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Uber Yanks Robo-Cars after Arizona Crash

Can machines learn to work and play well with other children?
3/27/2017 00:01 AM EDT
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jnissen
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Re: Other big question
jnissen   3/30/2017 5:01:41 PM
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I guess I'm naive - I expect the automation to avoid an accident at the cost of disobeying the road rules. Seems like a normal person would have tried to brake and or swerve into another lane if possible? My tolerance is ZERO and that is impossible as long as we have humans and automation intermixed on the same roads.

Even if we declared only self driving vehicles can be allowed we would still have deaths. If the owner ignores safety like proper tires or good brakes then the inevitable crashes will still occur.

The entire automation discussion is nothing more than taking control from the individual and I fundamentally oppose that.

Violoncelles
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Re: Other big question
Violoncelles   3/30/2017 8:24:01 AM
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Then my 1st question : would you buy a autonomous car that is programmed to kill you in this kind of situation ?

jnissen
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Driverless vehicles are a joke!
jnissen   3/29/2017 7:23:26 PM
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I'm not the most popular guy with a subject line like the above. The reality is there are thousands of lawyers just salivating at the prospect of a deep pocket company like Google, Uber, etc... rolling out these ticking time bombs. No automation can overcome human stupidity. The accident in this article is a good example. Does not seem to matter to lawyers who's fault it is. They will make it all about the automation failing.

junko.yoshida
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Uber's driverless cars back on the road
junko.yoshida   3/27/2017 5:42:10 PM
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Uber's spokesperson reached out to EE Times, and let us know that Uber will be back on the road in Tempe and Pittsburgh later today.

According to Uber, the company "paused its development operations and passenger pilots this weekend to better understand what happened in Tempe on Friday evening."

Uber, apparently, now feels confident in returning these cars to the road. But when EE Times asked Uber a few questions (which were listed in this story), the Uber spokesperson declined to comment.

For more information on the incident, she said, "We refer you to the Tempe Police Department." She added, "What I've shared to date is all we are sharing on our findings."

EE Times is in the process of getting in touch with the Tempe Police.

Paul Bryson
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Re: Other big question
Paul Bryson   3/27/2017 4:53:03 PM
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A vehicle policy of  "take any action necessary to minimize deaths" is, imho, unworkable.

1. The philsophical question of "minimizing deaths" or more generally, "minimizing damage" is unsolvable and often comes down to opinion. The number of cases is infinite. And the vehicle will never know for certain the outcome of its actions.  Is a 10% possibility of killing 9 people equal to a 90% possibility of killing one person?  Is hitting a child worse than hitting an adult?

2. Weird philsophical corner cases emerge.  Should an otherwise uninvolved vehicle crash into another to prevent it from possibly hitting a pedestrian? If so what probability would justify taking that action?  Being somewhat facetious, could it conclude that "the only way to win is not to play?"  It could refuse to travel over 5 mph or maybe it should drive around smashing up parked cars so that they cannot harm anyone:)  My point is, "where do you draw the line at 'minimizing deaths' ?" 

3. This is an esoteric point; but, I do not think that a failure to take action that causes harm is the same morally as directly causing harm. This makes me uncomfortable with the vehicle making a decision to "kill" its occupants.  I am comfortable with the vehicle protecting its occupants from serious harm even at the expense of others.  Look at the laws which human society has set up.  We do not generally force people to help others. It is difficult to find an example, outside of war, where we would sanction the killing of one innocent person to save any number of other people.  But we routinely let people die through inaction - though not usually in emergency situations. 

For these reasons, but mainly because anything else would be unworkable; I think that the high level "policies" of autonomous vehicles have to be as simple and objective as possible.  For example: If a collision is unavoidable, minimize the relative velocity - with possibly a simple velocity modifier for collisions with people versus vehicles.

 

 

sixscrews
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Crash Analysis
sixscrews   3/27/2017 4:05:56 PM
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It's often very difficult to determing the sequence of events in a crash from a single photo or even a sequence of photos.

