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posted by n1 on Friday August 29 2014, @06:25AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the see,-no-hands dept.

The Car Connection reports that back in May Google unveiled the prototype of its first autonomous car built in-house but there were a few features that the new model lacked — for example, a steering wheel and brake pedal. Now, California's DMV has told Google to return those accouterments to their traditional locations so that riders can take "immediate physical control" of the car, if necessary. That and other autonomous vehicle regulations kick in on September 15.

"This isn't a huge setback for Google," writes Richard Reed. "After all, the prototypes aren't nearly ready for primetime, they're just being used for tests. Though the control-less models have worked fine on closed tracks, with no accidents to date, they'll eventually be navigating real streets in real traffic, so they'll need to be up to code. In fact, the DMV may tighten up things a bit further next month, when it issues regulations concerning test vehicles on public roads." In the long run, though, we'd expect the DMV to loosen some of these restrictions. It will undoubtedly take years for regulators and the public to begin trusting autonomous cars — and even then, it's likely that automakers will keep some kind of manual override system in place. After all, given the safety records of autonomous cars — records that will certainly improve with the rollout of vehicle-to-vehicle technology — we're hopeful that motorists will (almost) never need to use them.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @06:36AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @06:36AM (#87066)

    Everyone knows the steering wheel is antiquated 19th century garbage. Navigational touchpads are the future! You're not really driving unless you're frantically pressing buttons for the entirety of your journey. Red alert! Red light ahead. All stop!

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by evilviper on Friday August 29 2014, @07:15AM

      by evilviper (1760) on Friday August 29 2014, @07:15AM (#87078) Homepage Journal

      Everyone knows the steering wheel is antiquated 19th century garbage. Navigational touchpads are the future!

      Actually, with the rise of drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages from the wheel (and/or the pedals), there's no reason not to switch to superior options, like analog joysticks. If it can work for fighter jets, I think it can handle your commute. My only concern would be ensuring there's enough tension on the stick, that a sneeze at 90MPH doesn't put you in the ditch, while the trend with vehicles is increasingly reducing the effort needed to handle the controls.

      At least with gas pedals, I'd like to see the trend reversed... Fewer crazy speeders if they've got to put some effort into higher throttle.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @08:05AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @08:05AM (#87087)

        A fighter jet is much less sensitive to small deviations in the flight path, simply because the distance to the next object you might hit is much larger. And even when landing, the airstrip is generally much wider than the typical street, and there are typically no other airplanes going in the opposite direction directly on the side, and also parking airplanes are rarely seen directly besides the airstrip.

        Not to mention that you are much better trained when flying a fighter jet, and I'm sure you're much more easily losing your license if you do something wrong in a fighter jet than if you do something wrong in a car. I certainly wouldn't want the typical car driver to fly a fighter jet.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @09:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @09:20AM (#87104)

        Double joysticks are the wave of the future. Slipstream. It's not the best way to travel, it's the only way.

        • (Score: 2) by Jaruzel on Friday August 29 2014, @01:34PM

          by Jaruzel (812) on Friday August 29 2014, @01:34PM (#87184) Homepage Journal

          Double Joysticks would make me think I'm playing BattleZone [chucksarcade.com] all the time.

          For those that don't know, BattleZone gameplay looked like this [retrogamesnow.co.uk] - it was one of the first 3D vector based arcade games, and the player had to steer their 'tank' using classic tank controls: both joys forward for forward, both back for reverse, left back, right forward for turn left, right forward, left back for turn right.

          Damn, I'm old.

          -Jar

          --
          This is my opinion, there are many others, but this one is mine.
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Horse With Stripes on Friday August 29 2014, @11:41AM

        by Horse With Stripes (577) on Friday August 29 2014, @11:41AM (#87143)

        Actually, with the rise of drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages from the wheel (and/or the pedals), there's no reason not to switch to superior options, like analog joysticks.

        No reason at all ... except that well over 99% of people who can drive are not trained to drive via a joystick. Sure, they can learn, but not by throwing them out into traffic and saying "good luck with that!"

        Transition to joystick steering will take a very long time if you consider the number and age range of drivers. Plus, it's a chicken & egg situation. You're not going to sell many cars with just a joystick for steering until you have drivers who are trained, and you're not going to get a lot of trained drivers with no way to practice driving with a joystick. And don't say "video games" because driving in a video game is about as accurate a representation of the act as shooting a gun is in a video game. In real life they are both very different.

        • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Friday August 29 2014, @12:11PM

          by evilviper (1760) on Friday August 29 2014, @12:11PM (#87158) Homepage Journal

          You're not going to sell many cars with just a joystick for steering until you have drivers who are trained, and you're not going to get a lot of trained drivers with no way to practice driving with a joystick.

          Unless manufacturers simply include BOTH types of controls in cars for a few years... Giving everyone time to catch up.

          I don't recall driver's ed' and testing needing to be updated to deal with cruise control, touch-screens, back-up cameras, etc., etc.

          --
          Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
          • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Friday August 29 2014, @12:30PM

            by Vanderhoth (61) on Friday August 29 2014, @12:30PM (#87166)

            I don't recall driver's ed' and testing needing to be updated to deal with cruise control, touch-screens, back-up cameras, etc., etc.

            Yeah... But those things aren't really critical to operating the car. There's a huge difference in feel when driving with a steering wheel to driving with a joystick. Joysticks are going to be way more sensitive, require much smaller movements to preform the same operation and the action (turning the wheel vs. pushing the joystick from side to side) are much different as well. I know lots of people that royally suck at video games simply because they just can't handle the control style.

