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post #16 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 06:47 PM
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What's going to suck is that the dude's insurance (auto, and possible life as well) will avoid paying since he was most likely breaking the law as well as not following the instructions included with the vehicle (thus, Tesla is off the hook).

I don't understand how the radar/sonar (whichever) system didn't kick in... like you see on the ?Mazda? commercial where they say it has the highest crash rating EVER because it simply avoids accidents...

Maybe those shorter ranged systems did detect the truck but it was too late to stop the vehicle?

Maybe that's why Tesla said the bit about the truck being too high? (IE the non visual avoidance systems couldn't see it either?)

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post #17 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tech_God View Post
Yep, gotta love people huh?. This is pretty much why there have been accidents with autopilot, people don't use it like it's supposed to be used, or over-trust something that is self-admitted to not be a fully driverless function.
And the man was a former SEAL. You'd think he'd have more discipline than that.

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I heard they programmed some autopilot cars (in case it had to make a choice), to go for a solid object instead of a human when doing evasive actions. So basically someone added code to kill the driver. Nice job for a programmer. I sure hope the human the car is trying to steer around is not one like this :-)

Good god I'd hope the car would realize that it shouldn't be leaving the road way and ergo not have to make the decision to strike an inflatable Santa or the house belonging to the family of said inflatable Santa.

I think that's making the best of a bad situation. Look at it this way.

The car has a choice, strike a pedestrian, or hit something else.

If it strikes the unprotected pedestrian, the driver will probably not be injured. The pedestrian will most likely be killed if the speed of the vehicle is above 30 mph. If the speed is below 30, chances are he/she will probably be seriously injured.

If the car avoids the pedestrian and strikes something solid, the driver of the car has the protection of the car's crumple zones which are designed to absorb crash energy, the supplemental restraint systems (air bags) designed to protect the driver from the internal components of the car's interior, and the seat belt which is designed to secure the driver in the proper position so that he/she doesn't go bouncing around the interior of the car and can be in the optimal position for the other safety systems to do their job.

In addition, if the speed of the collision is under 30 mph, the driver of the car will most probably walk away. If the speed is under 60 mph, the driver may be injured and even hospitalized but will probably survive.

Now couple all that with the fact that the driver of the automobile and the autonomous vehicle itself must yield to pedestrians it makes the most sense for a programmer to design the system to avoid pedestrians even if it means striking a more solid object.

All that aside, ask yourself this, would you rather have your car strike a pedestrian at 45 mph and know that you were responsible, in some way, of taking that person's life or would you rather hit a wall at 45 mph, go to the hospital, and recuperate to go on and lead a relatively normal life?

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What's going to suck is that the dude's insurance (auto, and possible life as well) will avoid paying since he was most likely breaking the law as well as not following the instructions included with the vehicle (thus, Tesla is off the hook).
Have you ever heard the phrase "A disclaimer is only as strong as the paper it's written on?" Did you know that there are certain rights you cannot sign away? I'm not an attorney and don't know all the details but Tesla is far from off the hook in a civil case.

As for the insurance company not paying because he was breaking the law, I know my insurance company has paid when it was reported I was going over the speed limit and was involved in an accident. I know when people have died because they were on their cell phone not paying attention and wrecked their car, the insurance companies have paid. Not sure him watching Harry Potter will absolve them from paying the family whatever he was insured for.

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I don't understand how the radar/sonar (whichever) system didn't kick in... like you see on the ?Mazda? commercial where they say if his the highest crash rating EVER because it simply avoids accidents...

Maybe those shorter ranged systems did detect the truck but it was too late to stop the vehicle?

Maybe that's why Tesla said the bit about the truck being too high? (IE the non visual avoidance systems couldn't see it either?)
I wondered about that two and have come up with some theories.

  • The truck was out of the sensors angle of view horizontally, meaning, that since the truck was "crossing the T" if you will of the Tesla, it was too far off to the side initially to be seen by the vehicle. This, to me, seems like a horribly bad design if this was the case.

  • The truck was out of the sensor's line of sight. There might have been something between the sensor and the truck so that the sensor didn't see the truck until it was too late...again though, this seems unlikely since there was no indication the sensor EVER saw the truck and the report makes it sound like there was nothing blocking the line of sight of the driver or car.

  • The truck was initially out of the sensor's range by distance. Again, this doesn't make sense as one would think the sensor should be able to see far enough ahead so that it could stop in time for the speed it is traveling if something got in the car's path.

  • The sensor straight up malfunctioned. This seems like the most logical but then, why would the system continue to operate? Leads me to believe there is a condition the programmers and designers didn't anticipate that, under that specific condition, the sensor is basically blind. That could be the issue of the truck being very close in color to the sky. Still, you would think it would see the wheels and other darker bits of the truck and trailer and still detect the hazard.

