If the goal of pushing robocars is indeed about making roads safer, isn't it time for highly automated vehicle developers to start addressing the "failure to communicate" between men and machines?
If you think self-driving cars and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2) communication are two separate issues, you’re not thinking incrementally. Think again.
Autonomous vehicle proponents often discuss the utopian future of accident-free roads, but they rarely mention the long — incremental — transition period during which robocars and “legacy” vehicles, with people at the wheel, must share the road and all its perils.
If the goal of pushing robocars is indeed about making roads safer, isn’t it time for highly automated vehicle developers to start addressing the “failure to communicate” between men and machines?
Human drivers drive recklessly. A robocar approached an intersection when another car zoomed through, running a red light.
(Source: University of Michigan)
Let’s face it. Robocars are often clueless about human intentions. They’re bad at anticipating other drivers’ sudden moves, which means they’re incompetent at defensive driving. Meanwhile, humans drive recklessly more often than we care to admit.
So, what to do? Allowing only robocars on the road is the utopian answer. But in the real world, human-driven vehicles will stay on the road — weaving, honking, tailgating and making sudden lane switches — for the indefinite future.
Presumably we could throw more sensor technologies at robocars, bestowing on them some sort of “X-ray” vision. But again, in the real world, there’s no X-ray that can read a human driver’s mind.
Hagai Zyss, CEO of the Israeli company Autotalks
, is one executive not afraid to confront the lack of vision among automotive automation visionaries.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, he addressed the audience about a “lack of coordination between autonomous vehicles and manned vehicles.” This, he said, “fails the driverless vision.”
I talked recently with Zyss on the phone, and asked how his speech went over. “It was very well received. Automakers — on the ground — know that a dedicated vehicle-to-vehicle communication must be put in place. It’s another layer of safety measures everyone can use to start saving lives today.”
“It’s a shame,” added Zyss, that the connected vehicle debate — originally designed and developed for safety on the road — has been highjacked by cellular communication proponents like Qualcomm. The issue of V2X (covering both vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure communication) has been framed as the DSRC vs. 5G technology choice.
Unfortunately, perception often becomes reality.
After the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Phil Magney, founder and principal advisor for VSI Labs, noted that “for the first time in the history of V2X, more people were talking about 5G than DSRC.”
He observed, “Some are claiming that 5G will displace the need for DSRC altogether while others still claim that DSRC is going to be necessary to meet the stringent latency requirements of these applications.” The biggest question in Magney’s mind, though, is whether 5G Direct can meet the latency requirements of V2V collision avoidance.
So far, none of the 5G claims has been tested yet.
Too much “noise” and “confusion” on the market created a phony technology race between DSRC and 5G, while V2V’s primary safety goal has mysteriously drifted into the background. With DSRC, which has gone through rigorous testing and trials over the last seven to 10 years, “we can start saving lives today,” said Zyss. “Instead, we are looking at a technology — 5G — that doesn’t even exist yet.”
Next page: Accidents between robocars and human drivers