What Could Go Wrong

December 17, 2015

All Posts, News

What Could Go Wrong

Yesterday, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles “released draft autonomous vehicle deployment regulations” for so called “autonomous” cars.  The DMV called the proposed rules “the next step toward allowing the public to operate self-driving cars on California roadways in the future.”

The proposed regulations begin by banning the sale and commercial use of driverless cars. Information giant Google, as well as auto companies Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Delphi Automotive, Tesla Motors, Bosch, Nissan, Cruise Automation, BMW, Honda, and Ford have been developing and testing autonomous cars. Google’s version is intended to work like a driverless taxi that picks up passengers and drops them off. Google’s cars do not feature driver controls like steering wheels, accelerators or brakes. They have on and off buttons. Traditional automakers have advertised their autonomous cars as vehicles that extend current autonomous vehicle features like self braking. Mercedes-Benz has suggested that you could drive it’s autonomous car to the airport and the car could then go park itself.

Three Google employees were injured in an accident while riding in one of the company’s driverless cars on a public road last July in Mountain View, California. Volkswagen was recently discovered to have installed “defeat device” software in 11 million of its cars in order to produce false results on government mandated emissions tests.

DMV Regulations

In a press release, California DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said “The primary focus of the deployment regulations is the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles.”

California has proposed four rules for the coming development and deployment of autonomous cars on California’s roads.

1.    Manufacturers must allow third-party testing organizations to certify the robot cars’ “compliance with specific autonomous vehicle safety and performance requirements.”

2.    Driverless cars are banned. “A licensed operator will be required to be present inside the vehicle and be capable of taking control in the event of a technology failure or other emergency.” Operators would also be required to obtain an autonomous vehicle “operator certificate.”

3.    Autonomous cars will initially be allowed for only a three-year test period.

4.    The new cars can’t spy on their operators and must be reasonably hacker-proof. “Manufacturers must disclose to the operator if information is collected, other than the information needed to safely operate the vehicle. Manufacturers will be required to obtain approval to collect this additional information. Autonomous vehicles will be equipped with self-diagnostic capabilities that detect and respond to cyber-attacks or other unauthorized intrusions, alert the operator, and allow for an operator override.”

Google Gravely Disappointed

Google has not embraced the proposed regulations. Google spokesman Johnny Luu wrote, “In developing vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button, we’re hoping to transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error or bringing everyday destinations within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car. Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this. We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.”

Meanwhile Austin, Texas where Google is also testing self-driving cars, is “thrilled” by the proposed California regulations according to a spokesman for Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Austin sees the regulations as an opportunity to steal more jobs from California.

Texas does not regulate autonomous vehicles. According to numerous news sources, Google has lobbied to keep it that way. Texas has actively solicited California companies to relocate because of Texas’ “friendlier and cheaper business environment.” During the last year, Toyota has been relocating it’s North American headquarters from Torrance, California, which is surrounded by the City of Los Angeles, to Plano, Texas which is about 20 miles north of Dallas.

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31 Responses to “What Could Go Wrong”

  1. Tooj Says:

    Software engineer hubris. Just because a thing can be done does not mean it should be done. It’s been forgotten that driving is a privilege and not a right.

    Besides, this is probably just so that folks can screw in a moving vehicle; just another new kink.

  2. Shovelhead Says:

    Next they’ll be driverless motorcycles for those couch patato Yuppie wannabee Bikers too afraid to actually get on a bike. They can attach cameras and ride from their living room while watching reruns of SOA.

  3. Mama G Says:

    Well said Phuquehed!!

    Actually well points made by many. Having been run off the road on my Sportster by a professional driver whose job it is to be overly attentive and alert- On duty Sheriff who blew a residential yield sign so fast his SUV visibly lurched, the thought of driverless cars is terrifying. It’s bad enough out there for us now with all the distracted and intoxicated on God knows what the last thing we need is to share the road with software controlled cars. I don’t have faith in “non hackable” software. Hasn’t there already been enough accidents by automotive software glitches with stuck accelerators that the drivers were unable to stop? No thank you Google and all you other nerds. Come up with something life saving not life endangering.

    Ipstick- I have said for decades “SPANDEX IS A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT!!” As are short shorts!

    Much Respect, Huge Hugs and Big Smooches to all of you AMAZING regulars!

  4. Jim crawford Says:

    Re poncho,

    There was a recent case in Scottsdale Arizona where a man was a
    Accused of riding a horse on a public trail while intoxicated.
    He was acquitted after his defense attorney showed
    A video of the horse walking itself from the bar where the
    Man had been drinking back to its stall in the stable.
    The defense argued that this was proof that the rider was merely
    Passenger and that the horse was operating itself.

