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Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

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Surely the manufacturer is at fault if its 'perfect' creation fails to spot a speed sign.

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Stop

Surely the manufacturer is at fault if its 'perfect' creation fails to spot a speed sign.

To me this isn't about a speed sign, it's about a speed trap.

Once certain people learn how autonomous vehicles operate there will be ways to game them, like dropping the speed limit so fast that the vehicle can't safely slow in time. Sure, dramatic speed drops are illegal, but if the fine for an autonomous vehicle is autonomously paid, it unfortunately opens up a whole new revenue stream for shady law enforcement.

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This needs a 1000 upvotes but alas, I'm only allowed one. This part of "speeding tickets" does smell like certain cities (I'm the States, btw, but it does apply here also) will loose a, in some cases, significant source of income. Some small towns depend on that income. Ideally, if the cars are smart enough to recognize speed limits, there shouldn't be a problem. Will local law enforcement find some other way to keep the income flowing to the city? Who knows. Will driver's licenses still be required such that you could be issued a ticket for not having one? This is a bit of a sticky wicket for all drivers, countries.

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In a small city here in Florida (Waldo) they suspend 2 police chiefs and disband the police force, then you depend on the surrounding county for your essential services.

There was a nearby town (Hampton) that was nearly disincorporated (dissolved) for being a speed trap.

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"There was a nearby town (Hampton) that was nearly disincorporated (dissolved) for being a speed trap."

Many years ago there was a scandal involving traffic police in one UK metropolitan area and another force loaned some officers who didn't know the area to take over. The husband of a colleague told us that he'd just been stopped for speeding.

"What speed do you think you were doing, sir?"

"Forty."

"And what is the speed limit on this road?"

"Forty"

<gulp?

"Oh!"

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@Mark85, There is a notorious sleaze operation called Pine Mountain in metro Atlanta. At one point the county made sure the local media noted that Pine Mountain PD 'tickets' can be moved to county courts. This did two things, the county is not a greedy to shakier cases got dismissed and other traffic cases got more lenient fines, etc. with Pine Mountain getting nada.

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WTF?

Hacking the Law

Quoting myself, Once certain people learn how autonomous vehicles operate there will be ways to game them

I was just thinking, how are autonomous vehicles programmed to handle tailgating?

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Re: Hacking the Law

hopefully by taking pictures and automatically uploading them to tailgatingwankers.com

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Devil

"Once certain people learn how autonomous vehicles operate there will be ways to game them"

I had been wondering what will happen when ne'er-do-wells draw a speed limit sign on a bit of paper for the car's camera to pick up. Either '10' and everything starts crawling (or going quicker if in London) or '50' just before a speed camera in a 30 limit.

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Write your MP about policy for profit.

bLair started this when he allowed the police to keep money from fines, and now with talk of privatized company's being given the power of arrest, we are not far behind the gangs in uniforms that are ruining the US. Policing should never be done for profit.

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Re: Hacking the Law

"I was just thinking, how are autonomous vehicles programmed to handle tailgating?"

Hopefully they'll move over because they won't have been programmed with an Awkward Old Fart Playing Policeman mode making them do 69.9mph in the outside lane of a motorway when the inside is clear. If Rover was still around I imagine its autonomous vehicles would have this very functionality available, probably at the press of a simple easily accessable red button in the middle of the dash.

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Re: Write your MP about policy for profit.

"bLair started this when he allowed the police to keep money from fines,"

As the years go by it becomes more and more obvious what an utterly clueless narcisstistic liar this man was, and I feel embarrassed to have been taken in by his lies and shallow showmanship back in 97. The gullibility and naivity of youth I suppose.

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Pirate

Speed Traps

The bit about "Smart Roads" changing the speed and the Autoauto not being aware/adjusting in time reminds me of a bit of shadiness I heard about in the South-East US; wherein small towns had speed limit signs set in concrete filled buckets and move them around to where they wouldn't normally be - sometimes a bit behind the car they had just pulled over for "speeding".

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Re: Hacking the Law

how are autonomous vehicles programmed to handle tailgating?

By activating the smoke canisters and the minelayer.

If it's good enough for James Bond, it's good enough for me.

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Re: Write your MP about policy for profit.

As the years go by it becomes more and more obvious what an utterly clueless narcisstistic liar this man was, and I feel embarrassed to have been taken in by his lies and shallow showmanship back in 97. The gullibility and naivity of youth I suppose.

I'm embarrassed by once having voted for Margaret Thatcher. Fortunately the resultant experience of 1980s unemployment pushed my politics far enough to the left that I could never even contemplate voting for that twat Blair.