I thought about the issue of the truck being too high...after all the report makes it sound like everything below the windshield level of the car went clean under the truck. I'm sure most of the sensors would be in that area. However, the car traveled under the trailer between the last axle on the tractor and the first axle on the trailer. That means the tractor and it's three axles SHOULD have been detected by the sensor and triggered a braking event.


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post #18 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 09:14 PM
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Tesla's response to the radar not not seeing the truck was that the car was aimed right at the gap between the wheels, and it is programmed to not see anything above a certain height so that overhead signs won't cause the car to stop. It is also probably programmed to only look for things directly in front of the car. I am guessing that they will maybe raise the radar cutoff height to at least the height of the car .....

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post #19 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-02-2016, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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I am human. So I decide when it is happening. An autopilot can not do that. Many things play a role in a human decisions. I might react differently when my kid is sitting next to me, I might prefer driving into a wall over a ravine, but do not prefer a wall over water, I might prefer hitting a pony over an 18wheeler, but not when my son is riding that pony, I wonder if an autopilot can ever make decisions like that.
But your comment wasn't about a human driving a car vs autopilot...it was about an engineers decision to have the autopilot choose to hit a solid object vs a human being on foot.

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Tesla's response to the radar not not seeing the truck was that the car was aimed right at the gap between the wheels, and it is programmed to not see anything above a certain height so that overhead signs won't cause the car to stop. It is also probably programmed to only look for things directly in front of the car. I am guessing that they will maybe raise the radar cutoff height to at least the height of the car .....
I'm not buying that unless the truck was stopped. For the truck to cross his path then the tractor had to come first and that big tractor of a semi-truck should be more than visible to the Tesla's radar.

Now, if they are saying that the Tesla saw it as a gap in traffic instead and figured it could make it, then I question two things. One, the space between the rear axle of the tractor and the front axle of the trailer isn't that big. Maybe a car length. And if its seeing that as an acceptable gap to drive through I would say that is not acceptable. Then second is the issue of it not seeing above that height. This is part of the fourth point I made above...a condition the engineers and programmers didn't think about.


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post #20 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-02-2016, 05:52 PM
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Until the details of the incident are known we are just speculating. Sensors and control algorithms for this sort of thing have to be detuned to let the vehicle function. If one sensor is blinded, and the other is fooled by a temporarily stationary vehicle, the programming has nothing to work with. Hence the requirement for the driver to stay in control.

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post #21 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 01:12 PM
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Those who don't remember The Jetsons, look them up.

Auto-pilot ground vehicles are indeed still a fantasy just like the flying cars of the JETSONS.

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post #22 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 06:30 PM
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I saw the details of this story on a blog which listed Tesla's instructions from the owner's manual. The 2 requirements that I found to be strange were:
(Paraphrasing here)
1) Driver must keep 2 hands on the steering wheel, and
2) Driver must pay attention to the road ahead in case Autopilot misses something and driver must then take appropriate action.

So what good is this Autopilot if you have to follow those 2 instructions? This is no better than a regular cruise control system.

@robo: These systems have a long way to go before Seniors will be able to rely on them to make their driving "safer."

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post #23 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 11:25 PM
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It is in Beta test. The idea is to get customers to provide the "labor" so that the road testing gets done with human backup while Tesla collects data on what works and what doesn't.

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post #24 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 01:49 AM
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Interesting conversation, will be interesting to here about what happened from Tesla and the NHTSA. Going to bet the large area between the wheels is a blind zone. Driver should have been paying attention to the road and what was going on. The autopilot is a lot like a backseat or side seat driver.

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post #25 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 02:28 PM
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It is difficult--more for some than others--to stay engaged when not participating. Lindbergh stayed awake (survived) flying over the Atlantic by making his airplane slightly unstable so that it would require constant correction (attention). I wonder how many lived would have been saved if cars' steering did not auto-center, and the driver would not have fallen asleep. Really, there can only be one driver, it's just a matter of who it will (or should) be.
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post #26 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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It is difficult--more for some than others--to stay engaged when not participating. Lindbergh stayed awake (survived) flying over the Atlantic by making his airplane slightly unstable so that it would require constant correction (attention). I wonder how many lived would have been saved if cars' steering did not auto-center, and the driver would not have fallen asleep. Really, there can only be one driver, it's just a matter of who it will (or should) be.
Technically, we are constantly correcting our cars even to go straight though not by much. A slight bump in the road is enough to put us in the other lane. Setting your suspension to 0 front castor (which wouldn't be possible in every car) would negate the auto-centering of the steering wheel. If you've never driven a car with 0 castor though, I can tell you it isn't safe. Breath too heavy on the steering wheel and you're making a turn...not a lane change...a turn. It is incredibly unstable. Our castor is about 6* stock and we're pretty agile. At 4* you'd be twitchy.

But here is an interesting scenario. I know Mercedes Benz has (or once had) technology in their cars that would detect when a driver fell asleep and would try and wake the driver up by doing something like vigorously shaking the steering wheel and driver's seat coupled with some sort of klaxon going off. I haven't heard much about it since but that may be due to the progression of other driver assists like lane deviation, adaptive cruise, and auto-braking.

