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Old 13th April 2018, 05:58 PM   #521
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's a ridiculous law, and it certainly isn't the case in most places as far as I am aware.

Unless the car is moving at the time, of course.

There are variations, as is true of so much American jurisprudence. Most DUI statutes are at the state level.

It probably also depends a lot of the cop, the mood they were in, and maybe whether or not he had prior contacts with you (or didn't like your looks). It can be one of those things where the arresting officer has a fair amount of latitude in how they choose to proceed.

I think more often they are liable to pop you if you climb into the car to sleep it off and do it while behind the wheel (say, with the keys in the ignition), but if you are somewhere that you cannot be operating the vehicle then mebbe not so much.

Where they find you can have an effect, too. If you are in the bar parking lot, that's one thing. If you drove halfway home and are parked on the side of the road where you had managed to get when you decided you were too blitzed to be behind the wheel, a less than generous cop (and judge) might figure that you were probably driving drunk to get there in the first place, and bust you for that.
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Old 13th April 2018, 09:14 PM   #522
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's a ridiculous law, and it certainly isn't the case in most places as far as I am aware.

Unless the car is moving at the time, of course.
Did a quick google and found this for the UK

Quote:
Motorists who are sleeping, or sitting in their vehicle have found themselves facing serious charges despite the fact that they have not actually driven or attempted to drive a vehicle.
https://www.ibblaw.co.uk/service/roa...-motor-vehicle

or in Victoria http://www.drinkdrivinglaws.com.au/v...-in-charge.php
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Old 13th April 2018, 10:59 PM   #523
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It seems in many places there's some leeway in what cops do, and what they perceive, but if you think about it, it's not such a stupid law every time. As mentioned above, if you're passed out halfway home, it's a cinch you were too drunk to drive at all, and if wake up just barely sober enough to drive, you're dangerous even if you're sleeping at the moment. I've read that it's often handled differently depending on what seat you're sleeping in, and where you've put the keys.
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Old 13th April 2018, 11:08 PM   #524
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Another similar. In a town.

Sudden oncoming car in your lane. Lots of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Your car has to choose between the head-on collision (crushing your body) or plowing into people while you remain unhurt. Which will it choose?
if its very good it will take the third option and steer to where the other car was. so you go left not right into the sidewalk.
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Old 13th April 2018, 11:17 PM   #525
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
It seems in many places there's some leeway in what cops do, and what they perceive, but if you think about it, it's not such a stupid law every time. As mentioned above, if you're passed out halfway home, it's a cinch you were too drunk to drive at all, and if wake up just barely sober enough to drive, you're dangerous even if you're sleeping at the moment. I've read that it's often handled differently depending on what seat you're sleeping in, and where you've put the keys.
How would they handle keyless start system?
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Old 14th April 2018, 06:21 AM   #526
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
How would they handle keyless start system?
I have no idea, and don't intend to find out.
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Old 14th April 2018, 06:30 AM   #527
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Originally Posted by fritznien View Post
if its very good it will take the third option and steer to where the other car was. so you go left not right into the sidewalk.
No, because that third option is another head-on collision. Your car would be causing it because it veers into the oncoming lane where there is another car coming. It's a genuine dilemma because your automatic car has to make an instant decision between...

Head-on collision with a vehicle.
Head-on collision with a different vehicle.
Hitting pedestrians.

A human driver would face the same choices in the same situation. But the computer car has to be pre-programmed on how to make that decision.
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Old 14th April 2018, 06:50 AM   #528
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
No, because that third option is another head-on collision. Your car would be causing it because it veers into the oncoming lane where there is another car coming. It's a genuine dilemma because your automatic car has to make an instant decision between...

Head-on collision with a vehicle.
Head-on collision with a different vehicle.
Hitting pedestrians.

A human driver would face the same choices in the same situation. But the computer car has to be pre-programmed on how to make that decision.
Actually there is "third option" aka modified answer first answer. Change trajectory of car in such way that it redirects most of energy safely away from passengers. Worst case partially destroyed three cars but no significant injuries without pedestrians being harmed.

Note: I have seen such situations dominantly outside of towns. (Fortunately not as participant)

ETA: For town scenario generally doesn't make that much sense, because speeds are much lower and not as many opportunities.
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Old 14th April 2018, 07:30 AM   #529
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I'll become interested in self driving cars when they cross a specific threshold: when I can go out for a few beers and then tell the car to drive me home.

