Waymo’s fully driverless minivans are already putting people to sleep

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Recently, Waymo began inviting members of its Early Rider program in Phoenix to take trips in its fully driverless minivans. These are normal people who signed up back in 2017 to serve as guinea pigs for the Google spinoff’s experiments in self-driving transportation. And, as you can see in this new video released Tuesday, the experience is equal parts thrilling and boring.

In the video, the passengers giggle nervously at the sight of an empty driver’s seat, wondering aloud whether passersby are also slightly freaked out, and making casual references to “the future.” Then, very quickly, as is common among most ride-hailing passengers, they start to zone out. They look at their phones, they yawn, and one even falls asleep. When they…

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People Are Reportedly Attacking Driverless Cars in California

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Human Versus Machine

Like something out of a Transformers film, angry citizens are fighting back against what they perhaps perceive as the modern equivalent of the Decepticons: autonomous cars.

According to crash reports filed with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), people are attacking driverless cars. So far in 2018, autonomous vehicles played a role in six accidents on state roads. Of those, two of the accidents involved angry humans shouting at and slapping the self-driving cars.

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According to the first report, a male pedestrian supposedly attacked a self-driving Chevy Bolt as it waited at a traffic light in San Francisco for pedestrians to cross the road. The vehicle was in self-driving mode, but a human was in the driver’s seat, as required by state law. The raging pedestrian ran across the street “shouting.” He then struck “the left side of the Cruise AV’s rear bumper and hatch with his entire body,” damaging the Chevy’s left tail light.

The second incident also involved a self-driving Chevy Bolt in San Francisco, this time with a human driver in control. When the vehicle stopped behind a taxi, the taxi driver stepped out of his vehicle and assaulted the autonomous car. According to the Los Angeles Times, which claims to have seen the DMV report, he “slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch.”

Humans weren’t harmed in either case, and General Motors, the Chevy Bolt Cruise AV’s manufacturer, has yet to comment on these incidents.

Humankind Striking Back?

Driverless cars aren’t an unusual sight in California. The state already allows car manufacturers to test self-driving vehicle technologies with human drivers inside, and soon, it will allow them to test completely driverless cars.

But we’re not there yet. There were drivers sitting in the proper seat in these cars. How do we know, then, that the aggravated humans were attacking the cars because they were autonomous, not because the car was driving poorly, or was stopped in the crosswalk?

The truth is, we don’t. At least for now. But it just so happens that other autonomous bots are also in the crosshairs.

A San Francisco animal shelter faced significant backlash when it began using a patrolling security robot. Angry residents vandalized the bot, knocking it over and pouring barbecue sauce onto its sensors, the shelter’s president, Jennifer Scarlett, told the San Francisco Business Times.

This could be a sign of the public’s attitude toward automation in general. The idea of automated technologies taking over human jobs en masse is worrisome, which makes the cab driver’s “assault” on the self-driving Chevy somewhat understandable. After all, taxi drivers are among those in danger of replacement by these intelligent machines.

As one local news source pointed out, a self-driving Chevy Bolt played a role in an accident that injured a human being back in December 2017, so perhaps by attacking driverless cars, these people think they are simply sticking up for their species.

If that is, in fact, the reason they’re attacking autonomous things in the first place. And not, say, out of mischievousness or boredom.

Additionally, the idea behind these technologies is that they’ll ultimately protect humans. The purpose of the security bot was to discourage crime and make the workplace safer for shelter staff. Meanwhile, autonomous cars could make roads far safer by removing the number one cause of road accidents: human error.

The latter seems even more likely under the current circumstances – the fact that at least two people thought attacking an autonomous car was a good idea does little to encourage confidence in human decision making.

The post People Are Reportedly Attacking Driverless Cars in California appeared first on Futurism.


