Self-driving vehicles

Hands-Free Driving By 2017, Says GM

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Self Driving 1950s
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In a big step toward driverless automobiles, General Motors has announced that it will introduce a new Cadillac model in 2017 that features hands-free driving. The so-called Super Cruise Control will enable drivers to let go of the wheel and take their feet off the pedals as the cars travel down freeways and negotiate through stop-and-go traffic jams. Still, drivers will have to remain alert and be ready to take over when traffic gets too complex for the car's computer and sensors to handle.

As Bloomberg reports:

Automakers around the globe are racing to develop self-driving cars to solve the growing problem of global gridlock and help reduce traffic fatalities. There are now more than 1.1 billion vehicles on the road worldwide, Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer, told reporters in Detroit yesterday. A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated the economic and societal impact of car crashes in the U.S. is more than $870 billion a year, GM said in a statement.

GM's Super Cruise technology is not a self-driving car and the feature will require drivers to remain alert and ready to take the wheel if traffic conditions become too complex, Lauckner told reporters at a briefing before Barra's speech.

"We're rolling out active safety technology today. We're not going to wait until we have a driverless vehicle that can work in 100 percent of situations," Lauckner said. "There's a lot that can be done before we get to the perfect driverless technology."

As I reported in my article, "The Moral Case for Self-Driving Cars," the advent of this technology will dramatically reshape how people think of personal transportation. in one simulation, passengers waited an average of 18 seconds for self-driving cars summoned via a mobile app to pick them up. In addition, such cars can replace 11 conventional cars, free vast amounts of urban land from parking spaces, cut traffic congestion, and reduce individual automobile travel costs by 75 percent.

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  1. I’m not taking my hands off the wheel until the car can drive better than me. I’m highly dubious that that will be as soon as 2017.

    1. The 2017 Cadillac model will feature “Super Cruise” technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic,

      Their cruising speed points to you being correct.

      1. 70? On the highway? What is this, Model T times?

        1. I can imagine screaming at the console for not being aggressive enough when sitting in stop and go traffic.

          STUPID ROBOT! GET INTO THE LEFT LANE! IT’S WIDE FUCKING OPEN!

          NO! THE OFFRAMP IS PAINTED ALL WRONG! STOP FOLLOWING THESE IDIOTS! GO AROUND!

          1. There should be settings:

            * Totally Safe
            * Less Safe, but Mostly Safe
            * Not Very Safe
            * Aggressive
            * Homicidal
            * Angry senior citizen

            1. In an American car? Please. Even Fiat provides automatics. We can’t have freedom, that would enable us to make the wrong choice!

              1. I bet when this all hits big, they’ll make it attempted murder to even try to drive manually.

  2. http://www.newyorker.com/scien…..automation

    The period studied coincided with an era of increased cockpit automation, which was designed to save lives by eliminating the dangers related to human error. The supporting logic was the same in aviation as it was in other fields: humans are highly fallible; systems, much less so. Automation would prevent mistakes caused by inattention, fatigue, and other human shortcomings, and free people to think about big-picture issues and, therefore, make better strategic decisions. Yet, as automation has increased, human error has not gone away: it remains the leading cause of aviation accidents.
    . . .
    As it stood, increased automation hadn’t reduced human errors on the whole; it had simply changed their form.
    . . .
    “Don’t just automate something because you can,” Casner said. “Automate it because you should.”

    1. human error has not gone away: it remains the leading cause of aviation accidents.

      I prefer it that way, thanks.

      If automation systems errors were the leading cause of aviation accidents, it would mean the systems are shite.

    2. Yet, as automation has increased, human error has not gone away: it remains the leading cause of aviation accidents.

      So? Assuming the automated systems are good, human error will remain the leading cause of accidents so long as there are accidents. The more relevant question is, what happened to the rate of accidents?

