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What Effect Will VW's Scandal Have On Robocars? 106

pRobotika writes: It's looking bad for Volkswagen, German car manufacturers and possibly even car manufacturers as a whole. But the revelations that VW put software in their cars to deliberately cheat on emissions tests could have even greater repercussions. Robocars' Brad Templeton looks at the effect for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. From the Robohub article: "There may be more risk from suppliers of technology for robocars. Sensor manufacturers, for instance, may be untruthful about their abilities or, more likely, reliability. While the integrators will be inherently distrustful, as they will take the liability, one can see smaller vendors telling lies if they see it as the only way to get a big sale for their business."
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What Effect Will VW's Scandal Have On Robocars?

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  • Sensor manufacturers, for instance, may be untruthful about their abilities or, more likely, reliability. While the integrators will be inherently distrustful, as they will take the liability, one can see smaller vendors telling lies if they see it as the only way to get a big sale for their business."

    I like how he pretty much answers his own question. Car manufacturers aren't going to give those making parts for them an inch. They'll test everything, like they're used to doing. Now, a defective lot of parts getting through is a known hazard. But ideally speaking, self driving cars will be made with the same redundancies as planes - IE one failed part isn't enough to cause a hazardous condition.

    More likely, VW's shenanigans are likely to cause governments to require more independent testing before ap

    • There's another twist to this. I once worked with a company that had developed a little sensor that would let you know if you'd left your infant in the back seat. They ultimately decided not to market it at all; the liability insurance required, should it ever fail, even once, dwarfed the modest profit it would have brought in. I understand LOTS of things don't make it to market, for that very reason. The number one cost in my aluminum ladder isn't aluminum, or transportation, or sales; it's liability insur
      • and that is the reason we cannot have nice things

        what ever happened to personal responsibility?
        • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @10:59PM (#50667201)

          what ever happened to personal responsibility?

          Personal responsibility is whatever the court and/or jury decides it is. Sometimes the judgement is probably too far in favor of giving idiots what they don't deserve. Sometimes it allows a company that's negligent to get off lightly for something that they really should not have ever sold. Sometimes it works out as it should.

          • companies should sell what people buy

            if people are not responsible with what they buy (think those magnet balls which kids were swollowing, or chemestry sets) that should be on them and only them
            • by dave420 ( 699308 )
              So everyone needs to perform a full audit of what they're buying, including purchasing something to test that it's safe/fit to purchase? I hope you have a lot of free time or vanishingly small respect for your own safety...
              • So everyone needs to perform a full audit of what they're buying, including purchasing something to test that it's safe/fit to purchase?

                It's basically already like that for most products. I can't remember the last time I got something with more than three moving parts that actually did everything it was supposed to do correctly.

              • risk vs reward isnt too hard
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:33PM (#50666463) Journal

    Tomorrow's Slashdot headline:

    "How Will The Apple Watch Affect the Future of Self-Driving Cars?"


    "What Year Will The Self-Driving Car Cure Cancer? We Ask Travis Kalanick."

  • Another article without absolutely no additional information regarding either the VW scandal or self-driving cars.

    "Sensor manufacturers, for instance, may be untruthful about their abilities or, more likely, reliability." Is the author implying that before VW's scandal everyone trusted their suppliers blindly?

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well the author is implying that bosch did the scandal and vw was unaware(comparison to vw is made and then if you replace sensor manufacturer with 'bosch' and user of said 'sensor' with VW.

      bullcrap of course.

      so maybe its something designed to shift the blame game away from vw. or just something stupid to fill the article quota for some poor schlob.

      • But that was not a sensor issue or reliability problem, the sensors work perfectly fine, it is an extra piece of code that does the cheating. Besides, there were all the other articles where Bosch already claimed they alerted VW that the feature in question was to only be used as a test mode during development. I guess we'll wait and see.
  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @08:42PM (#50666523) Homepage

    Most cars will be owned by large corporations, not individual pwople. Lyft, or Thrifty Rent-a-Car, or possibly automakers like Ford themselves. (I'm curious how it shakes out, for investment purposes, but bet the automakers will try to corner the market).

    At that point, when a car has a problem, it's not Joe Smith on the phone shaking a hand, it's the Big Owning Company with Lawyers who is. I expect the consolidation of purchasing power into a fewer, much bigger hands will make this unlikely to occur, at least more than the one time it takes for the surviving firms to understand the cost of lying.

