First fatal accident involving a car in self driving mode

In summary, the Tesla self-driving car was involved in a fatal crash. The car was programmed to ignore things that only have components "in the air" without a ground connection (e.g. overhead road signs).
  • #106
"Tesla requires the driver to do the monitoring"
-- A self-driving car is useless if you have to keep your hands on the wheel and constantly keep watch. In such case, I'd rather do the driving myself.
 
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  • #107
eltodesukane said:
A self-driving car is useless if you have to keep your hands on the wheel and constantly keep watch. In such case, I'd rather do the driving myself.
I would prefer such a car over a non-self-driving car. In addition, it is just an intermediate step, and one that helps reaching the final goal of reliable and fully self-driving cars.
 
  • #108
eltodesukane said:
A self-driving car is useless if you have to keep your hands on the wheel and constantly keep watch. In such case, I'd rather do the driving myself.
I drive an automatic Civic so driving is not all that much fun. I'd still prefer a self driving car where you needed to still be attentive. It would save me gas mileage and I'm sure be safer. That is what I care about.
 
  • #109
Couple of researchers in the field commented on the arrival, or delay, of autonomous vehicles in this WSJ article.

Recent car mfn claims first:

...Ford Motor Co., BMW AG, Volvo Car Corp. and Lyft Inc. say they will produce fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 or sooner. Tesla MotorsInc. Chief Executive Elon Musk, rarely topped in hyperbole, says the technology will be here within 24 months...

CMU engineering professor
“These statements are aspirations, they’re not really reality,” says Raj Rajkumar, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, who collaborates with General Motors Co. “The technology just isn’t there.…There’s still a long way to go before we can take the driver away from the driver’s seat.”

Duke engineering professor
Mary Cummings, a professor of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, says a fully autonomous car “operates by itself under all conditions, period.” She adds, “We’re a good 15 to 20 years out from that.”

Leader of the Google self-driving car project
Chris Urmson knows the field as well as anyone, having led the self-driving car project at Google parent Alphabet Inc. for more than seven years before departing in August. Last March, he told the SXSW conference that self-driving technology will arrive for some of us in a few years, and for the rest of us in 30. That is, it could arrive soon for very specific uses; but as a full-bore replacement for humans, it will take a long time.

Manager of Transportation Tech program at Berkeley
“I always remind people we’ve had driverless vehicles carrying people between terminals at an airport for 40 years,” says Steven Shladover, manager of the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology program at the University of California, Berkeley. “But they’re operating in a very well protected right of way.

And the exception. CTO of Mobileye, the company behind Tesla's autonomous tech
Not everyone agrees, of course. Amnon Shashua, co-founder and chief technology officer of Mobileye, says that the problem of sensing and controlling in self-driving cars is mostly solved. Perfecting these systems won’t require scientific breakthroughs, he says—just many small improvements in the software, gleaned from watching humans drive in the real world.

“The ingredients exist; now it is a matter of engineering,” Mr. Shashua says.
 
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  • #110
mheslep said:
Recent car mfn claims first:
What will speed up development is customer demand.
 
  • #111
Greg Bernhardt said:
What will speed up development is customer demand.
Well I think that depends on which opinions are right above. If truly autonomous, no driver vehicles have remaining fundamental problems like, say that of, controlled nuclear fusion, and is decades away as some of the experts above indicate, then demand won't magically reduce the wait. If the Mobileye CTO is right, then yes throwing money and engineers at the problem using existing approaches should speed up deployment.
 
  • #112
Fusion research could be faster with more funding as well. Autonomous cars get the funding.
 
  • #113
mfb said:
Fusion research could be faster with more funding as well. Autonomous cars get the funding.
Anything can be faster with more funding, but the point is that when the development timeline is is unknown because of technological hurdles, the compression is unknown too.
 
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  • #114
Well, if you know what you want to do, but need 10 years to get funding for it, it delays progress - by up to 10 years if it is the critical path. You don't know the exact critical path in advance, but you know that you delay progress if all projects need longer to get funding.
 
  • #115
mfb said:
Well, if you know what you want to do, but need 10 years to get funding for it, it delays progress - by up to 10 years if it is the critical path. You don't know the exact critical path in advance, but you know that you delay progress if all projects need longer to get funding.
I'm not really sure i see how that's relevant. I think the line of discussion we were on would go something like this:

If the expected development timeline is 10 years at the current funding, doubling funding could reduce it to 5: 10/2=5.