  3. free vast amounts of urban land from parking spaces, cut traffic congestion, and reduce individual automobile travel costs by 75 percent

    I remain skeptical that cities will allow these things on the road, but the benefits sure as hell are compelling.

    1. Truly automated and networked vehicles, especially if the AI is advanced enough to operate in the real world, would have an amazingly beneficial effect. We could probably get places faster, and the death toll would be very little compared to what we have today. And drunk driving would be cool again!

      1. Not *networked*, never networked.

        Networking opens your vehicle up to all sorts of shit, at one end you have government control and monitoring, at the other you have malicious hacking – up to remote controlled murder.

        V2V and V2I are fucking atrocious ideas (though when they were conceived they were perfectly reasonable given the state of the art at the time).

        Google has the right idea with their vehicle – completely autonomous and reliant on organic sensor capability, like cars are *right now* (ie driver controlled).

        1. Certainly, this is how I want it to work, but who regulates our roadways and mandates car features? It’s not me, before you ask.

          1. Thankfully it looks like Google is pre-empting the legislatures, their tech demos are providing solid evidence that V2V and V2I are already obsolete and that there’s no need to mandate (and lock developers in to) a technology standard.

            The feds (and the Obama administration) are still pushing V2V an V2I, but even they’re showing lackluster support.

            1. We always appear to be winning until the government decides it gives a shit and ruins the fun.

      2. and the death toll would be very little

        How is that beneficial?

        80% of the people who die in car accidents do society a favor by leaving this mortal coil. For example, police.

    2. but the benefits sure as hell are compelling.

      The *promised* benefits.

      The first Cadillac that slows down because it gets cut off by a Corolla or can’t find the nearest abortion clinic will tell us what the real “benefits” are (aside from all the government-assisted “benefits” that are being baked-in as we speak).

      The car says, “Sorry, you will not be going to Furgeson today.”

      1. The obvious problem that’s coming is that these cars will be networked and will, naturally, be broadcasting everything to the government. And, doubtlessly, the government will also be able to override your control of the AI and drive the car wherever they want it to go.

        1. “I’m sorry, ProL, I can’t do that….”

          /HAL the Cadillac

          1. Fuck it, I’ll just drive a rogue 70s conversion van, with shag carpets on the walls. . .and no fucking AI.

            1. You’ll still have to file a driving plan.

              1. Fuck that.

                On second thought, maybe I’ll buy a cop car at an auction. “It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas.” Do cops have 70s-style conversion vans with shag rugs on the walls, mini-kitchens, and those egg chairs?

                1. No, but I hear a 2012 MRAP does.

        2. And, doubtlessly, the government will also be able to override your control of the AI and drive the car wherever they want it to go.

          Override on several levels. AI dictation will be there, but only in the case of emergency (like Furgeson).

          Otherwise, the conventional ‘phone and pen’ override will still be there and Obama-types can push their pro-Prius/anti-SUV agenda that way. Vehicles above a certain weight or powered by internal combustion will represent a greater hazard and be compelled to yield right-of-way and travel at lower speeds. Except officers of the law, of course.

  4. Here I am, hoping that GM will no longer be around by 2017.

    1. What, are you expecting some sort of libertarian revolution in the meantime, where the taxpayer destroys the means of coercion?

      1. THIS IS A LIBERTARIAN MOMENT, PROL!!! PLEASE RESPECT IT!!

        1. Oh, yeah, I feel freer than ever. Gay people can abort babies.

              1. *does happy dance as artisanal, Mexican, deep-dish, uncircumcised, non-gendered, undocumented “aliens” stream by*

    2. The motor car company that can’t get electric cars right, and that bumble something as simple as an ignition switch. I see nothing but disaster for GM, the likes that will truly put them out of business for good.

  5. Whatever will cities and towns do to replace the revenue that will be forcibly taken away from them when automated vehicles fail to break traffic laws? Think of the bureaucrats!

