California approves limited testing of self-driving cars without wheels or backup drivers

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Califonia Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill allowing self-driving vehicles to be tested in the state without manual controls or human backup drivers, in a move that could aid Apple's own efforts in the field.









The new rules apply only to a pilot project by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, being run at GoMentum Station -- formerly the Concord Naval Weapons Station -- and at a business park in San Ramon.



Companies like Honda and Otto Motors are currently testing self-driving vehicles at GoMontenum, and the CCTA has said that both Apple and Google have expressed interest in doing likewise.



While self-driving cars are in testing around the U.S., and even in real-world service in Pittsburgh, these have generally kept steering wheels and backup drivers, owing to both existing laws and concerns about the technology's imperfections. At some point, though, self-driving cars will have to operate independently, for instance allowing ride-hailing services to ditch most of their human workforce. Carmakers have shown off concepts that remove the standard cockpit for more interior space.



The exact state of Apple's self-driving initiative -- known as Project Titan -- is uncertain. Under new head Bob Mansfield the project is thought to be focused purely on self-driving systems, rather than building a full-fledged car. At the same time, contract manufacturer Magna Steyr is believed to have about a dozen engineers working with Apple, and the iPhone maker is rumored to be interested in buying self-balancing motorcycle startup Lit Motors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    Self driving cars without wheels?
    cmd-zschlackfotoformattycho24macseeker
  • Reply 2 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,449member
    Self driving cars without wheels?
    No manual controls required is what it says. The testing can have serious repercussions now, so it's getting real. 
  • Reply 3 of 47
    Will it still have the big red button?
  • Reply 4 of 47
    I think we're missing the word, steering.
    schlack
  • Reply 5 of 47
    Self driving cars without wheels?
    The headline is worded poorly .. my first reaction was, "Driverless and no wheels?"
    schlacktycho24randominternetperson
  • Reply 6 of 47
    Just in time; self-driving cars have just begun to be remotely commandeered.
    ericlmercer
  • Reply 7 of 47
    autonomous hover cars!!!
    jdgaz
  • Reply 8 of 47
    Self driving cars without wheels?
    ... and no backup drivers? You mean... they can drive forward... but they can't backup??? (Whuuut)?
  • Reply 9 of 47
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    Absolutely the future of autonomous vehicles. PodCars. For city folks this will 'change everything'. I just can't imagine anyone would actually own their own vehicle. It wouldn't make sense.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    Why does this incredibly aesthetically unappealing picture of Google's self-driving car shown (almost) everywhere on Google's website, and in every story (AI or elsewhere) in which this topic appears?! Do these people seriously expect folks to buy something that looks like Spongebob's car?

    Talk about zero -- no, negative -- design taste.
    edited September 2016 hmmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 47
    We have a roundabout in front of the building where I work and often see driverless cars with two people in the front seats with clearly no hands on the driver's wheel.  It's interesting watching these cars try to negotiate the roundabout.  

    Since roundabouts are not common around these parts in the US (I'm in San Francisco - maybe like this in all areas of the US?), it can be quite comical watching clueless and under informed human drivers negotiating around these obstacles under normal conditions.  Some think that once they've entered the roundabout that they have full legal and moral authority to just blow around the roundabout without any regard to other drivers trying to merge in while other drivers timidly wait for an opening as if it's a multi cornered stop situation where everyone politely waits their turn.  

    The other day I saw a driverless car stop in the middle of the roundabout due to congestion - it was playing it safe because I'm guessing the car in front, who snuck in, violated the driverless car's safe space, but then immediately the cars behind the driverless car all started honking their horns and yelling at the driverless car to get moving.  Now, under ordinary circumstances with human drivers, everyone would have easily just made the necessary space adjustments and moved on ahead, but the driverless car was erring on the safe side and slowed down to almost a stop.  

    These sorts of things may get worked out in the end, but I suspect that human drives will have to learn to chill out and drive a little safer around driverless cars when they do become omnipresent.  Aggressive driving will not be programmed into these cars.  Seems like a lot of human drivers - especially A type drivers will need to learn new tactics in order to 'win'. 
    mwhiterandominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 12 of 47
    Great story, tarfungo.  I wonder how well d-less cars do with people trying to merge in front of them (like when a lane is taken out of service for an accident).  I can imagine that an group of robot cars would be super efficient whereas a mix of drivers and robots could be awful--especially for the passengers in the uber polite robot car. 
    badmonk
  • Reply 13 of 47
    I give this about six months.  After a couple of near death experiences that may be as much to do with humans in other cars as the self-driving cars, they'll end this experiment.  This will be like Google Glass.  An interesting idea that in the end no one wants to put down their hard earned money and buy.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 47
    tarfungo said:
    We have a roundabout in front of the building where I work and often see driverless cars with two people in the front seats with clearly no hands on the driver's wheel.  It's interesting watching these cars try to negotiate the roundabout.  

    Since roundabouts are not common around these parts in the US (I'm in San Francisco - maybe like this in all areas of the US?), it can be quite comical watching clueless and under informed human drivers negotiating around these obstacles under normal conditions.  Some think that once they've entered the roundabout that they have full legal and moral authority to just blow around the roundabout without any regard to other drivers trying to merge in while other drivers timidly wait for an opening as if it's a multi cornered stop situation where everyone politely waits their turn.  

