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AI Transportation Upgrades

Coast-To-Coast Autonomous Tesla Trips 2-3 Years Out, Says Elon Musk ( 259

Jalopnik reports that Elon Musk's predicted window for being able (for Tesla owners, that is) to call up your autonomous car and have it find its own way from New York to California, or vice versa, is astonishingly close: 24-36 months from now. From the article: As far as the summoning feature is concerned, Tesla plans for the 33-foot range to greatly expand—soon. Within two years, Musk predicted that owners will be able to summon their car from across the country. “If you’re in New York and your car is in Los Angeles, you can summon your car to you from your phone and tell the car to find you,” Musk said. “It’ll automatically charge itself along the journey. I might be slightly optimistic about that, but not significantly optimistic.” In getting from one place to another, Musk said autopilot “is better than human in highway driving, or at least it will be soon with machine learning.” If it’s not already better than human, Musk said it will be within the coming months. But right now, Musk said the car still needs a human around, just in case. “The car currently has sensors to achieve that cross-country goal,” Musk said. “But you’d need more hardware and software, you’d need more cameras, more radars, redundant electronics, redundant power buses and that sort of thing.
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Coast-To-Coast Autonomous Tesla Trips 2-3 Years Out, Says Elon Musk

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  • you know it will happen.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:04PM (#51274949)

    Their "self parking car" can just barely back itself out of a garage (limited to up to 39 feet) without anyone in the car. It seems unlikely that they'll transition from this to true autonomous long distance operation in 3 years.

    • by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:38PM (#51275095)
      My car went on a coast-to-coast trip without me and all I got was this lousy lawsuit.
    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:17PM (#51275251) Journal

      It would an understatement to say that Elon Musk has made some outrageous predictions for his companies and the world. At this time, we can't be sure they'll come true because his due-dates are still in the future.

      That said, it is believable to me that cross-country autonomy could be technically possible in 2 or 3 years. After all, going 33 feet is just the first step in going 33 more feet, and then 33 more, and so on. I think the current 33-foot limit is caused by early prudence rather than technology limitations.

      What I find hard to accept the idea that it will be legally possible in 2 or 3 years. But, I wouldn't be surprised if Elon negotiated a special route with the governments of selected states, to provide a demonstration. And maybe a human convoy escorting it?

      • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:31PM (#51275309)

        Google's self driving cars have racked up over 1 million miles in the past few years. They're probably already capable of a coast-to-coast autonomous trip - in good weather.
        What's uncertain is if they can cope with really poor driving conditions. []

        • One million miles over probably less that 100 miles of road that has been scanned and analysed by people before the car is ever allowed to drive there. A Google car can not drive on city streets that have not been scanned and analysed recently. Drive a google car to another town and it is lost.

          • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @10:26PM (#51275515)

            What?? They can't use Google Maps?! :-D

            • Not even close []

      • One thing I would like to see with autonomous cars is a new set of required lights when they are in operation. This way you can easily identify the cars that are driving themselves. Also at some point autonomous cars will network together on highways and form a virtual train. I think another beacon should be required when they are in this mode.

        We really need to work on infrastructure in the US and making it easier for automated vehicles to be the norm would go a long way to reducing deaths and accidents
  • The law may not be ready that quick and what happens with some thing goes wrong in driver less mode with no one in the car?

    Will the car even try get out of the way of a road block with out even trying to due it (just that base don't crash mode)

    • Why should they wait for "laws to be ready"? If every innovator would do that, we'd be still riding around on horses. When the car was invented, there for sure were no vehicle liability insurances. I'm sure that got sorted out soon enough after the first accidents though. Here the same. Let it happen. Of course the auto makers will do their utmost best for no accidents to happen (it's part of their business model after all), but it will happen, and then we'll see.

      Things will be sorted out soon enough. First

      • As long as in the worst case you are ready to due some hard time as you are the owner / the one who requested the car and when it hit the school bus well the local Officer Barbrady things you just ran off after crash.

    • The law may not be ready that quick and what happens with some thing goes wrong in driver less mode with no one in the car?

      I don't know, but the lawyers already have dollar signs in their eyes and they are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the law suits.

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        insurance will be all over this like a cheap suit, once functioning, full autonomous driving will be practically mandated by insurance companies.
      • criminal liability? Tickets?

        As for tickets there are ones that go to the car and other ones that go to the driver (points) how will that work? What about the courts? What about must show up court tickets?

        • This brings up an interesting angle.

          What about DUIs?

          Who would be driving the car? Could I get my robo-car to drive me home from the bar when I'm shit faced and have it be my designated driver?

          Just thinkin'

  • Parking lot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ziest ( 143204 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:17PM (#51275001) Homepage

    I want a car that will drop me off at the store or the movies, go park itself and when I'm ready it will come to me in front of the store. The endless walking around in parking lots trying to remember where I park the car is a giant pain in the ass.

    • Re:Parking lot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:14PM (#51275233)

      I think there is a reason these auto makers go for a "coast to coast" first. It's all highways, and easy driving.

      Your problem is a much harder one: improperly mapped surroundings, lots of moving obstacles (ranging from people to dumpsters placed haphazardly), etc.

      I'll be impressed when this car can do what you describe. Or navigate from one end of a big city to the other - without using the city's ring roads, but really going through city traffic, dealing with traffic lights, cyclists, detours, and all the other unexpected obstacles thrown at city drivers.

      • I've been in blinding blizzards on the highway. Storms where you are lucky to see the ditches on either side, forget about the lines in the middle or the shoulders. I'd like to know what's going to happen when one hits and the autonomous car is nowhere near a safe parking spot.
        • Re:Parking lot (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:56PM (#51275431)

          You are stuck using only visible light to perceive the world around you. Any autonomous system would have sensors that are working outside that band and hence are going to be more or less affected by various conditions. You would expect the system to use lidar, radar, and ultrasonic at the absolute minimum. It would also have sensors that are closer to the ground and at better angles than your eyes so while the lines may be invisible to you in the drivers seat the sensors can see them clearly.

          My expectation of behaviour would be that the AI is able to make a remarkably accurate estimate of braking distance and then reduce its speed to a level where its sensor range exceeds that of braking distance + a margin of error.

          • But how will it track the road when it is under inches of snow? GPS will be spotty if it is working at all through heavy cloud. No lines, no visual cues. It can't stop on the shoulder because that would be dangerous for the car as well as other drivers. Driving at 20km/h is not an option for the same reason. I also question whether sensors on an *affordable* consumer vehicle would be sensitive enough not to get thrown off by heavy snow.
            • If the roads are that bad, only stupid drivers even attempt to go out in the first place. And when a snow storm happens (these things are usually predicted in advance nowadays) there is usually enough time to find a safe place to shelter before it gets to this kind of conditions.

              If you say driving at 20 km/h is dangerous - when the vehicle does so due to stopping distance and risk of slipping so I assume you mean "dangerous as it's much slower than other traffic" - driving at any higher speed would be even

              • That's just a slow into work morning some days.
              • by Euler ( 31942 )

                What city do you live in? I'd love to have an accurate weather prediction that can tell me if it will be sunny, rainy, or blizzard within the next half-hour. (I live in western New York.)

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                Wow... This is two days in a row where I get to suggest that you'd probably die if you lived where my home is. (I'm cheating and spending this winter in Florida.)

                Seriously, if you stop traveling because there are a few inches of snow on the road - you're gonna die. We have periods where it simply doesn't stop snowing - for days. We have times when I, a private citizen, go out and help with the plowing, pull people out of ditches, and generally help clean things up. What would you do it you got four feet of

            • by khasim ( 1285 )

              But how will it track the road when it is under inches of snow?

