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Transportation Google Robotics Hardware

How Google's Autonomous Vehicles Work 295

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE reports that Google's autonomous cars have logged more than 190,000 miles driving in all kinds of traffic, and the company is also testing a fleet of self-driving golf carts on its campus. In a recent talk, Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson of Google gave details of the project and showed videos of the robot cars driving themselves and even doing some stunts. The goal is that the technology will help reduce congestion, fuel waste, and accidents."
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How Google's Autonomous Vehicles Work

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  • Legal framework (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @05:44AM (#37759816) Journal

    I'm all for autonomous vehicles but I think before it goes forward (ha ha) shouldn't there be some sort of legal framework in place? I mean the first fatal accident that can be even possibly attributed to an autonomous vehicle could very well kill the industry for a while at least. (I'm reminded of how the fatal crash of one of Buckminster Fuller's super efficient teardrop shaped 3 wheeled vehicles killed that concept).

    How about for all "certified" (through rigorous federal testing) vehicles, there be "no-fault" collision insurance (or limits on damages). Unfortunately I'm neither a transportation expert nor lawyer so I'm just guessing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @06:23AM (#37759982)


    Can it, like I do, notice that the baseball rolling down a driveway may be followed by a child who is currently invisible behind a parked SUV?

    Can it, like I do, notice that the driver *behind* me is distracted by her cell phone, has started late at the last three lights, so I should give myself more than average room between me and the car in front of me, so in case it stops suddenly, SHE won't have to stop as suddenly and will be less likely to rear-end me?

    Can it, like I do, notice that even though the road has been clear of ice and snow, the next curve up ahead is deeply shaded and is likely to be slick?

    Can it, like I do, notice that the baby deer is one one side of the road and his mother on the other, and even though he isn't charging across, it looks like he's about to do so, so I better slow down? Because this happened to me not one week ago, and it DID charge across.

    Can it react to the highly dynamic and unpredictable world in ways that require human intelligence? And before you claim it's going to be a better driver than I am, note that I got my license in 1973, and have YET to have any sort of accident. Because I can provide human intelligence to the task of driving, and unless you want to claim the machine is as smart as a person, I am not so sure I believe I want to leave these choices up to it. I'll gladly fly on a computer flown aircraft, because that's a very, very different kind of task. No children appear in the sky from behind parked vehicles, and the pilot stands by the entire time to take over if something doesn't go right. Car drivers won't be that alert: they'll just doze off or play with their phones and not even glance out the window the whole time.

  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:53AM (#37760468)

    Seriously. And it's more than enough reason to get it legal on the streets.

    Just have a way to lock out the manual override until you can pass the built in breathalyzer. It can transmit encrypted times and duration of computer control to local police vehicles in addition to the fact that you locked yourself out so they won't bother pulling you over.

    Of course you will probably have to pre train it to park. Or have a parking assist mode that you can engage even while intoxicated that won't let you get into an accident. And of course a button to pull over just in case you need to throw up.

    No more drunk driving or risking the fine and you have your car to get to work in the morning. And no $50 one way taxi ride or having trouble getting a taxi at last call. Besides most people would probably prefer to nap on their way home anyway.

  • by gTsiros ( 205624 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @08:17AM (#37760662)

    the kid/granny in front of you are not at fault. if you hit them you are at fault.

    someone who is behind you *must* be at a safe distance to stop even if you perform emergency braking. if they hit you, they are at fault.

    fill the rest yourself. in short you are just plain wrong. and dangerous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @08:34AM (#37760810)

    right now I put my life in the hands of the other people on the street. the ones already playing with their phones or yelling at their kids in the back (commute is past 3 schools, 1 a HS)

    If the drivers aren't watching the road now, at least put in a computer to watch for them. Hell, just have it apply the brakes if something gets in front of the car and it'd be an improvement

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton