Technological Stagnation

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Into Darkness, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    I was thinking more like having to avoid those other random drivers who also aren't paying attention and driving like assholes. I get nervous about how a driverless car would react to certain things, or if it would react in enough time to be worth it.

    How would a driverless car steer in the wintertime if it suddenly came upon a patch of ice and was about to swerve into oncoming traffic? How far ahead would a driverless car be able to see? If a family of deer suddenly jumps into the road, would the car be aware of it fast enough to avoid collision?
     
  2. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    I can guarantee you it would react far more quickly and accurately than you or I could. I'd bet my life on it.

    Are you serious? Have you not driven a modern car with a traction control system/electronic stability system? This is a solved problem and doesn't even require a self-driving car.
     
  3. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    I guess not, and considering all the dead deer I find in the middle of the street and all the abandoned cars I find on the side of the road in the wintertime, this is still very much a problem for a large number of people.
     
  4. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I'm not an expert on this but as I understand it in order for a large scale system to work every car would have to have GPS switched on so the automation could successfully work in sync with all of the other vehicle traffic.

    It is amazing however that the Google Car has logged hundreds of thousands of miles and only 1 accident - and it was the human drivers fault in that situation.
     
  5. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    That's because they think they're smarter than the car.

    A modern car know within milliseconds if a wheel is losing traction. It can vary the speed of each wheel to compensate. A self-driving car is even more capable: it can turn the wheels, increase or decrease acceleration, selectively apply brakes at different pressures to each wheel. It can do things that a human can't possibly do in order to avoid an accident. I can't guarantee a self-driving car will never get into an accident, however the consequences of such an accident are likely to be much less than if a human was at the wheel. We simply do not have the physical capabilities to control a car the way the on-board computer can.
     
  6. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Most of those operations require fairly little decision-making; it's just follow the signal logic.

    Pilots are there in case decisions need to be made, because machines aren't very good at that yet.
     
  7. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    I'm not saying the technology can't work. I just have a hard time putting my life in the hands of something other than myself. If the technology takes off and proves itself to be a better solution, then I'll support it. I just tend to lean on the side of caution. If I'm going to die, I'd rather it be my own fault than the fault of some computer error.
     
  8. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    We might be closer than you think. The new Mercedes S series coming out this fall will have what they call, 'autopilot.'

    It will essentiall steer the car and hold the car between the lines and will auto break the vehicle if it senses a hazard.

    It's not a true driverless vehcile because if the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel for more than 10 seconds it will disengage the autopilot.

    Also, sad but true - most of us cannot afford an $80,000 vehicle.

    Mercedes semi-driverless car
     
  9. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    The side of caution would be not to trust humans to operate fast-moving wheeled death machines in the first place.
     
  10. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    I concede that point, for sure. This is why we need transporters.

    A driverless car would certainly have advantages, especially for long roadtrips. If I never have to drive myself through Nebraska again, I'll be a happy man.

    But I love driving, and sometimes I just get in my car and drive around for fun without any particular destination in mind. I would need the ability to turn off the auto-pilot so that I can still drive myself around when I want to.
     
  11. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Well, yes and no. We will never have handwavium--probably never have warp drive, anti-gravity, etc.

    My concern is that folks have this idea that Moore's Law applies to everything. We have actually gone so far with consumer technology that I fear it is sapping real imagination.

    I'm thinking Newton would not have completed the Principia had he had the distractions of twitter, blogs, e-mail, etc. Andrew Wiles had to shut himself off from the world to deal with Fermat's famous theorum.

    Too many consumer gadgets, not enough respect for infrastructure and heavy industry--that's the real problem.

    Worse, we have Republicans making statements about "something called volcano monitoring" wanting to destroye the Department of Energy, etc. Everywhere--not just at NASA--is this move by Ayn Rand types to destroy infrastructure.

    Everything is getting larger and more expensive. Large Hadron, the Magellan Giant telescope, etc. This is not a bad thing--and people need to understand the need for growth of these systems. Here is a nice book on the subject:

    http://www.amazon.com/Big-Science-G...F8&qid=1378751340&sr=1-6&keywords=Big+Science
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  12. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I don't know about that. The Japanese have some highly advanced robotics. In fact, one of their latest robots just joined the ISS crew.

    Meet Kirobo, talking robot that can engage astronauts in conversation. The test is to see if such a device could keep humans company on a long solo space mission.
     
  13. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2005
    Modern cars aren't "wide open to hacking", but people have demonstrated the ability to take over a car and control the engine, brakes, shifting, etc. The difficulty in doing so, however, is that direct physical access to the car was required. In order to do it, the hacker had to be plugged into the OBDII port; it wasn't done wirelessly.

