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Monday, September 3, 2012

Driverless cars in the news again!


This article discusses how autonomous cars would reduce accidents on the road (by eliminating human error) and revolutionize ground transportation.
I have in an earlier post discussed the perils of fully automated systems; so I am not going into lengths about that here.
An excerpt from the article that caught my eye:
“It is even possible to make judgments about the mental or physical state of other drivers. Software developed by Probayes, a firm based near Grenoble, in France, identifies and then steers clear of drivers who are angry, drowsy, tipsy or aggressive. Upset drivers tend to speed up and brake quickly. Sleepy drivers tend to drift off course gradually and veer back sharply. Drunk drivers struggle to keep a straight line. The firm sells its software to Toyota, Japan’s car giant. Google’s cars have even been programmed to behave appropriately at junctions such as four-way stops, edging forward cautiously to signal their intentions and stopping quickly if another driver moves out of turn.”
This means that not only will these cars be equipped with sensors that can detect traffic lights, pedestrians, obstacles, road signs, and compute position relative to other vehicles, these cars may also make maneuvers based on inferences of the mental state of nearby drivers. Obviously a lot of behavioral modeling will be applied to make these inferences. There are so many things that can go wrong in these computations and then we go back to the ironies of automation.

Photo credit: Adam sk via Wikimedia Commons. 

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