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Wow!

I wonder what the C-suite discussions were like that led to a collaboration between rivals on this topic.

Thoughts:

-They are being hit on two major fronts simultaneously from the valley -Cost of ML/AI experts is too high for these MBAs to fathom -Risk of Waymo winning is existential -Risk of Tesla winning hurts their high margin vehicle sales






I see it more as a hedge. I think the prevailing opinion is growing bearish on fully self driving cars. great progress has been made, but as we (the public, at least) learn more, it just seems like production ready vehicles are further away.

my take is that the technology is too valuable (and disruptive) to not invest at all, but so expensive and far away that it doesn't make sense for an established manufacturer to give it the full court press.


I thought this too until AlphaGo. The prevailing mindset was ‘this will be solved in the next 20 years’ and then Boom! Happened in a year. What if WayMo just starts working next year? Would you really be surprised? The uptake will be ridiculously fast when it happens...

That's what you think being more tuned in. Most of the people I talk to seem to think it's right around the corner. I think that's because Elon Musk does a good job of making everyone hear him say it's nearly there.

If anything, I think it's the opposite. I think they both see production ready AI and being almost here, and they don't have time to figure it out themselves.


Full self driving may be a long way away, but driver assist like lane departure and automatic breaking have become major selling points. Further, in customers minds the features are binary rather than something where a slightly better version becomes a selling point.

This makes joint ventures a win/win as they reduce the risk of being left behind while significantly reducing R&D costs.

simion314 3 days ago [flagged]

Agree, it can't be ready while you have to ignore static objects because the hardware and software is to weak to handle them IMO

(please Tesla/Elon fans don't downvote an opinion without letting me know why you thing I am wrong and start a discussions, most of the downvotes I get are on my comments about Tesla's autopilot and Apple's hardware )


So I've recently started driving a Model 3 and am a Tesla and Musk fanboy. That being said, I can still acknowledge things that are wrong.

The major issue is people depending too much on the system. I think it's great that the 'autopilot nag' is much harsher than in the US (except for low speeds, in stop and go, it's flawless and nags too much here). The static object thing is an issue, yes, but it's massively overblown by people who tend not to drive a Tesla, because the driver can easily spot them (if they're paying attention) and apply corrective measures. I say this, because as of right now, Autopilot is a driving aid, not a replacement. (Yes, people have something to say about marketing, but that's a different discussion.)

To me, the biggest issues with Autopilot (as it is supposed to be used today), are phantom braking and unexpected steering inputs. These require instant correction, are completely unpredictable and have the ability to scare other drivers or even cause crashes. Also, they happen a lot. Finding static objects on a highway is much less common than just driving on a straight road while being tailgated and therefore the impact is much bigger.

Another thing is Autopilot unexpectedly disabling and the driver not being aware, because the indicator is not that clear. Sometimes it's a pleasant sound and if you don't look at the screen because you pay attention to the road, you might miss the visual indicator.

Outside of the US, the major issue is that it's being built for the US and isn't fully adapted to non-US roads and rules. The 'Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance' feature (enabled by default before every drive) caused massive issues in the Netherlands on roads that have shared bike lanes. Also, in the Netherlands we have 'rush hour lanes', which are actually the hard shoulder, which is temporarily designated as a lane, as indicated by a green arrow over the lane. Autopilot doesn't know this and wants to move over, because it thinks the lane ends.

To get back to your point, static object recognition is a small thing to overcome and is, so it seems to me, massively inflated by media that are heavily opinionated against Tesla. There's a much bigger problem in getting it working for every country and every weird situation. And there are things that humans do that I expect will be hard to pick up in an automated system. For example: spotting the driver next to you playing on the phone and passing for safety, seeing headlights reflected in a window and knowing a car is about to round a corner, etc.


So you're a Tesla/Musk fan, but you acknowledge

> phantom braking and unexpected steering inputs. These require instant correction, are completely unpredictable and have the ability to scare other drivers or even cause crashes.

That sounds kinda scary to me. I'd rather drive a car that doesn't try to do anything smart than one with these issues.

> Also, they happen a lot.

Wow. If that's your perception as a Tesla fan, it doesn't exactly inspire me with fresh confidence.


Being a Tesla fan doesn't change facts or my perception.

Also, my previous car, an Opel, did the same thing because of a specific type of line marking messing with the emergency braking system. That was reproducible, but the car doesn't phone home or get updates, so it the same thing happen each time I passed a specific road. At least I know the Tesla will get better.


> static object recognition is a small thing to overcome and is, so it seems to me, massively inflated by media that are heavily opinionated against Tesla

Why do you think so? There will be often enough stopped cars on the road to cause issues, or cement barriers, construction sites.

