Journal: What Should Google Auto Know About Driving?

What Should Google Auto Know About Driving?

By Michael Banovsky
August 6, 2015
25 Comments

A report from The Guardian has made everything clear: Google Auto is a thing, and it means business. The subsidiary Google Auto has been licensed since 2014 in California as a carmaker.

The Google Car is conducting testing, as well as self-driving prototypes and StreetView projects under the larger Google umbrella. Even if its initiatives don’t lead to a car you or I may be able to buy, I thought it’d be helpful to share with Google Auto our expectations for driverless, autonomous, and future vehicles.

Me? I’d love to be able to pull up at a race track and have my car automatically whirl me around for a few laps using, say, Jenson Button’s preferred line. Moreover, could an autonomous-capable car somehow gently prod its driver to more quickly cover ground on a twisty road?

I, for one, think the next few decades may be a lot of fun. Safer fun, but fun.

Images Source: www.google.com

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Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant
8 years ago

My initial reaction to your question was ” I want them to know to stay off the roads with their robopods and leave the driving to real people”, but as I thought about it, I realized there is a segment of the population that should have these things, in fact they should be REQUIRED to have them.
It’s the same idiots that I see every day behind the wheel yakking/texting on a phone or babysitting their children with in seat DVD players because they’re too busy talking/texting to actually parent, messing with infotainment systems and driving vehicles that are so large they can’t even park them in a normal parking spot.
The same idiots who drive too fast, follow too closely and then expect the modern technology in their vehicles to save their stupid a**** when they get in trouble. They do all this with a blatant disregard for other people’s safety. Safer cars have not made safer drivers, in fact it has made them lazy and distracted and an argument could be made that it is the technology that has caused the problem.
These people should absolutely be shuttled around in these things. I could also see the practical use of this technology for people who have limitations for driving such as age, handicaps or other physical limitations.

So no, I don’t need more technology making driving decisions for me, Thank you.

Michael, you asked if I “wouldn’t download a program that allows your car to emulate my line through, say, my favourite road? Or have the driverless car emulate Sir Stiring Moss’ around Silverstone for one lap, and Lewis Hamilton the next?”
To that I would answer with a resounding “No”, what would be the point, it would be nothing but a simulation. It would be like riding a roller coaster…… get in, hang on and raise your arms and scream through the corners. Not my idea of driving fun.
I personally enjoy my daily commute. I have loved driving since having a drivers license and like nothing more than doing road trips, where the only entertainment I need is out my windshield and mirrors.
At what point in life don’t you want techno-gadgetry intruding in what you do? Eating for you? Having sex for you?

Personally, I hope these things get relegated to amusement park rides where they belong. Remember when you were a kid and you rode the kiddie cars at the fair or park and thought you were steering the fake wheel as the car rode along on tracks. BINGO, here you are!
Ripping off Greyhound’s motto slightly:
Leave the driving to me, thanks.

Jono51
Jono51
8 years ago

“there is a segment of the population that should have these things, in fact they should be REQUIRED to have them”. In principle I agree. The problem is that not many of these people are going to nominate themselves – this means that someone else is going to have to do the requiring. Who will that be? Why lawmakers and bureaucrats of course, and we know we can trust them to do an excellent job, as always:)

Absolutely agree that I can see no point in getting driven around by a robocar that thinks it’s Lewis Hamilton. And I also enjoy my daily commute, in a 30 year old car with a manual shift …

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
8 years ago
Reply to  Jono51

Laws are designed to cater for the lowest denomination, signs all over the place to warn the idiot, look out for this, watch for that, red light where there is ample vision, slow down!
The current mix of driver aids and traffic management schemes are heading towards an interesting debate on liability, in the UK you can pass a test in a manual or automatic transmission car, if you pass in an auto that’s all you can drive, it could be argued that it is out of date, what about a car with autoparking, or even stability control, abs, distance warnings and automatic braking etc.

Gavin Langier
Gavin Langier
8 years ago

I love driving and I love cars, most of which, I hate to admit, I’m never going to get the opportunity to drive. I work in sales and I criss-cross London all day. I often spend evenings and weekends catching up on work due to the amount of time I spend driving. If I was given the opportunity to work en-route, between appointments, as well as properly enjoying the view along the way, I’d take it. This doesn’t exclude me from still wanting to enjoyi driving myself when the mood takes me, on the right kind of road.

