Driverless Cars - the future?

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starrymarkb

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With Google getting a licence to further test their automatic bi-mode Prius could driverless cars catch on?

BBC News said:
Google gets Nevada driving licence for self-drive car

Driverless cars will soon be a reality on the roads of Nevada after the state approved America's first self-driven vehicle licence.

The first to hit the highway will be a Toyota Prius modified by search firm Google, which is leading the way in driverless car technology.

Its first drive included a spin down Las Vegas's famous strip.

Other car companies are also seeking self-driven car licences in Nevada.

Accident
The car uses video cameras mounted on the roof, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see" other traffic.

Engineers at Google have previously tested the car on the streets of California, including crossing San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge.

For those tests, the car remained manned at all times by a trained driver ready to take control if the software failed.

According to software engineer Sebastian Thrun, the car has covered 140,000 miles with no accidents, other than a bump at traffic lights from a car behind.

Human error
Bruce Breslow, director of Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles, says he believes driverless vehicles are the "cars of the future".

Nevada changed its laws to allow self-driven cars in March. The long-term plan is to license members of the public to drive such cars.

Google's car has been issued with a red licence plate to make it recognisable. The plate features an infinity sign next to the number 001.

Other states, including California, are planning similar changes.

"The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error," said California state Senator Alex Padilla, when he introduced the legislation.

"Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analysing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely."
 
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Zoe

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Driverless cars are inevitable regardless of if people like them or not as once the technology is proven the car manufacturers could stop building manually driven cars. The cost of insurance for a manually driven car would also likely go through the roof once driverless cars are available so most people would not be able to afford it. One concern though is that once they are introduced no-one will want to use public transport.
 
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Zoe

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How boring, I enjoy driving so I don't fancy a driverless car. Can't see them happening in my lifetime though.
Driving a car on public roads is something that is allowed at this time but is not a guaranteed right. Once driverless cars are available there will be no reason for it. If it's driving you like then I'm sure there will still be race tracks where people can go to manually drive cars. Driverless cars may also be introduced much sooner than people think. The technology could be proven within ten years although political issues could delay their introduction.
 
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Ivo

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One concern though is that once they are introduced no-one will want to use public transport.
People might not want to but many will still have to from a financial perspective. What would happen then - self-driven buses? I hope not! Also, what of young people? Will driving Laws be revised to incorporate these vehicles? Will a person have to be of a minimum age to travel in such a vehicle alone?

If it's driving you like then I'm sure there will still be race tracks where people can go to manually drive cars.
I'm sure a certain Mr Ecclestone (or more likely his successors) would make sure this is still the case <D
 

starrymarkb

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Given that most people buy vehicles second hand, it would take a while for new driverless models to filter down the food chain.
 

Zoe

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Given that most people buy vehicles second hand, it would take a while for new driverless models to filter down the food chain.
This assumes people will actually own the vehicles. It would be a much more efficient use of resources to have a network of driverless cars that would be called on demand rather than having cars sitting around most of the time not in use. Even if there is no legislation to restrict the use of manually driven cars, with the cost of insurance likely to go through the roof for manually driven cars once driverless cars are available many people wouldn't be able to afford to use any cars they already owned and driverless cars would take over.
 
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Ivo

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Would you like to see a driverless F1 car?
Wouldn't that take away some of the action? I certainly wouldn't expect a repeat of Canada last year, that's for certain...
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This assumes people will actually own the vehicles. It would be a much more effecient use of resources to have a network of driverless cars that would be called on demand rather than having cars sitting around most of the time not in use.
Enterprise would be smiling with glee and rubbing their hands together seeing this <D
 

jon0844

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This assumes people will actually own the vehicles. It would be a much more efficient use of resources to have a network of driverless cars that would be called on demand rather than having cars sitting around most of the time not in use. Even if there is no legiWith the cost of insurance likely to go through the roof for manually driven cars once driverless cars are available many people wouldn't be able to afford to use any cars they already owned and driverless cars would take over.
I know you keep saying this, but the Google car still requires a driver to step in and avoid an accident, and only Nevada has approved their use - and have admitted they're taking a bit of a risk, or perhaps more appropriately, gamble.

I can't see how the cars will work in a busy city centre, with pedestrians, cyclists and roundabouts to negotiate. Again, a driver will probably have to step in and take manual control. Google hasn't said how many times the driver has had to step in to avoid an accident, so the 'no accident' claim might be technically correct, but it's a bit misleading. I'd be amazed if there was never a time the driver had to step in, especially early on during testing. If they claimed this to be true, I'd - frankly - not believe them.

So, while we may get driver assisted cars in the future (and who would expect us not to, given we have cars that can park themselves and loads of other driver aids) I really do think it's time to give up on the driveless cars that will move around and turn up on demand, as well as the many flaws that have been pointed out time and time again (like where they go when not in use, the fuel wasted to have them going backwards and forwards, what happens when they're vandalised, someone throws up in one etc etc).

I will agree that most accidents are going to be down to human error. Given vehicles are driven by humans, that's bound to be the main cause most of the time (exceptions being if the road collapsed, a plane fell on you etc)
 

Ivo

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We could always create special routes for these things to operateon , and they just turn up at regular intervals and you just hop on as you wish...