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Punching robots won’t stop driverless cars

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Since California became a haven for testing driverless cars this year there’s been six accidents involving a human and an autonomous vehicle. Four of the accidents were minor scuffs with little to no damage reported. In two, however, the humans involved attacked the driverless vehicles on purpose. According to a Los Angeles Times article, California DMV reports indicate humans in both incidents ran into the street to attack the vehicles. It’s unclear why a person would do such a thing, but to be fair it’s unclear why people do a lot of things. One of the vehicles suffered a broken tail light…

This story continues at The Next Web
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Fully Driverless Vehicles Approved for Testing on California Roads

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week announced sweeping new rules and regulations which inherently pave the way for companies including Uber, General Motors, and Faraday Future to begin testing their “fully autonomous” vehicles — self-driving cars without safety drivers behind the steering wheel — on the Golden State’s open roads. In its announcement, the […]
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Driverless cars can operate in California as early as April

The California DMV passed regulations that allow for the public testing and deployment of autonomous cars without drivers.

Driverless cars will begin operating on California roads as early as April under regulations that were passed today by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

This is the first time companies will be able to operate autonomous vehicles in California without a safety driver behind the wheel.

But those cars won’t be operating completely unmanned — at least for now. Under these regulations, driverless cars being tested on public roads must have a remote operator monitoring the car, ready to take over as needed. That remote operator — who will be overseeing the car from a location outside of the car — must also be able to communicate with law enforcement as well as the passengers in the event of an accident.

When the companies are ready to deploy the cars commercially, the remote operator is no longer required to take over the car, just facilitate communication while it monitors the status of the vehicle.

It’s a requirement that many industry experts agree could help accelerate the proliferation of self-driving cars and ensure cars are able to operate in all situations — especially the unsolved edge cases. It also suggests the addition of jobs in a new business designed to replace drivers.

That’s good news for companies like Phantom Auto, which aims to be the remote safety driver for autonomous cars. In the short term, Phantom Auto is trying to replace the human safety driver who, today, takes over control of an autonomous car when the system fails, or in situations when the driver expects it to fail.

In the long term, Phantom Auto will act more like air traffic control but for cars — monitoring the vehicle and helping passengers as needed. As self-driving technology progresses, the hope is that remote operators will only have to take over a car to bring it to a safe stop in the case of an accident or other rare cases.

At the moment, the company’s operators can each monitor five cars at once. As self-driving cars get better, the hope is operators will only have to take over in extreme situations and that those extreme situations will become rarer. That, in turn, makes it easier to scale Phantom Auto’s business — part of which will be to provide this remote operator service for other self-driving companies.

Some of the bigger players like Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors and Uber have already been testing their own remote customer support centers.

Waymo, for its part, started testing cars without safety drivers in a small part of Phoenix, Ariz., in early November 2017.

General Motors, which is also testing self-driving cars in California, is gearing up to launch a driverless service and has begun building out its own remote-operating feature called “expert mode.”

The company wouldn’t give much more detail about its tele-operation system, but it is coming up against a looming deadline. GM recently petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow the company to deploy a fleet of vehicles without steering wheels or pedals by 2019.

The company has been publicly ambitious about its goal of launching a fleet of vehicles without safety drivers by next year. It’s a lofty goal, particularly in the places GM’s self-driving arm Cruise is testing its cars. The company has primarily operated its fleet of vehicles on the busy city streets of San Francisco.

That’s in large part because of the economic opportunity urban autonomous driving offers, as well as the technological benefits of learning to navigate complex environments.

To meet its deadline, GM will have to begin testing its driverless cars on public roads sooner rather than later.

Under these new regulations, California’s DMV can begin doling out permits for completely driverless cars as early as April. Neither GM nor Waymo responded to questions about how soon it expects to apply for a permit under the DMV’s new rules.

Today, 50 companies have received permits to test self-driving vehicles with a safety driver behind the wheel.

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California green-lights driverless car testing statewide, operations can begin in April

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As anticipated, the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Monday received approval from the California Office of Administrative Law to enact a set of regulations that will allow companies to test remotely operated autonomous vehicles on public roads.
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Driverless Autonomous Cars Can Now Be Tested in California

New regulations that allow driverless autonomous cars to be tested on California roads were officially approved by the California Office of Administrative Law on Monday, reports the San Francisco Examiner.

