My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Google 100 strong Fully Autonomous All-Electric Vehicles launched – 25 mph Limit on AI Chauffeur in 2015 with Black Boxes makes Crashes like aeroplanes

Monday, June 23, 2014

Google 100 strong Fully Autonomous All-Electric Vehicles launched – 25 mph Limit on AI Chauffeur in 2015 with Black Boxes makes Crashes like aeroplanes

“Nothing is going to change overnight, but (Google's announcement) is another sign of the drastic shifts in automotive technology, business practices and retailing we're going to witness”

Senior Analyst at Kelley Blue Book's, Karl Brauer, commenting on Google's Launch of their Self-Driving Vehicle on Tuesday May 27th 2014 by Google CEO Sergey Brin  at the Recode Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California

Google has developed the first truly driverless Cars that require no human intervention whatsoever as described in “Google unveils self-driving car, sans steering wheel”, published May 27, 2014 7:43 PM PDT by Steven Musil, CNET News. Interestingly Google has plans to make them common place by 2017, latest 2020.
This coincides with timeline of the EU (European Union) ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) Consortium plans to have aircraft fly themselves using an onboard AI (Artificial Intelligence) completely without the need for Airline Pilots as described in my blog article entitled ASTRAEA Consortium makes first Inaugural flight of an Autonomous Passenger Aircraft in April 2013 - Greek Goddeses Daughter of Zeus are now The Kings of Summer”.

Google CEO Sergey Brin on Tuesday May 27th 2014 launched their scratch-built two-seater US$150,000 prototype during an onstage interview at the Recode Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California. Built with the help of companies that specialize in building and designing custom cars in Detroit, once you get over the fact that it has a striking resemblance to a VW Bug, you're in for another surprise:

1.      100 Km Range on a Single charge
2.      All-Electric Vehicle
3.      Controlled by Voice Commands or your smartphone
4.      Fixed Speed Limit of 25 mph (15 km/h)
5.      Has 2 Seats at the back
6.      No Accelerator
7.      No Brakes
8.      No Steering wheel
9.      Parking brake,
10.  Price-tag of US$150,000 electric
11.  Side and rear-view mirrors
12.  Standard NHTSA-approved glass windshield,

That's right folks!

This is fairly big news in Jamaica as well as it made our local Newspapers as noted in “Google aims to put 100 truly driverless cars on the road next year”, published Sunday, June 01, 2014, The Jamaica Observer as it’s a first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Google’s NHTSA-approved Neighborhood Electric Vehicle – 25 mph Limit for a AI Chauffeur

This Vehicle not only is Autonomous, but there is no means of overriding the Vehicle save for a Red panic Button. This really parks the Vehicle, instead of popping out those missing accessories and giving you control of the Vehicle once more.

Then again, at 25 mph (15 km/h) as its fixed speed, not much can happen to you on the road with this slowpoke of an All-Electric Vehicle. Thanks to its speed, it’s classified by the NHTSA (U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) as a Low-
Speed Vehicle.  

Its efficient AI driving and smaller size, makes it very nimble and a lot more efficient at negotiating the busy roadways as explained in “Even limited to 25 mps, Google's Car will arrrive faster than you think”, published May 29, 2014 4:00 AM PDT by Seth Rosenblatt, CNET News.

More specifically, it’s a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, as Google’s clearly intent on changing our driving habits from individual Vehicle ownership to a more communal Taxi-like affair, to quote Co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, Susan Shaheen: “The speed restriction [of 25 mph] falls into this classification of the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. These are cars that are uniquely different from a standard vehicle, and may be considered as an alternative to vehicle ownership”.

This is a drastic departure from other companies such as Volvo and their SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) Project who are pursing the goal of driver-less Vehicles as explained in my blog article entitled Volvo Testing Autonomous Motor Vehicles in Spain in Live Traffic - EU Project SARTRE adds self-driving AI with smartphone Control” but with the regular Vehicle controls intact.

You are, in effect, under the complete control of this Chauffeur-driven All-Electric Vehicle that makes decisions as it relates to driving you in safety and negotiating the dangers of the road while snugly seated in back. Only this time the Chauffeur is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Program, the thought of which already has me worried as noted in my blog article entitled Google and AI - I Robot”.  