...oh wait. That's called a Misguided Busway <(
 

starrymarkb

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We could always create special routes for these things to operateon , and they just turn up at regular intervals and you just hop on as you wish...

...oh wait. That's called a Misguided Busway <(
Or an ULTRA
[youtube]F5Knmgr2Ge8[/youtube]

Not sure it's worth the dedicated infrastructure needed for a nationwide roll out
 

jon0844

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How is the Heathrow system doing? It was opened massively late, and I'd love to know if they've been running well since their launch.

I can see something like this rolling out elsewhere, in a nicely controlled environment, but think we're some way off having vehicles that are let out into the wild.
 

90019

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Even if there is no legislation to restrict the use of manually driven cars, with the cost of insurance likely to go through the roof for manually driven cars once driverless cars are available many people wouldn't be able to afford to use any cars they already owned and driverless cars would take over.
Or, as is more likely to be the case, people will continue to drive their cars, but just not bother to pay for insurance, if it's so expensive.
 

LE Greys

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Or, as is more likely to be the case, people will continue to drive their cars, but just not bother to pay for insurance, if it's so expensive.
Or in my case, walk, unless someone puts a gun to my head. I'm terrified enough on the DLR, and that doesn't even have to make decisions.
 

GB

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I really can't see driverless cars becoming mainstream for years yet. I certainly don't think they will over take conventional vehicles as the sole means of personal transport...at least in my life time.

Edit: Oh, and surely that's not a serious suggestion to automate motor racing??
 

jon0844

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Can't see a driverless Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini etc.
Of course not. Why would anyone buy one and then be driven around in it by a computer? Or would the computer buy one? It's feeling old, the fan is starting to slow down.. the graphics co-processor can't quite keep up with the newer and faster models, so to boost its ego it decides to get a new Porsche chassis? :)

With driverless cars needing to be able to communicate with each other and driving to be a lot more ordered, every car would end up needing to be a similar spec.

And how are these driverless cars going to be refuelled? Will they need manual assistance for this? I'd like to say that they'll drive over a pad and charge wirelessly, but that would be incredibly slow. And how many charging locations could you build, for when you send hundreds of vehicles out to pick up people outside Wembley Stadium or the O2.

Oh, and how do these driverless cars let people know that the car is for them if there's more than one? Will they have a bus-like display on the front? What if the wrong person gets in?

I am not even sure Google has said anything about its technology creating a world of computer controlled cars driving around looking for custom (either flagged down on the street, or ordered via a smartphone app). These are cars you'd buy yourself, and have to charge/fuel, service (good luck with the service bill when the sensors or CPU fails!) and insure - not Total Recall style Johnny Cabs.

For the most part, you'd drive yourself but there would be enough tech to allow them to drive without input in certain scenarios (e.g. motorway driving) - and even then, how does the clever computer controlled car deal with a situation where it has judged a save overtake on a motorway, but now suddenly some idiot behind has chosen to do a overtake at the same time. How does the car react? Continue, risking being clipped on the back and spun out of control? Brake hard, causing the car to be rear ended? Accelerate hard (and risk breaking the speed limit which it has to adhere to)?

I'd say that the only way to have driverless cars working with NO driver input is to ban ALL manually driven cars at once and then only allow these vehicles on. Again, good luck convincing people to stop driving (when a lot of people really enjoy driving).
 

Zoe

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jon0844

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Wow, now I think I realise what you're basing all your predictions on!

Nice empty roads in the future though. Guess a lot of the population has died perhaps, or can't get out of the city?

Funny thing is that the dad talks about driving manually as if it was centuries ago. He'd have surely enjoyed driving, despite things like traffic, no?

Didn't VW make nice cars for him 20 years ago?
 

WestCoast

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I don't find the reality of a driverless car that hard to imagine on non-urban roads (built up areas is another matter entirely!) and I could quite easily see mass scale commercial production in 30 or so years time. However, if they do prove to be successful, I reckon that complete widespread adoption could be anything up to 50 years in the future.

My main concern would be about the loss of manual motoring and awareness skills among drivers operators. All modern passenger airliners are quite capable of flying themselves on autopilot and detecting problems, during most phases of flight. While this has brought about immense benefits in reducing human misjudgments and mistakes, systems can and will fail no matter how sophisticated they are. Several accidents and incidents have been officially attributed to or partially attributed to pilots relying too much on the automation and not using manual skills to detect and correct issues swiftly enough.

This has led to scrutiny from regulatory bodies and subsequent enhancement of manual skills training. Too much motoring automation could easily cause similar issues. Unless you're going to have dedicated segregated infrastructure and remote observation like the DLR (and similar) or PRT systems, it's questionable how far motor automation can go before drivers simply become passive occupants and cannot manually take control to urgently avoid crashing.

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I doubt many people will be driving in the future even if there are no driverless cars as it will simply be too expensive for most people.
...and that's the more pressing matter for car manufacturers and other road transport stakeholders at the moment. The matter of fuel sustainability is, I feel, going to the urgent focus of the industry in the coming years, rather than full automation.
 
