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Transportation

Nissan Plans To Sell Self-Driving Cars By 2020 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-self-flying-cars dept.
Lucas123 writes "Nissan today said it will begin demonstrating autonomous vehicle technology on its all-electric Leaf this year, and plans to begin selling multiple models of self-driving cars by 2020. Nissan said it's already building an autonomous drive proving ground in Japan. Its goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations. The car company, which is among several others and Google in developing autonomous driving tech, is currently working with top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford and The University of Tokyo, to develop its self-drive technology."
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Nissan Plans To Sell Self-Driving Cars By 2020

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:54PM (#44691043) Homepage

    No more tailgating, left lane hogging, pulling out without indicating, running red lights, drunk driving or any of that other stuff the meat-based drivers keep on doing.

    Free up the roads for people who don't see driving as a chore and make an effort to drive properly.

    • Re: Good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:05PM (#44691143)
      Think about the implications for the environment. Consistent easy acceleration saving fuel and safer roads for motorcyclists.

      Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction. And, since ICEs are bad about changing power output to meet demand, lots of fuel is wasted idling.
      • by Belial6 (794905)

        Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction.

        No they are not. That is a myth. Traffic jams are almost a sole function of not enough road for the number of cars. Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

        • Re: Good (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:43PM (#44691469) Homepage

          At highway speeds, human driven cars should be over 150 feet apart to be safe. Autonomous cars can be separated by just a few feet. The capacity of our existing roads would increase immensely.

          • Re: Good (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:52PM (#44691557)

            At highway speeds, human driven cars should be over 150 feet apart to be safe. Autonomous cars can be separated by just a few feet.

            Yeah, because nothing could happen so fast that computer-driven cars a few feet apart could cause a massive pileup with thousands dead.

        • Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

          What you are missing is that the "capacity" is not a constant. Self-driving cars can drive much closer together, and can react much faster to changing conditions. They will also operate with more information about traffic conditions ahead. Google has estimated that their cars can increase the capacity of a lane of highway by at least a factor of five.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

          True, but networked computers would also be able to coordinate their entrances onto congested roadways. Quality of Service scheduling could be applied to cars on the road just like it currently gets applied to packets on a telephone network. (assuming nobody reprograms their software to 'cheat', anyway ;))

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          If a road is at capacity, why couldn't all of the cars be driving at even something slow like 25 MPH, instead of speed up then almost stop, speed up then almost stop, etc?

          That's because of the human error... (and you see the "slowdown" move in the opposite direction of traffic flow, as has been shown on video).

        • Re: Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @07:59PM (#44692537) Homepage

          No, that is a myth. Traffic jams occur when the available road space is not being used efficiently. For example, it oly takes one car to enter an interaction when there is no room to exit on the other side and the entire intersection can become locked, even if the total traffic volume is low. Traffic jams occur in many different traffic situation, not just when when the volume is high.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction.

          No they are not. That is a myth. Traffic jams are almost a sole function of not enough road for the number of cars. Once a road is at capacity, no amount of 'perfect' driving is going to prevent the addition of more cars from causing traffic slowdowns and eventually traffic jams.

          Not traffic jams as such but traffic waves [wikipedia.org] definitely are caused by over and under reaction by bad drivers.

          A scenario I see often, Car #2 brakes because he's going faster than Car #1, Car #3 panics and hits the brakes harder. This chain continues until we reach someone who was actually watching more than the car right in front of you and left enough room to ride out the wave without braking.

          Traffic waves are often confused for jams as waves often bring traffic to a halt for short periods of time.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Think about the implications for the environment. Consistent easy acceleration saving fuel and safer roads for motorcyclists.

        I don't know about "consistent easy acceleration" - to the limited extent my 2012 Infiniti is self driving, it accelerates pretty nicely up to the speed I set, though I guess it's still far from full throttle. It also still makes mistakes with motorcyclists - I don't entirely trust it to understand there's a motorcycle in front of me yet, as it's sometimes slow to react, although it's fine about motorcycles beside me (sides are radar, but front is image processing from a camera, which is harder).

        Traffic jams are almost a sole function of human deficiencies through overreaction and slow reaction.

        No, not at

      • Re: Good (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:25PM (#44691819) Homepage Journal

        Consistent easy acceleration saving fuel and safer roads for motorcyclists.

