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Thread: Imagine Computer-driven Vehicles

  1. #61
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    If every square mile of town were controlled by a dedicated computer that could keep track of every vehicle, every pedestrian and every hazard, said computer could shuffle all the traffic along at optimal speeds prior to turning it over to the next computer. Maybe that would work. But anything less than that, I'm not too comfortable with. The first fatality clearly attributed to a computer will probably scullte billions of dollars of research.

  2. #62
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    On the other hand, some of us have worked with very complex systems -- much more complex than automobiles -- and do not find the idea of computer-driven cars frightening. I will, quite cheerfully, get on board aircraft or ships where there is no direct connection between power levers (real vehicles don't have throttleable engines) and engines or directional controls (columns, wheels, pedals) and the control surfaces.
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  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    If every square mile of town were controlled by a dedicated computer that could keep track of every vehicle, every pedestrian and every hazard, said computer could shuffle all the traffic along at optimal speeds prior to turning it over to the next computer. Maybe that would work. But anything less than that, I'm not too comfortable with. The first fatality clearly attributed to a computer will probably scullte billions of dollars of research.
    Now that sounds dangerous. It's too much responsibility with what appears to be a single point of failure. Now, if that computer was like a traffic cop and directed cars that had computers that were able to ignore such direction when necessary (tree branch in the road, etc), then we're getting somewhere.

    As for the deer mentioned earlier, someone should remind Dan that humans don't see in the dark. This gets even more difficult when headlights are blinding. Computers, on the other hand can not only look several places at once, they can see in the dark using thermal and don't have to be blinded by headlights.
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  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    The advocates for driverless computerized cars have not had to repair too many things in life.
    You have absolutely no grounds for making that claim. Your emotionally based arguments clearly show you have nothing behind your position and now you resort to argumentum ad hominem.


    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    We aren't talking about inconvenience. We are talking death. Sell it to the insurance companies and the clamdiggers back home.
    Yes, we're talking death. Human drivers are constantly getting themselves and other people killed due to stupid mistakes and poor reactions, and self driving cars and driving assistance systems could greatly reduce the death rate.


    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Question: would you like to drive a car with a steering collum made of a flourescent bulb tube?
    Of course not, such a vehicle was clearly designed by an idiot. Fortunately, we aren't discussing such vehicles.


    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Probably not, for when it fails you will have no connection to the steering at all. What you are asking is to abandon a solid mechanical conection
    for drive-by-wire. I simply don't like it at all.
    We aren't, actually. Computer driving doesn't fundamentally require steer-by-wire, though the human driver would have to take some care around the steering wheel on the vehicles that don't use it. And yes, I would drive a car that was steer-by-wire. Most vehicles today already have power steering anyway, a mechanically complex system that can wreak havoc when it fails just from the vehicle no longer responding as it should. The risk of the steering failing totally with no warning is quite low in comparison to the risk from a mistake by myself or other human drivers.


    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Those who want it should try it on the alpine rally. Good luck.
    Yet another totally irrelevant attempt at distraction from your lack of support for your arguments...

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Now that sounds dangerous. It's too much responsibility with what appears to be a single point of failure. Now, if that computer was like a traffic cop and directed cars that had computers that were able to ignore such direction when necessary (tree branch in the road, etc), then we're getting somewhere.
    Indeed, and there's further complexities with handing things off from one city to the next, and who controls traffic in between? Plus the demands of constant long range communication between the vehicles and controlling system, and issues of interference and obstruction of signal. A distributed system centered in the vehicles themselves is far more reasonable. City-wide traffic control is still a possibility, but interacting with the cars via stoplights, publishing advisories of traffic levels on different routes, etc, with the cars handling the actual driving themselves.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    Besides, technology can solve a lot of things, but it also causes the issue that when something goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.
    It can, but it also quite often does the opposite. Look at what MEMS technology allowed auto makers to do with airbags, or the difference made by automatic braking systems.

    In this case, when something goes wrong there's also the possibility of sounding an alarm and falling back to human control or just stopping the vehicle if the system detects a fault with the computer or the computer has problems controlling the vehicle or making sense of its surroundings. The ultimate fallback if the driving computer completely and suddenly fails could be quite simple and self contained...all it needs is an accelerometer/gyro to keep the car going in a straight line as it stops (or perhaps keep the rate of turn constant). (It doesn't strictly require even that, but it might be preferable to have some active directional control as the car stops.)

  7. #67
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    Probably the absolute easiest place to get a computer-driven vehicle to work would be drag racing. Likely the only reason it hasn't been done is because it's probably against the rules. I'll bet a team of three or four EE and ME undergraduates could get a computer-controlled dragster working as a two semester project.
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  8. #68
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    The arguments seem to be between:
    1)Liability for deaths
    2)Computer decision making vs human decision making
    3)Safety

    There are also quite a few professions at stake: 1)drivers of various types 2)driving instructors 3)traffic police
    But why should we keep the status quo when we know there are better alternatives?

