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About those self driving cars
Posted by: Don C
Date: October 17, 2017 08:32PM
Just read a click-bait story talking about how Alphabet (Google) self driving cars are not uncommon near their campus and will be hitting the roads very soon.

I got to wondering how those little guys would fare driving through the fires where flames are leaping across the roads. We've seen several photos and heard the stories of people evacuating their homes as flames rapidly approach. If escaping in a self driving car, it would be fatal if the car cannot determine where the road is.

Of course, I am waiting to see how these puppies do in snow too, but the consequences there would not be the same as going off road into a forest fire.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: GGD
Date: October 17, 2017 08:45PM
Quote
Don C
Just read a click-bait story talking about how Alphabet (Google) self driving cars are not uncommon near their campus and will be hitting the roads very soon.

I got to wondering how those little guys would fare driving through the fires where flames are leaping across the roads. We've seen several photos and heard the stories of people evacuating their homes as flames rapidly approach. If escaping in a self driving car, it would be fatal if the car cannot determine where the road is.

Of course, I am waiting to see how these puppies do in snow too, but the consequences there would not be the same as going off road into a forest fire.

I see those Google self driving cars on the road all the time, they've been on the public roads for quite some time. They wouldn't do well in the fire situation but for reasons other than the self driving. They have a top speed of 25 MPH, and they are electric, and I'm not sure what their range is. Think of them as a golf cart with a fiberglass shell body. They might even melt near a fire.

I've been wondering about the snow too, and Uber's decision to test their self driving cars in Pittsburgh, they haven't seen a winter yet.

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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: sekker
Date: October 17, 2017 11:11PM
The scary part is that in ice and snow, I do not think a self-driving car is going to need to be all that good compared to many carbon-based drivers around these parts...
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: freeradical
Date: October 17, 2017 11:19PM
That thing looks like a toy.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: DP
Date: October 18, 2017 07:17AM
Uber's decision to test their self driving cars in Pittsburgh, they haven't seen a winter yet.

I might say that's precisely the reason they're testing them in Pittsburgh. How well will they do in Winter on hilly terrain will tell if they'll be viable.





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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: vision63
Date: October 18, 2017 08:46AM
There is no way there can be self driving cars in today's urban environments. An impromptu side show in front of the car? Car jackers? Navigate around an unplanned blockage? The other day on 880 in Oakland we had to go back down the onramp because of a truck accident. This stuff happens every day. Maybe some day, but while they may do it, I wouldn't get in that MF. Whenever I see one, there's a guy in the car. How often does he have to take over?
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: Ken Sp.
Date: October 18, 2017 09:02AM
Full autonomous driving is still a little ways off. But, a little perspective. We seem to drive just fine using our brain and binocular vision. Elon Musk has pointed out that using cameras and a powerful computer can eventually achieve the same result. Alphabet/Google had logged well over 1,000,000 miles before it had its first "at fault“ accident. It was a simple 2 mph encounter with a bus and some construction area that was unique. On the average, human drivers have accidents, much more often than 1,000,000 miles.
I look at some confusing traffic circles, and rural roads, and I see where these will be problematic for some time.
That being said, I drive approximately 85% of my miles using Tesla’s auto pilot. It works well, not perfect, but, for the most part it is a very good driver, when the conditions are consistent.
Regarding inclement weather. First, electric vehicles can be much more responsive to limited traction situations. My car is amazing in the snow and ice, better than any car I’ve ever driven. Obviously that’s for acceleration, because breaking is limited by the APS. I have tested it with the auto pilot navigating when the lines in the road get messy fron sand or snow. The dash will show me if it’s picking up the lines in the highway or not, and frankly, it can usually see them better than I can.
The other wildcard and all of this is that very accurate GPS and mapping can make up where lines and other challenges may arise. All Teslas produced after October 2014 are sending very accurate information back to Tesla, so they are building an incredible database a very find resolution maps.
Regarding anomalies like construction or temporary detours, it will have to depend on the cameras, but once a few cars have encountered the diversion, the crowd sourcing, will give this information to all other cars.
Even with all my optimism regarding autonomous driving, I would be reluctant to get behind a car that has no steering wheel or break. For a long time, there will still be situations where driver intervention is required. A year and a half ago I travel to China, and with some of those crazy intersections, and the massive traffic flow, I can’t see how her computer will deal with that efficiently and successfully in the near future.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: Speedy
Date: October 18, 2017 09:51AM
I think self driving cars are already here and will remain. I'm not someone who lives on the edge. That is, I see that traffic light ahead and plan my stop should it turn red. Others see the same light and plan how to zip through it as it changes to red. Must be my truck driving years. So I like the idea of self driving cars but I will take the wheel when conditions are not appropriate in my mind for self driving. I do worry about people who will more likely be lulled to sleep in a self driving vehicle than in a non self driving vehicle.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: October 18, 2017 10:21AM
The world and the infrastructure within is going to change once this tech becomes commonplace. For example, fewer parking lots will be necessary, as cars can be put in use overnight (although they'll still have to charge up), and deliveries will be brought to where you are, vs just dropped off at the door.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: numbered
Date: October 18, 2017 02:02PM
Quote
sekker
...I do not think a self-driving car is going to need to be all that good compared to many carbon-based drivers around these parts...

Many people are missing this key insight. You do not have to run faster than the bear. Just faster than the carbon-based guy.

For various reasons, I made several very long road trips around the West in the last six months. The crazy is out there in carbon based forms. (eg., lady deciding she took the wrong freeway exit, stopped, then backed up the ramp back onto the freeway...) I saw enough crazy every hour that I considered becoming a Rocky Mountain hermit somewhere. The fetal position was calling.

Never mind the fact that the carbon forms are distracted by their toys.

The one thing that could have slowed self-driving was regulation. But the regulators are running toward driverless because of sekker's point and because they are afraid to be left behind.

btw, the podcars have disappeared in Mountain View. Waymo is now running Pacificas. And Waymo looks ready to launch a commercial service in Phoenix. Over at ars, Tim Lee notes some interesting issues Waymo is addressing...
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: October 18, 2017 02:05PM
Read an article a few days ago about how self driving cars could change the urban whole housing situation. it supposed a self driving electric unit was embedded in a shipping container. The container was converted to a home, and just drove about continuously (other than when charging). In overpriced markets, it would be affordable and practical. when you need to get out (shopping, for instance), you hop out and the vehicle circles the block while you shop.

Do I think that will happen - not exactly as described, but yes. Self-driving is going to fundamentally change society in ways unimagined today.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

"WE CALL BS!" -- Emma Gonzalez
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: October 18, 2017 02:24PM
I do not believe self driving cars will be safe for me for at least decades, if ever. I do think that they will be approved long before they're as safe as I can drive.

Quote
Ken Sp.
We seem to drive just fine using our brain and binocular vision. Elon Musk has pointed out that using cameras and a powerful computer can eventually achieve the same result.

That's not the result I want. I also use:
- Hearing
- History of specific roads and how humans interact with them
- Behavior of drivers around me
- Feel

Cars could eventually get to that point, but it's a long way off. Several times a year I drive through areas where GPS doesn't work. The roads continually change. I have to watch the hills for landslides, see how much water is running down the hills... all things computers could do with cameras and other sensors, but they would have to be incredibly more advanced than they are now. They would have to know things like the snow temp of a hill ahead of me, or the difference between how snow feel's under the tires when it's fresh vs a day old (thus helping me feel the edge of the road.)

It's possible they figure it out, but I'm doubtful it'll happen in my lifetime. And then there's the issue that software is full of bugs and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Software is written by humans, just like cars are driven by humans.




