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Old 11-15-2015, 01:18 PM   #121
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I watched my parents grow old, as I suspect many on here have. I remember my father got worse and died of medical complications before he killed himself on the road. I remember my brother and I deciding to disconnect the battery in my mothers car to prevent her from driving. Long story, but she got lost driving to church.

Much has been written about the elderly and the concern of giving up their independence and to the extent their car represents that. Being able to shop, go out to eat, or to the doctors without assistance is of major concern to seniors that don't want to impose on friends and neighbors. As the baby boomer generation reaches the point that their kids are wanting to take their keys away, I see the self driving auto as one of the solutions.
Maybe in a generation the old joke
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Outside of testing and in the real world, how alert will people really be when the car is driving itself?? Too many of them aren't alert now, so I assume it will only get worse.

Sooner or later a person who hasn't "driven" a vehicle in months/years will suddenly be forced to take control in a possible emergency situation. How well will that turn out when their skills have diminished from lack of use?
I suspect turning over control to people will be like being alerted that a construction area or traffic accident is ahead. I doubt it's going to be a situation where the robot suddenly thrusts the wheel into a sleeping passengers hands and says "you drive!" That sounds like a roadrunner cartoon. If nothing else the car could pull over and transfer control.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:35 PM   #122
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Sooner or later a person who hasn't "driven" a vehicle in months/years will suddenly be forced to take control in a possible emergency situation. How well will that turn out when their skills have diminished from lack of use?
This is an issue that corporate aviation and airlines are becoming aware of in aviation. Modern jets are so automated that the pilot becomes a monitor of systems and spends little time with their hands on the controls. It is leading some accident investigators to believe that there is such a thing as making the airplane too easy to fly, so that when things go wrong the pilot's skills are not up to the task.

Still, given the demonstrated lack of ability of the typical driver if I had to bet my life on a human driver or a computer I'd pick the computer.
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Old 11-15-2015, 08:54 PM   #123
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And, despite the present fears of mass transit planners (who loathe the idea of self driving cars as extending the reign of the "wasteful" automobile over their preferred option of trains), driverless cars might be the critical link in improving the practicality/public acceptance of mass transit by eliminating the "last mile" problem. Often getting from home to the train station and from the train station to the final destination doubles the cost and hassles of the trip. With a swarm of these cars to handle that, the train/subway becomes a more attractive option in some cases. And, as a bonus, a car that is constantly in use doesn't require a parking space.
+1.
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Old 11-15-2015, 09:43 PM   #124
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I look forward to living in a place without a garage, driveway, or parking space -- just a nice yard. And to richer downtowns that are able to reclaim back part of the up to 1/3 of all real estate space given over to parking. Finally, here is hoping that noise pollution will be attenuated. When I lived in a major downtown, the biggest quality of life issue when I was out walking was the noise from vehicles -- they dominate the sounds of downtown. But with a typical vehicle going from 4% utilization with private ownership to 40%+ utilization if self-driven, it will make sense to have quieter (e.g., perhaps electric) vehicles. Also, it will lead to faster turnover to new technology as highly utilized vehicles will need faster replacement.
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Old 11-16-2015, 10:28 AM   #125
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A couple of the 2016 Hondas (I'm sure this is not specific to Honda but these are the cars we are looking at) have selfbraking/speed reduction when you get too close to a car (or a deer, too) ahead of you, cruise control that maintains the interval ahead of you, and selfsteering that keeps your car within marked lanes. They probably already could deliver you to a destination using the builtin navi system, with just a few software updates.
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Old 11-16-2015, 10:55 AM   #126
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Driver assisting features are nice, and do enhance safety. But they are a far cry from a truly autonomous vehicle.

For example, Google's self-driving car can recognize a schoolbus with its stop sign extending. They are working on recognizing a flagman gesture at a construction site. This is just one of the many scenarios that a true self-driving car must be able to handle.
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Old 11-16-2015, 10:56 AM   #127
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Driver assisting features are nice, and do enhance safety. But they are a far cry from a truly autonomous vehicle.

For example, Google's self-driving car can recognize a schoolbus with its stop sign extending. They are working on recognizing a flagman gesture at a construction site. This is just one of the many scenarios that a true self-driving car must be able to handle.
Not to mention various gestures from other drivers...

Do self-driving cars have a "road rage" mode?
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:06 AM   #128
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I'm sure this is being looked at, but these cars will probably need to have some sort of human-assistance/takeover, just due to the need for "precision terminal guidance" at the destination. Pulling up to a specific loading bay/side of the building/store at a big mall, edging up to a keypad at a restricted entry gate, picking a drop-off point that is near "cover" when it is raining, etc is a lot more precise and a lot less amenable to pre-planning than "go to 123 Elm St".
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:07 AM   #129
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Not to mention various gestures from other drivers...

Do self-driving cars have a "road rage" mode?
Some hackers might be able to break into the software and program their cars to be more aggressive, knowing that other cars will be in self-preservation mode and yield to them.

No, that is not really needed. They can just keep driving their old cars and "own" the road.
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:08 AM   #130
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This is an issue that corporate aviation and airlines are becoming aware of in aviation. Modern jets are so automated that the pilot becomes a monitor of systems and spends little time with their hands on the controls. It is leading some accident investigators to believe that there is such a thing as making the airplane too easy to fly, so that when things go wrong the pilot's skills are not up to the task.

Still, given the demonstrated lack of ability of the typical driver if I had to bet my life on a human driver or a computer I'd pick the computer.

I think that the (IIRC) Korean plane that crashed in LA was due to the pilots not knowing what to do... they normally had the plane land itself...


But I could be remembering things wrong... I only saw the news a few times on this....
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:29 AM   #131
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I'm sure this is being looked at, but these cars will probably need to have some sort of human-assistance/takeover, just due to the need for "precision terminal guidance" at the destination. Pulling up to a specific loading bay/side of the building/store at a big mall, edging up to a keypad at a restricted entry gate, picking a drop-off point that is near "cover" when it is raining, etc is a lot more precise and a lot less amenable to pre-planning than "go to 123 Elm St".
Or how do you send your car to go pick up aunt Heather at the curbside of Terminal 4 at the airport? Before you can take away the steering wheel and other driver controls, you have to solve all these problems. It's a lot more than just keeping the car at a constant speed and separation from the car ahead, and inside the lane.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:23 PM   #132
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Driver assisting features are nice, and do enhance safety. But they are a far cry from a truly autonomous vehicle.

For example, Google's self-driving car can recognize a schoolbus with its stop sign extending. They are working on recognizing a flagman gesture at a construction site. This is just one of the many scenarios that a true self-driving car must be able to handle.
Just saying that the cars we can buy now already have cameras and sensors all over them--it is not much a leap to think that their software can easily be upgraded to turn the "assisting" features into self-driving features. The designers are looking way ahead in that the existing cameras would be able to recognize the school bus too.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:31 PM   #133
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A couple of the 2016 Hondas (I'm sure this is not specific to Honda but these are the cars we are looking at) have selfbraking/speed reduction when you get too close to a car (or a deer, too) ahead of you
I'm curious as to how well things like this actually work. Detecting a car in front of you in time to apply braking shouldn't be too hard. But I saw a woman hit a deer a few weeks ago. The deer approached me from the right, but I saw it in plenty of time to slow down. It then crossed 3 lanes of traffic, a median strip, and another lane of traffic before getting demolished by a woman in the center lane on the other side. The deer was moving at panic speed, and came in from about a 75 degree (9:30) angle to the driver, who was doing around 55 or so. Would the assist software be able to detect this in time to slow the driver down without causing her to get rear-ended in the process? Or is that in the next service pack?
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:00 PM   #134
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Would the assist software be able to detect this in time to slow the driver down without causing her to get rear-ended in the process? Or is that in the next service pack?
I'd bet that in unexpected freak occurences the software would react better than an average human. If not today, then pretty soon.

And much faster. Also, pre-emptive activation of safety features become an option. If you know you'll rear-end before actual impact a new type of airbag / foam can be implemented.

Picking up aunt Heather at the curbside of Terminal 4 at the airport? Go to airport terminal 4. Have Aunt Heather turn on her locator app on her cellphone. Car stops at nearest parking spot. No need even to know which terminal upfront.

Last millimeter precision parking in cargo docking? Use guidance markers.

Long way to go, but I'm optimistic
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:24 PM   #135
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I'm curious as to how well things like this actually work. Detecting a car in front of you in time to apply braking shouldn't be too hard. But I saw a woman hit a deer a few weeks ago.
And, can it tell a deer from a kid? I will swerve into a car, or schoolbus, in the lane beside me to miss a kid who steps off a curb in front of me. The deer wouldn't be so lucky. I don't think these cars will be able to make those kinds of distinctions/choices for a while.
That doesn't mean that these autonomous cars might not be safer overall than one with a human driver. But even one or two freak/very unusual circumstances that cause a death and which a regular human driver would have avoided will grab a lot of public attention and slow down adoption (possibly increasing death rates overall--but that won't be as apparent as the splashy cases).

These autonomous cars will eventually cooperate and share information. They could "nestle" together in a "virtual train" a few feet apart on the interstate--when the lead car sees a problem, they all brake smoothly together. This would permit traffic densities a lot higher than can safely be done with human drivers. Additional autonomous cars can "break in" smoothly, and join the end. Human-driven cars will be seen as unpredictable, uncooperative sources of trouble. Eventually, "Autonomous Vehice Only" lanes will pop up, and people will want to be in them and going 70MPH while all the other lanes are stop-and-go.

