• Google Cars’ 1 million miles with 0 accidents upsets media

    Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.

    Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving project

    According to Urmson, in the last six years Google’s self driving cars have driven themselves at least a million miles. There have been twelve accidents, but some occurred when a human was driving (humans drove the cars an additional 700,000 miles). All were minor incidents with no injuries and most of these were other drivers hitting or rear-ending the Google car. This sounds like great news that we should be excited to hear. Zero accidents, injuries, or damage has been caused by er, auto-autos over the course of a million miles and a half dozen years. Beats my record.

    Come with me if you want to leave. Maybe go for pizza.
    Come with me if you want to leave. Maybe go for pizza.

    But much of the media focuses on or attempts to fabricate fear, uncertainty and doubt. One might cynically believe the media simply lives and breathes fear because that is how you get paid in the news business, but I think there is more going on here. Watching how hard and how fast they bend over backward, how they squint at the facts in seeming desperation to find some way to be afraid of the future leads me to suspect the cultural shift to a world with machine drivers is scary because it is different, and because Americans fear change just slightly more than giant spiders that drool Ebola.

    A quick review.

    Self-driving cars can’t avoid accidents on California Roads, Associated Press

    Google Blames Humans for Accidents Involving Its Self-Driving Cars, Time

    Google’s self-driving cars have been getting in accidents in California, Business Insider

    Google’s driverless cars have been involved in three car accidents, qz.com

    Google’s self-driving cars are getting into accidents, MarketWatch

    No one knows if such an accident-free future is even possible, or whether autonomous vehicles will prove as flexible and responsive as humans in the most dangerous and unpredictable scenarios. Either way, hiding minor accident reports from the public suggests a rocky road ahead for self-driving cars.

    Google’s self-driving cars involved in 11 accidents, director says, Reuters

    Just to be fair, there are positive headlines, too:

    Every Google self-driving car accident was caused by human error, Techradar

    Also many of these do mention the fact that the cars did not cause the accidents and that the accident rate comparison between man and machine is skewed because every incident is reported in the test program, but people often do not report minor accidents. Still, the perspective is one of suspicion and implication of danger with weasel words like “involved in”. It has needlessly put Google on the defensive. Some outlets then report it as if Google is on trial and not to be trusted with “Google blames humans…” sort of headlines.

    This is terrible journalism designed to upset you. Google’s program and the data we have are cause for great optimism, and at this point, only optimism! I make no claims this can not change, but right now, we’re golden. Here’s why.

    1. The machine driver caused zero accidents. I know I said this already. It bears repeating. None. No times.

    2. The “high” accident rate is new evidence about how bad humans drive. The Google cars are required to report absolutely every incident, no matter how trivial, how minor or absent the damage. People do not. The higher rate is probably a truer estimate of how much more often people cause minor accidents versus common estimates. This means machine drivers could be even better for safety and money-saving than we presently estimate.

    3. No major accidents at all. The speeds were 10 mph or less in almost all cases. Again, zero injuries. Fantastic.

    4. This is how airplanes have worked for years. Many can land without human assistance, and have been able to for a long time. Granted, there are fewer jets in the air than cars on the ground, but even if you controlled for congestion, there is no question that air travel and transport are almost unbelievably safe at 3 deaths per 10 billion passenger miles. Safety stats have improved as machine-assisted technologies have become more and more integrated. In 2009 there were 4.1 accidents per one million departures world-wide. In 2013, just 2.8. According to the Internation Civil Aviation Organization, 2014 was the safest year in history (pdf 2014 safety report).

    5. This is beta testing. The machine drivers already have a stellar record, but are at least a couple of years away from commercial release. In that time they will surely get even better. So will their sensors, their “eyes”. Many products and technologies we rely on today started out far inferior to what we are used to. Solar panels used to be laughably inefficient and expensive. Microsoft Windows was universally detested until 3.11 (and by many still, until Win95). The first cars were horrible things; loud, dirty, breakdown-prone, expensive messes.

    Why is it now we’re so averse to giving a new technology time to mature?

    The only story any reputable media source should have reported is how excellent this technology, beta though it is, is performing and how it is highlighting just how badly we need it (when objectively tracked, we’re seeing how often people really cause accidents). It’s absurd for Google to be on the defensive, here. I am no shill for Google. Its failures and mis-steps are numerous and strikingly awful (Buzz, Wave, Glass, and arguably G+ to name a few). But they really deserve credit here for a fantastic research and development program that is going to radically change our lives for the better.

     

    Category: Critical ThinkingfeaturedFeatured IncSkeptic Ink News and Reportskepticism

  • Article by: Edward Clint

    Ed Clint is a bioanthropology graduate student at UCLA, cofounder of Skeptic Ink, and USAF veteran.

    10 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • Vandy Beth Glenn

      Why were the cars also driven 700,000 miles by humans? Are those cases where the car gave control to the human occupant in a fit of pique?

      REM FINE, MEATBAG, TAKE THE WHEEL
      REM AND STOP COMPLAINING!
      REM YOU TRY CHANGING LANES ON
      REM THE PCH WITH ALL THIS TRAFFIC!

      • I’m not sure. I would conjecture it’s from “last mile” driving that the machine can’t do, as far as I know. And this goes back 6 years so at earlier stages there were probably types of driving or areas where it wasn’t yet programmed to drive.

      • Well, for one thing the auto-driving isn’t legal in many places. So in order to GET to the next place they can legally test it, someone has to drive.

        • I should say, I was inspired to write about this after the post in your feed and ensuing discussion. Thanks much, Jarrett.

    • I’ve been hearing about driverless cars since elementary school, so it’s cool to see that we are closer to riding in them.

      • I like living in the distant future.

        • Daz

          Bro you just sound creepy as fuck.

          • ClemXII

            And you sound like a fag from reddit.

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    • Laybia Sexbot

      Insurance and auto repair industries are scared sh*tless of a future where they are no longer needed.

      • Marcucciboy2

        I think it would be neat if they had a driver assist type of orogram that could take over on highways/before collisions

        • MrL0g1c

          It’s called collision avoidance and some vehicles already have that.

    • jacob8932

      since self driving cars don’t get into accidents do we still need insurance?cuz I don’t see the point

      • Marcucciboy2

        Well not everyone would switch to driverless cars immediately. Also people get insurance for dangers like floods, earthquakes, etc

      • Pearl

        Yeah, there’s going to have to be some form of insurance payment. I suspect buying a car will require a monthly subscription to keep the vehicle AI going. The reason is because the Auto manufacturer themselves will need insurance. For example, if a software flaw or hack forces millions of cars to drive off the road at the same time, the liability claim would instantly put any company out of business.

    • PenguinBurrito

      There are 2 things that concern me about self-driving cars:
      1. How will the cars react to reckless drivers?
      2. In the case where an accident is unavoidable, and the car must decide if you should hit something that has a high probability to seriously injure or kill you, “the driver”, OR the car can hit some pedestrians or another automobile with a high probability to seriously injure or kill those people, but keep you safe, which will it choose/be programmed to choose?

      I realize #2 is very hypothetical, and unlikely, but it is not impossible. Is the car responsible to protect its owner/”driver” or others? As a human driver with an instinct to keep myself alive, I know which I would choose, and I would not be willing to own a vehicle that would choose otherwise.

      • Rene De Games

        The problem with the second fear is that, the AI behind the cars does not operate in that manner. The AI behind the self driving cars has no idea what has happened before or after the current instant it is processing, it makes no plans, it has no agenda, It will not evaluate the danger of a situation weighed against the danger of another situation, if placed in a dangerous situation it will attempt to stop, and will do its best to avoid collision with all others. It will not prioritize one life over another, because it cannot detect the difference between a life, and a lamp post.

