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).

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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