The real problem with driverless cars: Humans

The real problem with driverless cars: human drivers

Self-driving cars obey traffic laws, confusing human drivers who often don’t


There’s a big problem with driverless cars: human drivers. Google’s fleet of autonomous vehicles has been involved in accidents at twice the normal rate, all of them technically the fault of human drivers.

The self-driving cars that Google and others have been testing on public streets keep getting rear-ended, apparently because they’re too law-abiding and too careful.

The cars, after all, are programmed to obey all traffic laws. When they come to a stop sign, they stop. If a bicyclist is taking up part of a lane, they don’t swerve across the double line to go around, they slow down or stop. If a pedestrian looks like he might be about to cross the street, the car stops.

All of this may help explain why none of the cars have been involved in an accident involving injuries or fatalities. But it is presenting programmers with the need to develop algorithims that are a little more flexible than the ones that Google uses to look up the date of the Norman Invasion or other clear-cut factlets.

Licensed human

That’s partly behind the reasoning the California DMV is using to map out new regulations for driverless cars. Basically, it wants them equipped with a licensed human who can take charge when the software runs out of options or makes a choice that is logical but may not be ideal.

Google has decried the DMV’s proposal as a wrong turn for the autonomous vehicle movement, but the DMV says its first responsibility is to the public, and it’s not yet ready to abandoned human ingenuity for rote software.

Google says it’s working to make its cars react more like humans, making them a bit more aggressive without being reckless.

As for California’s proposed regulations, top federal regulators say they’re concerned at the possibility that different states will develop a “patchwork” of laws that would hinder a nationwide rollout of self-driving cars.

“Nimble, flexible …”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) doesn’t yet have a position on California’s proposal that every car come equipped with a human driver, said Mark Rosekind, the agency’s administrator.

He said his agency favors a “nimble, flexible” approach to writing rules for driverless cars. States, of course, have long set their own rules about licensing and registering cars and drivers, so it is going to require some flexibility and nimble footwork by Rosekind’s agency if it intends to impose a single standard nationwide.

Meanwhile, consumers are coming up with their own proposals. An Automotive News reader, Jerry Segers, had a simple suggestion for the problem of self-driving cars being rear-ended:

“Perhaps all that is needed is a sign on the rear and [sic] of the car that reads ‘Driverless Car’ much like there are ‘Student Driver’ signs on driver training cars. This would put the public on notice that this car will obey the law much like a student driver. This would increase the caution of other drivers until the time when most cars are driverless,” Segers wrote.


Dipshidiot of the day: Former “Opie and Anthony” shock jock arrested for assault


Anthony Cumia, half of the former radio shock-jock team “Opie and Anthony,” was arrested Saturday on Long Island, police confirm.

Sources told CBS New York that Cumia, 54, faces various charges, including strangulation, assault and unlawful imprisonment after he was arrested around 11 a.m. in Roslyn Heights. The alleged victim is a 26-year-old woman, sources said. It’s unclear what the relationship is between Cumia and the woman.

A police spokeswoman told Newsday that Cumia “got into an argument with an individual that stemmed into this physical violence. That’s as far as we’re going to discuss this at this time.”

Cumia’s lawyer, Alan Schwartz, said the radio host entered a not-guilty plea Sunday morning and was released without bail. He is due back in court next month.

“Mr. Cumia emphatically denies the allegations brought against him, and is optimistic that when the truth comes out, he will be exonerated,” Schwartz said. “Simply put, things are not always what they appear to be, and this case is a perfect example of that.”

Cumia, an Elwood native, was fired by Sirius XM last year after the company said he made “racially-charged and hate-filled remarks on social media.” Cumia posted a series of tweets claiming he was punched by a woman while he was taking a photograph. Cumia complained it was “open season on white people in this day and age.”

He now hosts the online show “The Anthony Cumia Show.”

Follow up on A dipshit of the day: A Man who drove a $1M Bugatti into a lake is going to jail

  Previously reported with video on Dawgs Blog last Nov. click here

A Texas man who may or may not have purchased a $1 million car for the express purpose of driving it into a lagoon was sentenced to more than a year in prison Tuesday, KTRE reports. According to the Houston Chronicle, Andy House — who owns a salvage yard for exotic cars — bought the 2006 Bugatti Veyron in October 2009. The following month, he drove it into the Gulf Bay lagoon. After crashing his expensive ride, House left the engine running, which totaled the car by sucking a bunch of salt water into the engine, KTRE reports. According to Jalopnik, House originally said he was distracted by a “low-flying pelican” before later claiming he was reaching for his cellphone when he crashed.

KTRE reports House had insured the Bugatti for $2.2 million prior to sinking it in the lagoon, and received an insurance settlement of $600,000. (Now we’re no insurance experts, but this seems like a bad deal for House.) Unfortunately for House, the crash was filmed and put on YouTube by someone who was just attempting to admire his fancy car. Evidence later showed in court proved he purposefully drove the Bugatti into Gulf Bay, according to Jalopnik. And the Chronicle reports House pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. According to Jalopnik, House “got off surprisingly easy,” as he had faced up to 20 years in prison for the crime. However, he’s got to pay back that settlement. (After the crash, a two-truck driver was surprised at how “calm” House was.)