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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  October 25, 2015 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT

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hello. welcome to kqed "newsroom." why isn't san francisco's mayor's race more competitive? we're going to look at that later in the show. first the future of driving. before long, you may be able to buy a self-driving car made by apple, google or tesla. those companies along with some of the world's biggest automakers are all vying for a piece of what's called the autonomous vehicle market. what will it look like when our cars drive us? who will be responsible for any crashes that occur? kqed science produce r and crai miller have the story.
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>> reporter: daniel and martin step into a sleek sedan for a drive in california. once they get on highway, it's clear this isn't your typical drive nor is this like any other car on the road. >> the only thing i have to do now is press the two buttons and let go of the steering wheel. the car is taking over the complete driving task. what you see here is the first generation of an automated driving system. the car doesn't assist you anymore. it is in charge of driving. >> reporter: welcome to the future of driving. cars smart enough to drive themselves. prototypes of self-driving cars are on the road in singapore, sweden and here in silicon valley. >> i'm excited about self-driving cars. >> reporter: this is ford's chief technology officer. the ford edge can spot and pull into parking spaces. >> over the 100 years of the industry, there has been a lot of great technologies
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introduced. the self-driving vehicle is in a different category. >> reporter: self-driving cars could rededpifine how we drive live. when machines can take over of the wheel, motorists can use their time in new ways says an information scientist. >> if we don't have to sit behind a steering wheel looking out at the road and instead can be productive while we're in our cars, that changes the way we work. do we read, educate ourselves, do we play? it changes what it means to get in a car. >> reporter: major automakers have opened research centers in silicon valley to develop technology that enable cars to sense and interpret the road. tech giants are racing to au automate automobiles. in september, apple met with officials at the dmv to discuss oug autonomous vehicles adding to reports it plans to release a self-driving car in a few years.
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google has been developing and testing self-driving cars. this is google's latest prototype. it's driverless and can go up to 25 miles per hour. >> they are going with the driverless car concept where you have a movable steering wheel. you may or may not have a rearview mirror. it's designed to operate at low speeds. a lot of automakers are take a different approach, which is to have a vehicle in which the human driver drives some of the time and the car drives some of the time. the national highway traffic safety administration has developed levels of autonomy. levels one and two are where one or two functions are automated. level three is where the car can for some period of time really take the responsibility for driving. level four is when there's no one responsible for the driving task other than the car itself. you may not be able to buy a
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level four car until 2030, but we will see those vehicles come into our lives sooner than i think a lot of people are anticipating. >> reporter: uc berkeley transportation engineer thinks it will take decades before cars can safely navigate all the complex situations human drivers encounter. >> to develop that software to the level that it can be as safe as a skilled human driver or even as an average human driver is a huge challenge. on average, a vehicle will drive 3.3 million hours between fatal crashes. or 65,000 hours between injury crashes. think what have it would take to get a mobile phone that wouldn't have the software fault in millions of hours of operation. but if the computer that's driving the vehicle suffers that failure, somebody could die. >> reporter: 33,000 people in the u.s. die each year in car
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accidents. more than 90% of those accidents are due to human error. >> i have a 15-year-old daughter about to get her license. i am terrified of the thought of her being licensed to drive. it's not that i don't trust her. what i don't know is how people are going to drive around her. computers do not get tired. they don't fall asleep. i definitely believe that self-driving cars are going to make our roadways safer. >> reporter: this is the deputy director of the department of motor vehicles. in 2014, the agency issued rules for testing autonomous cars in california. >> with the testing regulations, we want to ensure that there's a person -- a human being in the vehicle that's capable and qualified to be able to take over control if there's a problem. >> reporter: to get a testing permit, companies must have $5 million worth of insurance to handle any claims arising from
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accidents. along with california, nevada, michigan, the district of columbia and florida also have regulations for self-driving vehicles. that can pose a challenge for carmakers. >> when you go from california to nevada, for example, we have to switch license plates every time we drive over the border, which is kind of not useful. what we would really like to have is a federal regulation that is the same everywhere. >> reporter: but at the moment, there are no federal safety regulations. >> the national highway traffic safety administration is the one that develops those rules and regulations. they felt it was premature to have regulations around public operation of these vehicles, because it's such a new technology. >> reporter: in june, the dmv released data on accidents involving six self-driving cars and standard cars. the self-driving cars were not at fault. some lawyers think technology may help determine who is to blame when humans and machines
