Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking

Guest “don’t you just?” by David Middleton

Before we get to self-driving vehicular manslaughter, don’t you just love futurists?

Sep 13, 2018
Driverless Cars Will Dramatically Change Where And How We Live

Jim Morrison

Driverless cars aren’t coming. They’re already here. Much of he technology has been around for decades and many features are available on new cars today. Experts agree fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be ubiquitous and they will significantly disrupt many industries and change where and how we live. The only questions are: When? And how?

Nearly all of the necessary technology had been developed and was ready to go in the 1990s, according to Jason Schreiber, senior principal at Stantec Urban Places.

“We did get a lot of backbone planning done for connected vehicles,” Schrieber said. “Those protocols exist and there are cities that a ready for them. The technology just wasn’t scalable to the point that it was affordable, until now.”

[…]

Consumers will benefit
A 2017 report from RethinkX claims AVs will save the average family $5,600 every year. How? Families won’t pay for cars, insurance, sales tax, excise tax, fuel or repairs. They’ll just pay per trip.

In addition to that, in spite of the public perception that autonomous vehicles will be dangerous, they are widely regarded as much, much safer than cars driven by humans.

There were 40,100 highway deaths in the U.S. last year and the three biggest causes were alcohol, speeding and distracted driving according to the National Safety Council

[…]

William F. Lyons Jr., president and CEO of Fort Hill Companies, a Boston-based architecture and infrastructure design firm  said AVs don’t drink or use drugs, speed or get distracted.

“AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths,” Lyons said. “And they’re constantly improving the technology. There is no question they will be safer than human drivers.”

[…]

Forbes

The dude’s name really was Jim Morrison.

“AVs don’t drink or use drugs, speed or get distracted.”

Uber self-driving car involved in fatal crash couldn’t detect jaywalkers
The system had several serious software flaws, the NTSB said.

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
11.06.19 in Transportation

Uber’s self-driving car that struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018 had serious software flaws, including the inability to recognize jaywalkers, according to the NTSB. The US safety agency said that Uber’s software failed to recognize the 49-year-old victim, Elaine Herzberg, as a pedestrian crossing the street. It didn’t calculate that it could potentially collide with her until 1.2 seconds before impact, at which point it was too late to brake.

More surprisingly, the NTSB said Uber’s system design “did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” On top of that, the car initiated a one second braking delay so that the vehicle could calculate an alternative path or let the safety driver take control. (Uber has since eliminated that function in a software update.)

[…]

engadget

Sounds like the AV got distracted. AV’s don’t deal with the unexpected very well… And they’re easy prey for aggressive drivers…

Intel Says Aggressive A-Hole Self-Driving Cars Could Help Improve Traffic Safety

by Shane McGlaun — Thursday, May 02, 2019

All drivers have been there before where someone whips in front of you from a merge lane into a gap barely large enough for their car, and you want to scream. Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye think that one way to solve some of the problems that self-driving cars have today is by making them much more aggressive and essentially turning them into a-holes that will shoot into that a small gap in traffic, with a level of precision. One of the challenges for autonomous cars right now is that the AI inside makes them act like your (stereotypical) Grandmother.

[…]

Intel wants to cure that nervous behavior using something it calls the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) program. RSS is meant to help the autonomous vehicle act like an assertive human driver. According to Intel, the more assertive autonomous cars will make for safer and more freely-flowing traffic.

The challenge with the AI in self-driving cars today is that they only make decisions when the calculations the vehicles constantly run show crash probability is extremely low. That cautiousness equates to missed opportunities to make turns when a gap presents itself and leads to frustrated passengers. In the RSS system, the AI is deterministic, not probabilistic. Being deterministic gives the autonomous vehicle a playbook of sorts that gives rules defining whats sale and unsafe in a driving situation.

This rulebook will allow the AI inside the vehicle to make more aggressive maneuvers right up to the line that separates safe and unsafe.

[…]

Hot Hardware

AI A-hole AV’s… A sort of Skynet Terminator AV?

“Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

[A]utonomous vehicles … are widely regarded as much, much safer than cars driven by humans.

By whom?

“AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths,” Lyons said.

Forbes

That’s 1.54 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

In 2018, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – a figure that factors out increases or decreases in total driving – was 1.14. That was down from 1.16 in 2017 but tied for the fourth highest of the previous 10 years.

USA Today

1.54 is 35% more than 1.14.

About 1/3 of US traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving. Rather than putting Skynet Terminator AV’s on the road, maybe the better pathway is to put a breathalyzer in every vehicle. AI would save more lives by recognizing drunk drivers before they can start the engine than by failing to recognize jaywalkers because they aren’t supposed to be there.

Maybe the futurists should have paid better attention to Star Trek...

Note on comments

Before anyone comments that the article didn’t say “Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking,” please Google the word “hyperbole” first.

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267 thoughts on “Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking

    • If Tesla can “upload” new software, over the internet, while on the road then yes, they can be. Any computer can be hacked, esp “connected” ones.

      • Anything connected to a remote link can be hacked. Full stop. Anything using any Unix variant or Windows as an operating system can be hacked easily. Used to be a lunch time pastime until they made it illegal. It is easier now as each fancy additional function adds a new weakness.

        • “David Cage November 13, 2019 at 10:44 am

          It is easier now as each fancy additional function adds a new weakness.”

          So true!

      • In the “only two deaths” figure, I guess they are not counting Teslas since they are not AV, just “software assisted”.

        However, the times that humans have taken their hands off the wheel, have produced fatalities.

        The Tesla owner who got decapitated because his autopilot could not tell an unloaded trailer from the sky line may have a thing or two to say about getting distracted. 😉

        AV’s don’t get drunk on alcohol but share the defects that alcohol induces in humans: over confidence in one’s own ability, lack of judgement and lack of capacity to cope with an unexpected event.

        In that sense we could say that AVs are permanently drunk.

      • There were 40,100 highway deaths in the U.S. last year and the three biggest causes were alcohol, speeding and distracted driving

        I would dispute the usual attributions here. There has a been a crusade against alcohol for decades, what actually happens is that drivers are systematically brethalised in case of an accident. If any level above the official level is detected alcohol is marked as a contributory factor, irrespective of the circumstances. Then when folks are doing research on the cause of accidents they translate any presence of alcohol into the accident was “caused” by alcohol.

        Similarly with speed. Speed increases the risk of death or injury if an accident occurs. But much of the time the CAUSE of the accident is not keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front for the speed being driven.

        While there are surely many accidents where someone is not in control due to alcohol or driving way too fast for the road conditions, many accidents get mis-classified since these are the two demons of road safety and any presence or pretext is good enough for attribution.

        A bit like CO2 really.

        Here’s an idea for a new grant application: CO2 levels inside a closed vehicle can rise markedly, higher CO2 concentration impairs good brain function, so CO2 causes road deaths.

        • Here’s an idea for a new grant application: CO2 levels inside a closed vehicle can rise markedly, higher CO2 concentration impairs good brain function, so CO2 causes road deaths.

          I read this decades ago…I think in Reader’s Digest. Some magazine, anyway. A guy bought several pounds of dry ice and put it in the backseat of his truck or car on a hot day. He had his windows closed and the A/C on. The resulting sublimation of the dry ice released enough CO2 that he started having a headache and then nearly passed out. Or possibly did pass out. Anyway, he nearly died. So CO2 has a long history of causing road deaths.

          • I strongly suspect that a thorough investigation would show that hypoxia was the cause of the problem in your example. CO2, being more massive than CO2, will displace oxygen in a confined area. From what I have read, extremely high levels of CO2 are tolerated, at normal pressure, if oxygen levels stay at 21%. The body is designed to take oxygen in, and eliminate CO2.

            Remember, exhaled breath is about 4-5% CO2, yet mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is called, “the kiss of life,” not, “the kiss of death.”

          • From what I have read, extremely high levels of CO2 are tolerated, at normal pressure, if oxygen levels stay at 21%. The body is designed to take oxygen in, and eliminate CO2.

            Per this website, 40,000 ppm (4% CO2): “Exposure may lead to serious oxygen deprivation resulting in permanent brain damage, coma, even death.” But that’s referring to levels in a room (e.g. an occupational situation, where people would be for an hour or more), not some transient situation lasting a few minutes.

            https://www.kane.co.uk/knowledge-centre/what-are-safe-levels-of-co-and-co2-in-rooms

            Remember, exhaled breath is about 4-5% CO2, yet mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is called, “the kiss of life,” not, “the kiss of death.”

            I think the situation of the CO2 in the truck was longer-term exposure, rather than the short-term exposure of resuscitation.

            Maybe you’re saying this and I’m not following, but the subliming CO2 would make the pressure in the enclosed truck increase (PV=nRT), so air would not be flowing into the truck (if the A/C was in recirculation mode, which I think it was). Instead, the contaminated air would be slowing flowing *out* of the truck as the air inside became more and more pressurized by the moles (“n”) of CO2 gas. So the CO2 concentration would just keep increasing.

            ANYWAY…the moral of the story is to store dry ice in an insulated container in your trunk, run the A/C in “fresh air” (rather than recirculation) mode, and keep all windows open a bit. And if you start to get a headache, get out of the car! 🙂

        • Greg

          I’d like to highlight your mention of “any trace of alcohol” to being “translated” as a contributory or causative factor in accidents. The correct term is “attributed” instead of “translated”. The difference is technical rather than mere style.

          Attribution is a matter of allocation and not causal determination. It may be the opinion of one or of a committee but the more important point is that it is not the result of causative analysis. If a medical examiner pronounces on a “cause of death” it is not mere opinion but the result of expert analysis and scientific investigations. Yes it may include opinions, but the knife sticking out of the back of the deceased is not “attributed” to have contributed the the demise. It is causal and led to massive blood loss, for example.

          I hope I have made clear the difference. The importance for the distinction is that causes can be mitigated (addition of a jaywalking subroutine) while attributions may not.

          I can attribute the death of the pedestrian to foolish legislators for asking that autonomous vehicle testing be permitted in that city. If I remove or incapacitate with leg irons all legislators, it does not mean jaywalking subroutines will appear and prevent deaths. You follow?

          The attribution of alcohol to an increase in the likelihood of something is NOT a medical diagnosis, it is informed guidance for public health policy. There are good reasons why it is said that public health and medicine are quite distinct fields of endeavour. It’s true.

          Attributable does not necessarily mean avoidable. Even something as simple as carbon-monoxide concentration can be misleading. The late Prof Philip Lloyd who used to write on WUWT as “The Nutty Professor” found people living in 1600 ppm CO in South African informal settlements – a level that would be expected to kill humans in a one or two minutes. If one of them died of alcohol related behavior the death could be attributed to the CO anyway because of a misunderstanding of human adaptability. The effects of alcohol are are assumed. Assumptions lead to attributions.

          Two deaths is not nearly enough information to make attributions. If the lady had not jaywalked the number would now be 0.77 which is well below 1.4. The difference would mean nothing at all. To say it did is to over-interpret the evidence. The statistics of one or two events mean nothing. There is a famous 1954 paper on the uncertainty of single events but such analysis is not suited to attributions about what self-driving cars will do in future.

      • It’s not just Tesla uploading new software. All the car companies are implementing this. 5G makes it feasible.

        • And 5G will only be available in urban areas. It needs a transmitting tower ever 1,000.’ That isn’t economically feasible even for most suburbs.

    • Bad assumptions abound.

      The AV is to be deterministic and aggressive? How can it make moves in and out of traffic without considering probability/risk, as it does not necessarily know what the other cars are going to do?

      For that matter, with several cars around an AV, it would be impossible to predict all possible outcomes in a reasonable length of time. It cannot end well unless we make all cars AV.

      All brakes do not work the same, while there is also flywheel braking. What decides which will be used?
      All engines do not perform the same, everything from tuning, to fuel, to aging can alter performance. How is the AV AI going to take all these every changing variables into account and be safe.

      If all cars on the road are AV and no humans involved, which means all AV would be in communication with each other, in which case your Uber could be highjacked by the government at anytime with you locked in it. This would seriously impeded citizen movements. Do not begin to assume that the government would not take advantage of this power over the people.

