

                  Can anyone see a pattern there? I can't. It looks almost random, particularly when comparing European countries. Why does Belgium have much worse figures than the neighbouring Netherlands? It's not random though, since for any given country, figures follow consistent trends from year to year.

                  I wonder how much impact highway engineering has. Design of junctions, road surfaces, signage etc.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

        In my experience, drink driving is ridiculously tolerated in the US, whilst it has been almost eradicated in the UK. In Georgia, for instance, your first DUI has a 90 day license suspension - compare to the UK, minimum 1 year ban.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 35,000 per year! Sounds like a full on war...

          "In my experience, drink driving is ridiculously tolerated in the US, whilst it has been almost eradicated in the UK. In Georgia, for instance, your first DUI has a 90 day license suspension - compare to the UK, minimum 1 year ban."

          Because of Prohibition. Anyone who tries to lock up DUIs gets the double whammy of trying to squelch drinking (which people were willing to fight their country for) AND trying to fill up jails and so on (taxpayer burden). Plus many of the drinkers are stressed out due to families to bring up; denying them their only ability to get to work and so on means you're more than likely to get Child Services or the like involved soon after. IOW, unintended consequences.

  16. Jonjonz

    Shills ignore Public Transit

    Public transit solves all of those 'problems' plus a number of others, like pollution, etc.

    Build a good public transit network first, and forget about this ploy to replace truck drivers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shills ignore Public Transit

      Public transit does NOT solve the cargo problem. Truck drivers will still be needed because trains cannot handle the last mile. Meanwhile, public transportation has its own issues such as uneven access and tax burdens on the public (not one is self-sustaining).

      1. Gerhard Mack

        Re: Shills ignore Public Transit

        "Meanwhile, public transportation has its own issues such as uneven access and tax burdens on the public (not one is self-sustaining)."

        I don't know very many countries that have self sustaining roadway systems either. You pay for your own car but usually the road is paid with taxes.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Shills ignore Public Transit

          Not if it's privately owned, in which case a profit margin is usually included in the contract terms these days. I also know of a few sanctioned toll operations that are completely self-funding (and in fact self-contained, complete with a local police force).

    2. keith_w

      Re: Shills ignore Public Transit

      Self-driving cars will effectively be public transit. I enjoy driving and if I cannot drive my car, then why would I bother owning it? It costs a fortune in maintenance and insurance to own a vehicle, not to mention the initial purchase or lease cost. There is a reason that Uber is designing their own. Taxi companies will also be quite happy to purchase autonomous vehicles and dispatch them to transport you at need and at a lower cost than self-ownership. Indeed, you will probably be able to order, at a higher cost of course, a luxury vehicle rather than a basic one. And, if after a night of carousing at your local watering hole, you should accidentally soil the vehicle, because you have paid with your credit card through the app, the cleaning cost can also be charged back to you, with video evidence from from the in-vehicle camera.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Shills ignore Public Transit

        Not arguing with you there. It's just that public transportation as we know it today, with fixed stops and so on, turns off many people. You're right that a ubiquitous, quickly-summoned car-for-hire, the kind that can only be ubiquitous enough with robo-drivers (otherwise, they'd be around today with human drivers), would change the perspective of needing to own a method of transportation. It's like with buying versus renting a domicile. Buying means an asset and assorted long-term benefits, but it's an anchor to an otherwise-transitory worker; renting for them is best because it makes it easier for him/her to move as work and jobs require. Just saying.

  17. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I wonder how well autonomous vehicles will fare on rural roads? Especially those single track back roads, lined by trees or hedgerows, without any markings?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      How do PEOPLE handle the roads, especially if they're not familiar with the area?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This seems like a very hard problem to crack, and I'd bet the first self-driving cars will require the human to take over on roads like that. Hopefully someone will do the sums and make sure the safety penalty of having less practiced human drivers on the country roads doesn't outweigh the gains in town and highway traffic.

  18. sebt
    FAIL

    What's the point?

    ... apart from to make money for big tech companies?

    As an antidote to the whole ridiculous hype, look up the Dutch road-traffic engineer who made various places safer by making them _more_ difficult and complicated to drive through. The effect was to make drivers pay attention. (Or, look him up if you can remember his name, which I can't).

    With driverless cars, what are we supposed to do instead of driving?

    Inevitable answer: watch the @#$*&£" adverts which will be part of every driverless car "to help us provide a value-for-money service to our lovely customers".

    The whole curent tech hype is directed at hijacking human attention, and monetising it. Time for a few digital clogs thrown into datacentre hard-drive enclosures.

  19. Marty McFly
    Pint

    Seen this before....

    "You're in a 'Johnny Cab'"

    (Bonus points if you can figure out the movie reference. Just give it a few minutes and you will totally recall the entire movie plot.)

    More and more jobs are getting taken over by AI computers. What's next?? AI medical doctors???

    (Triple bonus points if you also get that reference.)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost???

    Everyone seems to forget about the cost. This will significantly add to the initial cost of the vehicle. And, more so, the maintenance cost.

    The tire pressure sensors are designed to last for 7 - 10 years. I buy used cars because of the initial cost. This last tire change I had to replace the TP sensors at a cost of $50 apiece. If you have anti-lock brakes and you have a bad wheel bearing, now you have to replace the entire hub ($60) instead of the wheel bearings ($20.)

    Now you will have an entire sensor suite that you need to maintain in order to keep your self-driving car running. Your annual car inspection is going to also become more complex, more like an aircraft annual inspection. Are you ready to pay $1000 for your annual car inspection? And however much it is going to cost to repair any flaws that are found?

  21. Long John Baldrick

    Other considerations

    Rain after long dry spell

    Tyre failure.

    Potholes - which can lead to tyre failure, lurching to the side

    Potholes hidden under rain

    Black ice

    Moose

    Mud

    Driving off road into fields to check on corn, wheat, cattle, etc

    Sinkholes-see Florida

    Recently paved but not yet paved - this one can be a whole lot off fun. Been there. Got the t-shirt. Pants back from the cleaners.

    Exits off of M/Interstate roads with work done aroud exit/exit closed

    Heavy heavy rain

    Raining bedposts

    Anything else?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Other considerations

      Yes. Are any of those categorically easier for a HUMAN to navigate versus a machine? The natural-induced stuff, I don't think so. As for the manmade stuff, make the barricades machine-enhanced (such as by using special paints that stand out in UV or IR wavelengths) and you can make the job somewhat easier for the cars.

  22. M7S
    Terminator

    If it is all about public safety

    then perhaps the politicians advocating this might consider "automating" in a similar manner all those guns out there (USA). The ones used for protection by a person, or for protecting a VIP or for "home defence".

    I'm not sure what form it would take in each instance, some kind of ED-209 on the streets, perhaps one accompanying every elected politician perceived to be at risk or some sort of automated turret at the entrance to your front and back doors to keep out burglars/home invaders, but given the levels of firearms fatalities and serious injuries not reasonably inflicted by the actions of a police officer or similar, this surely is in the same league.

    Once they've contemplated and hopefully understood the risk of such a system, they might be persuaded to draw a parallel with autonomous vehicles and realise that whilst an admirable aim, it is perhaps not quite the panacea they wish it to be.

  23. John 104

    Aircraft/public Transit

    Not a very good argument. Aircraft fly for hours at a time with very little to no positional changes.And there aren't thousands of them in a few square miles all moving about. So yes, it is easy to be reliable when things are nearly static. Throw in a zillion obstacles, and thousands of things trying to do the same thing you are doing and it suddenly gets very complicated and the chance for an error is high. There are just too many variables with cars vs aircraft to compare.

    As for public transit. It isn't very useful in the states because the infrastructure isn't built for it. In metro areas it is OK at best. Factor in the long distances between cities in the US and it becomes slow, impracticable, and a bother. Trains are the same here in the US. Too slow, too expensive.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Aircraft/public Transit

      Trains are most practical for shorter distances where air travel isn't worth the short hop. Only problem is that the places where this would be most useful (say the Atlantic coast) are already heavily built up (thus William Gibson pictured the entire east coast becoming one huge megapolis called the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis or BAMA, better known as The Sprawl). Trying to build new infrastructure in a place that's already heavily built up is going to be expensive and time-consuming (= unpopular with the taxpayers). For a prime example, consider Boston's "Big Dig" project.

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