Google joins Uber, Ford, others to advocate self-driving car adoption

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Several high-profile companies -- Google, Ford, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo -- have joined together in a new coalition, looking to persuade both the public and the U.S. government about the benefits of self-driving cars, with the particular goal of knocking down any legal barriers that might interfere.




The group wants people to "realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles," according to a statement seen by Bloomberg. In a related statement of its own, Uber claimed that self-driving cars could "save millions of lives," but the coalition also suggested that the technology could reduce traffic jams, and open up travel for people who can't drive on their own.

Heading up the new entity will be David Strickland, once an administrator with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The group is in fact aiming for "one clear set of federal standards" to help put self-driving cars on roads, but will be beginning by talking to municipalities, civic organizations, and other businesses.

The U.S. is currently mired in a patchwork of laws affecting self-driving cars, all of which were written with the assumption of human drivers. The federal government has been sympathetic towards corporate pushes to relax and streamline rules -- the NHTSA is accepting different definitions of the term "driver," and will be exempting up to 2,500 self-driving vehicles from safety standards for the purposes of testing.

The coalition's efforts may ultimately help Apple, which is believed to be working on an electric car for launch in 2019 or 2020. The first model may or may not be self-driving, but Apple is nevertheless believed to be working on such systems, a virtual necessity given work in that area by rivals like Google and Tesla.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    Fewer freedoms ahead, people. Fewer freedoms.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Self-driving cars can't arrive too soon.
    Have you seen the way Gen-Y drives?
    pscooter63lostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 13
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,009member
    Hey, look at bight side. I can drink and car will self-drive back to home. No DUI violation. Low insurance rate.Unfortunately, Law enforcement, Lawyers and Court system will loose billions.
    edited April 2016 ppartekim
  • Reply 4 of 13
    How about a better investment into mass transit? It's a far better choice. 
  • Reply 5 of 13
    sockrolid said:
    Self-driving cars can't arrive too soon.
    Have you seen the way Gen-Y drives?
    (My comment below is only loosely related to yours.)
    I often watch to see which drivers are using their phones.  Mostly... adults, not teens.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,450member
    Legal details aside, fully self driving cars must pass the Turing drivers test.
    That means that each car must pass a drivers exam in the same way humans do.
    The rationale behind this is that a qualified person must test this capability to be 'sure' the car functions as desired as we do with humans, it would also be perceived as an act of discrimination against humans when cars can drive without this test.
    So, a car must pass a Turing test with verbal instructions and will be judged on the same criteria as a human: this means uncertain driving behavior, driving to slow or fast, driving in an erratic irregular way, lack of judgement and anticipation, etc. etc. will all void the exam. 
  • Reply 7 of 13
    joogabahjoogabah Posts: 118member
    How about a better investment into mass transit? It's a far better choice. 
    Autonomous vehicles are mass transit.  You won't own them, you'll call them up on your iPhone when you need them like Uber or Lyft (which is their actual business model, they're just using drivers until the cars are ready but perfecting the software for summoning, tracking charging, etc. now).  Who would want a car sitting on their property all the time taking up space when they can just summon one as needed?  Some days you need a van to carry several people, other days something small for just yourself.  Or perhaps a special vehicle for transporting children and keeping them entertained.
    ppartekim
  • Reply 8 of 13
    palominepalomine Posts: 362member
    Does anyone else here wonder what it would be like if Apple decided to muse out loud all sorts of ideas it might be interested in developing? I wonder if they might be better able to hide the important projects? Put out a blizzard of possibilities like Gaggle does, might get better press that way?
  • Reply 9 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,309member
    I just can’t keep thinking about the liability issues. But then automobile manufacturers don’t seem to care about their customer’s lives anyway (see GM ignition switch, and Takata air bags for the latest screw ups).
  • Reply 10 of 13
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    joogabah said:
    How about a better investment into mass transit? It's a far better choice. 
    Autonomous vehicles are mass transit.  You won't own them, you'll call them up on your iPhone when you need them like Uber or Lyft (which is their actual business model, they're just using drivers until the cars are ready but perfecting the software for summoning, tracking charging, etc. now).
    I read an article many years ago (in a paper magazine, not the Intertubes) that discussed this concept. At the time it was thought that thousands of "pods" would stand at the ready for any person needing transit. You would approach a kiosk or some similar thing, swipe a card and enter your desired destination. Wait a bit, and voila! a small pod car arrives at your location to send to your selected destination. I think they imagined the pods would be in constant circulation like a swarm of bugs, follwing wires in the pavement and would be owned an operated by some agency. Fast forward a couple of decades and we can easily see automomous cars making this a real possibility via Uber et al or even transit authorities. If the cars are well designed, small and efficient then it should fulfill most of the desired features of conventional mass transit.
    edited April 2016 ppartekim
  • Reply 11 of 13
    dosadidosadi Posts: 1member
    Autonomous cars would be the perfect mass-transit vehicle. We already have the infrastructure in place! So much more efficient. We'd do away with speed limits, road-signs, we could fit more cars on the road and they'd communicate with each other, bringing accidents to near zero. Why spend billions of dollars creating new high-speed rail lines? No need.
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 12 of 13
    rcfarcfa Posts: 778member
    wood1208 said:
    Hey, look at bight side. I can drink and car will self-drive back to home. No DUI violation. Low insurance rate.Unfortunately, Law enforcement, Lawyers and Court system will loose billions.
    I think there's a typo in there, it should be: "Thankfully law enforcement, lawyers and court system will loose billions." The less work they have, the better the world we live in, and the less excuses for them not to focus on what really counts, ugh, like e.g. factories dumping chemical waste into the sewer system... 
  • Reply 13 of 13
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    dosadi said:
    Autonomous cars would be the perfect mass-transit vehicle. We already have the infrastructure in place! So much more efficient. We'd do away with speed limits, road-signs, we could fit more cars on the road and they'd communicate with each other, bringing accidents to near zero. Why spend billions of dollars creating new high-speed rail lines? No need.
    They could start out with something lower risk like trains as an experiment, replacing them with individual pods per passenger group, maybe 50 pods per station ($1m of pods) with a mixture of 2-4 seat pods. If one station ran out, they send pods from the next station over, which would arrive in under 5 minutes. Every train station would have a set of available pods and a diversion off the track into the station and you just get a pod as soon as you arrive at the station, no waiting around.

    The pods would be programmed to take you wherever you were going and switch the railway links on the way as you approached. The electricity can be provided by the rail system so the cars would be continually charged but pods could also be recharged at the stations and each pod would be able to know where every other pod was at all times. They wouldn't have to travel as fast as a train (average would be under 100mph) because each pod wouldn't have to stop until it reached its destination and they can speed up to maximum speed more quickly. This would allow regulators to see that driverless vehicles could operate safely for long periods of time on rails beside other vehicles at high speed and with high traffic and the data can be provided about safety and efficiency.

    Liabilities are covered by the train operators so separating passengers out lowers the risk of a single collision affecting lots of passengers. Every passenger group could travel at least 1/10th of a mile apart. In the event of a failure, the pods behind can slow down and a pod zips back along the line from the nearest station to pull the problem pod out the way, the one behind could push it or just remove it from the line and collect the passengers.



    They'd build and test the vehicles on a disused railway then make a ~$50m investment to produce a set of vehicles to replace trains for a day. They'd load about 250 vehicles onto one line overnight and set them running for the day. If it works ok, they keep them running, otherwise put the trains back on the next day.
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