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Google Transportation

Google Has Stopped Developing Its Own Self-Driving Car - Report (techcrunch.com) 255

Google has reportedly shelved its long-standing plan to develop its own autonomous vehicle in favor of pursuing partnerships with existing car makers. From an article on TechCrunch: The Information reports that Google's self-driving car unit -- known internally as Chauffeur -- is working with established automotive names to develop cars which will include some self-driving features, but won't ditch the steering wheel and pedal controls. The firm is already working with Fiat Chrysler, per a partnership announced in May, and that could be the start of others to come. Google first set out to do away with the steering wheel and pedals approach, but this backtrack is from Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat who found the original approach to be "impractical," according to the report. That's despite Google's autonomous vehicles clocking over two million miles of tests on public roads.
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Google Has Stopped Developing Its Own Self-Driving Car - Report

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  • Colour me suprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Like everyone is going to abandon a well-proven UI just like that, on Google's say-so.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      You walk before you run.

      Google's approach may be best in the long run. But good luck convincing regulators and the public to entirely eliminate drivers before you've fully convinced them on the benefits of letting computers assist drivers.

      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:02PM (#53476049)
        There are simply too many conditions in which a self-driving car could occasionally need a human pilot, and the vast majority of those are when a quick decision that is not safety related is required, and the rest are when the vehicle is operating on something other than conventional roads.

        For example, if I'm going to an event in a rural area I'm probably going to have to park in an improvised parking area on an unimproved or only marginally improved surface. I may have to drive down a trail that itself is unimproved or only marginally improved, either following the directions of humans waving at me or else following something like the occasional orange cone or even the tracks of previous vehicles. A self-driving car is probably not going to interpret the directions of a teenager with a yellow safety vest and will instead see the person merely as an object to avoid colliding with. It will not see bits of orange tape on the ground or ruts as a path. It probably won't handle being told to enqueue to park in rows, peeling off after the next vehicle to park per human-guided hand signals.

        In this kind of scenario, which is common to outdoor concerts, festivals, campgrounds, renaissance festivals, theme-parks, lodges, and many other situations, a car that cannot be directly driven by a human being would not be able to function. The vehicle may well drive the vast majority of the time on its own, but it still needs to be capable of being occasionally human-operated or at least very directly human-instructed. Entirely eliminating the conventional driver controls makes that difficult.

        Furthemore, having owned many vehicles in various states of repair and condition for around twenty years now, I do not want a vehicle to be stranded when its autonomous systems have malfuctioned. Flat out that's a non-starter. Vehicles break. This is a fact of life. I don't want a vehicle with no issues with the powertrain to strand me because the controller can't figure out how to drive on the road. If nothing else, in general emergencies it may be necessary for me to make decisions that the vehicle is not capable of making itself, like in having to drive in the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado when the roads are messed up with debris.

        Don't get me wrong, the idea of a vehicle functioning as a hackney carriage, getting in and telling it where to go and it does that, has appeal, but I don't want it to only function that way.
        • Great, if Goo.., I mean Alphabet, won't develop a self-driving car I'm going to be stuck with a Samsung self-driving car.

        • by flink ( 18449 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:25PM (#53476201)

          For example, if I'm going to an event in a rural area I'm probably going to have to park in an improvised parking area on an unimproved or only marginally improved surface. I may have to drive down a trail that itself is unimproved or only marginally improved, either following the directions of humans waving at me or else following something like the occasional orange cone or even the tracks of previous vehicles.

          Heck, this is pretty common in an urban environment. If there is utility work going on, you'll see a few cones strewn about to vaguely indicate you are to use one of the oncoming lanes, with a cop looking down at his phone waving at you desultorily.

          • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:38PM (#53476289)
            Yeah. One of my neighbors works for Intel and has been working on their autonomous vehicle project and we've talked about it. Basically in an urban environment where The Authorities are closing or modifying the route of the street it is expected that they would have to use some kind of barricade with the ability to instruct the cars that the road does not match the original configuration and to follow an alternate path, and the police officer or other traffic-control person would have to have some kind of similar technology in traffic-control devices.