Starting on April 2, companies in the Bay Area that are working on self-driving vehicle technology will be able to deploy cars that do not have a driver behind the wheel. The new autonomous vehicle regulations have been under review since January 11, but were green lit this morning.

The news is of interest as Apple is one of more than 50 companies testing self-driving vehicle technology in the Bay Area. For almost a year now, Apple has been testing autonomous driving software in a series of 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs, which can often be seen on the streets surrounding its Cupertino headquarters.

While little has been said about Apple’s testing efforts in recent months, the company was spotted using new LIDAR equipment in August of 2017, and as of January 2018, Apple has 27 vehicles running autonomous driving software, up from the three it started with last year.

With the new regulations in place, Apple can potentially apply for a new deployment permit with the California DMV that would allow it to test its software sans drivers. It’s not known, however, if Apple is ready for that kind of advanced testing.

While California is allowing companies to deploy and test fully autonomous driverless cars, a “communication link” must be maintained between the testing vehicle and remote operators. All remote vehicle operators must monitor the status of driverless vehicles at all times and be ready to step in should the vehicle experience “failures that would endanger the safety of the vehicle’s passengers or other road users.” Cars must be protected from cyberattacks and must also be able to transmit information in the event of a crash.

Companies must also certify that a vehicle is capable of operating without the presence of a driver and develop a “law enforcement interaction plan” to be provided to the California Highway Patrol.

Should Apple choose to take advantage of the new policies, the company will need to obtain a permit from the California DMV, and granted permits are made available to the public. So should Apple opt for this route, it won’t be able to keep its work secret. These kinds of regulations have already spurred Apple CEO Tim Cook to confirm the company’s work on autonomous systems.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on,” Cook said back in June of 2017.

Some other states have already adopted more relaxed rules that allow companies to deploy autonomous vehicles without drivers. In Arizona, for example, Google-owned company Waymo is already operating autonomous minivans sans safety driver.

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California green lights fully driverless cars for testing on public roads

California will allow fully autonomous cars without safety drivers to test on public roads for the first time. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced the change today, which outlines a permitting process for companies wishing to deploy driverless vehicles without anyone behind the wheel.

“This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.”

Last October, the California DMV issued revised regulations governing the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Among their many provisions, the new rules…

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Fully driverless car tests in California could start in April

Automakers testing their self-driving cars on California roads might be able to go fully autonomous as soon as April, according to the state's DMV. Instead of putting someone behind the wheel to take over in certain circumstances, such as when the se…
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Companies Race to Dominate the World of Maps for Driverless Cars

Self-driving cars are on the horizon, but the technology requires sophisticated maps to ensure that vehicles can navigate the roads safely. Right now, industry leaders are at work to ensure that Google — currently ahead of the pack with its  Google Maps service — doesn’t snatch the biggest slice of the pie.

The maps that autonomous vehicles will use to navigate the roads need to be much more sophisticated than Google’s current offering. A self-driving car needs more information than a human driver or a pedestrian, so various sensors and high-definition cameras are being used to chart the country’s highways and byways.

According to Bloomberg, Google is working on a 3D mapping project that would capture the landscape of hazards that a vehicle may face in much greater detail. The project goes way beyond what’s currently available via Google Maps, but it’s also distinct from the high-definition maps being created by Alphabet subsidiary Waymo.

Maps for self-driving cars will also need to be updated far more frequently. It’s crucial that vehicles know about new roads and temporary obstacles like construction projects, so that they’re not taken by surprise by an unexpected change. Companies like MapBox – which signed a deal with Tesla last year, as per Electrek – consult user data in order to update their maps.

As self-driving technology continues to evolve, we’ll get a better idea of the specific information these vehicles need in order to operate, and the best method of producing the required maps.

However, it’s clear that whoever emerges as the go-to supplier of maps for autonomous vehicles stands to make a lot of money. If self-driving cars take off as they’re expected to, the automotive industry will be reliant on these maps for the foreseeable future, so competition is set to be fierce.

The post Companies Race to Dominate the World of Maps for Driverless Cars appeared first on Futurism.