      • I don’t think either is a concern. For example with #1, if these cars become common, then the likelihood of encountering a reckless driver drops to trivial likelihoods. Even in these rare events, the machine will probably slow down and/or evade such drivers, and it will be able to do this far faster than we can, and it can easily do so from a 360 degree view, which we do not.
        #2 is so rare as not to really matter; that is, if I thought the Google car did the worst possible thing in 100% of those instances? It would still be a statistically safer car over any length of time versus a human. Of course that extreme is unlikely to be true. I just wonder why it gets brought up at all. It’s like saying, why have windows on your house? What will you do if someone breaks one to burgle your home? Stop having windows!

        • James Lei

          “#2 is so rare as not to really matter;”
          Winter, slippery roads, or gas explosion on the road, some natural disasters.

          Nvidia Drive PX is still in fancy.

          • DestryDanger

            It’s still just collision detection, the car will try to stop while trying to not hit anything at all without the element of human panic and an influx of adrenaline to confuse it, just cold logical physics calculations. If there is a natural disaster going on the car will likely just stop or start driving towards a safety zone.

      • James Lei

        Visual simultaneous localization and mapping (Visual SLAM) has been researched and could solving all the problems we’re concerning in the near future for robotics, cars, AI, virtual reality HMD, etc. It’s powerful than we thought and I think with Synapse will be possible.

      • DestryDanger

        This isn’t iRobot, it doesn’t know what it’s hitting, it just has collision detection.

    • jojo’s bizzare adventure

      those media outlets are politically fueled by the highest bidder..

    • Hector

      The media are scum. They sit on their high horse bringing down people who make a difference to the world. The media contribute nothing. They are no better than a gossiping teenager. Glad to see you are an exception to this rule. The world would be a better place if Journalists were as objective and reasonable as you sir. Well done.

    • MrL0g1c

      Relevant point: the car was involved in double the normal number of accidents. Also it was rear ended a lot, does it have a propensity for slamming the brakes on unexpectedly? Sounds likes it does to me.

      • Reshy Poo

        As suggested in the article, it’s likely many (most?) trivial accidents go unreported and thus unrecorded, which isn’t the case for google cars.

        • Interestingly, the NHTSA has some reports estimating that as many as 50% of minor accidents go unreported, which would be consistent with what we’re seeing here.

          • lemmie40

            Two of my co-workers have been rear ended on their way into work in the past year and both of them say that the person who hit them was practically begging them not to call the police.

        • MrL0g1c

          You are of course assuming that Google wouldn’t lie or cover up the occasional ding too.

          I wouldn’t be so naive, either they went from zero to 11 incidents very quickly or they were being economical with the truth previously when they had said there had been no accidents.

      • aredub

        This is unsound logic, Mr. Logic. I could flip the scenario and say ‘driverless cars get rear ended a lot, do humans have the propensity to not pay enough attention to the car in front of them? Do humans drive aggresively when behind a car which is obeying all traffic laws? Sounds like it to me.’ But the only facts are that i wasn’t there and you weren’t there. Any inferences about these events based on incomplete information are trivial at best and fear-mongering at worst.

        • MrL0g1c

          Yes humans tailgate and they shouldn’t and I hate when they do, but that doesn’t change the fact that the google car seems to get rear-ended a lot. Perhaps this is because the AI system has a tendency to panic because it can not evaluate situations as accurately and intelligently as humans can.

          I’m not against autonomous cars, they could make cycling far more pleasant – and I enjoy cycling, I would enjoy it more if there weren’t so many ignorant inconsiderate drivers about.

          • mt_xing

            It gets rear ended a lot less than humans. It’s even better at avoiding other humans than we are.

            • MrL0g1c

              “It gets rear ended a lot less than humans.”

              No, the figures given show that it gets rear ended more, hence my statement.

            • mt_xing

              Except it doesn’t. Count the number of cars and number of years they’ve been driving. Take a random sample of that number of humans over that number of years. You’ll find they get rear-ended a LOT less.

            • MrL0g1c

              Wrong

              US, 3 Trillion miles driven

              1153000 rear ends

              So that’s about 1 rear end every 2.6 million miles, even if you account for half of rear ends not being reported that’s still only 1 every 1.3 million miles.

              Google acknowledges 11 accidents with its self-driving cars

              The Google cars have been rear-ended seven times

              This is why I say they have been rear-ended a lot, about 18 times more than normal.(correction 18 not 8!!!)

            • You’ve got some things wrong here. You are comparing the total miles driven using recent data and comparing it to read end data from 1990. In 1990 the total miles driven was about 2.1 trillion, not 3.

              That makes it about 1 rear end for 721000 miles. But that’s just an estimate, it could be well off. It’s also data that is now 25 years old. Assuming the estimate is good, then the Google car is getting rear ended more often, but not 18 times or even 8 times as much, it’s about 5x.

              But that is hardly alarming for at least 5 reasons.
              1. This is a beta product. It’s intentionally driving slow and it doesn’t have to. Read the guy who writes The Oatmeal’s account. On closed courses, the cars can move, turn, and react VERY fast. They just aren’t set to at this phase in the process for obvious safety reasons. The commercial product will not necessarily drive this way.
              2. If this product works at all, there will be far fewer humans to stupidly crash into them.
              3. When lots of these are on the roads, people will adjust and learn how they tend to behave. This isn’t a magic, instant process, but it’s the same as any other brand new technology. There didn’t used to be traffic lights, carpool lanes, or bike-only lanes. As a society, we changed and grew. We will again.
              4. These were all minor accidents. If poorly trained humans don’t know how to drive, the logical solution is not to fear the transformative, amazing technological wonder… it’s up the standard for human driver’s licences. These are fender benders, at most. Why focus on such a trivial problem?
              5. The technology to stop people from stupidly crashing into things is already in many cars on the road that don’t have fully automatic driving. Like other once luxury class-only technologies (ABS, ESB, air bags), there’s no reason to think anti-collision auto-braking won’t make its way into standard cars no matter who is driving.

            • MrL0g1c

              I’m not against autonomous cars, quite the opposite, I’d be happy for people not to be driving if we the can get the driverless tech working well. As someone who likes prefers to cycle, I get sick of the constant poor driving.

              I’m merely curious to know why google cars get rear-ended 5 or 8 or 18 times more than normal. I’d like to know the exact details of all autonomous car collisions, as a cyclist it pays to know how these cars behave. This info should not be kept secret – that is not in the public interest.

            • MrL0g1c

              “These are fender benders, at most. Why focus on such a trivial problem?”

              It’s just a question, why are people getting offended? Is this some kind of fan-boyism for a product which like you say is still very much in beta (and probably will be for many years yet.)

              So, Why not? Why did you write an article about the crashes? And then not expect anyone to question anything??????!!!!!

          • Johnsmith Sitizen

            presuming there wasn’t some imminent danger in front of the vehicle you’d think the car would be smart enough to prioritize not hitting anything in front of it but also keep in mind there are vehicles behind it, because if it slams on the brakes in front of a semi doing 70 miles an hour it’s going to be a very unhappy car

            • Only if the semi’s driver is breaking the law, and is not a machine. The trucking industry is very likely to be the first to transition to automation.

            • MrL0g1c

              Both a human and a computer can only brake as fast as the vehicles brakes allow, one would expect a computer not to tail-gate because it’s parameters should allow for the vehicle in front to have better brakes.

              The difference between braking differences can be huge, even cars of the same make and model can have substantially different braking distances simply due to wear and tear.

