Autonomous Cars

Toby Frost

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The Internet of Things (online kettles etc) have been hijacked to provide computing power for DDOS attacks and hackery. The NHS got hit by an attack a couple of years ago. Just because autonomous cars are possible doesn't make them a good idea.
Quite. In Richard Morgan's Black Man/Thirteen, robots aren't used because they are hacked by terrorists and sent on the rampage. This is clearly done to set up the need for semi-caveman super-soldiers, but it doesn't seem too unlikely to me. The current obsession for linking everything to everything else seems to make all the systems very vulnerable to attack. I could imagine a society which, having suffered from such attacks, people just don't risk it happening again, and have either no internet or multiple unconnected internets.
 

thaddeus6th

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It's so someone heading home can have the kettle boiling as they enter.

To my mind, it's a tiny bit of convenience at the cost of needless expense and risk. I have more sympathy with the argument for online doorbells/cameras (and possibly thermostats). But an online fridge or kettle just seems daft to me.

And security does need beefing up.
 

Vince W

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My sister-in-law and her husband just purchased a Tesla and made a video of them letting the car drive. Apparently the driver has to touch the steering wheel every one in a while. I've already found a hack to get around that.
 

WaylanderToo

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It is one thing to have a power failure for objects that are stationary, like buildings, but what happens for large masses of moving traffic when the internet burps, suffers from latency, a term makes self driving car manufacturers shudder, or outright power failure, what does that do to all those vehicles relying on electronic contact instead of good old fashioned line of sight with a brain that can adapt to whatever it is seeing in a moments notice. Doesn't even take into account hacking. How does such a system react, does it slam on the brakes for everything moving at that moment. Slowly slow everything down as it shifts everything moving over to sensors riding on every car. Everything slows down to a complete stop. Or do we let the manufacturers assume that is never going to happen.
well we do have autopilots and jet fighters that NEED a (primitive) type of AI to ensure that they can even fly without crashing - not too many people have issues with that


My sister-in-law and her husband just purchased a Tesla and made a video of them letting the car drive. Apparently the driver has to touch the steering wheel every one in a while. I've already found a hack to get around that.
you are Homer Simpson AICMFP!




The problem is that cars would need to develop a sort of 'fuzzy logic' to actually operate properly in the real world - something humans can, and do, everyday.

it was said driving a car is easy - to a point it may be. Driving a car well on the other hand is bloody difficult, which is why driving standards are rank
 

Ursa major

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well we do have autopilots and jet fighters that NEED a (primitive) type of AI to ensure that they can even fly without crashing - not too many people have issues with that
Aircraft (of which there are only a fraction of the number of the hundreds of millions of cars, vans and lorries) are usually** kept well separated in all three dimensions... and there are precious few pedestrians and cyclists sharing the airspace with them.


** - To the extent that planes flying close*** to each other are the subject of air displays, not day-to-day travel.

*** - I was in Rome in December 1999 and, during the morning rush hour, I realised that, because of the volume of traffic, Italian drivers were driving along a three-lane road (one side of a divided highway) four abreast so as to increase the number of cars that could fit on that road. Now that's close.
 

Vince W

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Humans are the problem with driving cars. Too much ego and impatience. When all cars are autonomous accidents will probably be reduced to 0 +- 0.0001.
 

Robert Zwilling

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The term autopilot for flying craft is not the same for cars. The pilots are maneuvering the plane on the ground, and taking off. Landings are also handled by the pilots. The auto pilot feature is running when there is a lot of space between planes and they are traveling inbetween destinations.
 

CupofJoe

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The term autopilot for flying craft is not the same for cars. The pilots are maneuvering the plane on the ground, and taking off. Landings are also handled by the pilots. The auto pilot feature is running when there is a lot of space between planes and they are traveling inbetween destinations.
And unless it has changed recently there is no AI in a plane's autopilot. It follows very simple rules on what to do, hence the Boeing 737 Max issues. It follows those rules regardless.
 

Ursa major

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The term autopilot for flying craft is not the same for cars. The pilots are maneuvering the plane on the ground, and taking off. Landings are also handled by the pilots. The auto pilot feature is running when there is a lot of space between planes and they are traveling inbetween destinations.
So then mention of planes' "auto pilot feature" is hardly relevant to a thread on autonomous cars, is it?
 

WaylanderToo

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*** - I was in Rome in December 1999 and, during the morning rush hour, I realised that, because of the volume of traffic, Italian drivers were driving along a three-lane road (one side of a divided highway) four abreast so as to increase the number of cars that could fit on that road. Now that's close.
TBH I think that the Italians are a breed apart when it comes to driving :eek:
 

Ursa major

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TBH I think that the Italians are a breed apart when it comes to driving :eek:
In my experience, and speaking from a pedestrian's point of view (I've driven in neither country), Belgium (well Brussels) was a far more dangerous place to be on the road** than Italy.


** - Even (or particularly) when using pedestrian crossings.... :eek:
 

Foxbat

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After decades of development, PC's still crash - yet they want us all to embrace new software-driven driverless cars?!
Ha! Good point. :D

I'll counter with: after thousands of years of evolution, most people are still idiots when they get behind the wheel;)
 

thaddeus6th

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Brian, indeed.

But even if they work flawlessly almost all the time, they still need a human behind the wheel, constantly alert and capable of taking control.

That's a psychological nightmare. Humans aren't designed to do nothing other than pay attention to something that is 99.999% safe but has a 1:100,000 chance per journey of killing you. You still need a qualified driver, but instead of letting them actually drive you're imposing a bizarre form of mental torture on them. Be bored. Be bored. Be bored. Be bored. Be bo- 0.5s to grab the wheel or you're dead!

It's nuts.

The only way I can see autonomous cars working is in a separate transport network, perhaps carrying goods rather than people.
 

Robert Zwilling

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After decades of development, PC's still crash - yet they want us all to embrace new software-driven driverless cars?!
That doesn't mean anything to people trying to sell a product. Computers control important functions on naval ships that are supposed to operate during violent engagements.
 

WaylanderToo

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In my experience, and speaking from a pedestrian's point of view (I've driven in neither country), Belgium (well Brussels) was a far more dangerous place to be on the road** than Italy.


** - Even (or particularly) when using pedestrian crossings.... :eek:

ok - I'll grant you the Belgians. Italians are just crazy, the Belgians seem willfully bad!
 

Vertigo

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That doesn't mean anything to people trying to sell a product. Computers control important functions on naval ships that are supposed to operate during violent engagements.
And the software that goes into cars, ships, aeroplanes and even things like tablets and phones (that are generally never turned off) is subject to much more rigorous testing than the software that goes into desk computers like PCs. Anyone who used a PC for real time, life critical systems deserves whatever they get when it all goes wrong. You don't have triple redundancy on your desktop but I assure you they do in aeroplanes and I'm pretty sure they do in ships as well. I don't know about cars but I would expect something similar there too. The systems they have already do far, far more miles between accidents than humans manage to achieve.

I for one can't wait for it to be the norm. The roads will be safer, private car ownership will be redundant and probably pretty much vanish. which will make it way better for the environment. This is absolutely and inevitably going to happen and I suspect it will be a lot sooner than most of its detractors seem to expect.
 

Venusian Broon

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And the software that goes into cars, ships, aeroplanes and even things like tablets and phones (that are generally never turned off) is subject to much more rigorous testing than the software that goes into desk computers like PCs.
Well, there are always terrible exceptions. For example with Boeing. So whose to say something similar, re: problems with their software leading to crashes, couldn't happen with automated cars? Not saying that's a reason for fearing automatic cars or not having them, but I'm sure it's going to happen. (I for one will love it to let the car drive, so that I can just sit back and read a book :))

However you are right regarding the above software systems, but there are other good reasons why. These systems above are generally quite closed and are designed for one, albeit pretty complex, purpose. PC's are much more multi-purpose and generally full of software (and sometimes hardware, especially if you tinker!) that has never been designed to be run with each other - also we tend to download and install all sorts of things on it without thinking too much about it. Now most of the time these programs don't impact each other, but it does lead to occasional problems.
 

Ursa major

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I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe that the environment an autonomous car will encounter is anything like as simple as the environments that other software encounters at the moment. That other software has to deal with either very constrained environments, purely digital environments, or environments with few or no independent actors.

An autonomous car will have to work in a very complex (i.e. lots of automomous actors) analog (a multitude of, sometimes chaotic, behaviours) environment. Even other autonomous cars have analog characteristics as they are not purely software and the failures modes of their analog components, e.g. tyres, and their behaviours after a failure, are not easy to predict). And that is without considering the non-software-controlled actors (such as pedestrians, cyclists, even crisp packets** blown by the wind) that they will meet.

The "always on" mobile phone, by contrast, works with well-defined standards for its interfaces and the behaviours it's expected to encounter. And while the totality of software on a phone does have to deal with the user and many disparate tasks, each of those tasks is limited (limited, in many cases, by the design of the software***) and not (within the software) fully integrated with all of the others.

Aircraft fly in what are sparcely occupied and often almost-completely controlled environments (where, unfortunately, they sometimes do meet analog actors, such as flocks of birds).

As for ships, the so-called busiest shipping lanes (such as Strait of Dover) have nothing on the roads around me**** (and not only during the rush hour) For example, pedestrians' behaviour is very difficult to predict (and that's without considering those whose attention is focused solely on their mobile phone's screen).


Now it is not impossible for autonomous cars to work properly in the environment for which they're designed eventually, but we are kidding ourselves if we believe that this is going to happen safely soon. And there's no doubt that, in time, autonomous cars will be far less dangerous to their passengers, and other vehicles and humans in their vicinity, than we drivers are when we're behind the wheel. But the last thing we want to do is take the word of over-enthusiastic engineers (and those financing them and hoping for a return on their investment) that we should do anything as foolish as fast-tracking their mass introduction (as some are perhaps far too keen on doing).


** - Some radar-based safety systems have been known to cause a car to brake when a crisp packet has been blown in front of the sensor (though one would hope that either: a) future software will be able to cope with those flying packets; b) those packets are changed to something less environmentally unfriendly).

*** - If the software is not designed to recognise something, that something will not exist, as far as the software is concerned, in terms of the software's ability to deal with it other than as an exception.

**** - I live in a suburb of a small conurbation, and thus nowhere near the busiest place in the world.
 
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