Google is making its self-driving cars more human-like

By Shawn Knight
Sep 29, 2015
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  1. Safer commutes are just one of the many benefits self-driving cars will afford their human passengers once they become commonplace on public roadways. The problem that companies like Google are finding out, at least initially, is that autonomous vehicles are a bit too cautious.

    Google says the problem isn’t so much with the autonomous driving system as it is with human drivers around it. Because the Google car is overly cautious, it tends to assume the worst and apply the brakes when such actions may not be necessary.

    These tactics may have an adverse reaction on human drivers, especially when you consider Google’s cars have been rear-ended 12 times out of 16 total accidents. The autonomous cars weren’t at fault in any of the accidents.

    The solution, according to Google’s Chris Urmson, is to give the self-driving cars some human-like tendencies.

    For example, Google found that its vehicles were making excessively wide turns that would confuse other drives and felt unnatural to human passengers. They’ve now programmed the cars to make tighter turns that better hit the apex.

    In the event a parked car was partially blocking the roadway, Google realized its car would stop in the road indefinitely instead of trying to maneuver around it. This forced the team to make changes that would allow the car to cross over a double yellow line when conditions allowed.

    They may be a nuisance to other drivers around Google’s headquarters in Mountain View but as you can imagine, it’s better to get these sort of kinks worked out not now rather than once they’re commercially available.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,526   +683

    Give them time. They have made tremendous strides in the few years it's been field tested. A few more of these changes and they will have something that will catch lightning in a bottle .... if they can just take the old original VW concept of making it "the peoples car" with a price that anyone could afford ....
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,298   +665

    I more or less agree. Autonomous driving needs to be virtually foolproof with laws clearly handling all aspects of the tech. They'll also have to figure out how to keep people from stealing these defenseless robocars. Until then unmanned surface vehicles should be banned from public roads. Chances are that for at least the first decade they'll only be used by companies with large fleets or by the very wealthy. Even after that they'll hardly be seen in states that experience a lot of rain or snow - that will have to wait until we have a traffic control system not unlike the ones for air travel. And THEN you'll have to get people to tolerate cars that won't allow speeding or other traffic violations. With so many hurdles to overcome autonomous cars may never really take off.
  4. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Addict Posts: 272   +138

    If I was a bar owner, I'd buy a dozen of these things and offer people free rides home. Everyone would drink at my bar.
    BlueDrake and Techman3 like this.
  5. kuroiei

    kuroiei TS Enthusiast Posts: 93   +31

    That... is the most reasonable and practical use of a car like this I've heard of! Really, you've made the point of self-driving cars reasonable to me for the first time. Great thinking! :)
  6. EClyde

    EClyde TS Maniac Posts: 624   +146

    Not any people I have ever met....They will never work in your lifetime
  7. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    As a driver in part of the world where the two seasons of the year are winter and construction, I worry more about navigating orange barrels rather than a rare situation like having to drive around someone parallel parking.
    Driving through construction is normal driving here. On my 7 mile commute to work I went through 3 separate construction zones, one of which required driving on the complete wrong side of the road because that's how they reroute traffic when the close lanes.
    If these things can't read signs, follow arrows and find lanes in a maze of construction routing, then it won't be any use for many of us.
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,341   +1,939

    Time for you to research and invest in the booze trade then because these things will be a reality. That said you're probably about the billionth person to think about the idea.
  9. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,341   +1,939

    If they make it more human like I hope they incorporate the ability do dump the clutch and smoke off the line, change lanes without checking and indicating first, take non existent gaps in traffic, cut the driver behind you off etc. All this in moderation of course because without some these *human traits life would be too sterile.
    *AKA idi0ts.
    9Nails likes this.
  10. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,157   +195

    incoming news:
  11. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Addict Posts: 272   +138

    I've installed point of sale systems in bars for years. There's not much to the "booze trade". Any ***** can run a bar, and many do. You just need a bunch of money to open one up and get your liquor license and all that jazz.

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