      • “Do not begin to assume that the government would not take advantage of this power over the people.”

        Exactly.

        • “Mary had no intention of letting anyone know where she was going. Outside her friend’s apartment she dropped down a bounce tube to the basement, claimed her car from the robopark, guided it up the ramp and set the controls for North Shore. The car waited for a break in the traffic, then dived into the high-speed stream and hurried north. Mary settled back for a nap.

          “When its setting was about to run out, the car beeped for instructions; Mary woke up and glanced out. Lake Michigan was a darker band of darkness on her right. She signaled traffic control to let her enter the local traffic lane; it sorted out her car and placed her there, then let her resume manual control. She fumbled in the glove compartment.

          “The license number which traffic control automatically photographed as she left the controlways was not the number the car had been wearing.”

          Robert A. Heinlein, “Methuselah’s Children”

          A great read, about a future peaceful, polite society — until a small group of humans with extraordinarily long life spans reveal themselves, and that society decides these people are holding out on them. Probably should have made this movie instead of “Starship Troopers,” as there’s lots less overt politicking.

      • Hey, this is Intel, not just any fly-by-night chip vendor. They’ve always had your best interests at heart, even when they had to build in hackable hardware – could’ve happened to anyone, right?

        Besides everyone knows jay-walking is against the law. (See Larry Niven’s scary short story “Jigsaw Man”. )

        • Intel is the company who would only replace their defective processors if you could prove you needed the math to be correct. Dilbert made great fun of this with the keyboard they would only replace if you could prove you needed the letter “Q”.

          • I had that CPU never bothered to get it replaced for free by Intel, because it wasn’t necessary or worth the effort. I actually read the details not just a cartoon so I knew it was a lot of FUD. Wasn’t it still accurate to the 12th decimal place.

        • Well if our “elite” intellect MPs had their way that would be a huge improvement. They want to ban all private cars completely. Look it up if you don’t believe anyone could be such a moron let alone a committee of them.

      • I am a reliability engineer with some experience in safety-related electronics systems used in process control/plant wide automation systems. I submit that the behavior of any system that relies on complex software is, virtually by definition, non-deterministic in its failure mode behavior. How many sensors do you want to throw at the problem of self-driving autos in all types of weather, road conditions, traffic conditions, etc.? There are diminishing returns from a system reliability perspective as system complexity increases. People will continue to be hurt or killed by these things for the foreseeable future. I will NEVER get in one. Not that throwing craps on a cab driver is much better, but I try never to do that either.

      • Remember the Awan Brothers? The IT experts for DNC and the server? One brother was killed in Tesla that just all the sudden decided to run into tree and burst into flames. Move along folk’s, nothing to see here.

      • “… it would be impossible to predict all possible outcomes in a reasonable length of time …” It’s the same as playing chess, and computers can already do that. The decision making would have to be a lot faster, so it’s just a matter of getting faster computers. (And the Climate Scientists and their models would benefit from that.)

        Do I need a \sarc?

        • ” It’s the same as playing chess, and computers can already do that. The decision making would have to be a lot faster”

          In chess, the board and pieces aren’t ever-changing while the computer is calculating its move.

          • They will connect the cars to inform each other of moves being made or about to be made. Whether autonomous or not, each car will communicate with those around it and intervene. My wife’s car brakes for pedestrians when reversing even if she doesn’t. Insert a warning beep into the pedestrian’s Walkman ear pods and presto, a safer environment. 5G does have some magical possibilities.

    • The heck with being hacked.
      WILL THEY BE MAINTAINED?
      Look at the state of automobiles out on the road today? Most could not withstand a very harsh winter, and that’s just the physical structure. Who will be maintaining and updating all the sensors necessary for these sophisticated systems to work. These are not washing machines these kill people.

      The state of the art is woefully inadequate to operate safely on today’s roads. Yes the eyes and sensors have been around for 20 years, but they are not a brain. The initial visual systems cannot discern between a trench and shadow across the road. the newest systems still cannot follow lane lines if the road has been re-striped for construction or merely repairs. They see a change in color of the surface and assume its a line, when indeed it could merely be a repaired crack.
      And, these are the brand new vehicles without sensor degradation or obscuration.
      As to vehicular safety there is simply not enough autonomous automobile driving IN REAL WORLD CONDITIONS. Test track miles do not count unless you live and commute on a test track.

      Aggressive drivers know their vehicles and how they perform. They make assumptions as to how the other vehicles around them can perform. Often they are wrong in their assumptions that the other vehicle can react accordingly. There is no way that an autonomous vehicle can assess the capabilities of other autonomous vehicles.

      Just what we need two aggressive simpletons charging in for the same lane opening.
      As a rule I have tended to assess the patterns of the other vehicle around me and avoid the yahoos.

      • For me, hacking is a more serious issue.

        In Europe, we went through a spate of stolen/rented vehicles being used as lethal weapons. In most places, the drivers were caught and in some killed by the police (good on cops).

        Imagine a future when some idiot terrorist could hack into an uber from far, far away and simply use it as a battering ram.

        May not happen, but then again it may.

      • And to be reliable, all the safety critical computers and subsystems need to have redundant backups in hot standby. All communication channels between these critical components also need redundant copies. The system must be designed to detect when it is in a degraded state, if a critical sensor fails, for example, and disable the autonomous functionality until the failure is corrected. Some of these sensors, like lidar, will need to be calibrated on a regular basis. There needs to be standards set at the Federal level to ensure that all cars are compliant in every state. There also needs to be rigorous testing on closed tracks before any car is certified for fully autonomous use. And when the software is updated, it must be recertified (on the test track) before it can be distributed. I work on Air Traffic Control software and you should be relieved to hear that we follow all these rules (and more) for our systems.

        • The auto companies currently follow your certification process for software and all safety-related parts. I’m not too sure if Apple, Google or Uber have ever thought about it.

          • They have hot standbys for auto-braking, throttle control, ABS, etc? How about redundant sensors like radar, cameras, and throttle position? Considering how many more power hungry processors that level 5 self-driving cars will have, can you imagine how much power they will draw if they have all the required (imho) redundancy? That will really eat into EV range figures!

    • That is my concern, being hacked. I read where experts claim truck drivers will be eliminated when the self driving software is ‘perfected’. It is horrible a pedestrian may have been killed, in the future, what happens when a terrorist hacks the software?

  1. I tend to watch what I am doing when crossing a road or anywhere near a road here in Aus given we have ~1.5 tonne cars (Drivers who care little for the red light at pedestrian crossings because of a Facebook update on their mobiles), 3-5 tonne trucks, 8-10 tonne busses, a range of other vehicles from 10 to over 50 tonnes. Yeah, take your eye off the phone and watch the road, even if you are on the sidewalk/footpath.

    • Exactly what I was thinking Patrick. I am frequently amazed to see people cross traffic without even looking to see if oncoming cars are paying attention.

      • Also the number of young women pushing a pram with an attendant child who dart into the road from behind a line of parked cars

        tonyb

      • And there are those people who cross the road against the light while staring at you as if to say “I dare you to stick to your rights.” I am told in Italy if the ped makes eye contact, if he gets hit it’s his fault.

      • Here in Aus we have painted signs on the road at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings that indicate which way you should look before crossing. Of course this relies on drivers to actually obey road signs for them, in particular “No Entry” signs. So you end up looking both ways, just in case.

  2. Jaywalkers currently depend on drivers braking, avoiding, whatever. When they start getting run over, they’ll recognize the risk and adapt their behavior. Just like people now know if they step out in front of an oncoming train, it’s not gonna stop and they will be maimed or die.

        • “hasn’t worked with deer”

          Or brown squirrels here in Northeastern Ohio who, when on the side of the road and see a car approaching, almost always try to escape danger by running in front of the car instead away from the car.

        • Shawn, how do you know deer have not been avoiding cars?
          (BTW strictly speaking, automobiles culling the herd is not considered natural selection.)
          As someone who has spent a great deal in the outdoors hunting and observing wildlife, such as deer, I can personally attest the to fact that deer will avoid roads and traffic.
          Of course this is probably a learned behavior and not innate. But what is the innate “extended phenotype” trait is the ability to learn, and thereby improve ones survival abilities in a the changing world.

          • I was stopped at a relatively busy intersection the other day right off I5 in Marysville, WA. A young male deer waited on the sidewalk until the walk signal came on, then crossed the street, in the crosswalk, to the sidewalk on the other side. I would have taken video, but I was several cars back and it wouldn’t have worked.

        • I think the deer might be getting smarter.

          Found a big scrape at the farm last week. When I looked closer, it appeared that the bucks were trying to solve a differential equation!

        • Young deer are disproportionately killed (https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/honors-theses/231/) Much like the case with green revolutionaries, the young are more predisposed to making bad decisions. The loss of poor decision makers before they reproduce is strongly suggestive that evolution is at work selecting for better decision makers. Meanwhile, in human populations the young are obsessed with virtue signalling. It would be foolish to pretend that there isn’t a biological reward for what is otherwise odious behaviour.

    • You’re American? In most of Europe jaywalking is an entirely normal way to cross the road. It makes cities more relaxed, less regulated, easier to use. Drivers have to slow down a little and share the road? What a disaster! And by the way, in the UK, if someone crosses the road in front of you and you fail to take reasonable avoiding action, that is likely to be “Causing serious injury/death by driving without due consideration”. You go to jail for that, between 2 and 5 years.

        • Bad behaviour without accountability by diplomats is a problem in every country. New York gets the worst of it.

      • I believe you just described and embraced … anarchy. But so long as it renders cities as “easier to use”, then laws and order be damned. It’s all good, eh?

        Wow. Behold societal decay. All for your own … “good”

        • It has always been this way. We have got along very comfortably with our ‘anarchy’. To Europeans the Americans seem very up-tight and controlling about their cities. A love rules, rules and more rules.

        • Given many many roads in the UK are thousands of years old, people have right of way usually, unless it’s an dual carriageway or motorway. I recall the first motorway opening in Dublin, Ireland back in the 80’s. On entry to the motorway there was a huge sign that listed all “traffic” that was not allowed; pedestrians, cyclists, horses, horse and carts, tractors etc etc…

          It was quite funny.

          • Nope. Changed in 1973. Pedestrians do NOT have right of way on any UK highway. 5 out 6 pedestrian deaths in UK were pedestrian’s own fault. Over half of the pedestrians were drunk.

          • “chaswarnertoo November 14, 2019 at 6:53 am”

            Yeah OK. Check out the status of white roads, byways and ROADs Used as Public Paths (RUPPs). Me thinks you haven’t seen too many OS maps.

      • I had that discussion with a friend as a person jaywalked without regard before the car in front of us.

        Me: I remarked what an idiot!

        Friend: The pedestrian has the right of way, the car has to stop.

        Me: No he doesn’t.

        Friend: Yes he does!

        Me: No, he is “supposed to stop”. He may not do so and would get in trouble, but it is possible
        that he may not stop.

        In the US, we have many jaywalkers who strut, sometimes running, across traffic without so much as a glance. It is completely bewildering.

        • At least right now, although as we get more refugees from Leftist States it will probably change, the law here is that, unless they are in a marked crosswalk, or at a light with the signal going in their direction – it is too bad, so sad for the jaywalker. (The driver will be hammered if they are violating the law in some other way – but they are not responsible for what happened to the idiot.)

        • I just started working in NYC this year. In the short walk from the train station to the office I cross a couple of intersections. The number of people who try to cross WELL AFTER the cross walk is fully red is jaw-dropping to me. This doesn’t count the folk obliviously meandering into the road while absorbed in their phones. My term for them isn’t “jaywalkers”, it’s “organ donors”.

        • Jim,

          You explained the problem in your post with your friends statement about pedestrians having the right of way. Pedestrians do not have the right away outside of a crosswalk nor inside a crosswalk when the Don’t Walk signal is on. I don’t know how or why it started but we are teaching our kids that they do have the right of way when they don’t which sets up the dangerous situation of them stepping out in front of cars anytime they please, expecting the driver to stop. To compound the problem we are also not teaching our kids basic physics so the understand the consequences that occur when a 150 pound person steps in front of a 3000 pound vehicle traveling at 35mph.

