Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

Apparently Google screwed up by trying to make an autonomous car that was actually autonomous.
The team knew what it would take to deliver a fully-autonomous system, known in the industry as L4, but some Google executives didn’t understand the complexity, according to one former member of the project. The person left to help run an active business with paying customers, something that’s missing from the car project. A Google spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Several years ago, some on the team wanted to push ahead with a service that didn’t require full automation, but Google co-founder Larry Page insisted on complete human driver replacement, another person said.

At least we'll have cruise control plus, which will be safe as long as you keep paying attention.
In 2012, Google let employees test a partially autonomous system for automated highway driving and discovered the attention of the human drivers quickly drifted, leaving them incapable of taking back control quickly and safely. That persuaded the company to pursue full autonomy, even if it took longer.

I've never understood the "oh, drivers will just take the wheel if ever they need to" concept. I guess that works if you're entering a parking garage or similar, but otherwise that driving thing operates at higher speeds. There isn't time.

I keep reading about how Singapore already has self-driving taxis. I guess?
For now, the taxis are only running in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called "one-north," and pick-ups and drop-offs are limited to specified locations. And riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.

The cars — modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics — have a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car's computers. Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar — a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar — including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights.