back to article Super Cali's futuristic robo-cars in focus. Even though a watchdog says tech is quite atrocious

The US state of California will allow fully driverless, human-free autonomous vehicles on its streets from April 2. From March 2, organizations can apply for to Cali's Department of Motor Vehicles for permits to test software-driven vehicles in public traffic with no meatbags present, either on a backseat, behind the wheel or …

  1. Streaker1506

    It had to be in there somewhere

    +1 to the subbie

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um diddle fiddle, diddle um, fiddle ay

    Because I was afraid to drive

    When I was just a lad

    Me father wrote me some AI

    And told me it was bad

    But then one day I learned a word

    That saved me achin' prose

    The biggest turd you ever heard

    And this is how it goes, oh

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Now, as a way to *deliver* a car to someone that's not too bad

    But self drive?

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge


    Feet up.

  5. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Self licking lollipop?

    So the car will drive itself without anyone in it. I mean it saves me sitting in the traffic jam, but otherwise it seems a bit pointless. Unless I can't find parking in which case crack on.

    1. shedied

      Re: Self licking lollipop?

      Now *there*'s an idea. The FINAL Cali requirement: it must determine a good route TO AN AVAILABLE PARKING SPOT at the destination, whether it is a subsurface space at the shopping mall, or another in the dimly-lit multilevel parking garage at the airport, rain or shine.

      Getting the license was the easy part. Where are these chaps from Waymo? Weren't they here a second ago? What say you, Uber? Oh, out for a smoke break is he?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    We trust you implicitly to fail misserably

    We just need to fill the streets with robo-people instead of humans and the risk would be reduced.

    Have you seen what happens when there is an air crash, the level of investigation, the hardware is inspected for fine cracks, sometimes with x-rays.

    Here we have software and AI, notorious for bugs and gaping holes and regulators allow it on the streets before it is truly proved as a competent driver.

    Let the software win races in Nascar and Enduro's Race flawlessly, let it run on campuses and industrial projects for years, some with enough random and varying environment and conditions.

    Success is slow, the longer a vehicle must travel without a correction the more a driver will become preoccupied with other tasks, or just fall asleep.

    We can call them AI-Assasins (AI-A's) driving a passenger to their deaths, wiping out people on crossings, running other cars of the road.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: We trust you implicitly to fail misserably

      Let the software win races in Nascar and Enduro's Race flawlessly,

      I smell a marketing opportunity here.... the Robo 500!!!!!

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: We trust you implicitly to fail misserably

        The ability to drive perfect F1 laps under computer control has already been demonstrated, under practice conditions. The sanctioning body was not amused.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: We trust you implicitly to fail misserably

      "let it run on campuses"

      My experience of driving around many and various UK university campuses is that it's way more complex than public roads, even city centres. Very poor signage and many, many pedestrians and cyclists wandering into the road at random points. It seems like the ideal place to test AVs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We trust you implicitly to fail misserably

        "The ability to drive perfect F1 laps under computer control has already been demonstrated, under practice conditions. The sanctioning body was not amused."

        I don't think that's correct. Citation?

  7. ma1010 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not a good idea

    It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake.

    No shit, Sherlock! I live in California, and I am not at all happy with the idea of these things on the roads. There are enough idiot drivers out there endangering us all without adding half-baked "tech" like this. Good luck taking remote control over the car in an emergency in time to do any good. Even drivers actually sitting in these "self-driving" cars get bored and stop paying attention; how much worse will this be when it's all just on video?

    Then likely as not, one of these "drivers" will hand the controls to an unsuspecting friend like the BOFH did to his boss. I'm sure the episode is in El Reg's archives someplace, but you can read it here.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea

      I wonder if they'll follow usual call center staffing procedures, with one person responsible for a half dozen or so cars?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea

      So long as regular cars are only allowed on the road if somebody is available to take over when the driver is distracted, on their phone, looking for something they dropped on the floor, drinking their coffee or drop dead of a heart attack

  8. Rebel Science

    Don't trust any car that uses Deep Learning

    Deep neural nets are notorious for failing catastrophically when they encounter a situation they've never seen before. You've been warned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't trust any car that uses Deep Learning

      This is where the art director-turned-music-video-director decides to show ludicrous miles of ethernet cable and coax that eventually lead to a 404 NOT FOUND, and the ensuing car pileup on the freeway making the primetime leading news story

  9. Dropper

    Driverless cars yes.. GPS apps no

    So let me get this straight.. cars with no drivers are fine, but using your phone to give you directions is not.. well played California.

  10. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    I keep saying...

    That fully autonomous vehicles are coming far faster than most people think.

    I give it 10 years before cars driven by meat bags are banned in major cities in the USA. Sooner if auto manufacturers continue the evolution of car renting such that fewer and fewer people even lease a vehicle, much less actually buy one outright.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: I keep saying...

      First the roads have to be up to spec.

      In California they're having to go through and paint lines on all the roads instead of just using Bott's Dots as lane markers, for example, because the dots turned out to not be readable enough for AIs.

      A street near my house was recently repaved and left with no lane markings at all for nearly a year. How's the AI going to cope with that? What about places where it snows, obliterating all the lines from view? Is everyone just going to stay home all winter?

    2. Ian Johnston

      Re: I keep saying...

      Google/Waymo have been testing self-driving cars for nine years. They have a cute little buggy which trundles round at 25mph and can't cope with anything other than well-marked and predictable streets. Pedestrians are a problem; cyclists even more than one.

      It's a little optimistic to think that in another nine years human drivers will be redundant, I fear.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: I keep saying...

      'That fully autonomous vehicles are coming far faster than most people think.'

      Are they not obeying the speed limits then?

  11. Sam Therapy

    Outstanding headline

    And subhead.

    Award yourselves beers.

    1. smartroad

      Re: Outstanding headline

      And because the car will be driving they can drink to their hearts content :)

  12. smartroad

    Am I the only one think that because there is a remote element that it could be hacked and all havoc could be let loose?!

  13. bish

    Give the headline writer a raise


    1. Mark #255

      Re: Give the headline writer a raise

      A pedant grumbles:

      The second line has lost a syllable, compared to the original.

      And it could have scanned properly (add "that" between "says" and "tech").

      Bad Register, no cookie.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    April 2

    It's not a joke! Really!!

  15. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    follow the money

    nice to see the DMV like the rest of California is for sale to the highest politically-correct bidder.

    Do we know Waymo's numbers are correct, seeing the recent el Reg kefluffle about Google skeeving its reports to the SEC?

    Does the "remote" need to be demonstrated as mission critical reliable? or can a "4g cell link" be "good enough" to put any control interruptions into the telecom's "fault" if control is delayed? Will there be multiple remote operators monitoring each vehicle while it's out on the streets?

    Lets find out who greased whos palms in Sacramento. And personally hold them responsible when the first "accident" occurs. Tho I suspect they'll be invisible to us on the streets, but we can probably figure them out by which execs refuse to be on the streets anywhere near these cars when their autonomous (except for a well staged photo op).

    Notice that none of these robo car companies use their own product for even their security patrols - which if one has a simple controlled route to patrol, should be a low hanging fruit. But no Model X's with better cameras patrol NUMMI at night.

  16. NanoMeter


    What can possibly go wrong?

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