The dilemma is that doesn't just require the technology to work. It needs the law to agree that I'm not "drunk in charge" of the car, and that probably conflicts with any capability for the human driver to take over from the automation. As the law stands here now, you can be held drunk in charge if you get in the back of your car to sleep off a few drinks.
The entire concept of being ready to take over the controls is unworkable nonsense, drunk or not. It's do-able for testing technicians because it's their job, they're being paid to do it and and they've been trained, but to imagine that members of the public, families on a day out, a car full of guys or girls off to the pub, someone after a 12 hour night-shift, are going to sit there intently observing their progress and surroundings, ready to take control within a fraction of a second is so ridiculous it's difficult to conceive of anybody taking it seriously. Notwithstanding that even if it were possible, it would make for a more stressful experience than driving the damn car yourself.
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Old 14th April 2018, 07:34 AM   #530
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
The entire concept of being ready to take over the controls is unworkable nonsense, drunk or not. It'sObviously not always do-able for testing technicians because it's their job, they're being paid to do it and and they've been trained, but to imagine that members of the public, families on a day out, a car full of guys or girls off to the pub, someone after a 12 hour night-shift, are going to sit there intently observing their progress and surroundings, ready to take control within a fraction of a second is so ridiculous it's difficult to conceive of anybody taking it seriously. Notwithstanding that even if it were possible, it would make for a more stressful experience than driving the damn car yourself.
Minor correction given the subject of the thread
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Old 14th April 2018, 07:42 AM   #531
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Minor correction given the subject of the thread
To be honest I think even that is generous. Almost all testing has been done whilst bumbling along on wide, dry, well-marked roads in clear weather. I doubt very much that it's physically possible for a human being to safely take over control of a car in a life-threatening situation. It's different when you're driving because you're constantly engaged, but to go from passive observer to having full control of a dynamic crisis situation in a fraction of a second is, I would suggest, impossible. Maybe a person could slam on the brake or yank the wheel, but if such actions are necessary then that obviously means that technology itself is sadly lacking (which of course it is).

Of course, we haven't even got into the question of how the human knows the car is unable to tackle the situation itself, and the delay this engenders, but there's really no need, it's a just another moot impossibility.
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Old 14th April 2018, 07:56 AM   #532
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
To be honest I think even that is generous. Almost all testing has been done whilst bumbling along on wide, dry, well-marked roads in clear weather. I doubt very much that it's physically possible for a human being to safely take over control of a car in a life-threatening situation. It's different when you're driving because you're constantly engaged, but to go from passive observer to having full control of a dynamic crisis situation in a fraction of a second is, I would suggest, impossible. Maybe a person could slam on the brake or yank the wheel, but if such actions are necessary then that obviously means that technology itself is sadly lacking (which of course it is).

Of course, we haven't even got into the question of how the human knows the car is unable to tackle the situation itself, and the delay this engenders, but there's really no need, it's a just another moot impossibility.
No argument from me.

Imagine if you have to intervene every 250-miles on average (or even every 5,000 miles, which is apparently the most reliable SDC at the moment). You will have had hours of being a passenger doing nothing - keeping ready for a split-second intervention is not what humans are good at.
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Old 14th April 2018, 08:02 AM   #533
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
No argument from me.

Imagine if you have to intervene every 250-miles on average (or even every 5,000 miles, which is apparently the most reliable SDC at the moment). You will have had hours of being a passenger doing nothing - keeping ready for a split-second intervention is not what humans are good at.
You'd be a nervous wreck by the time you arrived. (Or an actual wreck if you didn't).
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Old 14th April 2018, 08:39 AM   #534
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I agree with the above. I think it's unrealistic to expect a person who is essentially non-participating to take over at a moment's notice. In order to to this one would have to be, essentially, already driving, or going through the motions. One of the faults of current thinking on this is, I think, the problem in the thread starting accident here, in which the assumption was made that the driver would be realistically able to assume control.

I can see a half-way scenario in which, for example, certain situations (0bviously not the worst cases here) a robocar might refuse to go on until control is assumed, or where automatic control in certain areas is handed back, and the car pulls over and stops unless some specific action is taken to assure it that the driver is back on the job.