          Oh yeah, cyclist have the same problem as pedestrians except they are a danger to themselves, pedestrians and vehicles along with an entitled/morally superiority complex.

          • They do in the U.K. if they are crossing a side road at the junction with a more major road and have started crossing cars turning into the side road should yield. It isn’t illegal for pedestrians to cross PELICAN or TOUCAN crossings even if the red man is displayed. Pedestrians can cross the road anywhere as jay walking is not illegal.
            There are international standards on the development and implementation of safety critical systems.

        • She was right, dead right as she walked along.
          But she’s just as dead now as if she’d been dead wrong.

          It shouldn’t be bewildering. It is what they are being taught in school.

        • Semi trailers are also not supposed to run red lights, so he was the one completely breaking the law.

          I was the one who replaced his car and had a nice ride in the back on an ambulance.

          Sometimes the law is there to punish those who break it, not to protect those who suffer from it.

      • Yes, having drivers in a constant state of stress and angst in big “latin” (that is: lawless) European cities because of arrogant mindless pedestrians is a (small scale) “disaster”. Just like drivers have to use their signals correctly (many don’t use these or use in opposite direction), pedestrians have to obey the code at least when there are cars.

        Also, I don’t drive.

      • What if it had been a child chasing a ball? The U.K. driving test includes hazard awareness, there’s always the risk that someone may cross in front of you, can the autonomous vehicle be taught this?

        • That is an example I use when discussing this issue: humans are aware of all types of clues that indicate a precarious situation could unfold. If we saw a soccer ball rolling toward the street, we look for a following child. An autonomous vehicle, at this point, wouldn’t even notice the ball until it was rolling across its lane, if even then.

      • In Canada the hive mind assures that all Canadians cross roads with bovine docility and exactly on cue. That is a good thing as the perpetually stoned, who abound on our roads, don’t react well to surprises (https://www.ccsa.ca › filesPDF
        Web results
        Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Cannabis Use and Driving – An Update – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction).

        • In Canada, motor vehicle/traffic laws are provincial jurisdiction. What you know in your home province may be different in other provinces. This is especially true on pedestrian right of way issues.

        • I wonder how autonomous vehicles will cope with the Canadian rules that require you to stop if a pedestrian looks like they want to cross at an intersection. I plan to stand outside the first dealer in Canada and see if I can stop any vehicles leaving the store.

          And it is much safer for pedestrians in the Europe where they have some awareness of traffic, despite being allowed to cross the road where they choose.

      • But, you’ll serve as a lesson for those who can learn.
        Consider it your donation to society, and as D.J. Hawkins above commented, perhaps your organs maybe useful as well to some one who may or may not use more wisely.

    • Jaywalking is getting worse. Kids are being taught the pedestrian has the right of way and if drivers don’t like it too bad. It’s irresponsible and dangerous but that’s what they are being taught.

  3. Mind boggling. What if two A-hole vehicles interact with each other? Maybe we have to turn back to clock, and require autonomous vehicles to be easily indentified, like when early motor vehicles were required to have a pedestrian with a flag walking in front of them.
    One problem with autonomous vehicles in Australia has been their inability, first to recognise a kangaroo, then to predict how it is going to react. Predicting the reaction is an insuperable challenge for sober, experienced, skilled and sensible human drivers, so how is that going to be overcome by software? No such thing as a virtual bullbar.

    • The problem with the roo is that it jumps.

      The vehicle detects the animal, but it’s distance sensors are based on where on the ground the animal is. So when the roo jumps, the vehicle thinks the roo just went into the distance, but then it comes back down to the ground and the vehicle thinks it’s super-speeding back into the foreground.

      Side story: I was driving on a country road north of Gympie, just putting along not paying attention, when I saw big fluffy bunny ears bobbing up and down out my left side window. Then *bonk* it hit the side of the car. It was a little year old roo still with it’s fluffy baby fur. I couldn’t stop laughing at these ears bobbing along beside me out the window.

  4. How do you build courtesy into an AI system? And how does it deal with inter driver communication? Both factors which keep the traffic moving in congested situations.

    I can envisage two driverless cars stopped head to head glaring at each other, each considering it was right. Just wonder who sorts that out with all the horns blaring!🤯

    • Yes, the question has often been put that if two driverless cars met head on in one of our single track narrow Devon roads that have high hedges either side, who would back off?

      tonyb

      • Slightly OT but my Sister in law lives in rural Scotland. Their farm is on a narrow lane and they know every passing place like the back of their hand, they drive accordingly. A few years back they were bringing horses back from an event when a big people carrier zoomed around the corner.
        My SIL got out and pointed out that he had to reverse a few meters, whilst they would have to reverse 50m around a bend with a horse box on tow. He refused.

        So they lowered the ramp, saddled up and smiled sweetly as they rode past him.

      • Probably the one who values the vehicle they’re driving more than the one who doesn’t (company car, company van, company truck, etc), down in this beautiful part of the UK so many cars new & older, are covered in tiny fine scratches along their flanks from having to pull over into the hedges to avoid a collision/confrontation, etc!

    • Here, it is common for people to try to exit private drives, or turn from sidestreets, onto a congested road with bumper-to-bumper traffic. People are really good about letting them out. I guess when cars are driverless, you best be prepared to wait out rush hour before having a chance to get out.
      I doubt the ability to program reasonable politeness (e.g., let ONE car out. After that, you are being rude to those behind you) into autonomous vehicles.

  5. MADD agrees with you-

    “The average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before a first arrest, and on any given day, your family shares the roadways with more than 2 million drunk drivers who have had three or more prior convictions.

    While suspending the license of these individuals makes sense, in reality, three out of four of those with a suspended license continue to drive, threatening the safety of you and your loved ones. That’s why MADD supports the usage of ignition interlock devices to require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start.”

    https://www.madd.org/the-solution/drunk-driving/ignition-interlocks/

    • And yet, in most cases alcohol ISN’T the cause of a crash or death. Speeding is the highest, increasingly followed by inattention.

      • Patrick MJD

        Rubbish. Speed doesn’t kill, the impact kills and it doesn’t take a car travelling fast to kill someone.

        The cause of crashes are often extracted from police reports as speed because it happens to be a common theme and it suits the road safety alarmist narrative.

        As an ex Cop I can tell you that speed is rarely the cause of a crash, it’s bad driving borne from inadequate driver training.

        Speeding, as such- exceeding the legal speed limit, is a symptom of bad driver training, as is drunk driving and inattention. However, a properly trained driver can travel at high speed in complete safety, particularly if in the company of other trained drivers on the road.

        Motorways are the fastest and safest roads in the UK. That entirely contradicts the contention that ‘speed kills’, it doesn’t.

        • Bless you for telling the TRUTH about “speed”.

          Hint: Freeways are SPECIFICALLY and DELIBERATELY built for SPEED … city streets are not. Driving slow on the freeway is just as dangerous as speeding on city streets.

        • After the French gov decreased the limit from 90 to 80 km/h on many roads, the number of accidents did increase. (It was decreasing months before the measure was implemented.)

          Of course, the “pro safety” pressure groups (what are the qualifications of these people, again?) and the authorities managed to

          – put the decrease of deaths before the measure on the measure’s “balance sheet”
          – put the increase of deaths when it was applied on … anything else (weather or something else)

          So road accidents are just as interpretable as “climate”.

        • I’ll add some more thoughts on this.

          One of the reasons (in the U.S. where I live, in particular) that the statement “speed is a factor” can incorrectly, for the most part, be insinuated as the “cause” of accidents, injuries, or deaths on the roads is simply because they set the “speed limits” far too low for the roads in question – which means most drivers are “speeding,” all the time. Speed limits set too low for the driving conditions of the roads leads to inattention and drowsiness. If you don’t believe that, just try to drive at no more than 55mph on the portions of NY Route 17 that still have not had their limit increased to 65mph as they move through the transition to “I-86.” You can quite simply fall asleep from the boredom of moving at what seems like a snail’s pace, and the call of all that nice scenery around you becomes difficult to resist when it takes so little attention to crawl along on a road good for much higher speeds.

          Then there’s the opposite issue. Years back Montana put in place a “Reasonable and Prudent” daytime speed limit without a fixed “cap.” This was fine if you understood the concept of “reasonable and prudent” – that is, you adjust your speed in accordance with the conditions – how far you can see ahead based on curves, dips and rises, terrain, weather conditions, and how much other traffic is near you and how fast it is moving, etc. Some, however, thought it meant “go as fast as your vehicle is capable, regardless of conditions,” leading to stupidities like members of “Corvette Clubs” gleefully flying around sharp corners only to find they didn’t have time to react to some rusted out pickup going half their speed that suddenly “appeared” right in front of them.

          And the reason that the concept of “reasonable and prudent” speed is so poorly understood is that the speed limits have been too low on too many roads for so long, thereby leading people to think they can drive at the “limit” all the time regardless of conditions.

          • While Oregon has speed limits on its roads they do have the reasonable and prudent clause. If the weather is bad enough they can and do nail you for speeding if you are going 40 in a 55 mph zone. And there are those people who believe that they can go any speed they want. I had a co-worker who bragged she usually went 85 in a 60 zone, until the day she got a speeding ticket. She was devastated (literally sitting at her desk and crying), and couldn’t understand why she should have gotten a ticket.

          • RE; Montana And yet the year after the law went back into effect fatalities were down and average speed decreased.
            The reason it wasn’t kept was judge ruled it was too subjective who got tickets.

        • “HotScot November 13, 2019 at 5:10 am

          Rubbish. Speed doesn’t kill, the impact kills and it doesn’t take a car travelling fast to kill someone.”

          Yes. It’s the multiple impacts the body is exposed to that is the killer. But you still have to be moving to be exposed to those impacts, and that can be as low as 30mph.

          “However, a properly trained driver can travel at high speed in complete safety, particularly if in the company of other trained drivers on the road.”

          Agreed. I was a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK (I don’t live there anymore so no need), received advanced training with IAM and from ex-Metropolitan Highway Patrol officers because of the vehicles I was driving at the time (Capable of autobahn speeds, 145MPH+). So yes, properly trained, speed (On British motorways, M3, M4, M40, M1, M62, M27 and the M25 and many of the A class (A34 is a good example) roads too. Roads in Aus and NZ are fairly poor compared to the UK and Europe, even the so-called “motorways” where 110KPH is too fast for many, isn’t a problem.

          “Motorways are the fastest and safest roads in the UK. That entirely contradicts the contention that ‘speed kills’, it doesn’t.”

          And in most of Europe too. 100 vehicles or more can be involved in an incident and every one walks away. However, if on a two-lane road the combined speed of an impact is, typically, double the speed limit. In Aus the maximum open freeway/highway speed is 110KPH. Head on collisions, even on perfectly straight bits of road, usually end up in the death of one or more of the vehicle occupants. So, when these deaths occur, speed is a factor.

