“Apologies, human. I did not detect you.”

Forget SMIDSY, Google wants robots to drive cars

Posted: 8 May 2012
by Visordown News

INTERWEB colossus Google has its sights set on changing more than just the virtual world – it's just managed to get a licence to use its prototype driverless cars on real roads in Nevada.

The firm's prototype Toyota Prius has already covered 140,000 miles in testing, its only accident happening when it was hit from behind by a living, breathing driver in another car. But until now Google has always had to have a person sitting behind the wheel of its prototype, just in case it has a HAL 9000 moment...

Now, though, that's changed. The new licence means the car can be tested without its human safety net. Admittedly it's only allowed in Nevada, where open spaces are so large that if you put a brick on the accelerator of a normal car and called it “driverless” it still probably wouldn't hit anything. However, other states including California, are also mulling similar law changes to allow automatons to use the roads.

What does it mean for bikes? Well, experiments with riderless bikes haven't been totally successful so far so the chances are we'll still be needed for a while. Will the robot cars we'll one day share the roads with be any better at seeing motorcycles than real drivers are? Let's hope so.

What do you think? Will removing drivers add danger (“Hello, helpdesk... Gone haywire at 90mph you say? Have you tried turning it off and on again?”) or by cutting out the human element will roads actually become a safer place for bikes?


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Makes you wonder how long it will be before the situation completely flips and the exception will be a human driving/riding a vehicle. I'm guessing that the HASH party (where HASH=Health And Safety Hitlers) and insurance companies will both push the law makers for legalisation of this technology. There's already been a quote from a copper about the majority of accidents being caused by humans (which is likely completely true, unfortunately) so the politicians will have to consider the adoption of this technology on the grounds of road safety, if nothing else. I think unless we carefully guard/defend our rights to drive/ride the future of road transport could become intolerably tedious.

Posted: 08/05/2012 at 14:39

Makes you wonder how long it will be before the situation completely flips and the exception will be a human driving/riding a vehicle. I'm guessing that the HASH party (where HASH=Health And Safety Hitlers) and insurance companies will both push the law makers for legalisation of this technology. There's already been a quote from a copper about the majority of accidents being caused by humans (which is likely completely true, unfortunately) so the politicians will have to consider the adoption of this technology on the grounds of road safety, if nothing else. I think unless we carefully guard/defend our rights to drive/ride the future of road transport could become intolerably tedious.

Posted: 08/05/2012 at 15:42

What's the point of a driverless car? None, that I can see. A driverless big rig, delivering stuff 24/7 is the only feasible use of this technology and do you really want a huge 18 wheeler bearing down on you with it's Cylon eye whooshing back and forth?

Posted: 08/05/2012 at 18:05

tbh i quite like the idea of self driving cars (like in minority report)

i can sit reading a book/doing something useful, rather than trying to concentrate on 200 miles of boring motorway.


please don't take my bike away from me though :D

Posted: 08/05/2012 at 18:44

I'd trust the Robot a DAMN sight more than at least 40% of the road users I see most days.

Posted: 08/05/2012 at 19:26

Trouble is Leon, the HASH are doing more harm than good. By people taking risk's, we evolve and push ourselves further. Had Orville & Wilbur Wright done a risk assessment, man would probably not flown.

The most exciting thing kids have to look forward to nowadays, is some latest digital game to hit thier console's. Sorry, but riding the TT course on a PS3 is bugger all like doing it on a CBR6.

Were just breeding a generation of couch potatoes that end up being over weight little weakling's that have to be ferried around in 4x4's by mumsy and dadsy. They've seen it all, but experienced nothing and think they know it all.

Posted: 09/05/2012 at 07:09

Robot bikes can work too :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CYGT97i8qU&feature=endscreen&NR=1

but I don't see them delivering pizza anytime soon.

And robot cars ? And then what... ROBOCOP !

But I can see a use for robot cars - taking the kids to school when mum and dad have 2 jobs each ... and they need the jobs to pay for the robot car... er...

Posted: 09/05/2012 at 10:15

Oh, I forgot to ask, do you need a licence to drive a driverless car ?

Posted: 09/05/2012 at 10:17

The thought occurs that there are some situations that need a human decision, for example:
Could it distinguish the difference between a squirrel running out in front of you (probably safer to just hit it rather than slam the breaks on or swerve) or a small child that you would do everything possible to avoid?
There are so many possible eventualities that can occur when driving I can’t believe a computer could be programmed to deal with them all?

Posted: 10/05/2012 at 09:17

Health and safety is for your benefit. Learn to love it.

Posted: 10/05/2012 at 21:33

This technology is incredibly dangerous. When all cars are "driverless" or "robotic" you will not be able to escape the henchmen of whatever dictator decides to seize power; if you are suspected of "thought-crime" or being "an enemy of the state" they can just disable your car or make it drive you to the nearest prison. Not to mention that all your movements can be monitored - actually this is already happening with ANPR cameras in the UK, unless you run small plates ;)

This type of tech may be intended for good reasons like safety (i.e. protecting people from bad drivers who shouldn't have a licence anyway), but it has the potential to completely destroy people's freedom to move around unwatched and uncontrolled by the state. Which I happen to think is much more important.

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 17:46

Talkback: “Apologies, human. I did not detect you.”



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