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How Europe Will Lower Emissions — Self Driving Cars 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-they-drive-themselves-to-the-recycling-station dept.
thecarchik writes "Scientists in Europe are working closely with industry and government as part of a new initiative called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which hopes to develop self-driving technology that will allow vehicles to drive autonomously in long road trains on the highway. The team behind SARTRE has now conducted its first real world test, using a sole Volvo S60 sedan that followed a lead truck around the automaker's test facility near Gothenburg, Sweden. In the video, the driver is free to take his eyes off the road and his hands off the wheel. In fact, he uses neither his hands nor feet during the test. Subsequent phases of the work will be carried out in 2011, and early 2012 will see the concept demonstrated on a five-vehicle road train with strategies handling interaction with other road users."
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How Europe Will Lower Emissions — Self Driving Cars

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  • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:16AM (#34913352)
    I would have had an existential crisis.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Safe Automobile Trains Is Reducing Emissions

  • No. Way. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:20AM (#34913372) Homepage Journal
    Driving is fun. Try reading the ads for cars some time.

    If people wanted to be on a train in Europe, they have plenty of opportunities to do so.

    • Re:No. Way. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:28AM (#34913418) Journal

      That is completely beside the point.

      Driving is fun when you're out driving for fun. But the daily commute is annoying and tedious. Especially with high traffic and traffic jams, such a system could free a lot of time for the occupant of the car.

      On top of that, the risk of collision through inattention would be lowered. All around a good idea and not comparable to actual trains, because the moment you leave the highway, I'd assume, you'd be in control again and free to travel everywhere and not just where the buses and trains go.

      Basically, this takes the pros from trains and replaces the cons of personal travel with them.

      And nobody said you couldn't keep driving yourself on a leisure cruise.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Only problem I see is if the driver behind you doesn't pay attention when you leave the train and you get a shadow following you home.

      • by jopsen (885607)

        Driving is fun

        That is completely beside the point.

        Agree...

        Basically, this takes the pros from trains and replaces the cons of personal travel with them.

        Except, trains will be a lot safer, have less maintenance and be even more energy efficient... But definitely some of pros from trains...

        • Re:No. Way. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @08:28AM (#34914612)

          Not all that energy efficient

          http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/images/2008/08/04/transenergy.png [coyoteblog.com]

          My first conclusion is that we would get more efficient by pushing
          small, fuel efficient vehicles instead of pushing transit, and at
          a lower cost.

          A full bus or trainload of people is more efficient than private cars,
          sometimes quite a bit more so. But transit systems never consist
          of nothing but full vehicles. They run most of their day with light
          loads. The above calculations came from figures citing the
          average city bus holding 9 passengers, and the average train (light
          or heavy) holds 22. If that seems low, remember that every packed
          train at rush hour tends to mean a near empty train returning down
          the track.

          Transit vehicles also tend to stop and start a lot, which eats
          a lot of energy, even with regenerative braking. And most
          transit vehicles are just plain heavy, and not very aerodynamic.
          Indeed, you'll see tables in the DoE reports that show that over the past 30 years,
          private cars have gotten 30% more efficient, while buses have
          gotten 60% less efficient and trains about 25% worse. The
          market and government regulations have driven efforts to make cars
          more efficient, while transit vehicles have actually worsened.

          In order to get people to ride transit, you must offer frequent
          service, all day long. They want to know they have the freedom to leave at
          different times. But that means emptier vehicles outside of
          rush hour. You've all seen those huge empty vehicles go by, you just
          haven't thought of how anti-green they were. It would be better
          if off-hours transit was done by much smaller vehicles, but that
          implies too much capital cost -- no transit agency will buy enough
          equipment for peak times and then buy a second set of equipment for
          light demand periods.

      • I just wonder why no one ever tried to push a mini on demand rail system, where you have small capsules of max 2-4 passengers and they are pushed to their destination points on demand.
        Sounds more ecologically sane to me than the stuff we have currently because in low usage times only a small fraction of capsules are pushed in high traffic times you push a lot. Of couse you cannot get rid of dedicated stops that way and stops because a capsule in front of you has a passenger leaving, but given the small size

        • Such solutions have been proposed many times. The main problem appear to be economic: You need a lot of those rails before they are interesting. So it's a big investment, and when it is build, will enough people actually use it?

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Driving is fun when you're out driving for fun. But the daily commute is annoying and tedious.