I think we're a long way yet from full autonomy, but I can conceive of a partial autonomy where certain areas are so well engineered that a robocar can operate safely and efficiently within them. Freeways and urban ring roads that are difficult and congested, and where the chaotic merging of lanes can slow things down, for example. In this imagined scenario you'd come to a certain point, and an alarm would go off, at which point you would hand control over to the car. As the end of that stretch approaches, another alarm would go off, alerting the driver to the fact that if he does not resume control the car will pull over and stop until he does.
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Old 14th April 2018, 02:46 PM   #535
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
I agree with the above. I think it's unrealistic to expect a person who is essentially non-participating to take over at a moment's notice. In order to to this one would have to be, essentially, already driving, or going through the motions. One of the faults of current thinking on this is, I think, the problem in the thread starting accident here, in which the assumption was made that the driver would be realistically able to assume control.

I can see a half-way scenario in which, for example, certain situations (0bviously not the worst cases here) a robocar might refuse to go on until control is assumed, or where automatic control in certain areas is handed back, and the car pulls over and stops unless some specific action is taken to assure it that the driver is back on the job.

I think we're a long way yet from full autonomy, but I can conceive of a partial autonomy where certain areas are so well engineered that a robocar can operate safely and efficiently within them. Freeways and urban ring roads that are difficult and congested, and where the chaotic merging of lanes can slow things down, for example. In this imagined scenario you'd come to a certain point, and an alarm would go off, at which point you would hand control over to the car. As the end of that stretch approaches, another alarm would go off, alerting the driver to the fact that if he does not resume control the car will pull over and stop until he does.
Doesn't sound like a sales pitch to bring in billions of investors money.
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Old 14th April 2018, 02:53 PM   #536
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
I agree with the above. I think it's unrealistic to expect a person who is essentially non-participating to take over at a moment's notice. In order to to this one would have to be, essentially, already driving, or going through the motions. One of the faults of current thinking on this is, I think, the problem in the thread starting accident here, in which the assumption was made that the driver would be realistically able to assume control.

I can see a half-way scenario in which, for example, certain situations (0bviously not the worst cases here) a robocar might refuse to go on until control is assumed, or where automatic control in certain areas is handed back, and the car pulls over and stops unless some specific action is taken to assure it that the driver is back on the job.

I think we're a long way yet from full autonomy, but I can conceive of a partial autonomy where certain areas are so well engineered that a robocar can operate safely and efficiently within them. Freeways and urban ring roads that are difficult and congested, and where the chaotic merging of lanes can slow things down, for example. In this imagined scenario you'd come to a certain point, and an alarm would go off, at which point you would hand control over to the car. As the end of that stretch approaches, another alarm would go off, alerting the driver to the fact that if he does not resume control the car will pull over and stop until he does.
If you trust them, then congested motorway driving could be a reasonable benefit. If the cars all talk to each other, they could travel closer together, avoiding the human thinking distance and the two-second rule at lower speeds and 3-seconds at higher speeds in good conditions.

I would *not* like to be a passenger in one of those though - it would feel dangerously wrong.

The automatic warning can work well - as in this video

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Old 14th April 2018, 03:06 PM   #537
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
If you trust them, then congested motorway driving could be a reasonable benefit. If the cars all talk to each other, they could travel closer together, avoiding the human thinking distance and the two-second rule at lower speeds and 3-seconds at higher speeds in good conditions.

I would *not* like to be a passenger in one of those though - it would feel dangerously wrong.

The automatic warning can work well - as in this video

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One of the touted use cases is for convoys of lorries to increase fuel efficiency by driving inches apart. It sounds great, unless something goes wrong. Also very intimidating for any human drivers to deal with.
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Old 14th April 2018, 03:15 PM   #538
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
One of the touted use cases is for convoys of lorries to increase fuel efficiency by driving inches apart. It sounds great, unless something goes wrong. Also very intimidating for any human drivers to deal with.
Indeed. Very intimidating, to say nothing of the massive pileup it would cause.

I am thinking it would make a good terrorist target - remotely hacking such a convoy's system and potentially causing a several hundred vehicle pileup - for added terrorist benefit, with some of the later passengers being able to know what's going to happen and send heartrending last messages to their loved ones.
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Old 14th April 2018, 05:22 PM   #539
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
No, because that third option is another head-on collision. Your car would be causing it because it veers into the oncoming lane where there is another car coming. It's a genuine dilemma because your automatic car has to make an instant decision between...

Head-on collision with a vehicle.
Head-on collision with a different vehicle.
Hitting pedestrians.

