Nissan's NSC-2015, on display at the CEATEC 2012 conference in Japan, can find its own parking spot and return to pick you up after being summoned via mobile app. The car uses sensors and a camera to keep track of its location, and gives an owner a 360-degree camera view via an LTE connection of the area around the car, allowing him or her to remotely trigger the car's alarm in case of suspicious activity. Nissan will begin selling the car in 2015.
All is well and good until 50 people dump off their cars into a parking lot with 40 spaces (most full). You come back an hour later to find a herd of cars circling endlessly around a full parking lot with near empty gas tanks. Gridlock in the parking lot.
In fact, why even have a parking lot. Just have a big oval track where the car inserts itself with the rest of the idle cars. Since all the cars will communicate with each other (how else would they be able to plot against us?) they can all stop moving until one needs to exit, then move in concert to allow that car to reach the exit point.
In all seriousness, since Nissan programmed the car, will they be responsible for accidents/incidents while the car is driving itself? We are entering a brave new world where causality and responsibility are being blurred. Until the infrastructural, legal, moral, and social frameworks are in place to deal with robots and humans interacting, all of this is merely fantasy.
I can see the group of 10 year olds standing at the doors of the mall with their hacked Ipads directing the computers in the cars to collide with each other. Unless and until someone comes up with a computer that cannot be taken over by a bad guy/prankster, I'll settle for dealing with illogical human powered vehicles.
mrdon, I agree with your comment about it making society lazy but not just mentally - I often intentionally park my car far away from the entrance in order to get some needed exercise. While having a car park itself can be a blessing for the handicapped or infirmed, I think we are losing too much physical activity to technological advances and our health will suffer because of it...
I would love to know more about the systems that allow this to happen and how apps integrate relative to those systems. This is an excellent article and falls in line with another I read discussing the use of application software and Wi-Fi packages to program and trouble shoot robots used in manufacturing processes. One very beneficial advantage would be protecting workers and shutting down machinery in case health issues arose. This could prevent injury and promote safety. Great article.
While it's interesting to dream of automated cars like in a Phillip K. Dick movie, it is cool to start to see them becoming a reality, even if only in minor stages.
I'd have to agree with 3drob, in that there are all sorts of questions that arise and considerations to worry about; however, even now, I don't think it's all fantasy, but just another hurdle to overcome.
While it may be cool to have a permanent built-in valet, I can see this as a potential major catastrophe waiting to happen once it's released to a 'real world', uncontrolled environment.
Minor inconveniences could range from the car chooses it's 'parking spot'... in a city, without the infrastructure to rely upon, could it mistake stop and go traffic as a parking spot? Park in front of a fire hydrant, loading zone, or other non-parking area.... What about those timed zones with parking only certain hours or on one side of the street on certain days of the week/month? Will we have a rash of double-parked automaton cars? Will it drive into pay lots or parking garages? Will we have automated parking lot attendants that recognize robot cars to let them in and out, and when they return we discover a parking fee charge on our phone? In suburban environments, will we find strange cars in our driveways blocking our cars in? In commercial areas, could we expect to find businesses losing money because robot cars are filling their parking lots for a business down the street?
Of course we can imagine all sorts of possibilities of futuristic robot cars... whether it's as mundane as letting your car find it's own parking space during those crowded Christmas shopping excursions, sporting events, concerts, amusement parks, or other parking nightmares... to the more practical, such as those busy adults, teenagers, and children with tight, varied, and/or conflicting schedules... imagine your family only has one car, but during your spouse's workday, your spouse needs to go to the doctor but you need the car an hour later to drive to meeting... after your spouse takes the car to the doctor, it'll drive itself back to your parking lot so you can have it when you need it... Or how about mandatory automated car usage for those convicted of DUIs or DWIs? How about for teenagers and adult drivers that seem to drive by 'feel'? Imagine ambulances where you actually have two or more paramedics able to provide care while en route while the vehicle drives itself? Or long haul vehicles, with advanced, situational AI for dangerous routes like ice road hauling? How about installed hardware that comes standard, but for a price an AI module can turn your car into a robot car just by plugging it into a computer port (look out OBD) under the hood or dash... We could also imagine emergency overrides, such as if vehicles are blocking a fire lane, hydrant, or access to a building, special override controllers would send the (automated) vehicles out of the way to find new parking spots. Could AI be developed for police and military so that armored vehicles could recognize threats and screen our people (IFF) from harm as they advance (moving screen)? Imagine fully automated dump trucks at mines, quarries, and construction sites making runs without running stop lights because the drivers are paid by the run.
