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Transportation

Full-Size Remote Control Cars 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-mr-bond-i-expect-you-to-die dept.
cylonlover writes "Thanks to efforts of groups such as Google, Oxford University, BMW and Continental, we're getting closer and closer to the advent of autonomous cars – vehicles that drive themselves, with the human 'driver' pretty much just along as a passenger. Researchers at Germany's Technische Universität München, however, are looking at taking things a step further. They're developing remote-control cars that could travel along city streets with no one in them at all, their operator located somewhere far away."
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Full-Size Remote Control Cars

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  • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:34PM (#44440499) Homepage
    Having a human to control the car makes it relatively EASY compared to autonomous. Whether there is a human in the autonomous car or not makes no difference. Of course it's still a technically challenging undertaking... drivers rely on being able to look behind them to check blind spots etc but a well designed remote would be able to give the driver all the info and control he'd need. Then it's just a matter of latency and control design.
    • can be end being very unsafe (with if it stops on rail road tracks) or any other number of unsafe places also can make some big jam ups let's say it stops on an 1 lane ramp?.

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        can be end being very unsafe (with if it stops on rail road tracks) or any other number of unsafe places also can make some big jam ups let's say it stops on an 1 lane ramp?.

        It will be piloted by predator drone operators and will carry explosives, tested in Iraq, perfected in Afghanistan, sold throughout the world, by Target, get it?

    • That's what would be a step further. Being able to direct my car to come pick me up and not bother me with the details of how it got there.

      Remotely piloted vehicles might useful for long haul trucking. It would be easier to drive in shifts this way if the drivers did not have to be physically present. They could even get a decent "night"'s sleep in a bed when not driving.

  • by naoursla (99850) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:35PM (#44440511) Homepage Journal

    Human drivers operating remotely is really a step in a different direction. It isn't moving past autonomous vehicles.

    You could replace the remote humans with remote computers and it would be a form of autonomous vehicle.

    In any case, given how often my cell phone drops signal while I'm driving I'm not sure I would want one of... oops...

    sdfdxcal
    [CARRIER LOST]

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I think it's a great advance. I can send my car to work while I stay home.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Great, let's just make the roads even less safe than they are now.

      Driving is a very odd activity in that the person who does the stupid thing is very rarely affected by the consequences. Like say drinking and driving. A drunk driver getting into an accident rarely gets major injuries, however, the victim(s) usually get the brunt of the injuries and damages.

      Consequence-free results of driving? Now an drunken idiot can go an cause havoc on the roads and basically get away scot-free - not even a scratch on his

      • by Eivind (15695)

        What do you mean "even less safe" ? The roads in most of the developed world are safer than they've ever been, and improving rapidly. For example, here in Norway when I got my drivers licencee we had around 400 casualties a year, now 20 years later we've got around 170.

        And that is despite the fact that driven-kilometers has almost doubled in those 20 years. Thus fatalities-pro-driven-km has fallen by something like 80% in 20 years.

        I expect autonomous cars will continue the trend, and in another 20 years we'

        • How much lower are traffic fatalities simply because people carry cell phones? Which coincidentally ties in with the OP.
          • by Eivind (15695)

            Hard to say. Seems plausible, certain even, that always *having* a cellphone saves lives sometimes. It means quicker alerting of 911 for example, especially in the case where something happens far from the nearest landline.

            I was just taking issue with the "even more dangerous" nonsense. There's plenty folks argue as if the world is going to hell and everything is deteriorating. Some things are, but traffic-fatalities certainly are not one of them.

    • by korbulon (2792438)

      yeah but the human drivers would also be remotely controlled

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Too much sophistication. Not much practical....

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:40PM (#44440565)

    I trust software more than I trust most drivers these days.

  • Trucking? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How feasible is something like this for long-haul trucking I wonder. Then the drivers wouldn't have to be away from home for weeks on end -- they could just sit in what amounts to a simulator room that was setup like a real cab with numerous cameras to give you normal vision and maybe some force-feedback.

    I assume the eventual future will be monotonous stuff like long-haul trucking will all be automated.

    • How feasible is something like this for long-haul trucking I wonder. Then the drivers wouldn't have to be away from home for weeks on end -- they could just sit in what amounts to a simulator room that was setup like a real cab with numerous cameras to give you normal vision and maybe some force-feedback.

      Then what would the point be? At least if they were actually driving the truck they'd have the opportunity to see the country. Not to mention, the windows don't roll down in simulators; things could get messy. [youtube.com]

    • by Coisiche (2000870)

      Yeah, freight seems a good justification for this. However I expect that the majority of road use is about moving people between locations so remote control seems a bit pointless.

      Or maybe it's a growth opportunity. I guess you could hire a chauffeur in another country to drive the vehicle for your commute to work while you read the paper. Or maybe drive it home after a night on the town. "Yes officer, I'm completely drunk but I'm not driving the car. I've hired a guy on the other side of the world to do it.

    • by ethanms (319039)

      I'm sure they'll hire experienced drivers, remote Teamsters?

      This will end up being a lowest bidder situation and just like call centers, you'll have "simulators" over in China, India, wherever filled with remote drivers.

      • by jcwayne (995747)

        you'll have "simulators" over in China, India, wherever filled with remote drivers.

        That might cause a bit of a latency problem. Plus it adds the risk that the next time a ship drags anchor on an undersea cable, several thousand trucks crash. Oops...

  • Just what we need. Drones on the road.
  • Also don't even think about roaming with this as let's say $10-$20 an meg and ruining an car at $10 per minute (based on an very low data use of an 1 meg per minute is unworkable able let's say it more like 5-10 meg an minute that's like $500-$1000 in 60 minutes you bill is at the price of an NEW CAR!!.

    Even at $10 per GB (usa no slow down rates) can still add up to like $10 per an little over 1.30 hours and that is not counting any other costs.

  • Anyone else immediately think of the remote control car from Tomorrow Never Dies [youtube.com]?

    These days you could run the remote app on just about any smartphone...

  • I wouldn't be surprised if UPS would be interested. Trucker gets tired just hand off. No more potty breaks etc.

    I'm interested in the security and reliability of the connection. Cloud cover, overpasses, etc etc. Although I suppose you could combine a little auto driving in there like auto breaking and dealing with being cutoff. I don't think you could react fast enough remotely...plus if you wrecked the impact is less for you so you might get lazy.

    • still need some to pickup and drop packages and remote drivers will cost more then just an driver doing it all.

      • by erice (13380)

        still need some to pickup and drop packages and remote drivers will cost more then just an driver doing it all.

        The sending and receiving depots have people to load and unload. I can't see it being used for end point deliveries without extensive additional automation. However, for moving packages between depots, it would work fine.

    • I'm interested in the security and reliability of the connection

      It's nice that someone is!

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:54PM (#44440719)

    at the basic level all you will need is some cell phone jamming and at the harder going after the control centers.

  • I've always wondered who operates the airport concourse subways and trams. There's no visible driver. Is it totally automated? Are they monitored remotely?

    • They're totally automated. They're monitored from a control center somewhere but it's not like there's a driver for each train, there may be one person watching the whole system.

    • by crow (16139)

      I've long wondered that same thing. If they can safely operate without a driver, why can't they use the same technology for regular subway systems?

    • by ethanms (319039)

      Those trams and subways amount to not much more than sideways elevators. I'm guessing that someone monitors these things at large airports/etc just like someone monitors that the elevators are going. But otherwise they are easily automated because they are on rails, their paths are exclusive, secure and well controlled. There are generally double doors so no one can get in/out when they shouldn't, etc...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They are automated, but controlled by at a central point. The DLR in london is a public light rail service that is fully automated since the 80's. In fact the Victoria tube line in London has been essentially automated since 1968 in terms of running between signals and stations. It has the driver simply there to open and close the door and make sure everybody is free of the train before letting it head off, that process could easily be done remotely by a team of 1 or 2 in a central facility, but the unions

  • At first sight it doesn't sound really efficient, with empty cars driving around, but there could be new kind of shopping. Drive through malls where stuff is thrown into the empty car which can then be driven back home. Or how about a nice day at the beach with friends, in 5.1 surround and 360 degree vision? Maybe later models have more audio channels too. Next step could be to use car stereo system to transmit voice. There will be a boom in the car audio retail.

  • DARPA's grand challenge had the cars unmanned. Totally autonomous, no human control, no one in the vehicle. Remote control of them would be easier than that. DARPA's goal at the time was to have supply trucks for the US Army to move around with like drones, so they wouldn't risk soldiers to IEDs.
    • by mooingyak (720677)

      DARPA's grand challenge had the cars unmanned. Totally autonomous, no human control, no one in the vehicle. Remote control of them would be easier than that.
      DARPA's goal at the time was to have supply trucks for the US Army to move around with like drones, so they wouldn't risk soldiers to IEDs.

      Overall I'd agree that autonomous is probably harder. But remote, especially long distance remote introduces some difficult problems, such as handling lag and disconnects. Seems like a silly endeavor since you'd most likely need to fail over to autonomous anyway in some situations.

  • by havana9 (101033) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @06:08PM (#44440857)
    Fit three clunkers with actuators on steering wheel, horn, pedals, stick and connect them to an RC car receiver
    Put cameras inside it.
    Put cars in Dunsfold Park circuit
    Give Jeremy, Richard and Dave one RC car controller each.
    Make funny Top Gear Episode while the clunkers are trashed.
    • by moschner (3003611)
      There was an episode of Top Gear in Series 19 where James May raced aTerraMax. The vehicle in the segment could be set to run autonomously or be remote controlled.
    • 1) You are aware that they had an episode many years ago where they did almost exactly that, yes?

      2) Who the hell is Dave?
  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @06:10PM (#44440881)
    I could stay home while driving to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Grant already modded several cars with remote control so that they can do dangerous stuff to the car without hurting themselves. Now, mind you, he did it as a human replacement (levers and pistons that operate the brake, gas pedals and gear box), rather than having the logic built into the car, but the idea is already there.

    • by Wookact (2804191)
      This is exactly what I was thinking. There is no reason that turning a car into a R/C car would be difficult in the least. The hard part is autonomous.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Please replace "taking things a step further"
    with "trying something a bit easier"

    As many have said this is in no way a step forward from autonomous. How many times have the Mythbusters done this already?? (Albeit not from a distant location, but big deal)

  • Now you do not have to distract yourself from watching Google-provided ads while you're driving.
    Get your computer hands off my steering wheel, I like driving my car!
  • by PPH (736903)

    The point of having a car is to get me from point A to point B. An autonomous car I can understand. For those too dim to drive. But what would be the point of me sitting at home while directing my car all over town? I mean if I've got to sit with a wheel in my hand, I might as well be sitting in the driver's seat.

    The application proposed by TFA (delivering rental cars) still requires paying a (remote) driver for the one way trip. Might as well have one person drive a car carrier and drop vehicles off where

  • Now I know the plot of the next Grand Theft Auto: Reality Edition!
  • I saw them testing this on Top Gear.

  • Muslims would be mowing down pedestrians and causing head-on crashes left, right, and centre. It's a real "terrorists toolkit"
  • Live Action GTA

  • Oh hell no, as a cyclist I know that drivers take enough risks with MY life even when they're in the car and I can confront the idiots 50 yards down the road at the lights.

    How can police see if the driver is drunk, old enough, awake, not playing tetris etc.

      No fucking way, I will **censored** if a remotely driven car comes anywhere near me.

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