      • Oh not quite so true, DOT’s own figures show this clearly, inattention at the wheel & driving too fast for the conditions, (e.g. fog, ice/snow, heavy rainfall, high winds, too heavy traffic conditions, etc), from my Advanced Driving days speed only played a part in around 25% of all accidents to vastly varying degrees! Also, the official figures show that some 3500 people are killed on UK roads every year, this figure has hardly varied to any significance in almost 30 years, despite considerable taxpayer funded guvment advertising, & that some 600 deaths are as a result of drunk driving (with varying degrees over the limit), an alarming statistic! However for me, the horrifying statistic is that 2900 people are apparently killed on UK roads each year when drivers are stone-cold sober & allegedly in full charge of their faculties!!!! Also, the main reason many police officers in the traffic divisions baulk at a “NO ALCOHOL” limit unlike many European nations, & this dates way back to the Mooregate Tube disaster when several people were tragically killed & many more injured when the underground train failed to stop in a station & ploughed into the barriers! The Post-Mortem report (Autopsy for our Colonial friends) was leaked to the meedja showing that the Tuber-train driver had alcohol in his blood stream, & it took months of campaigning by the driver’s family to prove that he never drank the night before nor when on duty! The alcohol was produced internally within the body post-mortem whilst in the mortuary! Also not-withstanding those of a religeous nature who take Holy-Communion on a weekly basis, the thought of a couple of patrol cars hanging around outside a chapel waiting nick/book a parishioner for drunk driving for a tiny amount of alcohol in their blood-streams, was considered rather totalitarian!
        AtB

        • If your comment was directed at me, I can only go by what I have read in the journal of Advanced Driving published by the Institute of Advanced Driving, coupled with several lectures given at the Automobile Associations HQ in Basingstoke, Hampshire UK, by several Inspectors from the Traffic Division of the Hampshire, Berkshire, & Surrey police forces, it was most educational to say the least seeing a police video taken on the on the newly opened M25 London orbital motorway of the first RTA. The multiple pile-up occurred as a result of an all too familiar occurrence of vehicle drivers going too fast in thick yet variable fog. Seeing police video footage of bodies, some barely recognisable as Human, being removed as carefully as possible from their burnt out yet still smouldering cars, still in the sitting driving position as a result of the rapid severe burning, the badly charred bodies glistening green & gold & black in the lights from the emergency services, was quite disturbing! No Cobblers were injured in making the police videos nor even involved as far as I recall! No sarc, no amusement, just observed fact, as I’m certain the police forces involved didn’t use CGI to produce such horrific images! So no retraction I’m afraid! AtB

      • That just means that fewer people drink & drive, not that it’s less likely to cause a crash. In fact most drink drivers are easy to spot because they drive erratically and slowly. Slowly because they think they’re being careful and they can avoid speed cameras- shame they don’t record erratic driving! If I’m speeding, (heaven forbid!), I can adapt to changing conditions- weather, built up areas, congestion, school run times, etc. If I’m drunk- well, I’m drunk, full stop. To be clear- I have never and will never drink and drive!

        • Agree wrt DRUNK driving, but too many statistics are polluted with falsely attributing alcohol as a factor. Any trace of alcohol detected in a driver would result in it being listed as a factor, and that produces erroneous conclusions.

          I know from participating in games based on reflex, than mine are best after one drink, and my reflexes are worse after three drinks (over the course of an hour), than had I had none. For me, at any rate, being relaxed let’s my focus better, make faster, more accurate decisions, and respond appropriately. Ymmv. It may be psychological, but I’m not sure that matters.

          • I agree with your comment regarding reflexes after “one” alcoholic drink & that from experience appears a common feature, it’s a subtle difference between a “relaxed” driver behind the wheel, against a very tense nervous &/or anxious one!

    • Sounds very sensible, especially if this technology can be extended to disable any car a convicted and banned dangerous driver without a licence or insurance tries to drive off and kill or maim more innocent people.

      It doesn’t look like automated computer driven cars are going to enhance anything other than their manufacturers balance sheet.

    • kakatoa – November 13, 2019 at 3:04 am

      “The average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before a first arrest, …..

      That’s why MADD supports the usage of ignition interlock devices to require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start.”

      The above proves without a doubt that all DUI Laws are nothing more than revenue generating “Cash Cow” legal extorsions that benefit the Lawyers, the Courts and the Law Enforcement Agencies.

      MADD is a phony organization that exists simply to garner “donation$” to support its leader’s membership.

      As a matter of fact, DUI Laws permit one to be arrested “before-the-fact”, …… to be arrested because they MIGHT BE responsible for causing bodily harm or property damage ….. at some future time/date. That is the same as arresting a “sneaking” looking person for “robbing a bank” before they can rob a bank.

      The BIG question is, ….. why are not all other “driving under distraction”, … DUD drivers (cell phone users, gawkers, speeders, etc., etc.) that cause accidents, property damage, bodily injury and/or death ……. not judged and prosecuted via the same/similar Laws as is DUI drivers?

      Is there a “moral or social difference” between a death caused by a DUD driver and a death cased by a DUI driver? I don’t think so, …….. but, …..

      If so, ….. what is that difference?

      Is that difference …….. who gets the money, ……. RIGHT.

        • Particularly as unsafe airbags and stupid laws require kids to be in the back seat, usually directly behind the driver.

      • A drinking buddy of mine came up with a solution for drunk driving: designate certain roads/streets drunks only after sundown. Everyone else drive at your own risk.

      • Walk out into your back yard and fire your pistol off into the air. Just like DUI, that is called “reckless endangerment.” Nine times out of ten, or more, your bullets won’t hit anyone when they come back down – but it only takes ONCE.

        I do agree with your opinion on DUDs – they should be hauled into jail, go through court, most likely have their licenses yanked.

        @Susan – I used the same policy with my kids as my mother did with hers. At need, stop the car, apply the hand of education (Mom drove an International stick shift; you did not want to meet up with her right hook), stick kid(s) back into the car. I only recall doing this twice, over three kids. The youngest one believed his sibling’s stories…

        • I remember when, on the way home from church, my sister refused to put on her seat belt. My dad pulled over and told her to walk home. She did, with us following the whole way. She always used her seat belt thereafter.

    • Capital punishment for drunk drivers who cause a fatality after a prior DUI conviction. It may not deter others, but it will deter repeat offenders.

      • “HA”, ….. iffen the Police find you sitting in an abandoned vehicle, without doors or an engine in it, way out in an open field, …… enjoying a cold 6-pack of beer, …… they will arrest you, charge you with DUI and haul your arse off to jail. You will have to retain a Lawyer at a cost of a couple thousand dollars to get out of jail …… but said pseudo DUI will remain on your “record” forever, causing you untold problems.

        If you have been drinking ….. and are within 100 yards of an auto accident, …… you best “run n’ hide” or they will arrest for …. DUI causing an accident …… and the Judge will treat you accordingly.

        And every one will scream ,,, RAH, RAH, RAH, ……another drunk driver is off the roads and its safe to drive again,

        • All you need is car keys in your pocket. The car could be at home for all it matters, you are considered “in control of your vehicle” if you have the keys on you. Therefor DUI.

    • MADD is a lobby group like any other and continually tortures the statistics (like all lobby groups). I think they accomplished their mission. There are now strict laws, and driving while impaired is no longer socially acceptable. What do they do now? Disband? Oh No. They push for ever increasingly draconian laws, including the assumption of guilt.

    • MADD is no longer a respectable organization. The definition of “drunk driving” they espouse is ridiculous. I don’t believe any MADD statistics anymore.

  6. from the article

    “There were 40,100 highway deaths in the U.S. last year and the three biggest causes were alcohol, speeding and distracted driving according to the National Safety Council. ”

    Is that figure correct?

    The amount for the UK is as follows;

    “Statistics on reported road casualties in Great Britain for the year ending June 2018 shows, there were:
    •1,770 reported road deaths
    •26,610 people killed or seriously injured
    •165,100 casualties of all severities, a decrease of 6%”

    The US has 6 times the population, so proportionately I would expect some 12000 deaths maximum. IF that US number is correct can I ask if driving standards are lower to get your licence, are drink driving laws very lax are people so distracted (bored) with their driving that it causes tens of thousands of deaths?

    I would like to believe the US figure is wrong but if not there looks to be lots of scope to make your roads much safer

    tonyb

    • Like most Europeans you have no I idea how big the US is. We drive on average 16 to 20 Km a year. Road deaths are not simply determined by population size. Exposure and driving conditions area key factors. it is the amount time spent on the road and weather condition in the US are far more severe than in the UK which accounts for the higher road deaths.

      • john

        Fair enough. We only drive around two thirds of that but our roads are often very crowded. There are plenty of relatively temperate places in the US broadly equivalent to the UK climate.

        That still seems like a disproportionately large number of deaths.

        Our mileage has reduced over the last 15 years apparently, no doubt due to the high cost of petrol.

        tonyb

      • When I was working I drove 56 km per DAY. I live in the western half of the US which is a lot more spread out than the East. In NY, Philly, and Chicago, I’d guess the driving is closer to what is in Europe. For the most part, Americans, just because of the geography put in a LOT more miles than Europeans.

    • tonyb-

      The figure was probably rounded up from some number between 35,000 and 40,000. Yes, traffic deaths are that high in the U.S. A Wikipedia table shows that the highest death total in the U.S was in 1972, with 54,589 people killed. If you question Wikipedia, I checked their 1994 figure against a table in the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration) website and the two numbers agreed.

  7. It sounds bad until you consider cops are killing people in their own homes for playing video games or having flowers in front of their door. (sarc)

  8. Ban all driverless vehicles from all public roads. If a driverless vehicle is needed put down magnetic strips on expressways only and only on inside lanes. The AI will never be adequate to compensate for all the variables from weather to just plain incompetence.

    • Old White Guy – I agree with you. Driverless cars are too dangerous to allow them on public roads.

      Computers lack common sense.

      Maybe driverless cars can work in a controlled environment and under ideal conditions. And they work well on simple tasks that can be broken down into a step by step process. But there is an enormous difference between a person driving a car in a snowstorm and a computer playing a game of chess.

  9. Once you allow AVs, every false flag alt State can ‘drive vehicles into terrified crowds’ without anyone being able to stop it.

    You are handing your safety over lock, stock n barrel to the Security Services. Ya know, the CIA, NSA, MI6, Mossad, Service Five and all the rest.

    What could possibly go wrong? None of those have ever been murdering people for a living, have they?

    • It has already been demonstrated that your ‘connect car’ (i.e. connected wirelessly to the internet) can be taken over and driven off the road remotely. My truck has that ability disabled.

    • Coeur de Lion

      A friend of mine was given the task of assessing new drivers for a charity he was working for in Scotland. A young Indian gentleman new to the UK arrived for assessment as a van driver. My friend checked both the gentleman’s Indian and international driving licences, they were all in order.

      In the private patch of spare ground he used for assessment my friend asked the driver to pull away and they would do some basic driver competence tests. Stuff like clutch and brake control, indicators, steering etc.

      When asked to move forward the guy floored the gas, dropped the clutch, and the van took off covering 30M or so before burying itself into a fully laden skip*, writing the van off instantly.

      Having extricated themselves and satisfied each other neither were injured, my friend asked what happened. “The van is very fast” came the reply (it was an older panel van so anything but fast). After a few other questions my friend finally asked “just how did you get your licence?” The gentleman replied, “I turned up at the driving test station and paid like everyone else then cycled home.”

      My friend asked “what if you can’t afford to pay?” and the gentleman replied “you sit in the passenger seat of the test car and the tester shows you what to do, but not on the road, that’s much to dangerous, then you cycle home.”

      His short lived employment was terminated. This was 20 or so years ago though.

      *Skip – a large 10′ x 5′, steel, open top container typically used by builders to load rubble into. They are hoisted onto the back of a lorry with hydraulic lift. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skip_(container)

  10. As we speak, four of five U.S. drivers have never learned to use a manual shift. As time goes on, probably nine of ten will never have actually steered and throttled a driving machine, nor even navigated one.

    Not only does centralized, all-pervasive “traffic control” impact individuals’ freedom-of-movement on every level, but remote-tracking/ID databases will ensure that KGB/Stasi-type monitors potentially criminalize every move you make. Since “no-one is responsible” for automated blanket-surveillance, lurking-menace “authorities” will have unaccountable free-rein to commit any politically or other illegitimate (non-legal) abuse they choose, always careful to immunize themselves from scrutiny.

    For this, as usual, prevention is the only cure. But if “prevention” means to forego technological developments on basis of some hypothetical misuse, the game is up. On ‘tother hand, appointing disinterested, impartial “guardians of integrity” to safeguard basic rights invokes the “quis custodiet” conundrum– within a generation, inevitably doomed to fail. Who then insists on “power to the people” as an antidote to officialdom’s “soft despotism” in fact requires each citizen to function as a Law Unto Himself, substituting anarchy for herd-mind dirigiste.

    The solution is to fight fire with fire, making an “AI construct” of genomic humanity itself. By c. AD 2125, we’ll bet that “organic evolution” will have been superseded by autonomous, self-emergent counter-measures, de rigueur for lack any viable alternative.

  11. As we speak, four of five U.S. drivers have never learned to use a manual shift. As time goes on, probably nine of ten will never have actually steered and throttled a driving machine, nor even navigated one.

