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  (Source: media.caranddriver.com)
NHTSA wants better safeguards before autonomous vehicles be used for general purposes on the roads

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said autonomous vehicles should only be used for testing purposes by U.S. states until more safety features are added to these cars.

In a new set of recommendations, the NHTSA said self-driving cars need plenty of safety-related improvements before being considered for widespread consumer use. For instance, the agency said these vehicles should have a feature that recognizes when their technology is failing, and let the driver know so that they can take over quickly. 

NHTSA also said that autonomous vehicles should be able to record these failures so that they can be understood later.

“We believe there are a number of technological issues as well as human performance issues that must be addressed before self-driving vehicles can be made widely available,” NHTSA said in its automated driving policy statement. “Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at the stage of sophistication or demonstrated safety capability that it should be authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes.”

Some of the safety features the NHTSA is considering for autonomous vehicles is automatic braking, where the car would jump in and brake before a crash occurred. 

Self-driving cars are currently being tested in California, Florida and Nevada, and the NHTSA said these cars should remain in a testing phase only until safety features improve. Once this happens, the NHTSA will reconsider their recommendations. 

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said that autonomous vehicles are a long way away from hitting the roads beyond testing. 

“We’re encouraged by the new automated vehicle technologies being developed and implemented today, but want to ensure that motor vehicle safety is considered in the development of these advances,” Strickland said. “As additional states consider similar legislation, our recommendations provide lawmakers with the tools they need to encourage the safe development and implementation of automated vehicle technology.”

Many believe the NHTSA is putting autonomous vehicles off because they would eliminate revenue from traffic violations (since the cars would prevent crashes, stop at red lights, drive the speed limit, etc.) and would hurt municipalities. 

Last October, NHTSA announced that it would work on a 2-3 year project for autonomous vehicle rules. It said the research would include topics such as safety standards (such as crashtest results) and software security (to ensure that hackers don't take over). 

Source: The Detroit News



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The future
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 8:45:21 AM , Rating: 2
Traffic problems would be a thing of the past with autonomous vehicles since merging or traffic lights will no longer create traffic jams.

It's cool to look at in movies or just by imagination. It's also disturbingly scary at the same time to trust your life on a machine and a program that runs it.




RE: The future
By FishTankX on 5/31/2013 9:18:24 AM , Rating: 3
Its definatley scary but people with pacemakers and such already trust their devices not to shock them to.death and many pilots trust aircraft being launched by carriers during takeoff when it's all fly by wire. Most people implicitly trust autopilot on the aircraft they fly on not to stall the aircraft or plunge them into the ocean.

With self driving vehicles as long as you can take manual control and keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes sharp I see very little reason to fear as long as the testing is done right. You are probablh at higher danger of being hit by a drunk driver.

IIt'll be interesting to see how they deal with hydroplaning and black ice in traffic though.


RE: The future
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 10:00:40 AM , Rating: 2
I know by pure statistics and logic that machines will always make considerable much less errors than humans. Everyone would be much safer overall.

But the scenario of a self driving vehicle most likely mean the human inside is paying minimal attention. If you're driving and you made an error causing an accident enduring injuries then you accept that. If a machine malfunctions or whatever and gets someone killed, how would people feel about that.

Autopilot on planes has been around forever. It is much better at flying than pilots. It can also take off and land better too. But despite that, we still trust pilots more and therefore have both.

I just feel like having driving and everything else automated is like losing my rights. I also feel like we lose a part of being human. Many people including me likes driving and enjoy it. With autonomous vehicles, there will be a manual mode for drivers to assume control. But I know they will stop making vehicles for the drivers and therefore less engaging. Most vehicles will end up being more towards a camry in driving dynamics.

It's like old cars of the past vs now. Sure the cars now are better but nothing beats the raw connection between man and machine of the older cars. Technology improved our society vastly and is here to stay. I just hope that they will still retain some of that essence of life of having less tech.


RE: The future
By euclidean on 5/31/2013 10:24:50 AM , Rating: 2
What about people who take buses and trains for their transportation and don't own a car? Other than being 'in public', I would say the experience could be very similar.

I think those who do want to keep that connection, will always be able to. When I think of a world of autonomous cars, I tend to think of it more like the movie iRobot (I'm not saying the movie was great or bad, just using it as an example) - the cars drove themselves, you could do a manual override, and if all else fails you still have your Bike, Muscle car, or whatever in a garage you can drive when you need to 'feel' that connection.

Hehe...ridiculous to even think that something like that could be possible in my lifetime...


RE: The future
By Mint on 5/31/2013 11:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
It's basically like being chauffeured everywhere. I don't think that's so bad :)


RE: The future
By Spuke on 5/31/2013 12:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
What about all the illegal immigrants (or other poor people for that matter)? I bring this up because there is a significant amount of them driving. And the vast majority of them don't drive new or even newer cars (can't afford to) and probably never will. Are we going to have autonomous cars on the roads with non-autonomous? IMO, that's a WHOLE other bag of problems to fix if we go that route. I see the tech being firmed up LONG before implementation.


RE: The future
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 12:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there would be a mix for a while. I can't see the government telling everyone they have to buy a new autonomous vehicle. They can only do that if they pay for it. I have a feeling these vehicles will only happen when EV becomes mainstream.


RE: The future
By Spuke on 5/31/2013 1:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yes, there would be a mix for a while. I can't see the government telling everyone they have to buy a new autonomous vehicle.
The gov can't (and won't) mandate these cars. I don't see this as very safe at all and it won't fix our traffic problems either. At least not until the majority are in self-driven cars.


RE: The future
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 1:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it won't eliminate traffic problems until most cars are autonomous. I can see that happening in the future.

The government won't mandate these cars but they can definitely mandate every car built will have an autonomous mode. It won't be any time soon but it's clear that it's heading that way. The fact that they allow them to be tested on some public roads means they are serious about this technology.


RE: The future
By Spuke on 5/31/2013 2:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I agree, it is definitely happening and I will own one. I just think the big hurdles don't involve the tech.


RE: The future
By Mint on 6/1/2013 7:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
It should be able to help incrementally. Autonomous cars can form trains that move in sync safely at speed with a smaller gap, reducing bubbles and increasing the number of cars per second in a lane.

I also expect there to be HOV access and eventually dedicated lanes to autonomous cars to help this along, where they can take this principle to the extreme.


RE: The future
By drycrust3 on 6/1/2013 5:25:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Traffic problems would be a thing of the past with autonomous vehicles since merging or traffic lights will no longer create traffic jams.

Rubbish! Traffic problems happen when too much demand is placed on the resources available. It doesn't matter whether people drive cars or computers drive cars, when the demand for resources exceeds the capacity to supply, then traffic is slowed down. If every car in your city was driven by a computer then you'd still have traffic problems, although some would be slightly different, for example some of the problems may change location, but you'd still have problems.


RE: The future
By Mint on 6/1/2013 8:06:44 AM , Rating: 2
It does matter because automation often does more with the same resource.

What's the limit for throughput right now? You really need at least 1 second between cars to be reasonably safe (AAA recommends 3), because you have limited reaction time and don't know what the guy a head of you is about to do, and he inturn shares the same uncertainty, etc. Automation vastly improves on this: reaction time and communication become virtually instant. We could get 3+ cars per second per lane.

Maximum throughput can be more than tripled, and in areas with bad traffic, average throughput can be an order of magnitude higher.


RE: The future
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2013 9:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
Just more of the same Collectivist posters spreading their utopian pie-in-the-sky bullcrap on here.

They probably thought we would all be in flying cars by now as well lol.

The idea that self-driving cars are even preferable and some kind of fix-all for all our problems is laughable. The claims that computers make better decisions than humans at driving? Totally unproven.

By you've correctly identified the real problem. Traffic congestion is caused by more vehicles than the given highways and bypasses can accommodate. Self driving cars won't change physics.


RE: The future
By blue_urban_sky on 6/3/2013 7:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
True, Although I would like to see freight automated, HGV running continuously with no stops 24/7 would help some as in England I continuously see lorries trying to overtake others at about 60mph forcing all the faster traffic to bunch behind them.

Hopefully without the driver wanting to go that 1 mph faster the computers can convoy them hopefully offsetting wasted time with fuel efficiency.

Flying cars would rock btw and every effort should be made to make them a reality.


RE: The future
By BRB29 on 6/3/2013 10:43:09 AM , Rating: 2
How efficient would flying cars be? You would need energy to propel and lift.


RE: The future
By blue_urban_sky on 6/4/2013 10:28:37 AM , Rating: 2
They would be awesomely efficient, due to the super mega ultra drive that runs solely on solent green.


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