What worries me is that so called “moron drivers” aren’t going to simply disappear overnight. Honestly, bad drivers aren’t even a simple, distinct category – all drivers make mistakes . I think it’s inevitable that in time, governments will make cities driverless zones or at least place a heavy financial burden on anyone wanting to take control of their own wheels.

It’s also worth pondering the impact on car manufacturers – I read that 90\% of cars are parked by the side of the road at any given time. Surely the point of the driverless car will also be to properly introduce the age of the ownerless car – with exceptions of course, for those with good reason to have exclusive use of their own. As people will become less inclined to invest in their own vehicles and therefore less attached, so the driverless vehicles will become more generic. I do however think driverless cars will make the journey itself more interesting – just as sat nav has cut out rows between driver and navigator.

Another major shift will be the experience for new “drivers” – their first taste of getting around in a “car” is less and less likely to be behind the wheel (why pay a crazy insurance premium if you can simply hail a personal cab?) and if they start this way, what chance that they will ever adopt the habit of driving themselves?

For sure the auto industry is in for a phenomenal upheaval but providing hacking issues can be overcome, there are far more positives than negatives in general terms – less traffic, less pollution, less waste, more efficient use of city space, safer roads etc. The downside is the rights of individual drivers to enjoy their cars. On a day to day basis this is likely going to be ever harder to defend but no doubt where there is a will there is a way; more organised rallies and the like, possibly even closed road race. Certainly the daily grind of commuting for most people in cities at least is ripe for change.

Jono51
Jono51
8 years ago

“You don’t have to buy one!” No, that might be right for the foreseeable future, and yes, it does sound sensible to allow people who don’t enjoy driving, or don’t have the necessary physical or mental capacity, the ability to let their car be their chauffeur.

But wait a minute. Let’s assume that autonomous cars are safer – a lot safer – and let’s also reflect that the worst drivers might just happen to be the last people who will want an autonomous vehicle. The implications of this would be first that we will see tougher standards set for allowing people to drive themselves, and secondly that any law breaking would be much more likely to result in loss of that privilege.

So gradually, the number of people who are allowed to drive will decline. And ultimately, once this group is a minority as small as those who want to change their own gears, what legislator wouldn’t want to finish the job by making it illegal for any of us to actually control the direction and speed of a deadly machine on a public highway? After all, even the best of us make mistakes sometimes, and even if removing the right to drive for the last 10 percent of the population only saves a very small number of lives, wouldn’t it still be worth it? At least that is what the safety administrators will argue.

Think about this end point, Mr Banovsky, and then think about whether you still believe that autonomous cars are such a great idea.

jolocho
jolocho
8 years ago
Reply to  Jono51

“…we will see tougher standards set for allowing people to drive themselves, and secondly that any law breaking would be much more likely to result in loss of that privilege.”

That should be the case, self-driving cars or not. People treat driving like they’re sitting on a couch and would rather text/talk. Driving standards in the USA are considerably lax compared to the rest of the world.

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson
8 years ago

Gack, spit, choke etc.
Driving is about the experience even if it’s only a commute to work, these things leave me stone cold.
I call them things because I don’t consider them real cars . I refer to the people who drive these hybrids and now driverless vehicles as members of the “anti destination” league. The folks that think these things are really going to make it safer on the roads are as wrong as the morons who persist in driving drunk , or texting .
Not impressed with this fad at all , and IMHO it will pass and hopefully die a quick death.

KStewart
KStewart
8 years ago

‘Driving is about the experience even if it’s only a commute to work, these things leave me stone cold.
I call them things because I don’t consider them real cars . I refer to the people who drive these hybrids and now driverless vehicles as members of the “anti destination” league.’

For you and me and many others, yes much of the time driving is about the experience that these cars probably aren’t going to provide. But, we are car enthusiasts, not everyone is. We can’t expect that others must share the same passion about cars and driving that we do. For 90\% of people, it’s about transportation period. The more you try to project your passions onto other people, the more frustrated you will be.

For all the people claiming that they will be less safe than the current situation, you have no data to support this. Testing will tell, and until then, there’s really no need for the knee jerk reaction. For these things ever to be approved to be on the road with us, they will have to be tested to be far superior to a human driver.

