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Topic # 247968 5-Mar-2019 15:56
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In 2016, Volvo ‘promised’ that we would have ‘Deathproof Cars’ by 2020. 

 

That’s next year! 

 

You may also recall that about this time last year, an Autonomous Uber Volvo crashed and killed a pedestrian. According to the NTSB the car spotted the pedestrian 6 seconds before it hit and killed her. Volvo then said that their system relied on the ‘driver’ who was watching a movie on the entertainment system, to apply the brakes in an emergency situation. Is that reasonable when they are 'allowed' to watch TV. I often don’t hear someone (my wife) speaking to me when I am engrossed in something.

 

The insurance industry is very interested in risk with driverless cars, especially given the same brand, Volvo, said in 2015 that they would indemnify drivers of AV’s. That’s pretty cool because imagine if, for the lifetime of the car, you didn’t have to pay any insurance. That’s a pretty good saving on the premium you will pay for these vehicles.

 

So back to pedestrians. While I’m waiting for approval for my back fusion surgery from ACC, I go for a daily walk. I have found a fairly flat walk to our local beach, which is part of my core strength fitness regime.

 

In New Zealand we drive on the left hand side of the road so you would think that pedestrians facing others would also make way for them by keeping left. Not so in my experience. Some think that way, but most just walk where they walk, it may be that they want to be farther away from traffic or they just don’t think about it at all. Today, almost everyone I faced on my walk, took to the right.

 

In busy urban environments many solo walkers have developed a system where they can avoid bumping into other people. They often make eye contact, make an almost imperceptible move towards the left or right and monitor to see if the other person has likewise recognized this and moves the other way. Usually this works so well we are almost unaware of the communication. You can see it every day at the major diagonal crossings in the cities.

 

It works a large percentage of the time, but if a hundred people are at a busy crossing, I bet that at least 2 people will do that St Vitus’ Dance where they both go to the left, then they both go to the right and then they stop in front of each other and apologise, like ants sharing information as they march to the food store.

 

On my walks I find people who are oblivious, deep in thought, or perhaps listening to something through their headphones or noise cancelling earbuds that were recommended on GZ. 

 

  • There is the Alpha Male (I have fun with them, maybe there is a little alpha in me too). They want to show their domination by deliberately not moving even after that eye connection. They want me to move, but I don’t. That confuses them because it works most of the time. I often find that if I look them firmly in the eye, they will grudgingly move at the last possible moment.
  • There are the directionally challenged people who can’t walk in a straight line.
  • There are people who suddenly change their mind. You see them all the time in supermarkets and shopping malls. They are walking in a certain direction as you walk behind them, then they suddenly turn around and walk smack into you, perhaps thinking that they are the only person in their little world.
  • In those malls you also have the person facing you who hasn’t moved for 5 seconds, pondering their next purchase. Suddenly they remember where they are and why, and march straight into your face.
  • The same happens with people crossing the road. I think I’ve seen everything.

     

    • People step on the road and step off.
    • They go half way across the road and change their minds.
    • They go all the way over and change their minds.
    • They stand and move as if they are going to step and don’t.
    • They run across the road.
    • They ‘silly walk’.
    • They stop in the middle of a lane waiting for someone else.

I’m sure you get the point by now. I keep going back to Dan Ariely. People are predictably irrational. How do you train a car AI to understand how people will behave, when the people don’t understand themselves?

 

Marc Hoag of the Autonomous Cars podcast had an interesting thought about the insurance topic in Episode 83. There are more elements to the human problem. Humans programmed the computer algorithms. People installed the sensing equipment. Someone has to make sure that firmware upgrades are installed (Some want to lay that on the same customers who never updated their car navigation devices). I wonder if Volvo thought of those things when they made their ‘promise’?

 

So if humans will bump into each other more than 1% of the time and they create the ‘intelligence’ to stop cars bumping into each other; and in an autonomous vehicle crash, they still want to blame humans for the fatality (if I recall correctly they blamed both the pedestrian as a first reaction and then the hapless TV watching ‘driver’). Then there is a risk of human fault inherent in the system, and I haven’t even mentioned the people who built the computer or the LiDAR system as an OEM for the car manufacturer who installed it after having an argument with the boss, leaving it slightly out of alignment, or the dense fog or ambient light that stopped it from sensing effectively.

 

Bottom line? There are many unresolved issues that need to be addressed before insurance companies are prepared to cover driverless cars. I wonder if they will consider them more risky than human driven cars for a time?

 

So humor me and try this exercise when you get the chance. When you see someone walking the other way on the footpath next. Walk on the same side as them and don’t veer. See what happens. Of course don’t do it when they are supervising children and don’t in any way risk that anyone could hurt themselves, or get tangled between the dog owner and the leash, who didn't win the GZ dog sensor competition. Most of the time we do have a pretty good human radar guidance system, but it takes two to tango and I bet you will do a dance with someone in the near future if you try this.

