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Another Future Clash: How Will The Law Deal With Autonomous Vehicles

from the it's-coming dept

So much of what we seem to talk about is really the clash of disruptive innovation and the opportunity it creates with the existing infrastructure (business, legal, physical) and how they seem to clash in ways that tends to limit and/or delay the innovation. Sometimes you can see these clashes coming from miles away -- and autonomous vehicles is one of those clashes. New Scientist has an article by Bryant Walker Smith, discussing the coming clash over autonomous vehicles by asking a simple question: how does a traffic cop give a ticket to a driverless car? Think about it for a bit, and it can be a pretty complex question. While Walker Smith delves into a few of these questions, there are many more -- and lots of people are trying to dig in now.

For example, the law school at Santa Clara University held an entire conference on the legal implications of autonomous vehicles, leading to the Santa Clara Law Review publishing a whole bunch of papers on the subject (including one by Walker Smith). One hopes that lots of people putting some thought into the legal implications today will help us avoid the political messes tomorrow, but given what we know from the history of disruptive innovation, that seems unlikely. Fully expect someone whose businesses are disrupted by autonomous vehicles to make a giant stink about how "unsafe" they are and how they need to be regulated to a degree that makes them effectively impossible to exist.


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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 7:11pm

    A car that drives itself?

    Didn't we see that on a Looney Tunes cartoon once?

    Despite that, I'd like that.

    Then I could travel long distances and fall asleep and not worry about killing myself.

    No, seriously, I have the hardest time staying awake when I drive for more than an hour. I'm not sure why either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 8:41pm

    Re: A car that drives itself?

    youre getting motion sickness. they have pills for that.

     

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    arcan, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 8:46pm

    how unsafe autonomous vehicles are? you should see how unsafe some people driving is....

     

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    Quaker in a Basement, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 8:51pm

    Waiting for Gecko

    Fully expect someone whose businesses are disrupted by autonomous vehicles to make a giant stink about how "unsafe" they are

    That would be the car insurance companies.

     

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    CK20XX, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 8:55pm

    Re: A car that drives itself?

    Not just classic cartoons. There's a small anime about the idea as well. It's called Ex Driver.

    And I dunno. I think driverless cars would be seen as fantastic until one's GPS tries to take someone across several cities to get to the corner grocery store, or until it decides that reaching a destination involves driving underwater. We shouldn't take for granted our ability to override machines when they go stupid.

     

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    Nigel (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:24pm

    "how does a traffic cop give a ticket to a driverless car"

    It is sad the first thing that occurred to me was getting completely pickled on single malt and making the car drive me home.

    Nigel

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:27pm

    Re: Waiting for Gecko

    Nah. The insurance companies can just charge greater premiums that way. Increased risk, increased liability, increased damages since cars will have more expensive parts...

    Yeah, that's a recipe for skyrocketing profits for insurance companies. They'll love it.

     

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    Roy (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:31pm

    An even better question is what about the revenue that the police departments will lose once the cars become common.
    Tickets are a big source of income and I don't see automated cars getting a lot of speeding tickets

     

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    James Burkhardt (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:40pm

    "how does a traffic cop give a ticket to a driverless car"

    I think this misses the several real questions for a straw man. In theory, A drvierless car would adhere to all the rules of the road. Its only the Non-Moving violations (non-functioning headlights, improper registration, ect.) that impact, and I would place fault on the "primary passenger", ie. the one who is sitting in a position to override the auto-drive, or the owner as the law dictates.

    Real questions come about how police track wether a car is, in fact, in autonomous mode (situations like driving the drunk home), how fault is assigned if the programming became corrupted, if an accident occured, ect., and other Deeper questions that a question of ticketing is not a concern.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:43pm

    Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    Question: Do you need insurance if you are not driving?

     

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    btrussell (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:43pm

    Re:

    Will they be equipped with speedautomaters?

     

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    btrussell (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    You will!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    In most cases, you're buying insurance on the car, not yourself. So the answer is yes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 10:19pm

    You know, in all my life, I have never seen nor heard of a bus driver getting a ticket whist driving a bus. So autonomous buses should be fine, right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

    Easy answer

    So how will the law deal with Autonomous Vehicles?

    Autonomous cops , of course!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 10:56pm

    "how does a traffic cop give a ticket to a driverless car?"

    You pull them over just like any other car. Driverless cars must obey the flashing blue lights - if they can't, that's a defect serious enough to prohibit them.

