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Transportation AI

California Police Ticket A Self-Driving Car (cbslocal.com) 344

Long-time Slashdot reader Ichijo writes: A self-driving car was slapped with a ticket after police said it got too close to a pedestrian on a San Francisco street.

The self-driving car owned by San Francisco-based Cruise was pulled over for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Cruise says its data shows the person was far away enough from the vehicle and the car did nothing wrong.... According to data collected by Cruise, the pedestrian was 10.8 feet away from the car when, while the car was in self-driving mode, it began to continue down Harrison at 14th St."

The person in the crosswalk was not injured.

California Police Ticket A Self-Driving Car

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @02:41PM (#56398299)

    Specifically: How does a cop pull over a self-driving car? I mean, exactly how does that happen logistically?

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      Accordining to TFS there was (as is usually the case with most autonomous vehicles being tested) a human driver present who was able to intervene and bring the car to a halt; The company claims the human test driver did everything right but is now responsible for the citation, so presumably sucks to be him/her. Having made that statement I would hope that Cruise will now cover any costs arising from the almost inevitable legal challenge to the citation though.

      That said, I am curious what the current sta
      • There was a whole discussion under the highway accident about how it is too dangerous for a self driving car to slow down and pull over on the highway. You think they would be capable of that in city traffic? Where half the cars must drive into the intersection to make room for the emergency vehicle? Forget it. Pulling over on the highway is easy.
        • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
          On a busy highway, absolutely - there are any number of instances of people being injured or killed while attempting to get to the shoulder, or even after having safely done so, because they were struck by another vehicle. Expecting an autonomous vehicle to handle that safely in any situation is clearly a non-starter with the current state of play, but hopefully there is at least *some* code to try and automatically handle emergency situations in use by now, e.g. if an emergency vehicle is detected approac
        • Perhaps so - but pulling over is a large part of the point of having a shoulder - if you lose a tire, blow your engine, or suffer any of a wide number of other problems, you HAVE to pull over, or stop in the middle of the road, which is at least as dangerous AND a public navigation hazard.

          If your AI is uncertain how to handle a situation, and the passenger doesn't take control, then you now have a car cruising down the road without a competent driver - a major hazard to both the occupants and everyone else

    • Specifically: How does a cop pull over a self-driving car? I mean, exactly how does that happen logistically?

      They use Robocop.

  • Well, the people in charge of the police better start thinking about the future. With self-driving cars, they might lose an important stream of revenue. Because lots of stuff in traffic is a question of opinion, I bet a cop can simply observe you and hand you a ticket for what you consider decent driving.

    However with self-driving cars, the companies behind them will probably not stand for such random punishments. I mean, look at how fast Tesla comes with a statement whenever there was an accident with a mod

    • It is only small towns that can ticket cars on a road passing through that make money off of tickets.

      Police are not a revenue source for a city, it costs a lot of money to pay cops and run traffic courts. Giving out tickets is done to manage people's behavior. If self-driving cars learn to follow the rules and drive well, that will reduce the expense of law enforcement to the city.

      Don't expect there to be less cops, though.

  • 10.8 feet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @02:49PM (#56398343)
    10.8 feet is one second away at 7 mph. Too damn close -- company deserves a ticket.
    • Re:10.8 feet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rossz ( 67331 ) <{ogre} {at} {geekbiker.net}> on Saturday April 07, 2018 @03:09PM (#56398427) Homepage Journal

      When driving in San Francisco, it's damn near impossible to NOT get that close to pedestrians. They ignore traffic signals, they don't bother to use crosswalks, they'll walk right into traffic and expect YOU to slam on your brakes or try to violate the laws of physics.

      • Generic Morons (Cruise) can afford the ticket. Not much sympathy for a mega-corp having to pay up like any other working Joe.
        • Which is fine, except Cruise didn't get the ticket. The human operator did.
          • Probably because their employer told them to let the autonomous vehicle (AV) handle everything so as to not interfere with the experiment. So instead of braking when the pedestrian appeared in the crosswalk, the "safety driver" let the AV do it's thing.

            Therefore the "safety driver" is the vehicle operator who exercised poor judgement, did the wrong thing, and was rightfully ticketed. Points on the license too presumably.

            The salary for "safety drivers" may have just increased as a result of

      • Sounds like driving in the University District in Seattle. Of course, the problem there is exacerbated by 35000 college-age kids who believe they’re immortal and invincible...

        • Life has a way of educating them with either a penalty of removal from the game.
      • People are kind of missing the point. What is important is what the law says. Does the law say 10 feet clearance is the closest you can drive to a pedestrian? Than 10.8 feet should be fine. 11 feet? Then the company has no leg to stand on. Is it up to the cop's discretion? Then the company has no leg to stand on.
    • 10.8 feet is one second away at 7 mph. Too damn close -- company deserves a ticket.

      Nonsense. If a pedestrian is walking down a sidewalk and I'm driving down the road in the lane closest to the sidewalk, I'll pass the pedestrian at a distance of closest approach of less than 10.8 feet.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      10.8 feet is one second away at 7 mph. Too damn close -- company deserves a ticket.

