That is the complete ineptitude of the NHTSA to write a coherent, complete, and well-designed solution. An an "insider" in the automotive industry (global, BTW) I am very familiar with many of the incomprehensible 500+ page documents issued by the NHTSA. My favorite example is the one covering airbags, specifically the part about front passenger air-bag disabling based on seat position and passenger weight. Nowhere in the entire document (yes, well over 500 pages) are there any SPECIFICATIONS or even a section describing what the goal is: to have airbags NOT trigger if the front passenger is a child (under 50lb), or a very small adult, OR if the seat/back adjustments are such that the likelihood of the air bag causing more injury than it would prevent is high. Instead, the only detailed requirements are for the acceptance test procedure. This states the seat travel should be in the center of its range, the seat back in an upright position, and sandbags of different weights should be tested. I know at least one MAJOR manufacturer (for ALL its brands) has designed to meet the test, and not the (unstated) intent of the regulation. I own one of those cars; after a recall campaign thet did NOT fix the problem (at great expense to the manufacturer), the NTHSA agreed that a second campaign was needed. NTHSA agreed that the second campaign would consist of a mass mailing to all registered purchasers of the affected vehicles (MILLIONS) of a label to be attached to the front of the glove box stating that using the passenger seat in any position other than the "test case" configuration was likely to expose the passenger to serious injury!
The "second layer" to this general onion is the law of unintended consequences: Once a governmant mandate for a particular solution to a problem is made, it will act as an INHIBITOR to innovation! Anyone who thinks the converse simply does not understand the way MOST governments work. They hardly ever write performance standards, but are much more likely to (and be comfortable with) a prescribed solution that does not allow for innovation or even improvements.
I believe that you have just described the reason that autonomous cars will not work in the US,"This is due to vehicle technology and due to road conditions and due to experience of drivers for such traffic conditions." Germany is a country with a highway system that is in much better condition, and probably much better designed, and built with better materials. That does make a difference. Also the drivers are screened, and not everybody who shows up at the German license office gets a license. That also makes a big difference.
The concept of a separate lane for autonomous vehicles is quite reasonable, presently many cities do have lanes for multiple-occupancy vehicles, but in any case that is limited to some sections of the city areas only.
It would not be possible to have vehicles with widely separate speeds traveling on the same roadways here, since those who choose to drive slower than they should also choose to pick their lane seemingly at random. A vehicle traveling 50MPH moving into a 65MPH lane is already quite disruptive, if they moved into a lane with traffic going even 100MPH it would cause multiple problems.
So until all cars were controlled by compatible systems there would be all kinds of exceptions happening. You are very fortunate that our poor drivers don't travel on the autobahn. WEv used to have a section of interstate highway that ran in a similar manner when it was first opened, but after just a few months it became so very crowded that higher speeds are impossible. In fact, after six months the traffic flow was already well beyond the anticipated future maximum level, and it is still rising. One more example of poorly thought out highway designs here.
Hi William, I believe the whole story starts by trying to overcome prejudices. Lobby groups are trying to impact public opinion by adding soft factors that end up influencing objective judgement of facts. So I will try to avoid this by sticking to technical facts.
That autonomous driving will lead to slow traffic is not in line with what we expect here in Germany based on studies of traffic flow. It is more likely, that traffic will speed up. As I sure you are aware of, we in Germany have a large portion of our highway system with no speed limit. Driving at 150 miles per hour is less stressy than for example driving at 55 mph on an US highway. This is due to vehicle technology and due to road conditions and due to experience of drivers for such traffic conditions.
The addition of autonomous driving cars is a process and not an over night event. Here an ad in English from Mercedes of their "pre brake safety system":
The system takes into account human limitations and extends safety by assissting and intervening. Its just a step of the process but it documents the trend!
In the USA you have special lanes, at least I have seen them in California, where i.e. cars with 2 or more person aboard have the right to move. Imagine such a lane for autonomous driving cars! In entertainment parks you can buy premium service to reduce or ebven eliminate waiting in the ques. Autonomous driving and therefor much faster traffic will probably start as premium offering and due to increased safety be enforced over time (insurance bills i.e.!)
Hellmut, in Germany driving is a privalege, not a right, and the requirements for earning that privalege are fairly strict. Here in the USA, at least in this part of Michigan, the main requirement is that one has the money to pay for the license. So we have a fair portion of really bad drivers, those with poor judgement and no understanding of how things function. That makes the situation a bit different.