    Not only does centralized, all-pervasive “traffic control” impact individuals’ freedom-of-movement on every level, but remote-tracking/ID databases will ensure that KGB/Stasi-type monitors potentially criminalize every move you make. Since “no-one is responsible” for automated blanket-surveillance, lurking-menace “authorities” will have unaccountable free-rein to commit any politically or other illegitimate (non-legal) abuse they choose, always careful to immunize themselves from scrutiny.

    For this, as usual, prevention is the only cure. But if “prevention” means to forego technological developments on basis of some hypothetical misuse, the game is up. On ‘tother hand, appointing disinterested, impartial “guardians of integrity” to maintain basic rights invokes the “quis custodiet” conundrum– within a generation, inevitably doomed to fail. Who then insists on “power to the people” as an antidote to Praetorian officialdom’s “soft despotism” in fact requires each citizen to function as a Law Unto Himself, substituting anarchy for herd-mind dirigiste.

    The solution is to fight fire with fire, making an “AI construct” of genomic humanity itself. By c. AD 2125, we’ll bet that “organic evolution” will have been superseded by autonomous, self-emergent counter-measures, de rigueur for lack any viable alternative.

  12. “About 1/3 of US traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving. Rather than putting Skynet Terminator AV’s on the road, maybe the better pathway is to put a breathalyzer in every vehicle. AI would save more lives by recognizing drunk drivers before they can start the engine than by failing to recognize jaywalkers because they aren’t supposed to be there.”

    Google is awesome. here’s what I found

    Jeez around 20 states already have this for convicted drivers. If you want to put it on all vehicles the devices
    run about $150 bucks. monitoring costs about 3 bucks a day.

    Oh, and they retest the driver as he drives so the car has to pull over or the lights flash and horn honks.
    If you dont retest after the car starts it kinda defeats the purpose.

    Hmm. I’ll take self driving cars

    • I say we put a climate scientist or activist in every care that just repeats “HOW DARE YOU” everytime you start the car.

    • Steven Mosher

      How many drivers do you imagine actually drink whilst they are driving?

      The vast majority of drunk drivers are returning from the pub/party/event, not many people go out with a bottle of scotch to drive the car with. So having the car demand a sample of breath during the journey is a bit pointless, apart from which, what’s to stop the sober passenger from providing a sample?

      Hmm. Whatever happened to personal freedom and responsibility in your little bubble? How about addressing the root causes of the problem rather than dealing with the symptom. Treat the drivers drinking problem and teach him/her to drive properly instead of punishing the whole country by imposing self driving cars on us all because of a minority of drunk drivers?

      socialist idyll I suppose.

      • I agree …….

        Why not 99% protection …… by having the car demand a sample of breath before AND during the journey ….. if small children, especially infants, are being transported by the parent, I mean driver.

        PUT A STOP to ….. roasting babies in hot, unattended vehicles.

        Also, force “breathalyzer” testing before permitting the car to travel on snow/icy covered roadways.

      • Hot.

        Maybe I wasnt clear.

        OP Suggested Ignition Locks as Opposed to AI controlled cars
        HIS SUGGESTION
        I googled how they work.

        1. They cost about 150 bucks
        2. They cost about 3 dollars a day for monitoring.
        3. They work by forcing the driver to RETEST as he drives?
        Why? Well I suppose because some people drive around, buy booze, get in the car and drink.
        4 I argued If Given a choice between Interlocks and AI, I choose AI

        #### your response

        Steven Mosher

        How many drivers do you imagine actually drink whilst they are driving?

        1. Immaterial since the number is higher than the number of AI algorithms that are drunk
        2. If you want to know look up arrests for violation of open container laws while driving.

        The vast majority of drunk drivers are returning from the pub/party/event, not many people go out with a bottle of scotch to drive the car with. So having the car demand a sample of breath during the journey is a bit pointless, apart from which, what’s to stop the sober passenger from providing a sample?

        1. Really, where did you get those statistics? citation?
        2. The fact is the current interlock systems do require a retest, probably precisely because
        They know that people can and will drive around while drinking.
        3. Nothing will stop a sober passenger from breaking the law and doing something stupid
        like facilitating the crime of letting a person drive drunk. There is no law that can prevent
        stupidity. Otherwise you would not be able to post

        you continued:

        “Hmm. Whatever happened to personal freedom and responsibility in your little bubble? How about addressing the root causes of the problem rather than dealing with the symptom. Treat the drivers drinking problem and teach him/her to drive properly instead of punishing the whole country by imposing self driving cars on us all because of a minority of drunk drivers?”

        1. The OP suggested interlocks as Opposed to AI.
        2. I explained HOW current interlocks Work and ARGUED

        IF Given the CHOICE between interlocks and AI. I choose AI.

        Now obviously those are NOT the ONLY choices. Your solutions have been tried and they have limited
        success. Statistics show this.

        Personally I would not make the case for AI cars on the foundation of eliminating DUIs. I’d make it on the
        basis that there are dumb people who can’t follow an argument and probably should not be given the PRIVILEDGE of driving.. just kidding.

        AI will over time be integrated into the transportation fleet. It will be helped by smarter roadways,
        smarter traffic signs, Iot, 5G, heck your phone will probably have a position beacon letting cars
        know where you are, or you’ll get chipped. If folks are smart they will establish a standard car to car
        communication protocal so my car can tell your car where it is. Sensors will get smaller, more accurate,
        and dirt cheap.

        Here is our first chip, sub 5 dollars. dual RISC V core (hat tip to bill joy)

        https://kendryte.com/
        More coming.

        In any case the devices you own, the world around you, will have more embedded processing that you
        can fathom. the store you visit, the package that gets shipped to you, trucks, cars, lights, your clothes
        your shoes, everything.

        Bill Joy year 2000

        ‘”It’s the (true arrival of the) network when we all have cell phones,” he said. “I’ll be able to call my dog and tell it to come home…. My cat will have GPS so that I can see where she is.”

        Will driverless cars totally dominate the market? will they be forced on you? probably not in your lifetime.
        but in the end you have no way of stopping it.

    • Steven Mosher – November 13, 2019 at 4:14 am

      “About 1/3 of US traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving.

      HORSEFEATHERS.

      That drunk driving “fatality statistic” is as phony as …… this cigarette smoke “fatality statistic”, to wit:

      Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm

      Including this phony agitprop ,,,, to provide justification for the “tax extortions” of a select group of citizens, to wit:

      Smoking costs the United States billions of dollars each year.1,7

      Total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year, including
      • Nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults
      • More than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke1

    • Steven-

      I’m with you on this. I sure most of those who rant against self-driving cars are young (relatively) able-bodied people.

      I’m am 80 years old and while I still consider myself a good driver, I know the day is coming when my reaction time will slow, possibly along with my eyesight and other physical limitations. However, I still value my freedom of movement. Thus, I am looking forward to self-driving cars.

      Which do think is safer on the road, the average 90 year old, or a self driving car?

      • I’m am 80 years old and ……………. Thus, I am looking forward to self-driving cars.

        Which do think is safer on the road, the average 90 year old, or a self driving car?

        “DUH”, the average 80 or 90 year old person is usually suffering from bouts of CRS and/or Alzheimer’s …. along with “slurred” speech and misspoken verbiage ….. and you think they are capable of telling a “self-driving vehicle” what to do. ……. Call a TAXI or stay at home.

  13. Program the AI cars to spot A-hole drivers and “crash” into them to protect the other drivers on the road. In that way AI will improve road safety.

    In effect drive like an A-hole when you encounter an A-hole. Drive like a granny when the other driver drives like a granny.

    What you don’t want is AI that rewards A-hole drivers, as this will create more A-hole drivers.

    • This morning I was doing about 38 in a 35 mph zone 2 lane road. I was going downhill and around a curve, when some moron passed me on the left like I was standing still.

      Getting passed like that happens at least 2 or 3 times a year around here.

  14. Jaywalkers are no different than animals crossing a road, be they dogs, ducks, alligators, deer, or moose. Everything should be anticipated.

    • Agree.
      Just yesterday in Sweden driving 40mph, a moose ran over the road, passing in between me and an oncoming truck. My immediate braking saved the day. I did not need wasting a second to consider avoidance alternatives, it was “computed” beforehand.
      Okay, the sensors and software will probably come to turns with this one day.
      However, there are the cases of sensor, hardware and software failure.
      Take for example train signalling. The sensors are registered with two parallel running software in a system called A/B security software, where A is possitve approach logic and B is negative approach logic. When the output from A and B is in dis-agreement, All signals are set to red or stop in a wide area. The train drivers then get permission to continue in slow motion to nearest station, in case of passenger trains.
      This is all manageable on the train system, but how easy would that be to account for with self-driving vehicles?

    • “Everything should be anticipated.”
      That’s true. But this means,

      – software can’t do it
      – today’s AI can’t do it

      I believe this will be possible when the AI is so far advanced, it becomes self aware.
      Not in the next 10, 20, 30 years, probably

  15. As usual, AI is all well and good until you start to hear things like “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”.
    And never forget that AI invented the Zeroth law.

  16. “All drivers have been there before where someone whips in front of you from a merge lane into a gap barely large enough for their car, and you want to scream”
    Sure, I’ll listen to some idiot driving in the slow lane who won’t yield as legally and sensibly obligated to someone trying to merge into traffic.

      • Worse … losing “manhood” points. Seems esp. common with people of a certain “Latin American” extraction here in the SF Bay Area. “Automobile Machismo”?

    • @Greg61 – “Legally obligated”? Just where do you live?

      In my neck of the tall cacti, the person changing lanes, whether merging in or just switching straight on, is the one responsible for ensuring safe room between two cars to make the change.

      Now, I do usually move over as a courtesy to people trying to merge. When possible. I am still hoping to find the idiot that changed the major intersection just south of me from a standard four way intersection into a tangle and extremely hazardous mess. Where, instead of a left turn with a traffic signal control, you now must go straight through the intersection to another light (just 100 yards away), make a left turn there, and then merge into straight traffic. All of this on a very heavily traveled road. I cannot yield when going at the speed limit, and I have idiots on my left that want to go ten miles over (or more) – and another idiot up my tailpipe that also wants to go ten miles over (or more), and the idiots wanting to merge at ten miles over (or more).

      Needless to say, I no longer make left turns at that intersection myself. At need, I will make a right turn, go the opposite direction for a ways, make a U turn, and proceed straight from there. I’m not the only one; I see people make a (technically) prohibited U turn at the second light, come back and make a right turn to accomplish a simple left turn.

      • Then there are those people who as soon as they see your signal light go on hit the gas so there is less than a car’s length between them and the car ahead to ensure that you can’t change lanes/merge.

    • Riiiiggghhht

      There is a subset of drivers that think other drivers must leap out of their way when THEY are MERGING into traffic. No matter the driver they are about to cutoff is boxed in, has to brake hard, then gets rear ended by the dip tailgating.

      There are those that take perverse pleasure in making it hard, including blocking merging drivers, but thats nothing compared to the oblvion coming in that has this merging concept backward.

  17. If someone thinks they can create anything that can never hurt or kill someone, then I wish them well in their futile efforts.

    The key question should be – Will this reduce the number of those hurt or killed compared overall to human drivers?

  18. AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths …

    People are actually still better. The fatality rate is around 1.25 per 100 million miles. I’m skeptical of claims about the safety of self-driving vehicles because the people making those claims have a conflict of interest. ie. They are snake oil salesmen until proven otherwise.

    • Most people are a lot better. The average includes a long whale tail of bad drivers
      ( around 30% ) who drag the average down. 70 % are actually above average, as they believe.
      It’s true, not a Bell curve.

    • I was wondering how much of that testing was in real world environments, and how much of it was test track testing.

      • Indeed. Things may work great in controlled conditions. The chaos of the real world, however, is a completely different story.

  19. “AVs will save the average family $5,600 every year. How? Families won’t pay for cars, insurance, sales tax, excise tax, fuel or repairs. They’ll just pay per trip.” This technology has been available for over a century in the form of taxicabs, which were electric around 1900 before internal combustion took over. Replacing a driver with a computer won’t make it any cheaper.

