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40oz

Autonomous Vehicles

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Leading automakers such as Tesla, Ford, BMW, Kia, and more estimate that fully autonomous self-driving cars will be on the market in the next 5-10 years.

At the moment, many cars have semi-autonomous features such as emergency braking, and self parking. Google already has fully automated driverless vehicles that have driven on major highways alongside human operated cars in the San Francisco Bay area of the United States and have already covered 300,000 miles accident free. In as soon as 25 years, people may be able to sleep in their automatically driving vehicles on the way to work, or use their smart phone to send a vehicle to a grocery store service with employees to load the vehicle with groceries and send them to your house while you're away.

There are many concerns about government regulation, who will be liable in the event there is a crash with a self-driving vehicle, anticipation of weather conditions such as ice or accidents ahead, or cyber criminals accessing these vehicles and putting the passengers in danger. Engineers are working on systems in which vehicles can relay signals to each other to anticipate weather conditions, accidents, and traffic patterns in advance. Said technology is said to eliminate vehicle accidents almost immediately, as 94% of them are due to human error. However, many states in the United States are already enacting laws that outlaw vehicles being operated without a human drivers hands on the wheel, which poses a bit of a struggle for car companies.

The technology is surprisingly mature and experts suggest that the technology will first begin to appear in construction vehicles such as street paving, painting, sweeping vehicles, later in freight services such as trucks for some years, allowing society to get comfortable surrounded by automatically operating vehicles before transportation services adopt them and start carrying around human passengers. They also suggest that since cars spend 95% of their time parked, a system of shared automatically driving vehicles and buses should eliminate the need for people to own their own vehicles, reducing the number of vehicles on the road, reducing pollution, and eliminating the need for huge parking lots and garages which can be used for more useful things. That's in the far future of course.

What do you think? Scary or awesome?

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Scary and awesome. Ultimately though, for the greater good. A few consequences that appear in my head are:

1. A significant decline in road fatalities

2. The taxi industry will take a large hit unless they adapt to the technology and also provide a unique value to their self driving vehicle service. Granted there may always be a market for Human driven services, even for non luxurious situations

3. A notable amount of jobs will become obsolete if street cleaners, taxis and possibly even road logistic based roles are self driven. In turn, a handful of new roles will become available to monitor, maintain and direct fleets by minimal number of staff

4. People will always have a demand to drive their own cars. If self driving becomes a norm then there may be optional licenses to drive the vehicle on your own but the lazy or non passionate drivers may just ignore it altogether. However I suspect every non commercial car will have mandatory manual driving mode for safety and emergency situations therefore everyone may still be required to obtain a driver's license

5. In the transition of self-driving vehicles becoming the primary method of transport, I bet those who have had their first 'major' offense (drink driving, drugged, speed dangerous etc) may temporary lose their driver's license but be approved to utilize self-driving in conditions of work or care purposes

6. Those of elderly age who does not match the conditions required to drive on their own will have a safe method to travel. This pretty much relates to point 1

I'm a bit of a motor enthusiast, at least when it comes to modifying and driving my own vehicle. So I find this path a little concerning when it comes to that hobby. Then again, it will be many years away before the car industry and driving culture risks fading away. It may never. But access to modifications and high performance vehicles may dwindle while laws on such areas may become even tighter.

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The scares will come in two waves: one, when it first becomes mainstream and folk take it's safety and continued performance, while accompanied by other, non-automated vehicles, for granted during the time accidents and "bugs" are most likely to pop up. The second wave will be when our kids are learning to "drive" or whatever it's even considered by then. They will not necessarily know anything before a self-driving car, at which point you'll have kids as relaxed behind the wheel of a 1 ton death machine as they'd be... say, at home. Albeit this is not much different than today; only this time they wouldn't necessarily have to pay attention at all, which typically means they just won't pay attention. Going through life oblivious causes many strange problems, which I'm sure we'll see with these as time goes on.

Of course that all assumes these things retain the bugs we would expect out of any complicated computer program.

Another thing that could be considered is that all cars will likely retain a "manual mode" support for longer than even our children will be alive. If that's the case, who's to say what kind of shenanigans will erupt when people with 5 total hours of real driving experience try to do what a complex computer program cannot?

Idk, I know the point is to take the human element out of the equation, but when was the last time you've seen a complex program run without bugs? When these things are assembly-line produced, there's no way every one will be equal; humans just don't have the capability for 100% production with 100% quality. Businesses won't trend away from that 100% productivity mark; most will trend towards it as close as they can without the appearance of a drop in quality, but we all know that quality is an illusion.

I have no idea what I'm talking about at this point; I'll just see myself out now...

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There was a scene in the movie "I, Robot" where, in the year 2035, all cars drive autonomously at extremely high speeds on a freeway/tunnel, and Will Smith is the only person who drives manually among them (because he hates all AI technology), at one point he stops paying attention to the road, then barely avoids a truck heading against him, and as Smith screams some curse words at the truck (that was actually autonomous), his co-driver/passenger berates Smith for driving manually at all. I couldn't find a video of this scene, otherwise I'd post it. Anyway, both allowing AIs drive vehicles among human drivers, and allowing humans drive vehicles among AI drivers, doesn't seem like a good idea. Both can make mistakes especially when unpredicted conditions happen, and AIs driving among humans and humans among AIs seem to be a receipt for unpredicted conditions (for either one) to happen easily.

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In the long-term humans will probably be banned from manually driving in cities unless they have very advanced training. This will be excellent. Autonomous cars will kill some people, but not nearly as many as stupid meatbags. I still think cities that opted to use something other than trains are run by idiots.