Also, while we have quite a few trucks, it is probably far fewer than you have. And while our present administration is attempting to create a "nanny state", many of us simply do not believe that the government knows best in many areas of life. So the whole concept of autonomous cars on public roadways is a really bad idea, simply because they will never be able to handle exceptions. Your description of trucks in a freight yard is an entirely different set of conditions that is far less likely to suffer from exceptions.
The real problem that will prevent the automated cars is that they will be so very slow that people will hate them. They will be programmed to follow every stupid whim of all the municiple governments of each city that they pass through, which will reduce traffic speeds by an amount that will frustrate everybody who has something better to do than to sit in slow traffic. So while the concept may sound like a good idea, the secondary and tertiary results will be a disaster, and the system will be abandoned, resulting in a large waste of resources.
I hope I am understanding correctly what you write about 99guspuppet. Privacy rights and freedom are key issues for any democratic person! We in Europe are progressing in educating our goverments not to give in to USA behaviour of massive spying, of ignoring laws and of violating privacy rights. A goverment that officially declares that it will ignore any laws that conflict to USA interests, be they security or economic or technology oriented, erodes the value of laws in the world. The consequence is a Putin taking for himself the same rights the USA take for themselves! If you link this to the implication of freedom and of the rights of the individual privacy to what is starrting to happen in the IoT and in the cars internal cloud linked technologies, combined with the luck of awareness for the need to protect freedom and the rights of the individuum, enforced by the generation of the 68s and later, by cuurent young generation, I am afraid about the future and would fully share your statements.
If your statement is related to the implications of autonomous driving, the I have to contradict you! here In Germany was and partly still is the message: Free driving for free people. As a consequence in many portions of the Ger,man "Autobahn System" there is still no speed limit. As a result german cars were forced and could justify to implement most advanced technology into our cars, the reason we are one of the top contenders in the automotive industry.
Still so, commuting to work during rush hour every morning and evenning has very liitle to do with freedom on the highway. Would an autonomous car drive the vehicle to its destination while the driver reads the newspaper or works in his "office in the car" leads to a huge amount of productive work hours which helps to keep the business competitive. This is specially true, when the luck of young people forces the industry to make best use of its resources!
Sorry William to contradict you! May be the USA will be the last to make it happen, but that is the problem for your industry! The work towards that goal is pretty advanced so far. But it is not just a technical roadmap, it is also a roadmap for the legal system! I remember the autonomous parking system, first introduced by BMW. The first step on the legal path was to force the participation of the driver achieving this way his involvement from a liability point of view. If you look into the advertising for the "Smart" vehicles, "Smart" being a car brand this is even advancing this more.
The example I gave for the autonomus truck driving within the area of a logistics center follows that same path. Being private property ground and the system being able to improve dramatically the efficiency of a logistic center gives the incentive to make it happen. Its a controlled environment. You in the USA are having quite a few initiatives to make the roas smart. All this works towards that future.
Here in Germany we have a huge need to advance towards this goal. Since the removal of the wall and the opening of eastern Europe, Truck traffic on German highways has exploded. Germany is in the heart of Europe and so its "Autobahns" are extremely heavily used. Combine the need to improve the traffic on our Autobahns with the goal to reduce energy consumption an CO2 generation leaves little choice!
If I see the cruisers keeping a constant distance towards the car in front, if I see the Mercedes and Volvo advertizing of its cars reacting on behalf of the driver to prevent an accident to happen at all, you see how technology and the legal system are maturing to one day achieve the today considered ultimate goal of autonomous driving cars!
Once this technogies are in use for quiet some time the experiences with it and with the legal implicacions adapt the legal system, the ultimate goal will be reached!
Hellmut, what you are describing is UTOPIA, which has been attempted many times, and each time it has failed. Consider that with an autonomus car there is nobody responsible in case of some kind of accident. Now that would attract a whole fleet of lawyers and the trial would be quite something. Besides that, none o9f the automated driverless cars would ever be able to handle exceptions, which makes them intrinsicly unsafe, since exceptions do happen in the real world. In addition the fact is that somebody must needs be responsible for what the car does, and that MUST be the driver, not some programmer unable to visualize anything like an exception.
So the autonomus car will only be suitable for use in the kingdom of utopia, a land that I would avoid visiting with all my effort.
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