As I said. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY ONE!

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
8 years ago

It’s a short and simple post with huge implications for future generations, it’s bound to stir up emotions in the people that frequent a site like this. Petrolicious would have to change its slogan, “be transported tastefully”, it doesn’t have the same ring 😉
I can see the future articles now.. “Bill rooted his android car OS and installed the Formula 1 app, along with the Murray Walker voice pack, fitting a few extra battery packs for good measure, what mods have you installed?” Lol.

KStewart
KStewart
8 years ago

It’s hilarious how a very short and simple post can irritate people so much and bring out the paranoia. Google is experimenting with self-driving cars. They may or may not ever be available for sale. When they are, you don’t have to buy one. All facts…

I’m 42 and have been a software engineer for about 20 years. I’d bet that within a few years, Google should be able to develop an autonomous car that can drive better than 90\% of the A-holes out on the roads today. If they can at least make them stay out of the left lane when they aren’t passing, not drive 4 feet off my rear bumper, and not jack the brakes for no apparent reason, I’d be happy. Personally, I’m surprised that a bunch of people driving around at 80mph a few feet from each other works as well as it does most of the time.

So since the beginning of the automobile, how much exactly has the government infringed on our rights to drive where and when we please? I don’t think “my social studies teacher said so in the 60’s” counts as evidence of a big desire to curb our freedom to travel.

Guitar Slinger, If you want a site that has articles that you completely agree with, maybe you should start your own. I can’t see how you would spend any more time doing it than you spend on your tirades here.

M Webb
M Webb
8 years ago

I am 62 years old. Back in grade school, a social studies teacher and I would talk cars after class. I have never forgotten one of the things he said which was (bear in mind this was in the late 60’s) If the automobile was invented in today’s world there is no way in hell the government would grant citizens that kind of freedom and mobility.

Government has long hated the automobile and i have no doubt that their heavy hand will be involved in determining where you will be allowed to drive and when. throughout my life I have seen government destroy everything it has touched and this will be no different

Frank Anigbo
8 years ago

The whole self-driving car solution feels like trying to solve a complex problem with an even more complex problem. Might a better solution to road safety not be found in better planning of roads, cities, places of work zones — to optimize the efficiency of getting places without the risks associated with driving when you really don’t need to. While this may sound like the more expensive solution, consider that it relies on hack-proof and proven technology without any of the moral dilemmas an autonomous car will need to deal with when faced with the decision of swerving left to hit another car versus continuing straight and risk hitting the child who just appeared from behind a hedge chasing a runaway ball. And what happens if, rather than a child, it’s a squirrel? Or perhaps a dog that’s about to get run over?

We can’t even build robots that car reliably fold laundry and we are thinking of handing over the safety of our children to machines.

Just out of curiosity, how do countries with small city clusters separated by large expanses of agricultural/industrial land compare with countries with continuous urban sprawl when it comes to traffic deaths? And how well do cities with lots of bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure compare with those that planned primarily for cars?

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
8 years ago

Keep them on special roads away from me!
The jeep “infotainment” system has already been hacked (details to be released online next month), the hacker was able to control the jeeps brakes and acceleration, leaving the driver only with the ability to steer.
Why is this even possible!

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul Steel

I meant to add..
imagine when some hacking group terrorist finds a Google car exploit and send them all on the rampage!
Christine for the Google generation 😉

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow
8 years ago

I am looking forward to all of the people who do not want to drive, but must, adopting the autonomous car. Imagine if 50\% of the traffic you engage every day was using their signals, staying within the correct lane, and stopping at the stop signs. Not only will it be safer, but we who drive because we love it will have better road access. Plus, when my old bones are tired from a track day, telling the autonomous race hauler rig “home now” and relaxing for the 300 mile trailer pull sounds pretty sweet…

Wayne Mattson
Wayne Mattson
8 years ago

I don’t even know where to start here. How anybody thinks that self driving cars are a good idea is beyond me. Nothing electronic/digital built these days lasts very long and the way everything can be hacked into, it will just be a matter of time before we lose control of this garbage as well. I am so sick of how people think that just because something is over-hyped by the media it must be good and worth embracing. This is just another way for people to spend money that they don’t have on something they don’t need. When will the madness end?