        I have relatives who are so unwilling to adopt public transportation because it's "European" and "socialist" that they respond that the daily commute is a precious freedom and an expression of proud American values of self-reliance and pioneer spirit. I think they might actually believe this.

      • by khakipuce (625944)

        The risk the risk of collision through inattention may be lowered, but what happens when one car has a blow-out or mechanical failure. Some people drive too close but no as close as these road trains would!

    • Re:No. Way. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrvan (973822) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:57AM (#34913506)

      Did you ever notice how car ads always take place on small roads in beautiful mountainous territory?

      Driving cars on the highway through flat country is pretty boring; driving cars on a highway in traffic through the same flat country twice a day for a couple years on end is downright tedious.

      I think driving is incredibly fun --- through european cities and over small roads in the countryside. I would love to be able to drive to the highway, read the newspaper for half an hour, and take control again at the exit.

    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      and this is bullshit thing to reduce emissions. Individual's driving make very small part of the total emissions/pollution in the world, so small it doesn't matter at all in grand scale...

      • I just did a quick search on google and pulled up an Edmunds.com article on efficient driving. That article says that your personal driving habits can cost you up to a 37% reduction in milleage. So take a few million drivers and reduce the fuel usage by 37% and tell me it doesn't matter...
    • by arivanov (12034)

      Drive a couple of times 1000+ miles across Europe from let's say the Hook of Holland to Mare Marmaris or the Greek coast and I will talk to you again.

    • by ipwndk (1898300)
      I dislike driving. I commute in a metropolis, where there are no parking and constant queues. Currently I therefore only use trains, busses and metros. However, I'd like my own car such that I can choose my own destinations and have some privacy. But sitting still so much, waiting in queues, and figuring out how to navigate in crowded multilane streets puts me off this. I'd use this most definitely.
  • by Adambomb (118938) * on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:21AM (#34913382) Journal

    When questioned about trouble with their algorithms when encountering other cars, developers replied "Hell is other vehicles"

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:21AM (#34913386)

    Stop bolting technology onto a 19th century design. How about designing something from the ground up that solves the issues of our time ? We already have something that allows you to do other things while traveling, it's called a train.

    • Re:Just stop it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:36AM (#34913430) Journal

      Excuse me for being blunt, but you're an idiot.

      Switzerland has one of the best public transportation systems I am aware of. And still, a 45 minute commute by car can often turn into 1.5h or more on public transportation, including standing around in the cold in winter for any amounts of time.

      If you live in a city and work there, too, then yes, public transportation is a great thing. I wouldn't use my car to get to work there either. But believe it or not, even with all the congestion around Zurich, it was still much faster to drive when I had to back in the days.

      Frankly, everyone else can go fuck themselves if they believe I'd sacrifice between one and three hours every day because they can't fix the society so they expect me to fix their problems for them.

      Because, make no mistake, using public transportation is very stressful for me and don't even get me started on doing something productive with that time. Because you can't. If you have to change transportation every 10 to thirty minutes, you just CAN'T concentrate on something of consequence. Especially with all the noise that goes on around you. I know, I've tried for four long years.

      Now that might be different if you're travelling first class. But, keeping the lack of flexibility in mind (because owning a car AND using public transportation is economic bullshit), public transportation becomes very, very expensive all of a sudden.

      So I'd like to ask you to shut up and stop applying your situation to everybody else. Just because YOU can be happy and content with public transportation does not mean everybody else can.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by k8to (9046)

        Translation: I live too far away from my job by choice, and the unavoidable commuting overhead makes me uncontrollably angry.

        • Well, most families have 2 working people (at least in the civilized world), which means that usually one of them have half an hour drive time or more (for me, around 30 km). With public transportation, that is about 50 minutes, which does not make me "uncontrollably angry", but I wouldn't mind seeing it reduced, either.

          • Less Is More (Score:2, Insightful)

            by andersh (229403)

            While I don't disagree with you I think the point made was that people live far away from their places of work regardless. In terms of planning that's not economically logical or environmentally friendly.

            In the past decades we have focused on bringing people to buildings, while we should be looking at this issue from the point of the least possible impact and cost on a macroeconomic scale. Unless you perform a service in person or require expensive machinery there's no reason you should commute.

            We should fo

            • Ah, yes, working from home. As I am doing right now. Unfortunately, I have to admit that you can communicate far more efficiently when you are *in* the environment than from your home office. But perhaps technology will in time solve that issue.

              • I also work from home, and commute to meet colleagues once a month.

