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ejwme
Participant
#

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hGRH_WrLoztxb61AIKyxB3BYkT-w?docId=653e3285674348f7bd2d3c08dfab55ff

I remember seeing the movie Minority Report and thinking how awesome their cars were – no driver interaction, a 100% automated system, no crashes, less stress.

But I don’t see where bikes or pedestrians fit in to it.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The NHTSA official is not a relative AFAIK.


pinky
Participant
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I remember reading an article that did a great job of explaining why the author thought self-driving cars would never work in the U.S. I found myself agreeing after reading it. I tried to find it, but couldn’t so it went went something like this:

Think about how frustrated you get in the car when your GPS or navigation system tells you to go a way that you think is “wrong.” For example, my GPS claims that the best way to go from Crafton to Downtown is to take Steuben St part way, make a sharp right up a tiny alley called Niedel, then a sharp left down a tiny alley all of the way down into West End’s Main St.

But I know, because I’ve tried it, that taking Steuben the whole way in is the fastest and easiest. That’s partially because the alleys have giant car-eating potholes, and partially because Steuben is wider and easier to deal with.

So every time she tells me “Turn right on Niedel St” I call her a crazy b**** and ignore her. But in a self-driving car, I just have to sit there and be driven down Niedel St.

Software generally outsmarts humans, sure. But I don’t believe that humans will ever accept that completely.

This is sort of like how pissed many people get when Windows wants to install automatic updates. “Do you want to install now? Do you want to install now? Do you want to install now?”

The software is designed to make it happen, but the human doesn’t want to be bothered by it.

All of that wordiness said (I really need to get away from the laptop this morning), I think people will accept help with safety – like these flashing lights and stuff – as long as the margin for error is really slim. More than one false alarm, and people are going to inherently mistrust the system, thinking they are smarter than it.


ejwme
Participant
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I think I’d be afraid of people simply watching for the blinking lights and for cops, and ignoring all other road users and laws – clearly there’s no danger if there’s no warning. Or maybe assuming the OTHER person’s blinking lights will make them stop so they can continue unchecked. Perhaps trusting the system too much?

And at the red light example listed in the story – where one car decided to run the red (despite assumed flashing warning lights) but the other car obeyed the warning and avoided the crash, any pedestrian in the crosswalk is dead. Unless pedestrians carry little transmitters, it doesn’t look like these things would do anything in the case of the mowed down mom+baby carriage in the south hills.

I just find it ironic that we don’t use the communication systems we have – turn signals and brake lights (the former don’t get used, the latter don’t get seen), we don’t use the accident avoidance methods already in place (following traffic laws), but this new system will save us all.

The minority report self-driving cars bit – if both paths were adequately paved, and all the other vehicles on the road were controlled by a centralized system (traffic adjusted itself), then there wouldn’t be a difference between Niedel and Steuben. You’ve got a half implemented system, which is clearly worse than none in this case (you not only ignore its directions, but it’s aggravating).

Look at it like the buses – maybe a new passenger will look out the window and think “jeez, we should turn that way and avoid this mess”, but anybody who rides a lot just sits there and does other things with their mind, because they accept the way the system works. I’m not saying the learning curve for personal vehicle passive acceptance will be easy for people, but there is precedence.


edmonds59
Participant
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Pinky I’m totally on board with your evaluation, esp in Pgh.. Plus I don’t think Niedel is actually a street, it is a replica of Dresden, Germany that some WWII vet has been working on for 60 years.


Steven
Participant
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Maybe the car shows you the proposed route, and you can drag to alter it, like on Google Maps.

Or maybe the last time some Street View car went through, it was also measuring the bumpiness of the roads, so your car could be smart enough to avoid the bad road in the first place.

Or maybe the car’s navigation system is equipped with Like ans Don’t Like buttons. The last few cars sent down Niedel all clicked Don’t Like, so your car avoids it.