        Safer roads for everyone. It could be programmed for optimum acceleration, but that's not where most gas is wasted. Most gas is wasted sitting at red lights, and people are particularly stupid about that, at least here in Springfield. The light ahead is red and they race to it, but slow down if it's green. You could save a lot of fuel if the computer knew when lights were going to change.

    • by ron_ivi (607351)

      No more ... running red lights

      No more red lights at all! http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~aim/ [utexas.edu]

      Autonomous Intersection Management

      (Awesome traffic intersection simulation on that page)

    • by EvilSS (557649)
      No more traffic tickets... ooops... Sorry, going to have to ban those for the sake of our local financ...er...safety or something.
    • by Jeremi (14640)

      No more tailgating, left lane hogging, pulling out without indicating, running red lights, drunk driving or any of that other stuff the meat-based drivers keep on doing.

      At least, not until the firmware-modding community gets their hands on it... :)

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:58PM (#44691079)
    Why wouldn't Uber buy their fleet of cars from Nissan, instead of from Google [slashdot.org]?
  • What happens when every car uses lidar, or some other range finding technology? Won't they interfere with each other and cause problems?
    • by mark-t (151149)
      No more so than a given tv remote that is made for one particular TV should also affect every other television.
      • by zlives (2009072)

        great so as long as no two same model cars are on the same road everything should work just fine :)

        • by mark-t (151149)
          Nah... the signals used could easily be keyed to each individual car, say by using an encoded form of the VIN, and not responding to signals which do not contain the vehicle's own code.
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        If you have one remote it works great. If you have two remotes it will still work good. If you put 100 remotes in a room and had each of them pressing buttons at the same time, you would likely start to run into unreliability due to interference from each other. (Someone more familiar with the protocol should be able to tell us how many remotes it would take to be a problem) One problem with early CFL bulbs was that they emitted IR and would sometimes cause problems with IR remotes for TVs.
        • by mark-t (151149)
          True... but at the same time, cars aren't exactly tiny... the range on the signal probably wouldn't be far enough that your own car is liable to be reading the signals of hundreds of other cars at the same time.
  • by Donut (128871) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:06PM (#44691155)

    This is a better headline. To those of us over 35, we have been trained to think of 2020 as a long time from now.

  • by BobSutan (467781) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:12PM (#44691203)

    The main obstacle to self-driving cars isn't technological, it's cultural. Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass. And that doesn't even speak to the costs involved. High end luxury cars get the tech first and it trickles down, eventually. Factor that in with the cultural issues and we're probably not going to see widespread adoption of self-driving cars until 2050 or beyond.

    • The main obstacle to self-driving cars isn't technological, it's cultural. Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass.

      That's assuming no catastrophic failures in that time period. All it will take is a couple major accidents caused by bad GPS/LIDAR/What-have-you, and back on the shelf it goes.

      Hell, it wouldn't even take an actual technological failure, but merely a perceived one - remember all those incidents of "unintended acceleration" in several Toyota models? Nobody could prove that it was any sort of actual malfunction, yet Toyota sales still suffered from all the bad PR.

      My issue? The potential for intentional tamperi

      • by lgw (121541)

        That's assuming no catastrophic failures in that time period. All it will take is a couple major accidents caused by bad GPS/LIDAR/What-have-you, and back on the shelf it goes.

        I disagree. The mood about this seems to be "as long as they're in fewer accidents than human drivers".

        Nobody could prove that it was any sort of actual malfunction, yet Toyota sales still suffered from all the bad PR.

        The same thing happened to Audi before them. It's starting to get through to people that those are fake (and the few isolated real examples haven't hurt sales much). Car companies already deal with dangerous problems that affect an entire model year today via recalls, usually with little fanfare. Most people with newer cars don't even realize how many firmware updates their dealer has done when their c

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:30PM (#44691337) Homepage

      You're dead wrong. There'll be mass adoption as soon as people figure out you get to watch TV or go on Facebook while you're on your way to work,

      Any company that has to pay drivers (taxis, buses, trucks, airport shuttles...) will also be straining at the leash waiting for this to happen. As soon as it's approved, all their drivers will be out on their asses. The companies will save so much money on wages, fuel, insurance, etc. that switching to robots will be the only way to stay competitive.

      Add in the old people who can't pass the driver's medical and you're looking at a switchover measured in months for a big chunk of the population.

    • Sex. (Score:5, Funny)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:39PM (#44691421)

      Even if they get a commercially viable product on the road in 2020, it'll be at least a generation of these things being on the roads before people become comfortable enough with the technology to trust their lives to it en mass.