            Thing is, while it *might* be possible for a venue to obtain the cones or other barricades from a rental place, I would not expect that the human-held devices would be generally available if only to prevent them from being abused for things like stopping vehicles to rob the occupants or for carjacking. I would expect that tight controls would be necessary, and even the cones themselves might be subject to close regulation and scrutiny if they're capable of actively communicating with vehicle controllers. Otherwise it would be far too easy for someone to do something malicious.
            • Yeah. One of my neighbors works for Intel and has been working on their autonomous vehicle project and we've talked about it. Basically in an urban environment where The Authorities are closing or modifying the route of the street it is expected that they would have to use some kind of barricade with the ability to instruct the cars that the road does not match the original configuration and to follow an alternate path, and the police officer or other traffic-control person would have to have some kind of similar technology in traffic-control devices.

              Good luck with that. While formal, scheduled road work usually includes markers and assigned human flaggers - when an unscheduled, urgent repair is being performed it seems quite common to just have some random guy out there half-assedly directing cars around the obstructed work area.

              • by TWX ( 665546 )
                And in those cases the autonomous vehicle should detect that there's an obstruction and that there are adverse road conditions and to work around them.

                Typically such a crew would have a truck. It would not be unreasonable to include, as a function of how that truck being used is upfit, to issue such broadcasts about the nature of the road work. Already light-trucks used for construction may be upfit with extra lights that strobe similarly to how many police and emergency vehicles strobe, it would not b
                • You're imagining we're going to reengineer reality to fit the app?

        • by bdwoolman ( 561635 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:40PM (#53476303) Homepage

          I saw a short TV report about Volvo's autonomous car program. The idea is that the car will drive itself when driving is boring, and under good conditions. Roads in Sweden are usually very well marked BTW. They are actually testing a significant number of cars in Gothenburg. [volvocars.com]

          When conditions merit human control the car will signal the driver to take control. If this does not happen in a reasonable amount of time the car will pull out of traffic and stop. The stated goal is zero deaths in Volvos by 2020. Also the CEO said that the liability issue was simple. Volvo would take full responsibility. He added that any company unwilling to own the consequences of this tech had no business making it. The interior of the car was modified so that the driver could do other stuff during the "boring" bits. I remember this because I cannot wait for autonomous cars to really start saving lives (Maybe my own). Thirty thousand dead in car crashes every year in the US alone. Let me count the ways. Okay. Maybe not right now.

        • I could quibble, but I won't because I'm 99% in agreement. My litmus test scenario. An autonomous vehicle -- with or without a driver -- starts over one of the multitude of ramps in the infamous downtown Los Angeles four level interchange. At rush hour. The battery connection fails. Just snaps. Fortuitously the USC Rugby team bus is just behind it. Eight strapping lads get out and prepare to push the broken vehicle out of the way. Except without power or a mechanical steering wheel and brake, how ca

        • This is just a job for the unemployed uber drivers. The automobile provider has a big facility full of human drivers waiting to operate the vehicle remotely. It solves 2 problems. People can have their fully autonomous cars. Non rich humans can be locked away in a warehouse out of sight.
          • and when you drive out side the usa that data roaming cost that can run as high as $15-$20 a meg will cost you a NEW CAR after a few hours. Or a very high cost FAP free sat internet plan.

        • by bigpat ( 158134 )

          There are simply too many conditions in which a self-driving car could occasionally need a human pilot, and the vast majority of those are when a quick decision that is not safety related is required, and the rest are when the vehicle is operating on something other than conventional roads.

          For example, if I'm going to an event in a rural area I'm probably going to have to park in an improvised parking area on an unimproved or only marginally improved surface. I may have to drive down a trail that itself is unimproved or only marginally improved, either following the directions of humans waving at me or else following something like the occasional orange cone or even the tracks of previous vehicles. A self-driving car is probably not going to interpret the directions of a teenager with a yellow safety vest and will instead see the person merely as an object to avoid colliding with. It will not see bits of orange tape on the ground or ruts as a path. It probably won't handle being told to enqueue to park in rows, peeling off after the next vehicle to park per human-guided hand signals.

