- Miles driven per needed human intervention 2017, Waymo: ~5700; GM: ~1300; Nissan: ~250, everyone else sucks at around 100.
- Tesla is not talked about at all, surprising considering Elon is constantly saying it's around the corner.
- Waymo has an Uber / Lyft esque app that the customers testing it's pilot program are using.
- Waymo's showing (not charging) prices similar to Lyft and Uber ($1.70/mile). An analyst thinks without paid drivers they could go as low as 70¢/mile, and only 35¢/mile by 2020.
- Waymo is only testing is places with perfect weather.
- Waymo plans on launching their first location for a ride hailing service by the end of 2018.
Driving in an urban environment is almost nothing like driving in the suburbs.
These numbers not comparable for many reasons:
- GM Cruise drives in high density San Francisco (city roads), while Waymo drives in low density Mountain View / Phoenix (incl. highways). 
- GM Cruise is not optimizing to reduce driver interventions, as that can actually decrease safety (ie. drivers delaying the intervention)
I work at GM Cruise.
Cruise and Waymo have been as cautious as they can reasonably expect to be. They both have months long training courses for their safety drivers, and camera in the vehicle that monitor driver attention. While the vehicles are still challenged by complex scenarios, basic object detection and emergency braking are pretty good. Neither has had an at-fault accident, excluding an ambiguous but non-injurious incident between a Cruise car and a lane splitting motorcyclist.
There is no similar need for driverless cars. I'm American. I've lived without a car for over a decade.
I don't see why we can't do more testing before putting lives at stake. I don't see why driverless cars killing people as part of their development is a thing we need to accept.
Your assertion in no way clears up for me why we should shrug at the idea of people dying for this thing.
And for the record I don't drive either, haven't since I was a young man.
I'm not talking about stopping the development of driverless vehicles. I'm just telling you that your argument seems like a non sequitur to me.
There are training deaths in the military precisely because humans are being trained to do dangerous things. Why can't driverless vehicles be trained without killing people?
That's the thing you aren't actually answering.
If a testing plan was going to accelerate the adoption of autonomous cars which are twice as safe as human drivers by one month it would save the lives of approximately 40,000/2 / 12 = 1,666.6 people. To stop the aforementioned testing plan because it is expected to kill 1, 10, or even 100 people will increase the expected number of premature deaths.
There is of course an optimum between training deaths vs. future lives saved, accounting for uncertainty, and etc. but the number of expected training deaths will never be zero and considering the large number of future deaths currently expected, the optimum is likely to be much higher than zero.
In the real world a more aggressive program might be that way not because someone carefully dialed in the optimum risk, but because of the psychology and attitude of its executives and the same factors might lead to slipshod engineering, ultimately slowing down progress
Additionally, bad press from the resultant fatalities could create a political backlash.
I don't know if this is actually the case, but Waymo comes across as one of the more careful and responsible programs and they seem to have the best engineering and have made the most progress. We don't need 'move fast and break things' in this field. I'd argue we probably don't need it in some other fields as well, but that's a different discussion.
This is being overly generous with the assumption that self-driving cars will be safer than human drivers, to the point of being potentially dangerous.
I say potentially dangerous, because this generosity in your hypothetical is being used to justify deaths that need to happen in order to stop nebulous deaths in the future with technology that might not be as safe as your hypothetical assumes.
With cars an improvement to just 90% of the current deaths in the US alone (36k vs 40k) would literally justify running down 10 people a day. The numbers are uncomfortable, sure, but they don't lie and while this is a simplistic analysis I don't see where it is qualitatively incorrect: cars kill so many people even a moderate improvement would be a massive decrease in mortality.
For a comparable situation, see research into emergency medicine. It is impossible to get consent, people likely have/will die as a result of trials, and yet they are (judged to be) in the common good, despite some very reasonable reservations.
If taken to be true, it can potentially be used to justify any random murder.
Seat belts kill. They occasionally strangle people.
Yet they save far more than they kill, so we not only use them, but many countries mandate their use by law knowing people will die as a result.
It is morally justified because we're not sacrificing a known subset of people to save another known subset of people that don't overlap - we're sacrificing a small random subset of people to save a larger random subset drawn from the same larger set, and so reducing the chance of harm to all, rather than transferring it.
This distinction is key, and would reject most "random murders" you might propose.
Coming from a crowd that is probably intimately familiar with the limitations of Google Assistant's ability to understand the English language, I feel like we're being overly optimistic here.
I don't doubt that eventually we will be able to create safe autonomous vehicles, in the same way that eventually we will be able to treat cancers much more effectively than we do today.
However, I find it odd that posters are not applying same
level of optimism to other fields, nor applying the same level of skepticism to this field that they would apply to something like cancer research. Especially given that a breakthrough in cancer treatment could effectively save tens of millions of lives annually, versus the one million lives that could be saved if we completely eliminated automotive deaths. Which, again, is a moonshot given that autonomous processes in other industries still have an annual death toll.
