"Self-driving" van actually driven by human disguised as car seat

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/08/08/self-driving-van-actually.html


“Brother, who are you? What are you doing? I’m with the news, dude”

Car seat guy drives away. Priceless.


reminds me of the awesome short story by edogawa ranpo where a man lives in a cushion for a while.

So the clickthrough says the study is about whether driverless cars will need extra/bigger safety equipment or signaling devices. I’m assuming that is because people may not take a driverless auto seriously?

I see absolutely no point in disguising someone who sits behind the wheel of his driverless vehicle. If not some bizarre hoax, then the ‘institute’ is trying to surreptitiously gather data (via cameras?) on how the public reacts to seeing a seemingly driverless vehicle do its thing.


I have trouble with the explanation as well. I mean, I could rationalize it and we could argue about how my rationalizations could be incorrect or unfairly criticizing said unknown scientists. But fundamentally this just feels like a fishy explanation.

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What came to mind (re fishiness) was this one fake chess playing automaton; see below. (A human chess player was hidden inside the automaton.)

My loony-conspiracy alter ego suspects that the driverless vehicle institute was trying to pull a serious fast one on someone, sort of along the lines of ‘look what we can do’.


It’s not a driverless vehicle - the person was driving it by conventional means.

The study, presumably, would have had to do with people’s reactions and behaviours upon seeing unoccupied driverless cars.

Could also have been a “study” a la candid camera…


Google stock drops dramatically after revelation that entire self-driving car initiative just a scam to trick people into sitting in engineers' laps


IIRC, prior research in this field has already been done.

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  • If designed well, automated vehicles have considerable potential for reducing congestion, increasing safety, and providing new transportation solutions for people who currently cannot drive.
  • This study is one of many being conducted to determine how best to design automated vehicles.
  • This study is investigating the potential need for additional exterior signals on automated vehicles.
  • This research is relevant for ensuring pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers are accommodated.
  • The study results will be made public.

“The driver’s seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings”.

…studying human (or local reporter dude’s) behavior in the presence of new technology in the real world) are extremely valuable to policy makers and vehicle manufacturers."


Required course for Va Tech engineers :smile: :


didn’t i just see this in an episode of sherlock?


The institute’s comment: “The driver’s seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings”. “Safely monitor” and “respond to surroundings” seems to infer that the driver is there to take over when needed, otherwise the vehicle is driving on its own.

Is there a more comprehensive story out there, because if my loopy ‘not a driverless vehicle’ fantasy scenario comment further down this thread is true…!

"Since 2009, Google cars have been in 16 crashes, mostly fender-benders, and in every single case, the company says, a human was at fault. This includes the rear-ender crash on Aug. 20, and reported Tuesday by Google. The Google car slowed for a pedestrian, then the Google employee manually applied the brakes. The car was hit from behind, sending the employee to the emergency room for mild whiplash.

Google’s report on the incident adds another twist: While the safety driver did the right thing by applying the brakes, if the autonomous car had been left alone, it might have braked less hard and traveled closer to the crosswalk, giving the car behind a little more room to stop. Would that have prevented the collision? Google says it’s impossible to say." -NYTimes

I assume that the team is trying to tackle this sort of problem and until they work it out a person in a seat costume with his or her foot on the brake may be the sensible thing to do.

Pretty cool project I’d say.


When reached for comment, these women had nothing to say to the press.



But the question still lingers. Why the costume?

Perhaps to get a true unfiltered reaction from drivers.

I passed a driver-less car on the DC beltway earlier this year and did a double take! Was there something wrong with the driver? Changing clothes mid drive? Somebody drop a cigarette butt? Booty call?, etc… All these things affect the way we perceive the car in front of, next to or behind us.

“True” is arguable. I suspect it has more to do with influencing the public’s perception of driverless vehicles. If the public sees a seemingly driverless vehicle getting around safely ‘on its own’, and that ‘display’ of safe operation is due to the hidden driver actually having to necessarily make corrections (read: vehicle is not 100% driverless), then the public perception would be that driverless vehicles are safe. That’s disinformation.

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Meanwhile somewhere a Boeing 737 taxis … “Brother, who are you? What are you doing? I’m with the news, dude”

@hecep That’s insane.

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Although rarely actually done, some current modern aircraft can land on their own automatically, but that’s not rare enough for me. I want the 60 year old veteran who’s been flying since he was 17 years old.

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