Tag Archives: self-driving cars

Did Self-Driving Cars Hit a “Pothole?”

While a lot of us want to see the revolution of self-driving vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially after what happened a couple weeks ago.

This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com
This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com

A woman in Arizona was killed when a self-driving car from Uber hit her while she was crossing the street at night. She “could have” been to blame for suddenly walking off a median or jaywalking in front of the car in the night. However, the street was well-lit and the woman was making an attempt to get across the street before the car hit her.  This shows that there is work to be done by Uber and state governments.

Self-driving cars would save many lives in the future but as of now, at least 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the U.S. die in auto accidents (human-driven cars).

The provider of Uber’s laser technology, Velodyne, said that their technology was “more than capable” of identifying her before the collision which would have stopped the car.  Police in Arizona stated that the car didn’t slow down until after she was hit.

Velodyne is blaming Uber and its test driver for the incident and they have a point. Uber’s driver, who is supposed to take the car over if the autonomous system fails, didn’t even have their hands on the steering wheel. Uber’s cars have had a hard time lasting 13 miles before a driver has to take over. In comparison, Waymo’s cars (Google) can last over 5,600 miles.

Uber has also cut down its Lidar system from seven units to only one. The remaining one does have a blind spot according to employees who have worked on the car. So in other words, Uber is cutting corners to lay claim as the first company to sell a self-driving car.

States across the U.S. have taken action and have made regulations for the self-driving cars which is why Uber is in Arizona (they don’t have many regulations for the self-driving car business). Arizona could have a problem on their hands if this becomes a common theme.

While self-driving cars are touted as the future of driving and they would cut down on many deaths, there is more work to be done before they become a common feature in someone’s driveway. States have to be tough on regulation so we get the best product, and don’t end up with a product that has been cutting corners like Uber has.



Google’s self-driving car gets pulled over

In Mountain View, California on Thursday, a police officer made a traffic stop to pull over one of Google’s self-driving automobiles, however, he wrote no ticket.

A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif, May 14, 2014. Image from Voice of America News.
A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif, May 14, 2014.
Image from Voice of America News.

An officer pulled over a Google self-driving vehicle that was being tested on neighborhood streets Thursday.

“As the officer approached the slow moving car he realized it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle,” a police department post said.

The car was going 24 mph in a 35 mph zone, as indicated by the Mountain View Police Department — with traffic clearly backed up behind it. The car wasn’t speeding, but it was driving too slowly.

He stopped the car and reached its administrators to let them know it was obstructing traffic activity, but no citation was given. He asked the passenger how the car was picking speeds along roadways.

The Google project responded in a blog entry, stating it’s never gotten a ticket and pled guilty to driving slowly — adding, “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often.”

The officer verified that the car had not infringed upon the law, and no ticket was issued in light of the fact that the car had committed no violation.

“After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!” the project posted.

Nevertheless, the incident raises questions about whether the cars are excessively wary.

An accident report filed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles described the Google car as “over-cautious”.

“We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons,” the post responded. “We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets.”

In September, Google announced that it was working to make its cars drive “more humanistically” following complaints that they had been too polite.

Google’s self-driving cars are programmed to comply with the laws of the road, but this can bring about issues when the vehicles are sharing the road with drivers who do not.

Google researchers have stated that getting autonomous cars to function well in the world of human drivers is one of their created difficulties and challenges.