                I think tech has come a long way towards solving communication issues. The biggest hurdle I have to communicate is that -at the office- it is easy to go chat with someone and speak without disturbing colleagues, but somehow trying to make the same through speakers _always_ disturbs everyone. Every time I need to chat with a colleague in a big office room, the person needs to first walk to a conference room.

                OTOH, I can communicate perfectly w

                • Sure, but what about the buzz? I often overhear when someone is doing something interesting and/or wrong, and can instantly intervene. Also, whenever someone swears at something it is quite possible someone will say: Just do this or that, and your problem will go away. It is that sort of communication that I think is lost when telecommuting.

              • I must admit I'm slightly hypocritical because I just quit my present job (IT) and I also work from home... I'm looking forward to working in an office again.

                I know all about the problems of communication and the downsides of home offices. Not least the problem that work is always on your mind.

                I still think it's better use of our shared resources to have permanent home offices and simply change credentials when we change employers. My employer even pays me for "use" of my home office as it is.

            • by Ice Tiger (10883)

              Totally agree telecommuting is a much better solution than building more roads etc, even if the majority telecommuted one day a week then there would be a substantial reduction in traffic a day.

            • by Kjella (173770)

              I've worked quite a bit with teleconferences, phone conferences, remote sharing etc. and while it sort of works I'd never choose that over having people traveling half an hour to get to work.

              1) The communication is poorer. No camera solution I've seen manages to shift focus between the different people as easily as around a meeting table. Even with a lot of training, users aren't able to sketch something as easily on the computer as they do on a whiteboard. And the general chatter of a group of people worki

            • by Blymie (231220)

              While I don't disagree with you I think the point made was that people live far away from their places of work regardless. In terms of planning that's not economically logical or environmentally friendly.

              In the past decades we have focused on bringing people to buildings, while we should be looking at this issue from the point of the least possible impact and cost on a macroeconomic scale. Unless you perform a service in person or require expensive machinery there's no reason you should commute.

              We should focus more on creating a new culture, and economic conditions where it's profoundly more beneficial for employers and employees to telecommute. Why waste energy and money unless there's an actual need? Society as a whole should increase the cost of transport for non-essential travel during the morning/afternoon commute and create incentives for telecommuting for everyone involved. And possibly make more use of differential pricing [of road use/fuel] based upon "classes" of users?

              You lost me the first time you used bold. Next time try writing all in caps.

              • Yes, of course, I always take advice from people on Slashdot. Too bad I lost you, and if I did, why would I bother adapting to suit your tastes? Nice waste of your time.

                I make an effort, you act like a dick.

          • Well I just met an old colleque of mine yesterday who commutes 4 hours every day :-)

        • Re:Just stop it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @04:35AM (#34913690) Journal

          See? Fix the society first. This is exactly what I meant.

          Switzerland does not have a real estate market as flexible as America. Once you've bought a home, you're likely going to stay there for a few decades if not your whole life.

          Do you expect BOTH me and my wife to find jobs near our home (or vice versa) and keep them for the rest of our lives? Do you truly think that's a realistic outlook on life?

          It doesn't matter whether you think I'm just bitching around. Fact is, a lot of people have to deal with these questions. If you don't, great for you. We do. So you'll have to excuse us for making different decisions than you do.

          I am of the opinion that bending over backwards for some concept like environmentalism is pretty stupid. If we, as a society, want to reach certain goals (clean environment) then we need to implement global changes that will make it easier for us to achieve those. Not just demand everyone buckle down and 'do their part'. Because then someone has to define what this 'part' is and you can bet your sweet ass it's going to be defined by people who aren't inconvenienced by what they define.

          • Actually my wife works in the local city council as a lawyer and I am an IT pro who has to go into international banks. So she cannot move I have to commute to customers often thousands of kilometers away. So guess what you cannot really move in that situation even if you want to :-)
            Be glad that you and your wife can find a job very nearby, I cannot because the local customers pay lousily pretty much every IT guy leaves the city after a short period of time because of that.
            I simply settled down to a combina

      • So I'd like to ask you to shut up and stop applying your situation to everybody else. Just because YOU can be happy and content with public transportation does not mean everybody else can.

        Politeness counts, the above sentence could apply just as well to you as it does to me substituting car for public transport.

        You seem to have missed my main point, which wasn't about public transport but the fact we are hacking things onto an ancient design instead of truly innovating. We've had these pipe dreams of "robotic cars" for decades and they belong in the same category as flying cars: fun sci-fi but wildly unpractical. Fact is automobile travel is becoming impractical in a lot of places (no, not e

        • Re:Just stop it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @04:40AM (#34913720)

          Impressively polite rejoinder :-)

          However, I disagree with your premise - road trains ARE an example of innovative thinking.

          Coming up with a likely-to-be-practical transportation system of the future isn't that difficult. There are several personal-rapid-transport proposals around that would probably work well if you were building a new city from scratch.

          The hard part is the TRANSITION, and building a new system while we're still using the old. Road trains are an excellent transition technology.

        • by Kokuyo (549451)

          I apologize for my rudeness. Obviously I have confused you with environment zealots, and those really annoy me.

          I agree with you. Personally, I see salvation in completely autonomous cars like in Minority Report IIRC. Being able to enter a car wherever you want and exiting it wherever you need is important for a society that believes in globalization. This flexibility is a must, IMO.

          On the other hand, the network of fuel stations to support private vehicles must be an astounding drain on resources. Also, a c

          • by macshit (157376)

            Being able to enter a car wherever you want and exiting it wherever you need is important for a society that believes in globalization. This flexibility is a must, IMO.

            Not really. Ultimate flexibility is nice as an abstract goal, but there are always tradeoffs, and they vary by circumstance.

            If you live in a dense urban area, but insist that even a 2 minute delay, or a 5 minute walk to a station, or sharing with even one other person or ..., is too much you'll end with an unworkable system, simply because there isn't enough room to accomodate that without devoting the majority of your space and resources -- and you'll end up with a less efficient system, and a far less p

          • I lived in the NL and right now live in Paris.

            Did you ever stop to think about the amount of space it would take just to park the cars if the majority of people (say in The NL or in Paris) were not using public transportation?

      • Do you carpool? If you do you're still a decent guy. If not you're a selfish prick.

        • by Kokuyo (549451)

          Since I have a minivan in anticipation of a family (and my do-it-yourself mentality), I offered. Nobody took me up on the offer.

        • I would love to carpool. But my working hour are so that it is like if every morning I have to roll a D20 to know when i will go to work and the same in the evening to come back. This make carpooling unpacticable in my case :-( And I can't use public transportation without getting crazy (10 min by car, ~1h by public transport, and by bike, there is no way to cross the 2 motorways without doing a crazy detour)

      • When I use public transportation I need an hour in the train and 30 minutes of walking (or 10 minutes bus) to arrive at the office. In a car the time is reduced to 30 minutes. I still prefer public transportation because the traffic is stressful and the time behind the steering wheel is wasted. When I use the public transportation I usually read some book and half an hour of walking has done wonders to my health. I say, to hell with cars.

      • Guess it really depends on where you live in swizerland, if you live far away from the next railway station then it is really slower bug given the density of the swiss railroads, I guess 60% of the people are faster by train. I dont live there but often are there and I am really amazed how great it is despite the often rather old technology they use. Within the zurich it is often a matter of minutes to reach the point where you want to go and commuting is also possible because of the 22 express train lines

      • by mano.m (1587187)

        So I'd like to ask you to shut up and stop applying your situation to everybody else. Just because YOU can be happy and content with public transportation does not mean everybody else can.

        I'd like to ask you to shut up and stop applying your situation to everybody else. Just because YOU can be happy and content with the concept of private transportation, with its concomitant waste and inefficiencies, does not mean everybody else can.

    • Stop bolting technology onto a 19th century design. How about designing something from the ground up that solves the issues of our time ? We already have something that allows you to do other things while traveling, it's called a train.

      Oh yeah, because trains are sooo 21st century.

      • Good one. That's what people are trying to invent though: a train that drives up to your house and that doesn't have all these annoying other people on it. So look at the requirements (and what is realistic in a post peak-oil world) and actually come up with something that solves our problems both with the car and public transport as it exists now instead of this 50's B-movie robocar shit.

    • by mangu (126918)

      Trains are early 19th century technology, cars are late-19th/early-20th century.

      I think this proposal is great, it's not about "bolting" something on a car, it's about creating an entirely new technology, a dynamic, self-assembling train. It merges some of the efficiency in a train to some of the flexibility in a car.

      Besides, it's probably the lowest cost and faster implementation technology available for a new transportation system. I don't see any radical improvements in track technology coming soon, we h

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Ah yes, the thing that goes from where you don't live to place you don't need to go when you don't need to travel. The beauty of the car is that it goes all the way to your driveway, on every reasonably flat asphalt/gravel/dirt road and it's always ready to go and will take the most direct route to your destination. If you're going to replace cars you should understand why people use cars in the first place.