          In this kind of scenario, which is common to outdoor concerts, festivals, campgrounds, renaissance festivals, theme-parks, lodges, and many other situations, a car that cannot be directly driven by a human being would not be able to function. The vehicle may well drive the vast majority of the time on its own, but it still needs to be capable of being occasionally human-operated or at least very directly human-instructed. Entirely eliminating the conventional driver controls makes that difficult.

          Furthemore, having owned many vehicles in various states of repair and condition for around twenty years now, I do not want a vehicle to be stranded when its autonomous systems have malfuctioned. Flat out that's a non-starter. Vehicles break. This is a fact of life. I don't want a vehicle with no issues with the powertrain to strand me because the controller can't figure out how to drive on the road. If nothing else, in general emergencies it may be necessary for me to make decisions that the vehicle is not capable of making itself, like in having to drive in the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado when the roads are messed up with debris.

          Don't get me wrong, the idea of a vehicle functioning as a hackney carriage, getting in and telling it where to go and it does that, has appeal, but I don't want it to only function that way.

          What you describe are the risks you are willing to take as an owner of a car.

          The use cases of a fully autonomous car without allowing human control are equivalent of a taxi service where the passenger doesn't own or control the vehicle. As a business, as soon as you give over control over the vehicle to a passenger, then you are operating the equivalent of a rental service. So that would mean making sure that the person has a license and is insured and making sure there are rules of usage that are follow

        • There are simply too many conditions in which a self-driving car could occasionally need a human pilot, and the vast majority of those are when a quick decision that is not safety related is required, and the rest are when the vehicle is operating on something other than conventional roads.

          The problem is that every one of them assumes the person in the vehicle is able to drive, licensed to drive, or willing to drive. This is becoming less and less true as times goes on. Today, about a third of all 19-yea

    • by AC-x ( 735297 )

      Like everyone is going to abandon a well-proven UI just like that

      Remember when someone said the iPhone "doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard" ...?

      • To add a bit of ancedote to your statement, I have a work-issued iPhone and I find it to be pretty unappealing.
      • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

        The issue wasn't that a virtual keyboard was specifically unusable, but that people were used to physical keys. iPhones have now existed as long as RIM did before them, so it's safe to say that most people are now used to virtual keyboards.

        Still, iPhones aren't great for business. The integration between normal apps is still pretty awful today, and it's made worse for business apps because many companies require enhanced containerization which make it even more difficult for their apps to integrate with t

  • Dumb idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @11:39AM (#53475887) Homepage

    Yep. Ditching the steering wheel and the pedals would be really, really dumb. It would mean that if the car had a problem it would be stuck where it is.

    Steering wheels are useful.

    • Re:Dumb idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@nospAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @11:42AM (#53475903) Homepage

      Yep. Ditching the steering wheel and the pedals would be really, really dumb. It would mean that if the car had a problem it would be stuck where it is.

      Surprise! The very high end cars have already done this. Lexus, BMW, Rolls Royce, several others all have drive-by-wire systems, the steering wheel is controlled by individual electric motors(sometimes a single motor). And and electric motor on the pedal simulates the feel of hydraulic pressure.

      • Re:Dumb idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @11:56AM (#53475997)

        Unless you know otherwise, the steering and brakes always have mechanical fail-safes. In particular I'm familiar with the Infinity Q50 system.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Unless you know otherwise, the steering and brakes always have mechanical fail-safes. In particular I'm familiar with the Infinity Q50 system.

          Depends on what you define as "mechanical fail-safes" if in theory the electronic actuator is supposed to engage the clutch in the event of the motor failure is considered a fail-safe I guess so. Nissan dumped their "drive by wire" design because even when the electric motor system disengaged, there was a chance that the mechanical system wouldn't. And while there haven't been any failures on the Q50 yet, the chance that an electric re-engage of the linkage clutch failing is possible. In theory it's a 3

          • by sinij ( 911942 )
            I am 100% with you on potentially disastrous effects of this. For example, my new car has an electric switch in place of emergency brake. This means in all-out failure it won't be there. Thankfully, it is direct steering and manual hydraulic clutch gearbox - so I will be able to steer and slow down by downshifting if brakes and electronics both cut out.
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

              Thankfully, it is direct steering and manual hydraulic clutch gearbox - so I will be able to steer and slow down by downshifting if brakes and electronics both cut out.