  5. TX_Biker Says:

    @EC Vagos…I think you’re the only one that got it….

  6. EC Vagos Says:

    @TX_Biker LMFAO

  7. NCRider Says:

    Just imagine these cars in a Wal-Mart parking lot!

  8. ak rack Says:

    This seems to me like another brilliant technical solution desperately seeking a problem to solve. When I’m to old/messed up to ride/drive, my plan is to impose on friends, neighbors and family for rides until I exhaust whatever goodwill I’ve accumulated over the years or die in a high speed wheel chair accident.

    I wish these smart people would work on something useful — like maybe realistic sex robots for those of us that have severe cosmetic challenges (i.e. old and butt ugly).

  9. Gandalf Says:

    Where did everyone go? Y’all left me in Waco to look at a car in Cali? LOL MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

  10. Concho Says:

    Just a thought. What if the rider/driver happens to be totally shit face fucked up and this genius mobile gets in an accident or pulled over for some infraction. Who is arrested the rider or the car?

  11. Phuquehed Says:

    @198VTAsupport – Ah yes, but let’s say at this particular moment the person sitting in the vehicle *did* decide to ‘take control’ because they saw you coming. How fast is the vehicle going to take to give that control to the driver? What if the vehicle thinks the drivers movements are ‘wrong’?

    This is the kind of shit I’m talking about when I say it’s still humans writing the software for these things. No matter what, it’s still a ‘human’ at the wheel. A computer does absolutely nothing until a *person* tells it to do something.

    There’s just way too many variables that can happen in an instant that a computer program will not be able to ‘think’ its way out of or ‘react’ correctly.

    Like ipsick said, who is it that pays the bills and takes the responsibility when this vehicle *does* make a wrong decision? Can’t be the actual ‘person(s)’ in the vehicle, they can say the car was in control or they can swear that they tried to take over and the car gave up control too slowly or any other bullshit lie to not take responsibility for the accident.

    This idea is great on paper, but a fucking abortion to actually be used. It’s going to be as bad as letting every dickweed own one of those useless fucking drones that *MOST* will at one time or another abuse. Eventually more and more ‘Bad Shit’ is going to happen until the government pulls its head out of its ass (always too late) and makes up some decent rules for owning one and decent punishments for the abuse of them.

  12. Stevo Says:

    Still safer than a woman driver…

    Happy Christmas to all here,


  13. 198VTAsupport Says:

    I agree with what DiablosBLVD said, these California drivers are terrible. In fact I just dodged a few on my way to work this morning, one pulling out of a driveway and the other a random ass U-turn from the shoulder. If the sensors work well enough, I bet the computer would be way more predictable than the current set of assholes out there.

  14. ipsick Says:

    Oh yeah, technology is like yoga pants, just because you have them doesn’t mean you should wear them……….

  15. ipsick Says:

    I worry about at what distance the sensor sees me coming up from behind this type of car. Is it calibrated at legal speed or just sensing an object there?

    I am flying along in the fast lane at 85mph and the unmanned car decides to move into my lane because it does not sense anything in its zone and I get there before it can.

    Does my death certificate read, “cause of death, software glitch”?

    And if it is just a fender bender and you drop the bike but are not hurt, who do you get to beat the shit out of at the point of the accident?

    I just don’t trust this, I mean my home pc can be slow at times, what if this technology experiences the same lags?

    Just thinking out loud……

  16. xplor Says:

    How do these vehicles perform when they meet a bike?
    How about a little kid on a hot wheel?

  17. Road Whore Says:

    What Phuquehed said.

    Ride Free

  18. Meh Says:

    Vehicle drivers are rather broken today and the casualty stats bear that out.

    When accident deaths per mile traveled were a fucking bloodbath only a few people considered vehicle design to be dangerous, but they were proven correct over time as safety standards drastically changed what we drive. Ralph Nader indirectly saved nearly 200K lives at last count and many more injuries by fighting for safety before it was fashionable. Improved vehicles can gradually address the most broken part of todays systems, the driver.

    We already have highly successful and safe air travel where the aircrew are or can basically be passengers. As more aircraft functions were automated airline safety steadily improved. Of course there will be a learning curve with autos but many early adopters will be techies and it will be many years before mass adoption.

    The moon landing example is interesting but the 1960s are ancient history in tech terms. Code can be audited and highly stable RTOS like those used in aircraft autopilots can handle controls reliably. There is zero need to enable remote updating as done with the shitty software on smart phones. Electronic control units can be reflashed without having a bunch of security holes. They could be updated with a portable unit similar to existing automotive diagnostic “scopes”.

