Self-Driving Car

Self-Driving Car

Part of a series on AI / Artificial Intelligence. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 05:04AM EST by Y F.

Added Aug 13, 2015 at 02:30PM EDT by Don.

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Self-Driving Cars, also known as the Driverless Cars and Autonomous Cars, refers to unmanned automobiles capable of autonomous navigation without human control. Many companies are developing autonomous car technology, however there are still significant legal, psychological, and technological hurdles to overcome before bringing the technology to market.


Manufacturers and universities have been developing driverless cars since at least the 1920s, and it became possible to have a fully autonomous car in the 1980s, when several were developed by companies like Mercedes-Benz and universities like Carnegie Mellon. Many companies, such as Google, Ford, Bosch, Nissan, and Toyota, also created programs to develop software and hardware for fully driverless cars. In 2009, Google began developing its self-driving car program[5] in secret at the company's Google X facility. In June 2011, Nevada passed a law to permit self-driving vehicles. However, none were deemed to be safe enough to attempt testing in mixed traffic until July 2013, when a research company called Visilab tested their model, the BRAiVE.

Google Self-Driving Car

On March 28th, 2012, the Google YouTube channel posted a video of a Google self-driving car being tested on public roads (shown below). In the first three years, the video gained over seven million views and 16,300 comments.

In April, Florida allowed testing of automonous cars on the state's public roads, followed by California and Michigan over the next year. In May, the first license was given to an automonous Google-modified Toyota Prius by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. On May 27th, 2014, Google unveiled a new prototype driverless vehicle without a steering wheel or foot pedals (shown below, left). The same day, the Google Self-Driving Car Project YouTube channel uploaded a video explaining the project (shown below, right).

Tesla Autopilot

In late 2014, Tesla announced that all Model S vehicles would have the ability to come with a hardware and software package called Autopilot, which would enable semi-autonomous driving. While Tesla claimed that the software was not in violation of any United States laws on autonomous driving, although the software enabled the car to steer itself, even at top speeds.[6] In October of 2015, Tesla updated the software on all available models automatically, enabling the car to park itself even without a driver,[7] but later that year Elon Musk announced that the company was placing restrictions on the software after people filmed themselves in dangerous situations, like allowing autopilot to drive as they sat in the backseat.[8]


The idea of autonomous automobiles has come under extended criticism. Many wonder about the car's ability to interact with relatively unpredictable human drivers in mixed circumstances.[9] However, in testing, Google found that when the car got into accidents in self-driving mode, it usually wasn't the car's fault, but rather the fault of the other driver, who was driving more aggressively than the car's computer had accounted for. As a result, Google was attempting to create software that would take the non-law-abiding behavior of human drivers into account when making decision.[10]

Online Presence

On June 26th, 2012, the /r/SelfDrivingCars[3] subreddit was launched for discussions about autonomous vehicles, including the Google self-driving car project. On May 13th, 2013, the Free Art and Technology Lab (F.A.T. Lab) posted a video featuring a fake Google self-driving car riding around New York City (shown below, left). On May 24th, 2015, the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel uploaded a parody video featuring a self-driving car by Bing (shown below, right).

On July 17th, Redditor modern-era submitted an animated GIF of a Google self-driving car being rear-ended at an intersection to the /r/gifs[4] subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 5,200 votes (96% upvoted) and 760 comments in the first month (shown below).

animated gif explaining how a Google self-driving car got rear-ended in an car accident at an intersection

Uber Accident

On March 18th, 2018, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber automobile in Tempe, Arizona, marking the first incident in which a person outside of a self-driving car was fatally injured in an accident. The following day, posted about the incident reached the front page of the /r/cars[12] and /r/Futurology[13] subreddits. Also on March 19th, the tech news blog TechCrunch[12] reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a "Special Crash Investigation" team to review the incident in Tempe. On March 21st, the official Tempe Police Department Twitter feed released video on the fatal crash (shown below).

That day, the video reached the front page of the /r/videos[11] subreddit, where the top comment speculated that the crash could not have been avoided. Meanwhile, TechCrunch[14] published an article titled "The driver of the autonomous Uber was distracted before fatal crash," which included the following statement from Uber:

"Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."

Search Interest

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Top Comments

Viuff, The Ancient Waifumancer
Viuff, The Ancient Waifumancer

so a guy got hit by a self-driving car
honestly it might seem brutal for me to say this but he had it comming, he had no form of light on to signel that he was there, no lights, no reflectors, crossing the road at what seems to be a random place.
in this case I think a human driver or a computer drive didn't matter, that was bound to happen.


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