But what if something goes wrong? Could the car self-analyze if it breaks down, summon a tow truck or repair vehicle, or even ambulance or rescue team, or even use predictive or preventative schedules to maintain itself, drive itself to a shop while you sleep and you simple see the charge the next day?
Unfortunately, we can also imagine more nefarious uses... Imagine your phone or car being hacked... Maybe the least scary is your car simply being stolen... Imagine your car making one or more unknown stops, picking up an unwanted passenger before it arrives at your location... or your car being borrowed as an escape car in a crime... used as a drug mule/transport while you sleep? ...or, as gwilki suggests, imagine a group of kids hacking several cars and having a Mario Kart race in real life around the mall parking lot, suburb, or even downtown? What about hacker 'hit men' using the cars, over-riding safeties, and using them to commit vehicular homicides (or 'accidents')? Even scarier, imagine terrorists using these to deliver ordinance to targets... no need even for a suicidal zealot, just "let your fingers do the walking" (driving)... nuclear, chemical, and/or biological delivery via (hacked) car and satellite phone
Automated cars can represent an idyllic dreamworld or a nightmarish hell, but, with most advancing technology, it'll be somewhere in between... We're just hoping for more of the former and none of the latter...
I'm a little surprised that Nissan plans to bring this car to market by 2015. Self-parking cars is one thing -- the driver is still behind the wheel while the car is parking itself. This, however, seems to call for full autonomy. Up to now, the problem has been so-called "rogue vehicles" -- i.e,, vehicles driven by humans. Autonomous cars get confused by the crazy and unpredictable things that humans do. In an article we did earlier this year, an autonomous vehicle expert told us: "We never saw a robotic vehicle run a stop sign or fail to use turn signals. They were much more predictable than the humans." So what will happen when these Nissan vehicles are sharing the road with human-driven cars and pedestrians?
Hi Nancy, I do the same as well when parking my car at the mall. I agree, for the physically impaired this car will definitely provide mobility but individiuals who are not physically challenge, improve your driving skills and keep the eyes on the road!
My concern with all self-driving vehicles will be the application of logic. Naturally, as a sci-fi reader I think back to Isaac Asimov's 3 rules of robotics and how they would resolve conflicts. Okay, we have an unattended car and an unavoidable collision ahead, two individuals in a crosswalk and the vehicle brakes have failed on a narrow street. But wait, one individual is smaller than the other, which means less damage to the unit. Of course the smaller human is 6 while the larger human is 85, but logic would demand that the car hit the 6-year-old and damage itself less. Why? The first rule of robotics is not to harm humans, but that becomes a moot point under the current circumstances- a collision in unavoidable. The second law, obeying human commands, is not applicable. The third law, self preservation, remains. So it runs over the kid and causes a smaller dent in the bumper. Now how would I, as a presumed human, respond to the same situation? I can only guess. But I'm certain how the car would respond, given its directives, and I'm not sure how much I like that.
The idea of computer-driven cars seems cool, but then I ask, who writes the programming? Would it be Microsoft, the most skilled at mass-market programming, but also the inventors of the fabled Blue Screen of Death? The designers who thought it made perfect sense to hit the Start button to turn off the computer? I dunno. I guess this all sounded a lot better on paper.