      Well, it appears to be a pedestrian crossing and the self driving car was apparently stopped before the crossing and accelerated through it so I image that means the pedestrian was 10.8 feet away roughly perpendicular to the car. That means it's the pedestrian would have to move almost 11 feet and 7 mph would be a guy running straight into traffic, not sure where you got that number from as I don't see it any of the news stories. Preferred walking speed is around 4.6 ft/s so 2.35 seconds and that's if the g

    • Lucky, I do not live in a country where I could get a ticket for coming "to close" to a pedestrian.

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      10.8 feet is one second away at 7 mph. Too damn close -- company deserves a ticket.

      7 mph is running speed, and it's a crosswalk. Walking speed is 2.5 seconds away. You're also assuming that the pedestrian is walking toward the vehicle when the article strongly implies that the pedestrian was walking away from the vehicle.

      According to data collected by Cruise, the pedestrian was 10.8 feet away from the car when, while the car was in self-driving mode, it began to continue down Harrison at 14th St. Shortly

    • It's not bearing down on the pedestrian at 7 mph, it's on an orthogonal path. Pedestrians cross crosswalks at about 3.1 mph (2.4 seconds) meaning the car would certain (and definitively) clear the pedestrian without the pedestrian having to stop their advance. I mean, at the point the only way to hit the pedestrian would be to slow down. Stopping distance at that speed is also just over 2 ft, so if the car had made its decision any time up to that point it had done so with enough clearance to respond to

    • That's only if the car is traveling directly towards the pedestrian. If the pedestrian is off to the side (as it seems to have been in this case), it's a perfectly acceptable passing distance. If we used your standard, a car traveling 45 MPH would need to keep a bubble of at least 66 feet in radius (1 second) clear of pedestrians at all times. Which is impossible since most local roads aren't 130 feet wide.

      The more interesting aspect of this case is that the human driver is liable for the ticket issue
  • Cruise says its data shows the person was far away enough from the vehicle and the car did nothing wrong....

    Sounds like Cruise is finding out the imbalance of power that human motorists have to deal with apply to their cars, too. Doesn't really matter what happened, if the cop says you were doing something you're gonna get ticketed. And the courts will take his word above yours.

    • Sounds like Cruise is finding out the imbalance of power that human motorists have to deal with apply to their cars, too. Doesn't really matter what happened, if the cop says you were doing something you're gonna get ticketed. And the courts will take his word above yours.

      Occasionally some engineering nerd will contest a ticket on the basis of data he collected himself, mainly by going out to the place where the ticket was issued and taking measurements, photos of lines of sight, etc. that he deems to be exculpatory.

      But now every ticket written against self-driving cars will be contested by defense data and video collected at the time, by high;y [aid engineers working on that specific task. Small-town traffic traps are going to need better judges.

  • a self driving car will probably have GB of data and video to prove it's innocence (unless it's an Uber killbot)

    On the other hand, if I had a self driving car, you could bet there would be some additional programming that kicks in when needed called "High Speed Chase" if a cop tries to pull me over.

  • by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Saturday April 07, 2018 @03:00PM (#56398393) Homepage Journal

    The company in this case is making up a rule about the distance from the pedestrian being critical (and asking us to trust it's assessment that the ped was 10 feet away). The actually rules have nothing to do with distance:

    https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/... [ca.gov]

    Respect the right-of-way of pedestrians. Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, a [...] Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, they are ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian.

    Can't their AI tell when someone is making eye-contact? Japanese photo-booths have been able to find human eyes for years now.

    • I think the question is how does the pedestrian know that the car made "eye" contact with them? Is there a reason not to have a little light or something that can point at pedestrians to let them know that the car "sees" them?
    • The company in this case is making up a rule about the distance
      from the pedestrian being critical (and asking us to trust it's
      assessment that the ped was 10 feet away). The actually rules
      have nothing to do with distance:

      https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/... [ca.gov]

      Respect the right-of-way of pedestrians. Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, a
      [...]
      Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, they are ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian.

      At this point we don't really have enough information to know if the car was doing something an average human would recognize as wrong, or if it was a fairly typical scenario but the officer in question thought it would be cool to ticket a self-driving car so they actually applied the rule for once.

      Can't their AI tell when someone is making eye-contact?
      Japanese photo-booths have been able to find human eyes for years now.

      This is something that hasn't been discussed much but as a pedestrian and driver I extract a lot of information with eye contact and body language.

      I think self-driving cars are going to need some mechanism for te

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @05:14PM (#56398893) Homepage

      The actually rules have nothing to do with distance: [link to drive handbook]

      I'm not sure those are "the actual rules"; they are part of a driver handbook, which is to say, they are a common-sense guide to how to be safe driver.

      All well and good, but if this matter were to go to court, I think they would be looking at what the laws say rather than one the DMV driver's handbook says, and there would be a lot less common sense involved and a lot more legalese :/

    • by bongey ( 974911 )
      Problem is CA law doesn't say whether you must wait until they crossed the road entirely, all it is says is that you must yield , which the car did do.

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