Do you think that having a filter that removes the objects with speed== 0 from the AI is something an safety engineer should do ? For me it looks like optimizations game developers do when your video card/CPU is not powerful enough so small objects are ignored at a larger distance.

Driver issues are a different topic, since they signed that TOS they will get all the blame for killing themselves.

IMO true self driving(without a human driver) will need more powerful hardware so no safety compromising shortcuts/optimizations are done(not even 1)


> Why do you think so? There will be often enough stopped cars on the road to cause issues, or cement barriers, construction sites.

Yes, but it's one big thing. Fixing one big thing, usually, is much easier than fixing thousands of little things. My point wasn't that it's not important, it's that it's not the biggest problem, even though the (mostly uninformed) media and keyboard warriors are making it out to be, which is distracting from the actual issues.

> IMO true self driving(without a human driver) will need more powerful hardware so no safety compromising shortcuts/optimizations are done(not even 1)

Hardware 3 has only just been released and is apparently at least 10x more powerful. Give it a chance for the next couple months, anything is possible and we have to wait and see.


>Yes, but it's one big thing. Fixing one big thing, usually, is much easier than fixing thousands of little things.

I agree, but in this case may mean wait for the hardware to be powerful enough to be able to handle all the inputs in real time.

>is distracting from the actual issues.

What hardware/software more important issues are you referring ? Non related to that the bigger issues is the hype IMO, I only seen bad sentiments for Tesla and uber but not for the others that self driving companies.

I personally really want self driving to be ready as soon as possible, I can't drive due to medical issues, I live about 10Km away from the city and having the mobility of a car would help me a lot(I am not exaggerating)


>Autopilot is a driving aid, not a replacement.

No robo taxis in 2020 then.


From a car companies standpoint, good enough for many people to want to buy and use them is threshold, not good enough that you feel comfortable.

Being what I would consider a beta tester for self driving cars seems a silly risk. But, people also pay lots of money driving vintage cars without modern safety systems which seems insane to me.


It can backfire, you need that instead of some random person killed by "autopilot" a bus with children, a family with children or some popular person gets killed, then you will get a ton of bad press like Boeing 747 MAX gets, everyone finding all the shorcuts you made and safety things you ignored for money.

When regulators have a problem with it, they can say so. At this time, regulators still allow Tesla to sell vehicles with Autopilot.

They allow it because of the fact you are supposed to pay attention 100% of the time, I am not saying this should not be allowed(having a system to force the drivers to pay attention would solve a lot of crashes in all cars) , my opinion is that ignoring all static objects means the hardware+software is not fast enough so there is a need for faster/better hardware to be able to correctly classify every object in front of a car

I agree it's a hedge.. but for a slightly different reason. The legacy automakers have been fighting BEVs and though they have made many announcements, they really don't offer (and don't want to offer) much in the US that isn't a compliance car. They have been teasing upcoming concepts and electrification (code word for hybrid) because they are trying to prevent disruption of their (automakers, fuel suppliers, trucking, dealerships, gas stations, unions, etc) status quo. With every milestone that is being made by Tesla, Waymo, etc, they are more at risk. This is them hedging against change. "If things truly change, we'll work together and be able to catch up."

I think they're reacting to what they perceive as market demand. What they often don't seem to realize is that they have the ability to alter market demand—and if they don't, their competitors will do it for them.

It's the same story as Apple in its heydays (the two Jobs eras): they radically altered the markets for PCs, MP3 players, and smartphones, largely by realizing that they had the ability to do so.


The problem is that batteries are too expensive, too heavy, and they wear down eventually. Not only is there the market demand, but there is also the fears of consumer backlash if they don't (or can't) get it 150% correct. Remember the beating that GM took with diesel cars back in the 80's?

Here's the items that need to be overcome:

1) For consumers that don't have a garage, they have to use public charging infrastructure.

2) For those who charge at home, if they do any extended driving they need to use public charging infrastructure

3) The current public charging infrastructure doesn't charge fast enough. For case 2, you can get by (sometimes) with charging at 150 miles in half an hour. Not acceptable for case 1.

4) Most importantly, battery wear and cost. Let's say a battery that costs 30K, for 300 miles range, lasts 10 years. Cost of a "fill up" (300 miles) is about $12.00 of electricity, and $60.00 of wear on the battery. Yes, the battery isn't totally worn down, but they are less useful for automotive use if the capacity is significantly lessened.