A human driver would face the same choices in the same situation. But the computer car has to be pre-programmed on how to make that decision.
I think that if a self-driving car got into that situation in the first place, it would be a major failure of its risk avoidance mechanisms.
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Old 14th April 2018, 11:52 PM   #540
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Another similar. In a town.

Sudden oncoming car in your lane. Lots of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Your car has to choose between the head-on collision (crushing your body) or plowing into people while you remain unhurt. Which will it choose?
Quite seriously, which have you chosen in the past?
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Old 14th April 2018, 11:53 PM   #541
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
How would they handle keyless start system?
Why would that make a difference, the law doesn't take about keys it talks about being in control of the vehicle.
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Old 15th April 2018, 12:08 AM   #542
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Quite seriously, which have chosen in the past?
One decides in the moment, and different people decide differently. Some day Uber will have to decide the answer to the trolleybus problem in advance, or more likely deliberately decide not to decide.

I wonder if in a lawsuit, having explicitly answered the trolleybus problem years in advance of the accident with the assistance of an army of lawyers wouldn't make a difference to the case compared to somebody who had a fraction of a second to answer it.

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Old 15th April 2018, 01:16 AM   #543
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
One of the touted use cases is for convoys of lorries to increase fuel efficiency by driving inches apart. It sounds great, unless something goes wrong. Also very intimidating for any human drivers to deal with.
I wonder what would happen if the first lorry slams on the brakes for some emergency, but the second truck's brakes are not quite as good as the first. If the second truck does not agree to ease off then there would be an accident. Or maybe some force field is exerted so that the two trucks become one truck.

Come to think of it the second idea might not be a bad idea. Have the two trucks ALWAYS touching each other. But there would be springs between the two trucks so that when they brake they brake as one truck. There might be an issue about going around corners, but I am sure that is not a show stopper.
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Old 15th April 2018, 07:00 AM   #544
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I wonder what would happen if the first lorry slams on the brakes for some emergency, but the second truck's brakes are not quite as good as the first. If the second truck does not agree to ease off then there would be an accident. Or maybe some force field is exerted so that the two trucks become one truck.

Come to think of it the second idea might not be a bad idea. Have the two trucks ALWAYS touching each other. But there would be springs between the two trucks so that when they brake they brake as one truck. There might be an issue about going around corners, but I am sure that is not a show stopper.

Congratulations. You've just invented trailers and electric brakes.

I have a control unit mounted under the dash of my pick-up for trailers equipped with electric brakes (pretty standard for heavy trailers). When connected the trailer brakes engage with my truck's brakes.

Autonomous trucks in convoy could easily do something similar with the right communications between the units. In fact, I think Volvo Truck and others are already doing stuff very much like this, and have tested out in the wild, on real roads in real life conditions.

(Although the separation between units is probably measured in more than inches.)
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Old 15th April 2018, 09:03 AM   #545
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Congratulations. You've just invented trailers and electric brakes.

I have a control unit mounted under the dash of my pick-up for trailers equipped with electric brakes (pretty standard for heavy trailers). When connected the trailer brakes engage with my truck's brakes.

Autonomous trucks in convoy could easily do something similar with the right communications between the units. In fact, I think Volvo Truck and others are already doing stuff very much like this, and have tested out in the wild, on real roads in real life conditions.

(Although the separation between units is probably measured in more than inches.)
Pretty much high tech road trains.
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Old 15th April 2018, 09:40 AM   #546
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Pretty much high tech road trains.
I hope these 'trains' show a little courtesy when traffic is filtering onto the motorway, and consider splitting to allow other vehicles in. A 100m train of trucks could be a huge nuisance if they're committed to staying together.
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Old 15th April 2018, 09:49 AM   #547
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I hope these 'trains' show a little courtesy when traffic is filtering onto the motorway, and consider splitting to allow other vehicles in. A 100m train of trucks could be a huge nuisance if they're committed to staying together.
I'm sure they will, however, their stopping distance is very much longer than a car. So in an accident they seem to function as a type of pressure hammer.
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Old 15th April 2018, 11:25 AM   #548
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I hope these 'trains' show a little courtesy when traffic is filtering onto the motorway, and consider splitting to allow other vehicles in. A 100m train of trucks could be a huge nuisance if they're committed to staying together.

As is a mile long train of coal cars, if you've ever had to sit at a railroad crossing, waiting for it to go by.