              My car has a lot of airbags so I'll be able to use any fixed nearby objects directly in my path to slow down and emerge somewhat whole.

              Good luck everybody!

          • The clutch is fail-safe, though. The motor has to disengage the clutch when the system is operational, and a loss of electrical power should re-engage the clutch. But there are possible failure modes where the system still has electrical power yet is non-functional in a way that is not detected.

            So yeah, there are edge cases where the system can theoretically fail. But that is also true of a mechanical linkage.

            The "emergency brake" stopped being called that a long time ago - they now call it a "parking brake

        • steering and brakes always have mechanical fail-safes

          Not automotive but.

          Cat D7E [cat.com], M series motor graders [cat.com] and a whole host of other products are 100% by wire.

          • Yeah, I was definitely only talking about automotive. I think all the newer airliner designs are fly by wire now, too.

    • It would mean that if the car had a problem it would be stuck where it is.

      If your car has a problem, having a steering wheel and pedals is not likely to help you. It doesn't help you now either since all cars still have them yet they still get problems.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        If your car has a problem today (say, electrical failure) while you are moving you can steer to the side of the road. If your car has a problem today when you are not moving someone can push your car while you steer it to the side of the road. Neither of these are possible with no wheel, you are going to be sitting IN TRAFFIC with no way to move til the wrecker gets there.

        • We carry around spare tires, jacks, jumper cables, flares, etc. It's not out of the realm of possibility for a little bar to be included to be used as an emergency steering wheel.

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            Yikes! So we replace the scenario of 'driving down the interstate, electrical failure!, steer to the side and stop' with 'driving down the interstate, electrical failure!, stop in travel lane, exit vehicle, find little metal bar, attach wherever it needs to go, get vehicle moving (or push), steer to side of road'.

    • I wonder if a compromise could be worked out. Have the steering wheel and pedals fold away so that they are completely out of the way. However, if you need them, you could pull them out and use them.

      Of course, the real issue is that people won't trust self-driving cars 100% right away (and likely shouldn't). The first models will come with steering wheels and pedals accessible. As self-driving car technology improves, the times when the human driver needs to take over will get fewer and fewer. Eventually, n

  • What!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @11:42AM (#53475905)

    Google abandoned a project?! No!

    I worked for them for three years.

    Behind the scenes it's a fucking catastrophe of half-assed and half-finished projects, with literally thousands of abandoned services that nobody knows anything about, because all the hot-shot college hires moved up or out after proving how badass they were to get hired by Google.

    Nobody there wants to maintain anything, and their age discrimination practices prevent them from finding anyone who comprehends what that entails.

    Fuck em.

    • Re:What!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @11:54AM (#53475985) Homepage

      They really do seem to love the concept of getting "hot shots". They once tried to headhunt me after I won the Underhanded C contest one year. Um... that contest is about doing malicious things in the middle of tasks you were assigned to do and getting away with it - is that really a skill you want in your programmers?

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        Um... that contest is about doing malicious things in the middle of tasks you were assigned to do and getting away with it - is that really a skill you want in your programmers?

        You have to ask?

      • Re:What!? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:15PM (#53476129)

        is that really a skill you want in your programmers?

        Maybe not the malicious part, but I can see them coveting the part that implies you know the language and systems so well that you can see where assumptions would break down and have the intelligence to exploit them in novel ways. That shows a level of mastery that few people have (otherwise we all would have won such competitions).

        Whether you apply your powers for good or for evil is a different conversation.

      • They really do seem to love the concept of getting "hot shots". They once tried to headhunt me after I won the Underhanded C contest one year. Um... that contest is about doing malicious things in the middle of tasks you were assigned to do and getting away with it - is that really a skill you want in your programmers?

        Makes perfect sense to me. No, that's not a skill Google is looking for, but it's evidence of cleverness and deep knowledge of C programming and programmers. You'll note that winning the contest got you an opportunity for an interview, it didn't get you a job offer.

