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Public gets to weigh in on Google's self-driving cars

Original post made on Jun 5, 2015

As a new fleet of self-driving cars begins zipping around the streets of Mountain View, the team at Google is trying to gauge the response from human motorists: misconceptions, emotions, et al.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 5, 2015, 12:32 PM

Comments (49)

Posted by bikerchick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Our short cul-de-sac is a favorite testing area for the SUV-style G cars. They have been on our street at least 10 times a day for months. When they exit the street onto Miramonte, they are so hesitant they cause backups and trap us in our own street. I wish they would share the love with other streets.

Posted by Becoming Creepy
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I'm not sure that I understand the value/need for these cars to be driving through quiet residential neighborhoods at 11:00pm, which is becoming a frequent occurrence.

I hope these cars, which are present all over our city, are simply gathering data to help with the driverless effort...I'm fine with that. Call me paranoid, but I certainly hope they're not gathering other more personal information about the drivers and homes they pass on their routes.

Posted by Emotional Misconception
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Don't you love how the Google thought police prime the argument with the only valid types of response to Google Cars being "misconceptions" and "emotions".

I'm tired of seeing these cars on my street. The block or slow down traffic all the time. Especially at night time or during May's rainy days when their performance is questionable.

Posted by Good Change
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 3:32 pm

I am very excited for the benefits of driverless cars to start being realized. I'm also quite happy and proud to share our city with it's development.

Posted by The Future
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I'm excited by the potential for driverless cars. But the current Google driverless cars are so frustrating to be behind, or sharing a 4-way stop with. They seem completely unpredictable; mostly too hesitant, then suddenly aggressive. It's a bit scary driving with them around.

Posted by @The Future
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2015 at 4:41 pm

"But the current Google driverless cars are so frustrating to be behind, or sharing a 4-way stop with. They seem completely unpredictable; mostly too hesitant, then suddenly aggressive."

And this is different from a considerable number of drivers in this area how, exactly?

Posted by Flash Jetson
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 6:20 pm

I watched a woman aggressively tailgating one of the Lexus vehicles as it maintained the school zone limit through the school zone on Cuesta. She was extremely frustrated that she was forced to drive within the limit. The speeders HAAAATE the driver-less cars but the future will bring more and more.
I welcome the new, more law abiding roads of the future.

Posted by Jerry
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:47 pm

It's time to start looking ahead. In 10 years what happens when "self-driving car" meets "Uber"? Imagine a world where a reliable driver (i.e., a smarter computer) can pick you up and take you to your destination. Why own a car at all? What if a self-driving van/sedan/compact/limo/convertible/truck is available with a few keystrokes? Self-driving cars are going to be hugely disruptive! And there are lots of potential benefits, along with the usual package of potential problems. But we need to get ahead of the curve and start talking about the future we want for this technology...otherwise someone else will make all the decisions for us.

Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 6, 2015 at 12:21 am

There's really a wrong kind of thinking going on here. Let's look at their statement: there have been 12 accidents, but in every case it's been the human's fault.

So what are we hearing here: HUMANS AND ROBOTS ARE EQUAL???

Here's what it should be. If the robots want to participate in our lives, then they need to behave better than humans do. They need to be able to see and think such that they can anticipate and prevent accidents before they happen. From what I have read, the cars can read the roads and road signs, but they cannot detect a human being. Google had better figure that level of cognition out before they turn driverless cars loose on our streets. Because when the first person is killed by one of these vehicles, no amount of protesting is going to save them. There will be hell to pay.

In the end I suspect this will end up another poorly thought out and poorly executed Google project much like Google Wave, Google Plus (to be cancelled in a few months), Google Glass (remember when that was going to change everything?) etc. Android is slowly dying in the face of the Apple devices as well.

Posted by Auto Mate
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 6, 2015 at 6:24 am

I think first we may see it only in transport vehicles where humans are not involved in riding. After that I could see test cities signing up for shuttle type services which would expand each year. Infrastructure wrt sensors will continue to be built, and built with the latest technology, improving on itself each phase.

As time goes by, further expansion into the consumer market could happen, but by then the big car makers will be building them. They've already begun partnering with Google.

This is coming.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 8:27 am

The way I read the article is that it was the "other car's fault". This means it could have been a red light runner, or a drunk driver, or someother very difficult to avoid situation.

I was recently a witness to an automated robot vehicle collision with the tram which visitors were riding. The driver of the tram stopped to allow the visitors to see what was happening, but had inadvertently stopped the tram on the invisible line for the robot. The robot "eye" had seen a gap between the cars on the tram and tried to advance.

Now this collision, while nothing like a google car, shows that the automated robot vehicle which was in an indoor facility moving at walking speed didn't know how to negotiate a vehicle which should not have been in its path. The robot did nothing wrong, the tram which had a human driver did.

