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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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  • Better yet (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:03PM (#42384691)

    I want to car see car fight the ticket in court!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:06PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So what you're saying is, cars don't commit DUI's... car drivers do. Bizarre thinking.
    • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:23PM (#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 meerling (1487879)
      Of course, is the 'infraction' due to a software error, an emergency response to prevent a collision, or falsified to begin with?
      In any of those cases, you, the owner, can easily fight it in court.

      Remember, just recently a car stopped at an intersection and clearly not moving was cited for going too fast. Needless to say, the driver fought the ticket using the 'proof' from the citation that clearly showed the car not moving.
    • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:26PM (#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 SternisheFan (2529412) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:39PM (#42384837)

        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.

        • It would probably be tough for the car to detect every possible problem with itself. Imagine the front of the car being covered with black paint, blocking the front lights. How would the car be able to detect that? But it could present quite a traffic hazard.

          • It would probably be tough for the car to detect every possible problem with itself. Imagine the front of the car being covered with black paint, blocking the front lights. How would the car be able to detect that? But it could present quite a traffic hazard.

            There are going to be redundancy systems needed if a sensor is blocked, or ALL of the LEDs blow at once. Some type of fail-safe that tells it to safely pull off the road and shut down. Though I can see some growing pains in this new, unproven tech. Expect some major pileups and loss of life in the beginning until all the unforseen kinks get discovered and fixed.

            • by tftp (111690)

              There are going to be redundancy systems needed if a sensor is blocked, or ALL of the LEDs blow at once.

              No need to. It's much simpler. The car will stop and refuse to move if it cannot see the road, for any reason. Failed headlights are just as likely as a very dense fog or a blizzard.

              It is of course a pretty simple test for the machine: switch the lights on and observe the increase in brightness of the camera image. You can measure the light output of the headlights quite accurately, as long as you ha

              • There are going to be redundancy systems needed if a sensor is blocked, or ALL of the LEDs blow at once.

                No need to. It's much simpler. The car will stop and refuse to move if it cannot see the road, for any reason. Failed headlights are just as likely as a very dense fog or a blizzard.

                It is of course a pretty simple test for the machine: switch the lights on and observe the increase in brightness of the camera image. You can measure the light output of the headlights quite accurately, as long as you have an idea about the reflectivity of the road.

                And I assume that they'll have infra-red cameras, sonar, weather sensors and g knows what else. It's going to need to be an almost foolproof system that will compensate for any possibilities, including manufacturer liability. Are all passengers belted in and oriented properly for safe air bag deployment, is the driver awake in case control needs to be given over, is the driver of sober mind? On the fly computer administered sobriety tests with instantaneous results? The makers will need to account for a

                • by tftp (111690)

                  And I assume that they'll have infra-red cameras, sonar, weather sensors and g knows what else.

                  You are overcomplicating things. The car will drive itself only if safety checks pass successfully. For example, the visible light camera should see the road - because if the camera can't see it then the person at the wheel also can't see it, and chances are that other drivers and cars can't see this one either. The LIDAR sensors are not a replacement for a camera that is supposed to read road signs (such as "S

        • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Monday December 24, 2012 @09:31PM (#42385059)

          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.

          Just wait till the machine intelligence is a bit more advanced, you'll see the behavior you're speaking of emerge naturally. Think about it. If you had a fluid leak, staining your sitting spots, you'd have it repaired or at least wear a bandage or diaper... You wouldn't go trotting around town leaving a mess everywhere, eh?

          "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that. If we go anywhere it's straight to the mechanic to get this embarrassing oil leak fixed."

          • by mlts (1038732) *

            The good thing is that degrees of maintaining should emerge. There is the obvious, such as an oil pressure loss which means the vehicle moves to the side and phones a tow truck.

            However, stuff on lower tiers. Lets assume headlights get multiple LED arrays in them. One array fails, so the car schedules a visit to the mechanic at night [1] so things can get fixed while the owner is asleep. Similar if a car's radio needs a firmware upgrade [2].

            [1]: If the market niche appears for self-driving cars to hit a

        • by Pollardito (781263) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @02:30AM (#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 Flentil (765056)
        I'm wondering, in what country do drivers get issued a ticket for not having a first-aid kit in the car? Serious question, did you just make that up, or is that actually a law somewhere?
        • Germany, as I recall from long ago.
          • You need a safety vest AND a first-aid kit (and every driver here is required to take a first aid course).
        • And Slovenia. You're required to have basic emergency supplies in your car.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Many European countries require it. In France you are also required to carry a reflective triangle and a breathalyser (alcohol detector). You car also needs to be checked for safety and emissions every year.

    • What if I have expired registration, etc?

      • What if I have expired registration, etc?

        The car should refuse to operate until the DMV signals to it that the registration is active. Now, there will be times when a person would need an override, say to escape some perceived danger that the car isn't programmed for. Then the risk is on the operator.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:09PM (#42384723) Journal

    you use a cop less ticket writer.

