Google invests in human laziness with new self-driving car

Google autocar debate

It is already happening: our robot overlords are deciding we can’t be trusted. Or at least that’s the sentiment that seems to have spurred a lot of the development behind Google’s new self-driving car. Apparently testing showed that we puny humans were just too lazy to be trusted; that’s why we don’t get a steering wheel anymore.

Google’s initial tests with converted Lexus SUVs were intended to demonstrate cooperation between driver and machine. The human driver would pilot the vehicle to the freeway or major arterial where the car would take over. But according to the MIT Technological Review, that isn’t what happened in practice.

After a few weeks of paying close attention to their surroundings, Google test drivers grew over confident and simply let the car take over. The simple fact of human laziness presented a problem to Google engineers. As Nathanial Fairfield, one of Google’s lead techs on the project, put it, “People go from plausible suspicion to way overconfidence.”

Google realized a self-driving car couldn’t rely on a human driver to take over when something went wrong. Google’s new self-driving car takes that lesson to heart, by requiring the car to deal with any eventuality. Fairfield explained that “[the self driving car] doesn’t have a fallback to human – it has redundant systems. It has two steering motors, and we have various ways we can bring it to a stop.”

 In fact, in the unveiled test model, Google’s car lacks any form of driver controls.

That will have to change during testing, as the law currently requires cars to have the ability to be driven by a human. However, it shows the direction that Google thinks self-driving is headed.

This may come as something of an unpleasant shock to other car companies. Most luxury car makers’ self-driving programs have still placed human beings at the center of the equation; giving the driver numerous aids but still expecting them to play a part.

Perhaps people buying an expensive German car will always want to be involved, but if Google has shown one thing its: always invest in human laziness.


Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Photography news: Careful, self-driving cars can ruin your camera sensor

In this week's photography news, learn how self-driving cars destroyed a digital camera via lasers. Find out how many patents Canon filed for in 2018. Read about what Tamron lenses are available for the Nikon Z6.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.

This Chevy Silverado pickup truck is made from more than 300,000 Lego bricks

To promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Lego and Chevrolet teamed up on a life-size replica of the automaker's Silverado pickup truck made from more than 300,000 plastic bricks.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Lincoln’s stately, limited-edition flagship sedan sells out in a month

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.

Volkswagen is planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring for a lap-record attempt. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car with the I.D. R.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.