Until or unless these Google vehicles have dedicated roadways in which no other vehicle or pedestrian is present, the human element is always going to come into play.

Posted by Sarah D.
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Do the people who welcome the "new, more law abiding roads of the future" realize that they will be giving up their humanness to be ruled by a computer? The right to choose, to make your own decisions will be taken out of your hands and given to a computer. I can't imagine that the roads will be safer in the future because the "speeders" and "reckless drivers" won't be the ones buying the driverless cars! So not only will people be giving up their right to choose, to make mistakes, to be human, the roads still won't be any safer!

Posted by Sign me up!
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

I remember when microwave ovens were going to give us all cancer. I remember when email would ruin society by removing 1:1 interaction. Lately the handset we all use will give us brain cancer. Except none of that id or will happen.

"Humanness" caused the 12 accidents logged in the program. Give me the safer option. It really won't matter if speeders are around, they will be locked out of speeding by the sheer numbers of autonomous cars actually obeying the posted rules of the road. I for one can not wait!
I did think it humorous the way you claimed autonomous cars equate to "being ruled by a computer"
Being _RULED_. A bit dramatic yes? OMG the dark overlord of technology will rule us all. Yah, I don't see it that way at all.

Posted by JonSnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2015 at 8:02 am

I hope they are testing these cars in snowy, icy, and rainy cities where driving takes some real skills and good judgement. It is easy to drive in California.

Posted by Oh Yah, You Betcha, eh?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

@JonSnow, I'm sure they will during that phase of the roll out. It shouldn't be that big if a jump in a few years. Besides, traction control sensors and automated controls have come a long way. What is even currently available in some euro sedans is astounding.

Regarding good judgements and skill:
Remember that for everyone using good judgement in snow and ice, there are others using bad judgement. No bad judgments are made with ego-less self drivers. The skills are the easy part as those are programmed and programmed to make the perfect, minute adjustments to wheel traction in order to maintain control even in rapidly changing and variable conditions..
Skill that most on the road currently do not possess.

Posted by Geek
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:26 am

Geek is a registered user.

@Sarah D
At least some of the people that love talking on their phones while eating breakfast and shaving or applying makeup while not paying attention on the road will drive those cars and that will make our roads safer.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 10:55 am

A couple of things the self-driving cars could improve on...

1) Driving 25mph in 35 mph zones, most notably on Shoreline Blvd and El Camino Real.
2) Driving 15 mph in 25mph zones, specifically in school zones where the speed limit is reduced "when children are present". Whenever I see the self-driving cars doing 15mph along these stretches of road, there hasn't been child (or even a pedestrian on the sidewalk) in sight - nada - Just the self-driving car meandering along at 15mph, when it should be cruising closer to the posted speed limit of 25mph on a one lane road.

I'm not advocating speeding, just getting closer to the posted speed limit.

Posted by Trash Truck
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2015 at 12:46 pm

These GOOGLE cars get completely confused when following a garbage truck. They do not know how to go around the truck, even when there is ample room. And they are too stupid to pull over and let people pass by. Instead, they sit there behind the truck blocking traffic for the entire block.

Posted by Geek 2
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Of course if people think this isn't a test process and that this is the "Finished" product, I could see where people would say they don't work.
It's early. The Apollo Rocket had some back-steps during the testing period as well.

Remember though, they generally act by the rules of the road so when you say there was "ample room", I hear that as a human judgement. Was it truly legal to pass the truck? I would need to see some sort of measurement and compare that with the allowed distance to legally pass another vehicle on a residential area.

I think most frustrations will happen early on as people understand how many rules of the road they had been breaking and are shown how to actually drive within the law by the Google cars. It will be quite an eye opening adjustment period for them.

Posted by rita
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I would like to ride in one.

Posted by Want
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 5:16 pm

I would SOOOO use this. I would program in all my errands and sit back and relax while my car took me to where I wanted to go. I'm even imagining a valet call button so it would come get me curb side. How great would that be!!!!

I do find the humor in someone actually tailgating a driver-less car. That's the best! Obviously all logical thought has left the driver who does that.

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2015 at 5:43 pm

True is a registered user.


If driving in CA is as easy as you say why are so many Californians so bad at driving?

Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

I was just sitting in my yard and watched a google car try to negotiate a left turn from Fairmont, North onto Hope. It pulled into the intersection and stopped, essentially blocking another car that had the right of way. Then it took a very awkward wide path and drove on. It circled the block another six times in ten minutes and every time it entered the intersection and choked.

Wave of the future?