Does preventing 1.1 deaths not justify 1?
You misunderstand or are misrepresenting my position: sometimes lives invested are worth it in lives saved.
Edit: fwiw I'm not in the field of automous vehicles.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the most dangerous path is the one in which the ends justify the means. If you don't achieve the ends... then you have nothing but tragedy and sorrow.
There's more than 1 million road fatalities yearly according to the WHO. Once the technology is developed it'll be rapidly exported, just in the EU there's around 25k deaths/yr, another 4k in Japan etc.
So even if you only include countries and other areas with a similar GDP as the US (which could purchase self-driving vehicles at a similar rate) you easily get upwards of 100k deaths/yr.
But, your answer implicitly assumes the total elimination of human drivers and their replacement by autonomous vehicles. This strikes me as unlikely.
After every fatal crash caused by a human driver expect to see a "how long are we going to put up with this?" push.
It's hard to predict how soon it will happen, but I can't imagine society continuing to put up with human drivers for very long.
But you are justifying this assumption with yet more assumptions, not hard data. For example: If they are proven to be inherently safer.
I'm literally just rather tired at the moment and also finding this argument wearying. But actual reality has a really long track record of failing to conform to human predictions of that sort.
When antibiotics were discovered, it was predicted to be the end of human disease. Fast forward to today and the articles we routinely read are about the crisis of antibiotic shortages, antibiotic resistant infections and whatever will do now?
When the first air planes came out, they had square windows. So did the first jets -- until they began falling from the sky as if some Cthulhoid horror had ripped then to pieces in the sky. Then they changed the windows to rounded designs.
Human ability to accurately predict the future is notoriously lousy.
I find it strange that people seem to have a problem with my question but no one but me seems to have a problem with someone simultaneously claiming that we need to treat training deaths as shrug-worthy while assuming that driverless vehicles will clearly eliminate huge numbers of deaths annually once they are out there.
This is the first suggestion I have heard that human drivers actively need to be eliminated instead of driverless vehicles being yet one more option in an increasingly diverse transportation ecosystem.
Although I no longer have a driver's license, the implication that someone might desire to outlaw human drivers someday for supposed safety reasons while simultaneously justifying accepting death by driverless vehicle seems somewhat disturbing.
If everyone involved knew the risks, accepted them and moved forward, I'd agree with your premise.
However, if I am walking down the street and I'm run over by a rogue autonomous vehicle, I didn't give consent.
I don't think anyone would be as blasé as they are with autonomous vehicle deaths in a different situation.
For example, if a potential cure for heart disease was tested by dumping it in the public water supply causing people to die, would we have posters here saying that testing such drugs will result in deaths and shrug them off?
Do you consent to the risks of letting 16 year olds drive? They're high, but you don't get the option.
I understand not agreeing to extremely-risky self-driving cars.
But if they can beat the very lax standards we use to license humans, that should be good enough.
Requiring them to be infinitely more perfect than humans is nonsense. If a car drives you over, do you really care if it was a robot or a human driving? I don't. The most I can ask for is a universal bar. And all the evidence I've seen is that Waymo is meeting that bar.
> For example
People would object because that's a stupid way to test and unrelated to the job of delivering safe water. If you want to talk about real water treatments, we do make tradeoffs!
There's a very low bar for them to pass to have their driving privileges revoked if they prove themselves to be a danger.
Society necessitates that people drive. Society does not necessitate that Company X gets autonomous vehicles on the roads by target date Y so that their investors are happy.
> But if they can beat the very lax standards we use to license humans, that should be good enough.
"If". We have some very lax standards for what we consider intelligible English, yet Alexa can't set a timer correctly when I tell it to.
> Requiring them to be infinitely more perfect than humans is nonsense.
Who is proposing this?
> If a car drives you over, do you really care if it was a robot or a human driving? I don't. The most I can ask for is a universal bar.
Do you apply this accident causation blindness universally? Do you care if a person that hits you was drunk or lacked a driver's license vs driving diligently and licensed?
> People would object because that's a stupid way to test and unrelated to the job of delivering safe water. If you want to talk about real water treatments, we do make tradeoffs!
Some people might object to allowing unproven autonomous vehicles onto the street as stupid, but choose not to use that word in effort to have a respectful discussion.
The state consented on your behalf. You, in fact, automatically "consented" to all sorts of dangerous and dubious experiments, including democracy itself, when you became a resident. Though the entire idea that self-driving cars are dangerous and experimental has no basis in reality and by all accounts Waymo's cars are ridiculously safe, even if it were the case that they were dangerous Waymo is operating with the full blessings of the Arizona government.
> Society necessitates that people drive. Society does not necessitate that Company X gets autonomous vehicles on the roads by target date Y so that their investors are happy.
Of course society does not "necessitate" anything. Society is not some natural phenomenon like gravity that operates in necessity. And there are many, many people who would point out that they do not agree with and certainly do not consent to America's dangerous obsession with car ownership that kills 50k Americans a year and has tremendous economic and ecological consequences. But alas.
