self-driving car

You want a self-driving car do you? Think again

What does it mean when people talk about self-driving cars? We really ought to be talking about programmed cars.

And about who does the programming.

The ?self-driving? car doesn?t decide for itself how fast it goes or what route it takes ? at least, it won?t until it becomes an autonomous thinking machine, an artificial intelligence. We are not quite there yet.

So, in the meanwhile, who decides?

And it is a who ? a flesh-and-blood someone (or someones). Guess what? It?s not you. This whole ?self driving? car thing is about taking you out of the driver?s seat. And putting someone else in control of ?your? car.

That part stays the same. Nominal ownership. You will make the payments, pay the taxes and fees. You will still be responsible for all of that.

But who will control the car? And how will they control it?

The ?who? will be the same people who already control the roads: The people who are the government. Clovers. Authoritarian Control Freaks. The same people who make the laws about how fast you?re allowed to drive, when (and whether) you?re allowed to pass, make a right on red or a U turn . . . every last little thing.

They will control your ?self-driving? car.

And when they do, not only will you not be allowed to proceed at a speed faster than they decree ? or make a U turn or a right on red . . . or do anything they do not want you to do- it will be impossible to do so.

The car ? controlled by them ? will not do your bidding.

It will do theirs. Read more »

More than 10,000 miles and not a single ticket for Google’s Self Driving Cars

Google’s self driving cars are cool, apart from?the?Prius platform.

They are certainly much more appealing to me than any public transport system currently mooted, and would go a long towards ameliorating traffic issues.

It also seems to me that we would be better off investing several billion dollars in working Google to bring self-drive cars to a reality in NZ, rather than wasting the money on stupid 19th century technology that is confirmed to corridors and rails.

But are they safe?

Well it appears they are, logging more than 10,000 miles without a single infringement.

On a drive in a convoy of Google’s autonomous vehicles last week, a difficult driving situation arose.

As our platoon approached a major intersection, two Google cars ahead of us crept forward into the intersection, preparing to make left turns. The oncoming traffic took nearly the whole green light to clear, so the first car made the left as the green turned to yellow. The second, however, was caught in that tough spot where the car is in the intersection but the light is turning, and the driver can either try to back up out of the intersection or gun it and make the left, even though he or she or it knows the light is going to turn red before the maneuver is complete. The self-driving car gunned it, which was the correct decision, I think. But it was also the kind of decision that was on the borderline of legality.

It got me wondering: had these cars ever gotten a ticket driving around Mountain View, where they’ve logged 10,000 miles?

“We have not cited any Google self-driving cars,” Sergeant?Saul Jaeger, the press information officer at the Mountain View Police Department, told me.?They hadn’t pulled one over and let the vehicle go, either, to Jaeger’s knowledge.

I wondered if that was because of a pre-existing agreement between Google and the department, but Jaeger said, “There is no agreement in place between Google and the PD.”

Google confirmed that they none of their cars had ever been ticketed in Mountain View or elsewhere.

Read more »

This will kill the rail loop faster than anything else

Rail is old technology…despite Len Brown having virtual; orgasms over new trains, the simple fact is they still only travel on rails, in a corridor and don;t travel where you want to go when you want go.

Autonomous cars and technology is what is going to solve transport issues, if only the moron politicians would stop hankering after solution for public transport from the 19th century.

If the money Len Brown is planning on plowing into rails was instead put into enabling self drive cars for Auckland we would see amazing advances.

Nearly every automaker is working on some form of autonomous vehicle technology, but according to a new study, consumers are more interested in a self-driving car from Google than General Motors.

The study, conducted by U.S. audit and advisory firm KPMG, polled a diverse group of drivers from both coasts and in between, pulling samples from Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Iselin, New Jersey.

The focus groups were asked about their willingness to use an autonomous vehicle every day, and rank their trust in the company producing the car on a scale of one to 10. While high-end automakers like Mercedes-Benz received a median score of 7.75, tech companies like Google and Apple scored an eight, and mass-market brands (Chevrolet and Nissan) came in at five.

?We believe that self-driving cars will be profoundly disruptive to the traditional automotive ecosystem,? said Gary Silberg, KPMG auto expert and author of the report. The company?s polling bears that out, although KPMG is quick to add the caveat that while ?focus group discussions are valuable for the qualitative, directional insights they provide; they are not statistically valid.? ? Read more »

How roads beat rail over time

Any long term reader nows I detest rail,?especially?in Auckland. There isn’t a?metropolitan?rail service anywhere that makes money…they are all heavily subsidised. Cities like Auckland with negligible rail corridor, built on an isthmus and geographically spread are never going to solve transport problems with rail.

