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Dispatch From the Future: Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google 282

First time accepted submitter Dave Jurgensen writes "Uber has said it will be purchasing 2,500 of Google's self driving GX3200 cars to be used around America. They are hoping to have their first set of driverless cars on the road by the end of the year. From the article: 'Uber has committed to invest up to $375 million for a fleet of Google’s GX3200 vehicles, which are the company’s third generation of autonomous driving cars, but the first to be approved for commercial use in the U.S. The deal marks the largest single capital investment that Uber has made to date, and is also the first enterprise deal that Google has struck for its new line of driverless vehicles.'" Update: Yes, this is a piece of speculative fiction.
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Dispatch From the Future: Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google

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  • by bosef1 ( 208943 )

    I don't want to be the first one to post this, but "What could possiblie go wrong?".

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:29AM (#44676417)

      "What could possiblie go wrong?".

      My question is, how do we give a car analogy when the story is already about a car?

      • Well it's kind of like a Ford Thunderbird muffler.

        These cars are driverless, and that analogy was made without me controlling where it was going. Does/did Ford even make Thunderbirds? I assume they have mufflers.

        I guess the lesson here is that we should be very concerned with driverless cars.
    • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:29AM (#44676423)

      Lots of things. And they will.

      But statistically, it'll probably be better than having humans behind the wheel. Not that this will stop anyone the first time the car backs over a kid, despite their excellent safety record.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        They will be far less likely to back over a kid, or confuse pedals like oldsters around here love to do. This is because the outside of the car can be covered in sensors instead of being a hinderance to visibility to the driver.

        • They will be far less likely to back over a kid, or confuse pedals like oldsters around here love to do. This is because the outside of the car can be covered in sensors instead of being a hinderance to visibility to the driver.

          Really? statistically, what is the likelihood of a taxi backing over a kid or even being driven by a senior citizen. These are self driving cars for consumers, these are commercial vehicles such as taxis and delivery vehicles.

          As for covering a vehicle in sensors instead of being a hindrance to visibility to the driver, the same visibility requirements exist for human driven vehicles and self-driven vehicles because humans have to be able to drive self-driven vehicles on occasion, so if you need to cover al

          • He wasn't suggesting covering the windows, but most humans only have 2 eyes. Autonomous cars can be looking in every direction, all at the same time. They can be watching the side mirror to make sure they are backing up straight AND the rear view mirror to make sure your unattended child didn't run behind the car AT THE SAME TIME. Personally, I view this as both a win for saving lives, and a loss for circumventing natural selection.

      • The google car already has over 300k miles on it without a single at-fault incident. Although I thought the law required a person to be in the car ready to assume control at all times?

        • by cjjjer ( 530715 )
          Yeah but put them in a big city where there are pricks that will try and cause them to crash.

          This reminds me of the scene from I, Robot where Will Smith says this []
        • The google car already has over 300k miles on it without a single at-fault incident. Although I thought the law required a person to be in the car ready to assume control at all times?

          I drive an original 1973 VW Beetle every day with over 300K miles on it without a single accident (at-fault or otherwise). I would not use that statistic to say that all VW Beetles are safe vehicles. Just because a small handful of these cars have been tested does not mean that they are safe in the real world. To do a proper study, you have to have a large enough sample size. Maybe that has been accomplished, because that probably only needs around 1,000 vehicles. However, testing those 1,000 vehicles in d

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:12PM (#44677393)

        Not that this will stop anyone the first time the car backs over a kid, despite their excellent safety record.

        The Google cars have backup cameras, radar, and bump sensors. They have been specifically designed and tested to not run over kids/pets while backing, under many different light and weather conditions. So your scenario is very unlikely to happen.

        A much more likely scenario: After self driving cars are common, some human driver backs over a kid, and people ask why we should continue to allow humans to drive.

      • Lots of things. And they will.

        But statistically, it'll probably be better than having humans behind the wheel. Not that this will stop anyone the first time the car backs over a kid, despite their excellent safety record.