Not hitting moving stuff is the hard part, I think. Good route selection is easy in comparison. There’s no reason to assume the technology for that won’t improve over time.


pinky
Participant
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I guess for me it’s less about bumpiness, or narrow roads, or technological challenges. For me it’s more about the implications of choice. I have a hard time seeing people give up their independence to a computer, despite the fact that the machine has it figured out correctly.

Driving is a big deal to people. I think the freedom that comes with it, down to route selection, is a big part of the allure.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d be happy for my car to take over, particularly when we visit family in Hartford, 9 hours away. But I think aside from highways, user acceptance would be a very steep uphill battle.


Mick
Participant
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Hunting season will never be the same once they put transponders on all those deer.


Anonymous
Inactive
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@pinky People gave up on information highways. :) Nobody routes packets in networks. It’s all about computers. So I guess it would be enough to make rules when and how to use roads more obscure and less obvious (take liberty bridge and tunnel rules as an example) and people would gladly give up route choice to computers.


edmonds59
Participant
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I think if someone developed a fully automated driver-less automobile, and told people it was a device that will allow them to text and chat and put on eye makeup and eat full size Dorito Burritos while they traveled from one place to another, most people would be totally down for that. Don’t even tell people it’s supposed to be a “car”.


Mick
Participant
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@edmunds59 a device that will allow them to text and chat and put on eye makeup and eat full size Dorito Burritos while they traveled

How is that different from driving?

One morning, at the red light at Murray and Forward, I watched a driver struggling with putting on her pantyhose. She had one side on when she drove away.


Pierce
Participant
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@pinky

“I have a hard time seeing people give up their independence to a computer, despite the fact that the machine has it figured out correctly.”

In a world where we let our cell phones guess what we’re going to say next, let Google guess what we’re searching for, and allow Microsoft to guess almost every aspect of the document we’re creating


pinky
Participant
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I know I know – you all have terrific points. But there’s some weird line between tasks that we do sitting at a computer/phone (document creation, search, information routing, etc) and actually having our physical bodies being moved about.

I wish I could express it better, but I can’t today. I was up late.

All things considered, I’d rather see the kind of money and research that’s being spent on self-driving cars get dumped into ways to make transit and rail infrastructure on par with the year 2012.


reddan
Keymaster
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All things considered, I’d rather see the kind of money and research that’s being spent on self-driving cars get dumped into ways to make transit and rail infrastructure on par with the year 2012.

^^^That.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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A bus is a self-driving car that you don’t have to house, fuel, insure, or maintain.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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I know I know – you all have terrific points. But there’s some weird line between tasks that we do sitting at a computer/phone (document creation, search, information routing, etc) and actually having our physical bodies being moved about.

it’s a “new uncanny valley”. but it definitely looks like we’re headed in that direction.

if you haven’t already, i recommend reading the article by tom vanderbilt (author of traffic) in wired.


ejwme
Participant
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Stu, that’s what I was thinking. This would just be like one’s personal bus, that stopped whenever/wherever one wanted, had very few rules as to what is permitted onboard, and the driver isn’t human.

Theoretically, you could use the voice commends that already exist to say “no, driver, take steuben not niedel, and don’t ever take niedel.” You could even program it to “chat” with you on your route about its fictitious children you don’t really care about.

Everybody (with the means) can be posh!


pinky
Participant
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More on this:

Slate link

(Edited to make the link work.)


ejwme
Participant
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heh…

“You think you get frustrated today when someone in front of you is poking along at 55 even though everyone else is doing 65? Just wait until your commute is clogged with autonomous cars all doing the same thing—and honking does no good, because robots do not care if you honk at them.”

Robots forcing people to behave like mature adults – we’ve finally outsmarted ourselves in a useful way. Thank god.


chemicaldave
Participant
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A bus is a self-driving car that you don’t have to house, fuel, insure, or maintain.

Sometimes the driver units need a personality firmware update.

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