Like others have said, unless they have a dedicated right of way, free of intersections and humans, they will likely never be on our roads. and if they do manage to hoodwink our lawmakers into thinking they are safe, that will come to an abrupt end when a Palo Alto student decides to jump in from of one.....

Posted by Beta Test
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 9, 2015 at 8:42 am

Greg, are you under the impression that this is the finished product? You know that they are just now starting to work out the fine tuning and trouble spots, right?

Understanding what goes on during a test period(finding ways to challenge the system)I would expect that they focus on the trouble spots as you described in their test programs.

Personally I'm more amazed at the thousands and thousands of maneuvers they CAN do rather than anecdotal trouble spots, but again, that's why they are testing it. Besides, I see human driven cars do bonehead maneuvers daily, every time I am on the road in fact. I'll take an anecdotal delay that can be fixed with a software update over a user base filled with so many unskilled and egotistical humans doing whatever they want.

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

True is a registered user.

So what I'm getting from the complaints above that the major transgression of the self driving cars is that on a few rare occasions it took some poor soul an additional 24 seconds to traverse a 1/4mi school zone.

Talk about 1st world problems.

Given the frequency with which the MVPD has to come out and station itself in front of Graham Middle to keep speeds under control and discourage unsafe turns (and the parents dropping off their precious little snowflakes are the worst offenders) I would think that people would welcome this.

Let's exercise a little bit of perspective here why don't we?

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm


snip... "So what I'm getting from the complaints above that the major transgression of the self driving cars is that on a few rare occasions it took some poor soul an additional 24 seconds to traverse a 1/4mi school zone." ...


I hope you are not referring to my comment upthread where I noted a couple of things that the google self-driving cars could "improve on" (my term) -- as being a "major transgression" (your term) -- of the self-driving cars. If you are, well, I posted my observations not because I am in any sort of rush, but simply because they are my observations, and something I would hope that the engineers would be able to iron out as they continue to to improve on the technology. I mean it would be helpful if the self-driving cars were able to adjust to the varying speed limits based upon time of day (if indicated by signage) and/or presence (or not) of pedestrians, and not just because the vehicle is near a school zone. Needs some tweaking. Constructive's not a bad thing.

Talk about jumping to conclusions.

Let's exercise a little bit of perspective here why don't we?

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

On driving along San Antonio Road this morning, I noticed a group of the new "top hat" versions driving around the top of the building on the old Mayfield site. I couldn't help thinking they looked like a group of bumper cars. I think they will cause a lot of mirth when we start seeing these driving on our roads! :)

Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Until these kinds of things are 100% un-hackable..... NO!

Posted by Where ya been???
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Too late. They've been YES for the past few years.

Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm

@MVResident67, if you want to give feedback to the Google engineers, this is NOT the place to do it. They have a special web site set up for that (Web Link ), as mentioned in the article. This forum is for..... well I am not sure what it is for.

Posted by BIgger problem
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Forget these so-called dangerous cars. Did you know that MV has gun stores like the one on Moffet that are supplying criminals with weapons and ammunition??? That's right! Read about shootings in the paper? Someone is making money on they. Someone very local!

Before we complain that one of the top tech companies in the world is inconveniencing us while testing their game changing vehicles, let's talk about what we can do to rid our fair city of these arms merchants!

Posted by Air Marshall
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 10, 2015 at 11:36 am

If anyone has ever wondered what an attempt to "Hijack" a discussion looks like, the above post serves as a nice example.
BIgger problem, your new issue should be made in a new topic thread.

Back to the actual topic at hand though, I agree with the poster who mentioned mirth upon seeing the pod car versions. I remember simply smiling when I would see the new VW bugs upon their re-introduction. I can see the pods having the same affect.

Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I sincerely hope that Google realizes that hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius are far more practical and affordable than politically correct but very impractical and expensive all-electrics.

Posted by Huffle Puffle, Harumph
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

I sincerely hope OldMV realizes that current technology is not what will be used in the mass roll out of these cars, which is many years out.
Ask Tesla or anyone with any knowledge of the trends what battery technology will do in the next 10 years.

Right now, on this small scale, all electric makes PERFECT sense. It eliminates the complexities of the hybrid engine so the engineers can focus on the complexities of the self driving technology. The hybrid will have a small place on the road, if any in 5-10 years, so creating it on a hybrid platform would definitely be the incorrect plan.

These guys aren't thinking ""Now" they are thinking "Future"

Posted by Your Garden Variety Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2015 at 10:36 am

Ya know, for "driverless" cars, it sure is odd that there's always somebody in those cars' driver seats.