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Anonymous Coward

"In a small city here in Florida (Waldo) "

... where's Waldo? (Florida is, after all, a fairly big state)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hacking the Law

"I was just thinking, how are autonomous vehicles programmed to handle tailgating?"

Tailgating is the plan ... remember ~20 years ago someone doing research funded by California Highways Dept giving a talk about work they were doing on "self-driving" cars on highways where the intention was to have automated tailgating as given the increased numbers of cars you either had to build more roads or get cars to drive closer together. (This was "self-driving" in that you would drive onto the highway and then switch over to self-driving mode which would attach you onto the end of a train of cars until you neared your exit where it would move you out and tell you to take over again)

From recent experience of visitis to SF area then they are clearly implementing the "cars closer together" scheme on the 101 ... unfortunately they haven't solved the "but without everyone slowing to a crawl" bit of the concept!

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"Once certain people learn how autonomous vehicles operate there will be ways to game them"

Setting up a speed trap should become a criminal offence with liability on whoever signed off on it. At the moment it's merely unlawful and there's effectively no penalty.

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"Some small towns depend on that income"

In the UK, police are county-based rather than towns.

Because of past abuse, speeding fines from cameras and roadside ticketing are paid into central government coffers. Unfortunately those who run the very lucrative speed camera scam(*) realised that by diverting motorists to "speed awareness courses", they could get kickbacks^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H referral fees paid by course providers to the camera partnership charities and thus maintain their 6-figure salaries.

(*) The scam is that speed limits are being set on the statistical mean of all traffic speeds, rather than the "statistical mean of free running traffic speeds(**), plus 1 standard deviation" (aka the 85th percentile) - traffic engineering textbooks and various standards define this as the maximum speed a reasonable driver will travel at when the road is clear(***). If this is higher than the defined speed limit then it's an engineering failure, not a motorist one, requiring design rework, not traffic enforcement. By including congested traffic and platoons behind slower drivers, the reported "average" is forced down and in some cases can end up more than 10mph below the 85th percentile - and this in turn is used to justify lower speed limits than the design speed on roads - which sets up the speed trap.

(**) Free running is usually taken as vehicles with at least 4 seconds headway, so that they're not influenced by the vehicle in front. A number of countries have legal standards for this, but the UK doesn't. The only mention of measuring speeds is a reference to using free running speed in the apendicies of a DFT management document. (Because of "speed trap towns", there have been moves in the USA to make it illegal to set the speed limit below the 85th percentile but this hasn't happened yet)

(***) 60 years of traffic management, measurement and statistical analysis in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and various EU countries has shown that motorists tend to travel at the design speed of a road and will _ignore_ speed limit signs which deviate more than about 10mph from this. Even worse, once they do start ignoring it peak speeds and "speed spreads"(****) increase - especially if the speed limit is set too low. If you want to slow traffic you have to increase the perceived road hazards - things like chicanes and speed humps don't work, whilst adding parking restrictions and pedestrian fencing actually speed traffic up considerably.

(****) This is the difference between the fastest and slowest traffic. Slow drivers frustrate followers, frequently resulting in dangerous overtaking manouveres and drivers "flooring it" to make up for perceived lost time.

The worst part is that _most_ things that councils attempt to do to "slow down traffic" or "make things safer" usually have the opposite effect, resulting in more changes, and more positive feedback because they can't be seen to admit they made a mistake. It's a bit like the old lady who swallowed a fly. In a lot of cases the best thing to do when congestion starts being a problem is "nothing at all", as that way it becomes self-solving. Attempting to make the traffic flow more smoothly frequently just moves the congestion a few blocks or results in a marked increase in off-peak traffic speeds.

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Re: Hacking the Law

"they won't have been programmed with an Awkward Old Fart Playing Policeman mode making them do 69.9mph in the outside lane of a motorway when the inside is clear. "

That's a particular annoyance you won't see with automated cars.

It really is a pity that "Failure to Keep Left" (aka lane hogging) and "Disrupting Traffic Flow" (aka holding up traffic by travelling below the limit with more than 4 cars behind you(*)) are both offences which require the police to observe personally. Make it easy to report and there would be so many dashcam reports that the egrarious offenders would be off the road in 2 weeks.

(*) In the UK (and many other countries) you're legally _required_ to pull over and let the traffic pass if you've become a mobile roadblock. Some countries take it seriously enough that a phoned in report will result in police being sent to wait ahead of the old fart (it's always an old fart) and pull them over. One memorable report counted 600 vehicles behind the dawdler.

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Holmes

Re: Write your MP about policy for profit.

"As the years go by it becomes more and more obvious what an utterly clueless narcisstistic liar this man was, and I feel embarrassed to have been taken in by his lies and shallow showmanship back in 97. The gullibility and naivity of youth I suppose."

Really? Long before the '97 election it was manifestly clear to me exactly what sort of a person he was.

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Re: Hacking the Law

"hopefully by taking pictures and automatically uploading them to tailgatingwankers.com"

which of course is a mirror of getafuckingmoveonyoulanehoggingpri.ck

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Re: Hacking the Law

"Hopefully they'll move over because they won't have been programmed with an Awkward Old Fart Playing Policeman mode making them do 69.9mph"

Would take you quite some time to overtake though!

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Terrorism

Has anyone thought of terrorism?

Millions(?) of driverless cars reprogrammed, by hack or specifically by design or ideology, to start mowing people down?

And what is gonna be the UK population by 2040? 90-100m? Will cars be able to move at all?

Anyone got a reasonable island going cheap?

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Re: Terrorism

(raises hand).

That. And drones. Stopping a person in a car is one thing, stopping the car itself is quite another. Especially if it would just keep going with blown-out tyres, and there was no driver to capture.

They would also make a marvellous auto-delivery device for... well... whatever you want.

The thing that invokes terror in me is not "terrorists"... it's our response to them, though. Banning or controlling self-driving cars because they could be misused seems cutting off the nose to spite the face. But, it has to be said, if I were in charge of some counter-terrorist think-tank, those two things would be at the top of my list nowadays.

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Re: Terrorism

Richard Morden covers it quite well in the Metrozone series where London is basically full of driverless cars.

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Re: Terrorism

It's not hard to include certain isolated hardware and software that disables the vehicle in the event it stops responding as expected.

For example, a secondary computer with supervisory software (written by a 3rd party) isolated from the primary driving computer who's sole function is to determine if the response of the primary is in keeping with the input provided.

So if the primary decides to suddenly point at pedestrians and accelerate rapidly, the supervisor sees this as an unexpected action, disables the primary computer's CPU and dumps it's RAM to a dump file, applies the brakes until stopped, then locks the vehicle out so it's unable to be driven until the manufacturer performs a reset sequence.

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Re: Terrorism

@Noram

I happen to be reading that series at the moment, just starting book 3 and it's the first thing which jumped to my mind when reading this article.

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Re: Terrorism

Stopping a self driving car will be simple.

Toyota Safety Sense uses a system now where the on-board cameras look for, and display, info from roads signs it has passed. It would reasonable to assume self driving cars would use a similar system alongside GPS and various other data sets. Because roadworks are temporary in nature, the cameras would need to be real time, and have priority over any other information streams.

It is by no means a stretch of the imagination that those cameras could be programmed to look for a sign which would issue a "pull over" command, perhaps with GPS integration and some sort of unique identifier to allow authentication of authorized users versus car jacking yoofs.

Stop commands could then be issued from a rear facing screen on a police vehicle, or even a roadside sign or overhead gantry.

As for continuing to drive after being "stingered" - Every new vehicle after 2012 will have either a direct or indirect tyre pressure monitoring system. It wouldn't be unrealistic to assume that a self driving vehicle would be programmed to pull over in the event of pressure loss over a few PSI.

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Re: Terrorism

Yeah... 'Cause that kind of thinking has kept the like of S0NY (PSP, PS3, PSV, and PS4), safe from any, and all whoever had an interest in hacking such a Device. Perhaps our good friends at John Deer, will find a way to criminalize the act of simply trying to attempt a cheaper DIY Job, instead of opting for the more expensive Dealership Garage to do it for you.

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Re: Terrorism

Not familiar with Daniel Morden, I'll check him out - Daemon by Daniel Suarez provides a fairly apocalyptic view as well.

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Re: Terrorism

And what is gonna be the UK population by 2040? 90-100m?

The current forecast is for 75 million.

Don't guess numbers when you can quickly look them up. It makes you look like a Daily Mail reader.

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Re: Terrorism

"The current forecast is for 75 million."

In the mid 1960s it was forecast to be 75 million by the end of the century.

Stuff happened. Birthrates in developed countries have been well below "replacement" levels for the last 4 decades and are showing no sign of changing.

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Re: Terrorism

Simple, yes. If we're both thinking some kind of QR-like sign, then it would be fairly easy for some pranker to stick one up on the motorway, and suddenly everyone is pulling over on their way to work.