    • A world where I can't own my own car? We already don't own our software. What's next? Not owning our house? How many more things will we no longer own but continue to pay the same amount as we did when we owned them? This future sounds dreadful.
  • bottom line: that's the understandable headline. and yes, a RoboCar for VW is in a galaxy far, far away.
  • Clearly as demonstrated by the Portal games, perpetual testing is the only way to go.

    Then there was that SpaceX part failure where they then turned around and tested the parts in stock and a significant number failed. Can't turn it up in a net search, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    one can see smaller vendors telling lies if they see it as the only way to get a big sale for their business."

    If they want to cheat on emissions/reliability tests, they should be shut down and have their property/assets seized & given away.

    No entity, person or company, should reap the benefits of cheating the people.

  • Companies have been "untruthful about abilities and reliability" since forever. Right now my onboard computer is reporting a fault in the AE-35 unit, which is impossible if you'd believe the manufacturer.

  • And the cars will run over people, and nobody will notice until some college gets a grant to study what's really going on?


  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @11:23PM (#50667353) Journal
    You'll get your 'robocars' about the same time you get flying cars and hoverboards.

    In my opinion, at best you'll have a sophisticated 'autopilot' system to supplement your full set of manual controls, and it'll be a boon on long highway trips, and maybe to keep you safe if you fall asleep at the wheel in the middle of the night. Assuming you're rich and can afford a luxury car, that is; economy cars won't have such things as an option. Sorry, kids, but you'll still have to learn how to drive, pass tests, and pay for insurance, and you'll have a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals (if not a clutch pedal) in front of you for quite some time to come; please do learn your driver training lessons well so we're all safe on the roads, OK? Thanks.
  • The VW (and probably others, I don't believe that only VW cheated - What miracle did they all work in unison to be 30x better with emissions than VW?) problem is the engine, not the general "Car Intelligence". I believe that the VW scandal will lead to more electric cars in the future (not electic replacing diesel, but a shift where gasoline enters the diesel domain, while at the other end electric engines cut their margin of the gasoline market).

    What will happen in the future, though, is that the certifica

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:06AM (#50668155)
    One thing has nothing to do with the other. This is just misleading propaganda from companies that have dropped the driverless ball. This is about lying cheating executives. Executives can lie and cheat about anything. Are those tires safe? Is the gasoline really unleaded? Do the ignition switches kill people?

    If anything the companies that are leading the charge with driverless don't have a long track record of cheating and killing their customers. The reality is that they are going into this new arena with unblemished records. This probably scares the crap out of the old companies.

    For instance, anything that Ford, GM, or Chrysler tell me is probably a lie or an exaggeration. I don't really trust any of the Japanese Manufacturers and even the Koreans aren't looking too good with the emissions testing. Thus I am far more likely to believe a Tesla, Google, Apple, etc. If they say their car can go 200 miles on a charge I will actually plan on going roughly 200 miles on a charge. If GM tells me that I can go 200 miles on a charge I will assume that they lobbied the government to allow them to have a tail wind and go downhill the whole time. Plus they won't mention that the battery caught fire 3 times each test and the driver's seat is the battery.

    So this straw man argument is just pure PR being put out to distract us from the fact that the old school car companies are run by a bunch of psychopathic MBA types. And instead of changing their ways they are trying to paint the aggressive young newcomers with the same brush.
  • What Effect Will VW's Scandal Have On Robocars?

    If someone attempts an emission test they'll transform [] and say "If you think you are going to shove that probe up my tail-pipe you've got another thing coming".

  • I'd worry about their self-esteem - I mean, being lumped into the same conversation as a company that clearly values profits over honesty is bound to make any robocar flinch when unrelated topics try to occupy the same space at the same time. No wonder skynet went all wicked-witch on mankind.
  • If you have a autonomous car, the most important change will be that

    a) The inconvenience of driving to maintenance is a non-issue (imagine your car going to the workshop without you) - and thus the central issue about the scandal (that adblue would need to be refilled more often than acceptable for the convenience of the customers) is a non-issue.

    b) For most of the driving the car can go fuel/emission optimized (i.e. it may go as slow as its reasonable) , since it's very likely that there will be non one on

  • Next story.
  • How is this anything new? Why is this news? Companies can lie? Companies can over-exaggerate claims? This is nothing new? Source: Watch ANY informercial.

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