      Like just take my parents for example, they live around 600 meters from the closest grocery store and

    • by timholman (71886)

      Stop bolting technology onto a 19th century design. How about designing something from the ground up that solves the issues of our time ? We already have something that allows you to do other things while traveling, it's called a train.

      Spoken like a young, healthy individual who doesn't have to carry a large load of groceries or manage a couple of children while walking several blocks in bad weather. Personally, I prefer to walk the 1.5 miles back and forth to work every day. However, I recognize that my

  • how does this help? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nineteen-Delta (1892866) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:27AM (#34913412) Homepage
    I cant see how this helps drive down emissions if all the people of Europe - and the world for that matter start driving everywhere, whereas before they were too old, too young, are disqualified, or hadn't passd their test. If the 50% of people who don't drive now take to the roads, dosn't that mean twice as many cars on them? Besides, if the car's on autopilot, why not get in and be driven 1,000 miles instead af a couple of hundred- that's already five times the journey length!
    • Since you still need to take control of the car off the highway, I guess the licence requirements will be the same.
      And, is it more comfortable to sit in a car for 1000km, or in a train/plane where you can walk around/strech/etc..
    • by wagnerrp (1305589)

      At low speeds, rolling friction from the tires is the primary draw on the engine. At highway speeds, aerodynamic drag very rapidly overtakes friction. By drafting one car inches from the next, the drag on each drops tremendously. This system could easily drop highway fuel consumption in half, as well as increase the range electric vehicles can travel before having to kick in their generator.

      The idea isn't that everyone will start driving everywhere on their own, but rather that the people who already are

  • Self driving cars, and all they can think of is lower emissions? 1. I don't really see how it could significantly affect emissions. 2. why is it that every project has to have "a better environment" as it's main goal? I don't deny global warming, but what is being done about it is crazy.
    • I think you just take the research grants where they are to be found. I mean, I have done optimization work too, where the real agenda was to save on fuel costs, but the research was officially "green" :)

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      In this case closer driving reduces wind resistance, but without the risk of mass collisions that happens if humans try it. ..and stop being in denial

    • by Drasil (580067)

      I don't deny global warming, but what is being done about it is crazy.

      Personally I think it's what's not being done about it that's crazy.

      Back on topic: I agree that a rethink of personal transportation is required. I think it is more important to rethink the things that cause us to need or want cars. Living in a different town from one's workplace is rarely if ever required. The centralisation of services that widespread car ownership has permitted (think malls or retail parks) is amongst the myriad of rea

      • by Heian-794 (834234)

        I agree; society is designed around the car, which causes businesses and residences to become more spread out, which makes even more people switch to driving; the vicious circle continues until just about everyone had a car and a car-dependent lifestyle to match.

        I'm looking forward to self-driving cars because they'll be able to finally eliminate one of the most unnoticed discriminations in society today: the plight of the visually impaired, who are fully capable of working the vast majority of jobs, but ar

  • by MerlinTheWizard (824941) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @04:12AM (#34913574)
    The human species seems to be oddly obsessed with automating everything it can think of - and of course, it's always supposed to be in a good cause. Since there was much talk about commuting, why don't we go a step further and finish what we already started long ago: automate every possible kind of work humans can do. Then we won't need to commute anymore and the work environment should be much more efficient too. Thus, lower emissions. Then we can just sit around and maybe push one button or two every once in a while. But then, we might get very fat in the long run, if we just do nothing. And our own production of CO2 and other nasty gases ( ;) ) might eventually be a huge problem. Then again, maybe at this point, we won't need to exist at all anymore. Looks like a bright future, if you ask me.
    • by mijelh (1111411)
      We are talking about automating an annoying process here (commuting), so you can do more productive things with your life. Nobody says we should automate tennis, handball, or rock concerts (actually, we pay to see the real thing, and not an automated copy -playback-).
      Besides, I don't understand your point of us "not needing to exist at all anymore". Do you "need" to exist NOW ?.
  • The manoeuvre to "leave the train" - take control and change lane - would be difficult. Just imagine taking control of a vehicle travelling at speed with a gap of a few feet at most in front and behind, and moving into another lane without a chance to adjust your speed first.
    • by ctid (449118)

      I would envisage that this would be integrated with satellite navigation. You wouldn't say, "I want to leave the train now", you'd say "I want to leave at junction 12". Not much fun if you need a the toilet!

