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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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).

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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