 

I welcome your comments.





Luigi
Helping companies with location based problem solving, blogs and social media
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Webhead
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  Reply # 2191431 5-Mar-2019 16:38
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Some extra information about the Uber self driving cars:

 

 

 

Update: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued its preliminary report into the fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving car and a pedestrian in Arizona that happened in March.

 

The preliminary NTSB report reveals that while the self-driving car had an automatic emergency braking feature, this was disabled because the car was in "computer mode."

 

Uber disables emergency braking to prevent erratic driving behavior, according to the NTSB report, citing the ride-hailing service.

 

Though the car detected it needed to make an emergency braking maneuver 1.3 seconds before it struck the pedestrian who later died of her injuries, the system doesn't alert the driver to take control of the vehicle.

 

 

 

Source: Techradar

 

 

 

Sounds to me like it was Ubers fault and not a fault of the Volvo or its security systems. Disabling important security systems and not properly implementing them into the self driving functionality is a pretty big human mistake.

 

From what I have read about self driving cars, and from what I have seen of Googles implementation, the cars are a lot more careful in sketchy situations than humans would be, and they are able to pick up everything happening around the car. They will do a lot better in terms of safety than any human ever would be able to.

 

But I am pretty sure there will be bugs and mistakes, and that there will be a long time before its allowed to function fully autonomously on public roads. And thats more to do with culture than it has to do with technology.





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  Reply # 2191439 5-Mar-2019 16:59
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jarledb:

 

From what I have read about self driving cars, and from what I have seen of Googles implementation, the cars are a lot more careful in sketchy situations than humans would be, and they are able to pick up everything happening around the car. They will do a lot better in terms of safety than any human ever would be able to.

 

 

The problems with Autonomous vehicles are not the situations were they need to follow to rules, its the situations where they need to break the rules...

 

Having an algorithm to work that out is hard.... really, really hard...

 

 


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 2191440 5-Mar-2019 17:04
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wellygary:

 

The problems with Autonomous vehicles are not the situations were they need to follow to rules, its the situations where they need to break the rules...

 

Having an algorithm to work that out is hard.... really, really hard...

 

 

Do you have an example of such a problem?





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  Reply # 2191454 5-Mar-2019 17:48
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jarledb:

wellygary:


The problems with Autonomous vehicles are not the situations were they need to follow to rules, its the situations where they need to break the rules...


Having an algorithm to work that out is hard.... really, really hard...



Do you have an example of such a problem?



Police officer on points duty (or not on points duty). As they can tell a driver to override virtually any road rules if the situation warrants it.

How does the car reliably tell that the person is actually a police officer? And how does the police officer quickly tell the car what it needs to do? Especially if the person in the car doesn't hold a license, car doesn't have driving controls, or the car has no one in it.







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  Reply # 2191458 5-Mar-2019 17:54
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Here's a simple example of a problem. Many people don't know the road code effectively. For example you are supposed to indicate when you are leaving a roundabout in NZ. A lot of people going straight ahead indicate a right hand turn (perhaps because they weren't taking the first exit from the roundabout), but then don't turn and go straight ahead, exiting the roundabout. An autonomous vehicle would recognise that the vehicle is indicating a turn and give way. Taking Oteha Valley which is on my way to the motorway, this happens a lot of the time. An AV could end up not only stuck at the intersection for quite some time giving way to vehicles that indicate and turn, and those that indicate and don't turn. This particular one has two lanes on the roundabout. I would expect this problem could therefore be compounded by people who were behind the AV who will then change lanes and could in some cases (predictably irrational) shift into the lane the AV would have taken. 

 

Take another simple example. A car is in front of the AV is in lane 2 of a 3 lane motorway. Traffic is busy on the left, the algorithm says overtake on the right and traffic is slow in lane 2. The AV wants to overtake and continue at it's programmed speed (e.g. 95% of legal speed). The driver of the car in front of the AV has forgotten the AV must assume the car in front is going to move to lane 3. It can't break the rules so is stuck in lane 2 until the driver of the car ahead turns of his indicators. 

 

Here's a tongue in cheek example of where that could go.





Luigi
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  Reply # 2191512 5-Mar-2019 19:11
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Most of the time people are waiting at roundabouts there are plenty of gaps they could take. People dont apply giveway properly and instead treat it as a "i must wait here till the cars are gone" rule, not that they can go if there is a gap.

 

Autonomous cars will have radar and lidar giving great detail about if they will fit in the gap and be able to judge it better, indicating or not.