    I like the idea of driverless cars because of the potential to increase travel efficiency, decrease time, decrease accidents, etc. However, in order to achieve this, cars will need to be able to either (1) communicate with others in the near vicinity, or (2) be controlled by some central system coordinating the actions off all the cars in a certain area. Either one requires some sort of wireless communication system that will open the cars to hacking. Of necessity, the same system that controls the brakes, engine, steering, etc. will have to be connected to that communication system.

    Even if the systems were made to be very robust and could handle any system malfunction/road hazard/physical breakdown/etc., it would never be hack-proof.
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    You don't need automation to reduce road deaths. Lets look at some numbers the UK vs US

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

    Road Deaths per 100 000

    UK 2.75
    US 12.3

    Road Deaths per 100 000 motor vehicles

    UK 5.1
    US 15

    Road Deaths ber 1 billion km

    UK 3.6
    US 8.5

    So what other factors are at work, that seemingly make US roads more dangerous than UK roads?

    Traffic regulations?
    Driving ability?
    Culural differences?
    Safety features on cars?
    Other?
    Combination?
     
  15. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    I've seen no indication that this kind of communication or central control is necessary. Google has been operating their driverless cars on public roads in real life traffic for (I think) a few years now. I would say any system predicated on central control or mutual communication (beyond what their sensors can show) is both premature optimization and introduction of unnecessary failure points.

    Each car should be self-contained and autonomous, responding to the conditions around it without any illusions that it has any control over or communication with anything else on the road.
     
  16. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Obviously you'd have to study the problem in more detail. But one big difference off the top of my head is the UK doesn't have nearly the elaborate freeway system the US has and I'd imagine speed coupled with how our freeways are constructed [some having 10 lanes in each direction] contributes to that.
     
  17. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Now the legal questions. Who gets sued if my driverless car hits someone? I only get a ticket if, say, I don't have my car serviced on time?

    Let me also give you two scenarios:

    Let's say I have been drinking a little bit, get behind the wheel of a car, and drive a bit too fast, say, through a school zone. (something I don't do BTW)

    I do look around, and I see a young child chasing a ball down a hill. The ball disappears between two parked cars.

    There is no obstruction yet, but I know what is going to happen, In a moment, the ball will appear in front of me, and a second or two later, so will the child.

    So I apply the brake in anticipation. Lo and behold, the child jumps out in front of me, and he goes home safe after I get his attention with a horn blast.

    Same scenario, but with a driverless car.

    It can never be drunk, always obeys all laws, never speeds. But it cannot anticipate. It uses sensors, even visual sensors the way a blind man uses a stick.

    Machines image, people see.

    I am in the car reading my morning (paper?) newstablet. The car is in the school zone. It can sense no obstruction. Then the ball and boy emerge right in front of it--and the tyke is struck.

    So which was safer then, a drunk driver who anticipates, or a perfect reaction time machine with no common sense? In this case, the drunk driver is actually safer.
     
  18. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    This link breaks down the leading causes of car accidents.

    In summary, they are:

    1. Distracted driving. Well, computers don't get "distracted."
    2. Driver fatigue. Computers also don't get tired!
    3. Drunk driving. Or drunk.
    4. Speeding. Self-driving cars could potentially go faster than is safe for humans, but would be programmed never to go faster than conditions permit be done safely.
    5. Aggressive driving. Computers don't get mad, either.
    6. Weather. A self-driving system would behave more conservatively in bad weather conditions, and it would have more data (such as infrared) to work with.

    That has yet to be sorted out, but manufacturers should be liable for any defects, while the owner is liable if they aren't doing proper maintenance.

    Such motion can be detected with greater accuracy and anticipation than a human. The car would notice there's a problem before you would. (In fact, there are new cars which will sense impending collisions with pedestrians and stop immediately to avoid them.)

    The self-driving car is safer because it wouldn't hit the kid. Also, if you think a drunk barreling through a school zone is going to hit the brakes fast enough to avoid hurting anyone, I don't think you get drunk that much. The scenario you describe far, far more often ends with the drunk hitting the kid and not even noticing, on account of being totally shitfaced.
     
  19. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2005
    To get the kind of real efficiency improvements that self-driving cars are capable of, coordination is absolutely necessary. If each car operates autonomously, it has to go slow enough and keep enough distance from other vehicles that it can react appropriately and safely in situations where it doesn't know what the other vehicles are going to do until the other vehicles actually start doing something. If the vehicles communicate with each other, they can safely cruise along at much higher speeds with only inches or perhaps a few feet between them, dramatically decreasing travel times, increasing road capacity, and potentially reducing fuel usage by reducing wind resistance.
     
  20. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    The trucking industry I'm sure sees a huge upside to any self driving technology. I'm surprised they haven't invested more heavily in the technology. No more driver fatigue and there are a many other efficiences for the industry.