            I could see some huge advantages to a controller though, someone that's paralyzed from the waste down, or "little people" too short to reach the peddle could operate break and gas and steer the car with just their hands. But again as it is now they usually have vehicles modified to have an accelerator/break buttons on the steering wheel so really the controller still isn't necessary and would be a huge change in control style.

            --
            "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by frojack on Friday August 29 2014, @06:54AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 29 2014, @06:54AM (#87070) Journal

    I get enough of that with my wife driving.

    I'll take a wheel and brakes please. I might want to go across the lawn or drive down an old off-the-map trail someday. I fully understand my grabbing the wheel might cause an accident, but If I have to grab it, an accident was going to happen anyway.

    I secretly suspect Google expected all along to be required to return these features, and probably secretly wants them back. With them, they can always claim it was the drivers fault. Without them they are stuck with all the blame.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @07:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @07:07AM (#87077)

    [Quaid wakes up in a Johnnycab]

    Douglas Quaid: Where am I?

    Johnnycab: You're in a Johnnycab.

    Douglas Quaid: I mean, what am I doing here?

    Johnnycab: I'm sorry. Would you please rephrase the question?

    Douglas Quaid: How did I get in this taxi?

    Johnnycab: The door opened. You got in.

    [Johnnycab rolls his eyes]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @12:54PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @12:54PM (#87174)

      [the taxicab pulls up]

      Johnnycab: The fare is 18 credits, please.

      [Quaid gets out]

      Douglas Quaid: Sue me, dickhead!

      [cab tries to run him down, crashes, and explodes]

      Johnnycab: We hope you enjoyed the ride!

  • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Friday August 29 2014, @10:16AM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday August 29 2014, @10:16AM (#87114)

    I don't know how the Google car is expected to handle speed ramps, or whether it will eventually be possible for all of them to be removed when sufficient cars are autonomous, but there's a significant difference between being a passenger or the driver in a car that goes over a speed bump.

    Having _something_ to hold on to while travelling would be great.

    That said, it's likely that if all the cars go autonomous, you could have nice lazy chairs with comfy armrests.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by evilviper on Friday August 29 2014, @10:58AM

    by evilviper (1760) on Friday August 29 2014, @10:58AM (#87122) Homepage Journal

    The California DMV has gone so far into revenue-generation mode, that no matter whether someone died, someone failed to pay for towing/storage/repairs/etc., or their own employees screwed up, the DMV still expects the new owner to pay all the past-due registration fees and some very steep penalties. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars. A vehicle that's worth $1,000 is worth precisely nothing if the registration has lapsed. The DMV is single-handedly depreciating the value of a huge number of vehicles in the state, causing many fully-functioning vehicles to be scrapped instead of used, and in the process, taking money out of the pocket of anyone who has a lien on a vehicle.

    And don't get me started on all the fees you have to pay if you repaired a vehicle that was junked in an accident and taken off the books. The CA DMV will not even register a vehicle that was salvaged out-of-state at all. Never-mind all the arbitrary restrictions on registering an out-of-state vehicle in the first 12 months or 7,500 miles.

    And all that's really needed to fix all of this is some sort of automatic non-op... Some way I can put the $20 fee in an account the DMV can access, and get them to automatically non-op the vhicle if payment is going to be even one-day late, instead of imposing crazy fees... It's really cheap insurance in case shit happens with the title transfer (making it impossible to register it on-time), it fails a smog check, or anything else... I'd gladly put down the $20 on every vehicle owned by all my family members. Of course an even better option would be for the DMV to just have modest and reasonable fees for problems like that, or at least less draconian rules about inheriting DMV fees from dead people, debtors, etc.

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Friday August 29 2014, @11:06AM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Friday August 29 2014, @11:06AM (#87127)

    The state finds that there is a problem with your horseless carriage sir. It seems you have not included neither a harness, hitch nor a horse. Please add these to your design so we can approve your horseless carriage for use on the road.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @02:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29 2014, @02:47PM (#87218)

      This is a reasonable addition. At first.

      The first versions of driverless cars will have issues. They will then 'fail safe'. How do you move them back to somewhere the computer knows what to do? What if you drive your car into another state that has said 'you may not do that'? What if your battery died and it can not get to the network to find more information on road conditions? I can think of a hundred reasons to have one. Once they work the kinks out it will not be as reasonable to have and be extra cost.

      For now having a steering wheel is reasonable.

      Lets crawl before we are flying down the highway at 80.

  • (Score: 1) by rufty on Friday August 29 2014, @11:57AM

    by rufty (381) on Friday August 29 2014, @11:57AM (#87152)

    Ah, the 22nd century version of this [wikipedia.org].

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by nightsky30 on Friday August 29 2014, @12:24PM

    by nightsky30 (1818) on Friday August 29 2014, @12:24PM (#87162)

    Ok, yes, it is nice to have a steering wheel and brakes so that we may take control if there happens to be a malfunction of the autonomous driving. However, this opens up some other scary possibilities...

    1.) Who will be the first idiot to start driving the car, take control, wreck it, and then blame the self driving scapegoat?
    2.) Who will be the first idiot to prop their book up on the wheel and cause said wreck because they bumped the wheel turning a page and the car thought they wanted control?

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday August 29 2014, @03:08PM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday August 29 2014, @03:08PM (#87231)
      All of that would easily and (almosy) certainly be logged. Besides Google being all about data collection, they don't want to be liable for that sort of shit.
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