‘M City’ is expected to accelerate the production of usable, safe and convenient autonomous car technology as early as 2020.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.hngn.com
I love it when Science fiction meets reality. Instead of teaching children to drive, this complex is going to teach autonomous cars to drive. They are going to build a town emulating a real one complete with random people and robots, emulate every day circumstances and teach car computers how to deal with those situations.
Artificial intelligence is usually targeted at specific functions and if not linear, certainly dealing with predictable situations.
Google has demonstrated that their cars are still involved on accidents, even if they have “never caused one”. That means that they are still (like humans) not equipped in many cases to avoid them.
Humans are predictably unpredictable and will randomly do things like run out from behind buses, cross busy roads listening to their noise cancelling headphones. They will race each other, lose concentration behind the wheel due to fatigue, illness, drugs or alcohol. They will ignore people using indicators who wish to change lanes, they will even close the gap to make it difficult or impossible.
Now here’s an interesting thing, psychologists tell us that motorists are more likely to be let into a gap if they make eye contact with the other driver. Often people crossing a street will make eye contact with a driver, and in other circumstances, because they have made eye contact, a fleeting bond results in collaboration over right of way or driving behaviors.
Humans are not predictable beyond certain degrees. We allow ourselves to be distracted, we are driven by emotions, we have feelings about other motorists and make all sorts of judgements and then act on them. We get mad at other people who get in our way, we sometimes feel like we are the only ones with rights on the road.
If you read writers like Asimov and Dick, you will have read stories of revolts between robots, or androids and humans. What these companies with their autonomous cars are in fact building is artificial intelligences. They need to be.
Ask people in a Traffic Operations Center, whilst many incidents have clear commonalities, each one is different. Top that off with the compounding effect of each additional person or vehicle involved and you have a complex situation of quantum physics proportions.
Consider 2 circumstances. First you have a driverless car with 3 people in it, like the Google crash I blogged about last week https://solomoconsulting.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/google-car-causes-injury-for-the-first-time/. What does a car like that do when it crashes with people in it. What if it doesn’t have controls they can take over? What if they do, but were slid into the dash and the occupants can’t access them, for example to try to move the car to a safer spot?
What if the car has no passengers at all? It’s conceivable that driverless cars could be used for shipping goods or freight, or perhaps used as taxi’s, driving empty to pick up passengers. In an ideal world of dedicated roads or expressways for driverless cars, they will all be communicating together in a predictable manner, except when they or their logic systems break down.
Imagine if a car computer accidentally misinterpreted a speed, just simply added a zero or got it’s speed zone signals mixed up? Has your computer ever done inexplicable things under your expert control? I’ve seen a $10,000 POS terminal in a supermarket do that, just randomly out of the blue, charging customers thousands of dollars for their groceries. We were very fortunate that the numbers were so exaggerated so we were able to deal with it quickly. But imagine if it increased the prices by 6% and people didn’t notice. It’s just as possible. Have you ever had a car computer fail or do something wrong?
Finally, what happens when an autonomous car causes an accident? How are people going to react to that? Imagine you are leaving a motorway and you collide with a driverless car. What would you do, if it was unoccupied? How would you feel? How would people around you feel?