        Think about that. These are going to be used as taxis in New York. So, not only will you have to be able to get one, but it will have to figure out where you are going, whether you speak with an accent or not. Of course, you could just type your destination into your smart phone and forgo the talking, but if the car can't get the voice recognition algorithm correct, then that makes the safe driving algorithm suspect.

        Then who is going stop all sort of stuff from happening in the back seat? Will the next pers

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      That they have a lower crash rate than humans and we are all forced to switch to them.

      Not sure that is going wrong though.

      If they can reduce the fatality rate, and the eventually will, it will not matter if different folks die only that less die. This is the same thing as vaccines. You trade X deaths for X/Y deaths, while those latter deaths are unlikely to be the same folks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by loufoque ( 1400831 )

        That's not going to happen.
        Reducing the fatality rate is only a political argument to make people accept speed cameras, which in turn generate a lot of profit for the state.

        Driverless cars would render speed cameras useless, so they will never be mandated.

        • by PRMan ( 959735 )
          Not everyone is THAT money-grubbingly corrupt. I used to work with cops and traffic engineers and they care very much about public safety and are willing to spend their budgets to improve it. The press loves to point out the money-grubbers (and they exist) but most people are not that way.
    • by Skater ( 41976 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:30AM (#44676439) Homepage Journal
      Given my experience with the idiot drivers on the roads, I'm going to say, "Not much that hasn't already."
    • by arpad1 ( 458649 )

      The question ought to be "what could possibly(sic) do wrong ten years from now?"

      RTFA, baby since the rocket scientists who now run slashdot can't be bothered to do it for you.

    • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:36AM (#44676495) Journal

      My guess, the list of people waiting on organ donors will get longer.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:37AM (#44676499)

      Hello, I'm Johnny Cab, where can I take you tonight?

    • I'm arming my Jag with an RPG pod.

    • Startup company plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. What could possibly go wrong. Right, Webvan?

      Maybe Google will make a little money selling some cars before Uber goes bankrupt.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      One should note that we're inching towards driverless cars faster than you can imagine.

      Things like cruise control were the first step. Now we have lane awareness (where it alerts you If you start to drift from your lane), forward accident detection and prevention (applies brakes if you start approaching an obstacle in front), auto-cruise control (keeps you paced with the car in front automatically), parallel parking assistance, radar, etc.

      The driverless car probably won't come as one go, but all the technol

  • All it takes is one single person to get hit by one of these and they're illegal in 50 states. Since Toyota can't even get their software straight in a non-driverless car, I'm thinking this is going to be a disaster. Then there's security. Yeah, it's Google but still, someone needs to mass hack these cars and crash them to prove that auto makers and security is about as great a pair as a 2 year old and a grenade.
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      1. Incorrect, so long as it kills less people it will be fine.
      2. Toyota had a market problem not a software problem. They were simply old geezers confusing the pedals.
      3. there is no reason why good security could not be used in driverless cars.

      • by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:49AM (#44676583)
        I think the GP is right. Reasoning is that if there's one accident where a human is killed the media will exploded with stories of how cars are coming to life and killing everyone that gets near them.

        I can also imagine people who oppose driverless cars will be going to great expense to try and trip them up, causing accidents. There are some people, that no matter how extensive the evidence is that driverless cars kill fewer people by huge margins, are going to try and stop their adoption. So many people are killed by human error while driving it doesn't even make the news anymore, but I guarantee one driverless car accident will be international headlines. Like 3D printers being used to print guns. Forget the fact they can do anything else like printing organs, food or prototyping innovative ideas. OMG they print guns quick start the presses the masses must know of this injustice.
      • 1. Incorrect, so long as it kills less people it will be fine.

        While I would hope this is true, I would find it more likely that the news media would play the deaths up for their own gain and cause masses to have unfavorable opinions of the technology. A four year old dieing in a firey blaze because of something that the majority would probably already by distrustful of likely cause the technology to be banned or highly contrained, statistics be damned.

      • 1. Incorrect, so long as it kills less people it will be fine.
        2. Toyota had a market problem not a software problem. They were simply old geezers confusing the pedals.
        3. there is no reason why good security could not be used in driverless cars.

