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No one behind the wheel ... or in the car

Original post made on Mar 13, 2017

For nearly three years, Mountain View residents have become accustomed to seeing self-driving cars zipping around town, but the technology could soon be kicking off its training wheels.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 13, 2017, 10:12 AM

Comments (9)

7 people like this
Posted by Rich
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 13, 2017 at 2:32 pm

It really seems like a standardized way for police to stop these vehicles, as well as a way to communicate with the person in charge of the vehicle, should be in place before they are allowed to be completely autonomous.

Of course, it is possible that the cars are already able to recognize a police vehicle behind them and pull over. And it should be pretty easy to have an intercom to talk to the remote operator.


7 people like this
Posted by Probably74
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm

It seems to me that the sub-head and first sentence are a little optimistic. I have yet to see one of these vehicles "zip" anywhere. More like "plod" along overly cautiously, but I guess that's how testing is done on real streets and not test tracks.


5 people like this
Posted by Concern
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Further testing is fine, but I would like to see terrorism addressed. Today, suicide bombers are few and can only do one act. Weaponizing an autonomous vehicle seems entirely possible and I haven't seen it addressed as to how it would be prevented.


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Posted by Jim Lyons
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2017 at 4:38 pm

It seems to me an easy way to monitor the driverless vehicle would be to have a human monitor and driver in a car directly behind the driverless car. The monitor and the accompanying driver would each have a "kill" switch connected to the driverless car. During the initial driverless tests there could be two or three other cars with drivers & monitors next to the driverless car. Maybe even a specially equipped drone or two overhead.

In addition, a method should be designed so no "outsider" car can scoot between the driver & monitor's car and the driverless car.

Allow me to be the first outsider to sign up for a ride in a driverless car. I'm reluctant to post my phone number in a public publication, but I can be reached at: Jim Lyons, P. O. Box 1934, Los Altos, CA 94023.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

I come across the vehicles in their present configuration almost everyday in Palo Alto and Mountain View. I have learned to give them a little more space but basically give them ne'er a second glance nowadays. But with the empty cars driving themselves I wonder if they are going to have a different logo or any other way to discern that these are unoccupied rather than one with an operator inside the car? I would like to know which ones are which when I see them.


6 people like this
Posted by vonlost
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 13, 2017 at 11:46 pm

What's the difference between having a monitor with a kill switch *following* the Waymo, and a monitor with a kill switch *inside* the Waymo? None! The cars will be ready when they're ready, and accidents will drop to essentially zero when there are zero human drivers.


6 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Surrounding driverless cars with two or three monitor cars will create an artificial buffer zone that will make the testing less valuable. Even a single monitor car will create an artificial buffer zone if no "outsider" cars can get between it and the driverless car.

If the self-driving cars still need to be monitored that closely, then I think they still need a safety driver behind the wheel, the way they've been tested for years now. But if they've reached the point that they don't need a safety driver behind the wheel, then they shouldn't need monitor vehicles tailing them either.


1 person likes this
Posted by LCL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I was shocked to see one ( labeled WAYMO...is that Alphabet?) run a red light a few weeks ago!


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Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Darin is a registered user.

@LCL

Alphabet is the parent company. Alphabet owns Google. Alphabet also owns Waymo and a number of other companies. Waymo started life as Google's self-driving car project, but now it's a separate company.


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