    • Indeed. Despite Taxi’s (and other forms of public transit) being around for over a century, the personal automobile has become ubiquitous. Unless your commuting needs are few (a trip to the grocery store a couple of times a month for example), it’s just not convenient to wait around for a Taxi to arrive at your house to take you to your destination and then wait around for a Taxi to come pick you up to take you back home for every single trip the average non-city dwelling commuter needs to make. And if you are making many frequent recurring trips (IE multiple daily trips to drive to and from work, trips to various stores, doctors, dentists, gyms, etc., visiting friends and family, taking kids to and picking them up from school, sports practice, playdates, etc., etc.), the “savings” soon becomes pretty much non-existent particularly when you add in the opportunity costs of the time you’d spend waiting for your ride to arrive for each of those trips.

    • Replacing a driver with a computer won’t make it any cheaper.

      It won’t?! What do you think a driver earns per mile, in salary plus benefits? Also, how many one-seat or two-seat taxis have you ever seen?

      To help you out with the first question, here are typical rates:

      For example, according to recent data from Certify, the prices for Uber, Lyft, and a taxi are as follows:

      Average Uber cost: $25.73
      Average Lyft cost: $19.20
      Average taxi cost: $29.52

      And here is the cost per mile for Uber and Lyft: How much does Lyft cost compared to Uber?

      The cost of an average Uber and Lyft trip is about the same. On average, the cost per mile is $2, with trips starting at $1 base rates and ranging between $1 and $2 per mile.

      So the cost per mile is about $2. With autonomous vehicles, the cost per mile will probably be less than 50 cents per passenger. (That includes not only the reduction in cost for the driver, but also the reduction in vehicle capital cost, and the likelihood of more than one passenger on many trips.)

  20. Perhaps self guided electric drones will be the real future – getting old here – would love to stay in my house as long as possible. Drone to the pub, the doctor, stores, movies, restaurants – no worries about driving – especially at night – it will be a boon for business – we live in an area with a lot of retirees – few venture out after 4:30 PM in wintertime – kills the restaurants here. Maybe there is also a use for rail systems. Computer controlled trucks using rails could get a lot of traffic off the highways. Computers to check track schedules and allow rigs to get on/off at crossings as available. We should build rail systems for trucks – 2 tracks for all one way traffic in either direction. The savings in highway maintenance costs could pay for it – that and tolls. Busses too you know.

  21. “Uber’s software failed to recognize the 49-year-old victim, Elaine Herzberg, as a pedestrian crossing the street. It didn’t calculate that it could potentially collide with her until 1.2 seconds before impact, at which point it was too late to brake.”

    These two statements are a bit contradictory. If it calculated that it could potentially collide, though too late, then the sensors necessarily perceived and evaluate the sudden hazard. Maybe, it’s a specific classification as pedestrian; though this woman was walking with a bicycle. That would present an unusual, difficult to identity image to any driver or sensor system.

    This particular crash happened at night on a divided highway. It has garnered a lot of attention because it was autonomous vehicle and the investigation has rigorous because of that. The NTSB report points to several processing system factors that contributed and have likely been changed by a software update already.

    My dilemma with this that I would expect an autonomous vehicle to be at least as good, and preferably better, than any human driver in crash avoidance. But I think a standard of “perfect in all cases” is not attainable. There are many dart out or over center scenarios that would be unavoidable by any system, human or autonomous. And this particular case, with Ms. Herzberg, is in that middle ground where detecting and reacting successfully to a pedestrian at night that chooses to walk into the travel lane directly in front of a car traveling at highway speed is more likely than not going to lead to a crash, even with an attentive, sober, human driver.

    I’m not saying that the features in the software identified by the investigation are not a contributing factor, or that Uber necessarily skates on liability. I am asking, how good is good enough?

    • These two statements are a bit contradictory. If it calculated that it could potentially collide, though too late, then the sensors necessarily perceived and evaluate the sudden hazard. Maybe, it’s a specific classification as pedestrian; though this woman was walking with a bicycle. That would present an unusual, difficult to identity image to any driver or sensor system.

      Yes, I think it’s that the software never recognized her as a pedestrian. See the excellent IEEE Spectrum article referenced by PaulH above:

      https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/ntsb-investigation-into-deadly-uber-selfdriving-car-crash-reveals-lax-attitude-toward-safety

      I’m not saying that the features in the software identified by the investigation are not a contributing factor, or that Uber necessarily skates on liability. I am asking, how good is good enough?

      Much, much, much better than this situation is good enough. This situation was disgraceful for Uber, and no doubt has delayed the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. And every day that fully autonomous vehicles aren’t being deployed means lives lost.

      This commentary pooh-poohs the fact that autonomous vehicles never drive drunk or distracted, but those are huge important benefits. Here are reasons why autonomous vehicles will be so much better than humans it won’t even be close:

      1) Much faster reaction times.
      2) Much better situational awareness. For example, there are cameras that see in all directions, not just in visible light, but also with radar and LIDAR. There is the possibility to know location at all times to within less than a foot, as well as the location of the lane of travel of the road to within less than a foot, at all times.
      3) Fleet learning. The human-operated fleet routinely makes mistakes that long would have been eliminated by mistakes that would easily have been “programmed out” of an autonomous fleet. For example, I had an absolutely beautiful used Toyota Camry that I bought and was going to get the permanent plates. I was stopped at a red light at an intersection near the dealership, and my beautiful new-to-me car was struck from behind and totaled by a 19 year-old who was texting while driving. But a couple years later, I saw an advertisement on the side of the road for dry wall repair, and started scribbling the number with a pen on my hand while at a stoplight. The SUV in front of my started forward, and I started while still getting the last of the phone number scribbled. The SUV stopped, and I bumped into it. (It knocked my headlight out of alignment, but thankfully didn’t produce noticeable damage on the SUV.) Absolutely zero “fleet learning”!
      4) Vehicle-to-vehicle communication. One night in Ohio I was driving in freezing rain and sleet, and I came over a slight hill and saw–omigod! a parking lot of cars on the road and the side of the road, with emergency lights flashing. It was total black ice on the road. I hit the brakes (this was well before antilock brakes) but ended up just sloowwwwly sliding down the road sort of sideways. I remember it as being like a slow-motion film, wherein I was begging, “Please, please, please don’t let me hit any of these cars!” Luckily, I managed to get of the road to the side. But then *other* cars were coming over the hill and skidding down it. So as quickly as possible, I got back on the road and safely away from the hill. That sort of thing could potentially be easily eliminated by vehicle-to-vehicle communication. If the first car that encountered black ice and slid partly on and partly off the road had communicated that to subsequent cars, we all could have stopped before we reached the black ice.
      5) Advances in hardware. The article David Middleton references states: “Nearly all of the necessary technology had been developed and was ready to go in the 1990s, according to Jason Schreiber, senior principal at Stantec Urban Places.” Jason Schreiber is totally clueless! The computers that NVIDIA and Tesla have for autonomous vehicles probably perform more calculations per second than the top 100 supercomputers in 1995 *combined*. And the NVIDIA and Tesla computers easily fit in a car!

      P.S. The one thing that really scares me with fully autonomous vehicles is the previously mentioned possibility of hacking. I can envision at time when automobile-related deaths in the U.S. are less than 1000 per year. But then in one day 100,000 people are injured or killed as the result of some sort of hacking event.

  22. Christian Wolmar has written an excellent book which concludes that fully automated vehicles will never happen. In the UK towns and cities used guard rails to control pedestrian movement. Most of that has been removed – mainly because of cyclists and the possibility of them being crushed against them by large vehicles should they have been stupid enough to go alongside one. The railing would have to return to control the peds. And what of the council-beloved shared spaces where the carriageway and footway all blend together? These are already hated by the blind and partially sighted as there are no kerbs to guide them.

    • Why does the government feel the need to CONTORL the pedestrians (indeed, they want to control everything)? Most people have a instinct for self preservation. If you stop treating them like a 2 year old, people will take responsibility for their own safety. Yes, even children can be taught to be safe around traffic.

      • “… If you stop treating them like a 2 year old, people will take responsibility for their own safety. …”

        Some people will. Others will bleat like sheep when the world doesn’t conform to their whims of movement. Call it evolution in action.

  23. Deterministic software? Versus probabilistic software? A playbook of sorts?

    I worked several decades in software development and data management, but that is gobbledegook to me.
    But I may have missed something. So, the question is: was the Boeing 737 max controlled by deterministic code, by probabilistic code, or by a playbook? I guess a great many people would want to know.

    • I thought the problem was, that Boeing didn’t inform it’s customer clearly and thus the pilots where not schooled correctly for the new system. Management failure not software failure.

  24. Thank you Dave.

    To all WUWT: Please read the report that is linked in the post. It will take you about 15 minutes. The NTSB writes excellent, easy to understand reports (I read many of them). Then make your comments.

    The NSTB report is very discouraging. I have been pretty “skeptical” with regards to when fully autonomous vehicles will be ready for general use. The report leaves me more pessimistic. The vehicle involved had the technical capability to see and correctly predict the path of the pedestrian nearly 5 seconds prior to the collision. The system had several clear software flaws: When some object is detected by one of the systems (lidar, radar, camera) it is classified…and a path prediction made if previous history is available. The huge problem was that if the object classification was changed (due to new object information), then any previous motion history was disregarded. Based on different classifications made by the system by different sensors (vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, other), the system spent the 5 seconds before the collision changing the classification, and hence always disregarding the available path history. Once the system did classify the object as a pedestrian, and that it was in the path of the vehicle, then the worst software “feature” kicked in…it did nothing for 1 second. Then it slowed down…slowly. Crash. Dead.

    The system was clearly designed for testing only. The in vehicle operator was supposed to take command when bad things were or about the happen. That was the purpose of the 1 second delay (also to minimize false alarms). Clearly, the vehicle operator did not help in this case. They could also see the pedestrian, but took no action as the vehicle gave them no clues that it was going to run into the pedestrian.

    The huge problem I have with all this is that these were not complex problems. The system had the technical capability to “see” , predict and take the actions required to avoid the crash. The issue is that the developers were depending upon the intervention of the vehicle operator to avoid this kind of problem. Now we get the central issue. The success of autonomous vehicles is completely dependent upon the relationship between the vehicle and humans. This test shows that the developers completely failed to understand this complex relationship. Autonomous vehicles will do just fine with other autonomous vehicles, and a relatively static environment (known routes, good weather, etc). Add in the chaos of human behavior, the chaos of weather, and the chaos of everything else (equipment failure, animals, sun reflection, hidden potholes, etc, etc, etc) and you have an extremely difficult problem to solve. Note how long it took for the semi autonomous systems in aircraft to be leveraged to their full advantage.

    Aside from slow speed vehicles, 25 mph, along known routes, in good weather, it will be a very long time before any of us are in an autonomous vehicle in real world conditions. An once we are there, take a look at degrading operator “skill”…..again, review how commercial aircraft have handled vehicle autonomy (hint….operator assistance, NOT complete autonomy…coupled with many hours in the simulator).

    How many vehicle operators of “autonomous” vehicles will spend time in vehicle simulators. Answer, none.

    Semi autonomous vehicles are here (I have one). I love it. It will not be driving anytime soon.

    Ethan Brand

    • Actually the computer on an Airbus/B737 Max fully controls all/some actuators (that you can turn off the motorized trim altogether doesn’t change that).

      You can’t override it. And it caused some incidents or accidents.

      Modern airplanes are not B747 Classic and don’t have the autopilot on or off. What people call the autopilot being off on Airbus is what people think as autopilot being on: more stuff is controlled automatically with “autopilot turned off” than was with “on” on previous generations.

      The word autopilot should be avoided on these computer controlled planes.

  25. I’ve driven a car with a breathalyzer before. Putting them in every car is a bad idea.

    It’s not just that you have to blow to start the car, the machine randomly goes off while you’re driving to ensure the driver is still sober… Otherwise, a drunk could just have a sober friend blow to start the car and take off, or they could blow before they start drinking and just leave the car running until they’re done.

    At any rate, if the “breathalyzer in every car” works the same way, I guarantee you’ll have a dramatic increase in distracted driving crashes because that machine going off while you’re driving down the road is VERY distracting.

    The machine gives you some time to get off the road, but depending on the situation, it may not be easy to do so. Either way, most people are not going to pull over multiple times on a trip to blow into their breathalyzer and are going to do it on the move. Distracted driving is easily as dangerous as drunk driving. I don’t think proponents of this technology have put nearly enough thought into the unintended consequences that would follow.