        Actually, the OP is probably correct about #1. He's not talking about logic, he's talking about human reaction.

        All it will take is 1 robot-car to hit a single person and the news will have a field day. They will whip up the population into a frenzy with "Murderous robots on your highway? News at 11" Seriously, they will hit this issue HARD because in their view it's just all kinds of s*xy... Robots, death, fear-of-the-unknown, making-the-news-team-seem-sympathetic, etc.

        Meanwhile politicians will jump on

        • by Skater ( 41976 )
          FYI: A drone crashed into a crowd, causing several injuries, at an event near DC over the weekend. No whip up so far.
          • A small personal-type of drone, as opposed to large military drone, weighing only a couple of pounds of only injured a couple people. In other words, a remote control helicopter with a camera crashed.

            Robot car driving at lethal speeds where the smallest mistake could kill someone... will eventually hit someone.

            One is a s*xier story than the other. Trust me, when a robot car hits and hurts someone.... anchormen around the world are going to need to make sure their desks aren't made of glass otherwise the

      • "Skynet ran over my dog!" GP is right in that such an accident will be a marketing disaster... but it will only be a temporary one. However I am less worried about PR than about pet owners or parents suing the crap out of Google. If a human driver runs over your kid, there's only so much cash to be had from the driver, besides a jury might well rule that it was an accident and that the driver was not at fault. But in case of driverless cars, an accident translates readily into a defective product in the
        • Google can afford lawyers. Lots and lots of lawyers. More lawyers, more imposing lawyers than Fido's owners can. Really bad analogy.

          A slightly better one would be an auto insurance company suing Google (or it's holding company / subsidiary or whatever legal arrangement they make). Then it's lawyer on lawyer action (ewwww....). Still and all, you have to think that Google's admin team has figured this out. After all, we did. And made suitable arrangements.

          Poor Fido, here's a couple hundred bucks, get

      • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
        Being an old geezer, I take a bit of exception to this. In addition, the fatal crash that started Toyota's problems had no old geezers.. You can listen to the rather horrifying 911 call here. []

        As an aside, agism is just as bad as sexism, racism, homophobism, etc. Oh, and by the way, you'll be one, too.
        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          You mean the one that did not know to shift a car into neutral?

          Makes me wonder how they train state troopers.

    • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

      All it takes is one single person to get hit by one of these and they're illegal in 50 states.

      You may be right but I doubt that would make a significant difference by the time they're ready for the mass market.

    • by invid ( 163714 )
      Think of the billions of dollars this will save all the big corporations that require road transportation. This is going to get rammed through the legal system, and rammed as hard as campaign cash can ram it.
  • by new death barbie ( 240326 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:28AM (#44676395)

    It's dateline is 2023. It's fiction. NOT news.

    • by Thruen ( 753567 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:29AM (#44676905)
      I'm seeing a problem with internet news...

      There's more, too. How scarey is it that this is being reported as news elsewhere based on an article from TechCrunch that opens with a date ten years in the future in bold letters? They didn't just not investigate, they didn't read the article they then based their own articles on. At this point, I'd be surprised if it wasn't on Fox tonight.
  • by simonbp ( 412489 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:29AM (#44676419) Homepage

    Unless TechCrunch has a time machine, this is a work of speculative fiction. The dateline of July 25, 2023 should be a dead giveaway, but since when did the Slashdot edittors ever RTFA?

    • ...since when did the Slashdot edittors ever RTFA?

      Not since they upgraded to the new JohnnyDot editorless publishing system. If you turn the sound up on your computer while submitting a story, you'll hear Robert Picardo's voice [] asking, "Please state the nature of the stuff that matters emergency."

      (Picardo's voiced the JohnnyCab robot in Total Recall, and his face was used as the model for the robot. He also played the holographic doctor on Voyager and the robotic bureaucrat who thought he could run Stargate Atlantis.)

    • In any case, the current crop of Google Cars might have good stats, but they are stats generated under very controlled situations, such as not in rush hour LA traffic. Or rush hour downtown city traffic.