    • Because it would be really difficult to write a 'make a bigger space, I'd like to leave the train' function?
      • by Chrisq (894406)
        You open up a whole other issue there. Someone uncontrolled comes into the gap - and what happens to the tail of the train then? Are they suddenly freed to driver control at speed with little distance between, do they close up and squeeze the car out, or does the system leave a "gap" for ever more and cope with whatever the uncontrolled driver does?
  • This is seriously cool. If they perfect it, the cars won't even need people to be in them; they could drive themselves, and we could stay home!

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:30AM (#34913932)

    I think it's pretty obvious that technologies along these lines (self-piloting automobiles) are the way of the future. The big question is how do we make the leap from where we are now to where we want to be? Clearly, the ideal would be to have the autonomous systems able to react and work around existing drivers on the road, but I have a feeling that it won't be too long before systems like these ones are incentivized in some way so that the transition is both easier and safer.

    For instance, carpool lanes in some locations already permit motorists driving greener cars to use the lane, even if they're alone. 10, 15, or 20 years from now, whenever this technology finally matures and starts to enter the consumer market, the same sort of thing will likely be applied. We'll simply see the autonomous systems engaged whenever motorists enter a specific lane dedicated to their use. It allows manufacturers to prove that the technology works, instills confidence in it among drivers, gives them obvious benefits for choosing it, and can be used as a transition phase to having roads that are occupied predominately by self-driving vehicles. Over time, what began as a luxury will become a standard feature, just as has happened dozens or hundreds of other times in the industry, and soon enough, all new cars will be equipped with the system. Not long after that, legislation will require it of all street-legal cars.

    In the long term, cars driven by actual people will be in the minority, and will likely be barred from driving on regular roads. They'll likely be regulated and restricted to only operating in specific places (e.g. enthusiast race tracks, special lanes in traffic, etc.). I'm not suggesting I like this, mind you, but I have been trying to figure out how a transition from piloted to pilotless automobiles would work and what it would look like once it was completed. The only result I can see is that piloted cars get relegated to a role not at all unlike that of horses today: used by enthusiasts in specific locations and circumstances, but not for general use in travel and transportation.

  • It's a good thing they didn't call it Jettison Galactic Ballistic Automatic Leveling Lever Autonomous Rear Drive.

    (AKA "JG Ballard.")

  • That's pretty neat and all, but who's liable for damages when a self driving car causes an accident? Obviously the insurance should cover this, but insurance is assigned to persons. Do my rates go up if my self-driving car decides to glitch out and rear end somebody? If so, then I really do have to pay attention to what's going on, and we end up with a glorified cruise control system that's even more likely to put you to sleep, because now there's no interaction at all. If I'm not liable then who is?
    • by papabob (1211684)
      Liability (in it's legal form) isn't a main concern in Europe since we don't have the "tradition" of suing everything and everyone. If something causes an accident (be it a smart car that crashes or a Tv that explodes and causes a fire in my living room) and you are not responsible (you are not screwing with the smart car safety systems and you are not droping some water in the Tv), then the responsible is the producer. But it doesn't matters at all, with insurances we protect the effects of an accident and
    • by j_sp_r (656354)

      Depending on the country I think. At least in the NL, the insurance is assigned to the car and you can have anyone drive it. Although no-risk is personal again.

  • A very similar approach was already pursued in 1998 by Volkswagen in their "Convoy-Pilot" project.

    http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-7907540.html (German)

    Maybe practical feasibility has improved in the meantime with advances in computer and sensor technologies, but SARTRE is certainly nowhere as innovative as people seem to think here.

  • When Volvo demonstrated their S60 colliision detection to 120 Swedish journalists - they actually served to demonstrate why its not such a good idea to rely on all this safety technology:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ6z3IArINI [youtube.com]

    Not sure how safe I would feel sitting in one of these car train jams... something tells me this tech is still a few years off yet.

  • Computerising cars to drive themselves will never happen for three reasons.

    1) Such a system would cost a LOT of money per car.

    2) It allows the government to much more accurately track where you are.

    3) No computer is fast enough to be able to compute if a pedestrian is about to jay-walk because they are more interested in their iPod. No computer can see if a dog is on a leash and could run into the road. No computer can decide which pot-hole is "more preferable" to drive through, especially if there's a whol

  • Target-Rich Environment.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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