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No lights, no signs, no accidents - future intersections for driverless cars

Computer scientists at the University of Texas in Austin are developing intersections of the future, designed to accommodate the driverless vehicles they believe will soon take over our roads. The intersection will have no traffic lights and no stop signs, just computer programs that will talk directly to each car on the road. Ben Gruber reports, Reuters news.  

Vid here:

http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/03/22/no-lights-no-signs-no-accid...

Evidently this technology is proven and currently on the shelf.  So once the costs come down it's headed our way.  Infrastructure improvement will keep it at bay for a while.  Maybe the unit will fit in the seat tube?    


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Bad, bad, bad, bad!

I think self-driving cars have alot of potential, since they can be much better than humans at recognizing other road users, predicting where they are going, and responding to that.
Wired had a good article about it recently:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1

Exactly.  Whether you are riding or driving, one of the biggest causes of traffic conflicts (collisions, road rage, etc.) is not understanding what other road users are going to do, especially in intersections.  Using turn signals is apparently a lost skill.  People sometimes fail to see others whose paths will conflict with theirs.  If all cars' movements are controlled by the same computer, those misunderstandings and failures to observe are eliminated from the overall picture.  This idea does have potential.

Duppie said:

I think self-driving cars have alot of potential, since they can be much better than humans at recognizing other road users, predicting where they are going, and responding to that.
Wired had a good article about it recently:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1

In these "futuristic" robo-controlled roads there will be NO ROOM for vehicles that are not hooked to the grid.   

Such roads will be off limits to bikes...

You did not read the article that I quoted, did you?

There is no grid. Each car is individually controlled and can see pedestrians, cyclists and even differentiate between a floating card-board box and baby-stroller. It can even learn how to apply rules of the road in real life, instead following traffic laws verbatim.

Here is a good video about driverless cars. Especially pay attention to it from about 1:30 to 2:00. The car recognizes pedestrians in a cross walk and stops for them, it recognizes stop signs and traffic lights

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp9KBrH8H04

I would say that the article that OP posted harkens back to a a few decades ago, where the belief indeed that we needed to install all kinds of equipment along the road to guide cars. That is simply cost prohibitive. That idea has been overtaken by reality

The biggest questions are not about technology anymore. But will consumers, who for decades got sold on the idea that cars mean individual freedom, buy into cars that take that freedom away. The other issue is road laws. How do we adapt them so that these cars are allowed and lialbility issues are taken care of?

James BlackHeron said:

In these "futuristic" robo-controlled roads there will be NO ROOM for vehicles that are not hooked to the grid.   

Such roads will be off limits to bikes...

I'm an electrician -I've had a lot of experience installing and wiring autonomous systems in commercial/industrial use.

Systems fail.  Period.  The standard is that no system is ever assumed to be fail-safe and never allowed to be put into such a circumstance that a failure would result in danger to a human.

As a technician I can tell you that the more complex and technological a system is the more likely it will eventually begin to fail -and when human life is on the line the ultimate cost that is born by such failure is an innocent bystander who got in the way

Sure, people are falable too.  But people at least (usually) have a modicum of compassion.  A human can be punished and/or put in jail for screwing up behind the wheel.  What are you going to do to the robot pilot that ran over your 3-year old daughter?

Nope.  That wired article is all bunnies and BS.  The only way an autonomous system can work is if they take out ALL the variables.  And that means you and me on our bikes and all ped crossings limited to specially-marked crosswalks.  Jaywalking will need to be seriously curtailled.  

A system like this will make the car culture where bikes, peds, and baby-carriages are banned from the roads and we'll have to stay on the sidewalks or special bike-only lanes (if they are going to where we want to go.)

I'll say it again.  This is a BAD thing.  Instead of robot cars lets just have NO CARS....  Or make them all go 14MPH maximum on city streets. 



James BlackHeron said:

Systems fail.  Period.  The standard is that no system is ever assumed to be fail-safe and never allowed to be put into such a circumstance that a failure would result in danger to a human.

 

As a technician I can tell you that the more complex and technological a system is the more likely it will eventually begin to fail -and when human life is on the line the ultimate cost that is born by such failure is an innocent bystander who got in the way

 

Sure, people are falable too.  But people at least (usually) have a modicum of compassion.  A human can be punished and/or put in jail for screwing up behind the wheel.  What are you going to do to the robot pilot that ran over your 3-year old daughter?

