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Transportation Technology

California To Join Nevada With Rules For Autonomous Cars 194

thecarchik writes "As of now, the only state where self-driving cars are legal on public roads is Nevada, thanks to its vast expanses of open space and lightly traveled byways. California, recognizing that autonomous cars are an inevitable progression of technology, is moving to establish its own rules for driverless vehicles. A bill proposed by California Senator Alex Padilla would set guidelines for the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles within the state. As California is home to Google, Stanford and Caltech, all of which have active autonomous vehicle programs, the state is positioned to be a leader in driverless car development. It stands to reason that self-driving cars will be allowed on California's roads, probably in the near future."
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California To Join Nevada With Rules For Autonomous Cars

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  • so it begins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:06PM (#39308185)

    This is just too awesome. It looks like we're solving the parking, traffic, and driving death (drunk driving and otherwise) issues in my lifetime. The microchip is the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Re:so it begins (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:15PM (#39308261)

      Those things aren't going to go away. Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill. And driving death will still happen until EVERY car is driven by an infallable AI. Which won't happen for at least a few generations after the AI is developed, since people are much to attached to driving cars.

      • Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill.

        Sure, but driver's skill can certainly reduce both issues, and computer driven cars even more so.

      • Re:so it begins (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:33PM (#39308417) Homepage

        Parking is a much smaller problem if when you're planning to stay put at a certain location for a few hours, the car can simply drive itself to another parking location.

        Also, self-driving cars are a major boon to car sharing services; which should reduce car ownership; for the user, there's a big difference between having to go to a parked car somewhere and then leave it there again than just have it parked outside his home and then leave it anywhere.

        • And with the invention of the "stack em and rack em" automated garages, this could really solve some downtown problems.
      • Re:so it begins (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:08PM (#39308671) Homepage
        Computerized cars could be a lot smarter than humans and reduce traffic. Take a simple traffic light. If there's 5 cars at the traffic light, it takes about 10 seconds for the 5th car to start moving (people really are this slow). If computers were driving, all the cars could start to move in unison. Also, take highway driving. People slow down to look at something interesting on the side of the road. Traffic piles up behind them. With a computer driving, this wouldn't happen. Automated cars will be able to make traffic much less of a problem. If you cut out accidents and stupid drivers, the amount of traffic will go down significantly.
        • I would like to see an AI driver compensate for a slippery ice covered road or how about a moose standing in the middle of the freeway.
          • Re:so it begins (Score:4, Informative)

            by perryizgr8 ( 1370173 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @11:20PM (#39309067)

            slippery ice covered roads already are quite covered by the computer in your existing car.

            • I drive a 95 neon and a 06 Dodge 3500 does not apply also I live in northern Canada where the option is hit the ditch or oncoming vehicle.
          • Re:so it begins (Score:4, Informative)

            by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @11:27PM (#39309119)
            An automated vehicle would be able to detect the moose and apply the brakes far faster than any human possibly could. There already are rudimentary collision-avoidance systems in some cars, and they'll only get better over time.
            • You have to be very alert to see two glowing eyes running toward the road at 30 km/h. computers might be able to see stuff on the road but not what is going to be on the road. I live in the Canadian wilderness not Cali.
              • Re:so it begins (Score:4, Informative)

                by an unsound mind ( 1419599 ) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:29AM (#39309551)

                Computers are perfectly able to see what is going to be on the road, all you need is more sensors and better shape recognition.

                Better than humans, in fact. Humans can't see infrared so well, and it's going to be a heck of a lot more useful in the Canadian wilderness than normal sight. Your concerns are a design problem.

                • You forget the cost problem. I can not afford a half million dollar car and people in canada have to drive rediculous distances all the time so our cars do not last very long.
                  • Re:so it begins (Score:4, Interesting)

                    by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:01AM (#39310089)

                    You forget the cost problem. I can not afford a half million dollar car and people in canada have to drive rediculous distances all the time so our cars do not last very long.

                    Half million dollars? That's like saying Intel's next chip won't catch on because they spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing it and who could pay that much for a computer.

                    You said you drive a 95 neon and an 06 Dodge 3500. What do you mean your cars don't last long?

