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AI Robotics Transportation Hardware

How Do You Give a Ticket To a Driverless Car? 337

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kitt-got-into-the-bourbon-again dept.
FatLittleMonkey writes "New Scientist asks Bryant Walker Smith, from the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, whether the law is able to keep up with recent advances in automated vehicles. Even states which have allowed self-driving cars require the vehicles to have a 'driver,' who is nominally in control and who must comply with the same restrictions as any driver such as not being drunk. What's the point of having a robot car if it can't drive you home from the pub while you go to sleep in the back?"
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How Do You Give a Ticket To a Driverless Car?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:06PM (#42384701)

    to ticket a driverless car. The car, by design and foregoing any human intervention, will obey the law exactly as it is programmed to. It will not speed, it will not swerve, it will not disobey traffic signs nor will it deviate from its programmed course unless directed to by human intervention.

    Ergo, if the driverless car fails to function as specified, then the manufacturer is to receive a citation for the vehicle's failure, or otherwise the human who was in control at the time of the infraction will receive the ticket. The car itself is irrelevant.

  • by MojoRilla (591502) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:17PM (#42384753)
    How will the cop know who to arrest, if the car isn't displaying the obvious signs of a drunk driver?

    For now, though the laws require a sober driver, no drunk driver will be in trouble under most circumstances. The laws will eventually catch up.
  • by firex726 (1188453) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:23PM (#42384771)

    Exactly, it'll do as it's programmed. If there is a conflict then either the programming is bad or the law is in error.
    Really this seems more like a "budget" issue for the states that have become to rely on ticket revenues.

  • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:26PM (#42384787)

    There would be cases where the car's owner would deserve the ticket - busted lights, missing first aid kits, no winter tires,.... So give the ticket to the car's owner, then have the manufacturer reimburse the owner if it was the fault of the 'driver'

  • by climb_no_fear (572210) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:29PM (#42384805)
    I understand how I might legally be the driver but if I'm not actually holding the wheel and constantly adjusting the foot pressure on the brake or accelerator, it is impossible to react in time in case something goes horribly wrong with the automated driver (or with the car, for example, a blowout). Are the judges just bending to pressure from the car companies and tech companies who don't want to be responsible for their software glitches?
  • Re:Extra safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:36PM (#42384827)

    Have you ever played with sensors before? They aren't perfect and can give incorrect readings (depending on type they may not even be very accurate under the best of conditions.) Which means software must be written to take those conditions into account, and usually coordinate among different types of sensors. But that software is written by people, and may have bugs in it (in fact certainly will) plus may simply not cover all the real world situations perfectly.

    In some cases where people would have a tough time driving, the cars may do awesomely, but in cases where people would have little trouble the cars may behave strangely as sensors give odd readings, etc.

    My phone has an incredible processor in it and can handle millions of calculations per second, but it still locks up sometimes, occasionally responding seconds later to all the stored input. Isn't that pretty close to being distracted?

    Don't get me wrong, I want a self driving car so badly it hurts sometimes, but I don't expect it to be perfect. And if that's what people expect they are in for a world of disappointment and pain. And my fear is that will mean people panic at the first accident and push back against allowing them at all.

  • Legacy/inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:56PM (#42384899)

    A lot of laws are "Oh no this is new and we don't understand it so we'll make old laws apply to it!" stuff. In the case of cars it'll be a long time before things get changed. Eventually automatic vehicles will be prevalent enough that there will be a big enough push to change the laws to something sensible. It'll be quite awhile.

    As an example see the FAA squaring off with the FCC over electronics on flights. There is no fucking way electronics cause issues with modern planes. If they did, it would be an open invitation for problems/sabotage. Plenty of people forget/ignore the "turn off your stuff" rule and yet there are no issues. Hence the FCC has told the FAA they need to get with the program and allow electronics at all times. However the FAA is dragging their feet on it.

    Also with regards to drunk driving there will be major pushback by special interest groups like MADD. They don't want drunk driving laws to make our streets safer, they are a prohibition/temperance group that uses it to try and push against alcohol. So they'll try to find reasons to keep it illegal to be in a car drunk, even if the car is self operating.