There's always some inconveniences somewhere.
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Old 15th April 2018, 12:45 PM   #549
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
As is a mile long train of coal cars, if you've ever had to sit at a railroad crossing, waiting for it to go by.

There's always some inconveniences somewhere.
World of difference. It's normal to stop at such a crossing and starting up again is no inconvenience nor danger to anybody. All the road traffic is at a stop.

If you have to stop on the motorway slip road ('ramp' in the US?) then you're moving from zero to maybe 50/60 mph - in order to merge with moving traffic - without the room to get up to that speed.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:24 PM   #550
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I hope these 'trains' show a little courtesy when traffic is filtering onto the motorway, and consider splitting to allow other vehicles in. A 100m train of trucks could be a huge nuisance if they're committed to staying together.
A road train isn't going to be where a lot of traffic is. We get B-doubles on town and city roads all the time, but the true road trains are for long haulage in the outback where the nearest moving vehicle is likely to be literally hundreds of kilometres away.


For those not familiar: A B-double consists of two full-sized trailers, a road train is three or more.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:27 PM   #551
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
One decides in the moment, and different people decide differently.
So, the last time it happened to you, what did you do?

It's a serious question. Autonomous vehicles will have to make these decisions less often than human drivers because of added safety features. How often do human drivers have to make this decision?

I think the importance of the trolley problem to autonomous vehicles is way overblown. I expect it might happen some day, but the argument is made assuming that it is going to happen a lot more frequently than it does.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:31 PM   #552
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A road train isn't going to be where a lot of traffic is. We get B-doubles on town and city roads all the time, but the true road trains are for long haulage in the outback where the nearest moving vehicle is likely to be literally hundreds of kilometres away.


For those not familiar: A B-double consists of two full-sized trailers, a road train is three or more.
True. However, one of the claimed advantages of self drive is the vehicles get to travel close enough together to reduce drag. The sales pitches I've seen have been lorries on the motorway doing this. If this can only be done on the Thunder Road, then its being over sold.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:35 PM   #553
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A road train isn't going to be where a lot of traffic is. We get B-doubles on town and city roads all the time, but the true road trains are for long haulage in the outback where the nearest moving vehicle is likely to be literally hundreds of kilometres away.

For those not familiar: A B-double consists of two full-sized trailers, a road train is three or more.
Well, OK, but we're not just talking about the 'outback' here. The AV 'road trains' under discussion have already been trialed on European roads, on a small scale, and their interaction with normal, busy traffic situations is a major consideration.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:42 PM   #554
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Well, OK, but we're not just talking about the 'outback' here. The AV 'road trains' under discussion have already been trialed on European roads, on a small scale, and their interaction with normal, busy traffic situations is a major consideration.
Right, but they consist of several vehicles travelling in phalanx, not one hauler towing multiple trailers. Multiple vehicles are capable of moving independently, even if they are programmed to travel in groups. A phalanx can split apart to allow traffic to merge, reforming the phalanx later, either with the same vehicles or with different vehicles as circumstances allow.
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Old 15th April 2018, 01:57 PM   #555
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Right, but they consist of several vehicles travelling in phalanx, not one hauler towing multiple trailers. Multiple vehicles are capable of moving independently, even if they are programmed to travel in groups. A phalanx can split apart to allow traffic to merge, reforming the phalanx later, either with the same vehicles or with different vehicles as circumstances allow.
But in order to do this either they must have a very smart program that senses many things that may not be readily perceptible to a machine, or the vehicles doing the merging must also be under mechanical control and talking to them. If the trucks are autonomous but the cars merging are not, not only will they have to part to allow the cars in, but the drivers of the cars will have to have complete confidence that they will. One accelerates in the on ramp so as to merge with fast moving traffic, and normally when doing so one perceives the opening and heads for it. A long row of trucks must act together from one end to the other, and that takes time. At what point do they sense the approaching car and start the process? How far down the on-ramp do they look and judge? If a solid wall of trucks were approaching, would you continue to accelerate in the ramp hoping they would part, knowing that if they don't you'll crash at the end of the ramp?
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Old 16th April 2018, 12:32 AM   #556
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It will be fine. Even quite a large car is unlikely to do much damage to the road train.
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Old 16th April 2018, 04:07 AM   #557
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
A long row of trucks must act together from one end to the other, and that takes time.
No they don't. Not even remotely. A phalanx of ten trucks can split into two phalanxes of five trucks each in almost zero time, and those two phalanxes can then operate independently, split again, re-form or whatever.

