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Nevada Authorizes Development of Driverless Car Rules 122

DrEldarion writes "Via Forbes: 'The State of Nevada just passed Assembly Bill No. 511 which, among other things, authorizes the Department of Transportation to develop rules and regulations governing the use of driverless cars, such as Google's concept car, on its roads.' Pretty soon, cars will be able to dump their own dead bodies into the Nevada desert."
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Nevada Authorizes Development of Driverless Car Rules

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  • Cars drive you! Sorry, I meant in Nevada!
    • As a current Nevada resident, I feel that driverless cars can only be an improvement from the massive influx of Californians escaping their debt-ridden state.
      • As a Californian resident I would like to thank you for helping alleviate the burden of crappy California drivers in this state. In fact, we are probably going to run our politicians out of this state in your general direction pretty soon too. We don't have much use for them anymore. But we are keeping our oceans, mountains, and hot movie-star-wannabe bimbos and there's nothing you can do about it! =P
        • Once you get rid of all of the undesirables...would California be interested in a few Nevada residents? I hate the snow and love the beach, I may be in the wrong state. I promise to not let Microsoft drive my car and to never vote ex-movie stars into public office.
          • Fuck that... you want to give up your lack of State Income Taxes? California will bleed you dry! I'll stay in Nevada, thanks.

          • Are you also getting rid of the stupid people?

            The ones who voted to prevent your government from being able to raise taxes, but still demand more and better services from it, for example?

      • As a nearly-lifetime California resident, I think you should be grateful for some Californians; When I see a Nevada plate, 95% of the time I notice because of shitty driving. And yes, I do just check out plates when I have idle time.

  • Ever driven or even walked the strip in Vegas? Few roads are worse to navigate than the ones in Vegas with a bunch of blasted white trash in rentals.
    • Yeah cause the entire city of Las Vegas can be summarized by what it's like to drive on the strip... c'mon

      • I specifically stated the strip. Have you been there?
        • by garcia ( 6573 )

          Yeah, as recently as April for a conference. No one 'drives' on the Strip because it's a fucking parking lot 24/7. I don't see how automated cars are going to help that.

          You know what I did when I was in Vegas? Rode BRT and walked--like the apparent majority of people who were there with me.

          (I was also there in December of 2006 and it was the same).

      • by imdx80 ( 842737 )
        You don't drive the strip to get from A-B. It's a thing tourists do, they might regret it 60 minutes after turning off Spring Mountain and are still looking at the Venetian.
        • It's a thing tourists do

          Hence the rentals portion of my statement. Most of them are too drunk to realize that they aren't really going anywhere and besides, they rented the deluxe super-sized SAV, so you can't really expect them to just park it in a garage?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday June 23, 2011 @06:54PM (#36548432) Homepage Journal

    ti's nice to see a lot of features i cars not only rolling out quickly, but the time it takes to go from a luxury car feature to a stand car feature is getting shorter with each technology..

    Can't wait to have my car drive me to work. So many advantages.

    • Doesn't matter, it will be 20+ years before this hits the masses. Assuming they offered it tomorrow in the latest Mercedes it would be a $10,000 option that few would bother with. It's like cadalliac offering nightvision on their 2000 DTS, almost no one bought that option and here 11 years later still very few cars offer nightvision. Same with laser cruise control that can slow the car down or even stop if it sees something ahead, Lexus and Mercedes have had that for 5+ years but I still dont see it offe
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @06:55PM (#36548438) Homepage
    In the very long term, automated cars able to coordinate their driving will be more efficient. There will be fewer driving accidents and people will get where they are going faster. In the short term this sort of technology is more likely to be first actually used when it is limited to highway driving (which is comparatively simple) before it becomes useful for general driving. Unfortunately, it could take only a few bad accidents before people will start reacting strongly against automated systems even if the systems are safer than humans on average. This is sort of what we're seeing now already with nuclear power: the death toll from nuclear power is much smaller than coal, but nuclear power is treated as terrible because the accidents are rare and spectacular and involve a technology that is seen as novel, strange and unnatural.
    • The real key will be getting insurance companies behind the new tech. If these cars truly are safer (and all evidence shows that they are), then insurers will love them (since they'll have to pay out fewer claims), and will be happy to ensure they succeed by lobbying whoever necessary.

      • by naoursla ( 99850 )

        And you will pay a lot more if you want to drive your car yourself. Once safety passes human ability, insurance companies are going to be the driving force behind adoption.

    • Could be. But there have been a lot more than a few mechanical bad accidents involving airplanes, yet people are still flying.

      • There's still a lot more people with a fear of driving than with a fear of travelling in a car. It's all about not being in control, the standard mind says "I'm behind the wheel controlling this car, so I'm safe, but I have no idea what the pilot's doing so I may or may not be safe..."

