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Old 04-27-2012, 10:12 AM   #1
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Default Who Is To Blame When A Robotic Car Crashes?



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Society must make two big leaps in order to enable truly self-driving cars. The first is technological. Engineers need to improve today’s cars (which can warn a driver that he’s drifting out of his lane) beyond current Google and Darpa prototypes (which maintain the lane on their own) to the point where automobiles can edge forward through a construction zone while their owners sleep inside.

The technological leap will be good for everyone. Machines are incredibly reliable. Humans are not. Most car crashes are caused by human error (a 2004 World Health Organization report put the figure at 90 percent). As safety technologies like antilock brakes and traction-control systems have taken hold, the number of fatal accidents has dropped 35 percent between 1970 and 2009, even though cars drive more than a trillion miles farther annually. “Robots have faster reaction times and will have better sensors than humans,” says Seth Teller, a professor of computer science and engineering at MIT. “The number of accidents will never reach zero, but it will decrease substantially.” Don’t think of self-driving cars as a convenience—they’re a safety system.

The other leap that society has to make is from driver liability to manufacturer liability. When a company sells a car that truly drives itself, the responsibility will fall on its maker. “It’s accepted in our world that there will be a shift,” says Bryant Walker Smith, a legal fellow at Stanford University’s law school and engineering school who studies autonomous-vehicle law. “If there’s not a driver, there can’t be driver negligence. The result is a greater share of liability moving to manufacturers.”

The liability issues will make the adoption of the technology difficult, perhaps even impossible. In the 1970s, auto manufacturers hesitated over implementing airbags because of the threat of lawsuits in cases where someone might be injured in spite of the new technology. Over the years, airbags have been endlessly refined. They now account for a variety of passenger sizes and weights and come with detailed warnings about their dangers and limitations. Taking responsibility for every aspect of a moving vehicle, however—from what it sees to what it does—is far more complicated. It could be too much liability for any company to take on.

The government could step in, though. In a few instances, federal law has overridden state law to protect the public. Under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, for example, vaccine makers have special protection. Consumers can file injury claims through a dedicated office of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and vaccine makers pay out without admitting fault. The act seeks to protect the small number of people hurt by vaccines while encouraging vaccine makers to keep producing the drugs, because to prevent disease an unvaccinated person must be surrounded by thousands of vaccinated ones. Autonomous technology is similar: It won’t make us safer until it’s in most vehicles. Maybe it deserves special treatment to get it on the road.
Take The Wheel Jonathan Carlson
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:53 AM   #2
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So when they shift this liability to manufacturers, what will happen to price? Double? Triple? Yeah...

Also, what happens if some ppl have driverless cars and some don't? I wonder if a system would be 100% robust if only 1/2 the population had these systems and the other 1/2 could weave etc as much as they wanted.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:01 PM   #3
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I still want to see what happens when an automated car has to drive through a blizzard and hazards like snow piles from plowing that must be driven through. Until I see an automated car actually handle some severe weather, the whole thing doesn't interest me much and these technologies will not get adopted in the Northeast.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:35 PM   #4
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I still want to see what happens when an automated car has to drive through a blizzard and hazards like snow piles from plowing that must be driven through. Until I see an automated car actually handle some severe weather, the whole thing doesn't interest me much and these technologies will not get adopted in the Northeast.
Does desert off-roading count as extreme weather? Google's self driving car program got it's start by winning the DARPA Grand Challenge 7 years ago.

I love how people think their driving skills are somehow superior to an engineering team's determination. I guess when you're done being a perfect driver in the snow you can show F1 teams how to drive faster without traction control.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:35 PM   #5
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So when they shift this liability to manufacturers, what will happen to price? Double? Triple? Yeah...
Why would that be? Let's look at two scenarios:

1) No robotic cars. You pay the insurance on the vehicle, accident rates are high. Manufacturer charges you for the price of the construction of the vehicle only.

2) Robotic cars. Manufacturer charges you for the price of the construction of the vehicle AND blanket insurance on their entire fleet of cars (economy of scale). Accident rates drop by 95%, so insurance is also much cheaper (especially for a car maker that produces very reliable cars).

The net result would be an increase in price per car, but a decrease in overall price.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:02 PM   #6
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Does desert off-roading count as extreme weather? Google's self driving car program got it's start by winning the DARPA Grand Challenge 7 years ago.

I love how people think their driving skills are somehow superior to an engineering team's determination. I guess when you're done being a perfect driver in the snow you can show F1 teams how to drive faster without traction control.
An off road challenge with no human risk and custom vehicles isn't the same as converting a passenger car to drive itself on public roads in bad conditions. In normal conditions, I am sure computers can drive better than humans.