            • MrL0g1c

              An good interesting point. Why did the autonomous vehicle brake suddenly – did it ‘sense’ a danger that any human would if quickly ruled out, ie was it an intelligence issue, or was it an image recognition problem?

              you’d think the car would be smart enough to prioritize not hitting anything in front of it but also keep in mind there are vehicles behind it,

              So, how intelligent do autonomous vehicles need to be? Because right now our AI systems are very very limited. Can the cars wing it with fairly good but only 98% accurate image recognition systems mixed with lots of fuzzy logic and pre-determined answers?

              If you gave a normal IQ test to one of these cars, it would 100% fail – because the ‘intelligent’ systems we make are all very specific to particular problems, they are not all round intelligence like animals. I’m sceptical that we can make AI as intelligent as birds, squirrels, dogs, dolphins or monkeys.

            • Johnsmith Sitizen

              interesting that you bring up the image recognition, I wonder how the car would react to say seeing a large bird like a crow in the street or basketball or something to that effect

      • DestryDanger

        You did bad and you should feel bad, MrL0g1c.

        • MrL0g1c

          It’s merely an observation.

          • DestryDanger

            Half of an observation.

      • ScoHar

        The driver behind should be driving at a distance where they can stop with safety, even if the vehicle ahead slams on the brakes suddenly. Therefore Logic says there should be not rear end collisions.

    • InMyMindsAyn

      I highly doubt that anything which strips a citizen of their individual decision making upsets the media. So long as it’s under the purview of the highly educated idiots who work in the government they’ll come to trust and believe in it.

    • learitee

      Great accomplishment for technology.

    • Gotsole

      Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of owning a car.. Don’t you want to drive and actually feel the performance of the car rather than having it drive you. idk maybe it’s just me

      • Brian Jones

        The purpose of a car is to get you from point A to point B. Not to feel it.

        • Oily

          What about Ferraris, Mustangs, 1988 Honda CRXs?

          • James Lei

            You take fast cars, we take safe cars or driverless public transportations like trains in Singapore and London. Got it?

    • Captain Stupendousness

      “…new evidence about how bad humans drive.”

      *badly. How badly humans drive. Just puttin’ it out there, Morty.

    • Gil

      Whoa there, cowboy, Americans do not fear change. America pioneered change. This country spear-headed a lot of the worlds biggest projects and has displayed incredible intuition and creativity since its birth. This project will face criticism just like any other. No Americans feel threatened by self driving cars though, except maybe the pretentious hipster art student Uber drivers… they may have to reapply at the coffee shop when this takes off.

      • Reshy Poo

        yet you still have a 1c coin…

        • courier69

          Damn penny just doesn’t know when to die… That aren’t even made from copper anymore, and apparently cost more than it’s worth to produce. you’d think that a company that is in trillions of dollars of debt would want to minimize profit loss.

          • Daniel

            At this point, it’s probably more expensive to cycle out the use of pennies than it is to continue producing them. Either way though, it’s not a great system. But people will continue to use material tender just because it’s still impossible to have a completely 100% secure electronic finance option that is fail-safe that can be used everywhere, and that doesn’t allow privately owned retailers to require minimum sale amounts or any other asinine thing geared toward scooping up profit.

      • It depends on the kind of change. But by and large, we resist change. This is one reason almost every bit of major social progress required violent killing: to end slavery took the bloodiest war in US history; the civil rights movement lead to change only after students were being murdered on campuses by national guard, civil rights leaders assassinated, and riots etc..,; the gay rights movement mostly gained steam after the deadly Stonewall riot.

        Then we have things like the metric system which we steadfastly refuse to adopt for no reason. We have an irrational fear and denial of evolution, global warming, and the safety of GMO products. Our government vacates funding from exciting research areas like stem cell research and for years we sat and watched as other countries raced ahead of us.

        We have it in our power to replace a decrepit, slow, expensive passenger rail system with modern high-speed trains but choose not to.

        We refuse to adopt high-efficiency garbage incinerators of the sort used in Europe, even though it’s by far the most ecologically sound trash disposal system.

        I am not trying to just bash here, the US has often lead the pack.. but does it, today? And is it typical that we do? I don’t see it.

        • MrL0g1c

          almost every bit of major social progress required violent killing

          Gah, the inanity of this statement. Just because the US got violent in the situations you mentioned doesn’t mean the violence was necessary, the proof being the the same social change happened in other places without any violence being required and where there was violence it is usually incidental rather than being a mechanic of change.

          • By “we” I meant the US and only the US. I was not making a general statement about how social change has to happen. Of course violence is not, in principle, required.

      • Daniel

        About the only change I’ve seen America get up in arms in support of is anything that involves social issues, racial discrimination, or anything too popular due to sensationalist hyperbolic journalism.
        When it comes to technology, we are slowly stagnating unless there’s enough of a positive response from the ignorant news and media outlets.

    • Montarion

      What’s wrong with g+?

      • My opinion is that it was mishandled from the start, and Google continues to make bad choices with it, like forcing everyone on YouTube to be G+. Google has made great strides in improving G+ from the early days where it, say, would not let you choose a non-standard or non-revealed gender, would not let you have a non-person account, etc.., and it is by no means a bad product today, it just isn’t exactly a Google success story.

        • courier69

          I just mainly miss the “in reply to ” hyperlink from the old yt system. the G+ system made it so hard to actually keep up with who was responding to who in longer posts. The lack of threading doesn’t help matters either.

          Sorting is another small issue for me. Maybe I’m just wierd, but I like reading posts in the order they are submitted (for some meta-context).

          Also, half the time the +[user] can’t even find the user. in the same post I’m replying to.

          I’m sure the kinks will get ironed out eventually. This is the same company that had a browser that was almost objectively inferior to firefox and a phone inferior to Apple at one point.

          • Yes, it’s no damning criticism. Any large tech company worth it’s salt tries many things, and some fail. Others are a long, slow refinement process. Remember how long Gmail was “beta”? It is out of beta, right? heh…

        • Montarion

          you can use your old account on youtube?

    • Welcome, Redditors =D

    • Nathan Clark

      The media at this point has lost all credibility and legitimacy. There’s a reason why trust in the media drops a little every year.

      • Johnsmith Sitizen

        and I think that’s why I like Reddit and reading online comments so much, because while they may run the gamut at least I’m getting a real sense of what the American public’s opinion is versus somebody who’s paid to utter mindless dribble in overly serious tones

        • Nathan Clark

          Except Reddit’s been practicing mass censorship recently. You can’t get a sense of what the American public thinks if a few interested individuals go out of their way to remove all comments that don’t agree with their politics.

    • Bill Shawme

      If because of an unavoidable situation the google car had to kill either a pregnant woman or the writer of one of its puff articles, which would it choose?

      • How would a human be able to choose?

      • DestryDanger

        That’s like calling out a train for not being able to make you breakfast. This isn’t robocop, it’s a car that people program to drive with specific patterns and situational circumstances involving travel speed and objects to avoid hitting. Pregnant women and traffic cones are the same thing to the car, it’s assuming everything is a pregnant woman and making sure it doesn’t hit anything. This thing isn’t fighting crime or taking a moral high ground on a situation, it’s a car.

    • V12 IS GREAT

      I’d rather drive my car and risk denting my chrome bumpers than be driven around like a lazy businessman. That’s just my opinion.

    • Ben Collins

      This is nothing less than the promise of Eden which we collectively clench our fists and refuse to grasp. Far beyond self driving cars, this is a question of why we have “cars” at all instead of system of transportation that does not include gas, racial profiling, truckers, convenience stores, DUIs, and countless other components that we are “used to” as opposed to “make any fucking sense at this point.”

    • Daniel

      It horrifies me to see the ignorance that media spread about this stuff. It saddens me to see even the once-interesting Time magazine right up with them.
      Absolutely disgusting. How can people not be excited for the future, instead of fearful of every new change.
      The only real hiccup I can see with the development of driverless cars, is that it is almost impossible to design software that can comprehend and adapt to the sheer stupidity of certain human drivers who are out there.
      The only inhibition to driverless cars is ourselves.

      • forresthopkinsa

        Which won’t be a problem when, someday, it will be illegal for a human to drive a car. We are reckless and stupid, so that day can’t come soon enough.

        • Thisguyisdumb^

          Speak for yourself fuckwad.

          • forresthopkinsa

            Sensitive much? Lol

            • His username really speaks for itself. Lol maybe he’s with
              the media xD

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    • eGod

      Where are the 11 or 12 accident reports filed online for us to read? This sounds like fluff argueing fluff. Please share the data that matters. Did someone else read them for you to make such assertions?

    • Mickey28

      I appreciate the story on media bias, and I think there are some interesting places you could go with that story, this story didn’t feel very objective. I think there are lobbyists in some industry feeding the lines to the news, probably the automobile industry, who don’t want to have to compete with this new technology.

      I will say, I’m terrified of self-driving cars. They’ll be so connected to the internet, tracking my location, being in control of where I am and how quickly I get there. I have nothing to be paranoid about, my life is pretty vanilla. But I also value my freedom, and hate the idea of being on an electronic tether. That just feels wrong, the idea leaves a horrible taste in my mouth.

      • So I guess that means you never take your cell phone with you when you travel?

      • DestryDanger

        You have a cell phone and are currently using the internet, this shit is already happening. Data collection has no real reflection on public freedom, in the the end it does more to protect and ensure freedom than it does to hinder, considering 99.999% of people are just normal people with no criminal intent, concerning illegal activity or information to be manipulated or used against them other than spending habits and food preferences and that only goes effectively towards making life easier in general.

    • eltessy

      I wonder my self what is going to happens if a criminal mind or hacker -computer evil- tries to hack the car computers to provoke an accident or to kill someone?

      • DestryDanger

        That totally will happen, but even if you factor that in it’s still statistically far safer than people behind the wheel at the current rate. A sports team losing and a town full of idiots getting wasted and driving drunk and angry because of it puts out far greater levels of public threat than isolated hacker psychopaths with the skills and intent to kill via computers and it’s happening all the damned time.

    • Pingback: Google Cars’ 1 million miles with 0 accidents upsets media [x-post /r/nottheonion] | techynews2015()

    • Laurent Levesque

      Have you considered the fact that your only source for this information is the (necessarily biased) director of the project? Reading your article, and coming from a skeptic, I hope you audited Google’s data to validate your positions? Especially points 1 and 2 that can seem like repeating and even amplificating Google’s press statements. If you did independent analysis on their data, it’s worth mentionning. If you didn’t, it’s also worth mentionning. Journalists are expected to confirm and validate their sources, and when they can’t, it must show. As such, the title of Time is probably the most objectively valid, unbiased, and skeptic-enough coverage of this news. Unless you have other evidence, of course, which I’d love to read!

      • DestryDanger

        You used the word ‘amplificating’, a word that has no reason to exist, and for this I hate you.

        • DestryDanger

          Also, you didn’t bring up any valid points, you just tried to shoot down the validity of the people who put out the information without anything to back up why.

          • Laurent Levesque

            I’m not saying this article isn’t valid. For all we know, the current beta state of driverless cars might already be better that human drivers. The this is, we don’t know, because the only data we have is Google’s. To question this data is a reasonable amount of skepticism, that people shoud expect of journalists and that I would have expected of Skeptic Ink as well. IMO it is inefficient to try to frame the media with conspiracy without bringing new data to the table.

        • Laurent Levesque

          English isn’t my native language so you have no reason to hate. Especially since it does exist despite your ignorance : http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/English/amplificate.html

    • How long till we can race driverless cars and bet money on them??