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share the wheel. >> while it's being driven by you, i think you would be responsible. while it's driving itself, then the manufacturer would be responsible. both the california and the nevada regulations, every self-driving car has to have what i call a black box much like the black box in an airline which preserves the last 30 seconds prior to any accident. >> reporter: they could make it safer and easier for the disabled and seniors to get around. >> i am 72 years old. i can't wait for self-driving cars. the thrill of driving a car in my teenage years is long past. i want to be driven. >> reporter: if the thrill of driving is replaced by the thrill of being driven, some may question owning a car at all. >> you could call up a vehicle on your phone. it will pick you up, drop you to your destination and carry on helping someone else. the need to own a car becomes
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less and less and without a driver it can be cheaper and more convenient to share a car than to own a car. >> reporter: in the future, your car may even zip along an automated highway with its own license to drive. >> how do we prepare for a world where self-driving cars rule the road? here is scott shaffer. >> joining me to discuss the impact of self-driving cars are nivi, an information scientist, bernard, a deputy director with the california department of motor vehicles and stephen, an attorney with the silicon valley law group. welcome to all of you. so many issues to dive in. let's begin with you and the rest of you can answer as well. what do you see as the biggest obstacles to bringing the cars to the road so more people can use them? >> one of the hardest things is how do we prove safety? we can think about, does the vehicle avoid the kinds of common mistakes people make? what about the uncommon
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mistakes? what about the issues related to cyber security that we have -- humans don't deal with? >> what do you mean by uncommon mistakes? >> the vehicle introduce new kinds of air? if someone hacks into the vehicle, this opens the door to all kinds of problems. if your car is destined to go -- you drive it from paioint a and and someone hacks in and gets you somewhere else. there's new challenges that a car that drives itself can introduce. >> the question of consumer acceptance. >> i think a lot of people are very excited about this technology. consumer acceptance can be tremendous if the safety issues are addressed. >> bernard, what about you? from the dmv's perspective, what are the hurdles? >> one of the largest hurdles, how do we ensure the vehicles are safe for us? safety of the motoring public is of utmost important. >> the vehicles or the people driving them or -- >> that's a good point. it's both.
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we need to ensure as this technology rolls out that the motoring public remains safe. to do that, we need to ensure that those vehicles while they are driving themselves follow the rules of the road and are operating in a manner that will remain safe. the other issue is the technology changes so quickly that regulators need to keep up with the technology. that in itself presents a problem. >> stephen, from a legal perspective, what jumps out at you? >> the number one problem with adoption of driverless car technology is the difficulty it of overcoming liability. deciding who would be liable in the event of an accident is a top issue. from the legal perspective also, we have to be concerned about the effectiveness of the technology from a safety perspective and to resist cyberattacks. >> some automakers have said, we will accept responsibility for crashes. to what extent would you expect that to happen in order to get
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them introduced and get some acceptance by consumers that they would -- someone will have to take responsibility. maybe it would be the automaker. >> the more the driving the vehicle does, it's naturally the case that the automakers are going to have to take responsibility. the murky ground is when they start sharing responsibility, when the human is in control for some of the time and then maybe presses a button and the car is in control. that's where you get some really complicated concerns around who is actually responsible for the safe operation. >> bernard, the dmv issued these regulations for makers of the cars. what was the focus of the regulations? why did you feel a need to get them out quickly? >> actually, there were -- there are two sets of regulations. the first is regulations around manufacturer's testing of the vehicles. there are a number of guidelines and rules that the manufacturers need to meet in order to test those cars. >> give me one or two. >> for example, there are regulations around the drivers. there needs to be a test driver
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in the car even though the car can operate itself. we felt it was important that a human being be in there ready, willing and able to take over. >> you don't trust the technology? >> well, technology changes. we need to ensure that the technology is safe. by having the human in there, we felt that was important. >> adding the human in there might introduce a source of risk. the handoff between automated driving and manual mode might itself be a source of risk where the driver might not be alert enough to take control at any specific time. google has taken the approach with the second prototype of having a fully autonomous vehicle where it's not possible for the human to take control. jumping to full automation for them, their philosophy was looking at, it's safer to have 100% automation than 98%. why are companies like google and tesla is more obvious, but google and apple, why are they interested in getting into the car business? is is it not the car business?