In the shorter term it looks like the highways are going to be ruled by autonomous truck convoys. Maybe those will need shotgun-wielding guards.

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I could believe in AI, but my trust in corporations making them and governments regulating them is at an all time low.

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antares031 said:

No matter how good the technology has developed, I will never entrust my life to artificial intelligent driver.


Is it really any worse than a human? Both are prone to mistakes, especially human drivers who decide to get behind the wheel intoxicated.

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CARRiON said:

...especially human drivers who decide to get behind the wheel intoxicated.


I don't think that drunk drivers should be considered as human beings.

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40oz said:

[url]There are many concerns about government regulation, who will be liable in the event there is a crash with a self-driving vehicle, anticipation of weather conditions such as ice or accidents ahead, or cyber criminals accessing these vehicles and putting the passengers in danger. Engineers are working on systems in which vehicles can relay signals to each other to anticipate weather conditions, accidents, and traffic patterns in advance.


Until they can navigate perpetually snow impacted areas on roads, notably bends and corners where humans instinctively slow down, or even a straight stretch of road after a moderate dusting where you can't really tell where the road is, I won't be too impressed.

There's a reason they only drive these things in fucking deserts and other areas that have next to no precipitation creating sub-optimal road conditions, including rain.

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Nah. I would only use AI on long road trips so I could sleep. Besides, when you already have a computer in your car that isn't 100% reliable, why give it all the control?

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I'm sure when the regular automobile was created, people thought it was too dangerous to ever be so widely defused and essential to society. After all, a horse doesn't explode into flames, if you crash it.

I live in probably the worst place to drive in all of North America. I welcome a paradigm shift in transportation.

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I think it's awesome and the end result is going to be a huge net positive to society as a whole. If you consider just the two points of 1) reduced road deaths and 2) massively cheaper shipping, logistics and transport, it's hard to argue against.

The only downside is that this is going to be a massive disruptive change, probably on a scale we haven't seen in our lifetimes. I refer to this really good article which explains it. In brief summary: we can expect jobs like "taxi driver", "truck driver" or "bus driver" to be eliminated as jobs, which is likely to be a big problem because those are currently all solid, reasonably well-paying working-class jobs. But there's also going to be a huge knock-on effect on people who rely on those jobs for their own income.

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Quast said:

There's a reason they only drive these things in fucking deserts and other areas that have next to no precipitation creating sub-optimal road conditions, including rain.


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40oz said:

video

Fair enough. I assumed it was something that the industry has at least tested. Though one of the guys in the video more or less admitted they clearly have problems with snowfall amounts above what you see in the video.

Lets see real world highway driving and not 15 mph on a test road. Baby steps I guess.

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antares031 said:

I don't think that drunk drivers should be considered as human beings.


Well then there are a LOT of non-humans driving around.

You don't even have to be intoxicated to make mistakes. Some people are too old to be driving, or have serious anger issues, or mental disorders, and some are just downright moronic in their decision making. Like those looking at their phone while driving or deciding to take stupid risks just to get where they are going faster. An AI would at least cut all of these instances out.

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Kontra Kommando said:

I'm sure when the regular automobile was created, people thought it was too dangerous to ever be so widely defused and essential to society. After all, a horse doesn't explode into flames, if you crash it.


Absolutely. I think the evolution is inevitable, but the world isn't ready for it yet. 30-40 years from now, there will be more driverless vehicles on the road than human drivers. Owning a driverless vehicle will cease to be a luxury and will become the norm, and having to drive your own vehicle will seem silly and dangerous.

I've read predictions that it will eventually not make economic sense to own a vehicle anymore. There will be so many affordable driverless transportation services on the road that you could just phone in the nearest one to your house, and it will pick you up and take you to where you need to go.

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It doesn't make economic sense for most of humanity to own a car anyway. Westerners - especially Americans - are weird about that. We have lots of cars that spend most of the day unused. Autonomous taxi services replacing most privately-owned vehicles would do wonders for traffic.

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I wonder if the automation of cars will result in more fluid traffic over all: a smaller yielding distance because computers are better than humans at predicting the movement of other vehicles (and even coordinate with each other), so they can safely enter busy lanes and intersections even if it would look dangerous for a human driver.

Other stuff I'm thinking about:
* easily enforced speed limits. The robot car will just obey the traffic rules.
* easy government control of where your car is allowed to go, unless you pay extra fees.
I feel these built-in limitations may be easy targets for hackers.

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printz said:

Other stuff I'm thinking about:
* easily enforced speed limits. The robot car will just obey the traffic rules.


Whoa, I didn't think about the huge loss police stations will be taking if they can no longer ticket people for traffic violations.

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40oz said:

Whoa, I didn't think about the huge loss police stations will be taking if they can no longer ticket people for traffic violations.


There will be huge social implications for that as well; less people pulled over. I guess if there's something functionally wrong with the car.

EDIT: Maybe police will be able to even take control of the car, and command it to pull over and stop.

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Kontra Kommando said:

EDIT: Maybe police will be able to even take control of the car, and command it to pull over and stop.

Commanding it to stop: obviously. Robot driver needs to obey a blinking police stop sign as well. Taking over: unlikely. This was already proposed for taking over hijacked planes, but pilots and a lot of security experts went ballistic. Such a backdoor would be more likely to attract hacking attempts than prevent crime. Just think of the advanced American drone that was hacked mid-flight by the Iranians and made land on their airport. And they wanted that one for tech, your angry ex-wife might want you in a tree for organs, heh.

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