autonomous cars - the future of motoring is driverless

Discussion in 'transport' started by roryer, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    It's balls. We have all this intellectual discussion about the Trolley Problem and so on but noone is going to program a car to make value judgements on human life any time soon. Tip it over the edge of its parameters and it'll crash in a straight line or it'll swerve and crash over there, however many teary eyed orphans you introduce, and someone might or might not die. Some input in, pre-cooked output out.

    Your current meatsack-manned car is "programmed to kill you" if e.g. you get hit by a lorry and whatever safety engineering it has doesn't cut it.
    kabbes and NoXion like this.
  2. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    Where do people get this ridiculous idea that autonomous cars would be programmed to swerve off a cliff rather than, you know, using the damn brakes more quickly and effectively than any human being could ever hope to?
    mauvais and rich! like this.
  3. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    If it means not having to drive the fucking thing, sign me right up.
    Chilli.s and rich! like this.
  4. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Because a) It's remarkable easy to envisage such a scenario and b) the very people who will be making these things seem to think it a distinct possibility
  5. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    All I've seen is academics and under-employed philosophy lecturers go on about the theoretical possibilities were AI somewhere far beyond where it is. Reality is far more boring - follow a set of comparatively simple rules and hope for the best.
    NoXion likes this.
  6. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    It's easy to envisage the scenario of autonomous vehicle passengers being abducted by aliens, but that doesn't mean that either scenario has any bearing on reality.

    The PR departments might be paying a sop to third-party hand-wringers, but from what I've seen of actual engineers' opinions on the matter, so long as the vehicle is programmed to obey the rules of the road, then any problems that arise will be either the fault of those rules or the fault of other road users for not following them.
  7. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    To put it another way, consider where we are now. Active cruise control, lane departure warnings, autonomous emergency braking, machine learning for navigation and so on.

    They're rule-based set pieces. Join enough of them up and you have an acceptable self driving car that performs better in safety terms than the average human. Not perfectly though so people will still die. They'll die when the rules are insufficient.

    Nobody needs to make it sentient and have it start making intelligent decisions about who lives and dies. Sci-fi bullshit.

    At a push, it is feasible to have a ruleset for making decisions to mitigate damage - offset vs square-on collisions etc, in the edge cases where failure is imminent. This might affect who lives, but again it's static, coded in.

    Guess what else affects who lives? Someone buying a large SUV which they later crash into a supermini. Someone buying a car with better crumple zones. Someone buying a car with auto braking for when they didn't have enough coffee. Someone buying a used car instead of a new one with a good pedestrian safety rating. Twas ever thus, no Skynet required.
    A380 and NoXion like this.
  8. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    That's not what the engineers from a well know three lettered German car company were saying at a conference I did the sound for recently...
  9. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    Well we're out of the EU now so the Germans aren't going to be interfering with our autonomous vehicle AI :mad:
    beesonthewhatnow likes this.
  10. Dogsauce

    Dogsauce Lord of the Dance Settee

    They will if they can sit in it playing a playstation game where they're whizzing about faster than anyone else. It's leisure time, no rush.
    Chilli.s likes this.
  11. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    Did you happen to catch why these engineers thought that getting the car to obey the rules of the road wasn't enough?
  12. pengaleng

    pengaleng Lil' J Pengele PhD. The Angel of Sesh

    dickhead cars.
  13. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Psychology. In a nutshell people are happy to take a risk in a car they drive because crashing is something that happens to other people, caused by people who can't drive properly.
  14. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    So, nothing to do with ridiculously contrived scenarios and everything to do with managing people's expectations. That sounds more like work for the marketing department rather than the engineering department.
    mauvais likes this.
  15. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Not quite - it's exactly the (perfectly possible) sort of scenario described that drives people's fears.
    weltweit likes this.
  16. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Plus also the huge legal minefield awaiting the maker of the first car that kills someone.
    weltweit likes this.
  17. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    See the billions of dollars fine that will be levied at VW for cheating emissions tests. That might well pale into insignificance compared to litigation on cars that are programmed to kill.
  18. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    If a computer with literally lightning-fast reactions and inhumanly good brake control can't save you in a given situation, then one would certainly have died if a human had been in control of the vehicle in the same situation. Getting people to realise that is the job of marketing, not engineering.