    The other day I saw a driverless car stop in the middle of the roundabout due to congestion - it was playing it safe because I'm guessing the car in front, who snuck in, violated the driverless car's safe space, but then immediately the cars behind the driverless car all started honking their horns and yelling at the driverless car to get moving.  Now, under ordinary circumstances with human drivers, everyone would have easily just made the necessary space adjustments and moved on ahead, but the driverless car was erring on the safe side and slowed down to almost a stop.  

    These sorts of things may get worked out in the end, but I suspect that human drives will have to learn to chill out and drive a little safer around driverless cars when they do become omnipresent.  Aggressive driving will not be programmed into these cars.  Seems like a lot of human drivers - especially A type drivers will need to learn new tactics in order to 'win'. 
    Roundabouts are becoming way more common now. If you visit newer developments in the East Bay, there are roundabouts. I'm noticing them a lot more here in California. They are pretty common in newer developments in Oregon and Washington as well. Personally, I like roundabouts way more then traffic lights. 
  • Reply 15 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,449member
    Why does this incredibly aesthetically unappealing picture of Google's self-driving car shown (almost) everywhere on Google's website, and in every story (AI or elsewhere) in which this topic appears?! Do these people seriously expect folks to buy something that looks like Spongebob's car?

    Talk about zero -- no, negative -- design taste.
    What made you think Google had any intention of selling them, or selling any car at all?  They don't as far as I've read so what does the design matter? FWIW they also have some Lexus vehicles driving autonomously, perhaps others as well. 
  • Reply 16 of 47
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,165member
    Meanwhile most American trains can't even slow down or stop automatically.  Something simply doesn't seem right here, it can't be rocket science to modify a train surely?  
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 17 of 47
    paxman said:
    Absolutely the future of autonomous vehicles. PodCars. For city folks this will 'change everything'. I just can't imagine anyone would actually own their own vehicle. It wouldn't make sense.
    Because driving something like a Mercedes AMG or the like is a glorious feeling. 
    watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 18 of 47
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,165member
    tarfungo said:
    We have a roundabout in front of the building where I work and often see driverless cars with two people in the front seats with clearly no hands on the driver's wheel.  It's interesting watching these cars try to negotiate the roundabout.  

    Since roundabouts are not common around these parts in the US (I'm in San Francisco - maybe like this in all areas of the US?), it can be quite comical watching clueless and under informed human drivers negotiating around these obstacles under normal conditions.  Some think that once they've entered the roundabout that they have full legal and moral authority to just blow around the roundabout without any regard to other drivers trying to merge in while other drivers timidly wait for an opening as if it's a multi cornered stop situation where everyone politely waits their turn.  

    The other day I saw a driverless car stop in the middle of the roundabout due to congestion - it was playing it safe because I'm guessing the car in front, who snuck in, violated the driverless car's safe space, but then immediately the cars behind the driverless car all started honking their horns and yelling at the driverless car to get moving.  Now, under ordinary circumstances with human drivers, everyone would have easily just made the necessary space adjustments and moved on ahead, but the driverless car was erring on the safe side and slowed down to almost a stop.  

    These sorts of things may get worked out in the end, but I suspect that human drives will have to learn to chill out and drive a little safer around driverless cars when they do become omnipresent.  Aggressive driving will not be programmed into these cars.  Seems like a lot of human drivers - especially A type drivers will need to learn new tactics in order to 'win'. 
    Maybe it varies in difference areas of the USA, I recall early 'rotaries' here in Florida, they've since adopted the UK nomenclature 'roundabout' here,  had the right of entry over the right of going around!  Totally ludicrous.  This is now fixed thank heavens.  The correct use as used by millions of drivers world wide without any confusion  is the car already on the circle has right of way over those wanting to enter.  
    edited September 2016 watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 19 of 47
    paxman said:
    Absolutely the future of autonomous vehicles. PodCars. For city folks this will 'change everything'. I just can't imagine anyone would actually own their own vehicle. It wouldn't make sense.
    Well, let's see if this makes sense then. Let's shift gears. Imagine this scenario:  you're in a rush... man, you're in a hurry & you've gotta go... right now... time is of the essence, it's here so you gotta commit regardless... you open the door, step inside, have a seat & live with the consequences, captive for the duration...

    Would you rather be sitting in :  
    a) your own personal, hygienic home bathroom or;
    b) on some convenient albeit septic, herpes-infested public toilet seat?

    I bet people will prefer their own self-driving cars. 
    lolliver
  • Reply 20 of 47
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,799member
    paxman said:
    Absolutely the future of autonomous vehicles. PodCars. For city folks this will 'change everything'. I just can't imagine anyone would actually own their own vehicle. It wouldn't make sense.
    Well, let's see if this makes sense then. Let's shift gears. Imagine this scenario:  you're in a rush... man, you're in a hurry & you've gotta go... right now... time is of the essence, it's here so you gotta commit regardless... you open the door, step inside, have a seat & live with the consequences, captive for the duration...

    Would you rather be sitting in :  
    a) your own personal, hygienic home bathroom or;
    b) on some convenient albeit septic, herpes-infested public toilet seat?

    I bet people will prefer their own self-driving cars. 
    As someone who takes public transport on a daily basis in the UK, do transport providers in the US not clean their vehicles?

    Aside from that, I'd rather fly in my own private jet than on an airline.  Cost and practicality has a part to play though; in cities parking space carries a premium.
    edited September 2016 gatorguySolinolamacguy
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