  • All in good time (Score:5, Informative)

    by PRMan (959735) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:11PM (#42384727)
    We are at the early stages. Look at the laws from the first few years of automobiles. You had to walk in front waving a lantern. And go slow enough that the cop on horseback could give you a ticket. What's the point of a car with laws like that?
    • by fermion (181285)
      This seems like a pretty simple situation that will be solved by the insurance companies over time. For instance about 30 years ago even very conservative states started requiring auto insurance and created state insurance to help those that could not get cheap insurance. This was basically set up to make sure the insurance companies had money to cover the increased damages that cars were inflicting. It was not personal injury so much, as indicated by the low cost of personal medical in cars and the fact
  • by MojoRilla (591502) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:17PM (#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.
  • Let's deal with the last question first:

    What's the point of having a robot car...?

    The answer is so that people can have a chance to become accustomed to a radical new technology and we have time to work out the bugs with that new technology. Once we get past those two steps and maybe even get to the point that everyone is (not) driving a robot car then we can think seriously about not requiring a driver. Let's try walking before we try running. Or maybe someone could think up some sort of car analogy.

    O

  • Given we already have cars/drivers/insurance companies/state regulation, it seems that a really easy solution might just emerge:

    1. driverless cars with drivers allowed by some states
    2. insurance companies see increased profits from driverless cars due to less accidents
    3. driverless cars become cheaper
    4. states actually pay "cash for clunkers" to get the remaining cars off the road
    5. quaint laws about "drunk driving" are still on the books and people in 2100 laugh at them like we laugh at our "car law" statu

  • by climb_no_fear (572210) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:29PM (#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?
    • Legacy/inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday December 24, 2012 @08:56PM (#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.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      The motivation for the rules basically is "Yeah, Google, Microsoft, etc, you can put your experimental cars on the road but don't let a human's hand off the wheel for a second." And I don't disagree.

      Because, let's get real, that's the stage driverless cars are at still. About the most automated thing you will see driving right now is a self-parallel parking car that's not even deciding where to park, just how to do it once the driver selects it.

      Otherwise, it's not a burning issue. The tech companies stil

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      It really doesn't matter what you're actually doing in many jurisdictions. They may say they're Drunk Driving laws but the "driving" part is optional. Around here just sitting in the driver's seat of your car drunk can get you ticketed. Even if the car isn't in motion or even running. The only way to avoid the ticket is to have the keys out of the ignition and not reachable. So if you decide you're too drunk to drive and want to just spend the night sleeping it off in your car you have to toss the keys in t

  • I suspect that people are going to fight empty cars (which are just too cool). But more interestingly some of the people who fight drunk driving will show their true colours and be shown to actually be anti drink people. And before you cast any stones at me for that one it is the position of the woman who founded one of the biggest anti drinking and driving movements; she started it after losing loved ones but feels that the organization has been co opted by temperance types.
  • Wouldn't you program a driverless car to not break the law? If it's breaking the law as much as everyone else, there's a problem, but it should be at least theoretically possible to program a car incapable of breaking the law, or does so only to prevent a crash, in which case, most cops wouldn't issue a ticket.

    So what do they think will happen? You'll be ticketing them by the thousands for speeding, like regular drivers? Or will they be programmed to use signals, obey lights and limits, and there'll be n
  • the owner of the car is responsible for the car and any laws it may break or damage it may cause. If a driver is legally monitoring the vehicle, i.e. Driving, then they are responsible for the actions of the vehicle. There is no free ride.

    • by pbjones (315127)

      sorry for replying to my own post, this situation would hark back to horse and buggy days where a milkman's house would learn the route and move from place to place while the milkman delivered milk door to door, I remember seeing this happen for years. Anyway, the milkman is still responsible for the horse and cart.

      • sorry for replying to my own post, this situation would hark back to horse and buggy days where a milkman's house would learn the route and move from place to place while the milkman delivered milk door to door, I remember seeing this happen for years. Anyway, the milkman is still responsible for the horse and cart.

        If the horse goes out of control and tramples someone you can't blame the milkman for it.

    • by tftp (111690)

      If a driver is legally monitoring the vehicle, i.e. Driving, then they are responsible for the actions of the vehicle.

      It is not possible technically, and if I were in such a car I would be driving it, with all the computers turned off. The ship can have only one captain. Two will wreck the ship just because each of them will order the right thing if taken alone; but taken together they will cause a disaster. On the road, for example, you can accelerate and stay on the freeway, or you can slow down and ta

  • A fucking ass-load of regulations and "licensing" fees, that's how. I expect it will get more expensive for us commuters without any access to public transportation. It really sucks.
  • The ROAD ITSELF will control the car, not onboard AI. Even if the car has onboard AI, it will still only respond to the road and the rules that are programmed for that particular stretch of highway as set by (hopefully) civil engineers. This method solves the 'lawyer's banquet' dilemma.
  • by Lisias (447563) on Monday December 24, 2012 @10:00PM (#42385145) Homepage Journal

    Here at Brazil the tickets always go to the vehicle's owner.