Remember, this is "driven" by each individual truck communicating with the other trucks near it. There doesn't need to be any top-down control over the phalanx as a whole, and there is no reason why individual trucks can't add themselves to or remove themselves from any given phalanx at any time. Phalanxing is simply vehicles detecting and moving in a coordinated way with other nearby vehicles.

In the scenario you describe, a phalanx could automatically spread out, leaving gaps between individual trucks for other vehicles to merge into, closing any unnecessary gaps after the ramp has been passed. This could be done with minor coordinated adjustments to the vehicles' speeds, and it could be done purely on GPS data. The trucks know there's an onramp coming up, so they start making room, or change lanes, or whatever they need to do according to the specific circumstances. And programming a zipper merge function into autonomous vehicle software is an absolute no-brainer.

The problems you describe are by no means insurmountable. Vehicle phalanxing has been tested already. It's not ready for prime time yet, but neither are individual autonomous vehicles. But they're working on it.
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Old 16th April 2018, 04:40 AM   #558
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No they don't. Not even remotely. A phalanx of ten trucks can split into two phalanxes of five trucks each in almost zero time, and those two phalanxes can then operate independently, split again, re-form or whatever.

Remember, this is "driven" by each individual truck communicating with the other trucks near it. There doesn't need to be any top-down control over the phalanx as a whole, and there is no reason why individual trucks can't add themselves to or remove themselves from any given phalanx at any time. Phalanxing is simply vehicles detecting and moving in a coordinated way with other nearby vehicles.

In the scenario you describe, a phalanx could automatically spread out, leaving gaps between individual trucks for other vehicles to merge into, closing any unnecessary gaps after the ramp has been passed. This could be done with minor coordinated adjustments to the vehicles' speeds, and it could be done purely on GPS data. The trucks know there's an onramp coming up, so they start making room, or change lanes, or whatever they need to do according to the specific circumstances. And programming a zipper merge function into autonomous vehicle software is an absolute no-brainer.

The problems you describe are by no means insurmountable. Vehicle phalanxing has been tested already. It's not ready for prime time yet, but neither are individual autonomous vehicles. But they're working on it.
One would have to do the maths of course, but I wonder whether there would be any point in doing this, given the fuel cost of slowing down and catching up again. On UK motorways this would be happening every few minutes. Maybe the need to do this would be an upper bound on the length.
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Old 16th April 2018, 04:41 AM   #559
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
One would have to do the maths of course, but I wonder whether there would be any point in doing this, given the fuel cost of slowing down and catching up again. On UK motorways this would be happening every few minutes. Maybe the need to do this would be an upper bound on the length.
The first video from Russia of a crash involving one of these things is going to be spectacular.
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Old 16th April 2018, 06:47 AM   #560
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No they don't. Not even remotely. A phalanx of ten trucks can split into two phalanxes of five trucks each in almost zero time, and those two phalanxes can then operate independently, split again, re-form or whatever.

Remember, this is "driven" by each individual truck communicating with the other trucks near it. There doesn't need to be any top-down control over the phalanx as a whole, and there is no reason why individual trucks can't add themselves to or remove themselves from any given phalanx at any time. Phalanxing is simply vehicles detecting and moving in a coordinated way with other nearby vehicles.

In the scenario you describe, a phalanx could automatically spread out, leaving gaps between individual trucks for other vehicles to merge into, closing any unnecessary gaps after the ramp has been passed. This could be done with minor coordinated adjustments to the vehicles' speeds, and it could be done purely on GPS data. The trucks know there's an onramp coming up, so they start making room, or change lanes, or whatever they need to do according to the specific circumstances. And programming a zipper merge function into autonomous vehicle software is an absolute no-brainer.

The problems you describe are by no means insurmountable. Vehicle phalanxing has been tested already. It's not ready for prime time yet, but neither are individual autonomous vehicles. But they're working on it.
I should have said that they must act together from the point of opening back. Of course the trucks ahead of the opening need do nothing, but if any one truck slows, all those behind it must slow too, and the closer they are the more critical the job.

And yes, they could automatically coordinate in anticipation of an on ramp, but as shuttit notes, I think this would negate the economy.

I'm not disputing that robotic trucks are possible - just the idea that it would be practical to run them so close together.

I'm guessing that the most economical and safe program would be to spread them out evenly, still running at constant speed when possible, and also at constant distance from each other.
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