  • Early April Fools? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:31AM (#44676457)

    It's bad enough to have April Fools come once a year and have to wade through the fake posts, but it's far from April 1st.

    From TFA: "Dispatch From The Future: Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google July 25, 2023 "


  • very funny slashdot.. you got me again.. apparently, everyday is april fools day.

  • by Anubis350 ( 772791 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @10:36AM (#44676497)
    and now this fake piece of trash. What the hell's going on with the slashdot editors in the last couple days? I don't usually gripe about articles, but this is a little sad...
    • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:41AM (#44677043)
      Wait a few hours for the dupe.
    • I've said this many times before, but when CmdrTaco left, it was the beginning of the end for Slashdot. The writing was on the wall for a long time before that, but Malda's departure was a very clear demarcation of where the site was headed. We're witnessing a slow death spiral. Within 10-20 years, Slashdot will no longer exist in its current form. It will be gobbled up by Gizmodo, Techcrunch, CNet, or the likes, and eventually merged into their conglomerate and redirected to the parent company's site.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      Well at least with this you'll be able to say "dupe!" when an article pops up in July 2023 about this, so there's some value... I guess?
  • A news story from the future that is pretty much unavoidable.

    I see the benefit of driverless cars, but people need jobs too. We need to think about that when we eliminate jobs instead of demonizing the unemployed. If companies and society are putting these people out of work, we need to do something. Our increasing productivity is producing a class of unemployable people. IMO, If we don't want that, we should hire these people to do what robots could.
    • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:08AM (#44676721)
      We don't need jobs. We need food. We need shelter. Jobs are a means for which we obtain the resources to obtain those things. If robots can do everything, we can live in a very different kind of economy, basically proto-Star Trek. Don't ruin that with the notion that we need jobs.
      • Actually, psychologically, we do need jobs or at least meaningful tasks. However, we do need to rethink how we allocate the fundamental necessities given greater and greater productivity from less and less labor. We also need to think about what we do with human potential if we reach a place where labor isn't necessarily tied to survival.
        • I'll agree with meaningful tasks as being important, but that doesn't necessarily translate to jobs in the sense we know them today. We could devote our time to self enrichment, artistic expression, and other such tasks in ways that we never could before because they aren't financially viable. Our tasks would have more meaning to us, leaving us more fulfilled. Now, that's not to say that there aren't going to be issues, especially in the transitional phase, but they are relatively minor in comparison to
      • I happen to agree with you. Totally. But at the very least, let people work....don't automate them out of work and then complain that they're not working.
      • So long as there is a single *job* that has to be done by humans, we all have to be concerned with jobs.

        This is one of the reason why I'm a big proponent of work sharing as opposed to welfare.

        Just picture yourself as one of America's corporate workers today. Slugging it out in brutal competition, 50 hour work weeks, being push and push to squeeze out every last ounce of productivity... and then being told... we need to tax you more to give some people free money... hey relax... it's good for you, they will

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      When robots can do a task faster, cheaper, and more reliably than humans, it's inevitable that they will be replaced.

      People have been fearing machines causing long-term and large scale unemployment since the cotton gin... history shows that actual unemployment increases caused by replacing workers with automation are not anywhere nearly as massive as was feared by some beforehand, but also extremely temporary.

    • I think that for every displaced worker, some kind of habitation and space should be set aside for these newly unemployable. If they are essentially being made redundant to the continuation of the human species maybe a reserve is where they belong. I'm thinking along the lines of intentional communities, not ghettos. Very open, no support provided but also no economic output expected. Just put them out on nice fertile land where they can thrive outside of the hustle and bustle. No they won't be sterili

  • Who the hell is Uber?
  • I can forsee a state where older drivers who can no longer safely drive themselves can maintain a portion of their independence by using these to be able to get around without requiring someone else to taxi them from place to place. Simple destinations such as family member's homes, stores, doctor and medical offices, and other common destinations could be pre-programmed into the vehicle's memory, with a simple menu to select a destination. A "specify your destination" feature could be used for those who re
  • I read the article, but didn't note the date - so I was rather confused by a story about some mega-delivery company I'd never heard of that mentioned facts that weren't remotely true!

