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Transportation Google Technology

Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars 289

Paul Fernhout writes: Lee Gomes at MIT's Technology Review wrote an article on the current limits of Google self-driving car technology: "Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn't drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn't be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole? If your answer is yes, then check out the Google Self-Driving Car, model year 2014. Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can 'drive anywhere a car can legally drive.' However, that's true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car's exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It's vastly more effort than what's needed for Google Maps. ... Among other unsolved problems, Google has yet to drive in snow, and Urmson says safety concerns preclude testing during heavy rains. Nor has it tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages. ... Pedestrians are detected simply as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels — meaning, Urmson agrees, that the car wouldn't be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop."
Paul continues, 'A deeper issue I wrote about in 2001 is whether such software and data will be FOSS or proprietary? As I wrote there: "We are about to see the emergence of companies licensing that publicly funded software and selling modified versions of such software as proprietary products. There will eventually be hundreds or thousands of paid automotive software engineers working on such software no matter how it is funded, because there will be great value in having such self-driving vehicles given the result of America's horrendous urban planning policies leaving the car as generally the most efficient means of transport in the suburb. The question is, will the results of the work be open for inspection and contribution by the public? Essentially, will those engineers and their employers be "owners" of the software, or will they instead be "stewards" of a larger free and open community development process?"'
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Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

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  • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @11:26PM (#47793809)
    I'm an epileptic. When I need to go somewhere, I need to rely on friends, the bus, or when I am in a hurry a cab. None of these are ultimately a great option and they require a significant cost and loss of independence versus what a typical person enjoys. Me getting to the grocery store is a 45 minute affair despite only being a couple miles away. Getting to a friends house takes a couple hours. Tasks that would normally be extremely simple if I would be allowed to drive become the height of absurdity out of the off chance that something might happen. Self driving automobiles would offer me a level of independence that I simply can't have while otherwise being in compliance with state and federal laws that consider me a worse threat to the safety of others than a drunk driver, person texting behind the wheel, or elderly person with glaucoma and slowed reflexes. The thought that there "might" be fringe outlying cases that have yet to be considered safety wise, of course there are. There always is. GM recalled every car they made not that long ago! Until there is the opportunity for expanded testing with a level playing field, then we will never know what those fringe cases are and whether there is cause to e concerned. For now, it just seems like a bunch of people spouting off about the worst thing that could possibly happen ever, and how if even one of these is allowed on the road, the world will come to an end.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.