Now the larger the battery size, you can get by with charging to 80% capacity, and discharging to about 15%. This still significantly increase the longevity, but the cost structure is such that 200 mile batteries (or lower) is all you find in "affordable" electric vehicles. So for this to really take off, I believe you need a battery capacity of 500 miles, at a cost of 15k, with charging time of 300 miles range in 15 minutes. (Tesla is there on the charging time with their one example of a "1000 mph" charger, so hopefully this will be rolled out to the wider public across more manufacturers).


>The problem is that batteries are too expensive

Battery costs have been dropping rapidly, %35 in the last year alone. Starting around 2023 they will be low enough that the sticker price for an EV will be about equal to a comparable ICE car.

Given that EV operating costs are considerably lower, and that governments around the world are pushing EV's, sales of them are going to skyrocket. The big manufacturers have recently realized this, which is why they are switching their EV programs into high gear.


The real risk isn't that self driving cars will come, it is that they will come and prove enough safer than human drivers (a low bar) the governments ban all sales of new cars without it. At which point whoever has patents can make a killing licensing them. Car makers can hedge this risk cheap today by getting an alliance with someone who has patents thus ensuring if that risk happens they already have access to key patents either directly or by cross licensing.

If self driving cars are only equal to good human drivers in risk it is could be a fad.


There is not really any precedent for banning manual cars from the road. The closest may be the ban on non-motorized vehicles from limited access highways. Automated cars, if/when they are released, will always have to contend with human drivers.

Also, PR is pretty sensitive for automated cars. They can't just be statistically equal to human drivers, they have to be at least an order of magnitude better and they cannot afford to make any obvious errors that a sober human would not. Especially if it results in a fatality.


There is precedent for requiring seat belts and air bags. It probably needs an order of magnitude better, but if that can be shown all new cars will be self driving by law.

Note that the ban isn't on all cars on the road, it is all new cars. 15-20 years latter it will come to all cars when human driven cars are mostly collectors items anyway. Until then self driving cars will need to deal with humans.


Anything could happen, but at this point we still allow horses and buggies to use the road. Once self-driving cars can adequately deal with unpredictable humans, most/all of the justification for banning manually driven cars goes away. Insurance may be more expensive, but at the high end it should not be any more expensive than it is today.

Fair point. We don't allow horses on the freeways though. I'm fine with a horse in part because I can outrun in if I need to (that is get out of the way in time, if the horse is actively trying to kill me it wins of course). A car with a top speed of 15mph isn't very dangerous, I'd love to have the speed limit around my house set to that speed. Right now nobody would agree to that, but if self driving cars are allowed to go faster we might for the few with human drivers.

There may not be an outright ban on driving your own car in the future but anything is possible. Insurance rates for non self-driving cars may become significantly higher and thus less people drive their own car.

Why would it be higher (than it is now)? I can see self driving being lower (comparatively), although current safety items such as anti lock brakes and collision avoidance doesn't seem to have much effect on rates. If half the cars are self driving, they may be better at avoiding an accident caused by a human driver, therefore human drivers get into fewer accidents, lowering their rates too. Remember it is all a numbers game.

Because right now society accepts the risk. Right now we accept 35,000 deaths per year - in the US where a car was involved. If self driving cars are much better we will no longer accept that. Death in a car accident will start to be look at we look like death from the 737max: not acceptable risk. If you want to drive a car you will pay extremely high insurance to because if you hit my friend you are much more likely to be hit for a multi-million dollar judgement to pay for my loss of my friend.

Insurance should go down, not up. The risk of an accident better be higher now than it will be with self-driving cars ruling the roads.

See my other reply, it could go up as we quit accepting death in a car accident as a fact of life.

I'm thinking that all the countries that have passed legislation to ban new sales of ICE cars in 2040 is the issue here.

The threat is real. Tesla has eaten into BMW sales enough that their CEO just departed because of it.

https://www.ibtimes.com/tesla-domination-reportedly-cause-bm...


Probably also due to how far behind their general EV tech is

https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/9/20687413/bmw-electric-mini...


"I wonder what the C-suite discussions were like that led to a collaboration between rivals on this topic."

Probably "nobody cares about the technology anyway; we'll differentiate on branding, like always. A car is a car."


In the c-suite these discussions happen all the time. GM has regularly had a Japaneses manufacture make their cars, it gets the GM nameplate but is otherwise identical to the brand that made it. (Even though it is public knowledge who made the car GM still gets a worse rating in reliability)

When was the last time that happened? GM is pretty fond of rebadging Korean cars, but I can't recall the last time they did it with a Japanese one.

On a BEV, there is literally nothing to differentiate on the powertrain. It’s a giant battery connected to some motors. There isn’t any secret sauce there.

Rivals have collaborated on platforms before. (For instance, Mitsubishi and Chrysler)



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