> Society is not some natural phenomenon like gravity that operates in necessity.
However, people are driven by natural phenomenon like the conservation of energy, and thus need to eat. For most people in the US, if they want to eat, it is necessary to drive to work.
> And there are many, many people who would point out that they do not agree with and certainly do not consent to America's dangerous obsession
You're speaking to one of them.
Robot privileges can be revoked too.
Society necessitates that people use cars to get places. You can 1:1 replace human driving hours with autonomous driving hours.
>> Requiring them to be infinitely more perfect than humans is nonsense.
> Who is proposing this?
Anyone who says that self-driving deaths are 'unacceptable' is requiring self-driving cars to be infinitely more perfect than humans.
> Do you apply this accident causation blindness universally? Do you care if a person that hits you was drunk or lacked a driver's license vs driving diligently and licensed?
Being drunk alters your ability to drive. They would be under the bar.
If someone lacks a license but would have qualified, I guess I don't really care.
> Some people might object to allowing unproven autonomous vehicles onto the street as stupid, but choose not to use that word in effort to have a respectful discussion.
All drivers are unproven at first.
In a way, we're discussing that right now. We're in a thread filled with posters who do not want to revoke those rights on the off chance that more dead people now will prevent even more people from dying in the future.
> Society necessitates that people use cars to get places. You can 1:1 replace human driving hours with autonomous driving hours.
This is a generous hypothetical. Society certainly necessitates that people drive, as there is no other way.
It is not true to say that we can 1:1 replace human driving with autonomous driving, the article in the OP is evidence of this. The chance that autonomous driving will never reach a 1:1 parity with humans is also just as likely.
> Anyone who says that self-driving deaths are 'unacceptable' is requiring self-driving cars to be infinitely more perfect than humans.
If this is your takeaway, I implore you to give this perspective more than a passing thought so that you can reply without turning it into a straw man argument.
> Being drunk alters your ability to drive. They would be under the bar.
I'm not sure what you're trying to say here, can you clarify?
> If someone lacks a license but would have qualified, I guess I don't really care.
Would you care if they qualified, but had their license revoked, perhaps for hitting people with their car before they hit you?
> All drivers are unproven at first.
Thankfully, we train and test these drivers on closed courses where injury to uninvolved people is minimized before we allow them to go on the open road. We both severely supervise and restrict why, when, how and what they can drive.
Some people are willing to trade more deaths now for fewer deaths later. But don't take that as proof that waymo's cars actually will cause more deaths. They've been pretty safe so far.
I'm not arguing that more deaths are acceptable, I'm arguing that some deaths are acceptable if we're going to be consistent with current road policies.
> It is not true to say that we can 1:1 replace human driving with autonomous driving
You misunderstood the 1:1. I mean that you can take particular driving hours and replace them 1:1. That's what the article is about, even. I'm not claiming it will replace all human driving.
> If this is your takeaway, I implore you to give this perspective more than a passing thought so that you can reply without turning it into a straw man argument.
It seems pretty simple to me. "Are you willing to allow self-driving cars that will kill people, if the number of deaths per mile is under some threshold?" What am I missing? I don't want to strawman people, I just want a realistic assessment of risk.
> Would you care if they qualified, but had their license revoked, perhaps for hitting people with their car before they hit you?
Yes, because it means they went under the bar...
> Thankfully, we train and test these drivers on closed courses where injury to uninvolved people is minimized before we allow them to go on the open road.
Your experience is very different from mine. I trained entirely in public areas. I don't even know where I could find a closed course.
That's a distortion of what I said. Furthermore, it's pretty laughable to have my internet comment treated like some kind of legally enforceable policy.
Last I checked, I'm not Queen of the world whose word is law.
Etc ad nauseum.
And, wow, has that gotten tons of push back while people go to great lengths to frame me like I'm some extremist lunatic. Meanwhile, the person cavalierly brushing off training deaths is making rather extreme comments about how driverless vehicles can completely replace all human drivers, etc and most people are not arguing with that. No, I am the one being argued with.
It's starting to look to me like people are basically looking for some silly reason to argue with me in specific. Because I really did not assert a lot of the stuff being hung on me here.
Again, yes, if we can save 40k lives. That's a very big if. It assumes a 100% reduction in mortality. That implies that you expect driverless vehicles to not merely be better than human drivers, you expect them to be perfect and to have flawless performance.
And it's that sort of ridiculous unstated assumption that has me rolling my eyes and going "Wow, people on HN sure are just looking for crazy reasons to argue with me." Because I don't think that's a remotely defensible position.
This is a pretty big assumption without any evidence to support it.
There are many solutions that can potentially save even more lives, such as treatments and cures for heart disease and cancer.
However, I do not see anyone arguing to test these potentially life saving miracles on random people who happen to be walking down the street, like we are with autonomous vehicles.