    The cop must then determine whether the infraction was caused by the people in the car. If so, issue the ticket to the person closest to the controls. If the infraction was somehow caused by the car itself, the car might need to be manually driven or towed for repairs. And send the ticket to the manufacturer. If you're selling an autonomous car to be used on the roads, it IS your job to make sure those cars obey the laws.

    "Fully expect someone whose businesses are disrupted by autonomous vehicles to make a giant stink about how "unsafe" they are and how they need to be regulated to a degree that makes them effectively impossible to exist."

    You don't need to go searching for someone with a vested interest. I don't trust them one bit. Sure, you can make them work in some cases, but it's the special cases that worry me. Are they going to deal with a construction zone properly? Are we going to have to spend billions using special paint for the road lines and special signs that the cars can sense? How on earth would they recognize and yield to a funeral procession? Or a man crossing the street with sunglasses and a striped cane? Will they work in fog? How about ice?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 11:00pm

    Re: Re: Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    The law in most states require that YOU carry liability insurance...comprehensive coverage (coverage for your car) is optional unless your finance company requires it.

     

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    Ole Juul (profile), Feb 5th, 2013 @ 11:05pm

    Re:

    Drinking probably wouldn't matter any more than getting a license would.

    Seriously, perhaps the driver can be held responsible in some situations, probably by fiat. However, I suspect there will be many lawsuits targeting the manufacturer. Why not? It worked with ladders.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 11:08pm

    Re:

    Not to mention what happens if there is no one in the car!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 11:11pm

    Re:

    Can't be much worse than the human drivers, according to recent news reports.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 11:16pm

    Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

    The one thing I am sure is that it will happen less than with their human counterparts.

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 12:16am

    Re:

    Tickets are a big source of income and I don't see automated cars getting a lot of speeding tickets

    They could file bug reports for money XD

     

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    Anonymous Cowherd, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 1:01am

    Re: Waiting for Gecko

    No, insurance companies would absolutely love autonomous vehicles.

    1. Insurance is often mandatory by law, so you still have to get it even if you won't be responsible in the event of accident.
    2. Companies could claim they were "unsafe" and charge extra, at least while the technology is new.
    3. They would actually be much safer, eliminating risk factors such as speeding and driving drunk.
    4. In the event of an accident, the insurance company could blame the manufacturer and get out of paying.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 1:17am

    Re: A car that drives itself?

    It's not just a cartoon thing. A few years ago Top Gear (UK) test drove a prototype autonomous BMW. They are being developed, it will probably just take a bit more time before we see them on the roads.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 1:54am

    Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

    No, I don't get sick, I literally cannot keep my eyes open if I'm driving for too long.

    I'm still not sure how I was able to get out of Minneapolis that one time. I got tunnel vision so badly that I had to shake my head several times just to stop everything from going black on me.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 2:08am

    Re:

    Your worries are somewhat unfounded. Given a precise GPS system supported by the local mobile communication towers and road signs (the current ones) the cars should be able to know precisely the speed limits, where they can park or not, if there are pedestrians etc with the added benefits of being 100% alert 100% of the time unlike its human counterparts that are easily distracted and prone to mistakes. There's even the added benefit of reducing traffic jams. I've noticed that many traffic issues are caused by slow drivers, drivers that are in doubt of where to go and so on. Driverless cars could run quite close to each other without ever crashing making the traffic flow much more smoothly.

    The question here is that there will always be humans and machines driving in the same roads and even machines can err if the external signs are not working well which in my view is what could cause a driverless car to receive a ticket. If an electric charged cloud forms over the place the car is running (GPS interference) or the usual road signs are poorly maintained or even a determined road changed driving direction without being broadcast to the system then the automatic car could run into problems.

    Still, this is the least important issue. You already showed your bias against the technology and that's precisely what will happen when it starts rolling out. People will be wailing unfounded arguments all around much like the wi-fi thing discussed in an article today. Pardon me if it was not what you meant but you got my point, right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 2:40am

    Third party liability of course.
    Just hold somebody else responsible for whatever happens.

    There is this cultural problem that is old by the way, that we feel the need to find something to blame.

    The church filled this by creating the devil, everything bad could be attributed to it and people could function and don't be destroyed by guilt and don't become a-holes that believed that since they were already bad they should just go all out, now the law tries to create bad guys, and where there is no one to blame or assign blame or punish you need to find something or someone to do it and there you enter third party liability.

    If you can't punish a dead suicide dude for throwing himself under a bus and causing damages and panic you punish relatives, if you can't punish the car you punish the owner, manufacturer, maintenance dude or whomever.

    I find that creating responsibilities where there should be none very unethical for a lot of reasons, but idiots will be idiots and laws will be laws.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 2:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    Ah now you are getting to the crux of the issue I was pointing out. Liability insurance is on the driver, which is the largest portion of the insurance. Yes most states have laws that a Driver must carry liability insurance. But if you no longer drive, why should you have it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 2:47am

    Repair Industry

    Assuming that these vehicles are good, then I can see laws being passed that enforce using them and limiting a persons legal right to assume control. If this happens the huge automobile repair industry will take a dive. There will still be damage from storms, vandalism, and etc, but by far that is a small portion of damage, compared to collisions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 3:00am

    Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    Re:

    With respect to drunk driving, under UK the actual charge is drunk in charge of a vehicle, and applies if sat in a stationary vehicle with the engine switched off. If the same applies under US law, whether or not the cat is autonomous mode does not matter, the person in charge is still drunk in charge .

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 3:20am

    This is arguably the stupidest article I've ever seen here.

    By definition, if you reach a point where cars are no longer driven by people, then you've reached the same point as any other process that is accomplished by a machine.

    So yes, Mike, it is indeed Google that will be facing liability if their cars fuck up.

    Please pass along this bit of mind-blowing wisdom to them since they're apparently too goddamed clueless to grasp the obvious.

     

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    A. Nnoyed (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    How Will The Law Deal With Autonomous Vehicles

    Problem solved here in Florida. Authorities will send the ticket to the owner. We have traffic signal cameras all over Central Florida. If a vehicle runs a red light the owner receives the citation even if they were not driving the vehicle. In one case an vehicle owner was ticked while the vehicle was in the possession of the dealer servicing the vehicle. The vehicle was driven by a mechanic taking it out for a test drive. Then came the BS when the dealer tried to weasel out of the fine. It turns out that the work order had a time stamp and the time stamp proved who had control of the vehicle. Dam the Constitution full speed ahead.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    Re: Re: Waiting for Gecko

    This is very true. Number 4 especially, you would be surprised how many times insurance companies 'recover their losses' already.

     

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    John Doe, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 4:11am

    Easy solution

    We will do what was done when cars first came about, we will require that someone walk ahead of the autonomous vehicle waving a red flag. Problem solved.

     

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    Torg (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 4:19am

    Re:

    No, we're not going to need to repaint signs. They're already designed to be pretty distinctive. Funeral processions and the blind are also safe; not running over people is something that car computers are really good at. Fog should be simple, since it doesn't block radar. As for the rest? The hard part was getting computers to drive at all. Having them drive differently in certain conditions will be relatively trivial.

    The great thing about computers is that you only need to teach them how to do something once. If driving on ice turns out to be a problem at first, Google will learn of that, their programmers will figure out how to translate an instruction booklet on driving in ice into code, and driving on ice will never be a problem for that company again. If the cars can't recognize construction zones at first, Google's still just an algorithm away from every car being able to identify the signs marking construction zones. Problems will only be problems until they're noticed, and given the lawsuits and publicity shitstorm to be had if every car a company makes doesn't, for example, know to avoid running over blind people, manufacturers are going to make really damn sure that their cars are exposed to and programmed for every driving condition they can think of before releasing their designs into the market. By the time this technology becomes cheap enough for normal people to afford, you're probably going to have people reacting to claims that you prefer driving manually in a manner similar to how people now would react to you saying you feel safer if you use the seatbelt as a blindfold.

     

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    martyburns (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

    I have the exact same problem. More than about 30 minutes in a car, driving or not, I start falling asleep. No amount of Red Bull will wake me up.

    The same happens in aeroplanes, but for that, I'm truly grateful.

     

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    Greg G (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re:

    In the US, you have to actually be driving the vehicle. I can be fall-down drunk, get in my car, start the engine, and just sit there with it in park. As long as I don't shift into reverse or drive, then I'm not driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence.

    Glad I'm not in the UK, though. I don't think that would stick there as they would say you're still in charge of the vehicle, much like a pilot is still in charge of his aircraft even if it's on auto-pilot.

     

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    Bengie, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

    Ditto.. I made the perfect child for road trips. Toss me in the back seat and out like a light-bulb.

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 5:33am

    Police Bug Reports

    I think the future of traffic violations lies more in the kind of black box analysis that happens after air traffic incidents. Not so much for assigning blame as fixing the system if need be. Essentially, an officer who witnesses rule violation would tag the hardware as requiring diagnostics. Either something is wrong with the unit and it needs to be repaired, or there's a bug in the manufacturer's firmware and the entire model line would need an update.

    I think there are some interesting conversations coming about the consumer's right to tinker with their automated vehicle code. I'm all for the right to open and reprogram phones and computers now, but I'm less okay with people editing their cars to exceed driving regulations and maybe create dangerous situations on public roadways. I could see it being illegal to use a home-brew driving program in public; and I might even be fine with that.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    If Microsoft Built Cars

    At a computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated "if GM had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

    In response to Bill's comments, General Motors made the following contribution to the debate:

    "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

    For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

    Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you'd have to buy a new car.

    Occasionally your car would just die on the motorway for no reason, You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the car windows, shut it off, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this, restart and drive on.

    Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to stop and fail to restart and you'd have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you'd accept this too.

    Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

    You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bout a "Car 95" or a "Car NT". But then you'd have to buy more seats.

    Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, twice as reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive - but it would only run on five percent of the roads.

    The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars which would make their cars go much slower.

    The oil, engine, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced with a single "General Car Fault" warning light.

    People would get excited about the "new" features in Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other cars for many years.

    We'd all have to switch to Microsoft petrol and lubricants but the packaging would be superb.

    New seats would force everyone to have the same size arse.

    The airbag system would say "Are you sure?" before going off.

    If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

    They wouldn't build their own engines, but form a cartel with their engine suppliers. The latest engine would have 1 cylinder, multi-point fuel injection and 4 turbos, but it would be a side-valve design so you could use Model-T Ford parts on it.

    There would be an "Engium Pro" with bigger turbos, but it would be slower on most existing roads.

    Microsoft cars would have a special radio/cassette player which would only be able to listen to Microsoft FM, and play Microsoft Cassettes.Unless of course, you buy the upgrade to use existing stuff.

    Microsoft would do so well, because even though they don't own any roads, all of the road manufacturers would give away Microsoft cars free,including IBM.

    If you still ran old versions of car (ie. CarDOS 6.22/CarWIN 3.11),then you would be called old fashioned, but you would be able to drive much faster, and on more roads!

    If you couldn't afford to buy a new car, then you could just borrow your friends, and then copy it.

    Whenever you bought a car, you would have to reorganize the ignition for a few days before it worked.

    You would need to buy an upgrade to run cars on a motorway next to each other.

    Every time Microsoft introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

    Microsoft would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Automobile Association Road maps (now a Microsoft subsidiary), even though they neither need nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50% or more.

    You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.
    http://homepage.tinet.ie/~nobyrne/ms-cars.htm

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    We were in Tripoli, Libra in the early '70s.

    One of our group along with sever other members got stopped speeding.

    Of course it was impossible that it was the fault of the driver. He simply was not speeding.

    The judge was in agreement. The driver was not the cause. It was the car that was the problem. So, he put the car in jail.

    Funny after two weeks of jail, which did not agree with the car, the car did not speed again.

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re:

    "Google's still just an algorithm away from every car being able to identify the..."

    whatever!

    And herein lies a problem. With our current IP morass, just how many unique algorithms will need to be built for each function, times every manufacturer that tries to build an Autocar (TM)?

    Or would we be better off without the IP morass and let those algorithms mix and match and blend till we get the one that works best?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Basically the question is who's liable.

    First off, it's something you own. But in the owner's defense, if it's a defect in the coding, doesn't that make the manufacturer liable?


    If you're no longer liable, would it really be right to charge you insurance or issue you a ticket instead of sending it to the manufacturer?


    Worst thing would be if the car committed a felony (vehicular manslaughter?). Who's the guilty party? If all these car manufacturers advertise you can sleep, catch up on work, or watch a movie while the car drives, how can you be responsible?

    But we know this country runs on money not morales, so you know the owner/driver will end up liable. That way insurance companies can keep running and it's cost effective for manufacturers.

     

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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Re:


    I find that creating responsibilities where there should be none very unethical for a lot of reasons, but idiots will be idiots and laws will be laws.


    Should be none? So nobody should be responsible for what an autonomous car does?

     

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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    So yes, Mike, it is indeed Google that will be facing liability if their cars fuck up.

    I don't think it's so simple. If my parking brake fails and my car rolls into someone else's car, is it automatically the manufacturer's liability? Or is it my liability because I'm responsible for ensuring my car is roadworthy?

     

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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Police Bug Reports

    I'm less okay with people editing their cars to exceed driving regulations and maybe create dangerous situations on public roadways. I could see it being illegal to use a home-brew driving program in public; and I might even be fine with that.

    That sounds like a solution in search of a problem. If these things become common and there's a rash of accidents due to tinkerers messing up their car programming sure, but... that sounds like it's in the pigs flying range of probability to me. Almost nobody makes any modifications to their cars now, how much more rare will it be when you have to be a computer programmer to do it?

     

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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    But in the owner's defense, if it's a defect in the coding, doesn't that make the manufacturer liable?

    They have computers already. If a computer error causes a crash in the car you have now, is the manufacturer liable? I don't know.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Waiting for Gecko

    If there are fewer accidents, there will be fewer insurance payouts, and lower premiums overall for everyone. It's likely most people won't even own their self-driving car, and won't have to have any insurance. It will be more of taxi or personal bus service.

    The manufacturer will be liable for accidents caused by equipment malfunction, just like they are now.

    We're talking about a world where accidents are as rare as airplane crashes, and less fatal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: A car that drives itself?

    For starters, the car will show you the route it's taking so you can see if it's going the wrong way and correct it.
    Also, driverless cars will be hooked into a network and will be able to communicate with each other. Each car can help draw the map for the next car that goes that way, so if there is a mistake or obstruction or construction these things can be quickly routed around.

    Emergency vehicles will be able to signal other cars to pull over and let it pass. It's possible that any vehicle can be put in emergency mode and route directly to the nearest hospital, with all other traffic moving out of the way.

    However, drunk driving will now mean waking up in a different city or the middle of nowhere.

     

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  51.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re:

    Auto accidents are the #1 cause of accidental death in the U.S. This needs to be mentioned every time driverless cars are brought up. Anything that can be done to lower that number will save thousands of lives.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:06am

    Re:

    Meter maids and traffic cops will be out of a job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Insurance on autonomous vehicles

    You will also still need a driver's license. It's likely you'll have to have a qualified driver in the car at all times in case manual override is needed - at least for the first decade or so unless it all works amazingly well.

    But yes, if you own the vehicle, you'll need insurance, but the rates will be very low because of the drastic decrease in accidents.

    Most people will not own vehicles but will use a vehicle service. You call when you need a car and one will be there within 5 minutes.

     

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  54.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Re: Repair Industry

    Most repairs are made to keep the engine in working order, not to repair damage from accidents. But yes, there will be a segment of mechanics that will find themselves out of work, along with many other things - traffic cops, hospital staffs, insurance, car salesmen, delivery drivers, etc.

    The question is figuring out what industries will grow - like tourism as more people travel greater distances (while they sleep)

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If, as is usual for autonomous systems with manual overrides, just using the controls takes over control, then I would not want to be near anyone drunk in an autonomous car when they are in a position where they can reach the wheel.

     

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  56.  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    They see this coming, that is why efforts are well under way to criminalize other behaviors.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    jjmsan, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Waiting for Gecko

    Yeah, that won't happen. They will charge administrative costs to keep their profit margins up. I use less electricity but the amount I pay is higher to "maintain the grid".

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    jjmsan, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re:

    Yearly or semi yearly safety checks, plus fines for not getting them. They could wind up making more money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    Auto accidents are the #1 cause of accidental death in the U.S. This needs to be mentioned every time driverless cars are brought up.

    And over 90% of accidents are caused by driver error.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re:

    Meter maids and traffic cops will be out of a job.

    I assume it would still be possible to park illegally.

     

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  61.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If, as is usual for autonomous systems with manual overrides, just using the controls takes over control, then I would not want to be near anyone drunk in an autonomous car when they are in a position where they can reach the wheel.

    I imagine it would still be illegal to be the person in charge of operating a vehicle* while drunk, at least while cars still resemble the cars we have today.

    * meaning sitting in the driver's seat and giving instructions to the car

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re:

    And what makes my arguments unfounded? Yes, I'm sure they've solved some of these issues already, but can they solve all of them?

    "Driverless cars could run quite close to each other without ever crashing making the traffic flow much more smoothly."

    Not so much, if they want to be safe. You don't know the braking ability of the car in front of you, and there's always the possibility of a deer running in front of him, forcing a panic stop. And just imagine the joy of trying to merge when cars in heavy traffic are going freeway speed without leaving any significant space between them.

    Around here, snow will sometimes cover the speed limit signs. And the yellow and white lines. Heck, some roads don't even HAVE yellow or white lines. Can the car accurately detect where the road is based on where the ditch is?

    My GPS already tells me the speed limit where I am driving... but even after getting the very latest updates, it isn't perfect, as far as the roads AND speed limit changes. There's a one-way road near me that my GPS, even after the latest update, still tells me to go down the wrong way. If the car was driving itself, it WOULD go down that road, and potentially cause an accident. Worse, EVERY SINGLE DRIVERLESS CAR that thought this was a shortcut would be doing this. I am not convinced that the car could accurately detect the relatively small "One Way" sign among all the billboards and business signs. There's another example I can think of where the GPS urges me to use a private driveway. There's a sign saying not to use it, but could the car recognize that sign for what it is? Wouldn't it be annoying to the owners if EVERY passing car used their driveway? And ever try using GPS in downtown Chicago next to the ultra-high buildings? It tends to be somewhat off. I could see a car getting caught in an infinite loop of reflected signals.

    And, while any idiot could read the handmade "No Parking: Police Order" signs made for the local parade, would the car be able to understand that if it wasn't a type of sign it was used to reading? Could it understand "No Parking During School Hours"? Could it understand that "Golden Retriever Parking Only" is a joke that it can ignore? For that matter, could it understand a policeman directing traffic, or a parking attendant at a stadium?

    "Still, this is the least important issue."

    Some of these are LIFE AND DEATH issue. Maybe these issues can be overcome, but please don't say they are not important.

    "You already showed your bias against the technology and that's precisely what will happen when it starts rolling out."

    I am biased against anything that might kill me, ok? I am deeply worried that every single driverless car, given a particular stretch of road that confuses them in particular conditions, will make the same mistake and run off the road like a bunch of lemmings. Or will all lose the position of the road lines in the snow, default to the GPS which says the road should be 12 feet to the left, and start driving in the wrong lane right before they crest a hill. I don't care if the car has fantastic reaction times; radar won't work over a hill unless it's got some magic I don't know about.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    kitsune361, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Don't try that in Texas, especially in the DFW area. From stories I've heard I'm pretty sure they'll still bust you for a DWI if the car is on and in park. Hell, I've heard of people being busted for not wearing their seat belt... in a car that was on, but in park.

    Either they'll claim that you *obviously* had intent to drive the car while intoxicated, or by merely turning the car on but not going anywhere you're still "operating a motor vehicle".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    Another thing to keep in mind: Automation can proceed in phases. It's not all or nothing.

    Initially, we could permit automated cars only in certain environments that are "easy" for automated vehicles -- like freeways -- and require drivers to take over when moving to other environments. Even that would be a huge boon. I'd gladly pay for the ability to zone out while on the 101, even if I had to take over for the last mile.

    Over time, as the technology improved, we could phase in driverless cars into other locales.

     

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  65.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, the manufacturer is currently liable if a computer error causes the car to crash.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's likely the car will drop you off where you want to go, and then park itself waiting for your call.

    Or drop you off and go drive others, and you'll call or schedule another car when you're ready to leave.

    so there wouldn't be such a thing as illegal parking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
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    Torg (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Yes, I'm sure they've solved some of these issues already, but can they solve all of them?"

    Yes. Unless you navigate by communing with the spirits of your ancestors, there's no reason a computer should be incapable of doing the same things you do.

    "Not so much, if they want to be safe."

    Agreed. The notion of bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic has always seemed to me like less serious prediction and more overenthusiastic futurism.

    "Can the car accurately detect where the road is based on where the ditch is?"

    I don't see why not. All that takes is knowing where the ditch is.

    "I am not convinced that the car could accurately detect the relatively small "One Way" sign among all the billboards and business signs."

    It's programmed to scan its environment for navigation signs. It likely won't do anything special with billboards. If they're at all smart about the program, business signs won't distract it from useful signs any more than foliage distracts you.

    "There's a sign saying not to use it, but could the car recognize that sign for what it is?"

    This could be an issue for the same reason the One Way sign isn't. If it's just a normal, unofficial sign without a physical obstruction, the only way I can see this being avoided is if the cars are made to identify and avoid driveways during transit, which would either definitely happen or probably not happen depending on how reliant the car will be on GPS. This is an uncommon enough problem that I can see it not being thought of during design or coming out during testing for GPS-dependent cars.

    "And, while any idiot could read the handmade "No Parking: Police Order" signs made for the local parade, would the car be able to understand that if it wasn't a type of sign it was used to reading?"

    No, but whoever's in the car wouldn't have any trouble. It'd be mildly inconvenient to tell the car to park elsewhere, but nothing more.

    "Could it understand "No Parking During School Hours"?"

    Yes.

    "Could it understand that "Golden Retriever Parking Only" is a joke that it can ignore?"

    It won't laugh, but I doubt that it'll be programmed to heed that sign.

    "For that matter, could it understand a policeman directing traffic, or a parking attendant at a stadium?"

    While this would take a bit more code than reading street signs, tracking arm movements isn't an arcane art unknown to machines.

    "I am deeply worried that every single driverless car, given a particular stretch of road that confuses them in particular conditions, will make the same mistake and run off the road like a bunch of lemmings. Or will all lose the position of the road lines in the snow, default to the GPS which says the road should be 12 feet to the left, and start driving in the wrong lane right before they crest a hill."

    That first one is what testing is for. Even if a glitch is missed during testing, it'll only happen once before it's fixed, which is more than can be said for human drivers. As for the second one: as long as you're able to visually navigate a snow-covered road there's nothing keeping a computer from doing the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Apps

    The law is fairly clear that the manufacturer is liable if a software defect causes a wreck, so the AC is right.

    Here's a more interesting question: Assume you can install apps on the car, like on a computer. Assume that you install two apps that conflict with each other in such a manner as to cause a car accident. Who's liable? App A? App B? The owner for installing two conflicting apps? The people who wrote an OS permitting such a conflict? The car manufacturer for installing the OS?

    Some additional wrinkles:
    * What if App A comes with a big honking warning that said "don't install with App B"?
    * What if the warning was neither big nor honking?
    * What if you had to jailbreak the car to install apps in the first place?
    * What if App B was a malicious piece of malware that a hacker had uploaded onto the car?
    * What if the reason someone was able to upload malware onto the car was because the owner stupidly set the password on the car to "password123"?
    * What if the cause of a malware was a zero-day exploit that could not have been foreseen?

    These issues happen all the time with personal computers, but it's usually not an issue because the law treats economic and emotional harm (e.g. the computer ate your homework) different from physical harm (e.g. the computer ate your arm). Ryan Calo has done a bunch of work in this space and advocates some degree of intermediary liability in this space -- much in the same manner that an ISP is generally not liable for what its users do. If you're interested, you should look up his papers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You don't know the braking ability of the car in front of you, and there's always the possibility of a deer running in front of him, forcing a panic stop.

    The cars (I hope) would be programmed with a worst case scenario in mind plus some cushion. Is it possible a supercar at maximum braking could get rear ended. Maybe, but let's not fall into the perfect solution fallacy. An automated car could follow closer because its reaction time would be near zero.

    And just imagine the joy of trying to merge when cars in heavy traffic are going freeway speed without leaving any significant space between them.

    Your car would signal the others that it needs to merge, and one of them would slow down. You wouldn't even have to do anything.

    Many of your other objections are quite accurate - now. These are problems that will have to be solved, and they will be. I don't think anyone is suggesting this technology is ready for prime time.

     

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  70.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, the manufacturer is currently liable if a computer error causes the car to crash.

    Is that written into law, or could it be argued either way in court?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's likely the car will drop you off where you want to go, and then park itself waiting for your call.

    so there wouldn't be such a thing as illegal parking.


    Why not?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    oddly enough, 100% of the drivers think it is the *other* driver who is in the 90%...

    seriously, the sooner the better for autonomous cars: my 45 min commute makes me want to put an RPG up the tailpipe of about half the drivers...

    protip to slowcoaches in the left (speeders) lane: when in rush hour traffic and there is a half mile clear space in front of you, a half mile of fuming drivers stuck behind you, and you are going 35-40 in a 45 mph zone where most people go 50-55, and glaring people are pulling around you in a dangerous fashion, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LANE, jackass...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  73.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If the car can drop you off and go park itself, why would it park illegally? People park illegally now so they are closer to where they want to go. If the car drops you off and then drives a mile or ten away to find the nearest parking spot, I only care because I have to tell it to come get me earlier than I would have. Heck, if the time at the destination is short, the car could just drive around the block and not park at all.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Fully expect someone whose businesses are disrupted by autonomous vehicles to make a giant stink about how "unsafe" they are and how they need to be regulated to a degree that makes them effectively impossible to exist.

    History repeats itself. Over 100 years ago, the dairy industry used those exact arguments to get that sort of regulation applied to margarine. Everything from arbitrary fees to laws requiring that margarine be dyed pink.

     

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  75.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If the car can drop you off and go park itself, why would it park illegally?

    Because it's not perfect.

     

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  76.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because even if the cars parked illegally, there would be so few doing it that it wouldn't justify having a police force to monitor it.

    Also, it's likely the police could "text" the car and simply ask it to park somewhere else, as could city workers if there was a need to make road repairs where the car is parked or for snow removal.

    This can change the world a lot.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Umm... Nope? I've been in 3 accidents. 1 wasn't my fault (guy driving 98 in a 55), the others were me. My partner? 2, admits to both of them. So, maybe 99.999% think it's the other guy?

     

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  78.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re:

    I think they meant assigning blame weir there should be none.

    For instance, it is your fault or the keyboards fault, or spellcheckers fault, that I misspelled where in above sentence.