Posted by Riders
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 11, 2015 at 10:59 am

They have to be there by law right now. They need to record data as well

Posted by OfficeWorker
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 11, 2015 at 11:56 am

This is exciting and scary at the time. Self driving car is a major achievement. However, they still need improvement. I was right behind one of the Google car last week, 4.30pm heading down Castro and making a left onto El Camino, the google car made a sudden stop right in the middle of the intersection, then finished it's turn. I almost hit the car due to the sudden stop. As I completing the turn, I see why Google car stopped, there was a car coming from south of Castro and intend to make a right turn onto El Camino Real, but the car stopped at the corner, with plenty of room for google car to turn.

So, if I hadn't stopped on time and hit the google car, the accident would be my fault?

Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm

generally if you rear-end someone you are at fault, following to closely, not paying attention etc.

Posted by Whiplash
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 11, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Any car could suddenly stop at anytime for any reason (mechanical, animal, pedestrian...) It is the responsibility of the person behind to maintain a safe enough distance and a level of alertness to avoid the rear end collision.

Yes, it would be your fault for following too closely to stop and avoid the accident. Pay attention, cars with drivers can stop unexpectedly too.

Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

"Any car could suddenly stop at anytime for any reason (mechanical, animal, pedestrian...)"

People driving irrationally, erratically? No way ;) I'm looking forward to roads where more vehicles are driven logically, rationally, and predictably.

Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Personally, I find that the Google self-driving cars almost never inconvenience me or get in my way... unlike all the the bicyclists who believe the rules of the road don't apply to them.

Every day I encounter at least one or two of the Google cars, and they never get in my way. Every day I also encounter at least one or two bicyclists who ride through red lights and stop signs, ride on the left side of the road into oncoming traffic, occupy the left turn lane instead of using the pedestrian crosswalks, etc. The sooner we can get these menaces off the road and into self-driving cars instead, the better.

Posted by PS
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm

@ Alex M

Doesn't a biker have to transition into the left-most lane before turning left just like normal traffic?

Posted by Self driver
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 12, 2015 at 4:42 pm

@PS, Yes, they do. Alex just wanted to rant about bikes a bit.

Unfortunately for him bikes will continue to explode in usage (starting 10 yrs ago)and as more bike infrastructure is built, it will only continue to blossom. Bikes are the perfect tool for connecting mass transit to the final destination. Bikes are beginning to replace cars as upcoming generations like millennials mature.

Once the separated bike lanes are in place, though, those still stuck in their own car won't have to worry about bikes mixing in the car lanes so everyone should be happy by then.

Posted by Self driver
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Actually, PS, they don't HAVE to get into the left turn lane, but it is the best way for all. Another legal way would be to ride to the corner, push the crosswalk button to stop all traffic and then cross. Do the same at the next corner. Both ways are legal, one way is good for all, one way is bad for all. But it does give the haters something to get all bunched up about.

Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 13, 2015 at 9:04 am

I gotta say mostly I find the Google self-driving cars somewhat amusing.

I wonder if they can ever make a car with a big bump on the top stylish enough to catch on with the public.

One day I was driving down the freeway and saw a Google car exceeding the speed limit, making a no-signal lane change, and cutting off another car. I had to assume the driver had taken manual control, but had forgotten how to drive manually.

I was out walking my dog a few nights ago, standing at a street corner. I gave the self-driving car a "you go ahead" nod of my head, and then realized how stupid a thing that was to do.

Posted by MTV resident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

I love these cars. Yes, they may be hesitant while turning but at least they are not texting while driving! From personal experience, getting rear ended by distracted drivers is much worse than having to wait a few extra seconds to reach your destination.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2015 at 11:42 am

So, does Google let all those self-driving cars out of some sort of self-driving car corral at the same time or something?

I was driving down Miramonte just before 11AM this morning and as I was pulling up to the light at Miramonte & Cuesta I observed one google self-driving car pulling out of the Blossom Valley shopping center making a left on Miramonte while another Google self-driving car was turning left off of Cuesta and onto Miramonte and a third Google self-driving car was on Cuesta crossing thru the intersection of Cuesta and Miramonte (continuing on down Cuesta) Nothing wrong with any of that other than it was kind of a Google self-driving car mini traffic jam at the interesection of Miramonte & Cuesta. Maybe those cars could be spread out a little more evenly around the city, eh Google?

Posted by Think it through
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

The thought about taking people on bikes and putting them into cars is really backwards thinking. Why, if the idea is to decongest the roads, would you want to add more cars to the roads, driver or non-driver versions? It makes no sense. The less cars the easier the drive. Bikes mean less cars, less cars mean less traffic.

Posted by CoolKatie
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Personally I Can't wait for these cars to make become mainstream. Kudos to Google for taking on this challenge. Already I am not comfortable driving at night; some say I may not want to drive at all. Think what a boon this is going to be for seniors. I can't wait to have a ride in one.

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