 

Nope.  That wired article is all bunnies and BS.  The only way an autonomous system can work is if they take out ALL the variables.  And that means you and me on our bikes and all ped crossings limited to specially-marked crosswalks.  Jaywalking will need to be seriously curtailled.  

 

Yes systems fail but people get distracted by their gps or pay attention to that text they just got or lose focus or whatever.  The question isn't whether the computer systems are going to fail but rather whether they'll fail less and with less catastrophic results than people.  It sounds like you want to be able to assign blame but would you prefer being able to blame someone over fewer overall injuries and fatalities?  Incidentally, the whole blame thing seems to result in drivers getting fairly minor punishments even if fatalities are involved.  Even in those egregious situations where it looks like the driver was being willfully negligent. 

Just fyi, computer systems have pretty good at autonomous control of vehicles.  The supply mission to the ISS is regularly controlled by computers up to and including the docking of the supply vessel to the space station.  Autonomous systems are also able to land planes and have been pretty good about controlling planes and boats/subs on trips across the continents or oceans.  

Incidentally, if it works well, you'd end up with a system that would have the potential to make life as a cyclist or pedestrian much nicer.  No more cars cutting you off in traffic or changing lanes without a blinker.  They'd definitely give you the right way when you're in the cross walk crossing the street.

I think that if you really believe they are going to "let us" mess up their nice neat, efficient, and orderly  automated traffic control patterns with our bikes on the same roads you really haven't spent much time watching and learning how those "in authority" do things.

Many, many moons ago I got hit by a car. I was in a crosswalk at a traffic light and had the right of way. The driver was very compassionate: he stopped and he sincerely felt sorry. His insurance covered my medical costs. Yet I ended up with broken bones that required surgery and a recovery process that took months. and despite that he screwed up he did not get punished at all.

I still don't give a flying feck about him being compassionate. I would have preferred that he had driven a car that corrected his mistake on the fly, so the accident would not have happened to being with.

Yes, systems do fail but the failure rate of well-designed can be extremely low, and in cases that it fails society will have to figure out who is responsible. I think that in the end the driver will always be held responsible. So no Jetson like cars where the occupants can have a social gathering while the car transports them. Nor driving while drunk.

James BlackHeron said:

I'm an electrician -I've had a lot of experience installing and wiring autonomous systems in commercial/industrial use.

Systems fail.  Period.  The standard is that no system is ever assumed to be fail-safe and never allowed to be put into such a circumstance that a failure would result in danger to a human.

As a technician I can tell you that the more complex and technological a system is the more likely it will eventually begin to fail -and when human life is on the line the ultimate cost that is born by such failure is an innocent bystander who got in the way

Sure, people are falable too.  But people at least (usually) have a modicum of compassion.  A human can be punished and/or put in jail for screwing up behind the wheel.  What are you going to do to the robot pilot that ran over your 3-year old daughter?

Nope.  That wired article is all bunnies and BS.  The only way an autonomous system can work is if they take out ALL the variables.  And that means you and me on our bikes and all ped crossings limited to specially-marked crosswalks.  Jaywalking will need to be seriously curtailled.  

A system like this will make the car culture where bikes, peds, and baby-carriages are banned from the roads and we'll have to stay on the sidewalks or special bike-only lanes (if they are going to where we want to go.)

I'll say it again.  This is a BAD thing.  Instead of robot cars lets just have NO CARS....  Or make them all go 14MPH maximum on city streets. 

Nascar and Google released some great news today. They teamed up to create a racing class with driverless cars. I am not a big fan of Nascar, but this will be a great step to get driverless cars accepted by the general public.

http://www.google.com/racing/

http://www.nascar.com/video/none/none/120331/cup-mar-google/

Happy April Fools' Day.

Duppie said:

Nascar and Google released some great news today. They teamed up to create a racing class with driverless cars. I am not a big fan of Nascar, but this will be a great step to get driverless cars accepted by the general public.

http://www.google.com/racing/

http://www.nascar.com/video/none/none/120331/cup-mar-google/

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