      • Pearl

        That already exists? Autonomous vehicle competitions happen fairly frequently in academia

    • Johnsmith Sitizen

      maybe the Smart cars are upsetting the “way of things”. My new game when I’m driving is asking myself if a robotic driver would do that, and the answer is usually “no”, a robot would have driven better than the person in front of me…I have a sneaking suspicion they’re really good at merging too

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    • Fenrir007

      More manufactured fearmongering to drive clicks home – a true clickbait driveby.

    • Wish this was for commercial vehicles so I didnt have to deliver goods to jobs anymore, I could have them sent there via App!

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    • Simon

      The media is always looking for the negative angle because marketing has shown them that a negative story generates more interest than a positive one. If you wanted happy things you would be on the internet looking at cat videos. News stopped being about facts and became more about spins directly proportionate to the increasing importance of advertising revenue, and true journalism went out the window decades ago.

      Now, what are they going to do when the companies paying for those ads realize that, during the commercial breaks, none of us are watching because we are on our phones/tablets/w.h.y. looking at funny cat videos?

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    • Noah

      It might be worth looking at early examples of articles talking about the invention of the car or the airplane for commercial use. Cars are pretty dangerous and caused all kinds of accidents with human drivers, but they still developed the technology and new safety procedures for it, because it was highly beneficial and convenient to have.

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    • What a responsible reader needs to do is ignore the publication, and concentrate on the writer. If you concentrate on the writers of these stories, for example, you’ll notice that they always write anti-google, pro-apple stories, so are likely paid shills.

    • Aaron Wood

      I’d love to see them beta test these cars in New England. Home of freezing rain, black ice, storms that dump 3′ of snow at a time, and a lot of sudden animal crossings. Also, will these cars be capable of pot hole detection?

      Let’s see how the accident record is after one season in the Northeast. :D

      • I have had my bacon saved by some very simple, but algorithmic, technology: the electronic stabilization system; a few times. I was shocked how well this worked. Once I drove into a massive puddle of slush covering black ice and my car instantly began to spin. A second later it straightened out- by itself- as if ropes tied to the bumpers had been pulled it taut.

        This worked because of the automated decisions about the brakes and which of two wheels (it wasn’t even 4WD) was given more or less braking. This is something no human could ever hope to do; the system responds in milliseconds to changes in traction and wheel speed for each wheel.

        Such a system’s effectiveness would be magnified if it could similarly handle other controls, like steering and acceleration.

        For pot hole detection, you’re SOL for now. But then, I miss these half the time and at night, 100% of the time. So that’s obviously not fatal to driving.

    • Alex Eckelberry

      I agree! However, I take some issue with the statement that planes “land themselves”. Autoland can land a plane, but there’s quite a bit more to the story than such a simple statement.

      • Indeed there is. But this post wasn’t about planes. I don’t think I wrote anything misleading.

        • Alex Eckelberry

          The broader point is that by putting in statements like these, they can get taken up by aircraft pedants (pilots are sensitive to the “lands themselves” argument), which could detract from the main focus of the article. It’s a largely needless addition, I would have at least clarified that planes can “practically land themselves” or some such language to give you wiggle room.

          I’ve been up against a few airline pedants lately. Just advice.

          • I wanted to mention it because that technology was developed/is being developed purely for safety reasons: humans can’t safely land in zero visibility conditions. Cynics may be inclined to think self-driving cars are being made just so we can be lazier, or so that its developers can make money. Aviation auto-pilot proves it can’t be true that those are the only considerations, and that the tech must be basically feasible/workable because it is working.

            Also, it’s a dangerous road to start writing for the pedants. There many, many varieties out there. If you try to mind them all, your writing will end up a list of sentences like “It’s not impossible that under some conditions the quantities two and two might in union be characterized as four (see Smith et al 2004 for discussion; Jones 1987 dissent).”

            Stylistically you might have a point, though, thanks for your advice.

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