@Betajet a very good scenario to justify autonomous cars having the road to themselves, without human drivers. And a very good illustration of my long-held view that our technological advancement has far outstripped our social advancement!
I wonder what happens if you tailgate a selfie-car in a human-driven car? Defensive driving classes tell you to handle tailgaters by slowing down so that (1) you have more stopping distance ahead of you so you can slow down more safely, and (2) to encourage the tailgater to pass you, so it makes sense for the selfie-car to be programmed accordingly. But what happens if the tail-gater has anger-management issues or is DUI and decides run you and your selfie-car off the road or start shooting? (I'm writing from the USA, where driving practices vary from sensible to Wild West.) I guess the advantage of riding your selfie-car is that if you're asleep or engrossed in Candy Crush you won't know what hit you.
@Frank, Bert...all good points, but I tend to agree with Bert that autonomous vehicles will be a lot easier to implement and safer if you remove human drivers from the road. Possibly a mixed-mode vehicle that uses autonomous mode on freeways to get people the big distances fast and safely (and no human drivers permitted) and then restores control to the human driver on local roads. And Frank, your idea about car-sharing - how often has this been done successfully? It needs a mix of carrot (faster lanes for cars with 3 or more passengers, and a good system for matching up passengers with the same origin and destination, and financial incentives) and stick (higher taxes and tolls for single driver cars). No-one yet seems to have got all the ingredients right.....
I actually agree with you almost 100%, Bert. I just don't see self-driving cars being ready to use anytime within the next 5 years, and when they are I think they will have to have dedicated roads, because by themselves they will be safe enough, but add in the said haphazard human behaviour and no software will be able to anticipate everything that might happen. There are certainly interesting times ahead.
"Accidents are usually caused by a driver failing to anticipate something on the road. Theoretically a software-hardware combination should be able to read the road and anticipate just about anything."
"But if Toyota cannot even get a fly-by-wire accellerator right, I'll trust human drivers rather than software any time."
Human designers, however, were capable of finding the flaw, and the fix seems really straightforward. Design flaws can be fixed. Haphazard human behavior, on the other hand, will always be with us. That's the difference.
"Assumptions like the car will be surrounded by other self-driven cars or on a road with linked sensors is ludicrous - only realistic in airport trains."
What is truly ludicrous is to think that true autonomous vehicles, driving in true autonomous mode, would ever be able to drive along with those erratic human-driven cars. Think about it. The vast majority of what is unpredictable when driving a car is the numbskull driving next to you. Set aside stretches of road that are only open to autonous vehicles, e.g. such as the HOV lanes sometimes segregated from the normal lanes, and you can take that unpredictable human element out of the equation.
That's all it takes.
If those "twisty mountain roads" you mention are also properly provided with the needed autonomous vehicle infrastructure, I have no doubt that autonomous vehicles would be safer on those roads too, than cars driven by humans.
If human drivers remain in the mix, I'm afraid the best you can do with any hope of some level of safety is to assist the human driver. Someone alert will have to be behind the wheel at all times. Not my definition of autonomous.
Accidents are usually caused by a driver failing to anticipate something on the road. Theoretically a software-hardware combination should be able to read the road and anticipate just about anything. But if Toyota cannot even get a fly-by-wire accellerator right, I'll trust human drivers rather than software any time.
"When I stop hearing about collisions on each morning's traffic report, I'll agree with you. When I see an "out of business" sign at Cook's Collision, I'll agree with you. When my car insurance premiums become pocket change, I'll agree with you."
I guess you're saying, even though just about anyone can drive, they do a poor job of it.
I can agree with that. I've no doubt computers could do a better job.
Bert said: Honestly, guys, you'd think driving a car was the most difficult task the human race has ever had to master. Yet, just about anyone can do it.
When I stop hearing about collisions on each morning's traffic report, I'll agree with you. When I see an "out of business" sign at Cook's Collision, I'll agree with you. When my car insurance premiums become pocket change, I'll agree with you.
As Samuel Johnson said about a different topic: "[It] is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Frank Tu wrote: I seem to remember the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in about 1980 had little trolley cars on rails that shuttled people from terminal to terminal. They were jerky (hadn't worked out the smooth ramp up and down of the motors yet) but they dutifully did their job without apparent human intervention.
I remember those. They actually worked quite well. I had an hour or so to burn between flights so I rode around for a while to add another rail experience to my collection.
One thing I noticed is that the doors closed automatically like an elevator without caring if there were people waiting to get on. There was a "door open" button, but it was really hard to find so nobody could press it in time. I thought at the time that the DFW shuttle was basically a horizontal elevator, and it would actually improve things to have an elevator-like control panel at each door so that riders would have a familiar user interface. Then they would be able to find the "door open" button, and the shuttle wouldn't have to stop if there was nobody to pick up or drop off.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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