    • I’ve driven a car with a breathalyzer before. Putting them in every car is a bad idea.

      Yes, I don’t see any reason to have it for the significant majority of people who have never driven while intoxicated.

  26. Remember the phone booths and the stench and trash often found when entering, that is what a driver less car will be like. Why the urge to get people out of their privately owned cars on the pretense of saving money. How about the convenience of not having to wait for the car to arrive and getting into your own car and go where you want and no one has to know but you.

    According to NHTSA 1/3 of highway deaths are caused by drunk drivers. Possibly lipstick, coffee, cell phone and sight seeing and day dreaming and sleep should be banned from the driver’s seat. All a result of human behavior.
    Just try separating women from their lipstick. Talk about trouble.

    All ubers and public transportation can be shut down by strike or government. Who wants that?

  27. Headline of the Morrison article: “Driverless Cars Will Dramatically Change Where And How We Live”

    My modestly changed version: “Driverless Cars Will Dramatically Change Where And How We Live and Die.”

    So, who’s liable for the death? Uber? The software vendor? The pedestrian? The vehicle owner (if not Uber)? The vehicle manufacturer?, etc. Who pays? (Can insurance be had to protect and vehicle owner from liability claims?)

    The legalities (criminal & civil/personal, plus jurisdictional issues) of self-driving vehicles will be insurmountable.

  28. What if it were not a jaywalker, but a child that ran into the street? Is it okay to just schmuck the kid? One has to wonder if the goal is actually safety.

    As for Star Trek, the entire series featured computers that routinely killed or tried to kill humans. A lot of scifi does. Maybe it’s not so fictional…

  29. What if it were not a jaywalker, but a child that ran into the street? Is it okay to just schmuck the kid? One has to wonder if the goal is actually safety.

    As for Star Trek, the entire series featured computers that routinely killed or tried to kill humans. A lot of scifi does. Maybe it’s not so fictional…

    (Speaking of computers, this may post twice because the first email is not real and the comment went into moderation. The computer just follows the rules, I know.)

    • Suddenly, I’m in moderation?????

      One of my comments was shown as “Awaiting moderation,” but doesn’t seem to have been posted. And other of my comments I thought were up, but now I don’t see them. I’m not sure what’s going on…

  30. So your headline is an hyperbole. Just because the word is in the dictionary,… so what. An hyperbole can also be inflammatory and false. Which your headline is. Bad habit which undermines the entire article.

  31. There was an interesting story in Car & Driver magazine this month about autonomous vehicles, and some of the problems with them. Yes, they can be (and have been) hacked. They can also be (and have been) confused by painting lines on the road with a spray can or even placing stickers on the road. They don’t deal well with weather, including rain and dust, and their fallback when things go awry is to pull off to the side of the road and stop. It’s pretty obvious to me that the technology just isn’t ready for prime time.

  32. There are no autonomous vehicles on the road. All such vehicles have a human driver to keep them from crashing. Apparently this happens quite often. We are a long way from fully autonomous vehicles.

    https://www.computerworld.com/article/3021908/googles-driverless-cars-still-need-a-human-driver.html

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-13/apple-s-autonomous-cars-need-much-more-human-help-than-rivals

    AI can not duplicate human decision making and it never will. AI is good at crunching numbers and recognizing preprogrammed situations. Accidents happen because of exception to rules. Humans can intervene where AI will either do something stupid or just crash.

  33. I would recommend this article: https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/robotics/artificial-intelligence/blogger-behind-ai-weirdness-thinks-todays-ai-is-dumb-and-dangerous.amp.html
    It is one of the few which actually talks about the fundamental limitations of AI.
    The point is simple: AI can work in highly constrained situations, but it works badly in unconstrained ones because AI (actually, machine learning) doesn’t understand context very well at all.
    The problem with the Uber programming wasn’t as simple as “wasn’t programmed to recognize jaywalkers”.
    Rather, the problem is that the self driving algorithms make all manner of shortcuts in order to constrain the training needs and inputs in order to derive a functional algorithm before the next millenium arrives.
    The unfortunate lady was a corner case: not a human per se, not a recognized object, no algo to handle movement of this unknown object type and so the self driving system just ignored the input.
    How these systems work under active attack – pranksters or criminals monkeying with different type of signs, shapes, colors and movements doesn’t bear thinking about.

  34. There will be a limited use for AVs some day. It will be seen that they can be assigned by the courts to repeat offenders of reckless driving and repeat drunk drivers. See a need, fill a need. The repeat offenders may be motivated to use them since they can blame the software vendor if something happens. It also makes you wonder how the insurance scam teams will adapt to AVs.

    • It is a step toward “transportation as a service”. Today, you can get an Uber ride in a city usually in under two minutes. You would not have to own a car any more.

      • That’s been true of Taxi’s for decades prior to the invention of Uber. And yet people still own cars in great numbers. And that’s the cities. Out in the countryside things are very different, Taxi’s/ubers/public transit just aren’t as convenient nor as quickly available as they are in the city. While “transportation as a service” might serve a decent sized niche in the big cities, out in the rural heartland, that niche is much smaller.

        • Please. It’s “taxis” not “taxi’s”, unless you’re referring to something belonging to a taxi. Just sayin’.

          • Grammer Nazis attacking over typos can kiss my @$$

            (and BTW, it’s saying. sayin’ makes you look uneducated. see two can play your game).

      • It does not scale. You can get a rideshare in under 2 minutes because ride sharing services account for a small percentage of trips. When all you have are sharing services wait times will increase. Imagine people lining up in Chicago’s financial district at 4:00pm. Do you think your wait will be two minutes?

  35. According to NHTSA 1.54 deaths per 100 million miles corresponds to around the year 2000. Not a bad start.

  36. Was driving around yesterday here in Barrie, Ontario and with all the snow coming down it was impossible to see lane marking. Slippery, so acceleration and stopping compromised and of course lots of traffic. Does AI just quit and tell the driver to take over? What about normal driving and the speed the car travels? Do they hold to speed limits or wait for input from driver to go faster or slower say to get by a merging transport truck or to slow down, be nice and let the guy in? What about nagging back seat drivers? 😉

    • What about nagging back seat drivers?

      AI will have that covered. Just bring your Alexa enabled device into a self-driving car for an AI back street driving experience. 😉

  37. When I was a college student working summers, I was driving a panel van down a narrow city street lined with parked cars and houses having small front yards. A hundred feet or so ahead I saw two children playing with a ball. The ball suddenly rolled onto the street between two parked cars some fifty or so feet ahead of me. Knowing that where there is a rolling ball shortly there will be a someone chasing it, I braked the van and came to a stop a two or three feet from where a child suddenly darted out. When automatic driving machines can do that, I will believe.

  38. “All drivers have been there before where someone whips in front of you from a merge lane into a gap barely large enough for their car, and you want to scream. ”

    Ummm… Merge lanes require both drivers to ‘work together’ to get the merging vehicle into the lane. This theoretical angry driver who wants to scream should have slowed down slightly to allow a gap slightly larger so the merging car could fit in better. Maybe the author didn’t read his driver’s training manual and is confused between a yield and a merge.

  39. I’ve been a “car-nut” since around 1947 and at age 11 there were three cars I saw that did it.
    MGTC, Lincoln “Continental” and the 1938 Graham Hollywood.
    These are still appealing today.
    Then I had a series of sports cars as daily drivers. Raced and rallied them and eventually (beginning in 2002) had sport cars as “collector” cars.
    I’m convinced that the promotion of electric cars and now self-driving cars has been by those who hate cars.
    The anti-car movement includes urban socialists headed by, well,…the only reason why there are no longer “village idiots” is that they have all become “city planners”.
    Sheesh!

  40. Statistically invalid to compare 2 in 130M to 40,100 in 45,714M. Also when the former in “test” mode , the other real time.

  41. Regardless of how complex the software might be, driverless cars will always be more dangerous than human-driven cars, and driverless cars not be allowed on public roads.

    There are many possible hazards that the software on a driverless car may not recognize, that human drivers learn to avoid through experience.

    For example, what about stop signs that can be obscured by vegetation, which a driverless car might ignore, but a human driver who has been there before knows about it and stops?

    What about traffic lights in an intersection with bright sunlight behind them? Could a driverless car detect the color (wavelength) of the relatively weak light from the traffic light in the much brighter sunlight? A human driver would have the instinct to use the sun visor to screen out the sunlight to make out the traffic light, and move his/her head to see the traffic light more clearly.

    What about road construction projects, where temporary orange signs and cones are used to direct traffic around them? Would a driverless car know how to follow directions around the project, or would it follow its GPS and plow right into construction workers or into a ditch across the road?

    What about driving in ice or snow? A human driver can feel the car slipping, and make corrections as necessary (particularly with years of experience), but how does a driverless car know that it is skidding, and what corrections to make?

    This recent accident with the jaywalker illustrates another point–in New York City, many people will cross streets even after the pedestrian crossing light is red, betting on “safety in numbers”, that a driver will not deliberately run over a large group of people just because the light just turned green. Would a driverless car conclude that if the light is green, it should plow ahead and expect the pedestrians to get out of the way?

    There are far too many dangerous situations that a driverless car can’t handle, which human drivers routinely deal with and avoid accidents. Driverless cars should not be allowed on public roads, period.

    • Would a driverless car know how to follow directions around the project, or would it follow its GPS and plow right into construction workers or into a ditch across the road?

      Driverless cars would need to be smarter than GPSes. I’ll never forget when a relative of mine was driving on the upper level of a multi-level section of road (in a large metropolitan area) the GPS was telling them to turn only there was literally no place to turn on the road they were on – just concrete barriers along the sides of the road. The road below the road they were on, however, is where the turn was.

    • This is a test of an idea to solve the problem of insufficiently funded public pensions:
      Step 1. Effective immediately, allow retirees to cross on a red light.
      Step 2: In January 20222 it becomes mandatory.

  42. Experts agree fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be ubiquitous and they will significantly disrupt many industries and change where and how we live.

    Ah yes. I remember experts predicting back in the 60’s that “soon” computers would be developed with the same abilities as the human brain.

    “soon” in this context means sometime after the road systems have been re-engineered to support AVs. And because 100% of roads will never be upgraded, AVs will be constantly entering and exiting controlled environments where it is safe for them to operate. So “semi-autonomous” or “part-time autonomous” would be a better description.

    AVs will have to share the road with non-automated entities such as pedestrians and bicyclists, who in my experience are predictably unpredictable.

    It’s not too far-fetched to claim that AVs do a better job than a good percentage of human drivers, but I think a better solution is to impose a higher standard of driver training.

    “soon” for ubiquitous AVs is well after Tesla has gone bankrupt, but sometime before we get practical fusion energy.

  43. “AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths,” Lyons said.

    How many of those miles were on a dedicated test track (i.e. ideal conditions)? I bet if you look at the miles driven on test tracks run by automobile makers, you find an even lower fatality/mile ratio.

  44. In our post-modern world, personal responsibility no longer exists. If fact, to the post-moderns, it never existed.

    Stop blaming me. It makes me sad.

  45. The dinosaur in the room,has not been mentioned here.
    45 seconds,was the key .For 45 seconds the software was confused,knew it was confused,yet had no instruction to NOTIFY the safety driver of that confusion.
    45 seconds may not sound like much,but try shutting your eyes for even 10 seconds at any speed.
    AI as seen on TV does not yet exist,intelligent machines?Meh.
    Who is promoting this nonsense and why?
    And that burning question,who is liable?
    I see the courts are happy to allow a firearms manufacturer (Remington)be held liable for the use of their product by others,so the self driving car makers are doomed before they even start mass production.

  46. I wonder how driverless cars would react to chaff.
    Imagine throwing a handful of confetti (the aluminum-coated version) out the window or over your shoulder if you’re driving a bicycle.
    I bet hope the AI will stop the car.

  47. In the Star Trek universe, a research center named “The Daystrom Institute” is frequently mentioned. However, the show never tells us whether it’s a center for advanced computer design, or a place where AIs with fractured egos go for Rest&Repair.

