Autonomous cars are struggling to be safe but aggressive, as they follow the rules of the road and humans don’t.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.medicaldaily.com
It’s great to see this discussion happening in Medical Daily. One of the comments that struck me was culture. I was reading in the book Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) about the significant cultural differences between one country.
In my recent trip, mostly in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany there was a noticeable difference between drivers in each country. Dutch drivers were far more considerate of each other, whilst the Germans drove much faster and were more aggressive. There are cultural norms in each country and you need to fit into those norms in order to drive safely. I can imagine a driverless car going into Roman mode when in Italy and if the book is right, but it would be a disaster if the mode didn’t change when the same car was driving you through The Netherlands.
Even in the USA there are norms like the California Roll aka the Sushi Stop, where vehicles never actually fully stop, or the Pittsburgh Left where the change from red to green is a signal for a left turning driver to quickly bolt across the oncoming traffic. A practice that is apparently normal in Beijing too.
Back home in Auckland we are aggressive drivers, especially on the motorways and if you match the tone, driving isn’t difficult for locals, but people from the Waikato are intimidated by the way we drive. The problem is if you don’t fit in, people close the gap and you could find your autonomous car stuck trying to decide whether to stay on the illegal safety strip or to push its way in, which its rules wouldn’t allow it to.
I wonder how it would handle red light runners, especially those at peak commute times that then get stuck with half of the car still on the roadway when the opposing traffic gets a green light. Would it turn into gridlock.
Systems work well when everyone behaves pretty much the same. I’m not saying red light runners should get away with it, they cause accidents and a lot of stress. When illegal behaviour is the norm, it makes it very difficult to program an autonomous car to strictly obey the law. I worry that this will cause gridlock.