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Old 11 June 2018, 01:39 PM
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Icon05 A helping hand for "confused" self-driving cars

Before long we won't need someone behind the wheel, but as we've seen, the computers that will be driving us around are not always going to know what do to – like in a construction zone. When that happens, the car is going to need a little help, and one small California startup says it has the answer when the car needs to "phone a friend."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/phantom...-driving-cars/
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Old 11 June 2018, 01:51 PM
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"Say you come to a construction site and you have a construction worker giving hand signals," said Elliot Katz, co-founder of Phantom Auto. "So, the vehicle may approach that construction site and just completely be paralyzed. At that point the vehicle itself would ping a Phantom Auto remote operator, the remote operator would be able to drive you through the construction site in the same way you could drive through a construction site today."
Assuming there's not a queue, or the operator isn't on a tea break, and assuming that you can adequately drive a car through a complex situation by remote control by looking at a couple of monitor screens like the ones in the picture...

"Please hold the line. All our remote drivers are busy. Your drive is important to us and we will let you get on with it as soon as possible. Please remain in the vehicle and avoid crashing into anything while you wait."
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  #3  
Old 11 June 2018, 02:36 PM
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California is one of at least five states that now allows self-driving cars to be on the road without a safety driver, if they have a system in place for a human to take over remotely.
Oh, good $*#@$#!

This is clearly another example of how this whole self driving car thing is being rushed into normalcy without appropriate testing. How about we go through say, five or ten years of widespread testing with "safety" drivers, and poll those drivers constantly for situations where the car was confused, and then start implementing the remote systems.

By the way, why don't all the self driving cars now become "paralyzed" and ask the human in the car to take over, rather than just plowing into pedestrians and barricades?
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Old 11 June 2018, 03:05 PM
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I feel this space needs a xkcd link.
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Old 11 June 2018, 03:28 PM
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Yes, it is striking how many Captcha-style security features these days ask you to identify all the bits of the photo that contain kerbs / pavements / shop fronts / road signs / other cars and so on, isn't it?
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Old 11 June 2018, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
I feel this space needs a xkcd link.
Oh yes! Thank you.
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  #7  
Old 12 June 2018, 11:45 AM
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Yes, it is striking how many Captcha-style security features these days ask you to identify all the bits of the photo that contain kerbs / pavements / shop fronts / road signs / other cars and so on, isn't it?
Its was always my understanding that this was absolutley the purpose (machine learning) of the picture captcha challenges.

Which is all well and good until my mother is asked to “identify all the squares with shops in” when she tried to log on to her online grocery store account.

She didn’t have a NFBSKing clue what was going on, and me as her default tech support guy took about half an hour to fathom what the hell she was going on about!!!
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  #8  
Old 12 June 2018, 04:28 PM
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If you're wondering why an autonomous vehicle might need somebody like Ben: as self-driving technology advances -- we know that General Motors, for example, is going to build one without a steering wheel, gas pedals or brakes -- if there was a situation where the autonomous car had to stop and didn't know what to do, a passenger couldn't do anything to help. They would need somebody to intervene remotely.
So we're going out of our way to make sure that the human who is actually best suited to interpret the situation and act accordingly - the human in the car, that is - is unable to do anything about it. And then we introduce another human in some remote location who is supposed to do the same thing remotly, with all the problems you lready have mentioned (I'd like to add lag problems and loss of signal). That sounds like a great idea.

