Thursday, March 22, 2018

autonomous technology and companies’ responsibility in ensuring the safe deployment of robo cars and collision prevention tech

The Truth About Cars wrote a very good article in response to the recent Uber robo car killing the woman crossing the road in the dark:

The victim, Elaine Herzberg, does indeed cross directly into the path of the oncoming Volvo XC90 and is visible for a fleeting moment before the strike, but the vehicle’s lidar system should have seen her well before that. Any claims to the contrary are irresponsible.

Uber’s autonomous hardware should have seen the woman even in pitch black.

The approach was straight and Herzberg was already in the street, having crossed at least one lane before impact. Lidar is supposed to be the golden goose for autonomous technology, allowing for digital imaging beyond what the human eye is capable of. But it completely failed in this instance

It raises questions about the preparedness of autonomous technology and companies’ responsibility in ensuring their safe deployment. For the most part, it’s been a bonanza for tech firms and automakers wanting to test on the open road.

The government has offered almost no oversight in the hopes that self-driving cars will get here sooner. But critics have suggested this is wildly irresponsible, as it operates almost entirely upon a company’s good faith.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only mandates a “Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment” of autonomous vehicles. Thus far, only two organizations have bothered produce one — General Motors and Google’s Waymo.

While it would be prudent to hold companies to a higher standard than the federal government seems willing to do, autonomous vehicles may still be the best defense against drunk or utterly inept driving.

 That said, they may also set the stage for a dystopian future where manual driving is illegal, companies endlessly advertise to you in-car, and hackers can assume total control of your vehicle. The point is that practically every subtle aspect of the tech is being ignored while the market attempts to get it ready lickety-split.

 None of these issues are being addressed and safety checks have fallen by the wayside.

here is the location, at the time of the collision, and days later, to show you what a dark video was on the Uber dash cam, vs what you or I would see there in person

thanks Bruce!


  1. I don’t expect the current government do anything to thwart free enterprise for the benefit of ordinary citizens.

  2. IF a person is really too distracted or busy to drive, maybe just call a cab or take a bus, even phone a friend. This technology scares the shit out of me.

  3. So it was flaw of software or hardware?

    1. the verdict is not in yet, but judging for myself, the system that was supposed to be looking for things coming into the lane and apply the brakes failed, it even had the clear lane (where the woman came into the path of the car) to search without obstruction.

  4. There are people that seem to think that little or no regulation is a good thing for the American people, I disagree.

    1. it was incredible for the 1st 100 years. We accomplished amazing things. What have we accomplished in the past 10? Increased school shootings, increased bankruptcies, out of control debt of all kinds, out of control oxytocin and other opiod prescription drugs, lack of American made products, increased Mexican and Chinese production of American companies products, all 3 legacy car corporations bankrupt and testifying before congress, Nafta and ELDs destroying the American truckers career jobs... I don't think I need to go on. Many of those are in the heavily regulated (fucking ELDs are the most govt regulated things ever) govt oversight and controlled fields. Yet the country is flopping and flailing like a fish out of water

  5. I still don't understand what the problem is that we are trying to solve with self-driving cars. I've heard the tech companies bloviate on all the "advantages" but they seem to be treating effects (symptoms) not causes. Nobody is challenging them. It's just like we HAVE to do this to give all the kids who were in robotics in high school something to do.

    I, for one, will never ever be a passenger in an untethered autonomous vehicle. I will ride in an autonomously operated train, but not something that must navigate an unpredictably complex environment. You can't write code and build systems to address situations you can't anticipate.

  6. If the autonomous system failed to stop for a relatively predictable human crossing the road, how will it react to an animal? I read somewhere else that the OE collision avoidance systems of the Volvo were deactivated when the Uber system was installed. I'm curious if the Volvo system would have avoided the accident.