    • Re:What!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:10PM (#53476093)
      If I sanitize this for polite company, it sounds like you're describing a company that has ideas that are greater than its ability to follow-through with, and is short-sighted enough that it doesn't perform the kind of maintenance that brings the product to a state of long-term maturity.

      Given their abandoning and shutting of several APIs throughout the years I happen to agree and I find it annoying that they do this. It's also definitely colored my view on trusting a third-party to continue to maintain services on my behalf that are not locally-hosted on my own equipment. After all, I don't really know when they'll yank the rug out from under me.
      • Google is primarily a data analytics company. Any products which aren't directly tied to collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data are just side projects for Google to see if they can quickly take advantage of thier data to create new technologies.

      • by jdunn14 ( 455930 )

        It's also definitely colored my view on trusting a third-party to continue to maintain services on my behalf that are not locally-hosted on my own equipment. After all, I don't really know when they'll yank the rug out from under me.

        This is incredibly important and I wish more people would kind of come to terms with this issue. I remember a while back when a javascript library was changed and broke a bunch of online applications. For a deployed project there is really no reason you should be pulling live from someone else's server/repository. Host it on your own server and periodically snap everything forward after testing that no one you rely on broke something you need. At the same time, make sure you actually DO test and move fo

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          If you're talking about the likes of node.js and jquery, I have no idea why people seem to think it's a good idea to rely on them, hosted on someone else's server. That's really what "cloud services" are, "someone else's server". That doesn't mean that it's inherently evil, but it does mean that whoever's deciding to use cloud computing needs to understand that they're literally using someone else's server and to take steps to mitigate the damage caused if that someone else's server stops performing the
    • Re:What!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @12:22PM (#53476183)

      Besides Google's cultural issues, the fact remains that a whole car is difficult to build: heavily regulated, expensive components, very competitive established market. It is foolish for any company to enter making a new car when they could just sell their hot new tech into cars.

      The feeling in the industry right now is that the car is the new cell phone: generally untapped and ready for rapid improvements and new service roll-outs. All the head units basically are Android devices now (to manage the tuner, the CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, the DVD player, GPS/maps, OTA updates, etc.).

      Apple tried. Google tried. Samsung is about to try. And all of them learn sooner or later that these projects have 5-year ramps and 10 years of support, that the hardware is 10x costlier than they are used to, and that the OEMs and end-customers have zero tolerance for their "move fast, break shit" attitude. Completely difference business cultures. Honestly, the best way to make a buck is to partner with OEMs and sell a drop-in peripheral or service. Anything else will fail.

      • by godrik ( 1287354 )

        "Apple tried. Google tried. Samsung is about to try. And all of them learn sooner or later that these projects have 5-year ramps and 10 years of support, that the hardware is 10x costlier than they are used to, and that the OEMs and end-customers have zero tolerance for their "move fast, break shit" attitude."

        Well, Samsung is a big conglomerate with part of the business is building ships, airplanes, and tanks. So they probably can manage a car :)

      • It was always a dumb idea self driving modules will just be another low margin part like ABS or engine management system. Nobody gives a crap what it's called as long as it works.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      I see some of that on the sales ends, too. The salespeople we've spoken with have been young, 20-something guys who try to sell advertising like they're talking to some Silicon Valley angel-investor bullshit startup, because in their minds, that's what the whole world is. Very strange. I do wonder if they have grown-ups there who do the regular jobs to keep a company together.
    • Re:What!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @01:10PM (#53476521) Homepage Journal

      Google abandoned a project?! No!

      Google isn't abandoning the project, they're just going to sell systems to carmakers rather than becoming a carmaker.

      I worked for them for three years.

      I'll have my six-year anniversary as a Google Software Engineer in February.

      their age discrimination practices prevent them from finding anyone who comprehends what that entails.

      I could debate the rest of this post, but I'm replying just to pick on this point. I see absolutely no indication of age discrimination at Google. I'm nearly 50 myself, and not the oldest person on my team. My previous team included several engineers in their 60s and one guy in his early 70s (former Bell Labs guy; crazy smart and achieved independent wealth decades earlier but enjoyed working).