Also, why is this article on a site supposedly dedicated to “driving tastefully”? There is nothing tasteful about this.

JB21
JB21
8 years ago

I am actually all for the autonomous vehicles. If people can’t be bothered to drive, then they really shouldn’t. And since nobody wants to pay for public transport (as we know it), autonomous cars it is. And you know what? What’s gonna come out of this, the only logical outcome of this whole thing, is that you don’t buy them, they are like a taxi, just more convenient and more available.

One option I really would like to see is a “drive like you stole it” mode, still in sync with other autonomous cars, that would be fun.

Mr. Slinger, one correction. Yes, there are hundred cases (I think it’s close 150) of those getting in an accident, true. That include every little incident, like a little bump when pararell parking, and such. And it was reported, I think I read it on Jalopnik, according to the report, 100\% of them are [i]operator errors of the other cars[/i] that crashed into it

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss
8 years ago
Reply to  JB21

Some of those crashes have been where the Google car is rear-ended because it saw a threat and stopped suddenly. While I don’t dispute that its still the fault of the follower, it does seem similar to the change that was brought about by ABS deployment; once again, some cars are going to be stopping much faster than others, and if you are one of the others, you are going to have to increase your buffer zone.

Ryan Connolly
Ryan Connolly
8 years ago

Dear Google,

I’m not going to buy your Rubbermaid Fiat 500 Autobot edition.

Not so best wishes,
Ryan

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

These Three Things plus One ;

1) Why in the love of all things automotive is a story about autonomous cars showing up on a site ‘ supposedly ‘ dedicated to classic cars and the ‘ authentic ‘ experience of driving ?
2) What Google needs to know is that their autonomous shackles are not welcome seeing as how its sole intent is to connect us even further into the digital observation realm [ think about that ] stripping us of even more freedom than the digital realm has already taken from us … including right to privacy .. the right to not be spied upon without due course or notice by either the government or the corporate world [ here’s a clue .. Google is both .. look it up ] etc . And again Mr Banovsky . Read ” Brave New World ; Aldous Huxley .. sooner than later
3) Like everything else in the digital domain … the ONLY thing you can be secure about when it comes to digital/online and including autonomous driving security is … THERE IS NO DIGITAL OR ONLINE SECURITY .. None ! Ask any honest DHS or NSA employee .. I have
4) You want autonomous driving ? Ride a bus or take a taxi . You want to blast around a track like an F1 driver ? Devote your life to learning how to do it for real … or go play a freaking Video Game but keep the video game experience off the public roads and race tracks !

And finally … though maybe not … Autonomous as has been proven and documented well over a hundred times in the last six months alone is anything BUT safe . And the infrastructure required to make it anything even approaching safe would bankrupt our already financially teetering economy .. not to mention the demands it would place on an already over burdened power grid

Seriously Mr Banovsky ! In the past you’ve been guilty of a minor error here … a glitch there .. a lack of information on occasion and even the rare blatant mistake more often than not due to you being young of age and a lack of experience . All human errors and completely understandable . But this one ? This one is seriously disappointing . Devastatingly so I might add . Unmitigated and Abject Dreck like this I expect from the corporate drones/shills over at AW , R&T ALD , Jalopnik , TTAC etc [ and yes i can document and prove every one of those allegations ] But from you in particular or Petrolicious in general ?

Honestly devastated and severely disappointed doesn’t even come close

So lets be honest here . Is this an indication as to the future direction of Petrolicious or is it just a one off anomaly due to a ” A Momentary Lapse of Reason ” ?

Personally I’ll hope for the later . And in all honesty … I truly hope the majority here are in agreement with me on this !

So ..

Rock On – Rage On [ against the machine ] – Drive On – Remain Calm [ despite the oncoming digital storms ] and do hopefully – Carry On … tastefully that is .. my wayward son ..
.. and err .. Drive/Ride Free .. or Die !

GS/TJ

PS; Where in the ___ are the Hunter S. Thompson’s , LJK Setright’s etc contrarian and voices of reason when we need them the most ? Oh wait . That mantle seems to be falling on me I guess . Anyone want to give a semi retired well educated and connected guitarslinger with an attitude a writing gig/ platform ? … Ehhh … thought not 😉

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