      Once people figure out that you can have sex in the car on the way to work only the lonely will still be driving.

    • No, the main obstacle to self-driving cars is the law. And it's a critical issue.

      Who, exactly, is at fault when a self-driving car causes an accident? The owner? The passenger? The car maker? The software programmer? No state currently has laws in place that address this issue.

      And make no mistake, there WILL be accidents caused by software bugs/hardware failures.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        It's not that much of a hurdle. The transition will be very gradual, and it will be years and years before/if the driver is not required to maintain vigilance, and be held accountable.

        Anyways the question is essentially no different than saying 'cars will never go over 15 mph because they could kill somebody if something happens like a wheel falls off, and who will take the blame? The manufacturer? The garage who last serviced it? The driver?'

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      I want a self-driving motorhome. I telecommute, and it would be awesome to be able to travel around the country working from the back of an RV while the RV automatically takes me to cool places around the country. I have done some road trips with my wife and kid like this, but she would be much happier and willing to do it more if she wasn't the one that had to do all of the driving.
  • ...shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
  • by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:19PM (#44691249)

    I would recommend autonomous car makers stay out of the litigious US market initially, and focus their initial launch on some place like Singapore.

    It has:
    1) No Snow, which is still causes difficult problem for autonomous vehicles.
    2) Highly structured environment. It is a nation that essentially consists of a single, highly-organized city.
    3) That single city has a government that operates as a sovereign entity, and can adapt its legal framework to accommodate the cars.
    4) That sovereign entity has demonstrated itself to be business friendly (sometimes at the expense of the individual).
    5) Has car owners who are accustomed to accepting extensive government regulation and oversight.

    Much as I would love the idea of having a self-driving car myself, I can't see how such a thing is compatible with American Society.

    • by grumpyman (849537)
      Hey how about piloting it in India [youtube.com]. If it works there, it'll surely work in all other jurisdictions!
  • What if there's a squirrel, a cat, a dog or a frickin' deer on the road?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It will stop. .. unless it's a Canyonaroe.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG5FKsH3-F4 [youtube.com]

    • by mark-t (151149)

      A well-functioning autonomous vehicle would recognize that there was an obstacle in such a case and would immediately slow down to avoid a collision.

      Although I doubt it would recognize things as small as squirrels or other tiny animals. Something the size of a deer, however, it should immediately stop for.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)

      Simple. If the animal is small enough to cause no damage on impact, hit it and keep going. If it is big enough to damage the vehicle, don't hit it.

      If it can read road signs, it can see a deer.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Simple. If the animal is small enough to cause no damage on impact, hit it and keep going. If it is big enough to damage the vehicle, don't hit it.

        So when it sees a baby in the road, it will run over them and keep going.

        Sounds good.

    • Road Kill for dinner.

      The amazing autonomous James Bond "Q" car will catch it, skin it, and roast it over the car engine while you drive.

      When you get home, dinner will be ready to be served.

      Yum, yum.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      It will do the right thing, which will frequently be to run over that squirrel instead of slamming on the breaks causing humans to be the ones that get injured or killed.
  • by PRMan (959735)
    Phhh. Didn't Toyota already have a self-driving car?
  • It seems to me that self-driving cars would be a big deal for elderly people who are don't want to give up driving despite really being incapable of driving safely.

  • Having grown up in NYC and spent much of my life riding a bicycle on the streets of Manhattan, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that my first priority when riding my bicycle or driving a car is, wait for it, to not die.

    Having lived and driven in many parts of the U.S. I've often been appalled at the cavalier way in which people drive. You're in a 1+ ton box of metal usually traveling at least 100km/h. Lots of ways to die in that scenario.

    Perhaps others might decide that they too do not want to die

  • by Catmeat (20653) <mtm@sys.uea.a c . uk> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:03PM (#44691669)

    Will autonomous vehicles have to have a driver on board? If not then delivery companies would love the idea of sacking all theirs. The public might not like having to fetch their parcels from a truck pulled up on the street outside their house, rather than have them delivered to the door, but meh.

    Another thought, how long after the technology becomes commonplace before the first non-suicide truck bomb? If I can think it up, then presumably the security apparatus can also, and is right now considering this possibility; it'll be interesting to see what rules and restrictions come into force to try and prevent it.

  • Meanwhile, I'm glad I drive a pickup. My next one, bought in three or four years, will probably last me until I don't need to worry about driving any more.

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