Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Robotics Transportation Technology

Volkswagon Shows Off Self-Driving Auto-Pilot For Cars 140

thecarchik writes "The future of driving, in major cities at least, is looking more and more likely to be done by high-tech computers rather than actual people, at least if the latest breakthroughs in self-driving vehicle technology mean anything. Internet search engine giant Google has logged some 140,000 miles with its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet and Audi has had similar success with its run of autonomous cars. Now, Volkswagen has presented its Temporary Auto Pilot technology. Monitored by a driver, the technology can allow a car to drive semi-automatically at speeds of up to 80 mph on highways."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Volkswagon Shows Off Self-Driving Auto-Pilot For Cars

Comments Filter:
  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:42AM (#36554604)

    I know a VW car was used as a base for the CARolo entrant during the DARPA Urban Challenge, it didn't fare too well in the finals but was one of the few non-US teams to even qualify for it. Did they scrap that technology or is this a result of it?

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:43AM (#36554622) Homepage Journal

    The blurb doesn't make much sense (not counting the egregious misspelling). How is it initially going to be for big cities if the cars that come out are only offering this for highways?

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by rbrausse ( 1319883 ) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:46AM (#36554668)

    strange site, with too many ads...

    a more useful link seems to be this one [], the VW Temporary Auto Pilot is part of a quite big European R&D project.

    • According to the second article (haveit), they see a use for this being during "monotonous driving" times such as "exceedingly speed limited" sections of roads. I can only assume they mean the US interstate system. I think what's going to happen is that people are going to start taking naps when driving across Kansas and eastern Colorado.

      • by MBCook ( 132727 )
        That's what I was thinking when reading about this. It's nice and all, but if driving down a long boring stretch of road is tedious and causes nod-offs and road-hypnosis... how much more common with those things be when the driver doesn't even have to keep their arms on the wheel?
        • one possability would be an obligatory dead man's switch for such systems. how is this problem solved with current types of cruise control? (never drove a car with this feature)

          • It's (usually) solved by being completely ignored. Cruise control has no driver monitoring feature; it just stays on until you turn it off or break.

        • On the flip side, this may not be a problem at all, and more of a feature.

      • I think what's going to happen is that people are going to start taking naps when driving across Kansas and eastern Colorado.

        And nothing of value will be lost. Especially if you include Texas.

        • I think you're absolutely right. I drove across Texas last fall, and completely forgot about it. It amazing how something SO BIG can take up so little room in my head. It must have a hell of a compression ratio.

      • by hawk ( 1151 )

        > I think what's going to happen is that people are going to
        >start taking naps when driving across Kansas and eastern


        They already do this, to prepare for the excitement of drive through Nebraska! :)


    • Lots of questions about it still. Will there be a "kill switch" for law enforcement? If automated, how soon before we start seeing car bombs use this tech? What are the safety protocols in case of "LOOK OUT HERE COMES A TRUCK IN OUR LANE" type avoidance or even something like weather conditions. What kind of protections will the gov give to auto mfg's? If mandatory implementation to the point where it's always on, will performance and style still be the trend or will they become shoeboxes to get around
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess VW got all the drivers they needed...

  • When someone is injured by a self-driving car, who is liable?
    • by cskrat ( 921721 )
      The owner of the vehicle and his/her insurer.
      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        Yeah - That seems pretty straight-forward. If I buy my own ED-209 [] and put him to work trusting that he's been programmed correctly, but he guns down some businessman, the responsibility is going to be on me for turning him on and failing to control him.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      As always, the one who can't buy top lawyers.

      I would think that the car companies will have extra liability waivers you have to sign to activate this feature. My guess is that you would have to prove that it was the car that was at fault, not the driver. Just like you can claim that the steering malfunction or the car gassed by itself, you can claim that this system did something strange too. But can you prove it?

    • The guilty car will be tried and sentenced to life in rental.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Driver - unless the car manufacturer REALLY wants to pick up the enormous tab for every potential liability in every single car they sell (and these car's price tag would then reflect that).

      I wouldn't even want to imagine the carnage that an auto-run car can cause at 80mph, even with the best systems in the world. Even planes have mile-wide exclusion zones around them etc. and still "the autopilot was on" isn't an excuse to get out of a pilot not doing his job. When you're doing 70mph and there's a 2-seco

      • Have you tried driving on these "automated" roads of yours? It is hell on the suspension I can tell you. And the other drivers? No regards for other drivers. I just parked on the road for a while to take a leak and did the driver behind me stop? NO! Sirreee, well not until after he had dragged my car for a mile or two down the road. And then he got upset at ME for using the road in the first place, why didn't he just steer around it I asked but he just looked at me like I was mad.

        Mad? Not me!

        Sadly based on

    • by sseaman ( 931799 )

      Good point. I think the state will have to take on the liability.

      The future is not only self-driving cars, but roads composed of only light-weight self-driving cars. In such a system, where, in order to maximize efficiency, the safety offered by heavier vehicles has been compromised, it may make sense for a centralized agency to ultimately vouch for and maintain the vehicles on the road.

      Furthermore, I see no reason why these vehicles can't be shared, like taxis. That eliminates the need to park, which el

    • When someone is injured by any other piece of machinery, who is liable? The owner of the piece of machinery. They will then probably claim on their insurance to cover the costs. Here, you aren't allowed to drive without at least having third-party insurance, and I imagine that the same would be true of self-driving cars. If self-driving cars show a lower accident rate, then I imagine that insurance costs will be lower for them than for manual cars.

      If the collision is due to a fault, then the owner may

  • by Tsar ( 536185 ) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:58AM (#36554856) Homepage Journal
    Unless there's some unforeseen (by the general public) future setback in technology, there will come a point in the next few years when you won't be able to legally drive on a public street without this kind of technology--probably always on to take over when you speed, tailgate or just drive too aggressively. What possibilities would then exist for gaming the system? Not myself, of course, but others...

    I assume that the firmware on these systems will be DRM'ed to prevent aftermarket adjustments. Some of the basic functionality (speed limits, etc.) would require a GPS signal; perhaps intermittent GPS jamming would cause the system to revert to full manual control. Any other ideas?
    • Any other ideas?

      Keep a classic maintained. My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG, carries four full-sized adults in comfort, and comes off the line better than most 5 liter American sedans. You can pick one up for a couple grand and restore it for less than it will cost to buy a total shitbox new. Best part? It is dependent on zero computers to function. Even the cruise control unit barely qualifies. It has an EGR computer but since I disabled EGR (it was leaking soot) that's not in play; the vacuum line is closed off.

      • My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG...

        Are those US gallons? If so, 30 MPG is pretty poor. My father has a not-very-new Nissan Note which gets nearly twice that (55ish miles per US gallon, depending on how you drive).

        • My 1982 300SD gets 30 MPG...

          Are those US gallons? If so, 30 MPG is pretty poor. My father has a not-very-new Nissan Note which gets nearly twice that (55ish miles per US gallon, depending on how you drive).

          That 300SD weighs 1800kg "dry". The Note is in the 1100kg range (with fuel, oil, etc.) Not really a fair comparison.

        • We're talking about a 3750 lb car from the 1980s here. Average at the time would be more like 20. It can run on biodiesel without harm or modification and for what it costs to buy a newer car which gets better mileage you can buy a lot of fuel. Of course, if you live in a road salt state this is a less-viable option... We don't have cars the size of the Note here in the USA for the most part, they don't meet federal crash test standards. There are a couple (e.g. Smart ForTwo) but they are special. If you lo

          • Do you have a citation for the Note crash test reference? I can't find anything (I didn't know it had even been submitted for testing).

