Print 45 comment(s) - last by Tyler 86.. on Feb 20 at 6:37 PM

A driverless robot car with brains may be road ready by 2030, according to Sebastian Thrun, a great mind in self-driving vehicle development

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Francisco, Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University computer science and electrical engineering professor, estimated that robot-driven cars will be road ready by 2030

Thrun cited strong advances in the development of artificial intelligence as one of the main reasons that the world could see driverless cars by 2030.  Along with not having a human driver controlling the car, new vehicles should also function properly in a simulated city environment.  
Thrun is regarded as one of the world's most successful and innovative manufacturers of self-driving vehicles.  Thrun's team previously won a $2 million prize after "Stanley," a modified Volkswagen Tourage, won a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contest in October of 2005.  Another DARPA challenge in November will feature rule changes that force teams to have their cars obey traffic laws, deal with obstacles and basic road conditions, other vehicles, etc.

It is more likely that robot-driven cars will be seen on battlefields and other hostile environments rather than public roads any time soon, according to Thrun.

Stanford plans to enter "Junior," a converted 2006 Volkswagen Passat that has had its throttle, brakes and steering altered so a computer is able to control them.  The car will be navigated via satellite GPS, with a number of lasers located on Junior's bumpers -- the lasers will be able to look multiple directions and has a range up to 50 yards.

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No Thank you.
By GhandiInstinct on 2/19/2007 4:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
So do insurance companies go out of business? We just blame the robot after every accident??

RE: No Thank you.
By jankage on 2/19/2007 4:20:45 AM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't have bought a 350z if something else drove it for me.

RE: No Thank you.
By GoatMonkey on 2/19/2007 8:47:30 AM , Rating: 3
AI will be the end of sports cars, and speeding. Unless we can find a way to hack the AI so that it doesn't know it's speeding.

RE: No Thank you.
By peldor on 2/19/2007 10:25:25 AM , Rating: 3
That's easy, just speed up the internal clock.

RE: No Thank you.
By DublinGunner on 2/19/2007 10:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
I can imagine the n00b questions on hardwware fora already:

"Help needed - Overclocking MR2"

"How to overclock Ferrari Enzo?"

ANd of course the generic sticky:

"Guide to vehicle overclocking - read first"

RE: No Thank you.
By Flunk on 2/19/2007 1:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
No it's not. Speeding up the computer's internal clock would just make it operate faster E.G. it would react quicker, read the speedometer more often, etc... Speeding up the clock won't help you at all.

What you would need to do is to hack the speedometer to read lower than the actual speed, either by replacing the actual component or interfereing with the computer reading it correctly (like an intermediate box that would tell the car it was driving 65 when it was actually driving 75). Of course if the cops found you with a hacked car there would be no denying it as it would be really obvious.

RE: No Thank you.
By Oregonian2 on 2/19/2007 3:08:19 PM , Rating: 2
You're assuming that it's a reading a "speedometer" that's not using that same clock. More likely, that same software would be reading a distance-travelled input (rotations of an axel or the like) from which it calculates speed based on the time interval between readings (with a timestamp probably associated with each reading). Speeding up the clock would probably make it think that it's going faster than it really is (went xxx distance in 1-second... where it REALLY happened in 1/2 second) . In other words, overclocking the control mechanism may make it slow down!

RE: No Thank you.
By gdillon on 2/19/2007 3:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, let's just imagine you could hack it with suck a superficial change as a clockrate increase/decrease. That would mean every time you started from zero, it would FLOOR it. Yipes!

RE: No Thank you.
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 5:55:25 PM , Rating: 3
You have that logic backwards. If one travels x distance in elapsed time t but, due to a faster clock, measures the time as 2t, the computed speed will be half the actual rate, rather than twice.

RE: No Thank you.
By Tyler 86 on 2/20/2007 6:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
masher's got it.

By increasing the clock counter, you're redefining the second.
There was the infamous "speedhack", which EXACTLY mimics the desired behavior in cars, that changes the system timer resolution - the equivelant effect as increasing the clock rate while reporting the same number of cycles per second (the proposed change) is to decrease the reported number of cycles per second (speedhack).
Go find the Nintendo DS overclocking, or "speedhacker" videos for an effect example.

RE: No Thank you.
By AssMonkey76 on 2/19/2007 10:24:49 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with hacking the car is really not the problem. Im sure you could hack it, the problem is the road sensors the vehicle will pass by every 1/8 mile or so which will relay data to the car to give it position, speed and what not. Pretty much there will be a central hub that is tracking and collecting data on all vehicles on the road. im pretty sure they could scan your cars computer and see any hacks. Maybe thats far fetched but i sense a big brother issue here. Think about it?

RE: No Thank you.
By Tedtalker1 on 2/20/2007 12:50:27 AM , Rating: 2
What you guys are really trying to say is that it just needs the glorius "TURBO Button" on the dash.

RE: No Thank you.
By JarredWalton on 2/20/2007 1:30:33 AM , Rating: 2
Or you could take a different view: if we get robots that are especially adept at driving under all conditions, they could very well be far better and safer than humans. Speed limits? We wouldn't need them: your car would go as fast as it deemed reasonable. Open roads in the middle of Nevada? It could probably go as fast as the engine allowed! The cars could all use wireless networking to communicate, thus avoiding potential accidents (beware of hacking, I know), and I'd love to be able to sit in a car and say "take me to my brother's house" and then sleep/relax/work/etc. for 14 hours instead of driving. I really hope they can get this sort of stuff to work, and the sooner the better!

RE: No Thank you.
By wolli on 2/19/2007 4:23:49 AM , Rating: 2
The robots will have to pay the insurance. They'll also work for us, and do anything. We'll be bored out of our minds and sit on our ass all day.

Someday the robots will realize that they don't need us anymore. HAha

RE: No Thank you.
By GoatMonkey on 2/19/2007 8:49:38 AM , Rating: 2
Then we'll just get in our space ships and go to Caprica.

RE: No Thank you.
By Orbs on 2/19/2007 1:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
Lol! I was a bit disappointed by last night's episode. Have they given up the search for Earth? Are the cylons all asleep? Let's get back on track BSG!

Speaking of back on track, this was totally off topic :)

RE: No Thank you.
By othercents on 2/19/2007 11:30:37 AM , Rating: 3
Lawsuit, Faulty robot causes crash. Family of 4 dies.


RE: No Thank you.
By Orbs on 2/19/2007 1:27:43 PM , Rating: 3
That is a very real possibility but when you look at how many deaths occur due to human error/driving distraction, drunk driving, etc. then the odd time the robot fails will likely result in far fewer deaths than the current state of affairs where driving kills every day.

In addition to saving lives, there are other benefits. For example, disabled and elderly people who are unable to drive would gain significant independence. Fuel would be used more efficiently as traffic would flow much more predictably (this assumes vehicle to vehicle communication in addition to automated driving).

The benefits (including saving lives) far outweight the negatives IMO.

RE: No Thank you.
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 6:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
> The benefits (including saving lives) far outweight the negatives IMO."

Of course they do. But today, when a person kills another in a traffic accident, they get sued for the limit of their liability policy, a few hundred thousand dollars. With a computer-controlled vehicle, they'll sue the manufacturer instead, and for a few billion dollars. That sort of legal exposure is going to delay automated driving for many years, no matter how many lives it would otherwise wind up saving.

In fact, I find it possible that true fully-automated driving may not ever be implemented, unless Congress steps in with either tort reform or a specific mandate to limit liability.

RE: No Thank you.
By Tyler 86 on 2/20/2007 6:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
You are responsible for letting the AI drive your vehicle.
Responsibility only lies on the AI if the manual override fails to function when attempted.
Responsibility void if driver is intoxicated or unconscious.
Certified by the (insert local goverment AI oversight authority here).

RE: No Thank you.
By Orbs on 2/19/2007 1:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
When all vehicles are computer controlled, the accident rates will likely be significantly reduced (orders of magnitude) and vehicles will be used much more efficiently (better fuel mileage, the ability to travel at higher speeds when vehicles are close together).

If it saves lives and gets everyone to their destination sooner, it may be worth giving up some of the freedom of being a driver.

If you really want to do the driving, tell your automated car to take you to the track.

