Waymo's self-driving cars won't make you take over in an emergency

By Polycount ยท 5 replies
Oct 31, 2017
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  1. Though companies like Tesla make it clear that their cars' self-driving capabilities are not intended to fully replace a human driver, Waymo feels quite differently. The autonomous car tech development arm of Alphabet seems eager to eliminate human drivers from the equation entirely, leaving all of the heavy lifting to the cars themselves.

    However, this was not always the case. According to a report from Reuters, Waymo's autonomous vehicles initially had a "driver hand-off" feature that required drivers to take control in the event of an emergency.

    The company decided to toss this feature out after realizing that most drivers acted more like passengers during transit. Specifically, many would interact with their phone, look out the window or even take a nap while on the road.

    According to Waymo CEO John Krafcik, forcing drivers to take control so suddenly -- and in a potentially dangerous situation -- could do more harm than good. "What we found was pretty scary," he said. "It's hard [for passengers] to take over because they have lost contextual awareness."

    It's worth noting that the individuals behind the wheel during this in-house testing period were all trained Waymo employees. The danger a driver hand-off feature could pose to the general public could be much greater.

    Since these tests, which occurred in 2013, the company has decided to focus exclusively on the development of autonomous car tech that doesn't require any human control at all. Waymo hopes this new development strategy will allow "passengers to stay passengers," creating a safer environment for all.

    The company is currently testing self-driving vehicles in a more practical manner - a ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona, that reportedly has a small but ever-expanding user base. Krafcik claims the company is getting close to extending this service beyond a single city but didn't offer any further details.

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  2. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,532   +944

    Huh...wha'... emergency?....what emergency?....where?... (12 seconds later)... crunch...oh, that emergency.

    Yah, think they have the right idea about humans.
     
    Nchalada and CloudCatcher like this.
  3. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 455   +303

    Dumb humans and their short attention spans... I don't understa-- squirrel! *points*
     
  4. VY999

    VY999 TS Rookie

    They're going about this the right way. There are many people that shouldn't be behind the wheel under any circumstances.
     
  5. Reachable

    Reachable TS Maniac Posts: 255   +115

    Fully autonomous vehicles might possibly be able to take the place of taxi drivers and long-haul truck drivers in systems where docking spaces are coordinated with the arrival of the trucks; but you, Mr. Motorist, are never going to buy a car without a steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal. Self-driving cars are wonderful on the highway and even country roads; but in town -- no way. I wonder whether those who are working so hard, entranced by the dream of the self-driving car, having even taken the time to consider this.

    You want to be able to -- you HAVE to be able to -- make executive decisions about where you're going to go (to change your mind in an instant), where you're going to park, if you spot your buddy Fred walking and pull over to chat with him. Parking in town requires complete human context knowledge of the town and what your preferences and needs are as far as how far away you want/need to park from your destination, etc. In other words, you don't want to always be a passenger like a bus rider in your own car and it's not practical, besides.
     
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,847   +1,389

    I like how the article says what the car will not do! /sarcasm

    What will the car do? Stop? Pull off to the side of the road? What???? Certainly, it depends on the situation, but I take no comfort in the fact that Waylo has not provided any information about what the car will do.

    As I see it, this is just marketing BS. Waylo should have just said, "our self-driving cars will keep you safe in every situation without the need for your input." BS. Total BS as I see it. Until every car is self-driving and communicates with every other car on the road, no self-driving car will be able to keep its passengers safe in every situation.

    With no manual override, this is a non-starter for me.
     

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