            I tend to judge cars on how useful they are, and to me being old is only an excuse if you're interested in classic cars, which I'm not. I realise that small cars are unfashionable in the US, but I've just driven 1000 miles round Ireland in one on tiny country lanes, and I couldn't be more pleased: the handling is precise and crisp, it's spacious and really comfortable insi

            • I'm two meters tall and last I checked over 20 stone. Small cars and I don't get on at all. I am saying the Note wouldn't meet crash test requirements, not that it didn't. You have to go to a lot of extra work to make that happen.

        • This is an early 80's smog motor and in a large car [], compare it to US cars of the same vintage and size (Olds 98, Ford Crown Vic, Lincoln Town Car) and it gets really good mileage.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        " and comes off the line better than most 5 liter American sedans. "
        You do know it doesn't count when the other drivers don't actually know they are in the race, right?

        And there are many US sedans that could stomp you in the ground.

        The 1982 300 SD came with the om617.951. That is a THREE liter engine, I5, 125 HP. Not 5 litier.

        The 500SE was the only one from the period that was 5Liters

        500 -5L
        380 - 3.8L
        300 -3L
        280 -2.8L

        There seems to be a pattern...

        "(it was leaking soot) "
        yeah, that's some fine car you got th

        • The 1982 300 SD came with the om617.951. That is a THREE liter engine, I5, 125 HP. Not 5 litier.

          Yes, very good. As you will see if you visit everything2, or just do a web search on mercedes info and my name and/or handle, I know this already.

          And there are many US sedans that could stomp you in the ground.

          That does not contradict my comment in any way. Keep trying... Actually, don't. You're a failure.

          yeah, that's some fine car you got their.

          Grammar? You fail it. The EGR was an afterthought on this motor and it was just tacked on ex post facto. They used a pretty lame valve. They are unnecessary and the car burns less oil without them. Since the OM617 is widely considered to be one of the finest diesel eng

    • I can foresee a situation in, say, 20 years' time, when vehicles without this technology are banned from motorways; similar to horse-drawn vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

      I can't see it happening on normal roads for decades though. In the UK, it would require the tearing up of public right-of-way law. Motorways, and roads with motorway-style restrictions, require special legislation in order to make the rules effective.

      • by InitZero ( 14837 )

        when vehicles without this technology are banned from motorways; similar to horse-drawn vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

        Point of order, at least in the United States, horse-drawn vehicles and cyclists are allowed to use public roads the same way they did before the invention of the automobile. Roads are very good about being backward compatible.


        • It's not universal, but right-of-way restrictions do apply on some US freeways [] in the same way as UK motorways.

        • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

          And as a cyclist I totally look forward to the much safer streets when there it is populated by 100% robotic cars... Most of the traffic related cycling accidents are caused by stupid driver behavior. Robotic cars won't run me off the road, hit me from behind, take me out with the infamous right hook, pull in front of me and hit the brakes so it can make a turn. Etc, etc, etc.

          It will be a far safer world for cyclists and pedestrians.

    • If you really wanna screw with someone, put in a fighter jet chaff system, and blow chaff behind you as you drive... all traffic behind you will probably come to a complete stand still.

      FTA: Additionally, stop and start driving maneuvers in traffic jams are also automated.

      This would seem to be the most gamed system. You pop the vehicle in reverse, and hit the car behind you, claiming it hit you.

      Of course, this is an old insurance fraud trick, and with on-board blackboxes, one that will lead to a quick trip

    • by mangu ( 126918 )

      Some of the basic functionality (speed limits, etc.) would require a GPS signal

      Why should that be? Cars had speed meters long before GPS existed. Take the spinning rate of the wheels, multiply by the wheel circumference and, presto, you have the speed.

      If you are automating driving, the system should necessarily be able to recognize and read all the traffic signs around, including those posting speed limits. I would never trust a system that couldn't differentiate a 65 mph sign from a "$0.65 off" roadside advertisement.