Bad weather driving is more about making correct decisions than actual driving skill. Often you need to make a decisions on if a washed out road is shallow enough to cross, if a snow bank should or should not be run over, and if that thing flying down the road off the back of a truck is plastic bag (no threat) or something far heavier, etc, etc...

Everything I have seen from Google about their system is clear weather and warm temps. When the system only works in those conditions, it isn't any good for mass adoption. If you think people suck at driving now, imagine how bad they will be when Google is driving the car 95% of the time, then the driver has to put down their makeup and take over when conditions are horrible.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:37 PM   #7
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The net result would be an increase in price per car, but a decrease in overall price.
Yep. You could drop collision coverage, and even uninsured motorist. But we'd have to ban non-robotic cars from the road .
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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Yep. You could drop collision coverage, and even uninsured motorist. But we'd have to ban non-robotic cars from the road .
This is more what I was envisioning manticus, since I will NEVER adopt a robot driven car. If they leave no other option I'll just save money and use public transportation, and also vandalize cars regularly (because of my disgust with humanity) since I know how much effort cops put into finding those type of "personal property" criminals.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:53 PM   #9
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An off road challenge with no human risk and custom vehicles isn't the same as converting a passenger car to drive itself on public roads in bad conditions. In normal conditions, I am sure computers can drive better than humans.

Bad weather driving is more about making correct decisions than actual driving skill. Often you need to make a decisions on if a washed out road is shallow enough to cross, if a snow bank should or should not be run over, and if that thing flying down the road off the back of a truck is plastic bag (no threat) or something far heavier, etc, etc...

Everything I have seen from Google about their system is clear weather and warm temps. When the system only works in those conditions, it isn't any good for mass adoption. If you think people suck at driving now, imagine how bad they will be when Google is driving the car 95% of the time, then the driver has to put down their makeup and take over when conditions are horrible.
Ever heard of baby steps? They aren't releasing v1.0 to the public tomorrow.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:05 PM   #10
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Ever heard of baby steps? They aren't releasing v1.0 to the public tomorrow.
They aren' even close to 1.0, so I am not worried about it.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:07 PM   #11
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Won't happen my lifetime..Some of the tech will be there, heck some of it is almost here but not fully autonomous cars anytime soon.

It seems a much better idea to get to the point where you can telecommute at least 3-4 days a week thereby eliminating the need to do as much driving in the first place. Then cars last longer (few miles driven), roads last longer, less gas burned so less pollution, less congestion, less time lost commuting. Hell my 4 year old computer is already still better than what I have to work on at my job.

We need near Matrix-like level computing before we need autonomous cars IMO. Just let me eat my Cheerios and jack in while in my jammies at home. Log out for lunch and fire up the PS3 or some WoW and then back to work.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #12
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It seems a much better idea to get to the point where you can telecommute
I agree 100% that where this is applicable, it should already be in practice.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #13
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Does desert off-roading count as extreme weather?
No, it's really not the same thing at all.

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I love how people think their driving skills are somehow superior to an engineering team's determination.
As an engineer: It really has nothing to do with technical car control and everything to do with environmental awareness. Finding and following a road while constantly scanning for obstacles and objects - possibly objects in motion - and identifying them as friend or foe, then assessing the various risks and taking appropriate action is heinously complicated even in beautiful weather. If there is cardboard in the road, do you swerve or is it safer to run it over? If a child runs out into the road after his ball, how do you discriminate between the "ball" body and the "child" body? It's probably safest to run over the ball in your attempt to avoid the child, but if you can't tell the difference you need to avoid both which is a lot harder.

Imagine if your car took evasive action when a bird flew across the street. That would be bad. But what if the bird is a falling stone? Do you ignore birds and get hit by rocks? Or do you avoid rocks and take unnecessary evasive action (dangerous) every time a bird flies by.

What about those construction zones where the lanes aren't clearly marked. How does the car determine if there are two lanes or one?

Can an automated car make it through a maze of construction cones?

Can a car recognize a cobbled road as easily as a paved one? Dirt? Is a black mark a stain or a hole?

Now add snow or rain to the mix and you're set up for failure.





If automated cars are going to be adopted they will have to intermingle with conventional cars. That means they have to drive on roads which have thousands of years of tailoring to suit humans. That means they have to respond to sensory input as a human would. The technical problem of driving a car is a total non-issue compared to the magnitude of the environmental awareness problem.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ocellaris View Post
An off road challenge with no human risk and custom vehicles isn't the same as converting a passenger car to drive itself on public roads in bad conditions. In normal conditions, I am sure computers can drive better than humans.

