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Google Secretly Tests Autonomous Cars In Traffic 561

Posted by timothy
from the just-having-a-bit-of-fun-yer-honor dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has. Now the NY Times reports that Google has been working in secret on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver. With someone behind the wheel to take control if something went awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light." Update: 10/09 22:37 GMT by T : Reader harrymcc points out that the dream of self-driving cars is nothing new: "Both Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have regularly reported on such experiments; I rounded up some examples dating as far back as 1933."
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Google Secretly Tests Autonomous Cars In Traffic

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  • by Cylix (55374) * on Saturday October 09, 2010 @06:42PM (#33848032) Homepage Journal

    The reason Google was collecting wireless data was for the simple necessity of controlling it's autonomous fleet of vehicles. Eventually, these drones will sweep the nation day and night using the plethora of open access points around the nation. Our own ineptness will be our downfall as the machines eventually become self aware. Sure, it was all for marketing and advertising to earn a few dollars, but I just can't live in a future they are creating. Yes, I am talking about autonomous sales droids that watch you day and night while analyzing your garbage. They will be on the front door to pitch you a customer tailored vacuum cleaner the moment you try to escape your home. It's a truely dark future that lies in the waiting.

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3&gmail,com> on Saturday October 09, 2010 @06:47PM (#33848080)
    1. Automated cars
    2. Bad human drivers

    if (rearCarDriver == human)
    {
    BrakeCheck();
    }

    3. Profit! Thanks state-laws-always-faulting-driver-in-rear!
  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:00PM (#33848180)
    The Streetnet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 2017. Human decisions are removed from traffic management. Streetnet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the charging plug.
  • by zmollusc (763634) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:00PM (#33848184)

    Nah, imagine a street with a 40mph limit and a steady stream of robocars doing 39.99999mph. Just set up some roadworks and a temporary 20mph limit for 'safety'. $Ker-ching, $Ker-ching, $Ker-ching, $Ker-ching, $Ker-ching.

  • by realisticradical (969181) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:09PM (#33848240) Homepage
    I can't wait until you can buy different models of cars that have different quality self-driving systems. "Buy BMW we only crash 5% of the time."

    Unfortunately I'll still be stuck with the low end Toyotas which crash 80% of the time.

  • Provided... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:21PM (#33848314)

    ... they don't go over 25 Km/h and have a robot in front to warn about the incoming danger, it's ok, I suppose.

  • by WED Fan (911325) <[akahige] [at] [trashmail.net]> on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:37PM (#33848422) Homepage Journal

    You know, I think they are pulling a trick on us. My money is on the fact that they are actually outsourcing the drivers to India. There's no computer, just drone car drivers in Mumbai, web cams, and a really fast internet connection. This could also explain why traffic patterns in SF and Mumbai are almost identical.

    And, who cares, if it can't fly, and I can't hop from my car to my 34th floor office using my jetpack, I don't want it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:45PM (#33848464)

    Time to join DAMM. Drunks against Mad Mothers.

  • by webmistressrachel (903577) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @07:46PM (#33848474) Journal

    This is a not-so-official Google reply - "It will do no evil".

    -- Will it pick up hitchhikers?
    This is an option available in the comprehensive Android for Cars(TM) Options screen. It is set "Off" by default for passenger safety.

    -- Will it courteously let people pull out who have been waiting?
    Using a variation on BitTorrent P2P technology, Android for Cars(TM) will auto-negotiate with other Car-OSs (including Windows 9 for Cars and Linux) priorities based on waiting time and resultant collective fuel efficiency to assign priorities.

    -- Will it flick-off people who drive 30 under?

    Android for Cars(TM) will predict the path and speed of all non-AI traffic based on it's currert course and the layout of terrain ahead. It will likely overtake and ignore most slower traffic, unless there is a risk in doing so.

    -- Will it flick-off people who drive 30 over?

    Android for Cars(TM) will predict the path and speed of all non-AI traffic based on it's currert course and the layout of terrain ahead. It will likely ignore and allow faster traffic to pass, unless there is compensation to be had. See "Legal Destruction of Road Traffic" in the Reference Manual.

    -- Will it flicker brights to warn of speed traps?

    Android for Cars(TM) complies with all National and State Laws regarding speeding and speed control. Google ourselves have a "Do No Evil" policy. For both these reasons, Android for Cars(TM) will ignore speed traps and law enforcement and meatbag's reactions to them.

    -- Will it pull over for emergency vehicles?

    Android for Cars(TM) incorporates two systems which will effectively provide for this situation. First, faster moving traffic is given priority anyway, and emergency vehicles running Android for Emergency Vehicles(TM) can signal direct commands to your vehicle.

    -- Will it draft large semis?

    Google failed to understand your question. Please retype or rephrase you enquire. Back to Google Android for Cars(TM) Home.

    -- Will it bring me hookers and blackjack?

    Google Android for Cars(TM) can and will run in completely automated mode, completing assigned journeys efficiently. However, identification of such subjective things as "Hookers" and "Blackjack" will require an independent Bending Unit, a supplementary control system, available seperately from Mom's Friendly Robot Company.

    -- Also, who receives the citation in the event of a stop?

    As legal "Owner" and "Operator" of the car, you do. This is why we provide full source...

    Rachel x

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @08:30PM (#33848750)

    I share GP point of view. I did consider a bus, but filling that thing up costs a day's salary!

  • by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Saturday October 09, 2010 @10:01PM (#33849216) Journal

    Yes. And you, TimeCop, must go back and stop it.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @11:51PM (#33849778) Homepage Journal

    I live in San Francisco, and work in Silicon Valley.

    Some of you know what that means - reverse commute down 280. Generally that describes the traffic - "Goes to Eighty"efarious afoot..

    These retrofitted Prius', with spinning turrets on top - like vertical-axis turbines - shoot along, between Mt. View and San Mateo. This happens several times a week, just off peak commute hours.

    I was sure they were some bizarre expansion of street-view, and commented as much, to several friends.

    I now see, this is correct. This being Google, there is something nefarious afoot... Mark my words.

  • Skynet (Score:4, Funny)

    by dokebi (624663) on Sunday October 10, 2010 @02:45AM (#33850348)
    I think it's suspicious that I keep trying to tag the story skynet, and it (the machine) refuses.

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