      • by Arlet ( 29997 )

        Instead of reading the traffic signs, it would probably be easier to use GPS coordinates, and consult a traffic database.

  • It wouldn't be hard to set up a self-driving vehicle if you can make the assumption that all cars on the road have some sort of wireless signal that the self driving car can use. For instance, if the car ahead of you is slowing down, it could be broadcasting it's speed to other cars behind it, so the self driving car won't plow into it. There could also be construction signs that tell cars about construction zones and lane closings. You could stick these on stop lights too. For navigation, it could use

    • Why broadcast signal when you can just have a laser that detects distances. Changes in distance means changing velocity. If a pedestrian walks in front of a car, laser detects the person and brakes.
      • I would very much like a LIDAR+HUD system that would tell me distances, vectors, and velocities while driving. I suspect most people would find it distracting, though.

        • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

          I'd like a camera mounted to a pole looking down from above and slightly behind my car so I can see what the hell is going on around me without having to constantly look over my shoulder when I want to change lanes.

      • Heh, good idea. You can probably tell I'm a Computer Science major not a Physics one. Real world interactions aren't my style.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Please stay out of the robot s industry, or any software industry they requires real world interactions.

      • by ukemike ( 956477 )
        Great. Until mud gets on the emitter.
        • Car brakes. Mud on the emitter error... or more likely "Error 5007, unable to proceed. Please consult your car vendor."

          • by hawk ( 1151 )

            This would definitely give new life to the blue screen of death . . .

    • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

      For better or worse robotic cars will need to detect pedestrians and cyclists without any special devices on them. If only because the consequences from hitting ANYTHING in a small light car at speed will be significant and there is no way to get the "special" devices attached to everything. Think dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes, deer, moose, garbage cans (thrown into traffic by teens wanting to have some fun.)

      So the designers will have to solve the general case which in turn solves the more special (pedestri

  • by tulmad ( 25666 ) on Friday June 24, 2011 @10:22AM (#36555184)

    Given that Audi and Volkswagen (that's wagen, with an E) are the same company, it's not surprising that they're sharing the technology behind this.

  • I'd TAP that.


    Thank you folks, I'll be here all night.

  • This seems more reasonable, though maybe not more exciting, than the Google auto-pilot car. Cruise control helps save driver fatigue, so there is no reason that this cannot too. Already, some production cars look ahead to break, some reduce speed when approaching a slower moving vehicle, and others automatically dim bright lights.

    This is a nice baby step. After all, if you can't trust your car, then, well, you can't trust the car with a driver either. Though, it'll still scare the public the same way au

  • Cop: Do you know how fast you were going?
    Me: Talk to the driver.

  • Semi-automatic driving is a bad idea.

    I'm all in favor of full automatic driving. (I ran a DARPA Grand Challenge team.) But it needs a full sensor suite and good situational awareness. This is quite possible now. With devices like the Velodyne scanner, you have a full real-time depth image of everything around the car. (Yes, the Velodyne thing is too bulky and too expensive. There are ways around that. Advanced Scientific Concepts needs to get their flash LIDAR out of the high-end military market, and yo

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Its' unrealistic while they drive now. Most people zone out after a bit.

    • by jafac ( 1449 )

      I followed this concept closely from the days of Stanley - and looking at the technology in use there, I never believed that it could ever be affordably (+reliably) mass-produced. Not by the same industry that cheaps-out on 1/100 of a cent for taillight bulbs. This technology must be extremely reliable. And manufacturers will use the deadly calculus of the cost-benefit analysis of parts quality and MTBF (etc) to design, and it will be your niece, or cousin, or wife, that could end up being that .00001% of

    • There's video of Stanford's autonomous vehicle doing a power slide into a parking space. Repeatably.

      How much would you pay for a real-life car that handles like a Crazy Taxi?

      Skid around corners, get air from hilltops, and power slide into parking spots--all without killing bystanders or other drivers. Awesome!

  • let me know when it's self paying!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!