  9. #69
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    @ James, You mean well, but don't comprehend the problems and severe risks associated with this scheme.
    When you have put your life on the line for a living, you tend to evaluate these kind of schemes with an eye to
    practical safety. If you love computers that much, I wish you joy of your research. Good luck with the insurance companies. They are quite clear-eyed when it comes to safety. And..... don't believe everything you read in
    Popular Science.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    There are also quite a few professions at stake: 1)drivers of various types 2)driving instructors 3)traffic police
    But why should we keep the status quo when we know there are better alternatives?
    I don't think it's feasible to make cars so automatic that you'll never need to take them to manual, so people will still need to learn to drive. And even if all cars on the roads are capable of automatic driving, some people will use manual if it's an option, even if just (or perhaps especially) in an attempt to game the system. Plus there's still breakdowns and such. And drivers are in some cases needed to supervise the vehicle and its contents, especially if something goes wrong with it. Demand for some professions might shift, and some of them will change a bit in nature, but I don't see any of these going away.


    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    @ James, You mean well, but don't comprehend the problems and severe risks associated with this scheme.
    When you have put your life on the line for a living, you tend to evaluate these kind of schemes with an eye to
    practical safety. If you love computers that much, I wish you joy of your research. Good luck with the insurance companies. They are quite clear-eyed when it comes to safety. And..... don't believe everything you read in Popular Science.
    I do understand the problems and risks. All your arguments have been based on incorrect and nonsensical comparisons and nightmare scenarios that exist only in your own mind. You have utterly failed to demonstrate any fundamental safety issues, or even any understanding of the actual difficulties and hazards involved.

    (And I gave up on Popular Science years ago.)

  11. #71
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    Yeah, it would seem that all vehicles and all people would require sensors. But what about the dogs, the deer, the fallen tree or misplaced garbage can that ends up in the street?

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    Yeah, it would seem that all vehicles and all people would require sensors. But what about the dogs, the deer, the fallen tree or misplaced garbage can that ends up in the street?
    Sensored garbage?

    Quote Originally Posted by danscope
    When you have put your life on the line for a living, you tend to evaluate these kind of schemes with an eye to
    practical safety. If you love computers that much, I wish you joy of your research. Good luck with the insurance companies. They are quite clear-eyed when it comes to safety.
    We've addressed each and every one of your concerns with straightforward engineering solutions. Maybe the idea was silly decades ago, but now we know how to actually do these things and have systems in place (GPS, digital mapping, optical recognition, RFID, etc) that make it actually feasible now. But let me ask you this, are you the only one who ever drive or do you ever let someone else drive a car you ride in? I ask because it's possible their vision is worse than yours, their reaction time is slower than yours, their ability to navigate is worse than yours and their ability to control the car is worse than yours. Now, even if their faculties are not worse than yours, they are certainly worse than a machine's, by an order of magnitude.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Can people hear police car loudspeakers when at highway speeds? They might use some a radio or light signal to make your computer notice when it's your car specifically being asked to do something (as opposed to a general move over and let the police car or ambulance or fire truck pass). Unfortunately, some people might try to spoof the signal to cause cars to pull over for kicks or for criminal intent. So, a solution might be to have the police car use some sort of coded or encrypted protocol by which to identify itself that your car can use to query an online or stored database (regularly updated).
    I was picturing a coded radio system as opposed to a loudspeaker.
    Solfe

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  14. #74
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    Well, here it is… Google announced today they were entering a driverless car into the Daytona 500.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlsW3...ayer_embedded#!

    Imagine that; today!

  15. #75
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    Well, all the roundy-round racers have to do is stand on it and turn left.
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  16. #76
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    I would think the first step to all of this would be to place technology in cars that is not related to entertainment. My mother-in-laws car can change the radio station on voice command, dial the phone, and connect to phones and ipods automagically. Good technology, but wrongly purposed. Failure in these sorts of things add to driver distraction. "Why won't the phone dial???"

    Some cars already have HUD's, cameras and radar to eliminate blindspots. Ford Focuses have detectors to check the blindspots for people/objects on the rear and sides of the car. GPS systems are nice too, with the hands off controls. The prices on these device need to come down and stop being add on options. They are very to highly reliable as far as they go; after you have a significant portion of the public using them the idea of turning a car over to a computer becomes less of a hurdle.
    Solfe

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  17. #77
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    Also, imagine all the savings on gas if the computer drives a lower speeds per law. We might save the planet while we're saving lives.

    Wait a tick, if more people live, and more people who can't drive cars now start being driven by them in the future, then we'll just have more cars on the road causing more traffic and using more gas/electricity. And since people don't have to pay attention to the road, they may get frisky in the backseat thereby creating more people that will become if not future drivers then future auto-car riders. Oh, great! there goes the planet.

    I gest, but it might need to be clear that an auto-car must have a licensed driver in it just in case. Otherwise, we'll end up with youngsters and oldsters on the road where they don't belong. 'Cause you just know that some upper-middle-class parent is going to get one to ferry her kids to school while she stays home.
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  18. #78
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    Google needs to work harder on their april fool's jokes.

    I would be fine with computer driven cars. We already have traction control, cruise control which slows down the car when it closes the gap on the car in front.

    Think about the benefits. Women will be able to legally do their makeup in the car. Thats a multi billion dolar value to our economy.

  19. #79
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    Earlier I posted--I forgot where--a blurb where intersections have no more lanes stopping. The computer has two flows of traffic passing through each other at speed in the spaces between cars.

    Now that is fine in theory, the problem is that the car and its plumbing don't have the fine control of the computer itself. We saw that with some of Carmacks landers--the computer is faster than the plumbing. Now we have all seen that footage of kinetic Kill vehicles hovering over that net remaining very stable. That precision is rare.

    So if a car is not properly maintained and its engine stumbles while passing through an intersection--it throws everything off and causes a horrific wreck that the computer actually makes worse since it keeps things at speed.

    The computer has a faster reaction time than even the most sober of us--but it is of no matter since the momentum is still there and cannot be instantly stopped, unless the traffic is very slow, as what you see when cars creep up to the light.

    So the standard practice of stopping at the intersection may have to continue...

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    Earlier I posted--I forgot where--a blurb where intersections have no more lanes stopping. The computer has two flows of traffic passing through each other at speed in the spaces between cars.

    Now that is fine in theory, the problem is that the car and its plumbing don't have the fine control of the computer itself. We saw that with some of Carmacks landers--the computer is faster than the plumbing. Now we have all seen that footage of kinetic Kill vehicles hovering over that net remaining very stable. That precision is rare.

    So if a car is not properly maintained and its engine stumbles while passing through an intersection--it throws everything off and causes a horrific wreck that the computer actually makes worse since it keeps things at speed.

    The computer has a faster reaction time than even the most sober of us--but it is of no matter since the momentum is still there and cannot be instantly stopped, unless the traffic is very slow, as what you see when cars creep up to the light.

    So the standard practice of stopping at the intersection may have to continue...
    I agree. The computer-driven car shouldn't be allowed or expected to perform maneuvers that a human wouldn't be able to perform. "Right of Way" is too basic a concept to any traffic system to give up for an increase in speed at intersections. On multi-lane highways, on the other hand, the cars would be stationary with respect to each other because they'd be driving in formation.
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    I wonder about the impact of this technology on taxi's. Right now one of the biggest things in making taxi rides so expensive is the payment of the driver, what if this would be, by using driverless cars, eliminated? My best guess would be that this changes the economics of transportation such that for a significant part of the population it would become more economical to rely on taxi rides rather than own their own car. So even if the benefits in terms of safety would be marginal (which they probably wouldn't), the benefits on traffic congestion and other economic aspects might be worth the effort by itself.

  22. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    So if a car is not properly maintained and its engine stumbles while passing through an intersection--it throws everything off and causes a horrific wreck that the computer actually makes worse since it keeps things at speed.
    I have trouble seeing exactly how you see this happening. Cars certainly wouldn't be slipping through the intersection so closely that low friction paint jobs have an impact on your mileage. It'd be pretty straightforward to not enter an intersection if another car's stuck in the middle of it, and to ensure that the intersection will be clear when the car attempts to go through it. Above a certain traffic level, there wouldn't be enough room to do this...and so vehicles would stop and take turns rather than smash into each other trying to go through at the same time.

  23. #83
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    My car had a problem that had me scared of being rear ended. I would be going down the highway and it would kill the cruise control and feel like i hit a half inch of sand. Fly by wire was not taking throttle commands. Yet i would pull over, restart the car and be fine. Finally the throttle body gave out and we found thr problem.

    I learned a few things:
    You can get into serious trouble from the simplest failures. Gas pedal getting stuck, losing power from the engine, not having working brakes.
    The most sophisticated computer in the shop can only properly diagnose a car problem x% of the time.
    Sometimes the fix that a computer applies is wrong. My car would go into a limp simply because the engine wasnt giving enough power. If that happened to me on ice i would be writing a letter asking why a computer prevented me from avoiding an accident.

    A human must be able to drive the car without restrictions. Things like traction control and limp modes neeed to disabled sometimes. Making a car handle like an iphone is just not a good idea.

    However, if we all had the system it would be great for the highway.

  24. #84
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    I would have no problem at all turning over control of my car to a computer. The tech isn't there just yet but it is a matter of time - and not much at that. Computers WILL be able to handle almost every driving situation AND be able to handle those situations better than most humans.