Of course you will get the train spotters who always claim that roads are subsidised too…if we could only divert all the money of roads to rail and then get buses to connect…missing the point that buses need roads that they just committed to not spending on.

Ultimately roads will surpass rail for?efficiency?but only once we remove the idiots behind the wheel.

[T[he more developed a country becomes, the more expensive and time-consuming any new rail line will be. And if you?re looking out say 20 years, there?s a pretty strong case to be made that the kind of efficiency that we can get today only on rail lines will in future be available on roads as well ? with significantly greater comfort and convenience for passengers.

Right now, technology is arguably making roads and cars more dangerous. Drivers are notoriously bad judges of their own driving ability, and they?re increasingly being distracted by devices ? not just text messages, any more, but fully-fledged emails, social-media alerts, and even videos. What?s more, when car manufacturers roll out things like stay-in-lane technology, that just makes drivers feel even safer, so they feel as though they have some kind of permission to spend even more time on their phones, and less time paying attention to the highway. The results can be disastrous.? Read more »

300,000 Miles Logged, Not a Single Accident Under Computer Control

? The Atlantic

On a day where public transport chaos caused by unions affects Auckland we can see the future in an article at The Atlantic. Google’s self driving cars?have?now logged more than 300,000 miles of driving without a single accident.

The future isn’t rehashed 19th century technology confined to rails and loops, rather it is ubiquitous information highways and computer controlled self driving cars.

Len Brown can moan all he likes about his multi-billion dollar millstone of a rail loop, but he would be better advised to invest in?communications?infrastructure?to support driverless cars and then turn Auckland into a truly spectacular liveable city. He could even drop the $400 million notes required for the Pacific Fibre and pop that into the infrastructure?development?for the city, it would certainly be more beneficial over a longer term than a stupid rail loop.

Ever since Google began designing its self-driving cars, they’ve wanted to build cars that go beyond the capabilities of human-piloted vehicles, cars that are much, much safer. When Sebastian Thrun announced the project in 2010,?he wrote, “According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents. We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half.”

New data indicate that Google’s on the right path. Earlier this week the?company announced?that the self-driving cars have now logged some 300,000 miles and “there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.” (The New York Times?did note in a 2010 article?that a self-driving car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light, so Google must not be counting the incidents that were the fault of flawed humans.)

For comparison, in the United States in 2009 there were 10.8 million traffic collisions,?according to the Census Bureau. That same year, American cars logged some 2.954?trillion?miles, for a collision rate of about .365 per 100,000 vehicle miles traveled. Now, you can’t directly compare the two figures. Google’s cars have been tested in pretty hospitable conditions, not facing, for example, the rigors of a New England winter. And, as Google engineer?Chris Urmson,?writes, they still “need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter.”?Additionally, the cars are still driving with “occasional” human control. But at the very least, the Google cars are slowly building a pretty good-looking driving record.

This technology is still at its very early stages and 300,000 miles is not all that big of a sample. According to a?“cursory” analysis by Bryant Walker Smith of Stanford Law School, “Google’s cars would need to drive themselves (by themselves) more than 725,000 representative miles without incident for us to say with 99 percent confidence that they crash less frequently than conventional cars. If we look only at?fatal crashes, this minimum skyrockets to 300 million miles.” We’re still a long way away from there.


Why autonomous cars rock

? Andrew Sullivan

Check this video of a blind man going through a drive thru in his self-drive car, His autonomous car gives him freedom. something public transport will never do:

Steve Mahan is 95 percent blind. And yet he was able to get into a car and drive a pre-programmed??route from his California home to a?Taco Bell restaurant. Mahan?was driving a?Google autonomous car. ?For people like Mahan, who are visually impaired, this technology is liberating in a pretty fundamental way. It gives him the freedom of mobility, and the ability to be independent. While it will take a few more years for these vehicles to be widely available to the public, the video [above] gives us a glimpse of what the future will be like.

This is exactly why adherence to 19th?century?transport?technology is not only a waste of public money but just plain silly:

Why drive to a train station, park, pay for a ticket, wait, hop on a train, sit for a while, then hop back in a car or other train when you get close to your destination, when you can just take a nap while your self-driving car carries you safely?and directly?to your destination?

Len Brown and other public transport adherents need to get out more. But Len already knows this…he hardly ever takes the train,?preferring?the?convenience?of his car.