Certainly, if we relaxed standards on testing cancer and heart disease treatments, we'd rapidly accelerate the development of life-saving cures. The more people we test them on, the better data we'll have to build better models, much like with autonomous driving.
If it can save 500k lives per year from cancer and heart disease, would revoking the need for informed consent to test these potential cures be a no-brainer?
Just saying that doesn't absolve you from making an actual argument.
> Ask all the millions of people that have a relative killed by a car if they would care at all.
How motherfucking dare you! My father did die in a car crash when I was a kid. But I also live in a country where totalitarianism actually happened. You should wash your mouth, and then you should sit down and make the argument.
Because to reply to all of it, including
> "If you are Black, gay or any number of other things, are you cool with giving up such control in an openly hostile social climate?"
> "If it can save 40k lives per year it’s in any case a no-brainer."
is absolutely not good enough. Would you be okay with that being quoted "out of context" like that (it wouldn't really be, it's the degree of seriousness you decided to muster) like that on billboards with your real name attached to it?
Cruise and Waymo have both done tons of closed course testing, that's where they validate their respective systems against mission critical stuff like knowing when to slam on the brakes. But eventually they've got to go out into the real world and learn to deal with real traffic on real roads. I wish I could tell you the risk was zero, but it isn't and never will be.
Waymo has been doing that longer than anyone, though.
The Google self-drivng car project was under the leadership of Sebastien Thrun and Anthony Levandowski, and as hardcore engineering types their thinking was 'We'll save more people than we kill', and it was as simple as that.
I have already said I am not against their development per se.
People are saying "a small number of people might die and no one wants that, but it's impractical-to-impossible to guarantee that zero people will die." And you are asking, "but why? But why?"
Now and then there at washing machine deaths. Society accepts these because they're so rare and because it would be impractical to completely prevent them.
Compared to the number of road deaths most experts believe will be prevented over time, the few deaths we may encounter from training deaths seems completely inconsequential.
Are you sure about that? Society just accepts them and moves on?
There aren't lawsuits? There aren't recalls? There aren't redesigns? There aren't safety measures taken so deaths don't happen again? There aren't investigations? Fines aren't levied if they violated regulations? Regulations aren't passed in response? Everyone just rolls over and says, "This is just the price of washing clothes" like we are with autonomous cars?
Accepting that accidents will always happen does not imply you learn nothing and improve nothing.
I agree, beyond a select few individuals who have not posted on HN at all, I do not see or believe that anyone is calling for unnecessary deaths if they can be avoided.
I do believe that we're letting optimism and good intentions get the better of us, by allowing our interests in the betterment of the humanity to align with the interests of business, which would like to see autonomous cars on the road unencumbered, unregulated and unquestioned as soon as humanly possible.
Hence why I am advocating for a level of healthy skepticism. I am imploring posters who are taking it on faith that autonomous vehicles will solve the problem of automotive deaths if we suspend our disbelief, to apply the same level of skepticism to this field as they would, say, biotech.
What's that classic example, robocar has to make a choice between (potentially) killing a bus full of school kids or a bunch of adults standing around on the sidewalk.
I hate to be the guy who says, "Citation please," but yours is an assumption without evidence.
For all we know, autonomous driving safety might plateau at a rate that's lower than that of human drivers.
I was going to say "nobody's shrugging", but then I remembered the killing of Elaine Herzberg by the Uber self-driving car. Maybe the wheels of justice are turning slowly, but right now it looks awfully similar to the Government just shrugging at that incident.
... is why we go to war every 10 to 15 years to justify the MIC spend instead of returning to a pre-WW2 stance.
The US is in a state of constant war. Having a large standing army enables US imperialism, it's not for protection.
We already shrug at the idea of people dying in cars everyday.
MADD was effective at getting drunk driving legislation passed in the states, and likes to claim responsibility for decreasing automotive deaths by one half.
There are people out there who aren't shrugging their shoulders and are actively doing something about people dying in cars.
30,000+ people die in cars every year in the United States. That's roughly the same number killed by guns but how many news stories do you see about car deaths?
Because people's lives are at stake right now.
Every year 10s of thousands of people die due to cars.
Delaying innovation that would prevent deaths dooms those 10s of thousands of people to death in the future.
You say that as if, clearly, cars never save lives. It's all downside.
Ambulances save lives.
Fire trucks save lives.
Those are the easy, obvious answers. But I would argue that lives are also saved and enhanced by access to jobs, access to better quality food because of our complicated infrastructure, access to better medical care, etc.
You aren't counting when things go right. You are only counting when they go wrong.
Ignoring self-driving car is essentially accepting deaths in non-self-driving car just as much...
I sure hope you never argued that we should stop people from driving altogether...
We can start banning all sorts of things to reduce car deaths.
Lower the highest speed limit to 35mph.
Ban having a cell phone in your car, because access to it is distracting.
Ban listening to music in your car because that is distracting.
Why focus on slowing progress on the best thing for road safety - self-driving cars, while letting humans risk their lives all day and night due to their own negligence?
