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Volvo takes bold next step in self-driving push

Autonomous mode is activated and deactivated with specially designed paddles on the steering wheel.

The paddles flash when the auto pilot is ready, at which point the driver pulls both paddles simultaneously to activate autonomous mode.

The lights on the paddles then change to constant green, signaling that the car is driving itself.

When the driver needs to regain control of the car a 60-second countdown is displayed. If the driver doesn't use the paddles to regain control within this minute, the car will bring itself to a safe stop.

IntelliSafe Auto Pilot will debut on the 100 XC90s that will be part of Volvo's Drive Me project in Gothenburg starting in 2017. Drive Me will allow everyday motorists to test autonomous driving on approximately 50km of selected roads in the Swedish city. After the trial, Volvo plans to launch IntelliSafe Auto Pilot more widely.
I'm curious about the 60 second thing. I assume at any point a driver should be able to just take over by grabbing the wheel?
 

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The lane changing and passing in auto pilot mode is very impressive, exceeds my expectation.

I can't wait to see how the public test goes. It seems require a safe rest zone before leaving the auto pilot road. Is freeway shoulder qualified as rest zone? If such road construction is required, wide adopt of Drive-Me is still a question. What if too many Drive-Me cars go to the rest zone and queue up there all the way back to the freeway?

Another thing is of course how much the Drive-Me car price is over a normal XC90.
 

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Self driving...it's a double edged sword.

The general public wants it so they can text, talk, work, etc...while at the wheel and Volvo like other car companies don't want to fall behind in getting their product out to market.

However, liabilities, lawyers, insurance, property damage, mechanical/electrical malfunction, hacking might kill this trend.

Why can't everyone just drive a manual transmission? There are much more safeguards with a manual. You just cant' talk/text...which is good.
 

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Self driving...it's a double edged sword.

The general public wants it so they can text, talk, work, etc...while at the wheel and Volvo like other car companies don't want to fall behind in getting their product out to market.

However, liabilities, lawyers, insurance, property damage, mechanical/electrical malfunction, hacking might kill this trend.

Why can't everyone just drive a manual transmission? There are much more safeguards with a manual. You just cant' talk/text...which is good.
Liability issues will be mitigated by the fact that self-driven cars will have far fewer accidents.

And to your point on manual transmissions: Let's compare the accidents per million miles, 1960 to 2010. I suspect they aren't that different, but the ones now are far less fatal. And phones have bluetooth, so talking while driving a stick is possible. AND, I've certainly seen a girl driving an ancient stick VW while eating taco bell and wearing a miniskirt. With 4 of her friends in the car. Because that's how we rolled for lunch in high school. :p
 

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Liability issues will be mitigated by the fact that self-driven cars will have far fewer accidents.

And to your point on manual transmissions: Let's compare the accidents per million miles, 1960 to 2010. I suspect they aren't that different, but the ones now are far less fatal. And phones have bluetooth, so talking while driving a stick is possible. AND, I've certainly seen a girl driving an ancient stick VW while eating taco bell and wearing a miniskirt. With 4 of her friends in the car. Because that's how we rolled for lunch in high school. :p
In theory, the carmakers see fewer accidents. But will there be less accidents? Can we even depend on the reliability of the auto driving?

In practice, switching back and forth from auto-pilot to the driver will be not only confusing but even more dangerous especially when you will need the driver to take over at some point. Sleeping behind the wheel will be more common and acceptable behavior. You may as well have the driver seat be able to spin around so you can talk face to face with all of your passengers. Why not even sell big screen tvs as a car option?

I never said anything about fatalities.
 

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Well you're the one who says people who drive should be more engaged in driving (and a manual transmission would force them to be). That's no doubt true. But it's the same debate as prescriptive vs. descriptive grammar. We can wring our hands all we want about what people should do, or we can accept that people will do what they want to do--and build systems to accomodate people's wants.
 

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In theory, the carmakers see fewer accidents. But will there be less accidents? Can we even depend on the reliability of the auto driving?

In practice, switching back and forth from auto-pilot to the driver will be not only confusing but even more dangerous especially when you will need the driver to take over at some point. Sleeping behind the wheel will be more common and acceptable behavior. You may as well have the driver seat be able to spin around so you can talk face to face with all of your passengers. Why not even sell big screen tvs as a car option?

I never said anything about fatalities.
Drive Me car has face camera and sensors to detect if driver is dozy, and gives warning. Also it probably will stop at safe rest zone or at least freeway shoulder if applicable when driver doesn't take over control as needed.

Sleep behind wheel will not be acceptable.
 