As a young man I operated a towing service and, later did some professional work analyzing vehicle crashes.  Between the two, I spent a lot of time looking at skid marks/parts scatter/scrapes and other physical evidence in post-accident analysis.  In general, the low speed accidents were easier to understand than the high speed ones due to the level of damage and the prevelance of secondary impacts in high speed crashes.

Moving vehicles are subject to Newton's Laws of motion (as well as other laws) and, in my experience, a vehicle that winds up on its side was turning (i.e., had rotational momentum around the vertical axis) when the crash occurred.  The rotational momentum, force of impact and frictional forces from the tires usually result in a vertical to horizontal upset and, in some cases, a multiple roll-over situation that can be extremerely deleterious to the wetware contained in the vehicles.

So, contradicting my first paragraph, my guess is that the Volvo was either 1) turning or 2) detected an obstacle and attempted a quick evasive turn.

The puzzle in the photo is the second vehicle that shows some right side front door damage.  Was this vehicle involved in the incident or was it already banged up?  I would guess the former as the dirver would have left the area if their vehicle were not involved.

Maybe this is a 'corner case'  - if so, the term has several meanings here.  But I think it's just dumb software encontering dumb drivers.  And, IMHO, dumb software is a lot more dangerous than dumb drivers.  The frequencey of dumb drivers is x<1.  With dumb software the frequency of the same thing happening in the same conditons is 1. (I believe dumb behaviour is defined as expecting a different result from identical contitions.)

Las Vegas gives better odds.  Maybe they should test autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas and allow the passengers to wager on the chances of a crash occurring during their ride, the prize being surviving the experience.

And that's the point - we can't just let any old company allow autonomous vehicles on the road.  Uber has a bad odure already due to the 'Grayball' software issue.  This implies they will cut corners and try to get away with whatever they can with respect to legal restrictions.  

I, for one, would NEVER ride in a Uber vehicle and I would suggest the NHTSA and local authorities shut down all their operations until they come clean.  Or go away.

Glad they aren't operating in my city.

wb

junko.yoshida
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Re: Watch out for fist fights
junko.yoshida   3/27/2017 12:28:27 PM
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@perl-geek, it's all very true.

But I think in this instance, Uber has an upper hand becuse it is after all Uber who modified Volvo as a self-driving car.

That said, there is one more thing we should be all alerted. Arizona is a state very friendly to autonomous vehicle testing, thus making very little demands on the companies like Uber operating their autonomous car pilot programs. 

If this crash had happened in California, which has stricter laws, we would have a better luck in seeing a public report filed by Uber deailing the crash. Apparently, it's not required in Arizona, I was told.

 

perl_geek
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Watch out for fist fights
perl_geek   3/27/2017 11:54:33 AM
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Between Volvo's engineers, (who try to investigate every incident involving a Volvo, and whose marketing department won't appreciate pictures of their vehicle taking a little lie down), and Uber's, who will have the software and data records describing the whole incident.

(With luck, there will be an adult around to enforce sharing of the data, possibly the NTSB.)

 

junko.yoshida
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This just in from Uber
junko.yoshida   3/27/2017 11:49:33 AM
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Uber just informed us that the company's development vehicles -- two cars -- will be back on the roads in San Francisco today. 

Meanwhile, Uber confirmed that the company's vehicles in Arizona and Pittsburgh remain grounded this morning. Uber, however, added, that it expects them to be back on the roads soon.

According to Uber, Uber has "dozens of cars" across its passenger pilots and development efforts in all three cities (Tempe, Pittsburgh and San Francisco).

 

kg5q
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reframe the situation
kg5q   3/27/2017 11:33:33 AM
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The question to ask is what if the other car in this situation was also self driving.  It should be a learning experience to improve and not a set back.  I think if the other car or the other CARS in proximity to this probably it would not have happened.  I live in the Phoenix metro area and we have lots of red light running by the humans - we also have lots of red light cameras to dissuade it.  I think the self driving cars will make us safer.  I also think the emphisis should be on pedestrians what happens with protesters for example?  Interaction with unpredictable humans is going to be the limitation.  

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