self-driving-car
Autos & Motorcycles

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

These days it seems like I Robot is catching up to us a lot faster than we thought, the only difference is, this time Will Smith won’t be here to save us if it gets too gnarly. The most recent advancement was Uber’s announcement on their self- driving car. Despite the fact that one of Uber’s own staff members first hand experiences in an autonomous vehicle observed it blowing through red lights and stop signs as well as “making unsafe sharp right turns into bike lanes.” Uber released their first fleet of self-driving cars onto the streets of San Francisco two days later.

On day one, numerous autonomous vehicles were caught running lights and committing a range of traffic violations. Due to Uber’s lack of permits and velocity of risks the vehicles still have; Uber was banned from the streets of California shortly after where they then packed up and shipped to Arizona to continue their experiments. How the autonomous cars have been doing in Arizona has yet to be seen. And while self-driving cars will be a colossal advancement in automotive history, along with it comes many unanswered questions. For instance, what will happen to the 160,000 and climbing number of people currently driving for Uber as a full time job? Even though the current cars still require a driver to cut in if the technology happens to dysfunction, Machine learning is a bit of a buzz term that describes the way artificial intelligence (AI) can begin to make sense of the world around it by being exposed to massive amounts of data. But a new algorithm developed by researchers in the US has dramatically cut down the amount of learning time required for AI to teach itself new things, with a machine capable of recognizing and drawing visual symbols that are largely indistinguishable from those drawn by people according to sciencealert.com. I can only imagine that Uber has their hands on the most advanced AI in order for the car to learn how to perfectly simulate a humans reactions soon enough. Which will ultimately lead to actual driver-less cars and wipe out human Uber drives completely.

Self-Driving Uber Sensor Suite

In the meantime autonomous vehicles will have to deal with drivers who speed, pass even when there’s a double yellow line and drive the wrong way on a one-way street. Maybe one solution to this would be to equip cars with transponders that that communicate their position and direction. But even this would be a nightmare and hard to implement in every vehicle on the road. Types of weather could also be a huge obstacle, considering that it’s hard for even the sharpest human brain to coordinate. Falling rain or snow can also make it difficult for laser sensors to identify objects. A large puddle may look like black top to an autonomous car’s sensors.

Or simply having to make tough decisions in the middle of busy traffic, a ball or toy bounces into the road, followed by two children. If a self-driving car’s only options are to hit the children or veer right and strike a telephone pole, potentially injuring or killing the car’s occupants, what does it do? Should the computer give priority to the pedestrians or the passenger? Although engineers are confronting questions like these as they build self-driving technology. When is unavoidable and a human is at the wheel, the result is a spontaneous reaction- a decision the driver has to make in a split second. But in a car controlled by algorithms, it is a choice predetermined by a programmer.

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