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Transportation AI

Tesla Working On Autonomous Cars: Musk Wants Teslas With Auto-Pilot 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
cartechboy writes "Do you like driving? Well then, you're going to hate the future, because automakers are racing to beat each other to the starting line of the self-driving car race. By 2020, autonomous vehicles may arrive from Cadillac, Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, Audi, and even Google. But now Tesla wants to jump into the ring. CEO Elon Musk told the Financial Times that the electric-car maker will build a self-driving car...within three years. You'll note that's much sooner than 2020, which means Tesla would beat other, larger automakers to the punch. For those who fear self-driving cars, Musk said the autonomous Tesla could drive 90 percent of the time, but that in his opinion, a vehicle without a human in the cockpit isn't feasible. Like it or not, our roads will probably be safer because you won't actually be driving — well, OK, that other guy who's texting or talking or drinking a huge coffee or ... you get the idea."
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Tesla Working On Autonomous Cars: Musk Wants Teslas With Auto-Pilot

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  • Dear Elon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @05:49PM (#44888357)

    Please focus on making the Models and Model S 2.0 affordable. A vehicle with abase price greater than $50,000 is not affordable and is NOT what you promised when you first announced the Model S pre-order for $5000.

    Get the price down! Let Google and MIT develop the self driving tech for you.

    KTHNXBYE

    • by haruchai (17472)

      Agreed. Affordable & reliable 1st, autonomous later.

    • For me, as a "manual" driver, I can't put my blinker on and look into your eyes to communicate that I really need to move over and exit the freeway.

      For me, with a self driving car, the damned thing might start letting everyone and their mother in law get in front of me.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @08:38PM (#44889649) Homepage

        Self driving cars do something that people are incapable of doing. they signal and then SLOW DOWN to merge behind traffic. I know, I know, Completely and utterly Insane to SLOW DOWN and go behind someone instead of flooring it and then jerking the wheel hard to cut in front of that car so you can slam on the brakes and make your exit.

  • Picture this the vast majority of the cars running this your in manual mode. All the self driving ones get out of your way. The autopilot wont let you rear end or otherwise collide with anybody/thing else but otherwise stays out of your way. Speed limits are vastly increased.

    Oddly I think there is a higher chance of the government trying to make more money off of that tech, auto tickets etc.

  • Reviews (Score:5, Funny)

    by darkshadow (102598) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @05:59PM (#44888469)

    With a self-driving car he won't need to worry about the New York Times test driving it incorrectly.

  • Autonomous safety (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @06:02PM (#44888511) Homepage Journal

    I think autonomous cars will be safer in general because they can avoid accidents caused by fatigue and lack of concentration during long trips or heavy traffic. However, I think that as long as autonomous cars are mixed in with other cars operated by human drivers, there will be the potential for worse accidents of the more extreme kind. For example, an oncoming car suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision. That is an option I doubt would be built into an AI system (intentionally wrecking the vehicle to prevent a more extreme accident - what if the AI incorrectly identified a scenario that didn't actually exist and decided to drive off the side of the road?)

    If autonomous cars do prove to be as successful and safe as they could potentially be, there will be a hard push to force humans out of the driver's seat. It would start by building or designating high speed roadways that only allow autonomous vehicles. It will continue spreading from there.

    • Agreed. There is simply no way that autonomous cars can safely be used on the same roads as human-operated ones. It just isn't going to happen. You might as well try to mix human-driven cars with 60 MPH horses.

      A lot of interesting technical feats are about to become practical, but not implementable due to human factors. We'll have to eliminate human drivers at some point, whether we like it or not.

      • by gagol (583737)
        If we go down that road, at some point in the future, people will suicide for lack or purpose or become eternal irresponsible childs. Please mark my words, date time hour and place of this statement. I can stand by it.
      • by swillden (191260)

        Agreed. There is simply no way that autonomous cars can safely be used on the same roads as human-operated ones. It just isn't going to happen.

        Google's fleet of self-driving cars have logged over a million miles driving on the same roads as human-operated cars.

    • by Lashat (1041424)

      This is the biggest problem...the transition.. It will take a urban municipality to mandate an area wide transition. Create the infrastructure. Provide the self-driving cars. Outlaw human driven cars. Think Minority Report shuttles that ran around the city and up the buildings.

    • I'm more worried about a different problem: If people mostly use autonomous cars their driving skills will deteriorate. We are already seeing this with airline pilots (air france 447 or the recent SFO crash) where the pilots become dependent on automation, and don't have the proper skills when it is not available. These are professional pilots with required recurrent training. What about an average driver who lets his car do 99% of the driving for him - how will he do when he needs to drive but the auto

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @07:51PM (#44889331) Homepage

      For example, an oncoming car suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.

      This reminds me of "I don't wear a seat belt because jumping out of the car saved my live when the car went off a cliff." arguments. In sixteen years as a driver I've been in one real emergency and it was as a passenger, talking to older people they've had maybe one or two major accidents and a handful of close calls, not counting fender benders in the parking lot. Most people - and I'd say 90% of the people on the road, if you want to count yourself to the last 10% feel free - are distracted and too slow to act, too shocked to react, panic, react instinctively or make some very poor split-second decisions. Instantly slamming the brakes is a good choice and probably above average, it's potentially not the best choice but I imagine it'd be just as much post-accident imagination as reality.

      Remember, it's really hard to collect realistic data on this. You can't put people in a simulator and get realistic results because people know they're there to be observed and experimented on. In reality it'll happen on the 235th time you've driven the exact same commute and driving on mental autopilot, you're a bit tired from yesterday but need to get to work, you're mentally thinking about the stuff you need to pick up after work and boom, out of the blue there's this idiot suddenly swerving into your lane head-on. Your reaction is probably not as good as you think it is. And while human drivers on average won't change much, they can collect crash data and improve. Instead of once-in-a-lifetime they'll have thousands of crashes to analyze for optimal behavior.

    • by norpy (1277318)

      I would assume the AI would apply maximum brakes and that's it. A human (especially an experienced driver) could take more extreme action, like going off the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.

      Seriously? "You assume"

      Your whole rant smacks of Dunning-Kruger effect [wikipedia.org].

      What makes you think that you are a better driver than a computer? Do you think you are an above average driver? Did you realise that the majority of drivers think they are above average? [abc.net.au]

  • I'm going to wait for the OCP autodrive car. If they do as good a job as they did with their Enforcement Droid then the future on the roads will be a riot!
  • Call me old fashioned but to me, cars are meant to be driven. If I want to "be driven" I'll take a taxi, a bus or some other public transportation.
    • by erice (13380)

      Call me old fashioned but to me, cars are meant to be driven. If I want to "be driven" I'll take a taxi, a bus or some other public transportation.

      On the contrary. Cars are "meant" to be used as their owners want to use them. There are lot of times I would prefer to be driven but:

      1) Buses are slow, inconvenient, and often don't go where and when I want to go.
      2) Taxis are expensive and can also be inconvenient depending on where your end points are.
      3) Chauffeurs can be very convenient but not many can afford to keep one on staff. Think of self driving cars as chauffeurs for the rest of us. (or maybe the 5% since Teslas pretty expensive)

      • by gagol (583737)
        Some drivers are just awful drivers. Make the licence hard to obtain to drive yourself and the the idiots and morons be driven around. That, I can live with. Also, when I go fishing in the middle of nowhere, well, I wiuld love to see a google car follow me (I would not follow it...).
        • by gagol (583737)
          Also, if we go to war and GPS gets compromised, we would be SO vulnerable, its not even funny thinking about it.
          • by erice (13380)

            Also, if we go to war and GPS gets compromised, we would be SO vulnerable, its not even funny thinking about it.

            If we go to war with an adversary capable of disrupting GPS then we will likely have others problems, like the roadway disappearing in a mushroom cloud.

            Actually, there's no reason why a self driving car could not continue onward in the absence of GPS. Inaccuracy in the maps means that is already has to recognize intersections visually. Traveling to a new destination might be tricky without an Internet connection or a manual mode of operation.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        And all of the above involves sharing the ride with strangers that maybe you don't want present. Whether it's sharing things with close friends, having a family argument, lover's quarrel or make-out session, tightly guarded business secrets or that you'd like to watch some porn the privacy of having your own ride is entirely different. Never mind how bizarrely inconvenient a cabin trip would be with 1) and expensive with 2) or 3), sometimes a rental car is the only sane choice whether you'd like to drive or

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      I have to wait for a taxi, or travel to the nearest bus stop or starting/ending point for some other public transportation.

      I want to go where I want to go _now_, from _here_. That's why people have their own cars.

    • So call it something else, say "automated human conveyor", if you prefer. Who really cares what they're called if they're better than what we have now.

  • I forsee a not-so-far-off time when it will actually be illegal to manually drive your car unless under some kind of emergency.