                    The driving conditions you describe actually seem an ideal place for AI to start to become feasible. Replacing a truck driver with an AI would save over $30,000 each year (I don't know about Canada but U.S. truck drivers start around $30,000).

                    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

                      Yes, it will kill jobs. It will also enable everyone having their own chauffeur.

                      By killing jobs without destroying economic production, it will benefit the owners of lobbyists. So it will pass. Lots of other people will also like it. Not many people earn their living from driving, so there won't be massive resistance. Then the next step in automation will occur.

                      The basic truth is that our economic system doesn't work well for anyone but the rich. This has been true since around the invention of agricu

        • Such cooperation can only happen if every car is driven by a computer driver operating to the same interooerability standard, so it would have to be government mandated in every car and owners would have to be required to maintain it.

            If that is ever to happen, it's a long way off.

        • A common fallacy.

          Cars have a certain ability to stop. That ability is dependent on speed. The safe distance to the car in front of you is determined by that. A computer may have less reaction delay, but that's only a constant factor. Physics is the main factor.

          At high speeds, the safe distance to the car in front is large. At slow speeds, it's smaller. This function is monotonic. We can see that at 0MPH, we can be literally right against the car in front's bumper. But as speed increases, the safe distance m
      • > Parking and traffic have to do with the number of cars, not just their driver's skill.

        Traffic has to do with the number of cars on a road plus the space each car allocates itself on the road. As traffic speeds up, we spread out to give ourselves time to react to the driver in front of us stopping unexpectedly. A robot doesn't have to do that as it's reactions are faster and the robot can talk to other robots up the road. The net result is that instead of 70 mph traffic requiring 7 car lengths between c

        • Robot cars will also use radar so they can react to the car in front of the car in front of them much better than a human. I think you guys are missing the point though. Even if self driving cars where a little slower, the fact that you can sleep, read, play WOW , answer email, watch porn and masterbate, shave, work, etc on a long commute will make that driving time more valuable.
      • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

        Robotic cars would still greatly lower the accident rate and anyone with such a car would be much safer. Assuming the technology is sound.

        A robotic car will never get distracted, will never tire, will never drive unsafely, will never get frustrated, will never get bored and so on. It has near perfect situational awareness and reaction times. All the time.

        So if the guy in front of you slams on the breaks, the robotic car will react half a second sooner than any human could and probably a few seconds sooner t

        • A robotic car will never get distracted, will never tire, will never drive unsafely, will never get frustrated, will never get bored and so on.

          Don't forget the rest of it.

          It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

      • ....won't happen for at least a few generations after the AI is developed, since people are much to attached to driving cars.

        Are you kidding? If this happens it will be adopted unbelievably fast.

        Given the choice of either driving or surfing the web the amount of 'drivers' will be about the same as the number of people who still get up from the sofa to switch TV channels because they don't like remote controls.

        (Assuming this is used on highways - I think it will be a loooong time before cars are allowed to drive around freely where pedestrians are present)

    • I'm a big proponent of self-driving cars but this example of a computer-controlled intersection [vimeo.com] makes my sphincter pucker.

      • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

        So basically it'll be like driving in India or China?

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:15PM (#39308257)

    ...some of the worst drivers in the world.

    I've lived in Boston, New York and Chicago. And Northern California easily takes the cake for worst drivers. They hesitate when they should commit, they never use turn signals, roll through stop signs, drive until 7-8pm without their lights on (or just use their parking lights).

    So I would welcome driverless cars, because it can't get much worse than this.

    • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:17PM (#39308271)

      Clearly you've never travelled. Try Italy or India for example.

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        or a little closer to home ... puerto rico

        but in their defense, they are consistent, every car has the same dent in the side

      • Bah. I lived in Italy for a few years. Rome may be bad, but I found Boston to be worse
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:40PM (#39308471)

          Yes, I agree. Rome may be a mad house but, I loved driving in Italy. There are far fewer rules (and often a lack of lanes) but I interpreted it as "We trust you -- just don't crash into anyone." It was a breath of fresh air to not have a million signs like in the U.S. that you simply tune out.

          There are some experiments in Germany where they are getting rid of all but a couple signs and simplifying the rules to just a couple rules (like yield to the right). They (last I heard) have found it to be far more effective as people don't tune out the few signs they see.