Or, maybe not . . .
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:29 PM   #136
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But I saw a woman hit a deer a few weeks ago. The deer approached me from the right, but I saw it in plenty of time to slow down. It then crossed 3 lanes of traffic, a median strip, and another lane of traffic before getting demolished by a woman in the center lane on the other side. The deer was moving at panic speed, and came in from about a 75 degree (9:30) angle to the driver, who was doing around 55 or so. Would the assist software be able to detect this in time to slow the driver down without causing her to get rear-ended in the process? Or is that in the next service pack?
This would require the special self-driving pickup, with auto-repairing windshield and deer-dressing extended cab package...
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Old 11-16-2015, 09:11 PM   #137
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You guys are behind the times. One of my friends was born in India, lived 45 years in Canada (under-employed for the first 25-30) and at retirement decided he couldn't afford to live in Canada. He went back to India.

I went for a visit. My friend had a car. He wouldn't drive it there (nor would I). He said "NP, I just make a phone call and a driver comes over. I give him about $2 and he drives me around all afternoon".

He also says "I'm on a retirement visa, I can afford help like this and I'm expected to use it."

Will NA get on the band wagon?

Just kidding about NA, but I wouldn't drive in India. I wouldn't drive in NA (except for pleasure) if I could get someone else to do it for that price.
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:30 PM   #138
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Just saying that the cars we can buy now already have cameras and sensors all over them--it is not much a leap to think that their software can easily be upgraded to turn the "assisting" features into self-driving features. The designers are looking way ahead in that the existing cameras would be able to recognize the school bus too.
Do these cars have the spinning LIDAR mounted on the roof like the Google experimental car? This LIDAR is a crucial sensor to let the car map out its surrounding. It still has to be augmented by sonar employed as proximity sensors, and camera vision to read traffic lights, street signs, recognize the stopped school bus etc...

The ugly spinning LIDAR is missing on all other makers. I think Google is ahead of everybody else in this area, even if it is still not ready for commercialization. If other makers know how to do without the LIDAR, they must be smarter than Google, and I very much doubt that it is the case.

An autonomous car also needs a lot of CPU power. If it is not built-in, a retrofit may be expensive.

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I'd bet that in unexpected freak occurences the software would react better than an average human. If not today, then pretty soon.

And much faster. Also, pre-emptive activation of safety features become an option. If you know you'll rear-end before actual impact a new type of airbag / foam can be implemented.

Picking up aunt Heather at the curbside of Terminal 4 at the airport? Go to airport terminal 4. Have Aunt Heather turn on her locator app on her cellphone. Car stops at nearest parking spot. No need even to know which terminal upfront.

Last millimeter precision parking in cargo docking? Use guidance markers.

Long way to go, but I'm optimistic
Computers will react faster than people in cases one needs to slam the brakes, no doubt. But for situational awareness and reacting to unusual scenarios, no.

Why do you think Google limits its test car speed to 25mph? And differentiating different obstacles? What sensors can tell them that the "thinggy" in the middle of the road is a cardboard or a rock? A human mind can infer that the "thinggy" blown off the truck in front is lightweight, and if it looks square and tan it is a box and can be run over instead of slamming the brake. How does a computer make that reasoning?

Eventually, technology may overcome these issues. But I do not believe their hype that they will be ready in a few years.
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Old 11-17-2015, 12:08 AM   #139
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I think it was 60 minutes that showed a self driving car from.... hmmm Mercedes?....


There was not spinning top on top of the car.... it drove pretty well.... there was one time it beeped at the driver asking for help, but it was already past the problem before he could do anything....


I think that the self driving car can do 95% or more of the driving... the last 5% can be done by humans... as an example, picking up the Aunt at terminal 4... heck, you can be watching TV etc. in the car and when you get there you park and go looking for Auntie....


I do remember one guy saying on some video (and this is not exact)... that an advantage is that you can get out of the car where you need to be and the car can go find a parking space... or even drive around for awhile until you need it again....
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Old 11-17-2015, 12:22 AM   #140
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I think it was 60 minutes that showed a self driving car from.... hmmm Mercedes?....

There was not spinning top on top of the car.... it drove pretty well.... there was one time it beeped at the driver asking for help, but it was already past the problem before he could do anything....
If Mercedes can do an autonomous car without the spinning LIDAR, and I mean a true autonomous car that can navigate busy city streets and not one that just stays on a highway lane, then they know something Google doesn't. I will be watching to learn more about them on the Web.

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I think that the self driving car can do 95% or more of the driving... the last 5% can be done by humans...
I do not disagree!

The problem is that the 5% where the computer needs help becomes really problematic, to put it mildly, if there is no steering wheel or any other human manual controls.
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