      About the only thing I can see in Google's hiring process (for SWEs, anyway; I have no knowledge of the process for other areas) that remotely smacks of age discrimination is that the interview questions assume that the candidate knows their CS fundamentals well: algorithms, data structures, big-O complexity, etc. That stuff is clearly top of mind for new CS grads, not so much for professionals who've been in the field a few years.

      However, professionals who know this and take a little time to brush up before going into the interview do fine. Recruiters point this out to candidates and are willing to delay scheduling the interviews if needed. I asked the recruiter to wait a couple of weeks so I could brush up and I was hired. On the occasions when I interview someone who seems pretty sharp but struggles because they're rusty I strongly encourage them to go refresh their memory and try again.

    • Behind the scenes it's a fucking catastrophe of half-assed and half-finished projects, with literally thousands of abandoned services that nobody knows anything about

      Sounds like Norm Abram's basement!

      I remember an interview with Steve Thomas, who used to host This Old House and apparently was actually friends with Norm off-screen. He was saying that women were always telling him how great it would be to be married to Norm, since he's always making these wonderful hutches and other types of wooden furniture. But (according to Steve) Norm's basement is full of half-finished projects where he'd either started taken them just far enough to know it was a good "Yankee Worksho

  • Nothing takes a crap on creativity more consistently than age plus success.
  • by ledow ( 319597 )

    Because the hard bit of building a car is building something that drives in the first place, and the easy bit of building a self-driving car is the car itself.

    When the inputs are reduced to accelerator, brake, left, right, it quickly becomes two projects - build a car, and make a car autonomous.

    Doing both simultaneously is stupid and expensive and without advantage. Doing them separately means you could just use any car, without the hassle and worry.

    But doing either still needs the autonomous control, comp

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Build the AI, when that works put it into an existing car, then integrate the AI and car. Trying to do both at once is stupid, costly, and a waste.

      That may work for prototypes, but at some point the design of the control system informs the design of the car, and the design of the car informs the design of the control system. It becomes necessary to evolve the design of the two in-concert with each other.

      If you look at the systems they use to autonomously drive, there are all kinds of sensors mounted high-up on vehicles. Basically no customer would be willing to have that kind of configuration strapped on to an existing car. It becomes necessary

      • No, the sensors will be integrated into the vehicle and more or less hidden from view. Anything you saw with a visible sensor just meant it was a very early prototype device, and would never come to market designed like that. "Third party system" doesn't mean something bolted on top like aftermarket devices. It just means they'll work with the manufacturer to incorporate that software into the design and manufacturing process.

        Google did the right thing here. I always thought their "all or nothing" appro

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Obviously they'll be hidden from view, but the design of the car body must put the sensors where they need to be in order to function, hence my commentary on windshields and rooflines.

          We already see this trend beginning with the boxes installed up against the glass in front of the rearview mirrors on many new vehicles, they hide all sorts of stuff in there depending on how the vehicle was ordered.

          In some ways Tesla is the aberration in teh all-or-nothing approach. Granted they started by upfitting Lo
    • "Because the hard bit of building a car is building something that drives in the first place, and the easy bit of building a self-driving car is the car itself."

      Exactly. Trying to build logic that can, for example, recognize and safely navigate a construction zone is enormously difficult.

      So is building a drivetrain that won't spend more time in the shop than on the road.

      Elon Musk is trying to do both. I suspect he won't quite succeed.

      Google is probably wise to stick to the half they know.

  • >> The firm is already working with Fiat Chrysler, per a partnership announced in May, and that could be the start of others to come.

    You think that will lead to MORE partnerships? More likely, Alphabet (you know, the holding company Google built to spin off its non-core businesses) will sell the division to Chrysler.
  • I said a long time ago that there will never be commercially available self driving cars on the roads. There is no such thing as "AI" or "autonomous cars", just marketing. We aren't even close to the level of technology required to build them. And now that Moore's Law is ending, we may never see it unless we come up with some other breakthrough beyond digital processors. Google investors are the winners here. That was a money pit.
    • That is possibly the most idiotic post I have read in a long time.
    • there will never be commercially available self driving cars on the roads.