    But, even in 2023... How is this supposed to work? They're a delivery company - are the customers supposed to be on the honor system, coming out to the curb and taking only the packages addressed to them? The basic idea doesn't really work, unless the car also has fold-out legs and can walk up to the door...

  • ... and I was laughing at the posters on TechCrunch that read it as anything other than fiction. Including the people arguing over whether a private companies stock price could jump 10% in a day....

    I made a mental note not to visit that website anymore, their users failed my mental Darwinian challenge.

    Now I fire up Slashdot for my post coffee 'news' blitz, and I'm left with a bitter taste in my mouth that has nothing to do with over roasting of beans.

    I'm having a sad nostalgia moment where I feel this commu

  • I've thought, since first seeing the google car, that zip car would do well to have a fleet of them. A car that arrives where and when you need it and drops you off... it's perfect for them. And they can offer rate plans. If you don't want to spend premium and be the only person in that car with a single destination you can opt to have up to 3 other people coordinated with your ride.

    Likewise, Amazon, could do well to use them for delivery on their same day service. If you click on a button saying you'll
  • by rebrane ( 17961 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:16AM (#44676785)

    The editors of the Daily Mail [] didn't.

  • But it's already taken ...

    There's companies in both California [] and Hawaii [], likely others.

  • Check out who was fooled by this article, maybe use Google to dig up a few more...

    I know, scarey right?
  • Think About It! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:51AM (#44677149)

    Although this article is a spoof it should point to another issue. We are well aware that robotic transport is close at hand on a large scale. And this is a perfect example of an issue that no one is confronting. As it has occurred in other trades we will see misery applied to a very large number of professional drivers. They will simply be out of work, permanently. And then there is a ripple effect. The diners that serve truckers, cab drivers and others will close or lay off workers. Motels will do the same. Even sales of items such as CB radios could take a hit.
                    I would not be overly shocked to learn that robotic vehicles displaced five million workers in the US. Although nobody is entitled to earn a living we will have to create an economic system that makes certain that all people are well paid without regard for whether they work or not. People without good pay checks can not purchase nor can they pay taxes. Unemployment and under employment will shift the tax burdens to those who work and it will also collapse or limit the income of businesses leading to an ever deepening, chronic poverty.
                    We are now confronted with a social reality that forces a sea change in our economic and political beliefs. We have no options at all other than to create a very socialistic society. Human labor, whether physical or mental, is in decline as far as value is concerned. I strongly suspect that our youth have glimpsed that which explains their lack of concern with education and their willingness to participate in activities likely to destroy them whether that be surfing a thirty foot wave, racing a motorcycle or shooting heroin.

  • Stop all the talk and just get these things on the road. The sooner the concept fails the sooner we can move on. I also don't want to see a post to ONE car driving safely down the road, I want to see a highway where 40-50% of the cars are autonomous intermingling with some of the dumbest drivers on the planet.

    I'd rather strap myself into a coffin and be shot across the country in a big metal straw before I get into an autonomous car driving down the highway with other humans..

  • I can't wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FunPika ( 1551249 ) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:52PM (#44677741) Journal
    ...for these to become common in states like Massachusetts. The amount of anger from the average driver in that state would be incredible to see (having to sit behind a car that is programmed to strictly adhere to the posted speed limit, not try to beat red lights, and will not respond to any form of road rage directed towards it).
  • I saw the summary just before I went to lunch...came back and tried to find details on the Google GX3200 autonomous car. Results for "google gx3200 -uber" give nothing about any cars.

    Refresh page and...yeah, it was a bunch of marketing bullshit.

  • I really don't see how these vehicles can actually work in real-live driving situations... Supposing there is an accident, or other temporary traffic re-routing... the local cop wants you to roll down your window, and he is going to TELL you where to drive to get around this obstruction... Or deer running across the street... I'm sure VERY hard to detect (I can barely see them myself coming off from the side...) Or small things in the road that you want to avoid (potholes, glass, etc) Or avoiding certai

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