Still, I must give props to Google for pushing the development of Self-Driving Cars to its zenith, as these VW Bug shaped Vehicles literally drive themselves, guided only by Google Maps, GPS and a battery of sensors including Lidar (Light Radar), Proximity Sensors and Cameras.

The fully autonomous All-Electric Vehicle literally drives on a combination of Lidar-Based maps overlayed with Google Maps with additional real-time inputs from its array of sensors. Bristling with that much technology means that there really is no need to have a driver, as the vehicle can basically drive itself.

Fully Autonomous Vehicles by 2015 – Black Boxes makes Crashes straightforward as Aeroplane Crashs

For those of you who are patient enough to troll through my sometimes-super-long-and-difficult-to-read thought articles, you may have realized that I’m not really a big fan of Autonomous Vehicles. This as they’re basically a computer on wheels that makes them a great target for hackers as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “Intel’s McAfee researches Virus attacks on All-Electric Vehicles as AI’s Project SARTRE hits the road”.

In a case where the Vehicle is a Taxi, I suspect it may be the company that owns the Vehicles, as they're reputation is on the line and they'd be culpable based on evidence from the Black Box. If it's owned by the Driver, then the purchaser of the Vehicle is culpable once it can be established by a third party investigator checking the Vehicle's Black Box that there was no malfunction in the Electronics or any attempt by the passenger to circumvent the controls of the Vehicle from the AI.

Note here “Malfunction” may possible be anything from the AI following incorrect map directions from Google Maps, failure of one or more of the sensors on the Vehicle. The worst case scenario is where the Vehicle's on-board computer was hacked in a manner similar to the Refrigerator hack as described in my blog article entitledProofpoint says Refridgerator hacked and used to send Spam email - Internet of Things Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines for hacker's DDOS and Spambots” and possibly was remotely controlled by a third party.

At that point, Police investigators would step in and based on information from the Vehicle's Black Box would seek to determine who the hackers are and thus charge them for vehicular homicide, as it's clearly an attempt to kill the occupants of the Vehicle.

The beauty of this scenario is that with Self-Driving Vehicles, the investigation becomes a lot like using a smartphone on a victim to solve a crime. On this time, the devices from which you extract information is NOT a smartphone but the Vehicle’s Black Box, order to determine culpability, something that's never been a standard feature in Motor Vehicles.

Combined with the fact that the NHTSA will make it standard by Tuesday May 1st 2018 that all Vehicles will have to have a Rear-View Camera to assist drivers with reversing as declared in my blog article entitledNHTSA passes ruling for Car Manufacturers to install Rear-View Cameras by Tuesday May 1st 2018 - Self-Driving Cars First Steps as Jamaica falls behind in Vehicle Regulations”, Self-Driving Vehicles may be coming a lot sooner than Google expects.

Google 100 strong Fleet of Vehicles that Drive themselves – Self-Driving Cars by 2015

But you still have to admire the engineering of this Vehicle at its most basic level. It’s an All-Electric Vehicle, a fact that scores several brownie points with my environmentally-conscious thinking. I especially like the fact that its Voice Command controlled with the option to use your Google Android smartphone or Tablet with an App to request this Vehicle to come and pick you up.

I thus see this Self-Driving All-Electric being used as a replacement for Taxis in California first by the Summer 2015 during their Test pilot which will involve 100 Vehicles being deployed in a Beta Test Project. This is in a manner similar to the Google Glass product, which will also be launched in 2015 as explained in my blog article entitledGoogle Glass launched early as a Product - Google pre-empting Samsung Galaxy Glass and Facebook's Oculus Rift replacing the smartphone in 2015 the Year of the Sheep”.

Hopefully by then California's DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) would have made it known to Californian drivers who is liable in an accident involving a Self-Driving All-Electric Vehicle base on the Vehicle’s Black Box. This makes things a lot easier for California's DMV, as a Black Box makes things clear cut and straightforward, just like an aeroplane crash.

Currently testing is being done this Summer of 2014 in California, but with versions of Google’s All-Electric Vehicle sporting a steering wheel, brake and gas pedal in compliance with Californian law. Eventually by the Summer of 2015, when the 100 strong prototypes roll out, many Americans will want to be chauffeur driven about by this cute looking AI!

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