"The traffic jam on A 22 this morning that caused thousands to be late for work was caused by a lorry backing out of a construction site and four self-driving cars shutting down in front of it because they couldn't interpret the situation correctly. Since the construction site is in a area with no wireless signal, remote driver services where helpless, and it took three hours to get four tow-trucks to the location to free the road. This is Radio 4 reporting"
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Old 12 June 2018, 04:47 PM
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Also, at some point there's been a complete and unstated reversal, from "self-driving cars are much safer than human drivers," to "and don't worry, if there's a situation that the car can't handle, we will introduce a human driver to sort it out".
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Old 12 June 2018, 05:21 PM
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Excellent point. It's pretty much an acknowledgement that a) at this point it's all about convenience and profit, not about safety, and b) these cars cannot drive better than humans, or even negotiate the "real world" without human intervention.
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  #11  
Old 12 June 2018, 05:49 PM
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I don't think it is a complete reversal, more like an acknowledgement that the technology isn't to the point of complete autonomy and will get confused sometimes. The system is that the car itself will ask for help when it is unsure. I'd say it is more like, "self-driving cars will often be safer than humans, but will still need to ask humans for help".
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Old 12 June 2018, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
I don't think it is a complete reversal, more like an acknowledgement that the technology isn't to the point of complete autonomy and will get confused sometimes. The system is that the car itself will ask for help when it is unsure. I'd say it is more like, "self-driving cars will often be safer than humans, but will still need to ask humans for help".
I think "self-driving cars will often be safer than humans, but will still need to ask humans for help" is something most of us will agree with. But it's not the same as "self-driving cars are much safer than human drivers", which is what the industry wants us to hear (even if they don't say it outright). The confusion over these two concepts is the crux of what's wrong with the way the technology is being implemented.
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Old 12 June 2018, 07:22 PM
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This is just a company trying to provide a service as a “Break glass” contingency if the self driving car somehow fails. I don’t think it is an admission that the cars are any less capable than previously advertised, it’s just a recovery service for extreme edge case scenarios, and particularly for cars that may be manufactured without conventional controls.

I would like presume that the system would have self check for appropriate signal strength and response times before the car even moves.

But there is always the wory about a malicious actor hacking into a car where you can not physically intervene!
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Old 12 June 2018, 07:47 PM
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Agreed on your assessment of this company, but my initial reaction was to the fact that least five states now allow self-driving cars to be on the road without a safety driver if they have a remote operator system. AND, as Don Enrico pointed out, there are already plans for cars without occupant controls. All that is because we're being told these systems are safer than they actually are.
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:09 PM
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To play devils advocate here, we are already fighting air wars this way. Pilots in Virginia are flying sorties over Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters around the world.

If the technology is capable of reaching those remote places, they are probably not going to have much trouble in the backwaters of Nevada or Wyoming. Of course, presuming the same level of technology is applied to the problem and not some too watered down civilian version.
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
Agreed on your assessment of this company, but my initial reaction was to the fact that least five states now allow self-driving cars to be on the road without a safety driver if they have a remote operator system.
But when they are driving in autonimous mode they are not in control of a human anyway. I think the rationale for the saftey driver/remote operator is to remove the vehicle from the road network if the system comes to a stop for any reason (e.g. confusion) rather than wrench control from the AI mid journey. (That is my understanding anyway)
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:20 PM
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That's not the case currently. Drivers do have to intervene for safety or other reasons, even when the system is otherwise fully functional. The numbers vary tremendously, partially because there is no standard for reporting. Waymo cars need driver safety intervention about every 5,600 miles and Cruise every 1,250.
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:22 PM
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Certainly if cars with no onboard controls became the norm, there would soon be no one in the cars qualified to operate them. At present, I think we are very far from such a system being remotely safe. At present, AVs still need human monitoring, not just availability if the car realizes it is confused.

Once AVs have achieved reasonable autonomous mode safety without monitoring (assuming they can), if the car has to pull over and give up control, it might make sense that only a manufacturer-authorized person could operate the car, as liability should have shifted at that point to manufacturers. You wouldn't want potentially unpracticed drivers taking over an unfamiliar vehicle in challenging conditions with the liability for their actions falling on you.
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Old 12 June 2018, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by iskinner View Post
To play devils advocate here, we are already fighting air wars this way. Pilots in Virginia are flying sorties over Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters around the world.

If the technology is capable of reaching those remote places, they are probably not going to have much trouble in the backwaters of Nevada or Wyoming. Of course, presuming the same level of technology is applied to the problem and not some too watered down civilian version.
I think the difference is that military ROV's (1) don't use the cell network and (2) they cost a heck of a lot more per vehicle than any car. So a $20K communication system is practical (and probably cheap) in a military ROV but is a non-starter in a car.
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Old 12 June 2018, 09:03 PM
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Also, military drones crash. According to the Smithsonian, there were 418 serious crashes of drones since between 2001 and 2014, about 1/4 of those in training or testing. That's out of a fleet of about 10,000 drones, there are about 263 million registered vehicles in the US.
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