Bad weather driving is more about making correct decisions than actual driving skill. Often you need to make a decisions on if a washed out road is shallow enough to cross, if a snow bank should or should not be run over, and if that thing flying down the road off the back of a truck is plastic bag (no threat) or something far heavier, etc, etc...

Everything I have seen from Google about their system is clear weather and warm temps. When the system only works in those conditions, it isn't any good for mass adoption. If you think people suck at driving now, imagine how bad they will be when Google is driving the car 95% of the time, then the driver has to put down their makeup and take over when conditions are horrible.
Well you made a bad decision already.

If a really bad blizzard hits. Stay off the road!
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by sniper1rfa View Post
No, it's really not the same thing at all.



As an engineer: It really has nothing to do with technical car control and everything to do with environmental awareness. Finding and following a road while constantly scanning for obstacles and objects - possibly objects in motion - and identifying them as friend or foe, then assessing the various risks and taking appropriate action is heinously complicated even in beautiful weather. If there is cardboard in the road, do you swerve or is it safer to run it over? If a child runs out into the road after his ball, how do you discriminate between the "ball" body and the "child" body? It's probably safest to run over the ball in your attempt to avoid the child, but if you can't tell the difference you need to avoid both which is a lot harder.

Imagine if your car took evasive action when a bird flew across the street. That would be bad. But what if the bird is a falling stone? Do you ignore birds and get hit by rocks? Or do you avoid rocks and take unnecessary evasive action (dangerous) every time a bird flies by.

What about those construction zones where the lanes aren't clearly marked. How does the car determine if there are two lanes or one?

Can an automated car make it through a maze of construction cones?

Can a car recognize a cobbled road as easily as a paved one? Dirt? Is a black mark a stain or a hole?

Now add snow or rain to the mix and you're set up for failure.





If automated cars are going to be adopted they will have to intermingle with conventional cars. That means they have to drive on roads which have thousands of years of tailoring to suit humans. That means they have to respond to sensory input as a human would. The technical problem of driving a car is a total non-issue compared to the magnitude of the environmental awareness problem.
That's all in the algorithm and right now autonomous flight is the biggest thing for UAS. They are tackling the problems you are describing, but in tight air spaces.

You have very good points, but people are working all those issues you brought up and more.

No offense to anyone, but a multimillion dollar company with a teams of talented engineers, designers... etc. have thought about the if scenarios and they are working on it to one day provide very confident autonomous algorithm.

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Old 04-27-2012, 09:12 PM   #16
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If the manufacturer were liable, what happens when the user/owner neglects to maintain or repair the vehicle; who is liable then?
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:39 AM   #17
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double post.
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:40 AM   #18
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I live where the autonomous google cars are out here driving around for testing (they do have a driver that can override at any point).

They do struggle at 4-way stops because humans never really come to a complete stop so the google car will keep giving the right of way because it's not seeing anyone stopping.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:05 AM   #19
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That's all in the algorithm and right now autonomous flight is the biggest thing for UAS. They are tackling the problems you are describing, but in tight air spaces.
Navigating an airplane autonomously is approximately a million times easier than navigating a car. There are pretty much only three things you can hit in an airplane: Another airplane, a mountain, and a vicious storm. Mountains and storms are easy to predict, and the number of other airplanes per cubic foot is tiny.

Also, UAV's still have operators which are looking out for things like that. People who are being paid as a full time job to make sure the fleet of UAV's functions properly. Their autonomy is still very limited.

Also, there is no "algorithm" for driving a car. You can't drive a car in a step-by-step, rigid, rule-based manner. Sometimes you have to blow a stop sign or make a hard left into the median. Sometimes you have to make a decision about what you should crash into - maybe you need to pick between hitting a drunk head on, a child on the sidewalk, or a telephone pole. A car starts getting heavy on probabilistic or fuzzy control.

Remember that humans do incredible things while driving. Say you're going along and two people walk across the sidewalk to the curb. A human can tell the difference between somebody who is going to stop and hail a cab, and somebody who is going to walk off the curb and attempt to cross the street. We can predict those actions with a great degree of accuracy even though the physical process we see is almost identical. Teaching a computer to do that is very, very, very hard.



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You have very good points, but people are working all those issues you brought up and more.
Of course there are, and they're doing a fine job. The google autonomous car is wonderful, and there are plenty of people in controls/mechatronics that are working on the problem. They're not going to solve it anything like soon. Even if we had the control logic it still wouldn't be solved, because it's so complex you need lots of expensive hardware to run it. A couple PLC's ain't gonna cut it.