By waving their hands, the pedestrian can actually be held accountable if this results in an accident.
At an event I was at recently, traffic control involved at least four different organizations, which had their own gear and their own attire, so you really can't count on everyone you see on the road looking the same either.
Additionally in terms of lack of credentials, there's a certification process for directing traffic (I've renewed mine twice), but there's a pretty non-zero chance that the person who has directed you around a construction site actually bothered to get that, and you'll probably never know that either.
Your other mistake is believing human drivers actually do what people directing them tell them to. Source: Sometimes I try to direct traffic.
(e.g., https://xkcd.com/496/ or https://xkcd.com/1243/)
Which is probably fortunate for all the other players since all of the Autopilot issues get attributed mainly to Tesla rather than to self driving cars.
Marketing affects anyone not knowledge in machine learning field.
They might or might not have made progress but we won't know until we open the box (i.e. until they launch commercially).
No one has any real data about how Cruise compares to Uber compares to Ford compares to Audi compares to ...
The only comparative data we have are yearly reports mandated by California.
Tesla is not there because in 2017, the last year for which we have the data, Tesla did not test on public roads in California in fully autonomous mode so they didn't have to release those stats (https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/f965670d-6c03-46a9...).
At the same time Tesla is taking this as seriously as one can and are working on making it work. From the DMV report:
"As described above, Tesla analyzes data from billions of miles of driving received from our customer fleet via over-the-air (“OTA”) transmissions. We supplement this with data collected from testing of our engineering fleet in non-autonomous mode, and from autonomous testing that is done in other settings, including on public roads in various other locations around the world.
Through all of this data, we are able to develop our self-driving system more efficiently than only by accumulating data from a limited number of autonomous vehicles tested in limited locations."
Karpathy recently gave a talk about Tesla's progress: https://www.figure-eight.com/building-the-software-2-0-stack...
For example, since I live in the Bay Area, the cost of going from Berkeley to Walnut Creek via Bart is around $4 for 16 miles. This would correspond to $0.25 per mile to the $0.35 estimate in the article.
Maybe I’m doing the wrong comparison: cars like these won’t be competing with rail lines but with last mile types like public buses. That would make more sense as I pay around $3 to go 2 miles in my city.
Another thought: the city official, mentioned in the article, seemed enthusiastic in using cars for public transportation. It kind of reminds me of advent of cars when cities focused on building roads and highways instead of investing in public transportation systems. Perhaps the self driving aspect can be transferred to be used on busses? I don’t know whether cost of busses result mainly from labor, like cars, or some other factor.
The big problem with vanpools is scheduling. Everyone wants flexibility and smarter scheduling systems in a manner very similar to what uber has provided for individual rides.
So driver labour is a huge component of bus cost. Self driving systems should have a capital cost of about the same as a driver for one year.
That's just what they charge the customer and does not in any way reflect the true cost of the ride.
Plus, you can stuff 6 people in a robocar @ $0.35/mile vs 6 * $4 to take bart.
In any discussion of self-driving cars I've learned to completely and totally ignore all statements of the kind "X plans to launch Y at Z point in the future"
However I haven't seen what happens when they are in heavy snow or rain.
And, I'm sure I'm misunderstanding the problem but couldn't electric cars with a motor per wheel be able to detect a slipping or loss of traction in an individual tire and slow it down?
Heavy rain at night time can obscure road features to both humans and cameras.
Our existing road signage and markings were made for humans. Instead of training software to use them, why not add ones it can better understand?
That's what we should do with road signs and lane markings. Make them resemble the current ones somewhat, but also be optimized for a computer to recognize them even in extreme conditions. Not only with wider differentiation between signs of different types, but also using radio, UV, infrared, or magnetic cues. Lanes could be painted with metallic pigments for example. Even when snow covers the edges of the roadway, the car could read those lines and center itself.
All of this would be a change to what we already do. No need for extra equipment or drastic changes in infrastructure. Just update how existing signs and road markings are made.
You're talking about MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) and the E-13B font.
That said, I don't know much about this space so maybe I'm just overestimating the difficulty here.
Driveway systems require about 35W per square foot when operating. Imagine a 36' wide road, and you're looking at around 6MW per mile.
That's a lot.
which brings up something else. how to communicate to others that a car is under the control of the onboard systems. we have DRLs and third brake lights. So something at both ends?
It would 100x cheaper and better to just fit tracks and have trams. Not nearly as sci-fi of course but infinitely more practical and useful, if the goal is efficient mass transit for non-drivers
The whole self-driving thing only makes sense if it is cheaper than retro-fitting all the infrastructure. If it isn’t there is literally no point in it, just stick with human self-drivers and drivers-for-hire.
We sarcastically joke about how Silicon Valley is making the world a better place, oftentimes for privledged individuals but Waymo is completely changing her life.
I've known a few people that lost their eyesight. What services like Aira could accomplish is nothing short of life changing for the blind. And it, in part, started out from a concept that was mocked as being representative of supposed obnoxious Silicon Valley priviliged types.
