Print 19 comment(s) - last by Boingo Twang.. on Mar 7 at 2:33 PM

State Sen. wants California to develop automated vehicle rules

California State Sen. Alex Padilla wants to see California follow the path of Nevada and set guidelines that outline when and how autonomous vehicles can be tested within the state. Nevada has such guidelines in place, and Google has been actively testing its autonomous vehicles within the state. Google isn't alone on the push to autonomous vehicles with several universities and organizations working on the technology. 
Padilla recently took a ride in a Google autonomous vehicle and figures that such technology will help reduce the incidence of accidents on highways. He also believes the computer-controlled cars will eventually drive more safely than humans are capable of.
"The vast majority of accidents are due to human error. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on our roads and highways,” Padilla remarked. “California is uniquely positioned to be the leader in the deployment of autonomous technology."
If the proposed legislation is approved, the California Highway Patrol would be responsible for developing standards and performance requirements for autonomous vehicle testing and operation on state highways.

Google's autonomous Prius
Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma are also considering similar legislation.
Drivers [or rather passengers] of these vehicles would be able to read, chat with passengers, or play games without needing to focus on the road. The safety aspects of autonomous vehicles are appealing in that computer-controlled cars would presumably be less accident-prone than human drivers.  
Computer-controlled cars could also help avoid traffic congestion the plagues the highways in many cities around the country. In addition, some scientists believe that future intersections won't need stoplights thanks to automated vehicles.

Source: Detroit News

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RE: The sheep can enjoy
By Nexworks on 3/5/2012 12:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
Your ability to potentially drive well is mirrored by others ability to potentially drive poorly. If an autonomous driving utopia worked as intended there wouldnt be bad drivers to worry about.

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By FITCamaro on 3/5/2012 12:33:25 PM , Rating: 2
Computers fail.

So do people but that is controlled by them. Not a blown circuit. I'm more comfortable with the idiots on the road who have insurance (or should) than thousands of potential software bugs and hardware failures determining whether I make it to work or home.

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By acer905 on 3/5/2012 12:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
A guy driving had an aneurysm, passed out, and plowed into a tree less than 10 feet from my house. Circuits fail in people too

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By Solandri on 3/5/2012 3:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
Mechanical and electronic failure rates are much lower than failure rates in human judgment. Part of the reason air travel is so safe is because there are fewer "drivers" per passenger, and it's been highly automated to avoid common accidents (CFIT, TCAS).

The reason people are uncomfortable with riding around in autonomous cars is because of double standards. In our minds, an accident caused by "a stupid reason" like a programming error weighs more heavily than an accident caused by something like a difficult situation to maneuver out of. But the exact cause doesn't matter to the accident victim - his car is totaled and he's in the hospital either way.

The only thing which should matter is number of deaths and injuries. The cause only becomes relevant when the death/injury rate is comparable. If computer-controlled cars would cause, say, 1000 stupid deaths each year, vs. 30,000 deaths/yr caused by people in difficult situations to maneuver out of, I'll take the 1000 stupid deaths.

Technically, what's going on is type of sample bias. You look at the stupid computer-controlled accident, and say "I could've prevented that if I had been driving. Therefore the computer control is bad." But that comparison is biased - it only considers accidents caused by the computer which a person could've prevented. An unbiased comparison will also include accidents caused by people which a computer could've prevented.

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By FITCamaro on 3/5/2012 4:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing which should matter is number of deaths and injuries.

How about freedom? If I don't want to trust my life to a computer for driving to work or the store, I shouldn't have to. But autonomous cars will have to be an all or nothing kind of thing. No way is a computer going to be able to be programmed to drive amongst humans. If a computer detects that a vehicle is getting too close, it will swerve out of the way even if the person moves back. Potentially causing an accident with someone else. A human driver would like honk the horn and only move if absolutely necessary. There are too many variables to consider in that kind of situation. So you'll either have to have autonomous only lanes or an autonomous only road. And since we can't just build entirely new roads through cities, that means everyone's car will have to be autonomous.

If nothing else, you going to buy me a new car? While driving is a privilege, not a right, I shouldn't worry about the government forcing me to rely on a computer for my daily commute.

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By bah12 on 3/5/2012 5:29:34 PM , Rating: 1
How about freedom?
Well you answered that with driving is a privilege not a right. You have the freedom to save up and build your own private set of roads to where ever you wish, beyond that if you are on publicly funded roads your "freedom" exists only as granted by public law.
No way is a computer going to be able to be programmed to drive amongst humans.
That is just your lack of imagination. Nothing is impossible, rather just a product of time and money. So it could be possible to do, but most likely not cost effective.
There are too many variables to consider in that kind of situation.
Again that is just a lack of vision, it can be done albeit rather expensively.

So I agree it would be an all or nothing. I'd envision, much like you do, a special set of roads or lanes (at first). But in 25+ years when you and the other 1% of the population are still wanting to drive, I'd suggest you move to Pennsylvania dutch country to toil around in your antique carriage where it may still be legal. We'd take tourists there to see little yellow warning signs with black silhouette of GTO's crossings.

RE: The sheep can enjoy
By ClownPuncher on 3/5/2012 5:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
Wanting to drive is an outmoded concept? Some of us enjoy it, it can be fun. This has nothing to do with being a luddite.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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