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No offense to anyone, but a multimillion dollar company with a teams of talented engineers, designers... etc. have thought about the if scenarios and they are working on it to one day provide very confident autonomous algorithm.
Yup, but that one day is a long, long way away. I was responding to the technical challenges, but as the article correctly points out (and i've said before, you can probably search) there are many more hurtles before we get to buy one from the dealer. Liability is a huge concern, and therefore automated cars will need to be several orders of magnitude more reliable and safe than a human driver and they'll need to be very cheap and very easy to use.

When little Timmy gets run over by a drunk, the drunk gets in trouble. When little Timmy gets run over by an automated car that's the end of automated cars.


To be honest, the most likely solution for cost and complexity in my opinion is re-fitting our highway system with automation friendly roads and having manual control on secondary and tertiary roads. That gives you a test bed for simple automation, allows time for public awareness and acceptance, and reduces the complexity of the control which buys time for development and reduces the cost (since it can be offset by selling cars).

I also don't see that happening inside 30 years, and would guess more like 50-100 before we see significant adoption of automated cars. You'd be looking at basically ripping out and replacing huge swaths of interstate. There are just way too many other options that are far simpler and cheaper.


EDIT: believe me, I'm all for automated cars. I would love to work on a team to build one. I'm just not holding my breath. I suspect I will never casually take one to work.

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Old 04-28-2012, 09:48 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by sniper1rfa View Post
Navigating an airplane autonomously is approximately a million times easier than navigating a car. There are pretty much only three things you can hit in an airplane: Another airplane, a mountain, and a vicious storm. Mountains and storms are easy to predict, and the number of other airplanes per cubic foot is tiny.

Also, UAV's still have operators which are looking out for things like that. People who are being paid as a full time job to make sure the fleet of UAV's functions properly. Their autonomy is still very limited.

Also, there is no "algorithm" for driving a car. You can't drive a car in a step-by-step, rigid, rule-based manner. Sometimes you have to blow a stop sign or make a hard left into the median. Sometimes you have to make a decision about what you should crash into - maybe you need to pick between hitting a drunk head on, a child on the sidewalk, or a telephone pole. A car starts getting heavy on probabilistic or fuzzy control.

Remember that humans do incredible things while driving. Say you're going along and two people walk across the sidewalk to the curb. A human can tell the difference between somebody who is going to stop and hail a cab, and somebody who is going to walk off the curb and attempt to cross the street. We can predict those actions with a great degree of accuracy even though the physical process we see is almost identical. Teaching a computer to do that is very, very, very hard.
I totally agree with you. It will definitely be a challenge to the engineers. As a electrical/computer engineering student, I've seen some very interesting ideas to simulate the human brain in terms of the latest in neural networks, control systems, and AI, that expanded my thoughts in possibility.

Also, remember, the rules of driving will naturally change when autonomous vehicles are on the road. Example. people are not going to hail to a autonomous taxi, maybe it will be something new.

As with UAS. Currently UAS are not allowed to fly in national air spaces, because FAA mandates, that they must have "pilot like senses". The signal delay and limited visibility of the drones is the biggest concern in UAS development. Planes can pretty much almost fly itself (autopilot, takeoff, landing..etc.), the problem is flying with precision in heavy air traffic. Think of a dozen planes in formation or autonomous in-air refueling. I believe ground systems are being developed as well.

It will definitely take some time and won't be in the road for a while. But they will be used in industrial type scenarios very soon. I believe amazon is using fully automated logistics; robots moves pallets around and stages them accordingly.


Came across this video and thought it was amazing.

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:38 AM   #21
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Default J.D. Power: 20% of vehicle owners want self-driving cars, do you? (w/ Poll)

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During its 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, J.D. Power and Associates found that vehicle owners have come to expect a certain level of safety features and are now turning their attention more to infotainment technologies in their vehicle.
The study showed that customers now look for features such as enhanced collision mitigation, wireless connectivity system, surround-view rear-vision camera and personal assistance safety services.
The study also found that 20 percent of vehicle owners ‘definitely would’ or ‘probably would’ purchase autonomous driving mode in their next vehicle after learning the estimated market price of $3,000. Prior to learning the price, interest for this technology was at 37 percent.
For those of you unfamiliar with autonomous driving – it basically means that the vehicle takes control of acceleration, braking and steering, without any human interaction
“Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles,” said VanNieuwkuyk. “Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it.”
I for one am completely against autonomous driving and that’s only because I love driving so much. What are your thoughts? Have your say in the poll below.





http://www.egmcartech.com/2012/04/29...8egmCarTech%29
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:13 AM   #22
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I'd be totally down with self driving cars for long highway slogs. In other words, I, for one, welcome our robot overlords with open arms.
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