By on February 7, 2019

Sorry for another winter-themed post, but real life has a way of pointing out weaknesses in man’s systems. If you’re enjoying life down in Del Boca Vista, Phase III, this should provide some amusement.

Here goes: It’s a mess up north. Mother Nature’s not asking consent, and the roadways around Casa Steph are dirtier than a roadhouse brothel floor at 3 a.m. The last couple of weeks has brought snow, rain, freezing rain, more snow, and a type of precipitation that can only be described at #4 birdshot fashioned out of ice, hurled straight into your eyes via a bitter wind.

As me about my test vehicles’ driver assistance features, and how these bits of technological wizardry worked in such adverse conditions. News flash: they’re often as good as useless. You know what they say about mammaries on a bull…

(If you haven’t guessed that this is a rant that ends in a question, rather than a simple question, consider yourself forewarned.)

Waymo might have a commercial/semi-pilot project on the go in sunny, warm, and dry Phoenix right now, but I’d love to see how those self-driving Pacificas handle their business up in eastern Ontario. One of the good things about the horrible year of 2018 was that the ridiculous, premature predictions around self-driving/autonomous tech went bust. It’s coming, probably, maybe surely, but not in the truncated timeline touted by its most ardent proponents.

There’s a lot of shit to figure out before Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy reaches streets from coast to  coast. The tragic Uber Technologies pedestrian collision last March belatedly opened the eyes of one of the more reckless developers, offering a moment for the industry to pause and take a collective breath. This isn’t Fyre Festival 2.0, it’s dangerous machines on roadways. It’s human lives. These vehicles still need real, live eyes and hands and feet more than we realize, and Waymo is right to go the human monitor route for the time being. Caution and endless testing in all sorts of conditions is required before we cede our roadways to robocars.

Full autonomy in any city of your choice is not six months or a year or two years away, and it’s good that we’ve finally realized that.

Near Casa Steph, in the middle of a sprawling tract of agricultural land, millions of dollars came together last year for the development of a 16 km (10 mile) network of Level 5 autonomous test track, complete with signalized intersections, side treets, and buildings. It’s almost finished, and tech companies like BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Nokia, and Juniper Networks lurk behind it. A nearby Ford Motor Company R&D facility created in 2017 has access, too. Soon, a 5.2 km (3.2 mile) high speed oval will join the testing grounds.

The usefulness of this course, besides its dedicated and carefully controlled nature, is the weather. It’s highly variable, to say the least. This city went from tornadoes to snowstorms and an 80F temperature drop in the span of two months last fall — optimum placement to replicate the gamut of conditions faced by vehicles in real-world North American applications.

But that’s the future. All we have now is driver assistance systems that flirt with Level 3 on the high end, and Level 2 in other well equipped vehicles. Radar-guided cruise control, lane holding, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, proximity sensors for parking lot duty, etc.

Radar, cameras, and LIDAR are fantastic things, but fallible — especially if the software governing them isn’t strong willed. We’ve seen that in light rain. When foliage leaves the trees in otherwise dry winter conditions, confusing AVs in carefully geofenced areas mapped out in the summer. How about you add snowbanks of varying heights and shapes to the side of the road? How about if those lane markers are obscured by, you know, snow and ice?

Not just snow and ice, either — on a nighttime trip down Ontario’s Highway 401 (Canada’s most heavily trafficked highway) a couple of weekends ago, I turned on my 2019 Toyota Corolla hatch’s Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to give the tech a shakedown run. The weather was cold but dry. The highway surface was clear. Everything worked well — admirably well, in fact, with the car’s electronic brain aggressively taking over the wheel to keep the car centered in its lane as we cruised along at 70 mph. My left hand rested gently on the wheel; just enough pressure to keep the system from freaking out at me.

Do you know what road salt leaves on the road? Yes, white dust and white stains, most prevalent near the edges and center line of the highway. Multiple times, the system shut off unexpectedly after brilliant dust obscured the center line or solid lane marker to a sufficient degree. During a shallow, high-speed curve, this meant you’d suddenly find yourself drifting into the next lane, or off the road, cruise control still activated.

Eventually I had to just turn it off. It held the road well in perfect conditions, but couldn’t be counted on to avoid surprises when things got too dusty.

This week I’m in Subaru’s big Ascent three-row, and the roads couldn’t be worse. Great for putting the crossover’s all-wheel drive and traction control to the test (fun, fun, fun), but not good for its high-tech driver’s aids. Not once this week has lane-holding become available. Thanks to slush and snow, the lines just aren’t clear enough for the car. An amber light in the gauge cluster shows its absence.

Last night, as relatively light freezing rain and ice pellets pelted the Ascent, the car’s EyeSight driver assist system (adaptive cruise, pre-collision braking, lane control) blinked off twice, rendering those aids impotent. The Ascent made sure to alert me that EyeSight was offline, due to too much ice and crap blocking the camera and radar. Hell, even the backup camera was next to useless.

If you’re a Northerner, or even if you hail from the South but hold an interest in autonomous technology, when do you predict we’ll see truly durable, winter-beating AVs enter the market?

[Images: Steph Willems/TTAC]

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48 Comments on “QOTD: Feeling Less Than Optimistic About Hands-off Driving?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    At the moment even in the best driving conditions autonomous cars are iffy at best, but in bad weather they just can’t do what a reasoning brain can do. I think it will be a long time, if ever, that 100% autonomous driving will be the norm

    Where I do see it’s benefit is in boring cross-country driving where little driver input for hours at a time is required

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Way back in 2005 they had that DARPA autonomous vehicle challenge and everybody realized we’re actually able to build an autonomous car that works under very controlled conditions (technology was maybe 3/8 of the way there to full autonomy). We haven’t seen much progress at all since then.

    No matter how much money big companies throw at the problem, machine vision and prediction of human behavior is something that can only develop organically outside of Detroit cubicle farms. We’re now maybe 5/8 of the way there but I don’t see us getting to full autonomy within 2 decades.

  • avatar

    I am just not interested in using an autonomous car. Yesterday I had a 1.5 hour long drive on freeways with roadways mixed with just a wet surface, freezing rain with smooth ice, frozen ice pellets, slush, and combinations thereof. The level of proper control at safe speeds was dictated by tiny sensations in the steering feeding back the information about the coefficient of friction and the inputs needed to stay pointed straight. I doubt that any affordable technology could duplicate human experience in such extreme conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      Oh, affordable sensing technology exists, and it can be tuned for much higher sensitivity than human neurons, but to be of any use, the information it provides has to be 1. interpreted, and 2. acted on. Computers are excellent at speed and precision, but they fundamentally can only do things that a human programmer not only knows how to do, but also consiously understands well enough to program the machine to do. Human programmers have a decent but limited understanding of how to interpret steering feedback and other data on road conditions, and a rather more limited understanding of how to act on it. Computational power is useless until those limits can be raised.

      And until they are, my Carter-era Toyota 4×4, with excellent visibility and no crutches to suddenly give out when they’re most needed, is a safer and better choice for current conditions (PNW) than all these gadget-festooned pretensions of autonomy.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Scrap it all.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Anyone who feels the need for “hands-off” driving assistance or other similar safety aids/nannies should just hire Hoke and climb in the back seat next to Miss Daisy. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    Jon

    When my kids want to become good at something, ie: piano, throwing a baseball, riding a bike, etc. I make them practice. I don’t create something that performs the task for them. They same goes for driving.

    Driver assistance features only help to dull the driving skills of those who use them. If you use these features so much that your driving skill diminishes, you wont be able to handle severe driving conditions when they occur. However, most folks do not know that their driving skill is diminishing because of these features until it is too late.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      And what galls me most is that we have to take this faulty, unfinished technology in almost every new vehicle we buy these days. Perhaps we can turn off lane assist but we can’t turn it all off. And we have to pay to have it all repaired in the event of even minor accidents.

      All this, with no public discussion on the subject – only a back room deal between the government and the automakers.

      As with EVs, there is a part of society that wants so badly for driver assistance technology and autonomous driving to be ready. But it just isn’t – and won’t be for a very long time.

      • 0 avatar
        Robotdawn

        This is one thing I like about GM cars, that reviewers complain about all the time. You have to spend money to get most of the nanny aids. I don’t want them, and thankfully there is at least one automaker who gives me a choice still.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Very well said. That’s been my point for a while. What happens when you take already bad drivers, and now they haven’t driven in a few years, but the car asks for them to take over? No matter how good this technology gets, it’s going to be decades before it can handle conditions like those described in the article. The only time people driving will be when conditions are at there worst. Hopefully they just stay home like they did in the Seattle area on Monday. .5-2″ of snow, and you would have thought it was a catastrophic weather event. The roads were empty because everyone was afraid. The future is bleak.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      While I get your point, a lack of tech hasn’t created better drivers, and it hasn’t created any real push to require drivers to improve themselves (or real penalties for those who don’t). I think all the tech being rolled out will do so poorly (given the tech ethos of “move fast and break things”), but it’s too idealistic to think meatsacks will work on themselves either.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        Lack of tech and drivers assistance does create better drivers. It forces the driver to pay attention to the vehicle and surroundings more than if he had driver assistance. This is why parents make their teenagers learn to drive an old POS that does not have the assistance features and without a cell phone, radio, etc…

        The point of driver assistance is not to create better drivers. The point of the tech is to take the control out of the drivers hands. Driver skill degradation is an effect, not the purpose.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          It creates better drivers *in people who care enough to pay attention*. How many people are woefully apathetic, or at least naively think they’re a good driver because they’ve never been in an accident(possibly because they’ve been lucky that everyone around them has managed to account for their mistakes). Do you have anything to suggest that, as a whole, driver behaviour has changed at all?

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            I agree that there are people who are woefully apathetic. Like you stated, “it’s too idealistic to think meatsacks will work on themselves”. These folks have no intention of improving their driving skills and are ignorant (sometimes willfully) of their surroundings.

            I have no data to conclude that driver behavior has changed. However, I have noticed that with the explosion of “driver assistance tech” (via regulation) drivers who are “on the fence”, are choosing to be meatsacks instead of improving their skills. Driver assistance tech gives folks the option to expand their laziness and ignorance. A vehicle without this tech forces the driver to pay attention more than a vehicle with it.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @MBella

        Fully agree. We are decades away. Our brains are marvelous devices in filtering out extraneous data and filling in holes when data is missing.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    I don’t see it happening in personal vehicles. I am not even sure that it is possible to have true autonomy in in personal vehicles in good weather. Maybe if all vehicles are self-driving and maintained by companies instead of individuals. But, I don’t see individuals owning truly self-driving cars.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Current technology is able to handle bad weather right now. It’s not 100% and like in any situation, you have to keep an eye on it, but it’s probably better than many human drivers.

    Better systems are coming, but they aren’t here yet. I have huge reservations about LIDAR and don’t think it will survive in its present form. Too many issues to name with the most recent problem being that it can damage digital camera sensors.

    Personally, I’d use Tesla’s autopilot in many situations on familiar roads. Many situations I wouldn’t. You have to use your judgment. One big one for me is slow moving stop and go traffic. That alone makes it worth it. Too slow to get you into any trouble and plenty of other cars to follow.

    https://electrek.co/2019/01/05/tesla-autopilot-control-sliding-ice-video/

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      No. Current technology can’t deal with snow and iceconditions in the slightest. Once the lines go away and snow and ice cover the sensors, and wiper streaks cover the cameras, current technology just shuts down and gives you a cluster message that you are on your own. We’re decades away from cars being able to handle these conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        It should sound the voice of the Reverend Johnson (Blazing Saddles) after someone in the crowd shoots a hole through his Bible:

        “Sorry Son, you’re on your own.”

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Absolute classic, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I don’t recall that part!

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            When the new sheriff ascends the platform and you hear all the guns being cocked:

            Rev Johnson: “As your spiritual leader, I implore you to pay heed to this good book and what it has to say!”

            (Someone in the crowd shoots a hole in the bible he’s holding aloft)

            Looks the Sheriff up and down…

            “Sorry Son, you’re on your own.”

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    They pour billions into the true autopilot systems on aircraft, and those things only have to deal with vectors. Obstacle avoidance is relatively simple, and destinations are fixed, and very precisely relayed to the aircraft – and still those damn things can’t fly themselves. And then pilots get lazy and rely on those systems too much, you get an AirFrance 447 incident.

    Now you want me to believe in antonymous cars? HAH! Not in my lifetime. Non in any capacity that can be relied upon in mildly adverse conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      Amen brother! Another great example is the Air China flight that crunched short of the runway in San Fran because the automation jockeys couldn’t handle something as simple as a hand flown visual approach.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Exactly this. There is a reason airlines spend huge budgets on simulator training and why airline pilots will spend real time actually flying (sister is a pilot, first chair 777)

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        It is my understanding, based on second hand knowledge admittedly, that certain auto-pilot systems in Airbus airplanes actively fight against the pilot when the pilot attempts to make a correction and a certain amount of training has to then be undertaken to properly override the system. I wonder if this is actually the case, and if so could it be a contributing factor in incidents.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The term “fair weather friend” comes to mind.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Anyone in the Cincinnati area (and I believe there are a few of the TTAC faithful this applies to) can back me up on this one. Bear with me…
    On both of the main interstates through Cincinnati and Hamilton County, I-71 and I-75, there is total reconstruction going on. Lanes are narrowed and split to where southbound can be on the northbound side with only inches to spare between your mirrors and a barrier. On rainy or snowy days, this is white-knuckled driving. Cones are scattered around. Speed limits change every mile. Semis have zero room for error. Lane markers can be invisible in bad weather. The signs marking the ne traffic flow patterns and exits can be confusing.
    There is NO system available in a current car that can compete with the human brain and experience in that kind of construction hell. We have hundreds of millions of miles of roads – all in different states of disrepair and there are too many variables for cameras and microchips to figure out.
    I wonder how many people feel pressured to buy these systems with their new car just because they feel they have to keep up with the technology war, and resale value later, instead of knowing what they actually do and how they work.
    We all don’t live in sunny Phoenix where the roads stay smooth a lot longer and there are no snow drifts as high as a car! Until all seasons are taken into effect, I’ll keep my own hands on the wheel.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    I had a new Kia Optima S (a base model with some cosmetic “sport” frippery) as a service loaner recently, and I was surprised to discover even it was equipped with a lane-keeping system that, if left to its own devices, would steer the car through gentle curves without issue. Of course it wasn’t set up to turn corners, accelerate from a stop or maneuver in close quarters.

    It was fun to experience in small doses (a warning tone sounded after a few seconds unless at least one hand was on the wheel) but once the novelty ebbed I shut it off completely, as even on its lowest setting I could feel the system fighting through the steering wheel if I strayed much more than an inch from the dead-center of the lane.

    I came away thinking that capability (along with standard emergency braking) would prove to be more nuisance than tool in day-to-day driving, and that this level of “sorta” self-driving capability is potentially dangerous unless the driver has RTFM and is completely aware of the system’s limitations. Regardless, it’s available now, for around $21,000 at real-world transaction prices.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I have a 2017 Mazda6 with the “Smart City Brake Support” and whatever one they use for highway driving. It’s never activated on me, but whenever it gets cold I get the light stating that the system is temporarily inactive. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure what it does per re.

      With that said, I had a relatively kitted out CX-5 as a loaner when I got the Android Auto upgrade. It had the lane keeping, adaptive cruise, auto-brake hold, and a couple others that I can’t fully recall. I had to try the adaptive cruise because it was there and I was curious. I didn’t like it. I could tell me attention was drifting too much. I couldn’t tell if the lane keeping was even doing anything, and the auto-brake hold was gimmicky at best.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I would probably try out something like Tesla’s autopilot on cross-Kansas I-70 trip. Otherwise, the tech’s just not trustworthy. In the end, I like doing the driving myself.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Oh, Steph, didn’t you hear? All the important people live in sunny climes down south. Up here in Panem’s “District 6”, we don’t matter.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    @mcs

    “You have to use your judgment.”

    As to when to use autonomous, of course. You’re informed on the whole matter – I’ve read virtually all your comments going back, what, eight years? You’ve been involved at the bleeding edge of this technology, and aircraft before that.

    But that single sentence of yours I highlighted above is in fact a damning indictment of the current scene as applied in actual cars. I might well trust “your” judgment, but you’re unique, relatively speaking. The average donkey driving out there does not possess your judgment or experience as to when to engage autonomous control. And I do not relish being splattered like a bug by an oncoming vehicle controlled by some weak AI promoted by modern carnival barkers who think they’re Einstein reincarnated – the Silicon Valley nerds.

    Logic demands therefore that this stuff be locked up until it works far better than it does now.

    Experimenting on actual roads with actual traffic is in fact criminally negligent behavior, in my view. I don’t care that “law makers” have had their arms twisted to allow these experiments on public roads. Lobbying and starry-eyed visions of Nirvana appeal to the usual humanus dorkus maximus types who offer to be politicians. After all, they might eventually be feted as far-sighted visionaries. Let us all cheer for the existence of the sugarplum fairy! A few bucks for the here-and-now probably helps this stuff along, I cynically imagine.

    If you look back a decade at TTAC commenters who pointed out the vulnerabilities of these autonomous systems to snow, they are legion. Other failure scenarios have also been foretold. Using mere common sense, these commenters easily foresaw the real problems, not a one of which has been overcome in a decade. “Technology” has bitten off more than it can chew for the foreseeable future when it comes to reliable autonomous vehicles.

    Right now, the whole scene is an immense farce. The promises far outweigh the reality of what can be provided at consumer level pricing. And rain, let alone snow, can screw up what little capablities systems currently possess.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I just wonder how many of these driver assists will be optional. I would love to use my judgement, but will my car let me?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @conundrum: Yeah, you’re 100% right. Too much hype from carnival barkers is right. The engineers are afraid to speak truth to power to put the brakes on it. I’m still independent because most of these companies don’t want to hear what I have to say. In addition to my intense dislike of LIDAR (I like FLIR + radar + cameras + v2v + “femto-photography” and other “see-around-the-corner tech), I have reservations about issues that can arise from issues related to “back propagation” in the current AI in use by most AV companies. An AI expert named Geoffrey Hinton has written about the problems. Carlos Perez has a good Medium article on the subject as well. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

      RIght now, I think they are putting a lot of effort into technology that won’t scale into the real world. Its like they’re doing an Everest hike, and think all they have to do is make it to the base camp and they’ve wandered down the wrong trail. They’ll eventually make it to the base camp, then look up. Another analogy is that it’s similar to renovating an old house. It looks like it’s going to be easy and you think you are making progress, but then you get the walls opened up and discover that it’s a much bigger job than you expected.

      Eventually, I think it can be better than any humasn, it’s just that there is a lot of basic work that needs to be done. A lot. Most of the players in the business don’t seem to have discovered that fact yet. And that’s where it has to go to succeed. Better than any human could possibly be. I don’t know how long it will take and I’m worried the current technology will taint the future version.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        Thanks for that response. I appreciate your views and can see what you mean about current problems tainting a later much more comprehensive version of autonomy. If people can still go on about rusty Fiats from the 1970s and Lucas electrics in ’60s Brit cars, bad/poor autonomous tech introduced now will become part of the long term legends people cling to so dearly.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    My problem with these systems is that, even if you’re a good driver who’s paying attention, they create emergency situations that otherwise wouldn’t occur. For example: your active cruise control is active, and traffic in front of you slows suddenly. Were you driving without “aids,” you’d just brake. But now, you take a split second to decide whether the system can handle the situation, and by the time you determine that it can’t, what would have been a simple brake application becomes a panic stop. Or, a personal example: Near my house, there’s a freeway interchange that’s a loop, connecting two high-traffic roadways. The cruise does a fine job of inching you along, until, at a certain point, the sharpness of the curve causes it to think that the car in front of you has moved away, and it accelerates suddenly. Again, you’ve got an artificially-created situation where you’ve got to think quickly that would never have occurred without the system.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @smartascii, I concur with your real-world scenarios.

      I gave my son my 08 LS-460 when he went to college 2 years ago. No, I’m not rich, but it was the car he learned how to drive in, and I also took into consideration that since he is diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (a type of Autism), I felt that my best choice was just to let him have it as he went off to college. If you have a family member or friend that has the Autism diagnosis, you know that they are best suited to having a routine – bed time, study time, chores, etc. Everything that upsets that apple cart is not good. So I bought a 2016 Civic EX-L, I love it, but I broke my back 2 weeks later, so entry/ egress is certainly a bit of a pain (literally). I still get a kick out of the fact that when I take a road trip I usually get 45MPG!

      I’ve found all of the Honda Sensing kit to be very helpful to me, I’m used to the beeps, the wheel “jiggle” when I drift out of a lane, the cruise control applying braking, etc., it took a while but at 58 I think it makes me a better driver because of the nags, and I know what they are for.

      So every time my son comes into town, I make him drive my car and I leave all of the nanny systems operational. My son got used to turning on the cruise control anytime he was on a long stretch of interstate highway, so the first time the Civic applied light braking, it kind of freaked him out. I had explained to him that adaptive cruise was different that what he was used to (as in, you have to hit the freaking brake pedal), he also found the lane departure “beeps” and wiggling steering a bit unnerving.

      So, my feeble attempt at a point is that for some individuals the current nagging bits can be helpful. For others, they could increase the chance of an accident because of a false sense of security. Lastly, the cost of replacing these bits in an accident (even a fender-bender) is not going to be cheap.

      As to anything resembling Level 5 autonomy, well, I doubt I will see it in my lifetime. As someone else mentioned, we in the US would probably need “smarter” roads, at least the interstate highways. Given the crappy shape of those roads and the inability of our Federal Government to maintain them, I don’t care how many billion miles are “mapped by our neural network” – that’s just hyperbole used to prop up the share price. If there are any Tesla owners that are truly glad they paid the $5k for Full Self Driving, I’d love to hear about it.

  • avatar
    gear-dog

    The problem is we are trying to do this on the cheep. I only see autonomous cars working if they are driving on roads designed for them from the ground up with guid wires and signals embedded in the road surface. Trying to get computers to “see” road signs and painted lane markers is folly. Put another way trying to get traditional cars with human drivers to share the road with self driving cars is a little like letting drivers make their own choice of which side of the road to drive on. It’s just not going to end well.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      gear-dog: Much truth in your comments. While I do think that autonomous systems are much better than many of the worst, intoxicated, and/or elderly drivers – it isn’t up to the better or best human drivers, particularly in complex situations.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      gear-dog: Much truth in your comments. While I do think that autonomous systems are much better than many of the worst, intoxicated, and/or elderly drivers – it isn’t up to the better or best human drivers, particularly in complex situations.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      You could basically set up interstates as “slot-car” paths using short-range RF technology embedded in each lane. And handle cruise and emergency stops using LiDAR in each car, plus warning beacons (think invisible brake lights). Of course, even in perfect weather, this won’t work perfectly for construction zones. But it would get “some” autonomy on the road in a reliable fashion.

      However, the problem is that interstate highway driving is already the safest kind of driving! The fatality rates per mile traveled are less than half that of city streets. So really, autonomous vehicles in this arena would function as a sort of personally-owned Greyhound bus. Not exactly the thrilling “autonomy for all, everywhere” moment that some are envisioning.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Go anywhere anytime personal autonomous vehicles may never come about. It’s more likely that autonomous driving will be limited to interstates, with humans taking over in and around cities, and limited to downtown cores, where cities can just mandate areas to be autonomous only zones. Our government will never have enough money to set up our roads with sensors and markers for AI vehicles to follow (since we can’t even get the road itself paved properly), and there are just too many variables that come up in daily driving for AI to be programmed for. Until scientists can come up with a sentient computer, full AI driving isn’t going to happen.

    I think about autonomous driving like cancer research. Despite decades of research and endless billions, there is no cure for cancer. I also think of technologies that were meant to be revolutionary, which ended up only having a minor role in society – the Segway comes to mind. I remember the Segway being hyped by all the tech giants that got special viewings of it as the next big thing in personal mobility. How did it turn out? Only mall cops use them now.

  • avatar

    all that computerised frippery is just a foreshadowing of failure. the geeks will never solve the last 10-20% of the problem. humans barely cope with the randomness of it. how can a turing machine ever manage?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/06/07/tesla_crash_report/

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    If $100+ million airliners can’t be made to be fully automatic 100% of the time it’s never going to happen to automobiles. Sensors fail on everything occasionally and someone still has to drive the car or fly the airplane when that happens. Many a person has gotten violently sliced and diced when the driver / pilot could not solve the problem fast enough.

  • avatar
    labelnerd

    The question is when will fully autonomous driving be fully capable? I am 52 and not in my lifetime. Thank God!

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Last month I was driving my old Mustang on a two-lane county road. I was approaching the crest of a hill and saw a car in the on-coming lane at the top of the hill. That car was dead stopped in its lane. I went on elevated alert and slowed down, wondering why was this car stopped. As I got close to the crest, a car topped the hill IN MY LANE. Somehow my brain instantly said “that car can’t stop and I can’t stop in time. Reflexes kicked in and I swerved off the road into a yard, dodged a mailbox and power pole, got on the gas so as not to get stuck in the mushy yard and swung back onto the road, avoiding the accident. The other driver didn’t stop.

    Would a self-driving car be able to figure all that out in a matter of seconds to avoid a mishap?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I’d say 16 years.

    About the same amount of time it takes to train a baby enough motor and sensory skill to drive. If we keep up with enough R&D and testing we should be able to do the same to AV.

    The problem would be: can you afford it for every car.

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  • snakebit: No on the Panther Crown Vic/Grand Marquis.First, for such a large car, the cabin is small, as any taxi...
  • slavuta: Art, I am right, as usual ●The pre-collision braking function may not operate if certain operations are...
  • ToolGuy: Audi: “Being Ahead through Technology” (Vorsprung durch Technik) Audi USA: “Truth in...

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