    1. Oh, they’ll be fine. They’ll just regulate and fine you for what you eat.

    2. It would be more efficient for little towns if they would just set up a toll-booth and collect a toll from every out of state car. The whole “laying in wait” thing right at the speed limit change is annoying.

  6. There are now more than 1.1 billion vehicles on the road worldwide

    Well, more like 700 Million “on the road” when you take into account all the cars and trucks up on blocks in the southern US, amirite??

    1. When you own more cars than tires, you might be a redneck.

  7. Skynet starts as an Uber driver, you know.

  8. The 2017 Cadillac model will feature “Super Cruise” technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic,

    Uh, Knight Industries had developed this by the mid 80s. Cadillac is way behind the curve.

    1. The government seized and classified the technology, which is why GM only got it after nationalization. Obviously a naked play by the Obama administration to make its investment appear less stupid.

      1. Devon was a covert government agent?!?

    2. If only they had known how to parse addresses back then…

  9. TALKING TO Pro Lib so much reminds me – WHERE THE FUCK IS GROOVUS? Hope if you’re reading this you’re OK, bruddah G.

    1. He took the spice essence and is in a coma until he becomes the Kwisatz Haderach of Ukraine.

  10. GM’s Super Cruise technology is not a self-driving car and the feature will require drivers to remain alert and ready to take the wheel if traffic conditions become too complex,

    This is, lie, the worst of both worlds. We’re going to have cars that are not fully autonomous with jackasses behind the wheel not actually paying any attention at all.

    How quickly do you think the guy in the driver seat, shaving on his way into work (or more likely, whacking it to internet porn), is going to be able to regain control and get enough of a handle on the emergency situation to be able to take effective action?

  11. Still, drivers will have to remain alert

    If you have to tell driver to remain alert after giving them all sorts of gadgets designed to help them be LESS alert, they will be less alert and telling them to remain alert is fucking stupid.

    And nothing says “fucking stupid” quite like General Motors.

    1. Commercial pilots are not alert?

      1. During take-off and landing (the most critical part and where stuff is most likely to go wrong) sure.

        During cruise? Probably playing Angry Birds on their phone with half an ear listening for an alarm.

        1. Reminds me of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

      2. No. That’s why they need 2 of ’em.

  12. ‘HAL, take me to Wendy’s.’

    ‘I’m sorry Dave, I can not do that.’

    1. “Dave, I can’t let you endanger your health. I’m driving you to the organic farmer’s commune.”

  13. When GM can make a regular car that doesn’t have to be recalled 6 months later, I’ll care about they’re projections for the future.

    1. ^This^

      Actually, GM will release the cars in ’17. After unexpected acceleration kills 5 people, the engineers will finally ‘leak’ the information that the accidents could be prevent by regular firmware updates sometime in 2020.

  14. Truly automated and networked vehicles, especially if the AI is advanced enough to operate in the real world

    And when will the networked deer be ready?

    I like how people say, “With car-to-car communication, we’ll be able to freight train down the highway like the big draft at Talledega!”

    What happens when Bambi comes wandering up out of the ditch? Stopping distances will remain unchanged. Speaking of Talledega, it’ll look like the Big One. Cars everywhere.

    1. My dear P Brooks, have you no vision? Armed autonomous cars. With drone escorts.

    2. What happens when Bambi comes wandering up out of the ditch? Stopping distances will remain unchanged.

      First, even on the interstate now, Bambi gets vaporized. Nothing new.

      IMO, the more interesting part is the engineering. The variability in braking will be impossibly unknowable without some pretty oppressive regulation. Additionally, if Land Rover’s AI engineers are on par with their mechanical engineers, the vehicle will disengage the breaks and immediately lock the steering at an angle perpendicular to the direction of travel. So, AIs in front of and behind them will have that to deal with as well.

      1. Couldn’t they mount pilots (? la locomotives) on the front of cars?

        1. Buffers and coupling?

          Nothing says freedom and innovation like lashing cars together using early 19th century technology.