  • Re:Extra safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:29PM (#42385053) Homepage Journal

    If by "gets distracted" you mean "is an entitled narcissist" then I agree. Robots will take the deadliest thing out of the driving equation, ego.

  • Re:Extra safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingMotley (944240) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:33PM (#42385067) Journal

    Perhaps, but a 9 YO that is paying attention is probably a better driver than most people out there.

  • Re:Extra safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingMotley (944240) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:36PM (#42385077) Journal

    On the other hand, with humans, each human learns how to correctly deal with situations. With computer drivers, they ALL learn from one mistake.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:46PM (#42385101)

    How does it know what the speed limit is on a particular stretch of road? And what happens when the city changes the posted limit (eg.for construction work) and the car's database isn't updated? Since the car "knows" the speed limit is 55 there it's going to go 55 even though the posted limit is 25.

    How do humans know what the speed limit is on a particular stretch of road? And what happens when the city changes the POSTED LIMIT (eg. for construction work) and the human's database isn't updated? Since the human "knows" the speed limit is 55 there it's going to go 55 even though THE POSTED LIMIT IS 25.

    First off: The car senses things like pedestrians, stalled cars, and other sorts of hazards just like a human can. "Uht Oh! Look: The 3D imagery doesn't match known maps, I should slow down because it might be an accident or constru-- Oh, highly reflective bands on flag waiving pedestrian and a series of cones, why it's a good thing I slowed down since I just confirmed this is a construction zone." Secondly: Say you filed the red-tape to start street construction, even scheduled workers to show up and do the labor, and machines for them to do the labor. A) The digital systems responsible for this also changed the registered speed limit in the construction zone thus notifying the car. B) The construction equipment broadcasts a wireless speed limit update signed with PGP.

    You fail computer vision, which is how these things work, not via exclusively following some program. Hell, did you even watch the video of Google's self driving cars? [] It slows down for pedestrians, parades, tourists, etc. The concerns you have are based in pure and utter ignorance. The mods who deem you insightful should turn in their geek badges.

  • by Pollardito (781263) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @01:30AM (#42385909)

    There would be cases where the car's owner would deserve the ticket - busted lights, missing first aid kits, no winter tires,.... So give the ticket to the car's owner, then have the manufacturer reimburse the owner if it was the fault of the 'driver'

    Devil's advocate here. For insurance/liability reasons shouldn't the car refuse to operate unless it's operating with 100% safety compliance? If it does, than it would be a manufacturer that would be liable. A car should sense when maintenence is required and, if it's prudent to, drive itself to the repair shop.

    That's just introducing new liability:

    I needed to go to the hospital, but the car wouldn't drive because it said I had a broken brake light
    I missed my flight and lost my job, because the broken brake light detector was faulty
    My car drove itself to the repair shop, and got a ticket for a broken brake light on the way
    My car drove itself to the repair shop while I was indoors, and I came out to drive to the hospital and had no car

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:38AM (#42387345)

    "How do you give a ticket to a driverless car?" is the wrong question.

    The right one is how do you design the system such that tickets won't happen because the concept is meaningless and obsolete? The AI needs to be tied in to a wireless data network that combines satellite and terrestrial coverage that provides everything from exact details of every traffic/parking law & regulation wherever it is, speed limits for every section of every road, and obey override commands from authorities.

    Otherwise, driverless car owners will be a revenue source for police and counties/towns/cities hungry for cash that learn how to set up situations that intentionally cause driverless cars without such a data network to technically break some traffic law.

    I may well have provided at least one of the reasons above. Many towns/counties/cities depend on income from traffic and parking fines.

    As long as driverless cars are not networked in this way, they will only be practical for use in limited areas. It would almost have to happen for near-100% adoption or anything close.

    Well, unless, of course, one severely limited the majority of citizens' ability to legally travel, to well-mapped and controlled government-approved residential and commercial/industrial/metropolitan areas, unless "legitimate" need is demonstrated. Sort of like "Logan's Run" without the domes to keep people in. Just government enforcement of travel limitations. For the greater good, of course.


Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!