              Come to Seattle and watch what happens when the HUMANS have to drive on 2 inches of snow.

              An autonomous car does not have to be perfect.

              It just has to be better than the average human.

              And a computer can easily triangulate its position via cell towers. Something that a human cannot do. So expect more improvements in non-human navigation aids in the future.

              • And a computer can easily triangulate its position via cell towers. Something that a human cannot do.

                Assuming there are cell towers within sight. There are plenty of places in the U.S. with limited to no cell service on the highways.
            • [] - This is what happens when humans encounter conditions where visibility reduces yet they still drive faster than their visible distance. If 20km/h is the maximum speed that a vehicle can stop at inside its visibility window then that is EXACTLY the max speed it should be travelling.

              As for your example there must be some kind of visible cues otherwise you wouldn't know where the road goes. GPS is also no affected by water vapour in the atmosphere, it is however affected b

              • Well maybe it's just my Garmin, but it cuts out in snow storms. No sats available. I hope they'll be putting in something much stronger than that. Your theory doesn't work in real life, because there is always going to be some asshat barreling down the highway behind you. Driving 20 is a death sentence.
            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              GPS will be spotty if it is working at all through heavy cloud. No lines, no visual cues.

              Humans cannot navigate in these conditions either. It's not safe or acceptable to be out there driving under such conditions.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I've driven several of those blizzards in North Dakota.

          In one of them I was driving a car with radar assisted distance sensing cruise control and it was way better than I was at judging the car in front of me with limited visibility and at night.

          • So automotous cars are going to simply start following the car in front of them? Sure, a hot spot to follow in a storm. What if it turns off?
      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        Pretty sure Google's autonomous cars are already doing just that.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        I think there is a reason these auto makers go for a "coast to coast" first. It's all highways, and easy driving.

        Well, I think the large distance between origin and destination is supposed to show a high endurance.

        Perhaps they should say coast to coast, with a special caveat, that the trip has to be done both in the rainy season, and in the dead of winter when there is heavy snow en route, original should be in a suburban area requiring some heavy city travel to get away from the origin, final desti

    • Re:Parking lot (Score:4, Insightful)

      by adnonsense ( 826530 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @10:44PM (#51275571) Homepage Journal
      In pre-digital days I used to carry around a graphite-based stylus for noting the car's location on a carbon-based "tablet" with a nifty non-battery-reliant offline storage solution, though these days I just take a photo with my moble pocket computing device. Saves having to wait for reliable autonomous cars to be developed.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      I went to a barbecue competition (large national one), and I came up with a great idea. Since I used my Garmin to get to the event when I parked I set a favorite location to where I was while sitting in the parked car. Then I got out and stowed the GPS on me.

      When it was time to go home I turned the GPS back on (two hour battery runtime) and let it guide me back to the car's location.

      • Being poor as hell, I recently got my first ever car with keyfob.

        "Where did we park?"

        *press trunk button on keyfob*

        "Find the car that just raised its hand."
    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      I want a car that will drop me off at the store or the movies, go park itself

      At this point.... why not just have a service provider with autonomous cars strategically parked throughout the city, and when you want a car, you push a button, and a self-driving car comes and gets you in a few minutes for a low monthly subscription+mileage fuel charge?

      Then we reduce car ownership, and consequently, the amount of parking spaces required, as well, by an order of magnitude.

  • Your Tesla will drive itself onto an autonomous ocean-going barge which will set off around the Cape of Good Hope to dock on the other coast where the barge will disgorge a smouldering heap of wreckage.

  • AI always wins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:26PM (#51275043) Homepage Journal

    It's like with cops and robbers. The thief needs to get lucky every single time, the cops only need to get lucky once. With AI it's even more unfair, not only does the AI only need to learn to drive once, after which it is always better -- but it can be incrementally improved besides, and possesses fundamentally superior perception and reaction time.

    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      Not just the AI but also the environment that the AI is supposed to operate in.

      The AI can have sensors far beyond human sensory limitations. And the ability to store and recall EXACT measurements (and access them via "the cloud").

      A few quick pulses of IR or UV light and the car should know exactly which buildings are around it and how far. Which gives it exact information on where it is in the city.

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:35PM (#51275081)

    That's a good one. And I'm sure Elon Musk is going to be launching rockets and flying them back to land softly on a pad for reuse.

    Oh, wait...

  • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @08:54PM (#51275137)
    In the near term future, say 3-8 years, accident injuries and deaths will plummet as this technology is adopted. The notion of letting just anybody drive with minimal training will seem as barbaric as surgery without washing your hands first. The cost savings in both human suffering as well as dollars will have us scratching our heads on why we didn't mandate this earlier. I fully expect my grandchildren to be both amazed as well as slightly horrified that I drove along with millions of others at high speed despite the risk of drunks / sleepy / distracted drivers killing us.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:13PM (#51275217)

      "The cost savings in both human suffering as well as dollars will have us scratching our heads on why we didn't mandate this earlier."
      Oh God.... here we go again...
      It was not and will not be mandated for some time due to technological limitations. The concept probably goes back decades or more but what will happen is that when it comes to fruition there will be a gaggle of Musk worshipers who will claim that no one had the idea before Musk and no one "worked" on the idea until after Musk brought it to the masses in a tidy little package. Anyone else who puts this out will be compared to Edison and called a thief and a cheat by this gang of fanboys. Endless Facebook memes will give Musk credit for making anything worthwhile in his lifetime and even credit him with some inventions that were patented before his lifetime just like how they're doing with Tesla today.
      Musk was wise in choosing the name of his auto company as that's what he'll end up being in technology history.... another engineer given the credit for other peoples' work and others vilified for their accomplishments.
      You losers will even be claiming that he was "an alien" that was "centuries ahead of his time" and without which we'd "still be living in the dark ages."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...hack a persons account and you'll soon be able to steal his brand new Tesla!

    "No officer, I didn't steal it, it followed me home... all the way from Florida!"

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:38PM (#51275341)
    The first funny problem is when you are in NYC and you accidentally bum dial your LA car to come get you. You arrive back in LA to find your car "stolen" so you bring up you app to find that it is getting its kicks on route 66.

    The other is when you move from NYC to LA but still haven't updated your contact list to say that "Home" is in LA not NYC. You drunkenly get into your car and say, "Home James" it then proceeds to take you to your old address in NYC. You are hung over so you don't wake until 2pm, 12 hours after leaving. It has been doing a fairly steady 70 for 12 hours, putting you over 800 miles from home. Also this translates to a 12 hour ride to return.
  • Meh, this is hardly breaking news. Im sure I saw this done back in the 80's by a Mr Michael Knight.
  • by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @10:46PM (#51275585)
    It's not rocket science.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @10:47PM (#51275595) Journal
    Come on Elon. You think coast-to-coast autonomous car is possible in 2 years but you can't give us a 40K car in 2 years?
    • Forget the 40K car, we won't need it. Once SpaceX reusable rockets achieve their 100x cost reduction we'll all just rocket everywhere.

    • Your sub $40k car is not going to come from a high tech startup shaking up the industry. It's going to come from the competition once they realise what is happening and get on the bandwagon.

      I say go more expensive. Increase the funds to drive the innovation which can trickle down to the rest of us through other means. I believe I will be driving a self driving electric car sometime in the next 15 years, but not necessarily a Tesla.

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Monday January 11, 2016 @01:25AM (#51276113)
    I definitely want to pay a steep premium to purchase my own tiny little train car. I especially can't wait until the release the software update that automatically drives me to the police station if the computer hears me say anything seditious.
  • by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Monday January 11, 2016 @02:53AM (#51276305) Homepage
    If you're flying cross-country, would be cool to send your car off a few days earlier and have it pick you up from the airport when you arrive.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser