The Truth About Cars » google cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » google cars Exclusive: Google Cars Is Dead Mon, 27 Jan 2014 23:00:43 +0000 jsw

TTAC has learned that Google is shutting down its car shopping service, which existed only in beta form for San Francisco Bay Area shoppers. Visitors to the site have received a message stating

“The Google San Francisco Bay Area car search beta program has been discontinued as we focus on building the next version of our experience for car-related searches. Stay tuned for more news!”

Google previously tweaked their new car search in late 2013, allowing users to see results on the main search page. TTAC had previously touted Google Cars as a potentially disruptive car shopping tool, though dealers apparently had some reservations about the way their inventory and pricing was displayed (namely a lack of differentiation among different stores), as well as the higher cost of leads.

One can only wonder what’s next for Google.

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Countdown 2014: National Rollout Of Google Cars Has Dealers Lining Up Mon, 18 Mar 2013 14:14:57 +0000

Google is planning a national roll out of their new car shopping service sometime in early 2014, and dealers are preparing themselves – with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Automotive News quotes one internet manager for a mid-western dealer lamenting the loss of site traffic for his stores. As much as 66 percent of dealer website traffic comes from Google itself, but that number could plummet once Google Cars is online across America.

On the other hand, dealers such as the Fladeboe Automotive Group, which operates 4 stores in Orange County, are being proactive in approaching Google, even though Google’s auction process for leads will likely be more expensive than other lead generation services. Google’s advantages, such as an immensely strong brand, a simple and easy-to-use shopping tool and the ability to place itself as the first result on any given search page will help ensure a solid footing for the service. And while Google Cars has a similar mission to TrueCar, Google’s enormous resources could prevent it from facing the same kind of meltdown and reinvention that forced TrueCar’s hand in their war against the OEMs.

Ironically, the big losers in any Google Cars victory could likely be automotive journalists themselves. Many “content sites” that make up the bulk of online automotive journalism are simply arms of car sales sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. If revenues fall dramatically, editorial budgets are often the first to go. Google Cars will notably stay out of the content game, since Google’s primary strength is aggregating everyone else’s content. Forget the new car sales race amongst brands – this will be the competition to watch over the next 18 months. Especially if NADA gets involved.

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At The Intersection Between Humanity And The Future, Robots Will Be In Control Mon, 10 Dec 2012 16:03:40 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

The notion of the crossroads as a sacred place is older than Robert Johnson, older than the blues, older than the automobile or the Romans who laid the first large-scale transportation network. The crossroads contains possibilities, changes, choices. It is where the gods live and the demons dwell. Soon, that may be almost literally true.

A recent Virginia Tech study suggests that the best way for driverless vehicles to handle intersections may be to hand over their decision trees to an “intersection controller” 200 meters or so before they actually reach said intersection. The “intersection controller” will possess local intelligence and will adjust the speed and behavior of incoming vehicles.

… the intersection controller governs the vehicles within 200 meters from the intersection. The vehicles report their physical characteristics, such as power, mass, speed, location, and acceleration.

“The aim of giving complete authority to the controller is to overcome any selfish behavior by an autonomous vehicle and benefit all vehicles in the intersection zone… The controller determines the optimum speed and acceleration at each time step for every vehicle within the intersection zone by processing the input data through a real-time simulator/tool.”

The system will begin testing at a Virginia Tech roundabout in the near future.

Speaking as someone who occasionally designs complex systems in his day job, I can’t decide if the potential for mayhem is made greater by allowing all the driverless cars to make their own wacky decisions or by turning over control to a system which could easily be compromised. If you have ten thousand cars going through an intersection every day, the chances are high that one of them will misbehave, but the others should be able to compensate. A malicious “intersection controller”, on the other hand, could just stack up dead bodies like cordwood until its registers overflowed.

It’s also a certainty that people will figure out how to game the intersection controller for their own benefit. One way would be to program your car to report brake failure 200 meters out. The intersection controller will cheerfully stop all other traffic for safety’s sake and you can just glide through like royalty. Some kid with a laptop can also sit under the intersection controller and generate phantom traffic. If all the traffic is encrypted, it can be recorded and replayed to cause havoc. Alternately, one could impersonate an intersection controller, pull a solid man-in-the-middle attack, and make pretty metal sculptures.

There’s something very touching about the way advocates of increased central control assume that everyone will just happily go along with whatever scheme they’ve dreamed up this week, whether it’s intersection controllers, mandatory smog inspections, or 85-mph speedometers to limit highway exuberance. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of their philosophy. The crossroads are a place of chaos as well as divinity. Ask Robert Johnson.

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Google’s Autonomous Cars Face Legal, Practical Challenges Mon, 23 Jan 2012 22:03:41 +0000

Google’s nutty pseudo-utopian autonomous car project faced a reality check at a legal symposium sponsored by the Law Review and High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. Among the challenges raised were the prospect of insuring such a car, and whether the car would be able to stop for law enforcement or construction workers.

While Google claims that their autonomous cars have driven more than 200,000 miles  of accident-free driving, issues like whether police can pull over autonomous cars, as well as technological limitations with artificial intelligence, still remain as stumbling blocks. Google is throwing a lot of time and energy into having laws changed so that autonomous vehicles are road legal, but based on the concerns raised by experts, it looks like self-driving vehicles still have a long way to go before becoming viable.

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The End Of Driving Is At Hand(s Free): Google Cars Plying The Highways Autonomously Sun, 10 Oct 2010 01:00:33 +0000

No, that’s not a Google Street View Prius being piloted down the 101. The roof-top device is Lidar, part of the sensors that allow it to drive by itself.  Perhaps out of a desire to solve a problem they helped create (texting, mobile web use, etc.), Google has come ever closer to  perfecting autonomous cars. NY Times reports that Google has a fleet of seven cars plying the highways and streets of California, with paid “sitters” behind the wheel to confirm that everything is ok, as well as to conform with CA law.The cars have driven up to 1,000 miles without any human intervention, even down twisting Lombard Street, and have racked up 140k total driver-less miles. The only incident so far was someone rear ending one of the Priuses at a red light. All we need now is for judges to mandate them for lousy drivers.

A further development of the DARPA technology that Google’s Sebastian Thur and his Stanford Team won in 2005, the current system is moving ever closer to perfection. Ironically, the biggest hurdle left for the intelligent Prius is to properly read hand signals that a traffic cop or crossing guard might make. here’s an example of the subtlety that the system responds to:

For me, the tour de force of the new car came when the vehicle halted at a stop sign to make a right turn. It waited patiently for a vehicle in front of it to turn, then inched forward. A car was approaching from the left, but the Prius pulled into the far right lane, and I realized that it “knew” the other car was not in our lane even though it was passing close to us. There was no need to hit the red button.

The red button is one of three ways to engage human override, the other two being to touch the brakes or manually turn the steering wheel.

It’s not clear yet exactly what Google intends to do with the system to commercialize it. The biggest obstacle is legal: the law is way behind the technology, and no states have yet addressed the issue,  requiring humans to drive cars. And then of course there’s the legal issue of who’s at fault if an accident does happen. In this country, that may take a while to sort out, but it sounds like it’s just the ticket for China. The huge potential benefit is to allow a doubling of traffic density, when the autonomous vehicles communicate effectively.

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