     

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  79.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Apps

    Does Linux have this problem with appA and appB? I've only ever encountered that with MS.

     

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  80.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Feb 6th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    > In the US, you have to actually be driving
    > the vehicle. I can be fall-down drunk, get
    > in my car, start the engine, and just sit
    > there with it in park. As long as I don't
    > shift into reverse or drive, then I'm not
    > driving while intoxicated or driving under
    > the influence.

    Not in every state. Try that in Texas and if you get caught, you get a DUI. There have been cases of people getting DUIs who were curled up asleep in the back seat of their parked car. If they have the keys in their possession and they're inside the vehicle, they can be liable for DUI.

    I personally think that sort of thing is chicken-shit and counter-productive. If someone is trying to do the right thing by sleeping off their intoxication instead of driving around endangering others, the last thing you want to do is punish them for it.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:10pm

    Re: Re:

    No, just that third party liability is a tricky subject.

    Are you responsible for your son's drunk driving?
    Are you responsible for your wife's clepto tendencies?
    Are you responsible for your uncle that mowned down 30 kids in front of a school?

    Why should you not be responsible for it?
    The reason you give is why others also should not have to be responsible for things that are out of their control, like the actions of autonomous equipment or other persons.

    When somebody should be responsible for something?
    When their direct actions or inaction are the primary cause of something, if by inaction you don't go to a repair shop to fix the brakes you are responsible, if by action you code some new great stuff and put it in your car and the car goes nuts killing someone, you should be responsible because you coded it, chose the testing ground and you validated all without others knowing about it and that resulted in bad things, maybe because of stupidity, because you didn't know better, but by your own actions none the less.

    Now if someone produce a car, that was validated by a lot of people, have not many problems and nobody could find problems with it and by problems I mean ones that can be replicated and tested, why should anybody be responsible for crap that happens?

    You want to create blame to appease your consciousness?

    That is not good enough, why would anybody want to force others to care about things that they can't control or do anything about it?

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Michael, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    This varies state-by-state.

    In Connecticut, if the key is in the ignition (not even on) you can be arrested.

     

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  83.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Now if someone produce a car, that was validated by a lot of people, have not many problems and nobody could find problems with it and by problems I mean ones that can be replicated and tested, why should anybody be responsible for crap that happens?

    So as long as it's rare enough, the manufacturer should not be liable? I'm not sure that's a good theory of liability.

     

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  84.  
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    Isaac Kotlicky (profile), Feb 8th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Hmmn...

    I don't think that autonomous vehicles are "disruptive" in the way you think they are - who would they put out of business? Essentially, drivers or human beings. And the reduction in drivers won't lead to an overall reduction in humans. We like procreation too much for that to happen...

    The only businesses contingent upon human drivers are Trucking/Delivery and Taxi services. Now, it is entirely possible that a stink would be raised by cabbies and truckers, but there's an important caveat:

    1) Operating an 18 wheeler is vastly different than operating a car.
    2) Those vehicles would STILL require a human present anyhow in case of failure. For the cabs, you would need a person to prevent car-jacking and fare skipping.

    In the end, I'm reminded of that Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a trucker. He discovers there's an autopilot for the truck, so at one point he relaxes on the hood of the vehicle travelling at 60 miles an hour.

    All this does is free up human capital, so it's much more like the fast food conveyor belt than, say, the music making computer...

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Skylos, May 13th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    re: fear mongering

    construction zone? YES - and more safely than drivers do.

    special paint/signs? NO - existing tech is sufficient, though positioning tolerances may be tightened.

    A procession, HOW? Three paths occur to me off the cuff.

    The first is, there is no need to have a special case operation here. autonomous cars will drive amongst and through the procession without impeding either.

    Another option is that the procession has a permit, a permitted event has its data in the road information system, whose operation is basic infrastructure required for autonomous operation of vehicles. The road system will tell the car of the procession allowing it to reroute around the temporary closure.

    The last is that procession cars link up wirelessly to each other in a procession, which also informs the other cars around them that they are together and should not be interrupted.

    Human obstruction recognition? - EASILY - this tech actually ALREADY exists in a form in cars on the market today - further refinement and augmentation will make it all the more reliable.

    Work in Fog? - YES - better than humans with their narrower spectrum vision and lack of wireless digital communications with other operating vehicles and lack of global positioning indicators.

    Work in Ice? - YES - better than humans, with selective braking and continual awareness of the road surface from road information systems updated by the passage of previous vehicles with their sensors.

    With autonomously driven vehicles, thousands of people won't die in automobile accidents every year.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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