Google’s recent announcement that it would produce approximately 100 self-driving cars came as a surprise to the general public, but it’s hardly a new idea within the confines of the auto industry.
Enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles has grown in the past decade, as automakers and universities have teamed to create cars capable of steering, braking, accelerating, and navigating on their own. Starting in 2004, races sponsored the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) proved that a self-driven car was a viable concept, with five vehicles completing a rugged 132-mile course in the second race and six more finishing the third. Since that time, Google has logged more than 700,000 miles on its self-driving cars.
Here, we present a short history of autonomous cars. From student-designed buggies to self-driving production cars, we offer a glimpse at the future of the automobile.
Click on Chevrolet’s EN-V below to start the slideshow.
Could this be the future of the automobile? Jointly developed with Segway Inc., Chevrolet’s EN-V (Electric Networked-Vehicle) is a self-driven, electrically propelled concept car designed for urban environments. Chevy said the autonomous two-seat vehicle is designed to address environmental issues, traffic congestion, parking, safety, and energy consumption. It will reportedly be featured in a 2015 Disney film called Tomorrowland. (Source: Chevrolet)
Charles, I have seen what the "BSOD" can do to a computer contrllled industrial testing machine, (NOT of my design), and the damage was not minor.
The comments about updates and hackers are also certainly valid, and they do bring up whole additional realms of reasons to approach the implementation with caution.
My prediction is that if the autonomous vehicles are ever mandated that traffic speeds will be reduced to the point that any collision would not cause injury, since the vehicles will be moving so slowly. While that mode could be safer, I don't expect that many would find it acceptable. The entire exercise will turn out to have been a large waste of money, materials, and time. And only 80% of the folks will realize it.
Multiple reasons exist as to why the autonomous car willnever work. Not that they won't be made and sold, but that the promised benefits will never happen. First is the legal problem, since when there is an accident with injury somebody will be at fault, and that would be the producer of the control program that was doing the driving. The auto companies won't accept that, as Charles has already explained. And he is right. The second challenge will pop up even sooner, which is that when an exception situation happens the car will not know how to deal with it and so it will just stop. And we know that exceptions will happen. That will make them very unpopular in a real hurry. Or they will make a wrong choice,with a similar result. The automotive equivalent of the dreadd "blue screen of death" will be te end of the driverless vehicles on public roads.
The Toyota case is definitely a concern, Cadman-LT, especially when you place it in the context of the autonomous car. Software expert Michael Barr, whose testimony turned one of the recent Toyota trials, had a lot to say on that subject at EE Live this year:
I love the fact that the google cars have no steering wheel or pedals. So when it screws up I guess off the cliff you go! No way would I trust a car that I couldn't at least correct at some point. Well, at least it only goes 25mph, you'll probably survive if you have to bail!
I have a hard time with the whole concept...as much as I like the idea. I just think back, and not long ago, where Toyota had braking and I believe gas pedal issues. I just think it has a very very long way to go before I trust an auto car. If they can't get the basics right....I mean really. And Toyota has been doing it a lot longer than google.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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