Of course, it would be possibly to have something designed for a particular vehicle, and with a digital signature, but history makes me think that it would not be particularly secure.

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Re: Terrorism

In a fully self-driving world speed signs wouldn't be needed even for roadworks.. Instead of placing a speed sign up the road, a mat gets rolled out with an RFID coil system that when the car drives over it, the RFID mat tells the car the speed limit is decreasing for roadworks, then past the roadworks another mat tells the car to go back to the normal speed.

It's a completely digital system that doesn't rely on computationally expensive and sometimes inaccurate image analysis

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Anonymous Coward

Did they get to who is actually liable for speeding tickets?

If I'm not driving the car then I can't commit the offence, I don't see how this could be viewed any other way.

I'm also curious why insurance companies appear to be dictating the law, I had this daft idea that parliament and not companies were supposed to draft legislation.

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What device is in charge of control of the speed?

Whoever is liable for that is liable for the speeding ticket, whether they like it or not.

Unless the "driver" is in control of the speed, there's no way they can be held liable for it.

Whether they "would support it" or not, the insurers will have to suck it up.

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Unhappy

Because it's Britain, and the joyless shitpails who run the country (of which MPs are just a sub-set.. see also councils, quangos, pressure groups and the perpetually offended) decide everything on the basis of: how miserable, coerced, and fleeced can we make the populace? What remnants of light and joy and self-determination and freedom can we stamp out next?

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Surely the owner of the device would be liable? Insurance isn't the first line of defence, even today, it's there as a protection for the driver or owner; the driver/owner is responsible, and the insurance policy indemnifies them. If the small print in the policy says "no indemnity for speeding" then the owner pays.

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Who is liable for dictating the speed limit? Will some human make the decision based on how they're feeling that day? Based on some stuff they learned from someone else, who observed it from a flawed survey. Will it be static or will it be vary by day/time/traffic /school holidays/etc.

Before we answer who is liable to pay the speed limit we should ask what the speed limit is and whether it's different for human drivers, and autonomous cars. Human drivers are usually great at doing many things but bad at each specific thing, especially concentrating on more than one thing at a single time. Autonomous cars can't do many things human drivers can, but they could potentially be great at a core set of tasks and could be Observing all around the car.

Observing the speed limit is one thing. Setting the speed limit is another.

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Surely the owner of the device would be liable?

So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

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The owner would be liable?

So, you mean the leasing companies then?

If you change 'owner' to 'registered keeper' then you might have a case but I'd be rightly miffed if I got three points on my license for my speeding car if I was on the other side of the world...

The idea of self-driving/autonomous cars is that the car will go where it is told so it could be sent to pick up little Jimmy and Jockasta from school with no adult in the car.

Future cars probably won't even have a steering wheel.

Then there is the whole 'car sharing' thing.

Who is liable then eh?

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So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

You can be if you mess with the pollution control systems. Will you be liable if you refuse the VW correction patch?

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

Wouldn't it be more sensible to just not charge a speeding ticket - if the car's logs and videos show that its speed was not dangerous?

Conversely, even a car doing less than the speed limit can be going too fast for some circumstances - and any sign of such car behaviour should result in a software review pronto.

Here's the thing: equating speed with risk is primarily done because it is easy to enforce (and fine). Poor human driver behaviour (Lane discipline, for example) is dangerous but not enforced.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

Speed limits are very crude. The speed you travel at should depend on the shape of the road, weather, density of traffic, children's bed times, wildlife activity through the day and year, the vehicle you are driving... Better (safer and at times faster) speed limit data can be provided to automated cars.

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"I had this daft idea that parliament and not companies were supposed to draft legislation."

Yes, that is daft.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

You can be if you mess with the pollution control systems.

But that was the point of the article - the insurer is on the hook for safety, so long as you install upgrades.

But you are responsible if the automated car breaks the law.

i suppose you are currently legally responsible if your phone doesn't meet CE/FCC regs - but I can't imagine a regular owner being prosecuted because the manufacturer had a bug in the modem

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Reply to: I'm also curious why insurance companies appear to be dictating the law, I had this daft idea that parliament and not companies were supposed to draft legislation.

Gosh yes. Next thing you know other people with subject expertise will be telling parliamentarians that the laws of mathematics won't change just because they stomp their foot. Or that the internet is not a series of tubes. Can't have that sort of carry on.

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Daft idea

Have you looked at our government this century? Not just the party/coalition with the majority - I mean the whole lot of them. Do you really want these people drafting legislation?

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