          Rails would help prevent harmonics and drift that would tear the caravans apart too. Increasing fuel efficiency to boot!

    3. What happens when Bambi comes wandering up out of the ditch? Stopping distances will remain unchanged.

      Actually, stopping distances will change just by nature of the fact that an un-networked car can match speed and distance between the car in front of it much faster than you as an individual can. The amount of space you need from the car in front of you is not the stopping distance, but rather the amount of time it takes you as an individual to match speed with that car. While differences between the two cars’ stopping distance are relevant, the biggest factor for that distance is your reaction time. A computer can be applying brakes and controlling skids before your brain even registers the brake lights in front of you.

      If the cars in a “caravan” all knew what the lead car was doing, they could match speed and distance with it- which is the “promise” of networking cars. But that isn’t even necessary to remove much of the safety padding that we need as humans when traveling in traffic.

      1. Actually, stopping distances will change just by nature of the fact that an un-networked car can match speed and distance between the car in front of it much faster than you as an individual can.

        If the person in the front car is a drunk or otherwise impaired driver, the auto-car, behaving in this fashion, has pretty much doubled-down on many mistakes the first driver commits.

        Even if ‘Car A’ isn’t impaired and makes a more ‘predictable’ ’emergency’ stop, the ability to know a car’s physically-mediated stopping distance (with or without make/model/year) is laughable.

        1. f the person in the front car is a drunk or otherwise impaired driver, the auto-car, behaving in this fashion, has pretty much doubled-down on many mistakes the first driver commits.

          Nope. At worst it has passed through the problem to the car behind it, not doubled down the problem.

          I was responding to the specific statement that the stopping distance for cars is the same with computer control as with a human behind the wheel. That just isn’t true since computers can react much faster at matching speed with the car in front of it than a human ever will- whether they are alert or (more likely) periodically distracted.

          Even if ‘Car A’ isn’t impaired and makes a more ‘predictable’ ’emergency’ stop, the ability to know a car’s physically-mediated stopping distance (with or without make/model/year) is laughable.

          You don’t need to know that. The buffer needs to account for:
          – How long to identify a delta in speeds (i.e. a closing distance)
          – How long to mechanically begin deceleration
          – How much quicker the car in front of you decelerates compared to your car.

          While #3 is relevant, it is by far dominated by 1 and 2. A computer reduces those times from a second or so for a human to notice the gap closing and apply the break to milliseconds.

  15. have you no vision?

    I wear contact lenses.

  16. As much as you hear about Google’s autonomous cars, I have been expecting one of the big car companies to announce their foray into this for awhile now.

    My latest luxury car can do essentially what the GM car is planning to do, assuming there are lanes painted on the road. It can steer for you to stay in the lanes and maintain speed and distance from the car in front of you. You have to leave your hands on the wheel, but it breaks and accelerates in traffic. You only need to touch the gas again if the car comes to a full stop for more than 3 seconds in traffic.

    In short, while everyone is focused on the big splash of a car that removes you completely from the driving experience, the big auto makers have been slowly edging people into the technology for 20 years. Every new addition automates one piece of the equation.

    1. My latest luxury car can do essentially what the GM car is planning to do, assuming there are lanes painted on the road.

      What happens when it snows?

      1. The lane control system doesn’t work and you have to go manual.

        My point was not to say that my car totally drives itself. Just to say that car companies have been incrementally moving towards .

        My first car was a bitch to drive in the snow. Now a days, even cheapo cars have some level of traction and steering control built in. Same with cruise control. Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane-Control software is merely an extension of this steady progression towards automated driving.

        Very few people are going to go from no-automation to self driving car. Instead the really rich will buy cars with more and more automated features, and things like Adaptive Cruise will filter down to the less expensive cars.

        1. Instead the really rich will buy cars with more and more automated features, and things like Adaptive Cruise will filter down to the less expensive cars.