        Of course the benefits of flying outweigh the fear factor for most people, and in time automated cars will probably gain as much trust as we have in airplanes, but it will take time to bring the public perception around to the

    • Over the last decade I've spent a little over a year of my life sitting in traffic on U.S. 101 (anyone else here ever wonder why the metering lights are never on at the 101/85 junction?). I have spent much of this time contemplating the possibilities of self-driving cars, and reached the following conclusions:
      1. it would have to be done in some other country first, because people here will consider it "Unamerican" to not be able to drive your own car.
      2. Driverless cars are theoretically far safer than cars w
      • I think you underestimate the skill of the people designing these cars. I'm not an aggressive driver myself, and I've found that all you need to do when you're targeted is lift off the gas and let them get on their merry way. Plus the range of sensors means it can see the person 4 lanes over as he starts to go perpendicular to traffic to make his exit and start backing off way back then.

        Convincing people not to drive their own cars will probably take an entire generation. Once everyone who is alive today ha

        • by Anonymous Coward

          > but everyone who's already driven will want to keep driving.

          Speak for yourself. Driving is no longer a 'cool, new experience' for some of us who would rather do something else while being driven. I, for one, would love to gain back my hour a day commute as time I could be doing something other than paying attention to traffic.

      • by rubeng ( 1263328 ) drivers will target them, tailgating or cutting them off in ways the software can't compensate for.

        With all the sensors onboard watching in all directions, you'd think it'd be easy to keep the evidence of the other guy's stupidity. In the case of a crash you'd probably have all kinds or proof as to who was at fault. Maybe these cars should have a "report-an-asshole" button that sends data to the cops. Someone who gets pinged by that enough times would maybe get sent back to drivers training school. (someone who hit the button without good cause too many times would also get talked to)

        So maybe a live

        • I don't think you'll have to report an asshole to the cops. Onstar already calls you if the car notices a massive deacceleration or acceleration (hit from behind). There's a YouTube video of a supercharged cadalliac cts-v doing a 11 second quarter and Onstar calls them and says they noticed a rapid acceleration and asked if they needed assistance. If we did have driveless cars no doubt the sensors would automatically notify local enforcement that the vehicle was cut off and provide photographic evidence.
  • Cars that drive themselves have the potential to be virtually crash-proof, even under adverse conditions. We'll wonder why we ever allowed ourselves to drive in the first place.

    Until then, it will be interesting to see what deficiencies in our road designs and traffic laws these self-driving cars discover. For example, when making a right turn onto a road just after the speed limit sign, how will the computer know what the speed limit is? Faced with trying to make a left turn onto a road with a steady strea

    • You're a bit more keen on their chances than I am. People underestimate risks when they are in control.

      In 2009 there were 30,797 traffic-related fatalities [] in the USA. If we could cut that in half with self-driving cars that'd be amazingly good. But the public wouldn't go for it because now the machine is in control, so the risk is overestimated.

      How many stories would we see about "killer cars that account for 10,000 traffic deaths per year"? How many people wouldn't buy them because of how "unsafe" they are?

      • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

        We don't see stories about that because there doesn't appear to be any solution short of simply not driving.

        Contrast that to the problem of impaired driving. Used to kill a lot of people. The solution was obvious, increase (drastically) the firms and penalties for driving while under the influence, couple that with extensive marketing and you get a corresponding reduction in fatalities.

        Once there is solution that can start to drastically reduce traffic accidents (and associated injuries, fatalities and prop

        • I'd say it'll take at least a couple decades to make the switch, given the ever-rising cost of cars, the longer finance cycles that most people are on, and the longer lifespan of modern vehicles. My two daily drivers are both 16+ years old, and I have no intention of getting rid of them any time soon. They're cheap to operate. My 2008 truck largely sits in the driveway, but when I need to move big stuff or drive through a blizzard, it's darn handy.

          Actually that brings up a good point. Teaching a compute

          • Winter driving in general will be a huge issue, humans who otherwise are capable drivers typically go all nuts on even light snow. Simply lowering speed isn't the answer either. Going to slow can easily mean getting stuck (especially going up hills). Worse can sometimes be going down hills, where even in neutral you can slide and may need to actually add gas to straighten out...

            More than anything I guess I just don't trust a programmer in Cali who has never even seen snow let alone driven in it to know what

            • You're part of the problem. What the FUCK are you doing going downhill on a wintry road in NEUTRAL? Low gear, let the engine keep the vehicle running at a constant, controlled speed. Don't use your brakes or FUCKING NEUTRAL (?!?) to do that!

              • I don't use neutral, but I can tell you many snow driving courses teach neutral for going down hills in snow... My Ex only learned how to drive a couple years ago. Still hasn't passed and has taken the only two winter driving courses offered here. Both taught 'neutral' as the technique to use. They also taught that brakes are your friend, another thing that is rubbish. Now stop complaining about how I'm the idiot when I'm not talking about myself, nor suggesting what you are complaining about?