    Human drivers don’t have 360-degree situational awareness and don’t constantly maintain the SA they do have. There is a lot of room for driver augmentation followed by replacement for travel on roads.

    Bad weather and off-road navigation will be harder because predicting soil conditions is difficult, but DARPA is working that issue for supply vehicles. (No driver, no casualty bonus for blowing one away. An automated supply vehicle could press on through situations which would distract human operators.)

    As the population ages driverless technology can reduce the number of bikers struck by cognitively impaired gummers. Riding near retirement communities could be a lot safer with automated vehicles. All of us if we live long enough will turn into bewildered, distracted meatbags. We will still require transport. Automation could drastically reduce accidents where cagers ignore motorcycles.

  19. bcnasty Says:

    Shit while I do not want to see this, artificial intelligence is better than some of the mouth breathers with zero intelligence that I have to avoid most days of the week. For years I have pushed for an I.O. test rather than driving ability. That it itself would weed out a lot of idiots.

  20. Phuquehed Says:

    The first major ‘problem’ with this is – the program written to have the vehicle do what it does, is still written by a human. That human or humans will *NOT* be able to foresee every kind of scenario. It’s an fucking impossibility.

    Next…people are already lax and stupid with other things distracting them and have little care for what they’re doing as things are now. What makes these fucktard developers of this abortion think the person(s) sitting in a vehicle that – in their feeble minds – is driving itself around, are going to actually pay enough attention to what the vehicle is doing to suddenly decide they need to ‘take charge’? The people in the vehicle will become even *MORE* lax than they are now and any time they try to ‘take charge’ is *ALWAYS* going to be way too fucking late.

    This is just another example of fixing what ain’t broke and not putting this intellect to better use of fixing the shit that *IS* broke in this country.

  21. Bone Head Says:

    WheresMyBoots Says:

    “Have a friend got smacked in the face by a drone in Las Vegas. It was a little one, so some cuts and abrasions.”

    Jeez, that could knock a rider off his bike, or at least cause a loss of control! Hope your friend heals up ok.

    Rebel, hope you’re coming along ok too. Been back to the docs’ for a follow-up yet?

  22. WheresMyBoots Says:

    Have a friend got smacked in the face by a drone in Las Vegas. It was a little one, so some cuts and abrasions. No idea whose it was or who was ‘piloting’ the thing.
    Hate to get smacked in the face by an SUV.
    Respects, and Ride Free,

    Best wishes and please get well Rebel. Thanks for writing away. Respects, and Ride Free.

  23. Road Whore Says:

    One good example of our Sci-Fi mouths overloading out stone-age asses:


    The use of the pen to flip the switch wasn’t as cavalier as this article makes it sound…on the TV series America: Facts vs. Fiction they were trying to figure out what to do and realized they could be left stranded on the moon…to die. The White House had already drafted a speech to the nation to inform the citizenry of the catastrophe when they finally figured out to use the pen to flip the switch.

    Ride Free

  24. Road Whore Says:

    Trouble is…our Sci-Fi mouths are always overloading our stone-age asses.

    Ride Free

  25. DiablosBLVD Says:

    Speaking as a California lane-splitter…I would actually trust these cars far more than I would the distracted and/or entitled California Prius driver any day. Some people just don’t deserve to have a drivers license.

  26. ElleElle Says:

    Hmm..I don’t know-with the vast amount of idiots out there texting while they are driving-this could be the ultimate in their flash of enjoyment-I mean think about it..they still get to claim it wasn’t “their fault” when they clip a bike…

  27. T Hell Says:

    What could go wrong? Look at the video that accompanies the article and notice that the car is equipped with a full fucking roll cage, looks like google knows exactly what’s gonna go wrong.

  28. Bone Head Says:

    “Manufacturers must disclose to the operator if information is collected, other than the information needed to safely operate the vehicle. Manufacturers will be required to obtain approval to collect this additional information. Autonomous vehicles will be equipped with self-diagnostic capabilities that detect and respond to cyber-attacks or other unauthorized intrusions, alert the operator, and allow for an operator override.”
    That’s going to work out…NOT!

  29. TX_Biker Says:

    Great Idea…now a terrorist won’t even have to drive the suicide car to its final destination….

  30. Meh Says:

    We already have a baseline of “what can go wrong” with manually controlled vehicles. The main question is what “autopiloted” vehicles do in comparison.

    We write off a modest 30K+ dead every year with highly refined manned systems. Autopiloted vehicles will kill and injure people too. It’s the cost of transportation.

  31. Wino Enzed Says:

    Hope I die before I get old things they do look awfully cold
    (The Who)

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