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Thread: The backlash against self-driving cars begins

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    The backlash against self-driving cars begins

    Seen recently, just when you thought forcing us into driverless cars was inevitable.

    Excerpted under fair use for discussion. ... /82829454/

    Experts to feds: Slow down on self-driving cars

    Joan Lowy, Associated Press

    [9 April 2016]

    WASHINGTON — Engineers, safety advocates and even automakers have a safety message for federal regulators eager to get self-driving cars on the road: slow down.

    Fully self-driving cars may be the future of the automotive industry, but they aren't yet up to the demands of real-world driving, several people told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during a public meeting Friday. ...

    [Mark] Rosekind [of US NHTSA] emphasized that he sees self-driving cars as game-changing technology that could someday save the lives of many of the more than 30,000 people killed each year on the nation's roads. ...

    But many of those who addressed the meeting, the first of two the agency has scheduled as it works on the guidelines, described a host of situations that self-driving cars still can't handle:
    —Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.
    —Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.
    —Self-driving cars can't take directions from a policeman.
    —Inconsistent traffic-control devices such as horizontal versus lateral traffic lights.

    Until the technology has advanced beyond the point where ordinary conditions are problematic, "it is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them," said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

    There have been thousands of "disengagements" reported in road tests of self-driving cars in which the vehicles automatically turned control over to a human being, said John Simpson, privacy project director of Consumer Watchdog.

    "Self-driving cars simply aren't ready to safely manage too many routine traffic situations without human intervention," he said.

    Rosekind said automakers are learning from the unanticipated situations the vehicles encounter and adapting their software. At the same time, he acknowledged that self-driving cars, like other systems that rely on wireless technology, can be vulnerable to hacking.

    James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by "bad actors."

    "The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials," he said. ... ... tion-cliff

    Will robot cars drive traffic congestion off a cliff?

    [16 May 2016]

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Self-driving cars are expected to usher in a new era of mobility, safety and convenience. The problem, say transportation researchers, is that people will use them too much.

    Experts foresee robot cars chauffeuring children to school, dance class and baseball practice. The disabled and elderly will have new mobility. Commuters will be able to work, sleep, eat or watch movies on the way to the office. People may stay home more because they can send their cars to do things like pick up groceries they've ordered online.

    Researchers believe the number of miles driven will skyrocket. It's less certain whether that will mean a corresponding surge in traffic congestion, but it's a clear possibility. ...

    Based on focus groups in Atlanta, Denver and Chicago, KPMG predicts autonomous "mobility-on-demand" services — think Uber and Lyft without a driver — will result in double-digit increases in travel by people in two age groups: those over 65, and those 16 to 24.

    Vehicles traveled a record 3.1 trillion miles in the U.S. last year. Increased trips in autonomous cars by those two age groups would boost miles traveled by an additional 2 trillion miles annually by 2050, KPMG calculated. If self-driving cars without passengers start running errands, the increase could be double that.

    And if people in their middle years, when driving is at its peak, also increase their travel, that yearly total could reach 8 trillion miles. "This could be massive," Silberg said. ...

    In the best case, congestion is reduced because driverless cars and trucks are safer and can travel faster with reduced space between them. Highway lanes can be narrower because vehicles won't need as much margin for error. There will be fewer accidents to tie up traffic. But those advantages will be limited as long as driverless cars share roads with conventional cars, likely for decades.

    But that scenario depends on a societal shift from private vehicle ownership to commercial fleets of driverless cars that can be quickly summoned with a phone app. Driverless fleets would have to become super-efficient carpools, picking up and dropping off multiple passengers traveling in the same direction.

    The congestion nightmare would result if a large share of people can't be persuaded to effectively share robot cars with strangers and to continue using mass transit, Isaac said.

    A study last year by the International Transport Forum, a transportation policy think tank, simulated the impact on traffic in Lisbon, Portugal, if conventional cars were replaced with driverless cars that take either a single passenger at a time or several passengers together.

    It found that as long as half of travel is still carried out by conventional cars, total vehicle miles traveled will increase from 30 to 90 percent, suggesting that even widespread sharing of driverless cars would mean greater congestion for a long time. ...

    To make the shared-vehicle model work, government would have to impose congestion pricing on highways, restrict parking in urban centers, add more high-occupancy vehicle lanes and take other measures to discourage people from traveling alone in their self-driving cars.

    Land-use policies may need to be adjusted to prevent sprawl, or people will move beyond the fringes of metropolitan areas for low-cost housing because they can work while commuting at high speeds. Taxes based on the number of miles a personal vehicle travels are another way to discourage car travel.

    All these policy changes would be controversial and difficult to achieve.

    While there are "loads of likely positive impacts for society associated with driverless technology," people are right to worry about potential for huge increases in congestion, Isaac said.

    "Without any government influence," she said, "human nature is to get into that single occupancy vehicle."

    [Unless you are forced to accept riders. Actually, "congestion" will be the back-door argument for forcing mass transit in place of driverless cars.] ... lled-over/

    Cop pulls over Google self-driving car, finds no driver to ticket

    By Don Melvin, CNN

    [13 November 2015]

    No driver? No ticket.

    That, at least, was the result when a police officer pulled over one of Google's self-driving cars Thursday in Mountain View, California.

    The car wasn't speeding. On the contrary, it was driving too slowly -- 24 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone, according to the Mountain View Police Department -- with traffic apparently backing up behind it. [An autonomous clover!]

    “As the officer approached the slow moving car he realized it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle," a police department post said.

    Which is to say that no one was driving the darn thing.

    There was, however, a passenger. So the officer asked the passenger how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways.

    He also took the opportunity to inform the passenger about 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code, which related to impeding traffic -- a section of the law the self-driving car may have been unfamiliar with. ...
    Last edited by ekrampitzjr; 05-19-2016 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Problems with source code

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