Saturday, 26 August 2017

Fully autonomous cars

I'm reading a lot in the past couple of days essentially saying that people are being irrational for being afraid to use fully autonomous cars.

I don't agree it's irrational at all. We have to bear in mind that computers can't actually see. It's difficult for them to make sense of their environment; certainly if they merely go by light as we do. Of course, hopefully, they'll use lidar. But there's cheap lidar systems, and expensive one's. You can be sure that they'll use the cheapest ones they can get away with. Their number one priority, after all, is to make a profit

Pot holes, debris on the road, crisp packets, rabbits running across the road. The number of unknowns the environment can throw at the car is unlimited. How do you program the car to distinguish between an empty carrier bag which it can drive through, and a rock? If they brake too suddenly, cars behind driven by people might well crash into the back.

What happens when ambulances, fire engines etc with the sirens blasting are in the nearby vicinity? What happens with road works? What about the possibility of remote hacking? How are they going to negotiate inclement weather conditions like heavy snow?

And these cars will be complex. Mechanically complex like other cars, but also complex in terms of all the programming. Suppose a few lines of code cause problems? Happens all the time with computer games and they have to issue patches (which might resolve the original problem, but cause a whole new load of problems). But your life is at stake, you cannot afford to have them programmed incorrectly!

It just seems sensible to me to wait until many people have travelled safely in them, and their track safety records exceed that of people driven cars, before getting into one.

Also see my blog post:

Self-Driving Cars

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