So now, what if "self-driving" cars got away from the idea of being an "auto-pilot" and started marketing more of the automated driving functions as safety features like they have with the automated braking? What if the technology Mercedes used to determine the driver was falling asleep turned on an automatic pilot style driving mode to get the vehicle to a safe parking area while it tried or instead of waking the driver?

I still see the incorporation of automated vehicles as including areas of road designated for automated vehicles only similar to HOV lanes here in CA. I also believe that the reality of automated cars will not continue to evolve along the lines of solo vehicles filled with sensors as being the only means of automation. If this technology continues to progress, highways and roads will need to become smarter too. Large transportation networks with "smart" signals, "smart" traffic signs, and two way communication capability between the cars and roadway will need to be developed in conjunction with a vehicle's onboard sensors to get a clearer picture of the current conditions.

Even something as simple as a traffic cone...put a small solar panel on it and have an onboard beacon that broadcasts it's location so autonomous cars can "see" where these cones are and avoid them without having to visually identify them via camera and photo recognition logic. Road Construction signs that have a similar device and tell the automated car that whatever speed limit it has stored for this particular road is now reduced to whatever speed limit is programmed into the Road Construction sign.

Right now self driving cars are in their infancy. Think of them like you'd think about the very first cars. When the car was released, paved roads were mostly paved in cobblestones and they were the exception...most roads were dirt. There were no rules, no laws, no traffic signs and the speed limit was generally how fast you could go without the car being shaken apart by the road you were on. As cars became more mainstream, these things changed and developed along with the cars themselves.

Again, my biggest problem, and the biggest obstacle to automation, is that some people LIKE to drive. Many people...especially the older generations (by older I mean 30+)...prefer being in control of their cars. While there are those who would love to read the latest news on their Kindle or watch Harry Potter on their way to work, most...I feel...would rather be in control. The one major automotive task though where I see MOST people using autopilot like features would be urban areas with high traffic congestion like L.A. or N.Y. Places where you're not really driving, you're just crawling along from point A to point B.

And maybe that's how we will start to incorporate automation. Areas known for heavy traffic will have a number of lanes switched for automated cars only. In these lanes, traffic will flow based on 1s and 0s. Entry and exit to these lanes will be dictated by the automation to keep traffic flowing. As more and more cars receive automation, more and more lanes will be used for automated traffic until such time when a majority of cars will have automated driving options and non-automated cars will be in the minority with their own lane.

Of course, the hitch to this whole idea is the one guy that decides to drive in the automated lanes because they move faster but will drive a non-automated car. That will be the problem. Of course, if it is a car that has automation in it, the automation could be automatically engaged when entering the section of roadway. Again though, you'd need smart highways for this.

Sorry for the long winded reply...just got me to thinking a lot about where this technology may, one day, lead.


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post #27 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-06-2016, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by RedOne07 View Post
I am human. So I decide when it is happening. An autopilot can not do that. Many things play a role in a human decisions. I might react differently when my kid is sitting next to me, I might prefer driving into a wall over a ravine, but do not prefer a wall over water, I might prefer hitting a pony over an 18wheeler, but not when my son is riding that pony, I wonder if an autopilot can ever make decisions like that.
Of course it can't. It's about making decisions that will reduce the probability of harm.

There are lots of examples, of technology, or changes that may harm an individual but help more. Hell almost all perscription drugs can/will kill someone who is taking them legally, doesn't mean we stop giving out the drug.

Some of the arguments on this thread seem like if traffic fatalities fell from 1000 to 10 with autonomous driving, people would view it as a fail cause 10 people died driving autonomous vehicles.

If you take the attitude of some, we would not have natural gas plumbed into houses cause several people die a year from leaks. Forget the number that died using candles or other fuels before Lp was plumbed.
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post #28 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-06-2016, 02:47 PM
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My biggest concern (Other than giving up control of driving.) is not from the cars themselves, but from those people who think it would be "fun" to spoof them. Stretch a white sheet across the road in front of a traffic hazard. Line those cones you spoke of across the road. Remove the markers that give them direction off the road entirely. Hack into the systems to give them instructions to turn left instead of right when the GPS signals. Etc. It's not really the cars that worry me once the technology gets up to speed. It's all the people who would depend on them to work correctly not matter what. A person driving is much harder to spoof or hack than a computer that only knows to do what it's been told.

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post #29 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-06-2016, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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Very true Specter and it has been shown that some of these newer technologies CAN be hacked if they are not properly secured. That's why it comes down to the slow development of this technology over time to figure out what doesn't work and what does work without overly compromising public safety.


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post #30 of 42 (permalink) Old 07-06-2016, 06:40 PM
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He said . . . . . IT said

A driver crashed and flipped his Tesla Model X on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last Thursday. Both occupants are OK. He says the autopilot malfunctioned but the carmaker claims that the autopilot mode was not involved.

Full story.
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