Self Driving Cars
The concept of driverless vehicles is even more complicated for companies such as Mercedes and BMW which sell cars on the basis that people will love the experience of driving them. As Aeberhard suggests, BMW has put a great deal of its design effort into making hands-free feel like a natural driving experience. “The reality of the world is that a lot of driving we do is not fun driving. It is driving to work in traffic. Even so, we want it to feel as it should feel if they were driving it themselves. Or like maybe a chauffeur is driving. A very comfortable do-not-disturb type of driving.”
Self Driving Cars
In August 2012, Google announced that their self-driving car had completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles (500,000 km) accident-free, typically having about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and were starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs. In late-May 2014, Google revealed a new prototype of its driverless car, which had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, and was fully autonomous. As of March 2016, Google had test-driven their fleet of driverless cars in autonomous mode a total of 1,500,000 mi (2,400,000 km). In December 2016, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) announced that the self-driving car technology would be spun-off to a new company called Waymo.
Self Driving Cars
In June 2015, Google founder Sergey Brin confirmed that there had been 12 collisions as of that date, eight of which involved being rear-ended at a stop sign or traffic light, two in which the vehicle was side-swiped by another driver, one in which another driver rolled through a stop sign, and one where a Google employee was controlling the car manually. In July 2015, three Google employees suffered minor injuries when the self-driving car they were riding in was rear-ended by a car whose driver failed to brake at a traffic light. This was the first time that a self-driving car collision resulted in injuries. On 14 February 2016 a Google self-driving car attempted to avoid sandbags blocking its path. During the maneuver it struck a bus. Google addressed the crash, saying “In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn’t moved there wouldn’t have been a collision.” Google characterized the crash as a misunderstanding and a learning experience.
Self Driving Cars
According to Tesla, starting 19 October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with hardware to allow full self-driving capability at the highest safety level (SAE Level 5). The hardware includes eight surround cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors, in addition to the forward-facing radar with enhanced processing capabilities. The system will operate in “shadow mode” (processing without taking action) and send data back to Tesla to improve its abilities until the software is ready for deployment via over-the-air upgrades. After the required testing, Tesla hopes to enable full self-driving by the end of 2017 under certain conditions.
Self Driving Cars
Other disruptive effects will come from the use of autonomous vehicles to carry goods. Self-driving vans have the potential to make home deliveries significantly cheaper, transforming retail commerce and possibly rendering hypermarkets and supermarkets redundant. As of right now the U.S. Government defines automation into six levels, starting at level zero which means the human driver does everything and ending with level five, the automated system performs all the driving tasks. Also under the current law, manufacturers bear all the responsibility to self-certify vehicles for use on public roads. This means that currently as long as the vehicle is compliant within the regulatory framework, there are no specific federal legal barriers to a highly automated vehicle being offered for sale. Iyad Rahwan, an associate professor in the MIT Media lab said, “Most people want to live in a world where cars will minimize casualties, but everyone wants their own car to protect them at all costs.” Furthermore, industry standards and best practice are still needed in systems before they can be considered reasonably safe under real-world conditions.
Self Driving Cars
In 2015 a questionnaire survey by Delft University of Technology explored the opinion of 5,000 people from 109 countries on automated driving. Results showed that respondents, on average, found manual driving the most enjoyable mode of driving. 22% of the respondents did not want to spend any money for a fully automated driving system. Respondents were found to be most concerned about software hacking/misuse, and were also concerned about legal issues and safety. Finally, respondents from more developed countries (in terms of lower accident statistics, higher education, and higher income) were less comfortable with their vehicle transmitting data.
If a human driver isn’t required, automated cars could also reduce labor costs; relieve travelers from driving and navigation chores, thereby replacing behind-the-wheel commuting hours with more time for leisure or work; and also would lift constraints on occupant ability to drive, distracted and texting while driving, intoxicated, prone to seizures, or otherwise impaired. For the young, the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income citizens, autonomous cars could provide enhance mobility.
