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Old 12 September 2017, 10:49 PM
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Default Driverless-car rules loosen: U.S. regulator stops demanding safety assessments

http://www.latimes.com/business/auto...912-story.html

Quote:
Under that directive, automakers and technology companies will be asked to voluntarily submit safety assessments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but they donít have to do it.

And states are being advised to use a light regulatory hand.
Just in case it isn't clear what this means:
Quote:
[Transportation Secretary]Chao said she supports new legislation working its way through Congress to support driverless-car development. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would let automakers each put up to 25,000 cars on the road even if some features donít meet current safety standards. Over three years, the cap would rise.
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Old 13 September 2017, 08:37 AM
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Not to suggest it was intentional, but its interesting this story appeared on the same day the NTSB held their board meeting to determine the probable cause in the May 2016 Tesla crash.

~Psihala
(*
Quote:
The board's report declares the primary probable cause of the collision as the truck driver's failure to yield, as well as the Tesla driver's overreliance on his car's automation — or Autopilot, as Tesla calls the system. Tesla's system design was declared a contributing factor.
Source: ABC News-- Tesla's semiautonomous system contributed to fatal crash: Feds )
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  #3  
Old 13 September 2017, 01:22 PM
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Is it horrible of me to hope that, if there's a car crash injury that would have been avoided by the regulations they're intending to get rid of, the person injured is Chao or one of the Congresspeople supporting it?

Statistical chances being what they are, of course, I don't suppose that's likely.
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  #4  
Old 13 September 2017, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Is it horrible of me to hope that, if there's a car crash injury that would have been avoided by the regulations they're intending to get rid of, the person injured is Chao or one of the Congresspeople supporting it?
What if one of the tens of thousands of people killed in car accidents in the US every year is saved because self-driving technology gets here a little earlier. Is it horrible to hope that one of those people is Chao?

I have mixed feelings about this, because I feel like a lot of automakers right now are playing fast and loose with the development of this technology to beat others to the market and avoid being left too far behind. This technology deserves a greater emphasis on safety than a lot of developers are giving it right now, so I'm a little concerned about how the rollout will go. Some bad incidents are inevitably ahead.

People will die due to mistakes in the technology. But saying that shouldn't happen is an impossible standard, when people ignore that so many people are dying from human driver mistakes every day. When a self-driving car kills someone it will be headline news, but when a driver kills someone today, and another a few hours later, and another and another, it will barely make the local news.

As long as self-driving cars make a lot fewer mistakes and kill a lot fewer people, then it will be a life-saving technology, and it will keep saving more lives as the technology improves from there. But that's not the standard that people are going to hold it to. They'll hold it to the impossible one.

I do think there is an important role to government regulators to facilitate this transition in a smart way though. Just abdicating their responsibility will lead to some manufacturers racing to beat others to market and cutting corners. Someone needs to be the arbiter to make sure they're being smart about safety.
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Old 13 September 2017, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Errata View Post
What if one of the tens of thousands of people killed in car accidents in the US every year is saved because self-driving technology gets here a little earlier. [ . . . ]

People will die due to mistakes in the technology. But saying that shouldn't happen is an impossible standard, when people ignore that so many people are dying from human driver mistakes every day. When a self-driving car kills someone it will be headline news, but when a driver kills someone today, and another a few hours later, and another and another, it will barely make the local news.
That's a fair point.

But if the technology is tried out on the public roads without sufficient safeguards, with the result that people die not because of unpreventable possibilities but because of preventable ones, the result is likely to be not that the technology comes into common use a little earlier, but that it does so a whole lot later, because of backlash against improper attempts to get it out before it's actually ready.
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  #6  
Old 13 September 2017, 07:34 PM
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It wouldn't be the first time an industry jumped the gun and wrecked itself.

The thing about full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes is that sometimes the torpedoes damn you instead.
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  #7  
Old 14 September 2017, 12:54 AM
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I wonder if part of the reason for loosening the regulation is that nobody actually knows what should be required and how to test for it.
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Old 14 September 2017, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
That's a fair point.

But if the technology is tried out on the public roads without sufficient safeguards, with the result that people die not because of unpreventable possibilities but because of preventable ones, the result is likely to be not that the technology comes into common use a little earlier, but that it does so a whole lot later, because of backlash against improper attempts to get it out before it's actually ready.
Or it doesn't happen at all. The Hindenburg disaster, caused in part by the use of hydrogen and inflammable doping, effectively killed the widespread use of airships to this day. Even though many attempts to revive airships have been made with credible claims of safety and efficiency, none have really succeeded.
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Old 14 September 2017, 04:11 PM
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I'm all for technology that assist the driver - by automatically keeping the distance to the car in front of you on a highway, by automatically brakeing if sensors detect an obstacle, by automatically reading signage and warning the driver if he goes over the speed limit and so on. What I don't want is all this technology to be combined so the driver can take his hands off the weel and his eyes off the road and play candy crush instead.