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>> there's new field of technology that's required for autonomous vehicles. it's no longer about building the cars. it's about making them smart. they have a natural advantage there. it's about software. the interests that they may have is that we're already looking into what people do online. with these vehicles you can bring online into your everyday lives. where you go online, the parallel is where do you go in your real life? what information do you need? what do you do? it's really our whole world online coming into our cars. >> doesn't that raise questions about privacy? that's a big concern that folks have is google and facebook, they know what i'm doing, where i'm going on vacation, who i'm with. there's a sense now of concern about pervasive surveillance. in fact, this past week, the european court of justice had a very important decision that noted that the government's surveillance of information through services like facebook created privacy risks. we would face the same possibility with people knowing where you are driving, what time
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you arrived and where you are going. >> we saw in the setup piece that ford and some of the more conventional automakers are involved in this. is it self-preservation? they have to keep up. if you were ford or any of the other automakers, would you be worried apple and google are going to eat your lunch? are we looking at some kind of a joint venture? >> the traditional automakers are looking at this from a safety perspective in that the technology will make our roads safer. at the same time, the silicon valley companies are looking at the automobile as the ultimate mobile device. it take u.s you to places. we depend on a car for our daily lives. by merging mobility and that technology is something that they would see as a competitive advantage. >> traditionally, companies in detroit -- they need to get on board with this technology if they want to survive in an era where you have millennials who constantly want to be online and
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connected. so as the demographics shift of people who want cars and why they want them, i think detroit needs to keep up. >> in that point about why they want them. if you look outside our building, there's dozens of cars parked. they're doing nothing. they're sitting there all day long. are we going to think about cars potentially in a completely different way? what might that mean for a spinoff new industry? >> it's potentially a new business model where you have transportation as a service. i can subscribe to a transportation service whereby when i need a car i can call it up with my smart device. it's there when i need it. i can drive to where i'm going and it can serve somebody else. it will lower my cost of ownership and save a lot on environmental problems. >> more car sharing maybe? >> more car sharing. imagine something like 30% of our urban centers are used for parking. if we have this shared model and we can free up the space, think of san francisco, where we don't have you are in housing. if we can free up parki ining
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lots -- >> and garages. >> that's right. >> bernard, the dmv helps 16-year-olds get their licenses. you renew smog certificates and you check and make sure vehicles are registered. you don't have a lot of software engineers and people who think about safety. is this going to -- what is this going to mean for the dmv? >> it's a big challenge for us. the law was passed. sv-1298 put the onus on the dmv to develop the regulations. you are right, we don't have -- we're an organization of 10,000 employees. our core function is to license drivers, register vehicles. we don't have a core team of software engineers or automotive engineers. yet we have to develop the regulations. it's a challenge. >> when you think about this question of cyber security, hacking, somebody remotely with not very good intentions taking control of a car, how concerned are you about that as a possibility? >> i'm extremely concerned about the risks having to do with
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cyber security. human beings have always created ways of attacking the various devices that have been invented over the decades of information technology that we have seen. all kinds de s of devices have hacked. ki i can't see driverless cars being different. we need safeguards to control the vehicles and the systems that support our vehicles to make sure we don't have attackers causing safety problems. >> in order to regulate these cars, the dmv i would think would need to know how they work. what are the i'll go companies like apple, pretty serious about privacy and security themselves. are they going to share that with the dmv? >> steve brought up one of the biggest issues, actually, two of the biggest issues, privacy and cyber security. to develop those regulations, we're working closely with academics in the field as well as our federal partners and our state partners. we work very closely with the
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national highway traffic safety administration. and also we meet with the different companies. we get an idea about how they are developing the technology, gathering all that was information so that we can develop some sound regulations. >> from a safety perspective, it would be helpful for the regulators to understand exactly how these cars are working. on other hand, trade secret law would protect those and there might be some resistance on the part of the manufacturers to share all of the information. >> how do you think this will change the concept of driving? >> i think it's changing. younger people are looking at cars completely differently. imagine if we no longer have to own our cars. it changes the way we use land. it changes the way we shop and get healthcare and get around. the knock on affects of that can be incredible related to environmental issues. climate change, for instance, one of the hardest ways to solve climate change, one of the hardest aspects is through greenhouse gas emissions, our vehicles. if we can have technology that's
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incredibly efficient, there's a lot of ways this can happen. >> as we move ahead with the technology, there are going to be winners and losers. what are your thoughts about that? >> i'm always concerned about the people who rely on driving as a source of reliable income. there's millions of americans who depend on this. although the technology will advance, we need to think about the impact. >> i also think about how the transportation system will change our cities. we need to think about how we could unleash new opportunities in changing our cities to take advantage of new technology. >> gives a lot of possibilities for new cities being designed from the start. what about you? >> i think winners would be people that do not have the ability to drive. in the future, they will be able to get their mobility back. >> brave new world upon us. thanks for thinking it through with us.
