December 15, 2016

Gratuitous "Piling On"

What a relief that the latest "most important election in our lifetime" is over and we can get back to important debates, like the one over self-driving cars.

I don't know the maker but the operator is identified as "Uber." Right there at the ten second mark, Uber's self-driving Volvo wagon drives right through an intersection against a red light that a human operated car had already stopped for. Barely missing a pedestrian!

In its defense, Uber said the incident resulted from "human error." Rilly?

According to Uber, the cars aren't yet ready to be hit the streets without someone monitoring them, meaning someone from the company was likely behind the wheel. A statement issued by Uber Wednesday afternoon attributed the red-light being run in the video to an error by the person monitoring the car.

"This incident was due to human error," the statement read. "This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate."

But, if self-driving Ubers are safer, why do they need a human monitoring them from behind the wheel in the first place? Perhaps that human driver isn't the only entity who warrants suspension.

Technology Posted by JohnGalt at December 15, 2016 3:46 PM

Barely? Two car lengths? The pedestrian does not even slow down.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2016 4:43 PM

Without hyperbole, what kind of fake-news site would we be?

Seriously, "barely" is in the eye of the beholder. Is a pedestrian any less dead if she didn't see the train that hit her?

Why didn't the Ubermobile stop? My hypothesis is that the car that has the camera in it, stopped at the intersection, blocked its view of the signal on the left curb. [Werner Heisenberg, call your office.] But the violation is not excused. AI may be able to learn and even process for situations like this as well or better than humans. Until it can, however, jeeburz man, you gotta admit they belong on a test track.

And would you consent to at least a "panic button" for the poor passenger(s)?

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2016 6:10 PM

I hope I have not repeated this joke in this context but you know the old line "You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the friend you're hiking with." Human drivers are HORRIBLE. Autonomous cars, by the time you really have to worry about encountering them will likely be 10 or 100 times safer than their human counterparts.

If you had not clarified that your extreme example of danger was an autonomous Uber, I would have thought it was "Boulder, on a Wednesday."

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2016 10:41 AM | What do you think? [3]