Watch an impressive series of crashes avoided by autonomous vehicles


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/31/watch-an-impressive-series-of.html


#2

Most of these are things any competent driver would and should have caught. To be honest only the “idiot who forgot to take the off-ramp in front of the braking car” and the “pigs crossing the road” were impressive.

That being said: the system DID avoid all those ‘a driver could have and should have done the same thing’ situations, which in itself is an impressive feat of engineering and makes me wish for a full-autocar I can buy so I can sleep/read/watch/play to and from work.


#3

It hit the pig! Poor pig…

In fact, I think it’s likely a human being would have handled that situation better…the car tried to swing around the pig in the direction of the pig’s motion whereas a human being would have stayed in lane and slowed down, potentially giving the pig time to make it across. This almost looked like the autopilot was trying to hit the pig.

But that’s probably easy to fix relative the difficulty of programming this level of autonomy in the first place, and that (hopefully non-injurious) collision with the pig has a good probability of informing improvements that will save the lives of children (and other forms of oblivious jaywalkers) dashing into the street without looking.


#4

I bought a Subaru with Eye Sight last year. It has a more primitive collision avoidance system but even that works surprisingly well. It was cheap enough that it only needs to prevent (or reduce the severity of) one accident to pay for itself. It’s inexpensive enough that I would guess it will only be a year or two before a basic system is standard on every new car.


#5

A few random observations:

One, thanks be to anti-lock brakes.

Two, like MacD above said, most competent drivers could have avoided these almost-accidents – provided that they were paying close attention.

Three, yes, the avoidance was impressive, but the recovery back to business as usual was the thing that really impressed me. IOW, the car just said, “okay, back to doing what I do,” whereas a human’s heart would have been doing a Tex Avery gag after most of these cases.

Four, if the human race has to be stuck with cars to get around in, I can’t wait for self-driving cars to be the norm. Cannot. Wait.


#6

Pretty sure those were peccaries/javelinas and not pigs.


#7

God damn, that one was a bacon detector and the driver blew it!


#8

Couple things though first that’s a wild boar which are nasty animals (not saying they deserve to get hit but do not mistake them for a nice pig if you ever meet one they’re really aggressive) and there were many more pigs in the lane that run off to the other side it was avoiding the largest mass. The car looks like it only stopped after it had already passed the point where the first boar was, so if it had tried do just slow down and stay in lane it would have hit one a lot harder…


#9

I’m looking forward to the few years when I’m still allowed to drive, but most of the folks who can’t drive for shit aren’t driving anymore…


#10

The vast majority of those were the car taking over because the human driver wasn’t paying attention (or because it was being overly paranoid). But I suspect the only reason the human driver wasn’t paying attention is they were using the auto-pilot.

For the remaining three, the two animal crossing and offramp vehicle that slammed on the breaks.

  • On the first animal crossing the system reacts before the first vehicle does, good on it (of course a human might have succeeded too).
  • On the second animal crossing (which looks more impressive) the human swears before the car beeps, I suspect he beat the AI to the punch in breaking.
  • The onramp evasion is good, though a human driver could have accomplished the same.

#11

Ain’t nothin’ in the Three Laws against killing pigs!


#12

From my motorcycle safety class and it applies to cars. The only response to animals on the road is to panic stop and pray as you can’t predict which way they will jump if you try and avoid them.


#13

I didn’t realize that these autopilots made lateral moves in addition to emergency stops.

The deer and the pig both demonstrate a deficiency with this kind of crash avoidance. As others have commented, in both cases it steers into the path of the animal. The correct response to an animal running into the road is a) don’t over-drive your own headlights and b) make an ABS stop in a straight line.

Two of these (the semi and the police truck) were spurious activations - they wouldn’t have resulted in collisions at all. Most were near rear-end collisions caused by inattention. The off-ramp situation is easily avoided by any good defensive driver - this driver was following too closely, accelerating, and cruising in the slip lane.

Take a defensive driving course, keep both hands on the damn wheel, shut your mouth (and still your texting fingers) and drive your damn car. Piloting 2000 lbs of steel and human flesh is the most important thing you’re doing.

(and your horn isn’t for punishing idiots)

thus endeth the rant


#14

I feel that keeping a eye on (at least) two cars in front of you would have prevented all but the animal situations in this example.

I also think this, coupled with keeping a suitable distance and braking well within your cars limits, puts you amongst the top 10% of drivers on the road.

A good way of keeping focused and practicing this (for me) is playing the cruise-control-game. The aim of the game is to drive on cruise control (if you have it) and keep your speed as constant as possible (also a way to contribute to avoiding causing traffic jams). This requires some planning ahead and predicting other peoples next moves. This will help you notice things, you will see that other driver will start braking or will change lanes way before they actually do, and often before they seem to have noticed the necessity of this themselves.

Having said that, I would not mind having something autonomous like this thinking along with me, even the most vigilant of defensive drivers get tired and miss things. Always a good idea to have a few extra eyes on the road.


#15

Are you calling computer sensors, eyes? You’re entirely free to, of course, but my eyes feel a bit insulted by the equivalence.


#16

The amount of raw data the camera’s (and radar-like things) on autonomous cars produce is really high, I’m willing to bet the data produced by your (and my) eyes is a lot lower. It’s the image recognition software in our brains that is so, so much better then that in autonomous cars that gives you the impression your eyes are superior.

But you are right, I should have used double quotes around “eyes” there.


#17

Not meaning to scold - more that calling them eyes makes it sound like marketing!

I’d bet neither you nor I will be able to walk into a dealership and purchase a self driving automobile in any realistic time frame. Maybe 20 years. The improvements you cite are real though!

But so is this:

Call me a sceptic.


#18

I like that the autopilot slammed on the horn for the idiot exiting the highway unsafely. Fortunately the driver was allowed to maintain their phone call uninterrupted.


#19

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