            • A computer can measure the slip on all 4 tires independently, apply brakes only to tires that have grip, compensate for skids properly (a lot of people steer the wrong way in a skid), and ideally even communicate to other cars about the location of slippery areas. A human has 2-3 petals, a wheel, and some form of shifter for control. The computer is going to do a far better job than we can.
              • Brakes are the last thing you want in snow on a hill in either direction. The hard part for a car controlling program is that each incident is somewhat different, so exactly what needs to be done will change. So the computer can try the standard method, but will have problems when things don't go as someone plans. On the other hand a person can know in general what they need to do and vary it as needed. It's actually what we are best at. We may have more limited total control over the car, but a good driver

          • In regards to winter driving, we've already got a solution that works quite well called Stability/Traction Control. It's part of the ABS system, so you now have the needed sensors to detect if a wheel is slipping/spinning on ice and the computer can compensate. Of course it's the cause of more fatalities as people driving models equiped with it tend to over-drive based on conditions but a computer will not.

    • I agree there are lots of interesting questions to work out with robotic cars. Your first point, though, is easily handled by a standard GPS map database. It would only have to read temporary speed limit signs.

      For your second case, my hope is that it would find another route (right turn, U turn, etc), which is what a safe human driver would do. I don't think you'd ever want them making an unsafe dart through cross traffic. Unless of course you want to put an AI for frogger into your car, which has the

    • For example, when making a right turn onto a road just after the speed limit sign, how will the computer know what the speed limit is?

      You answered your own question in the next sentence. Local laws. For example, Pennsylvania law declares that, unless otherwise marked, the speed limit is 35 in urban areas, 55 in rural. Urban and rural have regular definitions, as well. And, from what I understand, if you can prove you had no way to see the sign, but were going under the statutory default limit, you have a de

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        For example, Pennsylvania law declares that, unless otherwise marked, the speed limit is 35 in urban areas, 55 in rural.

        How will the car determine whether the area is urban or rural, given only what it can see with its cameras? What if the GPS isn't working that day?

        • Wow, good point. I would assume the auto would have no idea where to go at ALL without the GPS.

          • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

            The car would already have the map, so in theory it could look at the signs, figure out where it is, and drive all the way to the destination without ever acquiring a GPS lock.

    • by rgviza ( 1303161 )
      The first is actually simple to solve. You can make a grid of gps coordinates and assign a speed to each. Reading speed limit signs would be the worst way to tell the car's computer what the speed is, since they are often defaced, removed, or even shot up by drunk teenagers. There's already tech to tell you, via gps database, what the speed limit is. I have an app on my phone that does this. It's a HUD app that warns me when I'm speeding.

      As far as a left turn into a busy street goes, the car could send a si
      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        The first is actually simple to solve. You can make a grid of gps coordinates and assign a speed to each.

        What if GPS isn't working?

        As far as a left turn into a busy street goes, the car could send a signal to central that it needs to turn and the cars could be slowed to allow a space.

        What if people are driving those cars?

        I just wish people would use the automation already available, cruise control. Set a goddamned speed and stay there.

        If everybody set the same speed, and everybody's cruise controls we

  • no driverless cars on public roads
  • by soundguy ( 415780 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @07:10PM (#36548634) Homepage
    Of course, before your driverless car goes out dumping bodies, you'll need a driverless backhoe to go out and dig the holes first.

    I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise, you're talking about a half-hour to forty-five minutes worth of digging. And who knows who's gonna come along in that time? Pretty soon, you gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.
  • by Burning1 ( 204959 ) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @07:15PM (#36548688) Homepage

    "Hello, I'm Johnny Cab. Where can I take you tonight?"

  • Now there will be fleets of driverless trucks hauling trailers three at a time blasting across Nevada.

    It is a great place to test this sort of thing, though. Once you get outside of Vegas and Reno the roads have very few turns or intersections to confuse our new robotic overdrivers.

  • One thing that I have not heard or read about is bound to be one of the first things that somebody will sue over, so it should be taken care of first: who will be liable when one of these gets into a wreck?
    • Depends. if the cars are "100% guaranteed not to cause accidents", then it could be the manufacturer. But since I doubt any car company will put something like that on a car, it will probably be the owner.
      • Which is just what I thought, and why car owners should avoid these things like the plague, at least for the first few years after they are introduced. Let somebody else be guinea pigs.

        I know that sounds counterproductive. If people don't adopt it, it won't get better, etc...

