Feeds

100% driverless Wonka-wagon toy cars? Oh Google, you're having a laugh

Self-driving motor utopia still some way off

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Comment Google may have underestimated the difficulty of driving in Europe, and yesterday’s announcement about its driverless cars is evidence that it has.

A photo of the new Google self-driving car

But Mr Insurance man, the Google Noddy Car bumped me!

Mountain View's Chocolate Factory unveiled a very Willy Wonka-esque two-seat driverless car. It looks like a child’s toy. And it showed us how it worked. Along it tootled for a few hundreds yards, in a straight line, encountering no obstacles. The passengers said they were delighted.

In California, where the project was conceived, driving is already semi-automated – you can practically drive with your eyes closed. Everyone (well, almost everyone) obeys the speed limit, and most cars are on cruise control most of the time.

Everyone is also very polite. Lanes merge. Cities conform to grid plans. I enjoyed everything about driving in California because it was, for a European, a piece of piss. But it’s a very different story driving in London – let alone Paris, or Naples. Americans have gun massacres, we have road rage. And do you think Google’s Wonkamobiles will reduce or increase that road rage? One thing’s for sure - it’s going to be fun being a trucker again, giving these little Noddy Cars a "friendly bump".

A trucker notches up another kill. Is a Google Car next? [Source: Not the Nine O'Clock News]

 

Would you trust a driverless car with your KIDS?

There are other obstacles to a car-less utopia that were not really confronted the media yesterday, as it was indulging in another wave of wishful thinking.

There are huge issues of trust to be overcome. I can’t imagine many Mumsnetters packing DS and DD* into one for the school run, particularly in the anarchic traffic and drop-off conditions of an English city. And it’s not just safety. The trust issue also comes up, inescapably, simply because it’s Google.

Just a few years ago, Google’s then CEO said that if you didn’t like what Google did with the information it had about you, you could always change your identity. The message: we’re never wrong – get used to it. Get stuffed.

Now for anyone who has been involved in an auto insurance claim: how do you think that attitude will go down? Imagine your car’s taken a dent because – and I’m sure this could never, ever happen - the Wonka Wagon just rear-ended you. Not very well, I suspect. Maybe you’d like to disappear off the road, sir? Or, the promise to be reported to an "independent" Chilling Effects-style site, where inconveniences to Google are shamed for eternity.

So at this stage, Google’s great "Moonshot" of driverless cars looks like a cool stunt created for Burning Man, one that got a little out of hand. (The project was born from the Pentagon mad-scientist bureau DARPA's Grand Challenge held in the Mojave Desert – which we wrote about a great deal at the time – and one desert looks pretty much like another). What the hell. Google had lots of money. And it also gave Sergey Brin something to do.

Many of the technologies now being researched by the robotics industry – of which Google is a small part – will end up in cars sooner than we think. It’s not going to be a car-less utopia but services that guarantee you a parking spot or provide intelligent routing advice are pretty much already here. Even taxi drivers who have "The Knowledge" are surprised by roadworks and street closures here in London. Nokia surely has a more realistic chance to put "big data" to use with its more modest goal of “connected” cars rather than fully automated people-carrying robots.

Nokia’s Mercedes-Benz research project looks a lot more useful, plausible – and close at hand – than the Wonkamobiles.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.