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jon0844

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I didn't get the ideas from the video but the fact that Volkswagen see it as a possibility would suggest that it's not impossible.
All companies come up with concepts, but do you really think people will be surprised about how people used to use 'petrol' in just 20 years (this video having been published in 2008)?

Try 50-100 years perhaps.

I am not saying we can't have cars that can drive themselves, but there are so many other issues that we just can't have them until ALL cars are fitted with the right equipment. You can't have a driverless car next to a boy racer in a Saxo, or a 85 year old with poor eyesight that cuts in front of your Google car that is doing 100mph (presumably with the extra supposed safety, cars will be able to go faster?).

Google hasn't solved the other problems yet, but the admission that most accidents are down to human error just proves the argument. We need to stop everyone being able to drive first, and I really do wish any Government planning to do that all the luck in the world for their remaining 24 hours in power.

Rising fuel costs won't stop everyone driving because we're already moving towards hybrid/electric cars that are quicker to charge and have longer ranges. So, yes, we'll use less petrol and diesel, while the stupidly rich may still opt to keep their gas guzzlers for fun or status. It will be a long, long time before we actually run out of petrol or diesel.

(And of course, these new vehicles that drive themselves will need some form of fuel anyway)
 

Greenback

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This assumes people will actually own the vehicles. It would be a much more efficient use of resources to have a network of driverless cars that would be called on demand rather than having cars sitting around most of the time not in use. Even if there is no legislation to restrict the use of manually driven cars, with the cost of insurance likely to go through the roof for manually driven cars once driverless cars are available many people wouldn't be able to afford to use any cars they already owned and driverless cars would take over.
I know you keep saying this, but the Google car still requires a driver to step in and avoid an accident, and only Nevada has approved their use - and have admitted they're taking a bit of a risk, or perhaps more appropriately, gamble.

I can't see how the cars will work in a busy city centre, with pedestrians, cyclists and roundabouts to negotiate. Again, a driver will probably have to step in and take manual control. Google hasn't said how many times the driver has had to step in to avoid an accident, so the 'no accident' claim might be technically correct, but it's a bit misleading. I'd be amazed if there was never a time the driver had to step in, especially early on during testing. If they claimed this to be true, I'd - frankly - not believe them.

So, while we may get driver assisted cars in the future (and who would expect us not to, given we have cars that can park themselves and loads of other driver aids) I really do think it's time to give up on the driveless cars that will move around and turn up on demand, as well as the many flaws that have been pointed out time and time again (like where they go when not in use, the fuel wasted to have them going backwards and forwards, what happens when they're vandalised, someone throws up in one etc etc).

I will agree that most accidents are going to be down to human error. Given vehicles are driven by humans, that's bound to be the main cause most of the time (exceptions being if the road collapsed, a plane fell on you etc)
Well said jonmorris0844. It is a huge leap forward to driverless cars taking over completely, and even then the idea that they will turn up on demand from some sort of central pool has previously been very effectively scrutinised and found to be flawed on previous occasions.

That being said, I do have more empathy with Zoe's views on the decline of car travel.

I really can't see driverless cars becoming mainstream for years yet. I certainly don't think they will over take conventional vehicles as the sole means of personal transport...at least in my life time.
I agree completely. There are lot of questions that need to be answered, and issues that need to be addressed before this experiment becomes anything more than a bit of a gimmick.
 

Zoe

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Rising fuel costs won't stop everyone driving because we're already moving towards hybrid/electric cars that are quicker to charge and have longer ranges. So, yes, we'll use less petrol and diesel, while the stupidly rich may still opt to keep their gas guzzlers for fun or status. It will be a long, long time before we actually run out of petrol or diesel.
The uptake of electric cars though has been relatively slow and the technology needed for electric cars to fully take over may not be available before the cost of driving becomes too expensive for most people. If electric cars were to fully take over then demand for electricity is going to significantly increase and I'm not sure the infrastructure will be able to cope with this. It's also not just the cost of fuel but as cars become more technologically advanced, the cost of maintenance will rise. Insurance is also getting quite expensive now, 10 or 15 years ago quite a few students had cars and used to drive to and from university in them whereas now although some do still have cars, many simply can't afford to run a car and use public transport instead, the availability of rock bottom advance fares will also have helped quite a bit with this modal shift.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
the idea that they will turn up on demand from some sort of central pool has previously been very effectively scrutinised and found to be flawed on previous occasions.
It may sound strange now but 25 years ago many people hadn't even heard of the internet but now they can't live without it. Calling a car on demand is a much more efficient use of resources.
 
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ainsworth74

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It may sound strange now but 25 years ago many people hadn't even heard of the internet but now they can't live without it.
And if the internet had been limited to libraries and internet cafes it probably wouldn't have taken off anything like as much as did because it was made available in your own home 24/7 (and now anywhere there is a mobile signal). You don't have to order access to the internet and then wait 5/10/15/20+ minutes (you've never really been clear on what sort of response time this central car system will have) before you can actually use it.

I would suggest that your comparison is flawed.
 
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