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thank you all very much. >> thank you. >> you can watch our documentary self-driving cars, the road ahead, intersection wednesday night at 7:30. now, the san francisco mayor's ray where ed lee is running for a second term. there are five other candidates in the race. none have the resources to mount a serious challenge. joining me to discuss the race is marisa lagos. why isn't he facing stronger competition? >> it has something to go him and something to do with the reality of politics. being an incumbent, it's hard to challenge an incumbent. ed lee has by all accounts sort of just steered the ship. hasn't made big waves in any way one or another. i think there is some dissatisfaction with the way the city is headed. i don't know that people blame him entirely. he has the sort of power structure behind him. he has the sort of traditional business allies and the new tech
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allies. he has folks like willy brown who carry a lot of water in this town. again, he doesn't have the kind of enemies we have seen from other maybe more charismatic mayors. >> he has a lot of money in his campaign coveruld have coffers. >> basically unopposed. he has what i would characterize as protest candidates running against him. nobody serious. mark leno did consider a challenge from the left last year. ultimately backed off. i think that money had something to do with it for sure. >> ed lee has been in the inner sa sa sanctum of city hall. >> i think that it helped him as somebody who had never run for politics. he was appointed as a caretaker mayor five years ago.
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and he had been a city administrator. he had been running city hall to some extent for a long time. he had risen through the ranks. at the beginning, it helped him. i'm not sure that good will has carried through his administration. he has alienated a lot of people in city hall. he has kept the same chief of staff. so in some ways things haven't changed that much in room 200 at city hall. i think that when he first got in there, having the connections and the deep understanding of the way the city functioned made it so that he was able to come in and having never been in that leadership position before sort of have that smooth transition and convince people that first year that he was the right person. he ultimately made the surprise run for mayor. >> we have seen an interesting evolution of ed lee as well. he started many years in chinatown as a tenants' rights
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advocate. landlords gave him the nickname communist ed lee. now we have a new nickname for the mayor by many cams him tech friendly mayor ed lee. has it been interesting for you to see sort of that evolution? >> yeah. i mean, again, i think the early days were before my time in the city. by the time i think a lot of people who are both watching and voting here were aware of ed lee -- he was the city administrator. he was a bureaucrat. but i do think that as these last five years have progressed that there's been a lot of surprise about just how cozy he is with tech. this caused problem with some of the old guard you have seen d diane feinstein come out in favor of a ballot mthat the mayr
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has embraced. you see this playing out. chinatown powerhouse, one of the reasons he got elected and appointed in the first place, rose pac split with him because of his appointment in district 3 to supervisor. i think in part because she's been disappointed at how much he has taken sort of business aside in a lot of these fights around housing and affordability. >> speaking of district 3, let's talk about that. julie christianson against aaron peskin. that district also encompasses chinatown. how much of that race is a referendum on the mayor? >> i mean, i think it absolutely is. i think that with some caveats. like anything in politics. this is one district. we have to be careful not to think that if aaron wins that this means that city wide everybody hates ed lee. i think that if you see the way
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this is played out, if you see the amount of attention the progressive on the left have put into peskin's race, it shows you how important this is. in part because of the die nayn of the board's vote. but i think that with the lack of a real mayor's race, this is where people see the opportunity to make a stand. julie christianson has been in some ways an under wewhelming supervisor. i think that has alienated her among some folks in chinatown. >> how pivotal do you think the champi chinese vote will be? >> i think it will be really important. aaron peskin is an interesting person. he was one of the first --
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besides willie brown, non-chinese candidates to break into chinatown. he is relying on that. rose pac who split with the mayor is supporting him. the mayor however has been out there. he is chinese. he has been saying vote for christianson. it's going to be fascinating the breakdown of the votes. >> the mayor enjoy s huge base f support among chinese. do voters lose when there isn't a more robust mayor's race? >> i think so. obviously as a member of the media, i like something a little more fun than a non-race. i think from a democratic perspective, not having that opportunity for a real debate is not great for our democracy. >> okay. november 3 we will see how it shakes out. our political reporter, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> that does it for us. for scott shaffer, i'm twi vu. for all of kqed's news coverage,
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go to kqed.org. support for science programming is provided by these generous contributors.
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>> brangham: on this edition for sunday, october 25th: rain-soaked texas contends with flash floods. president obama wants american school kids to spend less time taking standardized tests. and the president of honduras talks to us about the surge of domestic violence in his country. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america--

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