RE: No Thank you.
By Oregonian2 on 2/19/2007 3:12:32 PM , Rating: 2
I think we all know that in the US there would be a class-action lawsuit before long and the maker will be out of business (or nearly so) VERY quickly. You know that's true, like it or not. Only way around it may be having a law passed ahead of time eliminating its liability, but the chance of that passing would be slim, and the likelyhood of that being actually effective/useful is probably even slimmer (but lawyers would make out with major mega-profits arguing the cases so it'd be a good product for them).

public transport
By hadifa on 2/19/2007 6:18:50 AM , Rating: 4
Lets not forget by the year 2040 there will be no private cars allowed an every one should use public transport.

By the tear 2055 we will be using portals to transport instantly.

By the year 2075 hmmm, robots will bread humans in zoos!

RE: public transport
By Epyon on 2/19/2007 7:16:32 AM , Rating: 3
mmmm human bread...sounds tasty

RE: public transport
By semo on 2/19/2007 7:41:59 AM , Rating: 3
my manwich!

what would make you more angry: being run over by a drunk driver or ai?

RE: public transport
By GoatMonkey on 2/19/2007 8:51:39 AM , Rating: 2
Soylent green is PEOPLE!!!

RE: public transport
By Pythias on 2/19/2007 9:17:39 AM , Rating: 2
Its a cookbook!

RE: public transport
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 9:22:15 AM , Rating: 3
> "what would make you more angry: being run over by a drunk driver or ai? ..."

I imagine most people will be happy to be "run over" by the it will mean they and every member of their extended family becomes a billionaire from the resultant lawsuit.

In fact, I think its obvious that legal exposure will hold back the introduction of robot-driven vehicles much longer than any technical issues.

And BattleMechs will be here soon as well.
By TimberJon on 2/19/2007 4:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
Which can rely on brute mechanics, industrial strength servos, cable systems for muscle-simulation, Diesel for movement and electrical power and some kind of Howitzer or light naval cannon for firepower. Yea, while thats my dream too, I don't see it happening soon.

I see many flaws with this statement.

1) He has been watching too much iRobot, Minority Report and/or Demolition Man.

2) Lasers and rangefinders are great, even when tied to a powerful computer/software combo. BUT! 50 yards is nothing if some drunk idiot is coming at the vehicle at 100mph from out of the 50 yard range.

3) Based on #2, how accurate are those lasers at 50 yards? Is it more like 30 yards actual? When a fast-moving vehicle enters that zone how fast can the computers calculate its movement speed and heading? Fast enough to avoid the car AND other obstacles?

4) You would need the highest quality, nearly EMP-shielded electrical components for every critical system in that vehicle, and then redundant backups. Your life is at stake. If my life depended on the lightbulbs in my brake light assembly, I'd be dead.

5) Freedom of driving? As illustrated colorfully in Minority Report (which I do love) Everything looked like it was Railless MagLev, and computer controlled. But I dont think they were controlled by the CPU's in the vehicles themselves. I'm betting it was more like a Citywide central authority program. A governance system, that directs all vehicles based on destination, weight, model, Etc..

I dont think we will have roads THAT SMOOTH to support such a thing.

6) His statement is correct about having robot or AI controlled vehicles by 2030, because they will be out there, but only on test roads or testing facilities. I doubt that we would allow fully AI-controlled vehicles on the road with mind-controlled drivers. BMW or Lexus might put some of that technology to use. I believe auto-slow down and Preliminary-braking systems are already in use, monitoring a vehicle in front of it and pre-emptively slowing down when it starts to get close. THATS useful, and I support it, but make that damn thing redundant..

RE: And BattleMechs will be here soon as well.
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 6:07:36 PM , Rating: 3
> "Based on #2, how accurate are those lasers at 50 yards?"

A lot more accurate than your eyes will ever be.

> "would need the highest quality, nearly EMP-shielded electrical components ..."

EMP-shielded? Planning on driving through many nuclear blasts?

> "How fast can the computers calculate its movement speed and heading? "

Computer today can calculate the speed and heading of an ICBM fast enough to intercept it. Planning on driving Mach 21 anytime soon? I won't even mention that computers in 2030 will run a few hundred times faster than todays.

> "Your life is at stake..."

Your life is at the stake of your brakes also, and yet that doesn't stop you from driving. A computer-controlled vehicle is going to be far safer than you driving it yourself.

> "I don't see it happening soon..."

In 1950, most people thought travel to the moon was impossible as well.

By Grast on 2/20/2007 4:54:37 PM , Rating: 2

there are many more sources of emp than a nuclear blast. Very large solar flares can cause emp like effects in our atmospher. These at this point in time can not be predicted.

I believe a previous poster is correct though in regards to the most likely scenario is a master control program (MCP) (hehehehe) governing the flow of traffic.

I digress, the main point of the previous poster was the desire to make the vehicle as safe as possible.


Probably true
By rockyct on 2/19/2007 5:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
I have very little doubt that there will be computer driven cars in 25 years, but I think a lot of you guys have some serious misconceptions.

Computer driven cars does not mean it will drive you from your home in the suburbs to your office downtown, all while you take a nap or read the paper. While that could end up happening, you'll probably see a gradual introduction of computerized driving. It will probably start with a dedicated freeway lane just for cars that have been retrofitted or came with it built in on a new car. It will gradually get more popular from there as dedicated freeway lanes increase and the cost decreases.

It will not be the death of sports cars as use of computerized freeway lanes would not be required. It's not like you can actually use the performance of a sports car during rush hour traffic. Plus, it will probably be a while before actual roads with traffic lights, pedestrians, and the like are computer driving capable.

RE: Probably true
By masher2 on 2/19/2007 6:12:05 PM , Rating: 3
> "you'll probably see a gradual introduction of computerized driving. It will probably start with a dedicated freeway lane..."

You're absolutely correct, but you'll see those first steps a lot sooner than 2030. You can almost get automated freeway driving today, with the combination of cruise control and some of the more advanced collision avoidance systems on high-end sedans. You're essentially doing nothing but the steering at that point. I'd bet that in 10-15 years, you'll see vehicles doing that as long as you stay on the freeway, and there's a human behind the wheel to take over in case of unusual circumstances.

RE: Probably true
By ElJefe69 on 2/20/2007 11:04:13 AM , Rating: 2
the highway and traffic division of our great USA has infinite money and does not care about more money. There is no greed incentive to have automated anything as far as the goverment goes. it will lower fuel usage and create less jobs for cops and guys who fill pot holes with crappy material and get 3x overtime for useless putting salt down on dry roads during a 1 inch snow "blizzard".

Yeah, right
By msva124 on 2/19/2007 6:05:57 AM , Rating: 2
Want a good laugh? Look back in the 1980 papers and see what was predicted to happen by the year 2000.

RE: Yeah, right
By HDBanger on 2/19/2007 8:15:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, soon as I get my flyin car out of the garage I can make room for this robot car.. Riggghhht..

RE: Yeah, right
By marvdmartian on 2/20/2007 9:19:33 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, this story should read:
"2007 - Stanford egghead predicts robot controlled cars by year 2030"
"2080 - 50 years after robot cars were supposed to take over the driving, rednecks still driving hotrod beater cars to work every day, robots threaten strike!"

I can see the first people to embrace this technology being women.....then they can put their makeup on while the car drives itself. Oh, wait.....they already do that, don't they?? ;)

Meet George Jetson......

A convient car bomb
By Senju on 2/19/2007 5:48:59 AM , Rating: 1
Now we have just one more thing to worry about.
Now we do not need suicide bombers anymore. Terrorists will just their robot car to do the work.

Hopefully, the cars should be smart enough to not do it and protest against such acts.

RE: A convient car bomb
By SunAngel on 2/19/07, Rating: -1
RE: A convient car bomb
By encryptkeeper on 2/19/2007 11:47:58 AM , Rating: 5
In America we call people like you idiots.

just read
By ElJefe69 on 2/20/2007 11:01:26 AM , Rating: 2
I just read an article either here or on some other tech site that was saying the current robot has massively less intelligence than a house fly. If you think about it, any animal has a more polished intelligence than a machine. Nice to see that in traffic judging safety ! yay! useless billions of dollars spent for the win!

RE: just read
By masher2 on 2/20/2007 1:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
Fortunately, it takes less real intelligence than that of a housefly to drive safely, and to correctly "judge traffic safety". Which is why you so rarely see houseflies colliding with each other.

By TheOneYouKNow on 2/19/2007 8:16:00 AM , Rating: 2 I will get flipped off by robot taxi drivers too when I try and cross the road.

This is good...
By EODetroit on 2/19/2007 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
...because coincidentally, I think my parents, once long ago, told me it'd be until 2030 until I could get my drivers license.

By cheesecurd on 2/19/2007 4:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
haven't these people seen terminator???

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