Self-driving cars face a huge challenge in detecting bicycles


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/05/self-driving-cars-face-a-huge.html


#2

…but again, are they worse at it that human drivers and pedestrians? (some sarcasm intended…)


#3

So long as the automakers pay for the devices, I’d be OK with slapping a small transponder on the underside of my saddle. Ain’t no freakin’ way they’re gonna squeeze a $10-20 premium out of me though, for a new safety feature" on a helmet or other accessory. Last time I looked their profits could handle it.


#4

Pff, fuck that shit, when I’m already carrying a device with all the necessary sensors and transponders.

Just write a bloody app.


#5

This is something that has bothered me about self-driving cars for a while. Computers are great at great at pattern recognition - when there’s a pattern there to recognize. Cyclists, and pedestrians for that mater, come in irregular shapes and sizes that are difficult to recognize and extrapolate.


#6

How exactly will your phone communicate with a car? Bluetooth? Wi-fi?


#7

What kid of transponder is it?

If it’s a simple RFID chip, they can probably be stamped out in bulk for a few pennies each and put on the bike at the factory, or handed out for free at bike shops, etc. If it needs a battery, you might have a hard time getting people to use one.

And does it need to go on ALL bicycles? Even kid’s bikes in suburban neighborhoods?


#8

When self-driving cars can deal with squirrels, then they’ve got something.


#9

Lol, Bluetooth. As for WiFi, I guess the radio is up to it, but the protocol probably isn’t. Same with the cellular data connection, I suppose.

Perhaps it’d need to be part of a new OS, rather than just an app… In the meantime, maybe something rudimentary via the net?


#10

Gosh! They get more like real drivers every day!


#11

Wouldn’t the cars need to be bathing the streets in MRI-levels of magnetism for that?


#12

Tired of self-driving cars cutting through your neighborhood? Buy a 100 cheap bicycle transponders and attach them to every tree trunk, sign post, and fire hydrant. Watch the self driving cars become paralyzed with fear. Profit.

Though the bicyclists may be hard to detect in video imagery, I’m under the impression that other sensors (e.g., lidar and infrared imaging) do much, much better. If one company gets it right, that will set the standard that all the others will have to live up to, either through market pressure or regulation.


#13

It depends on what the issue is. I suspect the problem is cyclists acting as vehicles in traffic and self-driving cars not knowing how to recognize and treat them. If this is the case and you’re mostly worried about suburban kids darting out in front of cars then they probably wouldn’t need transponders. But it also makes me wonder how well the systems handle pedestrians walking on the side of the road (not the sidewalk).


#14

No more than those shoplifting-prevention scanners in stores today. Maybe a little more for longer range…


#15

When self-driving cars can deal with squirrels, then they’ve got something.

Are you imagining that the cars will take drastic measures to avoid squirrels? Or not avoid them?

I’ve got a squirrel problem, and let me tell you… Your post has me imagining gangs of autonomous teslas roving the streets, looking for squirrels to flatten.

I’m not ordinarily a bloodthirsty asshole, default to thinking of small furry things as cute and to be protected… But the owner-of-rodent-damaged-property part of me has risen to the surface in recent years, and I’ve run out of sympathy for the little monsters.


#16

The solution is obvious. What did the auto industry do about the problem of pedestrians? Just strongarm local governments to outlaw jaywalking. Who’s the problem now?

You can ride that bike on some designated path somewhere, like a hamster in a wheel.


#17

What flipping genius came up with this idea?

We’re going to outfit hundreds of millions of bicycles in Europe [1] with specialized transponders (and update them every time it turns out that the previous generation didn’t work well enough) so that the five autonomous cars on the road don’t kill the bicyclists? All because the prototype cars aren’t yet up to figuring out their environment?

The word of the day is “privilege.”

[1] Fewer, but still quite a few, in North America. And don’t get me started on Asia.


#18

You’re gonna need more than a metre or two. And…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse-square_law


#19

Trump signed an executive order - that law is repealed.


#20

The phrase “bicycle-to-vehicle communications” tells you everything you need to know about the mindset behind this. Bicycles are vehicles.