    If the vehicle is programmed to follow the rules of the road (i.e. it does everything that a human being could reasonably be expected to do, and then some because computers don't get tired or distracted or suffer concentration lapses like humans do all the damn time), and someone dies and the investigation reveals no software or hardware fault, then what culpability do the manufacturers/programmers have?
    kabbes and mauvais like this.
  19. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Not as such. Insurance on behalf of the manufacturer will be nailed down and underwritten before anyone releases a fully autonomous product to the general public. This is already underway.

    And in the end, noone will care if their robot car might kill them in some fuckup, because the tangible consumerist convenience and all the rest will completely eclipse the intangible risk. Did you stop driving when you heard that some cars accelerated on their own and supposedly couldn't be stopped, or did you think that couldn't happen to you/the driver must be a numpty/etc? Did you stop driving when you heard about the Takata airbag scandal? And so on.

    People think this or that will be a barrier to autonomous car adoption. Technical feasibility, safety, legislation, customer acceptance, morality. They're all going to be wrong in the end, and an end that isn't that far away.
    NoXion likes this.
  20. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    Cars are already designed to kill a certain proportion of their users. Or did you think the failure rates for safety features such as say, airbags, were arrived at completely by chance?
  21. hash tag

    hash tag Pedicabo omnes

    A380 likes this.
  22. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    like a full size scalextric
  23. hash tag

    hash tag Pedicabo omnes

    Re: auto cars killing people, I see it's already happened with a Tesla, where a seperate thread has already been started.
    I gather is did not see a huge white articulate lorry in the States because it was blinded by the sun!
  24. hash tag

    hash tag Pedicabo omnes

    Apologies for lack of link; on BBC radio about 4am there was a discussion about autonmous cars, I think Christian Woolmar was one of the people.
    While these cars will possibly a lot safer than those being driven, perhaps the biggest issue on our roads is congestion and auonmous cars will make this worse.
    People who like to relax on public transport will be able to do so in a car now which will help with thier popularity and there could be many running around empty, having dropped
    the kids at school or someone at work and returning to base empty afterwards waiting for next command.
    Apparently they are unable to recognise bridges yet.
  25. fredfelt

    fredfelt Mostly unknown member

  26. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Autonomous cars could help to ease congestion enormously by avoiding all the human mistakes that lead to so many of the congestion problems. They could, theoretically, seamlessly merge, cross eachother, pass through narrow gaps and park all safely at higher rates than people can. They would not need to park nearby, thus freeing up roads.

    As for returning to base -- that depends on the ownership model. If cars are run on a subscription model, they would no more need to return to base than a minicab does.
  27. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Seems like a bit of a weak argument.

    If the majority were autonomous they could drastically improve bandwidth of a particular road. Closer separation, better agreement on letting in merging traffic, better lane use and none of that stupid human stuff that causes delays. People are terrible at looking after the overall flow. Plus scale it up and determine city wide flow by having them all communicate, like everyone had collaborative satnavs.

    A lot of people who use public transport will continue to do so because they simply can't afford autonomous cars. Either at all, or under their usage circumstances, like the congestion charge now.

    It's true that the empty cars will add journeys but I'm not convinced it adds up to all that much. If you start from the assumption that noone changes their travel time, you keep the same number of vehicles in circulation, same number of passenger journeys. Then they just bugger off somewhere. You could basically get rid of all public parking which balances it out a little.
  28. hash tag

    hash tag Pedicabo omnes

    Just read a report that a Tesla has been hacked, from 12 miles away. Hackers took control of doors, mirrors and brakes. Seems like the more we use computers, the more we put ourselves at risk.
    Bring back the moggies.
  29. NoXion

    NoXion Eat leaden death, demon...

    We still have cats, no need to bring them back.
    stuff_it likes this.
  30. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    Having driven quite a bit in the last two days I am pretty sure I have encountered situations a human deals with without issue, but a computer would be confused about.

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