They contest it is better in some ways, and I think they may well be right. Humans lack the ability to concentrate for any real length of time, and repetitive tasks ease us into mindlessness. Computers can hold speed and distance with far more accuracy than a human, never gets bored or angry or drunk and can recognise patterns. The patterns are actually there in the highway code.
My one question is this - Would the passengers be liable for any accidents? Would Google be liable? It seems like a mess. I have a good driving record and enjoy pretty cheap insurance rates ($26/month from Insurance Panda.. woohoo!). I also enjoy taking my car out for a spin and enjoying the 'freedom' of being able to drive anywhere. Will the driverless car allow all this? If not, I'll have to pass.
IMO.. Until they can ensure that there are no humans taking control of the wheel, insurance will be needed... at least uninsured motorist. Who knows? Maybe insurance as we know it will go away, replaced by any number of models that would more accurately represent the new risk distribution.
@kuqiqogras, I do agree with you on your assessment of what computer vision can and what humans cannot.
I, too, was pretty amazed to find out what -- and how -- the Google Car's machine vision is seeing when driving surface roads, as the video clip shows.
As for the liability issue, it remains to see. We hear two sides of the argument. There are those who think the insurance rates would go down, if you drive a self-driving car, because it is fundamentally safter than human driving. Meanwhile, there are many who are worried about liability issues.
Hence, one of the analysts' suggestion here: Perhpas, there is a need for recognizing a driver of a self-driving cara, by issuing a separate driver's license.
@Junko: the business / utility models for self-driving vehicles have a lot to be discussed with the proposed solution. This has to happen on many cityhall-type discussions in places where the deployment is proposed.
I suspect Google may launch this as a service between different locations it has in the Silicon Valley for the employees to move about. Citywide deployment would be next.
Level-4 type deployment may finally 'level' the field with many bad drivers around!
Should we expect a taxi / shuttle drivers's strike well before 2025?
In other words, the car doesn't depend on so-called data in the cloud to drive.
I know the proponents prefer to pretend that this is true, because it makes their job appear to be more self-contained, but it's not so. The car needed to know enough about the topology, streets, railroad crossings, stop signs, etc., to be able to navigate to the destination the user wants. Plus, the car needs GPS.
It's indeed impressive how good the on-board sensors have become, but just as your own eyes and ears are NOT sufficient to drive safely, especially in congested areas or where you might have blind corners and the like, the same applies to any high tech on-board sensors.
The one reaction I had, watching the video, was boy, would I HATE to get stuck behind a driver like that! The perfect formula for road rage. Of course, baby steps and all of that.
I agree that the car does drive conservatively, and from what I saw people nonetheless gave it a lot of leeway. This is probably because they were gawking at it, but at some point people will get over the novelty and treat it like just another thing in their way. I suspect that the car will be much more accomodating of bad behavior than most drivers, which will encourage even more of that behavior. Potentially the sensors could be used to identify and report on that to the authorities, until then I can imagine cab drivers if no one else hassling them mercilessly.
I think the clip shows something quite impressive that builds hope for autonomous vehicles in the not too distant future. However, I think it is important to keep in mind that this clip is made by Googles marketing department and not an independent evaluation. The question is how many scary things this car does in a day of driving that Google is not showing.
Good point about credibility...I would love to see an independent assesstment...also, waiting for 5G to come in 2020??? Onehas to admire a compnay willing to invest in technology that will be deployed in 5+ years out! Rare...Kris
Having made the mistake of driving in New York City in Easter pedestrian traffic, I'm compelled to ask how does a Google car deal with a continuous flow of jaywalking pedestrians across a street despite a traffic light favoring the car? Human drivers typically advance slowly (and silently because of the no horn rule) signaling their intention to pass through the crowd of pedestrians until they have the light in their favor. This process is one that seems to demand an understanding of human nature and psychology while also being diligent in ensuring that nobody gets hurt or scared. Sometimes it even hinges on looking each other in the eye (the hand gestures and shouting that sometimes accompany this negotiation are probably not reasonably emulated by an autonomous vehicle). If the autonomous vehicle cannot address this scenario, it may block traffic for hours until the pedestrians have dissipated.
@DrQuine, this is such an astute observation. How a Google Car perceives and understands other drivers' behaviors (or pedestrians' behaviros) and psychology is something that hasn't been discussed and yet it is critical -- not just for the road safety but as you pointed out for the efficiency of traffic.