          Yup, and kids who grew up with go-karts and learning to drive a 4 sp. manual at age 14 will raise kids who live in cities and may not ever have a need for a driver’s license. Give or take a generation or two here and there.

  17. The amount of space you need from the car in front of you is not the stopping distance, but rather the amount of time it takes you as an individual to match speed with that car. While differences between the two cars’ stopping distance are relevant, the biggest factor for that distance is your reaction time. A computer can be applying brakes and controlling skids before your brain even registers the brake lights in front of you.

    Assume a can opener.

    That sounds very nice, but what happens when the lead car hits something, slowing so abruptly as to make it impossible for those following to “match speed” without contact? What happens when a car taking evasive maneuvers gets into the grey (all that loose shit on the edge of the road), and either loses braking traction or directional control? Maybe we should assume the optimum programmed response will be for the robot driver to just floor it when it detects an obstacle on the roadway? What will the insurance companies say then?

    The claim that “networked” cars can run nose to tail falls apart in a hurry.

    1. The claim that “networked” cars can run nose to tail falls apart in a hurry.

      Which is of course not a claim that I have made. And the only one making that claim was a fictional strawman you created above. I am not arguing that cars will be driving in a bumper-to-bumper formation.

      But it still remains that the “Safe Distance” we put between us and the cars in front of us is based almost completely (75%) on reaction time- that is the time between the lead car’s deceleration and the follower beginning deceleration. The remaining distance is there to account for differences in the two vehicles’ stopping ability- both mechanical limits and the second car’s decision to decelerate slower for comfort or safety reasons.

      You follow up with a lot of what if scenarios. I don’t see any catastrophic scenarios there where the reaction time gain you get from a computer wouldn’t put you in a better position than a purely manual car. Indeed this is why cars today have stuff like traction and steering control. Cars are substantially safer at higher speeds because computers can react to loss of traction way before a human could.

  18. I was responding to the specific statement that the stopping distance for cars is the same with computer control as with a human behind the wheel.

    Physics says otherwise.

    Your point about reaction time is valid, but if a deer steps in front of you fifty feet up the road as you’re travelling 75mph, YOU CANNOT STOP IN TIME. No matter how quickly you apply the brakes.

    1. if a deer steps in front of you fifty feet up the road as you’re travelling 75mph, YOU CANNOT STOP IN TIME. No matter how quickly you apply the brakes.

      NO SHIT!

      But which would you rather following behind you? A car 1 second behind that instantly starts braking, knows whether the lanes on either side are empty without looking and which adjusts to changing traction every 5 milliseconds, or that car 3 seconds behind driven by a lady changing the dial on her radio and screaming at her kids?

  19. 2017, eh? I guess that means Honda or Toyota will have one out next month.

  20. And the only one making that claim was a fictional strawman/b you created above.

    Wrong. I have heard that claim made many times, by real people.

    Put your faith in that little man in the box. See if I care. I will continue to drive my primitive FredFlintstonemobile, and I’ll keep my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel.

    1. Unless your car is from before the early 90’s, you are likely already putting your faith in some little box that (GASP) uses sensors to detect skids and moderate the brakes accordingly (ABS), and possibly one of several other safety systems like traction or stability control. Or are you one of those people complaining loudly about how the only SAFE way to brake is to pump those drums the old fashioned way?

      And even if your car is a true dinosaur lacking any of these features, you have benefited from these devices over the past 20 years as the margins of safety have increased with their advent. Every day you get on the road you are putting your faith in them as people around them use them to drive faster and more compact than in the past. All without mass increases in deer-related accidents. How the hell has that happened?

  21. And, some day, I’ll close my bold tags.

  22. 1973 Porsche 914. Doesn’t even have power brakes! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    1. Oh, great a VW. Well, there you go.

      (I kid, I kid)

      (But it is a VW).

  23. And flying cars by 1980!

  24. (But it is a VW).

    I prefer to think of it as the Karmann Ghia Mk IV.

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