    And that is the point I'd like to stress. The vast majority of drivers are mediocre at best. Accidents occur mostly from human error. Do you really trust humans to drive *better* than a fully developed computer system? I don't.

  25. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinAce View Post
    My car had a problem that had me scared of being rear ended. I would be going down the highway and it would kill the cruise control and feel like i hit a half inch of sand. Fly by wire was not taking throttle commands. Yet i would pull over, restart the car and be fine. Finally the throttle body gave out and we found thr problem.

    I learned a few things:
    You can get into serious trouble from the simplest failures. Gas pedal getting stuck, losing power from the engine, not having working brakes.
    The most sophisticated computer in the shop can only properly diagnose a car problem x% of the time.
    Sometimes the fix that a computer applies is wrong. My car would go into a limp simply because the engine wasnt giving enough power.
    I'd like to clarify something. A computer does not diagnose a problem with the car. The technician working on the vehicle does. If the technician fails to correctly diagnose the problem it is not the fault of any of the computers involved. No computer I'm aware of "applies a fix" to any car system other than updating programming. I also believe your understanding of what was happening to your car and what a limp-mode is is a bit off.

  26. #86
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    The computer killed throttle input. The butterfly on the throttle body was likely sticking. Power was available, but not used.

    Imagine you're towing a boat up a hill when the computer decides that the engine will overheat as kills gas to one cylinder. You'll be cursing.

    Computets can drive fine in plenty of situations, but not all.

    I still think the driver should always have access to the controls. Its going to be hard to implement the system when some dont use it.

    There are cars that can self parallel park, but arent you still liable when something goes wrong. Ill pay for my mistakes, but not a computer's.

  27. #87
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    I would rather save the multiple thousands on the engine and let the computer keep it safe and cool. The butterfly on all throttle-by-wire throttle bodies has a strong spring which defaults it to shut. (Incidentally this is why the Toyota runaway car syndrome was found to be erroneous) Power also is not the correct term - if the throttle cannot open, for any reason, then the car is idling. Throttle cables on carbs used to snap too. The throttle by wire system offers a much wider range of control by the ECM.

  28. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by LotusExcelle View Post
    I'd like to clarify something. A computer does not diagnose a problem with the car. The technician working on the vehicle does. If the technician fails to correctly diagnose the problem it is not the fault of any of the computers involved. No computer I'm aware of "applies a fix" to any car system other than updating programming. I also believe your understanding of what was happening to your car and what a limp-mode is is a bit off.
    I know that one of the earliest applications of AI was diagnosis (the APACHE system). Also, there are quite active projects to provide automated diagnoses of complex systems, a category into which automobiles are only recently beginning to enter.
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  29. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinAce View Post
    My car had a problem that had me scared of being rear ended. I would be going down the highway and it would kill the cruise control and feel like i hit a half inch of sand. Fly by wire was not taking throttle commands. Yet i would pull over, restart the car and be fine. Finally the throttle body gave out and we found thr problem.

    I learned a few things:
    You can get into serious trouble from the simplest failures. Gas pedal getting stuck, losing power from the engine, not having working brakes.
    The most sophisticated computer in the shop can only properly diagnose a car problem x% of the time.
    Sometimes the fix that a computer applies is wrong. My car would go into a limp simply because the engine wasnt giving enough power. If that happened to me on ice i would be writing a letter asking why a computer prevented me from avoiding an accident.

    A human must be able to drive the car without restrictions. Things like traction control and limp modes neeed to disabled sometimes. Making a car handle like an iphone is just not a good idea.

    However, if we all had the system it would be great for the highway.
    I would take the time to be slightly nasty and claim that this is not an example of computer error but rather an example of the dangerously erratic behavior of a human driver.
    Ignoring an error condition by overriding the computer control is exactly what makes the ability to override dangerous.
    Refusing to continue to drive the car after detecting a potentially hazardous error in the engine control system would be part of the elementary safety features of the computer driven car.

    And yes, you'd have the inconvenience of having a car that refused to drive until it was repaired because it couldn't guarantee complete throttle control, you'd also not have to be afraid of being rear ended because you "fixed" the problem by resetting the computer.
    And no, you don't know better than the computer if it's safe to continue.
    Last edited by HenrikOlsen; 2012-Apr-02 at 04:19 AM.
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  30. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    So if a car is not properly maintained and its engine stumbles while passing through an intersection--it throws everything off and causes a horrific wreck that the computer actually makes worse since it keeps things at speed.
    How is this different from an engine that stumbles just when the human driver pulls into traffic?

    Except that once the engine was detected as stumbling, the computer would have the option of signaling to the other cars that control was erratic, something the human driver can't, and has the option to get out of traffic as fast as possible and schedule a checkup, something a human driver probably wouldn't bother doing unless he got a real scare from a near accident.
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