    • by Firehed ( 942385 )

      I'll second that. Maybe not in the world, but certainly far worse than anywhere else I've driven domestically. I swear some people mistake their speedometer for an analog clock, as the particularly type of driving stupidity seems to vary by time of day.

      Of course, it doesn't help that CA has some remarkably stupid driving laws that make it impossible to predict traffic. For example if you're turning onto a multi-lane road, you don't have to pull into the nearest lane (or second nearest, if there are multiple

      • Of course, it doesn't help that CA has some remarkably stupid driving laws that make it impossible to predict traffic. For example if you're turning onto a multi-lane road, you don't have to pull into the nearest lane

        Wrong, this only applies to left turns. When making a right turn, you are required to turn into the farthest right lane as possible allowed by the size of your car.

    • by niftydude ( 1745144 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:55PM (#39308923)
      Once when I was driving on the 101 between San Jose and mountainview, I saw a guy playing a flute while steering with his knees.

      Still not sure if that was an instance of poor driving, or an awesome display of physical and mental prowess. But what I can say is that I haven't seen anything like that anywhere other than california.
    • by toygeek ( 473120 )

      Sorry, but I live in Reno (Nevada) where we are home to some of the worst drivers I have ever seen. I learned to drive in southern California, and I felt perfectly safe with half a car length between a string of 10 cars doing 90mph on the fast lane. Here, I don't feel safe driving the freeway at 65mph because there are still people who are doing 45mph on the freeway!

      On top of that people run red lights constantly hear, which isn't so bad really if there's consistency, but there is NOT. Driving here can be d

    • I've always thought it's funny how there's always somebody that claims that any city/state/country you could name has the worst drivers in the world.

  • New ways (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:19PM (#39308301)

    Here in Nevada we are are at the forefront of gambling....

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:25PM (#39308367)

    What is REALLY needed is a law to mitigate liability risks for automated cars. Here's how a fair law might read :

    All operators of automated vehicles are required to buy additional insurance. If someone is harmed by an automated vehicle malfunction, a panel is empowered to compensate the individual with a FIXED amount of money depending on the severity of the injury and or death. This is how vaccine injuries are handled : if a vaccine harms someone, they get a certain amount of injury depending on the risk.

    Neutral, third party laboratories would be paid to examine the 'black boxes' from automated cars after a crash and present their findings to the panel.
    The panel would be required by law to make a decision within a certain amount of time (~180 days sounds about right)

    Advantages :
        1. Lawyers eat up a large chunk of the money when litigation is allowed. This way, most of the money goes to the victims.
        2. Everyone gets some compensation money instead of most getting nothing and a few hitting the jackpot
        3. Faster decisions instead of lawsuits that take 5-10 years.

    Disadvantages :
          1. Panel can be unfair or biased and little can be done
          2. The amounts of money seem low compared to jury awards for successful lawsuits. Lose a hand, it might be 100k not a million, etc.
          3. Legislators who are lawyers have to write the legislation for this.

    The reason to do this is the same reason we do vaccines, but it would save a LOT more lives. Automobiles kill far more people than the number who would die if we stopped most vaccinations. Automated cars will occasionally malfunction and kill someone. However, on the aggregate, the total deaths per passenger mile caused by automated vehicles will very likely be more than 10 times or more lower. Automated vehicles have short reaction delays, no need to take risks, ability to see in all directions they have sensors pointing at the same time, can predict a crash is about to occur and take mitigating actions (pre-firing the airbags, etc), activates the brakes quickly enough to avoid pileups, etc.

    The thing is, an automated car will have software bugs, and will occasionally make mistakes. Maybe a good model will be as good a driver as the average driver on their best day. EXCEPT, an automated car's systems cannot become distracted, board, drunk, or fall asleep. I suspect that this advantage over millions of miles will prove to be huge. Sure, the average human might be smarter, but we don't give our best effort during every minute of the many hours we drive.

    • Oh, also, an automated car cannot become scared or panic. If a skid or spin happens, and the car has the sensors and software to detect it, it will immediately and rationally perform programmed actions to mitigate it. It will turn into the spin, etc.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Oh, also, an automated car cannot become scared or panic.

        Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

        Who exactly is going to program the car to deal with every possible dangerous situation?