If the new tech is an on-demand market that hires a person to clean your toilet, the amount of manual toilet cleaning in the world is unchanged :)
The next big jump will be when the next-generation LIDARs come out. All solid state, and much cheaper. Industry analysts say 2020 for that. They can be built now, but nobody is prepared to order enough of them yet. Continental, the big European auto parts company, is probably in the lead. (Quanergy keeps announcing, but try to order what they announced in 2016.)
They also built a second narrowly focused longer range lidar that can be automatically pointed at the ROI of objects visuslly detected beyond the range of velodyne's ~200m.
Both are used on their vehicles. If you have better hardware it makes the software problems higher up the stack easier.
Once there's a market for a few million a year, the price will come way down.
Also flash LIDAR range is pretty bad and using super-sensitive photodetector arrays results in intolerable yield issues.
Advanced Scientific Concepts has been making good flash LIDAR units for years, price point around $100K. Continental acquired ASC and their team, and is transitioning this from a handmade product made by PhDs in Santa Monica, CA into a volume product made like an German auto part.
I saw the original optical bench prototype back in 2003 when we were preparing for the original DARPA Grand Challenge. They aimed it out a garage door into a sunlit parking lot and took 3D images. But it wasn't portable back then, so we couldn't use it.
LeddarTech is shipping 1x8 and 1x16 pixel flash LIDARs now. That's too low-rez for self driving, and they plan higher resolutions. Velodyne's big scanner is 64x400 (full circle scan). BrashTech, which sells drones for inspecting towers, bridges, and other hard to get at infrastructure, has Continental's flash LIDAR on drones.
So we're at "expensive niche product", waiting for somebody to order in volume.
320x24 resolution and it doesn't immediately look like a time of flight camera (seems too expensive, although the range is poor).
Apparently there's an up to 30m version .
The hardware on the other hand might not get commoditised so easily. It might have patent protection. If nothing else, high capital costs will mean monopoly or duopoly with enough profits.
> Well, Waymo is doing it right, and everybody else is nowhere.
... has been said for >5 years and looks ever less true as time passes. Remember when Google was supposed to introduce a finished fully automated driving system in 2017? Google had a very impressive technology demonstrator back in 2012, but they have had endless trouble turning that into a viable product. Turns out "let's just throw ridiculous hardware at the problem" leads to issues when you have to build millions of the thing. Even if there system were perfect already, which it isn't, it is not fit for integration into production vehicles. That's why Google has had very little success trying to sell their system to car manufacturers.
Meanwhile, their competitors are progressing along the "bottom-up" path to full automation quite rapidly. Many basic driving tasks are essentially solved already and will filter down to production vehicles over the next few years. I can't know where exactly Google is right now and obviously I can't state where we are, but I fully expect that the different paths to full automation will converge in a few years. Several companies will have systems that are "good enough" for 90% of common driving use cases. Whether Google's system is at that stage already is unknowable, though their testing seems to indicate that it is not. But if it is, Google are still in a race to "miniaturize" it into a viable product before the competing (already viable) products reach the "good enough" level of performance.
The induced demand from affordable autonomous cars is going to be incredible, as the set of available drivers expands to include those below 16, the elderly currently unable to drive, and the unlicensed.
If everyone starts sending their kid to school via their own autonomous car its going to be a disaster.
A much better idea that doesn't run into issues of limited road space is of course is autonomous public transit.
If everybody starts sending their kid to school in a private waymo it's going to be a disaster, but right now everybody drives themselves to work in a private car and it already is a disaster.
The Phoenix public transport director who hopes that waymo can bring people to the high-capacity bus lines and the lrt has the right idea. If the waymo (or Uber, or Lyft) app can integrate with public transit networks, that's the ideal solution. I look forward to a day where you open your ride-hailing app and you see options for "Uber all the way: $14, 18 minutes journey, pickup in 5 minutes" or "Uber+bus, $10, 20 minutes journey, pickup in 10 minutes" where the Uber+bus option syncs with the bus schedules and schedules your pickup with just enough time to catch a bus and schedules a pickup at the end of the bus segment of the journey.
This is a nice hope to have, but so far all the evidence I've seen is that Lyft/Uber competes with public transit, driving down public transit use and making the streets more congested. I would expect autonomous ride hailing would have an even greater effect.
That's the most sensible way to do things certainly. But the huge public resistance to regulation of this sort may mean th self-driving cars wind-up with no regulation and thus with the vast mess we can imagine. I mean, the average driver is going to get pretty angry with the idea that the coming of self-driving cars means they have to drive less. I mean, they spent their relatively scarce money on their car.
So what happens? The US has shown a willingness to ignore the need for basic regulation even the results are miserable chaos. I can't think of a more likely circumstance to continue that tradition than the coming of self-driving cars.
Waymo at least is signalling responsible deployment, they announced today a partnership with the Phoenix Valley transit authority to help encourage greater transit use.