Humans make mistakes (or just don't react fast enough), and it's good when technology is there to make good for that. Technology makes mistakes, and need human supervision to correct theses mistakes. Humans and technology combined are safer than either alone, and safety is what the car industrie should be aiming for, in the interset of drivers and pedestrians, bikers and so on.
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Old 14 September 2017, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
Humans and technology combined are safer than either alone, and safety is what the car industrie should be aiming for, in the interset of drivers and pedestrians, bikers and so on.
Like it or not, humanless driving is coming, and will save lives, for passengers, bicycles, and pedestrians alike. It's just a question of how soon, and I fear it could be a bit too soon with lax safety standards.

Half measures where a computer does a lot of the driving but a human is expected to pay attention is one of the worst options, because the drivers are lulled into complacency. It's better to take them out of the equation if the software is sufficiently advanced. And if it's not sufficiently advanced it's better to keep working on it. Autopilot features like Tesla's are very concerning for that reason, and they're not very forthcoming about their testing procedures.
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Old 14 September 2017, 09:31 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
Or it doesn't happen at all. The Hindenburg disaster, caused in part by the use of hydrogen and inflammable doping, effectively killed the widespread use of airships to this day. Even though many attempts to revive airships have been made with credible claims of safety and efficiency, none have really succeeded.


Hydrogen probably didn't have much to do with the explosion. It was the (in)flammable coating on the outer (non-gas containing) skin. During WW-I the Brits had a heck of a time shooting down German hydrogen filled Zeppelins. you can shoot'm full of holes, even with tracer rounds, and they don't catch fire.
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  #12  
Old 15 September 2017, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Errata View Post
Like it or not, humanless driving is coming, and will save lives, for passengers, bicycles, and pedestrians alike. It's just a question of how soon, and I fear it could be a bit too soon with lax safety standards.
If humanless driving is coming, than it should be in a mandatory way: Once you enter the highway, your car is logged into a grid with all other cars on the highway, with the on-board computers dealing out things like speed and distance among themselves. This system would have privacy concerns (the grid and whoever is controlling it knows exactly where you are and where you have been) and could be vulnarable to cyber attacks (make all cars on highway 19 drive at maximum speed, and then shut down the system), but als long as it works, it would be save.

But I hope driverless cars in city streets among the human-driven cars, pedestrians, bikers, loose dogs and playing children will be banned in the future.
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  #13  
Old 15 September 2017, 06:35 AM
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Default Myths about the Hindenburg Crash

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
Hydrogen probably didn't have much to do with the explosion.
No, that is not correct.
http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/disaster/myths/
Quote:
Whatever caused the initial ignition of the Hindenburg fire, the airship was incinerated in less than a minute ó and came crashing to the ground as smoldering wreckage ó because virtually the entire space of the shipís 800-foot hull was filled with highly flammable hydrogen.
Also, BTW, before that in the same article:
Quote:
Dozens of hydrogen-inflated airships other than the Hindenburg also exploded or burned, including German zeppelins which were shot down over England during WWI, and all burned with brightly visible flames ó just like the Hindenburg.
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  #14  
Old 15 September 2017, 01:40 PM
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Just a quick BTW: I try to always say "inflammable" when referring to something that flams (as George Carlin used to say). If you're too stupid to know what the word means, you deserve to burn!
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Old 15 September 2017, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
But I hope driverless cars in city streets among the human-driven cars, pedestrians, bikers, loose dogs and playing children will be banned in the future.
If driverless cars can't safely handle unexpected roadway hazards on city streets, then they'd be unsafe on a controlled highway as well. All of the things you list plus things like ladders and other cargo have made their way to highways where they shouldn't be.
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Old 15 September 2017, 06:06 PM
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I agree with Don Enrico. I think driverless cars should initially be confined to closed ecosystems, the cars and ecosystems should include provisions for the cars to communicate with each other, and probably for authorities to send information and/or orders to the vehicles.

The most dangerous way to start having driverless cars on the roads is to integrate them with human drivers and other driverless cars, and without any way for them to communicate. It also makes the AI problem much harder to have to predict what a human driver will do in a particular scenario--plus, it might turn out that the other vehicle in question is actually a different company's driverless car, which won't behave like a human, but there is no way for anyone to know which is which as they are driving.

I disagree with having driverless vehicles on the roads with human drivers at this stage, but if it is going to happen, I think it should not happen until a transponder and communication system is developed and implemented. This will require discussions about privacy, the extent and limits of what is communicated, and development and agreement on standards and protocols, plus a regulatory system.

I think ultimately, there will need to be an agreed upon driving system as well, or at least a finite set, so that the driving system will be able to predict accurately what other driverless vehicles are going to do, given a particular input.

The Tesla crash, regardless of its other causes, would not have happened if the Tesla had received a signal indicating the truck's presence.

ETA:. If a pedestrian shows up in a closed ecosystem like an authorized vehicles only highway, the cars could go into an extreme caution mode until they pass the person, report the hazard to authorities, and then return to normal operation. The problems of navigating busy surface streets with other human drivers, pedestrians, etc. are pretty much constant and require a very different and more.complicated system, particularly if you want driverless cars to not constantly be in a caution/limp home mode.

Last edited by erwins; 15 September 2017 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 15 September 2017, 06:48 PM
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I think the problem with the "closed ecosystem" model -- nice as it might be in theory -- is that it would require a big investment in infrastructure first, to get the special roads up and running. I just don't see that happening on a large scale. I remember talk some years back about developing "smart highways" and beginning to put the technology in place for the day that driverless cars would appear, but I don't believe a lot of it was ever implemented.

So the push is for driverless cars that can operate on the roads and highways we already have. I don't think there will be a lot of effort to upgrade the road systems until a significant number of such vehicles are already in operation, and even then it will be far from universal. This may be a "dumber" and less safe way to handle it (though over-all safety may well still improve over what already exists), but it requires a smaller initial investment and spreads it out over many years and different participants.
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Old 15 September 2017, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
If humanless driving is coming, than it should be in a mandatory way: Once you enter the highway, your car is logged into a grid with all other cars on the highway, with the on-board computers dealing out things like speed and distance among themselves. This system would have privacy concerns (the grid and whoever is controlling it knows exactly where you are and where you have been) and could be vulnarable to cyber attacks (make all cars on highway 19 drive at maximum speed, and then shut down the system), but als long as it works, it would be save.
That sounds a lot like the "personal rapid transit" systems that were proposed back in the 1960s and 70s. You would manually drive from your house onto a track, at which point the vehicle would self-drive along the tracks in sync with other cars (some even envisioned a system where you'd link up with other cars going the same way you are and form a train) until you got to your exit, at which point you would manually drive to your destination. This is pretty much the same concept except without the need for physical tracks to guide the cars.

https://www.theverge.com/2016/2/24/1...rrowland-1960s
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Old 15 September 2017, 07:35 PM
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The closed ecosystem could be done initially with designated routes and highway lanes that have limited access and physical barriers, like some cities have for designated express lanes. New development could be required to be set up for it.

At some point, there could be a designated switchover, and major routes would be accessible only to compatible vehicles. Much like the switch to digital OTA TV signals.

Of course it will be expensive and require lots of planning and implementation headaches. But choosing not to do it that way is choosing money and effort over lives and safety, and these are things that will ultimately have to be done anyway. The companies who are investing enormous amounts of money in this technology obviously think they will make enormous amounts of money from it. They should bear some of the costs of developing and implementing the infrastructure changes it will require. And if they don't want to pay, they should not be allowed to fob that cost over onto the public in the form of safety hazards.

This is, in my opinion, fundamentally what government is for. Companies want to rush ahead to make money, and are willing to cut corners on safety to do it. Someone needs to look at such a complex and comprehensive change to a fundamental part of the functioning of our society and economy, and say, "wait. We need to plan this out, figure out some basic rules, and decide how to do it safely." The companies are not doing it themselves. If states do it, it will drastically affect interstate commerce to have a patchwork of different rules. This is what federal regulatory agencies are for.

ETA: Even without the closed ecosystems, a transponder system should be worked out and implemented as soon as possible. I have many concerns about privacy and how such a system could, or should, be used. But I also think it is ridiculous to put driverless vehicles on the road that may be unable to perceive other vehicles with their sensors under certain conditions, and not have an active signal from all vehicles to help with that problem. The transponder would assist with many other problems as well. Whatever space fully automated vehicles are going to be allowed to operate in, all vehicles in that space should have to have a transponder. There would have to be a retrofit version for vehicles that predate the tech if the space will be shared, which, again, I think the companies that want to do this should bear at least a large portion of the cost of.

Last edited by erwins; 15 September 2017 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 15 September 2017, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Of course it will be expensive and require lots of planning and implementation headaches. But choosing not to do it that way is choosing money and effort over lives and safety, and these are things that will ultimately have to be done anyway.
Money and effort are (obviously) limited. So there is the question of where that money and effort could best be spend. Limited-access, divided highways are one of the safest category of roads. Mostly because the majority of accidents would be rear-end or sideswipe accidents at a lower difference of speed. Head-on and t-bone accidents are pretty much non-existent due to the design of the roadway. Money and effort spent on increasing safety on already safer roads might be better spent on increased safety for arterial and undivided highways. For example, automatic breaking at yellow lights and better lane drifting prevention systems.
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