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  Reply # 2191569 5-Mar-2019 19:56
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This type of conversation this is devolving into (i.e. general driving and roundabouts etc.) always seems to revolve around a mix of fully autonomous vehicles and human piloted vehicles and lots of handwringing about "how will the autonomous vehicle cope" and "omg, it'll have to be programmed to decide who to kill..." and I roll my eyes every time. I can't see full autonomy in city type situations being allowed until all vehicles are autonomous. The whole predication of this conversation then becomes moot as the vehicles will communicate directly with each other and not have to compensate for idiot drivers.

 

As for the original topic - pedestrians who suddenly step out in front of an autonomous vehicle (or any vehicle for that matter) should just have to wear the consequences as far as I'm concerned. They need to take more responsibility for their own actions. There's a number of people here in Wellington who've been flattened after stepping out in front of a bus in the CBD. Every time this happens a bunch of people jump up and start saying how things are dangerous and xyz needs changing. Nope. Buses are pretty big and painted bright yellow here; it doesn't say a lot for you if you don't see one coming. If you're going to cross a road, pay attention. 


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  Reply # 2191840 5-Mar-2019 23:09
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pdaman: In 2016, Volvo ‘promised’ that we would have ‘Deathproof Cars’ by 2020

The car does not have to predict pedestrian behavior to achieve that. It has to stop in time to reduce the chances to injury level only. That's all.

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  Reply # 2191884 6-Mar-2019 07:04
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PDAMan:

 

I welcome your comments.

 

 

It is more a question of which type of driver makes fewer errors rather than completely eliminating driving mistakes....

 

There is no question in my mind that self driving cars will one day be safer than us clever 'monkeys'. 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2191905 6-Mar-2019 08:12
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A significant issue is what AI should focus on and what it should disregard. The world is a complicated place.





Amanon

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  Reply # 2191906 6-Mar-2019 08:13
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jarledb:

wellygary:


The problems with Autonomous vehicles are not the situations were they need to follow to rules, its the situations where they need to break the rules...


Having an algorithm to work that out is hard.... really, really hard...



Do you have an example of such a problem?


Wellington inner city suburbs. It’s not uncommon to have to drive up onto the foot path, go around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road.

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  Reply # 2191909 6-Mar-2019 08:31
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Self driving technology is nowhere near as developed as many industry analysts trying to sell you there story would have you think. We're still many, many years from mass market self driving cars that don't kill pedestrians (and Tesla's on autopilot that kill the drivers - once again a few days ago drove straight under a truck trailer and ripped the roof off the car).

 

The same people that believe we'll all have self driving cars in a few years are probably the same people that think 5G is going to revolutionise the world.


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  Reply # 2191987 6-Mar-2019 10:06
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sbiddle:

 

Self driving technology is nowhere near as developed as many industry analysts trying to sell you there story would have you think. We're still many, many years from mass market self driving cars that don't kill pedestrians (and Tesla's on autopilot that kill the drivers - once again a few days ago drove straight under a truck trailer and ripped the roof off the car).

 

The same people that believe we'll all have self driving cars in a few years are probably the same people that think 5G is going to revolutionise the world.

 

 

Amen to that.

 

Every morning on my commute to work, I like to imagine what a driverless car would do in each "weird" situation that arises. I have zero confidence that any computer/AI would be able to navigate these as efficiently as a good human driver.


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  Reply # 2191995 6-Mar-2019 10:19
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Benjip:

 

Every morning on my commute to work, I like to imagine what a driverless car would do in each "weird" situation that arises. I have zero confidence that any computer/AI would be able to navigate these as efficiently as a good human driver.

 

 

No human drivers, no problems ;)

 

I think driver-less cars should be allowed on motorways and special designed areas at the moment to mitigate the risk AI vs human stupidity. 

 

Perfect start points would be airports vehicles, they could communicate to aircrafts, ground end-points, etc. So all of these baggage delivery, passenger buses, fuel delivery, etc, etc

 

+ build motorways or just dedicated lines pure for AI cars, no human traffic allowed there. or AI powered trams, trains, etc





helping others at evgenyk.nz


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  Reply # 2192018 6-Mar-2019 11:04
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kobiak:

 

No human drivers, no problems ;)

 

I think driver-less cars should be allowed on motorways and special designed areas at the moment to mitigate the risk AI vs human stupidity. 

 

Perfect start points would be airports vehicles, they could communicate to aircrafts, ground end-points, etc. So all of these baggage delivery, passenger buses, fuel delivery, etc, etc

 

+ build motorways or just dedicated lines pure for AI cars, no human traffic allowed there. or AI powered trams, trains, etc

 

 

That sounds fabulous for the 10–20 people who would buy cars specifically for those AI-only motorways. Not quite sure who would pay for the construction!


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