One valid point they made was that while mass transit is great in high demand areas and along major transit corridors, out on the feeder routed the suburban sprawl it isn't so effective. Service is infrequent and off-peak busses run mostly empty. Robotaxis will be great for getting suburbanites from their homes to major transit hubs.
Meh, my guess is they're just trying to get their grubby mitts on some Dial-a-Ride dollars...
Surely you'll have "Uber Pool" for these services, basically from the outset. Some may pay a premium to give their kids a safe ride alone, etc. etc., but pooling rides makes complete sense.
Also, in my experience, school busses are somewhat a thing of the past. Parents line up for blocks dropping kids off, acting as individual chauffeurs.
I agree it will increase trip demand, but it could also easily decrease demand for parking in busy areas.
Long-term, it's easy to imagine that autonomous vehicles could provide much higher passenger throughput for a given road-area. Without human drivers to worry about, they only need narrow lanes, could talk to each other and draft, etc.
> Long-term, it's easy to imagine that autonomous vehicles could provide much higher passenger throughput for a given road-area
No this is nonsense. The gains, marginal as they are, would only exist in places like highways outside of cities where you can assume nothing is going to walk out in front of a car.
Busses would address this due to the density of students per square foot.
The solution to congestion is entirely independent of who's driving though: Road Pricing!
They could just have some sort of road pricing - The cars send their movements to a government server and it sends a bill based on so much per mile or similar. You could do the same with Ubers - it just really needs an app to transmit the movements and the pricing could vary with time and congestion.
I suspect you could argue that for metros and trains it already is largely automated. Surely the scheduling is at the very least supported by computer algorithms, or perhaps even automatically planned and then only manually overridden by human elements as needed?
> “Kids walk and it halts,” she says. “It’s so polite. It's like, ‘Oh sorry.’ It’s not rude enough.”
Perhaps passengers in self-driving cars should have a horn button.
A sentence we can all get behind, I suspect :-D
An eye for an eye is a terrible thing, but an angry shout in response to a slight can be an effective way of applying social pressure and reducing the number of slights.
And also human drivers will cut off self driving cars all the time knowing the robot driver is extra careful and won't be aggressive.
License plates photos may help, but will the car send each of these to the police automatically? Police can quickly get swamped then by these reports from self driving cars.
The people around them will notice the honking as well. That creates social pressure against people who cause the honking. Police only needs to act on a few of these violations to create a new consensus behavior.
Starship Technologies autonomous delivery bots you might think would have a problem of people trapping or stealing them but seem ok - they have trackers, cameras and a loudspeaker that people at the base can say 'oi put me down' though. http://elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/interviews/item/street-sm...
A car covered in sensors is likely a lot better at capturing and remember license plates than a human. Even keeping a memory of the last 60 seconds would be more than enough.
Technology-wise, Google is already very good at OCR. They even have algorithms to specifically identify license plates (as seen in Google Maps where they're fuzzed out).
This seems more a problem of policy (how would it be implemented?) than technology. And that too would evolve as necessity grew.
Is that 5% the 5% that lets them pick routes that don't include under-height structures , stupidly sharp turns, highly congested areas, or other places one generally prefers to not be driving something larger than a panel van?
If so I highly look forward to the eventual (and already severely overdue considering how trivial the problem is) release of this feature to their consumer facing maps product.
Yes, I'm kind of annoyed that it's 2018 and I can't just check a checkbox that says "avoid known under-height structures"
>The experience of riding in a Waymo is surprisingly mundane. The robotaxi drives like a very careful human
I would really like to know how careful they mean. There's a fine line between a good chauffeur for grandma and being so timid that anyone capable of driving themselves would be very frustrated with its performance and people would honk or make obscene gestures at you regularly
>While making a left turn in a large multi-lane intersection, the car signals and creeps forward before accelerating into the turn. Waymo drives conservatively, to be sure, but the robots aren’t cowards. Gone are the days where two self-driving cars facing each other in a parking lot might freeze up from an overabundance of politeness:
Most of the Waymo vehicles i saw on the street around Mountain View were pretty timid. Not enough that I needed to honk, but they basically were sending out engraved invitations to pull in front of them. Most recent example, in rush hour, at ~ 5 - 10 mph, maintaining 3 car lengths following distance, signaling for an offramp maybe 10 car lengths before the painted exit lane opened, and then following the traffic until the painted lane started -- but the shoulder was wide and the exit lane was clear. Most human drivers in this situation would either not signal until they were just about to turn, and would probably have driven on the shoulder outside the lines for some of the way, given the wide shoulder and clear exit lane.
Here's an analogy: Hey, here's a great life-hack. The next time you are in a movie theater, stand up to get a better view. The people who are sitting behind you might complain, but they are simply chumps for not standing up too.
If Waymo gets caught violating even a small rule, there will be a thousand articles on HN on self-centered Big Bad Silicon Valley.
The better rule would be "don't block the shoulder", instead of "don't drive on the shoulder". But then someone ticketed for blocking the shoulder could claim they weren't blocking it; but blocking is a question of degree, not a question of fact.