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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: freeradical
Date: October 18, 2017 02:34PM
You can get some pretty astounding accuracy with GPS, down to the centimeter level in fact, but that requires a super high end GPS unit like a Trimble, and subscription to a data service so you can post process your data. This isn't going to happen anytime with a car. The reason is that such a service would have unacceptable time lags due to radio propagation times.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: October 18, 2017 03:51PM
Quote
freeradical
You can get some pretty astounding accuracy with GPS, down to the centimeter level in fact, but that requires a super high end GPS unit like a Trimble, and subscription to a data service so you can post process your data. This isn't going to happen anytime with a car. The reason is that such a service would have unacceptable time lags due to radio propagation times.

Only if you're in a place that GPS frequencies will reach. Heaving tree coverage or steep valleys cause issues.




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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: GGD
Date: October 18, 2017 07:25PM
Quote
numbered
Quote
sekker
...I do not think a self-driving car is going to need to be all that good compared to many carbon-based drivers around these parts...

Many people are missing this key insight. You do not have to run faster than the bear. Just faster than the carbon-based guy.

For various reasons, I made several very long road trips around the West in the last six months. The crazy is out there in carbon based forms. (eg., lady deciding she took the wrong freeway exit, stopped, then backed up the ramp back onto the freeway...) I saw enough crazy every hour that I considered becoming a Rocky Mountain hermit somewhere. The fetal position was calling.

Never mind the fact that the carbon forms are distracted by their toys.

The one thing that could have slowed self-driving was regulation. But the regulators are running toward driverless because of sekker's point and because they are afraid to be left behind.

btw, the podcars have disappeared in Mountain View. Waymo is now running Pacificas. And Waymo looks ready to launch a commercial service in Phoenix. Over at ars, Tim Lee notes some interesting issues Waymo is addressing...

The human driving behavior that you describe is the obstacle that I see to the transition to self driving. The self driving cars should be able to predict what another self driving car might do, and they might even communicate their intentions and routes to eachother, but it's those unpredictable human drivers that are going to make the initial transition so challenging.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: mikebw
Date: October 19, 2017 10:40AM
I imagine unplanned road work or other obstacles could use a standard system of cones or barriers to communicate to the cars that an alternate route is needed... And for the self driving cars, if that's not enough, maybe electronic signals telling the car what the detour is.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: October 19, 2017 11:01AM
Another reason I don't think self driving will work well anytime soon: parallel parking. Of all the cars that can currently do this, I have seen none that can park in the average parallel spot around here.

Quote
mikebw
I imagine unplanned road work or other obstacles could use a standard system of cones or barriers to communicate to the cars that an alternate route is needed... And for the self driving cars, if that's not enough, maybe electronic signals telling the car what the detour is.

That requires someone getting there with cones first. At least a half dozen times a year I drive somewhere that the road has changed and there's no markings indicating as such.




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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: Lux Interior
Date: October 19, 2017 01:17PM
Quote
M A V I C
Another reason I don't think self driving will work well anytime soon: parallel parking.

I thought that part of the appeal of SD cars was not needing to park. You get out and the car goes off and disappears.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: GGD
Date: October 19, 2017 05:08PM
Quote
Lux Interior
Quote
M A V I C
Another reason I don't think self driving will work well anytime soon: parallel parking.

I thought that part of the appeal of SD cars was not needing to park. You get out and the car goes off and disappears.

I don't view self driving cars equating to taxi service, I think people will own them just like the do now, and use them as they use cars now. I keep stuff in my car, and make multiple stops when running errands and shopping with stuff I buy or need to drop off in my car.
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Re: About those self driving cars
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: October 19, 2017 05:23PM
Quote
Lux Interior
Quote
M A V I C
Another reason I don't think self driving will work well anytime soon: parallel parking.

I thought that part of the appeal of SD cars was not needing to park. You get out and the car goes off and disappears.

So what happens:
- With my kids car seats. Do have to take them out and install them each time?
- Pairing my phone and audio. Do I have to reconnect each time?
- My roof rack. Remove and install each time?
- Snow tires. Dismount theirs and put mine on?
- Tools & supplies. Do people just carry a bag around with them so they have these things? I just keep them in the car.

There's countless other times I can imagine where I'm not going to want a self driving car to go away and come back later.




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