“They loved it,” Urmson says. “It was transformational. People weren’t using their energy in the car, so they had more for other activities. One woman said that when she got home, she ran every evening and unlike before – when she had been tired from the commute – she cooked every day. We had another guy who drives a Porsche normally. To begin with he thought the self-driving idea was stupid, he loves driving, but after a few days he came back and said: ‘I get it. Most of my driving sucks. It drives better than me and it certainly drives better than anyone else…’”
In mid‑October 2015 Tesla Motors rolled out version 7 of their software in the U.S. that included Tesla Autopilot capability. On 9 January 2016, Tesla rolled out version 7.1 as an over-the-air update, adding a new “summon” feature that allows cars to self-park at parking locations without the driver in the car. Tesla’s autonomous driving features are ahead of others in the industry, and can be classified as somewhere between level 2 and level 3 under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five levels of vehicle automation. At this level the car can act autonomously but requires the full attention of the driver, who must be prepared to take control at a moment’s notice. Autopilot should be used only on limited-access highways, and sometimes it will fail to detect lane markings and disengage itself. In urban driving the system will not read traffic signals or obey stop signs. The system also does not detect pedestrians or cyclists.
Modern self-driving cars generally use Bayesian Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, which fuse data from multiple sensors and an off-line map into current location estimates and map updates. SLAM with detection and tracking of other moving objects (DATMO), which also handles things such as cars and pedestrians, is a variant being developed by research at Google . Simpler systems may use roadside real-time locating system (RTLS) beacon systems to aid localisation. Typical sensors include lidar and stereo vision, GPS and IMU. Visual object recognition uses machine vision including neural networks. Educator Udacity is developing an open-source software stack.
California’s DMV had long frustrated the self-driving car industry, which felt state regulators were holding back innovation that could improve public safety. The DMV previously missed a deadline for autonomous vehicle rules. And when it released rules in December 2015, it excluded fully self-driving vehicles, citing safety concerns.
This is the second time in a few months that I have experienced a version of this much advertised future. On the first occasion, near its Mountain View headquarters in California, I ventured out in one of Google’s remodelled Lexus cars, and then around a test track in its homegrown bubble car just before it was allowed on the road. The experience could hardly have been more of a contrast. Google is attempting autonomy in city driving, a challenge, as Aeberhard acknowledges, at a different order of magnitude from what BMW and most of the rest are aiming for. Never shy of hubris, Google wants not only to reinvent the car but to replace the whole idea of driving. In some ways this is primarily a mapping challenge. The BMW mapping system is comparatively basic – a mix of GPS and sensory observation of lane markings and other vehicles; the map itself of the routes it follows in Munich hasn’t been updated in two years.
As a result, Google does not believe the half-way house solutions of the European and Asian car manufacturers will be workable. It puts its faith in full scale revolution (which is the only way of avoiding the kinds of four-way junction paralysis that the current prototype experience; if there were only autonomous cars on the road there would be no need for a nod and a wink about right of way. The cars would “talk” to each other.) Will driving therefore become another aspect of life colonised by the ubiquitous data-collectors of Silicon Valley? For all Google’s (and Apple’s) resources, you guess, in the foreseeable future at least, it will not.
In June 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed a law to authorize the use of autonomous cars. Nevada thus became the first jurisdiction in the world where autonomous vehicles might be legally operated on public roads. According to the law, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NDMV) is responsible for setting safety and performance standards and the agency is responsible for designating areas where autonomous cars may be tested. This legislation was supported by Google in an effort to legally conduct further testing of its Google driverless car. The Nevada law defines an autonomous vehicle to be “a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator.” The law also acknowledges that the operator will not need to pay attention while the car is operating itself. Google had further lobbied for an exemption from a ban on distracted driving to permit occupants to send text messages while sitting behind the wheel, but this did not become law. Furthermore, Nevada’s regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger’s seat during tests.