  48. I don’t have time to read all the comments today so I’m sorry if this is repetitive but nothing is done for We the People, including self-driving cars, but safety is always the excuse.

    What self-driving cars will do is control not only how fast we travel but where we’re ‘allowed’ to go, or even if we can go at all. It’s the perfect complement to an ecofascist technocracy that makes formerly free lands off-limits to all but the privileged ‘elite’. They’ve even drawn the maps.

  49. The except from Methusela’s Children hints at the deeper concerns. Someone will be able to tell you where you can and cannot travel. Which neighborhood you may set as a destination and which you cannot. An which will never even appear on your map. I guarantee you’ll never be able to travel to de Blasios, or Cher’s or Kennedy’s neighborhood with out the proper permissions set. Or the restricted parks where the nomeklatura will keep their dachas. Forget about suburbia, no reason to go there, peasant.

    Destination set: Peoples Agricultural Collective #28492, ETA 6 hours. You have been re-assigned, Peasa… *cough*, Citizen. Work will make you free!

    And if you think that little Pol Pottita, AOC, would hesitate to stoop to such measures, think again. Someone will have to harvest all that grain by hand, once ICE are illegal. Guaranteed government jobs …

  50. I got a great idea. Why don’t they find the country with the worst drivers and use that country to test their autonomous self-driving vehicles? If they would do OK over there, they’d probably be very safe anywhere else. (Yes, we have awful drivers in this country, but their not the worst).

  51. Well, now I have read the NTSB report on the Uber accident, and the most mysterious thing is that anyone would want to put this piece of junk on the road, and that any authority could be mad enough to allow it.
    Consider this:

    1. The software did not recognize the possible existence of pedestrians on the road. They were simply classified as “unknown”
    2. “Unknowns” were default considered as stationary
    3. When an object was reclassified, track history was dumped and the “new” object was default considered as stationary.
    4. The original Volvo emergency anti-collision system was automatically deactivated when the Uber software was active
    5. The Uber software however did not contain emergency anti-collision functionality. If the system found a collision to be imminent it would only apply mild braking and turning and instead sound an alarm to the supervisory driver to fix the problem.
    6. To ensure that this would not work, it first waited an extra second to make sure it wasn’t a false alarm.

    What happened was that the system detected the jaywalker in fairly good time (about 5 seconds, 100 yards), but repeatedly reclassified her as unknown/vehicle/bicycle, each time defaulting the object back to stationary as it moved into the track of the vehicle. Just 1.2 seconds (25 yards) before the crash it recognized that the object was now in the path of the car, and consequently “froze” for one second, in case it was a false alarm. It wasn’t, so 0.2 seconds (5 yards) before the crash it sounded the alarm to the supervisory driver and started mildly braking and turning. The driver apparently discovered what was happening before the alarm since he took over 0.12 seconds (3 yards) before collision (nobody reacts that fast) and started braking 0.7 seconds after hitting the pedestrian (so after 0.8 seconds, a fairly typical (though perhaps a bit over average) reaction time in an emergency).

    • Well, now I have read the NTSB report on the Uber accident, and the most mysterious thing is that anyone would want to put this piece of junk on the road, and that any authority could be mad enough to allow it.

      I don’t think the authorities that authorized Uber’s operations in Arizona had any idea how the Uber system functioned. And I think the Uber management had a “move fast and break things” mentality. Not a good mentality for autonomous vehicles.

  52. Ever run into a swarm of insects? Such as sugarcane beetles or grasshoppers? Let alone bitumen splatters, stone chips and dust or mud accretion? Static sensors can not cope with being obscured even on a fairly brief 2 to 3 hour trip down the highway. I rode motorbikes a lot when I was young, usually for no more than about 4 hours at a stint, due to bloodshot wind-blown eyes and battered kidneys from the rubbish rear shocks. But I was always amazed how coated in bugs and bug-guts my motorbike, leathers and helmet were after just a 4 hour ride down the highway.

    Plus massive potholes torn up by trucks on the abysmal Bruce Highway. Plus the wild pigs with a line of trotters behind them that run out in front of you, the train crossing, the single-lane bridges with give way signs, the kangaroos, cattle and large birds of prey eating resulting road-kill. Not to mention the bad weather, poor lighting, night time, and night time in the rain, not to mention floodways covered in water of unknown depth. Rock falls, gravel and mud on the road, wet slimy leaves in corners in the rainforest canopy. The slippery diesel spills in corners on steep ranges that are dropped randomly by trucks that refueled at the last town.

    Several times on the Atherton Tablelands I found myself rapidly catching up to a car, and was getting ready to pass at a high relative speed, only to have the car turn right in front of me, as some brain-dead farmer returning from town turned off the highway into his property’s hidden driveway, but did not bother to use an indicator, or even to use breaks (and thus break lights). They just take their foot off the accelerator, and when they reach their turn-off. they just turned without any warning. If an automated car had to deal with that at highway speeds, I’d be dead now. As it was, I only just recognized the hazard and survived it by my own emergency breaking and swerving actions. You can not program for complacent oblivious lazy local farmers who don’t and won’t follow road rules on what they think is their own road, they don’t even use the mirrors for their own safety!

    The notion of trusting a randomly degrading and obscured sensor array to drive a car safely with me or mine in it at highway speeds, is to accept high-speed fatal accidents as an unfortunate but necessary feature of fabulous technological progress.

    Sorry, I can’t believe such sensors could ever deal with highway realities better than I, or keep me safer than I can. Only an inexperienced fool would ‘trust’ an automated car to drive them on the highway every day.

    • Ever run into a swarm of insects? Such as sugarcane beetles or grasshoppers? Let alone bitumen splatters, stone chips and dust or mud accretion?

      Yes. Many years ago on a road trip to Florida, the bug splatters on the cars windshield (as well as the entire front grill) was so thick that we have to pull over a couple of times just to wash and scrape them off enough so we could see enough to drive (windshield wash/wipers weren’t cutting it as they would just smear the bug splats ever worse).

      I rode motorbikes a lot when I was young, usually for no more than about 4 hours at a stint, due to bloodshot wind-blown eyes and battered kidneys from the rubbish rear shocks. But I was always amazed how coated in bugs and bug-guts my motorbike, leathers and helmet were after just a 4 hour ride down the highway.

      Why don’t bikers smile? so they don’t have to pick the bugs out of their teeth.

  53. It does sound attractive to be able to push a button at home when it’s time to leave for work.
    Step into the POD that arrives and nap until it ejects me (or a facsimile of me) at work.
    I won’t know or care what happened on the way to work.
    I surrendered my control.
    Who’s responsible for that?

      • Is it a “what” or a “who” at the wheel?

        Sure, people make mistakes. But people can also respond to the unexpected as no AI can.

        And just how large does a computer need to be to run a “competent” AI? The size of a CRAY?
        The power consumption?
        WiFi connection? How many second by second decisions for hundreds, thousands, mill … , of controlled vehicles will it take to overwhelm the system? (I didn’t use the word “crash” on purpose even though many would be the the results.)

    • I surrendered my control. Who’s responsible for that?

      If you get on an airplane and something bad happens, who is responsible? Well, potentially many people (e.g. pilots, airplane manufacturer or airplane manufacturer parts provider, air traffic control, etc.) In any case, you certainly aren’t (unless you bring on something that causes something bad).

  54. I have something for you to think about. Say you live in a city that have a1/2 million people with self-driving cars all trying to go to work between 6:30am and 9:30am. Question: Which self-driving car gets to move from an inside lane to an outside lane to exit or make lane changes to make a right or left hand turn? Will self-driving cars make a decision to speed up or slow down to make lane changes? Will a self-driving car speed up or slow down to let another self-driving car merge? I’ll make a prediction. When everyone has a self-driving car it will add another hour to get to work.

    • I think the idea is that they’ll, at some point, communicate with each other, so no individual vehicles will have to make cascading decisions.

      • So the time spent communicating will go up by the square of the number of cars on the road? Or will it be logarithmic?

  55. “About 1/3 of US traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving.”

    As Torsten Ehrenmark pointed out long ago, this means that in 2/3 of the cases, the drivers were sober. This proves that sober driving is twice as dangerous as drunk driving .

  56. As very few if any of us use a motor vehicle 100 % of the day and night,
    so this must mean that there will be far less vehicles on the road.

    As we all know both governments and businesses regard the car as the
    German expression so clearly say, as a “”Milch Cow””.

    So a massive decrease in revenue to all the mentioned persons will occur.

    So what will they do ?

    MJE VK5ELL

    • So a massive decrease in revenue to all the mentioned persons will occur.

      So what will they do ?

      One great thing from an accounting standpoint is that autonomous vehicles allow a record for where all vehicles have traveled on every single journey. This allows–at least from a technical stanpoint–the costs of road building and maintenance to be charged to the users of the road…and only those users.

  57. If you watch the footage a normal driver may not have seen her. If you are crossing the street the onus is on you to make sure it is safe- even in a crosswalk.

    • If you watch the footage a normal driver may not have seen her. If you are crossing the street the onus is on you to make sure it is safe- even in a crosswalk.

      I don’t agree. I think this accident would have easily been avoided by a human driver with even slightly less-than-average competence. It was a straight, flat road on a clear evening. Elaine Herzberg had already crossed essentially two lanes of roadway. She was pushing a bicycle with grocery bags dangling, so she wasn’t moving fast. Even a relatively poor driver could have at least slowed down enough not to kill Ms. Herzberg. And I think even an average driver would not have struck her at all in that situation.

    • The “check driver” did notice her. He took over just before the crash, though to late to do anything about it. A normally alert driver might well have avoided the crash, particularly if the Volvo anticollision system hadn’t been disabled by Uber.

      • The “check driver” did notice her. He took over just before the crash,

        The “check driver” was female, and didn’t brake until after the collision. From the IEEE Spectrum article referenced above, referring to the Uber software:

        It suppressed any planned braking for a full second, while simultaneously alerting and handing control back to its human safety driver. But it was too late. The driver began braking after the car had already hit Herzberg.

  58. I wish people would stop talking about AI, because until a computer can have an original thought there is no such thing. Computers calculate results or determine their actions simply by processing hard-coded instructions, and how can you possibly code all of your nuanced thought processes into a set of instructions. For example, how can you tell a computer that by observing the ‘behavior’ of the car in the next lane and by noting the fact that you are at a location where a lot of the traffic needs to change lanes to make an upcoming turn, you need to increase your vigilance and prepare for the unexpected? And how can you hard-code an instruction saying: if you see someone on the side of the road with their back to you and they are just finished a conversation with someone you have to prepare for the fact that they may be too focused on their conversation to check for traffic before stepping onto the road? These are not written instructions. They are deductions we make from having knowledge of our environment and of our fellow humans. Until we understand fully how our brains work it is simply not possible to have machines imitate us. But even then there is the problem or working out how to give the computer its instructions. For example, if you tried to have a computer determine if AGW is a problem, how can you tell a computer that the guarded look in the eyes of a certain infamous proponent of AGW tell you that you need to be suspicious of the person and consider what their motive might be. And, for that matter, how can the computer understand motive. It can’t consider that the person might have a financial motive for pushing the AGW scare or that another person doing exactly the same thing might just be a little bit simple rather than having a selfish motive. Try to write instructions for these things and see how far you get.
    Finally, I have to say that the Star Trek episode The Ultimate Computer is my favourite. The person who played Daystrom, William Marshall, played the part with absolute perfection.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Marshall_(actor).

    • “”because until a computer can have an original thought there is no such thing”

      Dang, you’re right. Should have thought of that myself! 😉

    • I wish people would stop talking about AI, because until a computer can have an original thought there is no such thing.

      A common definition of intelligence is:

      the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills

      Driving a car requires lots of intelligence, without requiring “an original thought.”

        • Common definitions are not always appropriate for a particular situation.

          But in this case it certainly is. If you want an artificial intelligence (AI) driving your car, you probably don’t want an AI that has the original thought of, “Hey, rather than driving around Everglades on this road, why don’t I just cut through the Everglades to reduce the distance and save time?”

          Instead, you want an AI that can simply apply its knowledge and skills to staying in the proper lane of the road it’s on.

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