    A few years after that, the mechanisms that allow a person to drive a car will not even be included in new cars.

    As a classic car hobbyist who enjoys driving, that whole possibility scares me a lot.

    • Just imagine how modern airplane pilots feel. We've had autopilot for decades. No more "buzzing" the tower, no more "detours" to land on exotic landing strips... Can't even do a barrel roll, FFS.

    • I agree, I love to drive. As a professional driver instructor for Semi Trucks, my favorite activity is to come home to "my baby," and drive for enjoyment and relaxation.

      Plus a big downside as far as I can see would be the idea that as bad as many drivers are, imagine how bad they will be when the need arises to actually drive the car. After a very short time many will become used to playing games, sleeping, surfing the internet while the car drives, that they will lack the most basic real world experience t
    • bucket trucks and other stuff like that will need manual mode or auto drive with drive any where and park any where.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I don't think you need to worry - worst case you will be banned from the highway and your insurance rates will suck.

  • Going on the assumption that the computer and sensor package required to make a self-driving car would use a negligible amount of electricity, and maybe even use a separate battery pack, a self-driving electric car would likely handle accelerating and deceleration more efficiently thereby increasing the range over a human driver. Just a guess though.
  • by FridayBob (619244) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @07:49PM (#44889317) Homepage

    Perhaps it's just because I'm old enough to know that I'm not, never have been and never will be the great driver that I once thought I was. I also know that driving is the most dangerous thing that I do on a regular basis, it being so easy to make a fatal mistake. In addition, most commutes are pretty boring; I usually wish I could spend the time reading something instead. The idea of having my own personal chauffeur is also appealing for other reasons, such as if I drink too much, or perhaps it would eventually even be possible for the vehicle to drop me off in one place and then park itself somewhere else (although society would then have to develop laws for dealing with driverless vehicles). Another major advantage is that filling the roads with autonomous vehicles may also prove to be the ultimate solution to the problem of traffic jams.

    The challenges involved in the creation of auto-pilots that we can all trust involve safety, security and privacy. First, no one is going to entrust their life to such a system unless it proves to be safe. Moreover, human psychology will undoubtedly require that the auto-pilot be much safer and more efficient driver than the owner of the vehicle can ever hope to be, or else they probably won't want to use it.

    Second: security. For example, back-door access and remote control. It's one thing for a malevolent third party to take advantage of your computer, but the idea that anyone might be able to take advantage of your vehicle while you're in it seems completely unacceptable to me. One theory about the recent death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings is that someone gained remote control over his car (at least the accelerator and breaks), which according to eyewitnesses seemed completely out of control just before he crashed. I can imagine even more sinister things involving a car with a real auto-pilot, for instance a remote control kidnapping where the victims are locked into their own vehicles and then driven to an unknown destination.

    Third: privacy. I would just hate the idea that my vehicle's manufacturer was also working happily with, for example, intelligence agencies to use my car to spy on me, or marketing companies to more effectively target me with advertising. Just because you own a vehicle with an auto-pilot does not mean that you should expect to have your rights trampled upon.

    The beginning of a solution for all of this would be for the vehicle manufacturers to collaborate on as open source project for the auto-pilot and vehicle communications software. In my view that approach would certainly lead to better safety, security and privacy, but somehow I don't think it will work out like that.

    • by PRMan (959735)

      Third: privacy. I would just hate the idea that my vehicle's manufacturer was also working happily with, for example, intelligence agencies to use my car to spy on me, or marketing companies to more effectively target me with advertising. Just because you own a vehicle with an auto-pilot does not mean that you should expect to have your rights trampled upon.

      Hope your car doesn't have OnStar or its equivalent.

    • If you want to kill someone, you don't need to hijack their autonomous driving computer. It's a lot easier to just snip the brakes like the movies have been doing forever. Physical sabotage does the job.
  • For those who fear self-driving cars, Musk said the autonomous Tesla could drive 90 percent of the time, but that in his opinion, a vehicle without a human in the cockpit isn't feasible yet.

    FTFY.

    It's only a matter of time before vision and human prediction algorithms become adept enough to completely replace human drivers. Far before that happens, I expect to see automated vehicle only (AVO) lanes with significantly higher speed limits.

  • ...isn't feasible"

    Agreed. But then what's the point? The human-driver still has to be 100% involved, because:

    - 10% of the situations can't be handled by the auto-driver
    - the auto-driver can't identify all instances when the human-driver is needed
    - the 10% when the human-driver has to take over can happen at any time

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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