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Regulators will be what holds this back, not technology. Tesla already has this capability in the Model S and has been testing it for quite a while, but can't put it into production because of the regulators. Hopefully the laws can catch up to the technology so that progress isn't stalled in the industry. There are a lot of exciting car technologies that are being held back simply by outdated laws (i.e Laser headlights in the US).
 

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the law WILL catch up, at least in the U.S., provided companies can save money/make money by using the autopilot types of features. If this is shown to work for trucking, for example, the regulatory issues will dissolve.

And the regulatory issues do NOT need to be resolved before these cars are on the road. There is no "regulatory issue" today if you own a car that has the technology which automatically keeps your car a certain distance behind the car in front of you, for example. No regulations had to be written or changed to allow that, for example.

Now, if you are using that function and you have an accident, the law will have little trouble allocating liability. The parties may not be happy how it comes out, but the courts will not simply say, "this is NEW and we can['t figure it out." That isn't how the world works. Liability WILL be allocated.

I do agree that making a car FULLY autonomous will require some regulatory changes. Right now, if you are in the driver's seat of a car, the law will assume that you are driving that car. And the driver will be responsible for any harm caused by that car. And that's likely to be how the law will work, even AFTER the car is driven autonomously, until people refuse to buy cars that are essentially driven by the company that sold you that car. THAT is when the law will change.

All of this is "IMO," of course. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. But what will NOT happen is liability being allocated to the company that made the car. That ain't' gonna happen, even though that's what many of us think should happen. If that is how the law works, then Tesla/GM/Toyota will simply not make autonomous cars.

I am guessing we will end up with a "no fault" system, if the car is in "autonomous" mode.

and if an autonomous car has an accident with a human-driven car, I am pretty sure I know how that one will work out. (human loses)

I'm a realist, not a pessimist.
 

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A couple of videos on Volvo self driving.




 

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the law WILL catch up, at least in the U.S., provided companies can save money/make money by using the autopilot types of features. If this is shown to work for trucking, for example, the regulatory issues will dissolve.

And the regulatory issues do NOT need to be resolved before these cars are on the road. There is no "regulatory issue" today if you own a car that has the technology which automatically keeps your car a certain distance behind the car in front of you, for example. No regulations had to be written or changed to allow that, for example.

Now, if you are using that function and you have an accident, the law will have little trouble allocating liability. The parties may not be happy how it comes out, but the courts will not simply say, "this is NEW and we can['t figure it out." That isn't how the world works. Liability WILL be allocated.

I do agree that making a car FULLY autonomous will require some regulatory changes. Right now, if you are in the driver's seat of a car, the law will assume that you are driving that car. And the driver will be responsible for any harm caused by that car. And that's likely to be how the law will work, even AFTER the car is driven autonomously, until people refuse to buy cars that are essentially driven by the company that sold you that car. THAT is when the law will change.

All of this is "IMO," of course. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. But what will NOT happen is liability being allocated to the company that made the car. That ain't' gonna happen, even though that's what many of us think should happen. If that is how the law works, then Tesla/GM/Toyota will simply not make autonomous cars.

I am guessing we will end up with a "no fault" system, if the car is in "autonomous" mode.

and if an autonomous car has an accident with a human-driven car, I am pretty sure I know how that one will work out. (human loses)

I'm a realist, not a pessimist.

I hope this is the case, but we will see. I think there is a big jump from ACC to full Autonomous driving. There are so many additional variables added when that happens. With ACC you are only worried about staying in one lane and adjusting speed and distance. This now involves changing lanes and all of the variables that come with that. The thing that will make this technology really leap forward is V2V communications. When vehicles can know where each other will be rather than predict it, the game is changed.
 

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the law WILL catch up, at least in the U.S., provided companies can save money/make money by using the autopilot types of features. If this is shown to work for trucking, for example, the regulatory issues will dissolve.

And the regulatory issues do NOT need to be resolved before these cars are on the road. There is no "regulatory issue" today if you own a car that has the technology which automatically keeps your car a certain distance behind the car in front of you, for example. No regulations had to be written or changed to allow that, for example.

Now, if you are using that function and you have an accident, the law will have little trouble allocating liability. The parties may not be happy how it comes out, but the courts will not simply say, "this is NEW and we can['t figure it out." That isn't how the world works. Liability WILL be allocated.

I do agree that making a car FULLY autonomous will require some regulatory changes. Right now, if you are in the driver's seat of a car, the law will assume that you are driving that car. And the driver will be responsible for any harm caused by that car. And that's likely to be how the law will work, even AFTER the car is driven autonomously, until people refuse to buy cars that are essentially driven by the company that sold you that car. THAT is when the law will change.