        But I'll be damned if I will go to jail for negligent homicide because of some bad software written by a college freshman intern at some automobile company.
        • I agree with you. I wouldn't go to a self-driving car until EVERYONE used them and I knew that, not just buggy code had been worked out, but that there aren't still people driving themselves around (which, in a world where cars are driverless could be almost as dangerous as we consider a driverless car to be today)
        • by naoursla ( 99850 )

          You'll need special insurance for the cars. The insurance companies will negotiate with the manufacturer to share the burden of responsibility. The manufacturer will have insurance protecting them too.

          The cars will have all of their sensor data recorded. If the other person is at fault, they will have a much higher chance of taking the blame.

          • Great, just what we need (sarcasm). To expand our broken, extortionist insurance system into even more areas of liability and mayhem.
            • by naoursla ( 99850 )

              Autonomous vehicles are going to make owning your own vehicle uneconomical anyway. You won't buy insurance because you won't own a vehicle. Businesses that own and operate fleets will negotiate with the insurance for you. Eventually.

              The transition from today to ubiquitous use is going to be messy, but large changes often are.

      • Remember how hard it was to prove that just Toyota's software for its accelerator was not malfunctioning? Now imagine the whole car...
        • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

          The rewards will go to wherever this is done first.... as that is where the development, research and initial manufacturing takes place.

          So if (for example) Singapore, China or Nevada "solves" the liability issues first, then assume that there will be some early adopter benefits accruing to them.

          And of course the usual suspects (in this case the lawyers) will proclaim this to be the end of the world and civilization etc etc etc.

    • by jthill ( 303417 )
      Storage is cheap. They'll have 360deg video in the black box for forensics.
  • I mean already more than 50% of the cars are only carrying the driver, so if you have driverless cars, they will be going around empty.

    • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

      I suspect you thought that was a good joke (and actually it is...)

      But in fact there will be a lot of driverless cars driving around. For example your car drops you off at the front door at work and then drives itself to the parking lot or perhaps home to drive the kids to school or to the local battery charging station or just around the block a few times while you pick something up and go and wait for it to take you to your first appointment. A lot of deliveries will get done without anyone in the vehicle

  • Am I the only one that sees the potential for serious abuses should driverless vehicles become massively adopted and standardized?

    Roadways are ALWAYS under construction, which means that static map data inside the vehicle is never going to be an option. The vehicles will *HAVE* to connect to the internet in some fashion to pull updated maps.

    It might be well within the tinfoil hat arena, but I can clearly see this being used to kill somebody. Case in point:

    The Turn-by-Turn navigation software I used to use

    • The car control computers are going to have to be doing what humans should be doing today - being situationally aware and discarding routes that conflict with direct observations. Just like a car shouldn't turn left into a pedestrian, it also shouldn't turn left into a bridge guardrail or off the pavement. GPS maps are going to have to be used for routing, and local, realtime sensors and vision algorithms are going to be needed for operation. It's just that rather than being biological, they'll be electr

      • The problem is that "Common sense" (admittedly lacking in the people who drive off bridges. I did not say I did so, only that my TTN software suggested that I do so, then bitched mightily about my being offroute when I failed to do so when it said to. I believe my exact words were "Fuck that shit!" before continuing over the bridge in the sane and rational fashion.) is extremely difficult to imbue to a computer.

        Automatic driving systems would be at the mercy of the quality of the GPS maps, the GPS reciever

        • Most important thing the cars need to do is tell when their sensors etc are in a state where the car is not in a fit state to drive.

          It needs to give itself a drunk test before every trip.

        • The current reality seems more like the parent answer ("GPS maps are going to have to be used for routing, and local, realtime sensors and vision algorithms are going to be needed for operation.") than yours ("Automatic driving systems would be at the mercy of the quality of the GPS maps, the GPS reciever hardware").

          Cars following GPS instructions are still faraway dream, except for a few concept cars and experimental designs (like the google's one).
          Whereas traffic lane exit alarm and collision avoidance sy

    • Google has logged something like 10,000 miles without any accidents. The car is aware of its environment, and capable of compensating for things like red lights, road closures, and map inaccuracy.

  • Call me "that tinfoil hat guy," but isn't this just another way to take away freedoms if abused? There are plenty of benefits, sure, but there are also many who want to know where you are, lock your car, and wait kindly for the reeducation agents to arrive.

    I like my car. I like modding my car, and I sure like driving the way I do (like a maniac, thx Boston). This seems like a great way to censor that little bit of rule breaking, which has saved my life more than once.
    Just couldn't help thinking Minority

  • At least, that's what they look like of you're following them. You can't say someone's actually "driving" the car if they can't even see over the steering wheel. Just like you can't say they're parking it if their "acoustic sensor system" is the sound the other car makes when they back into it.

    They're not really driving - they're playing a game of chance ... like their bingo nights, but on public roads.

  • Soon it will be time to start working of viruses. I can't wait to hear my car's engine singing flight of the bumblebees for no reason.
  • Can someone please provide an appropriate Ocean's 11 joke? This thread is lacking without it.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"