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Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:03 PM

'Someone is going to die': experts warn lawmakers over self-driving cars

Source: The Guardian

'Someone is going to die': experts warn lawmakers over self-driving cars

Auto executives and US senators clash over calls for universal
standards in robotic vehicles at Senate commerce committee
hearing


Sam Thielman in New York
Tuesday 15 March 2016 21.40 GMT

The robot car revolution hit a speed bump on Tuesday as senators and tech experts sounded stern warnings about the potentially fatal risks of self-driving cars. “There is no question that someone is going to die in this technology,” said Duke University roboticist Missy Cummings in testimony before the US Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation. “The question is when and what can we do to minimize that.”

Automotive executives and lawmakers sniped at each other over whether universal standards were necessary for self-driving cars, with private sector saying that standards would slow progress and legislators replying that they’d heard the same objections over updated seatbelt standards in 1998.

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, who have cosponsored legislation that proposes minimum testing standards for automated drivers, told equivocating industry representatives to fall in line.

“If I asked somebody: ‘Do you think that that red light means stop?’ and they came back to me and said: ‘We have great respect for stoplights,’ I would say, ‘The answer is ‘yes’,” Blumenthal told General Motors’ Michael Ableson. “The credibility of this technology is exceedingly fragile if people can’t trust standards – not necessarily for you, but for all the other actors that may come into this space at this point.”

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/15/self-driving-cars-danger-senate-general-motors-google

12 replies, 1889 views

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:05 PM

1. That would ruin our perfect driving record!

 

No human guided car has ever killed anyone!

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Response to Human101948 (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:11 PM

5. The disconnect is stunning.

 

The standard should be"significantly safer than human".

But instead what will happen is"incremental autonomy", until the human at the wheel is about as useful as a toddler with one of those car seat dashboards.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:07 PM

2. "private sector saying that standards would slow progress"

 

Surprising no one.

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Response to arcane1 (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:10 PM

4. FFS, 'progress' SHOULD be slowed!

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:09 PM

3. As opposed to the current 0% auto related fatality rate. -eom

 

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:14 PM

6. Because that never happens with cars now!

 

Better not change a thing...

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:22 PM

7. Self-driving cars have zero chance where I live.

First, most of the roads are narrow and unpaved. I don't think any self driving car would be able to negotiate passing an oncoming farmer's tractor -- they're really big -- on any of these roads without driving off into the ditch.

Second, FUCKING WINTER, when only knowing where the road goes helps one get through. And no, GPS ain't going to help on this one. A self-driving car won't know that it is about to drive into a three foot snow drift over the road.

I can drive Grass Lake Road throughout the year. It is very narrow, twisty curvy, and at one point is lower than the level of Grass Lake whose edge is within three feet of the road. There is always water on the road there. But that is the most direct route from my house to a great place to eat, best fish and chips anywhere.

No! Self-driving cars are as useful as video phones, that is, not at all. There are too damned many places where they are untested and they will fail. Mainly any place which experiences fucking winter. And let's not even talk about big Semis driving across a mountain pass.

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Response to longship (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 06:56 PM

9. I have no idea why this would be a problem:

 

A self-driving car won't know that it is about to drive into a three foot snow drift over the road.

Sure it could, if you can see it an autonomous car can see it too. Autonomous cars currently do have problems with bad weather and with poorly marked roads, but none of these problems are unsolvable.

Oh and Self-driving cars are as useful as video phones, ahem, skype, facetime, etc. You likely have a "video phone" in your pocket.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #9)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 09:11 PM

10. Nope. The self-driving car wouldn't be able to determine where the edge of the road is.

It would drive off the edge and get stuck. Plus, if the road was drifted over, one cannot go forward. What does it do now? It's hard enough when one is driving knowing where the edge of the road is. The self-driving car is not going to know that. The road I am thinking of is the road I live on. It is narrow, unpaved, and drifts over in winter. There is no shoulder. Driving off the road gets one stuck but good.

Snow is a show stopper for self driving vehicles.

I don't use the video phone on my iPhone, because I find it basically useless.

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Response to longship (Reply #10)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 10:36 PM

11. If the road is drifted over it would do the same thing you do: stop going forward.

 

As I said, poorly marked roads and bad weather are indeed current problems, but as I also noted, they are not impossible problems. In fact, given that sensor tech capabilities are superior in almost all respects to human perception capabilities, robot cars will soon be much better at knowing where the road is in all sorts of conditions that humans have great difficulty with. The thing about tech is it keeps improving, and it does so at a very rapid rate. Humans evolve very slowly. But this is a silly argument. You think Ford GM Mercedes Benz BMW Google Apple Tesla Toyota Nissan etc are idiots tossing hundreds of millions a year away on robotics? They are all in a race now to see who can deploy full autonomous vehicles first.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 10:45 PM

12. Well they have not done the DARPA challenge in winter yet.

I saw the one they did out in the desert, years ago. They didn't fair very well. But I know they've improved vastly.

I'd suggest rural MI for the DARPA winter challenge. It would be a good test.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 06:48 PM

8. Self driving cars will give human passengers all the time in the world

to shoot their guns out any of the openable windows in the car as they celebrate their right to open carry.
That is the unspoken worry of congress. Congress has a well founded reputation for focusing on real issues.




for the humor impaired.

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