tech

Bumpy road as aging Japan bets on self-driving cars

25 Comments
By Etienne BALMER

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but an accident involving a self-driving showcase at the Paralympics illustrates the challenges ahead.

That was a human error.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

In the past, in developing and promoting Society 5.0, METI promised that they would do everything they can to "ensure the reliability and safety of the services provided" to all necessary systems. METI admitted in the past that these systems just were not there yet with regards to "autonomous decisions made by advanced algorithms such as in AI, and that "it is difficult to predict the behavior of AI in advance or explain it afterward with the current technologies we have." But they did promise was to manage the impact AI has on the physical safety of humans.

Society 5.0. Are we there yet?

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For Christopher Richter, head of Japan research at brokerage CLSA and an automotive specialist, the incident demonstrates how far the sector has to go.

"People said autonomous is ready for these kinds of controlled communities," but even there "it failed", he told AFP.

No it didn't fail Chris! It was some idiot who pushed the override button and thus forced the vehicle to move forward and hit the pedestrian. I think the idea of self driving vehicles have a lot of people worried about the future of cars etc. and so we will hear a lot of negatives and scare pieces to come.

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Although in that case it was human error, there will be errors in AI and robotics on autonomous cars leading to death and injury. Each event will provide a learning experience for ‘car’ makers.

The gamble is that there will be fewer such accidents compared to the human driver experience so far.

I guess it’s good to have this option with an aging population.

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but an accident involving a self-driving showcase at the Paralympics illustrates the challenges ahead.

That was a human error.

exactly. And we have TONS of those. Not only the elderly, but young inexperienced drivers, drivers using their smartphones, drunk drivers, the list goes on and on. Self driving cars will have none of those.

And in the above case, like black flag said, the car itself STOPPED, THEN the driver overrode the decision and that is what caused the accident. If anything, it makes the case for autonomous vehicles even stronger.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

You first have to design a digital map,that a car understand, without a map,the concept is useless,I can design a gps map of Tokyo,in minutes,and Google direction can read the gps waypoint

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Self driving cars will become more and more relevant in countries like Japan with high proportion of aging populations.

Sure there are a few kinks to be sorted out, but the accidents that we see increasingly because of old people mistakenly pressing accelerator for the brake or going into one way lanes on the wrong side will be eliminated.

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Will the systems be able to deal with Tokyo's narrow and irrational streets, I wonder? Telephone poles on the streets, two-way roads less than the width of 2 small vehicles, one way roads where residents are allowed to go in the opposite direction, cyclists routinely running red lights, etc. The rules of the road can be very fluid here.

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Self-driving cars are still cars. Still a huge burden on the environment, making out cities ugly, dangerous, noisy, unfriendly places. You know how car tyres wear down and have to be replaced, right? Where do you think all that plastic goes when it comes off the tyre? Billions of micro-particles into the air, ending up in out oceans and in our lungs.

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Self-driving cars are still cars. Still a huge burden on the environment, making out cities ugly, dangerous, noisy, unfriendly places.

Agreed. The "eco" solution is not battery electric tech, but to remove private vehicles from our cities altogether.

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I'm picturing streets becoming like the electric bumper car ride at a carnival.

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Self driving cars really only have to be 1% better than humans to save over 10,000 lives per year.

And they are likely to be a LOT better than just 1%. The argument against universal self driving cars is an argument for needless casualty and death.

1.3 MILLION people killed world wide every year in car accidents, many many more injured. Can we get over our own ego and put the computers in charge of the cars please? Or are we too 'human' to allow that, and people just have to die so we can drive our own car?

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I'm picturing streets becoming like the electric bumper car ride at a carnival.

except the vast majority of crashes will be human drivers

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Automated driving systems are orders of magnitude safer than the human and would save countless lives with greater integration.

That they have not achieved mathematical perfection yet, and issues exist, is a testament to the exponential pace of progress.

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It only works in ideal model areas and at lower speeds. If you have some knowledge in AI you surely know that such a technology cannot be applied everywhere. For example, those cars can’t tell if it is a cat or only a picture of a cat, as well if it is a human standing at the side or let’s say those currently to see election posters. So the whole traffic stops every some meters, even with perfect sidelines and lane markings. And if you are then sick in an ambulance car or your house burns, that’s the moment you will condemn that technology and surely have recognized that it is not working for you.

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Last year, it became the first country in the world to allow a vehicle capable of taking full control in certain situations to operate on public roads...

That's incorrect, autonomous vehicle taking full control in any situation.. that level of automation is yet to be achieved.

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I'm picturing streets becoming like the electric bumper car ride at a carnival.

Or race car tracks when you were a kid. If they get off of the designated driving path then they shut down.

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As I once wrote the opinion of experts in this field:

When the car knows / concludes whether a pedestrian is standing at a pedestrian crossing because he is crossing the road or maybe just waiting for someone, then the vehicles will be suitable for the road

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The roads in Japan are very narrow and ziglyzag around certain mountains area i would not want to trust AI to drive for me. There goes our freedom to ever drive a car. Can’t wait until they automate racing cars so no need for a career in racing. How about your lovely Harley Davidson motor bike how they going to automate them

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Hacker will be having a lab party with the AI cars imaging where that could lead to

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Not lab party I mean LAN party

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Will the systems be able to deal with Tokyo's narrow and irrational streets, I wonder? Telephone poles on the streets, two-way roads less than the width of 2 small vehicles, one way roads where residents are allowed to go in the opposite direction, cyclists routinely running red lights, etc. The rules of the road can be very fluid here.

We've had parking sensors that can detect those poles for a couple of decades already, so it's not rocket science. Nissan's ProPilot system seems blind without lines on the roads, so we're in for a lot more paint. I'd also expect a lot more one way streets, affording bollarded-off space for pedestrians. Traffic lights definitely need cameras, but mainly for trucks, IMO.

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My Honda freed bought new 2 months ago - set the upper speed limit of adaptive cruise control to 50 and it will frequently hit 10mph more than that. You could say that the Freed is due a model change but Honda are still selling the car in this state. So should that kind of company be trusted with self driving cars? No they shouldn't.

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I'm not sure if I trust self-driving vehicles any more than those being driven by older drivers. At least, not with today's technology on Japan's roads. But...

What should be mandated right now is that ALL new vehicles be equipped with "S Wide" safety systems, which not only include sensors and auto-braking systems to prevent collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and stationary objects, but also accidental-acceleration prevention.

I know there are incentives for over-65's to purchase such-equipped vehicles. But, it should be mandatory, at least for older drivers. Retro-fit systems are also available, which should be mandatory for non-equipped vehicles registered to older drivers, as well.

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That should be mandated right now is that ALL new vehicles be equipped with "S Wide" safety systems, which not only include sensors and auto-braking systems to prevent collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and stationary objects, but also accidental-acceleration prevention.

Such suggestion sicken me. I recently bought a new to us van. I could afford a brand new one but to avoid having a vehicle with automatic braking I had to buy a several years old used van. I do not want any vehicle thinking for me especially when it comes to braking. ABS is fine because if you can threshold brake short of ABS engagement you can actually stop in less space than the car will using ABS (police agencies will fail cops who engage the ABS during braking exercises, same thing with motorcycles), but the rest I simply do not want on any vehicle I paid my hard earned for. I don't even like automatic transmissions but have to have a couple of automatic vehicles for my wife to drive. My cars have manuals and are analog in every sense. I can shift as smooth or smother than any slush box and my down shifts to accelerate are always smoother. Learn how to drive competently instead of relying on electronic nannies.

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