If you're aware of the situation, and know you won't block the shoulder, it's reasonable to drive on the shoulder, and you're unlikely to be ticketed for it, even if an officer observes you, but not doing it in the presence of an officer is part of situational awareness.
Yes, selective enforcement, but driving rules enforcement is going to be selective unless you live in a police state or have big brother watching your high res GPS all the time.
I’m really curious to learn more about the economics of this price. My understanding is that the lyft/uber pricing is subsidized. If Waymo can do the same but at a profit, then that will make them hugely competitive.
What I came up with is that a single occupancy (i.e. one person per car) cost will be less than $10/hour, which is competitive with public transport ($2.50 (subsidized) bus ticket in San Francisco, assume an average 15 min ride).
And it would drop significantly when sharing (2 to 4 people per car) or when deploying mini buses (they cost more to build and operate but can carry 12 to 16 people, like Chariot buses).
And in the longer term (10+ years) they'll be even cheaper thanks to mass production of cars, transitioning to electric cars, continuously improving reliability of cars based on analyzing what breaks most frequently, contracting own solar plants for cheapest charging etc.)
The obvious conclusion is that not only traditional taxis and uber and lyft are done but also buses because it makes no sense to subsidize them with hundreds of millions per year (for San Francisco) when private alternative is cheaper and better.
You can see my full reasoning at https://blog.kowalczyk.info/article/ac23f6cdd3b543b3b89d9f68... and https://blog.kowalczyk.info/article/e79db1cb2fcf4329ac37591b...
One way to adapt the k-means algorithm to this would be to add a “regularizing” or penalizing term proportional to the number of cars needed to be deployed — you can think of this as the cost per car.
There's always a way to compete; it's a matter of finding out what people will pay for and people have a long history of paying premium prices for premium services.
Find your niche.
I'm not really sure any of those is intractable for self-driving cars; opening doors is trivial.
Some people will always use the valet even if free parking is available. Those are some of the potential customers I see.
In a general sense, I don't care about the specifics, I just find the thought that you can't compete with something to be intellectually lazy. Discussing the automotive industry at large is diverging from the point I was trying to make.
What happens when they are ubiquitous?
Has anyone seen a roadmap that includes how other industries are affected(disrupted)?
Should we think hard about selling our cars now before they are de-valued or become more costly to drive?
Clean Disruption - Why Energy & Transportation will be Obsolete by 2030 - Oslo, March 2016
It’s possible that the value of this data could subsidise ride costs. They basically become a ubiquitous street level surveillance system and for this to be effective you want a lot of them driving around.
Detailed local weather mapping.
Potential for near real time street view.
Very detailed sensing of traffic flows and trends, can also estimate pedestrian traffic.
Could use the sensors to track non self driving cars by alpnr. Locate stolen or wanted vehicles.
Automated reporting of traffic infringements, dangerous driving or accidents.
Can estimate patronage of almost any business, via rides to destination, counting carparks, local foot traffic etc.
Can sell data on infrastructure conditions (pothole location, missing signs, etc) to cities.
Lots of other detailed profiling on riders, consumers, businesses. For example can automatically distinguish between blue collar bars and cocktail lounges.
Almost certainly lots lots more I couldn’t imagine. It’s the data!
On a side note, the Google Play Services running in the background on most smartphones have already been mapping traffic hotspots and measuring business patronage by time of day.
Say, you pass a mall and the passenger sees an ad on the car screen about a sale at Macy's located inside the mall. With a single tap, the passenger has the option of re-routing the car to the mall.
No way Google isn't going to try to monetize it with targeted ads
Again, none of those things require self driving technology to put onto a central unit in a car. Add some cameras and sensors that collect data.
A lot of this already happens with things like OnStar and other insurance schemes.
> Self-driving is a feature that can justify the investment in those sensor installations.
Most of these sensors on their own are pretty cheap for simple data collection. Again, most of this stuff is already tracked, take google maps, or onstar, as examples.
I imagine that the traditional car rental companies will be the first to provide services. They already have fleet maintenance, post-ride clean-up/turnaround, and demand forecasting/repositioning down, all that's left is to setup a subscription model.
Uber could get there but I kinda feel that they will implode if they make an attempt to transition to self-driving cars, from a huge driver backlash or strike.
Though I really want to see most what happens to all the parking lots and parking garages which will slowly disappear. Hopefully they can be transformed into green spaces.
A city fleet is basically the set of vehicles owned and operated by a city government, mostly for use by its employees but could also be interpreted to include public transportation.
A caveat is that the Waymo fleet would obviously be significantly bigger and thus more complex to handle, but I’m sure there’s a physical analog of “sharding” or dividing up fleets into geographical sets.
The trip to school for my kid would cost, when using a car from a car sharing program around 4€. This is quite a difference to the mentioned $19. Even DriveNow, which is maybe the most expensive car sharing service in Germany, we are talking about maybe 9€.