But unknown/2=unknown and never/2=never...and of course maybe unknown=never

For driverless cars, I suspect the technical problems are solvable, but it is not easy to predict how much effort is needed. For fusion, I'm still leaning toward unknown=never.
 
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  • #117
Greg Bernhardt said:
That's interesting. The basic argument is that in order to control plasma you first have to understand it and in order to understand it you need better computer models. So we will soon be getting better computer models, so we'll be able to understand and control it.
The problem is that the logic is not reversible: understanding plasma does not guarantee that we will be able to control it. So I'm not as optomistic.
 
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  • #118
russ_watters said:
So I'm not as optomistic.
The ultimate is a driver-less fusion car :)
 
  • #119
russ_watters said:
But unknown/2=unknown and never/2=never...and of course maybe unknown=never
I would define 2 as the "compression", so compression can be known even if the overall scale is unknown.

Anyway: There are cars driving around on streets without continuous human input already, and I'm sure their number will increase a lot, and at some point they won't need a backup driver any more.

Concerning fusion: Decades ago, when the first timelines were made, they also came with total investment estimates. We didn't match those investment estimates yet. ITER and DEMO are a clear road - if DEMO gets funded, it should allow reliable estimates on costs of commercial power plants.
 
  • #120
mfb said:
... ITER and DEMO are a clear road - if DEMO gets funded, it should allow reliable estimates on costs of commercial power plants.

Clear road? It's not yet established that ITER can hold its plasma for the targeted 5 minutes, that sufficient tritium is bred, that the first wall does not suffer too much damage. Then, funding DEMO means the cost of a DEMO like plant becomes known. But there's no indication that the cost of a commercial DEMO like plant would be at all feasible, where feasible means competitive with the cost of a fission plant.
 
  • #121
mheslep said:
Clear road? It's not yet established that ITER can hold its plasma for the targeted 5 minutes, that sufficient tritium is bred, that the first wall does not suffer too much damage.
That's the point of research: figuring out those things. If ITER does not work at all, the current roadmap to fusion power plants is dead. Stellarators might get some attention, but I don't think they will get a lot of money then. If ITER works, DEMO can be constructed.

DEMO will be too expensive for a commercial power plant, but that is not the point - it is a research project. Science at DEMO can show what exactly is necessary for a commercial power plant, which leads to a proper cost estimate.
 
  • #122
I agree with all of that; it's research. I don't agree that R&D necessarily provides a clear path, as you say, to commercially useable technology, especially if fundamental scientific problems remain (as with fusion or completely autonomous vehicles). I'm couldn't say if the remaining difficulties are fundamental.
 
  • #123
The NTSB report on the March 2018 fatal crash of a Model X was released yesterday: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Documents/2020-HWY18FH011-BMG-abstract.pdf
  • The driver was playing a game on his Apple-owned iPhone while driving. Apple had no policy against this.
  • The driver crashed into a crash attenuator at 71 mph. Because Autopilot did not recognize this as a vehicle, it accelerated the car into it in an attempt to reach the programmed speed.
 
  • #124
Vanadium 50 said:
The NTSB report on the March 2018 fatal crash of a Model X was released yesterday: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Documents/2020-HWY18FH011-BMG-abstract.pdf
  • The driver was playing a game on his Apple-owned iPhone while driving. Apple had no policy against this.
  • The driver crashed into a crash attenuator at 71 mph. Because Autopilot did not recognize this as a vehicle, it accelerated the car into it in an attempt to reach the programmed speed.
One NTSB solution is to lockout electronic distractions when driving to force engagement with the driving process.
Additionally, an engineering solution to the distracted driving problem is needed. Electronic device manufacturers have the capability to lock out highly distracting functions of portable electronic devices when being used by an operator while driving, and such a feature should be installed as a default setting on all devices.

I see that as being totally unrealistic with today's phone/gadget addicted drivers and basic Human Nature.
They will be doing just about anything OTHER than being engaged in the driving process. That is a poorly thought-out pipe dream

The real solution is actual level-5 self-driving instead of the fake level-2/3 self-driving seen in cars today.
 
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