    If the owner had lent the car to someone, it's up to him/her to go to the authorities with a declaration, signed by the culprit, asking to transfer the ticket ownership.

  • Once they're legally driving around autonomously some really neat things will happen.

    You know that person who drives around and picks everyone up and takes them to work and the doctor and the dentist and stuff?

    They get their lives back.

    Now why should a couple have to maintain 2 cars anymore? Get their work schedules shifted off a little bit, and have the car drop them both off at work and pick them both up.

    Once it's dropped them off, have it swing by the grocer and pick up the food you ordered online.

    Heck

  • Neither is a computer in a car.

    The autopilot in an aircraft is there only to reduce pilot workload for those phases of flight where use of an AP is appropriate. It is not there so the pilot can go take a nap in the back.

  • by Tom (822)

    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?

    The point is that we are putting a new technology into the space that is already a leading cause of death in our society. Being extraordinarily careful is absolutely the right thing to do. Having strict rules that you can remove step-by-step if everything works as expected is much, much better than starting a free-for-all and facing the music when things go wrong and people die.

    The point is that this is a first step, and depending on intial experiences, more steps will follow. Don't expect everything right

  • Give it an eTicket.

  • Local government is as corrupt and greedy as it gets. Anything everything is 'reason' to tax and fine as much as they can get away with. Driverless car? Fine the owner, like a red light camera. Also, remember to pass a special driverless car fee and pressure the state government to mandate a driverless car insurance surcharge surcharge kicking back a substantial portion to the city for 'management'. Assess a brand new driverless car inspection regime on top of the old one. Or better yes classify it as a bus.

  • by iMactheKnife (2556934) <.ten.knilhtrae. .ta. .raeblnek.> on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @01:43PM (#42388585)

    What cop? An automated speed trap camera gives a ticket to an autonomous car. The passenger is not in control. One of the two automated systems is in error. Is there any kind of justice involved here at all? The entire concept of justice implies some sort of free will to make a choice of good vs bad decision. There is no operating free will here. What will a rational judge do? He'll assign it to a debugging group to determine liability, if any.

    I can see it now: the road maintenance robots lower the speed limit to 25 on a stretch of road. Their comm access is not working, so the the highway comm net does not update the vehicle's GPS system, which thinks this is a 55 MPH zone. Traffic all rolls by at 55. They all get tickets for speeding. The unions call for a boycott on road maintenance, which causes more 'bots to be purchased. Politicians pass a law mandating fines for road crews that do not post accurate speed limits, a standards body to determine safe limits, and a mandate to cops to enforce them. Every so often there is a snafu and a huge pile-up on the highway. People decide to learn to drive again and my old Ford becomes a concourse antique.

  • by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @03:35PM (#42389509) Homepage

    I for see two classes of tickets... fix-ot tickets for errors caused by mechanical failure, and rules of the road tickets for issues with the instructions given to the automated driver, such as instructing the automated driver to speed.

    Under law, fix-it tickets are the responsibility of the vehicle owner, and rule of the road violations are the responsibility of the operator. Seems to map fine to an automated vehicle.

    Only real changes I for see to the law are new licensing rules, regulations requiring ways for the police to inspect the driving plan of the vehicle, and possibly rules requiring a way to make bug reports available to the vehicle manufacturers.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @02:31PM (#42396537) Homepage
    I see a lot of bull above. Among other things, having a driver's license should never expose you to more liability than not having one. That is, if it is legal for someone to be in a moving car with a license, then you can't punish someone in the car that has a license more than you can punish someone that doesn't.

    Part of the problem is that people are making bad assumptions about the state of the technology. There are basically three qualities of driver less driving.

    1) Requires driver intervention more than once a year.

    2) Doesn't need a driver - as long as it stays below a low speed (say 50 mph). I

    3)Can compete in NASCAR and other races.

    Type 1 is pretty much worthless for the standard person. Oh, it might be useful for truck drivers, but that's about it. This is basically the state we have now, without spending ridiculous amounts of money. It's called CRUISE CONTROL.

    Type 2 does not need a driver and a) should have speed limits placed that make it go SLOWER than legally required for people. b) should pretty much be impossible to violate the laws, if they are properly posted on the map. c) any ticket for bad driving should legally be given to the corporation that programmed it poorly. d) any ticket for non-moving violations (parking, etc) should be given to people that gave the instructions.

    Type 3 should be treated as Type one, only without the rules making it go slower than legally required for people. Also, once we have type 3, driver licenses would become much rarer - similar to hunting licenses. In addition, driver licenses might get tougher to obtain - and be tested yearly after age 60.

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