All of this is "IMO," of course. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. But what will NOT happen is liability being allocated to the company that made the car. That ain't' gonna happen, even though that's what many of us think should happen. If that is how the law works, then Tesla/GM/Toyota will simply not make autonomous cars.

I am guessing we will end up with a "no fault" system, if the car is in "autonomous" mode.

and if an autonomous car has an accident with a human-driven car, I am pretty sure I know how that one will work out. (human loses)

I'm a realist, not a pessimist.
Autonomous OTR trucking will be another decade or more out from when autonomous cars come out in strength.

This is because of a few factors, but the most critical one will be truck drivers themselves. Unless there's some rule that keeps drivers in the truck when this is happening (say for pickups and drop offs, etc) then autonomous trucking won't be happening because it will severely impact livelihoods.

Secondly, trucking will require different sensors and safeties that cars don't typically need. Cattle haulers, for example, need to understand how to drive a truck with shifting loads. Heavier loads will require autonomous trucks to understand not only their load but the grade they are driving on.

This might be a great technology but it's really an entirely different ball game than just autonomous cars.

But to talk about autonomous cars for a second... none of this will fix traffic. Traffic will always be a mess. It just might be a more civilized mess.
 

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But to talk about autonomous cars for a second... none of this will fix traffic. Traffic will always be a mess. It just might be a more civilized mess.
It's point of engagement will determine it's ability to help with traffic, at least around here. Our traffic is caused by people's inability to merge. If the tech can't be switched on until you are on the highway, than it won't help. If it can be switched on as you are approaching the highway and handle the merge than it will definitely help traffic. As I mentioned before, Vehicle 2 Vehicle Communication(V2V http://www.safercar.gov/v2v/index.html) is really the next step that allows these systems to work seamlessly and eliminate traffic.
 

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But to talk about autonomous cars for a second... none of this will fix traffic. Traffic will always be a mess. It just might be a more civilized mess.
It probably won't eliminate traffic jams, but the reality is that computers are much better at being consistent drivers than 90% of today's drivers. Easily merging seems to be the biggest reason for traffic in the first place, and the vast majority of people can't do that easily. The other thing is that if humans aren't driving, it makes the traffic jam itself more tolerable because you're free to do other things while you wait.
 

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It probably won't eliminate traffic jams, but the reality is that computers are much better at being consistent drivers than 90% of today's drivers. Easily merging seems to be the biggest reason for traffic in the first place, and the vast majority of people can't do that easily. The other thing is that if humans aren't driving, it makes the traffic jam itself more tolerable because you're free to do other things while you wait.
The unfortunate side to the traffic problem is that it isn't this easy.

You will still have countless motorcycles and older cars that will eventually phase out but this will take a couple of decades at least.
 

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It probably won't eliminate traffic jams, but the reality is that computers are much better at being consistent drivers than 90% of today's drivers. Easily merging seems to be the biggest reason for traffic in the first place, and the vast majority of people can't do that easily. The other thing is that if humans aren't driving, it makes the traffic jam itself more tolerable because you're free to do other things while you wait.
Autonomous cars won't rear-end other cars when traffic backs up (or at least they'll be significantly better at not rear-ending other cars), so when enough of them are on the road, this type of freeway accident will nearly be eliminated -- and that should keep traffic flowing better by keeping lanes open. But yeah there'll still be heavy traffic.
 

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The unfortunate side to the traffic problem is that it isn't this easy.

You will still have countless motorcycles and older cars that will eventually phase out but this will take a couple of decades at least.
During those couple decades, however, traffic, fatality and accident rates will continue to drop precipitously, and things will get much better, very quickly, for everyone. Yes, there are still cars on the road without ABS, seat belts, and airbags, but they're much fewer than they were even five years ago, and fatality rates have dropped by 1/3rd in the last decade alone. A full change takes a lot of time, but the 80% rule doesn't.
 

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During those couple decades, however, traffic, fatality and accident rates will continue to drop precipitously, and things will get much better, very quickly, for everyone. Yes, there are still cars on the road without ABS, seat belts, and airbags, but they're much fewer than they were even five years ago, and fatality rates have dropped by 1/3rd in the last decade alone. A full change takes a lot of time, but the 80% rule doesn't.
I'm not saying it's not worthwhile. I'm saying that traffic will continue to be a problem.

Autonomous driving won't stop that.

If anything, it might actually increase traffic but that's just conjecture. My posit stems from autonomous push for a lot of things, like deliveries. Whether it's aerial drones or UPS trucks, the push is for things like this.

I don't see a lot of it happening but I've been wrong before and I will be wrong again.

But traffic and traffic jams will not decrease. I'm certain of that.

The best thing I think will happen is that people will stop rubber necking. Man, I hate that.
 
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