      Less Space than a Nomad, Lame.

      It's coming, deal with it.

      We aren't even close to the level of technology required to build them

      Says who? They're out there, right now. It's in cars, semis, off road trucks, bulldozers, etc. The 2004 DARPA project was 12 years ago and we went from 'never finished the race' to 'multiple people finishing' in 2 years.

      And before you move the goalposts again pointing to a rare 1 in a billion scenario they won't work in and claiming you were right, what exactly are you saying will never hit the market?

      Years ago we tossed a PID controller into cars so t

      • Those things on the road are not self-driving cars. They are apps that can, with human oversight, kinda imitate a human driver in careully orchestrated conditions. But there are *no* self-driving cars out there. And Google just gave up.

        The real goal is self-driving trucks and taxis. They want to fire all the drivers and keep all the money, so there is a lot of *want* on the part of capital. But we haven't built an AI that can match a trained human. If we have such, they'd have shown the robots proudly whipp

  • Google has reportedly shelved its long-standing plan to develop its own autonomous vehicle in favor of pursuing partnerships with existing car makers.

    This should surprise no one. The notion that Google was going to get into the low margin car manufacturing business was always preposterous. Google has no expertise in manufacturing nor any competitive advantage. Even if they did develop some self driving tech that was marketable they would still have to build and sell a car which is an expensive and low margin endeavor. And self driving cars is a completely new market which nobody really understands the economics of at all right now. There was no wa

    • actually, either apple or google could have bought faraday future and had it going.
      Likewise, I have no doubt that Musk would gladly have helped either Apple or Google create auto making companies.
  • That might mean the project is approaching commercial feasibility, that they'd do research projects and concept cars by themselves is fine but I never believed Google would become a car manufacturer. You can't compare Chromebooks or Chromecast to the engineering complexity of a car, to start from the ground up like Tesla they'd need forever both in time and money. OTOH there's no reason to start partnering until you're really close to something so you have to mate the sensor grid with a particular car desig

  • I saw a self driving Google Lexus SUV taking a left turn on to a busy 2 way street just Thursday morning last week, and I've seen at least two or three other self driving cars around Mountain View in the last two weeks. If anything they've stepped up their testing in the last month, not stopped it. Actually for the first time, I saw two Google Self driving cars in line at a stop sign, at the same time. Usually you're lucky to see just one a week in my neighborhood.

  • What a lot of people fail to take into consideration about self-driving cars is that driving (in a city) is a deeply social activity (well, for good drivers at least). There are many signals that a person can read (vehicle type and condition, their occupants, the environment, time and day, pedestrians etc.) that do not fall into the standard list of signals you might associate with driving speed, turn signals etc. A lot of these can be very area-specific and require local knowledge. It will be difficult for
    • What a lot of people fail to take into consideration about self-driving cars is that driving (in a city) is a deeply social activity ... It will be difficult for software to ever match a human in these tasks.

      I agree, but still very disappointed about Google's decision. Self driving cars will likely require thousands, or perhaps millions of little computer programs that can catch every possible scenario or combination thereof. It's a huge undertaking, but if anyone could do it, Google could. Now it seems they are backpeddling from that in order to get something to market faster. We'll end up seeing more half-assed product rushed to market (e.g., Tesla Autopilot) to please investors and the press. Long term prosp

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2016 @05:55PM (#53479063)

    I've read various estimates that it takes a human somewhere between 5 and 17 seconds to take over from a self-driving car when notfied, when they were concentrating on something else.

    So this poses an interesting design dilemma. If you put in a steering wheel and manual brake pedal etc, and have a situation requiring emergency rapid action, and the automation system is in the middle of taking the action it computed is best, how do you PREVENT the human from providing contrary control input which in all likelihood will mess up the overall response to the situation, especially since they are very likely coming in way late.

    In what circumstances do you keep the human input disabled, for reasons like mentioned above, and in what circumstances or after what delay do you let them take over. A combined control-input situation would be disastrous, like having the "backseat" driver sitting beside you grab the wheel in panic while you're in evasive driving.

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

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