        • by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:02PM (#39308629)
          I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I'd trust the car over a human anyday. I've seen to many accidents where someone made a slight miscalculation that shouldn't have been a big deal. Then they end up over compensating and taking out someone in an on coming lane instead of vearing off into a parking lot, just ending up on the side of the road or even just staying on course and having nothing come of a small skid, swerve or bump.

          The only issue I see with and autonomous car is there are times here where a person has to guess where the road is. I'd like to know how the car would track the road when it's more or less just a blanket of white.
        • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:27PM (#39308769)

          Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

          Unlocked brakes means you still have some ability to steer. Locked brakes have no steerability. Locking the wheels will often result in the car going sideways down the road with no ability to steer into the skid. If there'a one thing worse than not being able to stop, it's the car travelling sideways whilst not being able to stop.

          • by shitzu ( 931108 )

            I live in a country with 4 months of ice and snow. I will choose my metal-studded winter tires + ABS over a "friction created by a small pile of snow" in a heartbeat.

        • by zyzko ( 6739 )

          Meanwhile, back in the real world, the automated ABS systems in many cars will cut the brakes on fresh snow where locking the wheels would typically result in a shorter stopping distance.

          Who exactly is going to program the car to deal with every possible dangerous situation?

          This has been debunked a thousand times in real-world tests in snowy conditions - while in a laboratory setting braking distance without ABS can be shorter (allowing brakes to lock usually actually results in shorter braking distance on dry road!) in practically all real-world scenarios even experienced rally drivers who know what to expect perform worse without ABS.

          The same has been (to a lesser extent) said about stability control - a few "experienced" drivers claim that they will perform better than any

    • and that criminal liability may come down on the coders as well the factory floor even down to the car service center.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:59PM (#39308615) Journal
      There is arguably one major gap in the analogy with vaccines(unless your plan includes it but simply didn't state it):

      The vaccine injury system is designed to deal, as efficiently as messy compromise allows, with the fact that vaccines(as with other drugs and procedures) tend to have risks that show up at the population level that couldn't have been detected in clinical trials of any feasible size and/or are substantially lower than their benefits. The logic is that these cases have victims deserving of compensation; but arise without culpable negligence or malice.

      It doesn't, and isn't intended to, cover other risk/liability issues arising in medicine that incidentally involve vaccines. If, say, your doctor stored a vaccine improperly and administered a contaminated or spoiled dose, that wouldn't be a vaccine injury, that'd be malpractice that happened to involve a vaccine rather than some other drug. In such a case, the damages would be partially to compensate you and partially to punish them; because there are both damages and culpable negligence or malice at play.

      In the case of an autonomous car, the 'vaccine analogous' set of risks/compensations would only cover the set of risks inherent to the system's operation(corner cases where physics simply doesn't allow for a safe solution on the navigational system's part, system defects sufficiently rare and esoteric to have escaped reasonable diligence on the manufacturer's part, and so forth). It wouldn't usefully cover negligence on the part of either the manufacturer(in, say, corner-cutting on testing or design of safety critical systems) or the operator(operating a vehicle despite sensor or system faults, defeating safety-critical systems in order to achieve faster trips, etc.)

      When dealing with small, essentially unavoidable, risks there is a strong logic in favor of efficient compensation purely on the basis of injury(assuming that those risks carry benefits sufficient to justify their broad imposition...); but one must be careful not to immunize negligence and malice in a system designed to handle mere accident...

      I suspect that there will be fewer impaired computers than there will be impaired drivers; but I suspect that operators running cars with the sensor equivalent of shot breaks and dead turn signals will hardly be unknown, and corner cutting by some manufacturer or other is just a matter of time.
    • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:27PM (#39308771) Journal

      What you're proposing is a No Fault liability scheme. Circa 1989-1992, the insurance companies attempted to get a proposition passed that would have established No Fault insurance. Their pitch was very similar to your list of advantages plus they said that since their costs would decline, our rates would have as well.

        Despite the idea making a lot of sense, the personal injury lawyers succeeded in killing it as they viewed the proposal a direct threat to their livelihood which of course, it was. The proposition was aimed at cutting their take out of the transaction.

      Your post makes a lot of sense but unfortunately, I think the political climate in California has gotten more bizarre over the intervening 20 years and what makes logical sense doesn't mean too much in California.

      • New Zealand has this. It doesn't work especially well because the payouts have been reduced by successive governments to the point that they do not adequately protect you from most things and the law which set it up also prohibits lawsuits for anything it covers. Still, it's not too bad.

    • by cptdondo ( 59460 )

      ISTR that Mercedes Benz postponed bringing anti-lock brakes into the US for a few years after they had them in Europe for fear of litigation. In other words, it's cheaper to let people die with a known hazard than to prevent a bunch of deaths and get sued by some bonehead.

      So yes, unless we curb litigation we won't see a lot of public autonomous vehicles.

    • If there is a bug in the car software of or sensor design it could cause systematic problems. You would want to review whether similarly equipped cars have elevated risk of certain kinds of accidents and make the manufactures liable for the elevated risk cases. The consumer and his unsurprisingly shouldn't pay because they don't have control.

    • What REALLY needs to happen is nothing of the sort.

      Liability limits are nothing but corporate welfare. They pass on the cost of corporate screwups to everyone else, and insulate the wealthy from having to pay their fair share.

      Liability for driverless car malfunctions should lie exactly where it does today for car malfunctions - with the automotive manufacturer. If the manufacturer is concerned that there may be a catastrophic bug that will kill lots of people, the manufacturer should buy insurance to cove

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        The problem with liability is this:

        Suppose I invent an autonomous vehicle that is so popular that everybody in the country runs out and buys one, and it is the only vehicle on the roads. Due to imperfections in the design 100 people per year are killed by the car. I am now liable for the deaths of those 100 people, including possible criminal liability that could extend to employees/etc.

        Now, if you look at it one way you could say that killing 100 people per year is unacceptable. However, if this potenti

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      Your argument about vaccines not saving many lives is erroneous. In NYC alone in 1916 almost 6000 people died from polio. Cars only kill 33k per year across the entire US with a MUCH larger population. For every person killed by polio far more suffered significant debilitation.

      Vaccines are a victim of their own success - people look at side effects/etc and neglect the huge problem the diseases they protect against used to be. Those who forego vaccination benefit from herd immunity, which also leads to m

  • by damm0 ( 14229 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @09:49PM (#39308525) Homepage Journal

    I am wholeheartedly for the development of robot cars! I can hardly wait for the day when I can command my car to drive my drunken ass home, or tell it to go to the grocer and pick up my milk and cheese (which the grocer will load into my car for me) while I'm at work. Not to mention the possibilities for car sharing!

    However, there will be system failures. The cars will have to develop "reptile brain" like functions that can make the car pull over and stop in the case of byzantine failure of the controller. Think about car-worms and viruses that command cars to crash into each other, or remote car hijacking. It is going to be *very* interesting to watch all this develop. Consider the people who will drive recklessly in their "classic cars" expecting that most other cars are autonomous, which may make the road more dangerous for those who don't have one.

    That said, I'm looking forward to the robot-car only lanes on the freeway where we can have fuel-efficient car-trains and the social benefits of being able to hop out of your robot car in front of your destination and have the car valet itself.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      I can hardly wait for the day when I can command my car to drive my drunken ass home....

      Don't worry. You'll still get a DUI if you get pulled over even if the car is doing the actual driving....

  • so human error can become cpu, sensor, code error?

    Let's say a over flow, bad sensor and so on can lead to the car doing odd things just like autopilot can when faced with bad sensor input. But I would hope that the code will be up to the same level of testing and certifications that the autopilot code is.

    • Automated cars are so not the same thing as autopilot. Planes don't have traffic, pedestrian, cyclists, and other things of this nature that make automated cars a really hard problem.
      • Yes they do. There's certainly traffic, why else would you need an ATC? There are smaller planes that don't have TCAS systems and fly at a quarter the cruising speed of a large jet, that's pretty similar to a cyclist. Then you have all the nature that has brought down planes, autopilots or not. Birds, hurricanes, microbursts. Automated cars are actually a fair bit simpler in many ways since you don't have to worry about altitude, you get to take a dimension out of the picture.
  • Several Points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DERoss ( 1919496 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:02PM (#39308633)

    Padilla's bill is SB 1298 at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1298&sess=CUR [ca.gov]. It has not yet had its first committee hearing.

    I was a software test engineer for over 30 years. There is no such thing as a computer system that is completely error-free. While SOME drivers are impaired or simply have poor judgement, other drivers are alert, coordinated, and generally safe. On the other hand, all autonomous cars from the same manufacturer will have the same software errors.

    The current leader in developing autonomous cars is Google. I would not drive one of Google's cars unless I knew that Google was not tracking where I went and what route I took to get there. I am concerned that, even if the car does not transmit its location and route in real-time, a mechanic might still be able to download the car's history while servicing the car. That information should be available only to law-enforcement agencies and even then only when a judge issues a warrant after being convinced there is probable cause that the history is relevant to an actual crime.

    • Re:Several Points (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:23PM (#39308755)

      There is no such thing as a computer system that is completely error-free.

      It doesn't have to be error free. It just needs to be better than humans. That is not a high bar.

      On the other hand, all autonomous cars from the same manufacturer will have the same software errors

      And when one of those errors causes an accident in ONE car, it will be fixed and patched in ALL the cars. So the number of bugs, and the number of accidents will decline quickly . Autonomous cars already have millions of miles of testing, and are probably already safer than the average human driver.

      Demanding absolute safety is foolish, and delaying the introduction of autonomous cars will cause many unnecessary deaths.

  • I'm a big states-rights kind of guy, and I applaud California and Nevada on taking initiative in a technology that will hopefully become widespread sooner than later, but this is one situation where the federal government should be involved (cars often cross state lines, after all) and at least form a committee/study (insert committee uselessness here) to set a ceiling on limitations for these vehicles. States can relax the limitations as they see fit (open-space areas like Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming might allow a higher auto-speed), but if each state is left to set its own devices you'll get a large amount of different standards that each automaker has to adhere to in order to sell the vehicle on a national or even regional level. The fed is going to step in at some point, but better sooner than later; not only will they create a nice standard for all states (/. likes open standards, right?), but it will make a lot of states that are on the fence about the whole thing (or not even caring) have an extra push to allow the vehicles (assuming the feds don't allow them nationally in addition to standards).

    I haven't read up on the various rules put in place (or recommended), but I sincerely hope there's a size limitation on the vehicle. No more than T tons, no more than XxYxZ dimensions to be allowed an autopilot. That way in the case of a catastrophic failure (we'll get at least a handful) the risk to other drivers is far less. Also, energy savings. Maybe even create a standard within the auto industry for censors that can be included in an "autopilot only" lane to enhance the cars capability in those environments. (Ooh! How about extra sensors within parking garages so that the car auto-drives itself to the closest available open spot?)

    • This will put truck and taxi drivers out of work. Look for opposition from the teamsters union.
  • Does this mean we won't have to pay auto insurance soon? Computers should be able to drive better than humans, right? Imagine how much extra time we would have if computers could drive us to work each day.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday March 09, 2012 @11:26PM (#39309115)

    Are actually rules... that autonomous cars can't be driverless

    2 passengers required; the human operator has to be able and ready to override the car; which means the human has to have a license, can't be drunk, etc. And the human operator (rather than the manufacturer) is responsible if there is an accident and the vehicle has fault because of improper decisions/failure.

    I guess the restrictions "sound good", but they eliminate some of the selling points for the concept of an autonomous vehicle. Probably without making it safer.

    You can't be relaxing, chatting on your cell phone, watching TV, or eating while the car drives you.

    Makes more sense to require that driverless cars be safe enough and have enough failsafes and instrumentation that a human operator will not ever be required to override; e.g. by ensuring that the safest reasonable response is always what the autonomous car will execute, and facilitated by multiple redundant highly robust systems.

    Such that the greatest remaining danger would be that the human erroneously overrides the computer and makes bad choices.

    • Well, you can, just not legally. It sounds like a reasonable compromise to me and if it works well then I'd like to think people will come complacent and one day talk about removing those antiquated laws.

  • Is mandate that the driverless car must have a driver and that it will of course require several hundred dollars more in fees and taxes. And to say nothing of the necessity of doubling the cost of all moving violation tickets - one for the required 'driver' and one for the owner.

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