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China Catches Up With Google's Driverless Car 258

mikejuk writes "While Google makes headlines with its driverless car and even manages to lobby Nevada to legalize driverless cars on the public road — China quietly pushes ahead on its own. A driverless car navigated 286km of expressway all on its own. Using nothing but a pair of video cameras and laser rangefinders, i.e. no GPS, it managed to arrive safely even through fog. The computer vision based approach means that at the moment it can only drive during daylight hours. Google might need to speed up ..."
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China Catches Up With Google's Driverless Car

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:41PM (#37063282)

    It's pretty well known that China has been sending spies disguised as academic scholars/PhD students to appropriate information on research projects conducted in the US (professors in my school had been questioned by the FBI and were advised to be careful of these disguised "students"). I wouldn't be surprised if some of the technologies used were stolen from research projects conducted in the US.

    They catch up all right, whether by their own effort, I don't know.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:44PM (#37063306)

    Automatically driving a car isn't easy per se, but it's not anywhere near the hardest AI problems we have. In particular, if we were to take a realistic bar for safety--- beating the average human driver--- the bar is actually pretty low, because the average safety record of human drivers is pretty shitty. A robot driver could just not speed and drive relatively defensively, and that alone would give it a big built-in accident-rate advantage, even if its raw skill was worse than a typical human driver.

  • by danlip ( 737336 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:54PM (#37063396)

    Even if the robot car is 100 times less likely to be in an accident, the first time someone gets hurt by one there will be a huge outcry and a lawsuit.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:20PM (#37063624) Journal

    I'm sure the Chinese research team didn't send their robot car out on the public highway without having tested it a lot in the lab and on closed tracks first, and that Google's robot car team didn't, and that the people who developed power steering etc. didn't either. My guess is that none of the DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Challenge competitors did either (or at worst, not many of them :-).

    And you don't send a robot car out to drive itself without a human along to override its decisions, any more than a responsible adult would send a young human out to drive unsupervised in a public road for the first time. (Some of us humans learned to drive in "driver's-ed" cars that had an extra set of brakes in the front passenger seat so the instructor could stop the car if he had to, while others learned in cars that didn't have that, so the instructor was limited to yelling a lot and grabbing the steering wheel if needed. And lots of us learned to drive in mostly-empty parking lots before going out on the street.) Presumably the Chinese car had a human backup driver who could override the autopilot if necessary.

    It's more fun if you can have the backup driver in the right-hand seat and a large dog or a Terminator mannequin in the left-hand seat, but that's strictly optional.

  • Its China... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:24PM (#37063662)

    For a test like this I'll bet they found a long straightaway with minimal curves, closed the expressway or used one that's brand new and not opened yet, and set this beast free on it.

    Nothing at all like what DARPA challenge or Google do with robot cars

  • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:31PM (#37063716)

    You're using the nice failure conditions on one side of the argument and the nasty ones on the other. That's not fair.

    power steering: human is in control, power steering augments that control. if it fails, the human can still control the cars direction

    Not if the failure locks the wheel in the wrong orientation. You hit a bus full on nuns in the other lane.

    cruise control: human is mostly in control. if cruise control fails, the human can still control the cars speed

    Not if the cruise controls locks up at full speed and does not turn off. You rear end a bus full of nuns.

    if the anti-lock brakes fail, you just have normal brakes. the human can still stop.

    Not if the brakes all lock shut and cause you to lose traction at highway speeds. You swerve into an oncoming bus full of nuns.

    if the collision avoidance radar fails, nobody even notices.

    Not if the failure is to trigger the brakes due to an "imminent collision." Bus full of nuns hits you form behind.

  • by i_b_don ( 1049110 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:52PM (#37063896)

    LOL.... I got my masters in engineering from USC about 10 years back... I looked around the room and typically I was the only blond person there. I'd estimate that 75% of the people were of asian decent (Indian, and various asian countries). They're not coming to steal the research, they're coming to do the research!


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